Q. What key things should I
write when doing an advertisement for my car? -- E.N. (via Internet)
A. You first want to create a desire to buy your car. You don't say you've got just a car--you want to say that you're offering a special car. You must create need and value in the mind of a potential buyer. Never lie about appearance or condition. Paint a picture of the car as beautifully as you can. List basic facts, including age, condition and price. A flattering photograph helps. Name all important features, such as air conditioning. The words "must see" are meaningless--your car usually is no different from hundreds of thousands built. Avoid short advertisements. Potential buyers will think a short ad means the car has little going for it--or that the seller is a cheapskate who didn't spend a dime maintaining the auto. Mention the car's color, inside and out. Some may like, for example, white paint or brown upholstery, others may hate it. Repair and maintenance receipts are important because everyone wants a well-maintained vehicle. Finally, never say you "must sell." Once those two words appear in an ad, no price is too low in the minds of potential buyers. Always say, "Offers are welcome" or the price is "negotiable." After all, few folks expect to pay an asking price--and everyone loves a deal.
Q. Did major Detroit automakers and the government kill the legendary late 1940s Tucker auto? From what I've heard, colorful Preston Tucker really tried to make his Tucker operation succeed. -- E.J. (via Internet)
A. Author Steve Lehto's fascinating, well-documented new book "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" (with a foreword by entertainer Jay Leno) tells why the Tucker operation failed. Only 51 Tuckers were built, but the car was the subject of a 1988 Francis Ford Coppola movie "The Man and His Dream," starring Jeff Bridges as Preston Tucker. Tucker died in 1956, so he didn't live to have the last laugh.Tuckers now are valued at $1.6 million to $2.9 million, says the Sports Car Market price guide.
Q. When did someone think up
the idea for an air bag? I say it was General Motors in the 1970s.--
N.J. (via Internet)
A. Not even close. The October, 1957 issue of Science and Mechanics magazine contains a "Parade Of New Patents" section carrying an article about a patent for an "inflatable crash pad."Accompanying a diagram of what resembles an air bag inflating to protect a front-seat passenger, the description of the pad reads: "Stowed in the dash to the right of the driver, this pneumatic cushion springs out and inflates in the event of a collision, or even if brakes are tramped too heavily, to form a protective pad." Incidentally, the same issue contains a road test of the newly introduced Edsel.
Q. I know it's summer, but winter comes quickly. My car has to be left outside in the winter and is only used about once a week. Is it wise when the temperature drops below freezing to go out and start the car and let it idle for awhile? -- L.S. (via Internet)
A. Terrible idea. When you start a car in freezing weather, it takes several minutes for the oil to heat up and thin out and properly lubricate an engine's moving parts. Those first few minutes are really hard on your car, no matter what the temperature. Just let the engine idle for 15-30 seconds, at most. Then drive in a moderate manner for a mile or so to let the engine and other auto components have a chance to correctly warm up and operate without premature wear to your car.