BARETT'S BLOG

Rolls-Royce's Ghost Elegance

By Barett Poley – April 12, 2017

If you thought paint was expensive before, just wait until you see the price on the new Rolls-Royce Ghost Elegance. The Ghost, which regularly starts at just under $400,000, is about to get quite a price hike, thanks to a new paint job announced by the company. The Ghost is a car that even under normal conditions could only be described as “pure luxury,” featuring a twin-turbocharged 6.6 litre v12, a butter-smooth 8-speed transmission, and over 560 horsepower, the Ghost is already guaranteed to turn heads wherever it goes, but the "WOW" factor of the car, and it’s price tag, are about to jump exponentially with the reveal of the Rolls-Royce Ghost Elegance.

What makes the Rolls-Royce Ghost Elegance so impressive? The paint job, made with over 1,000 crushed diamonds. A media release from the company says that the Ghost is already near-perfect, stating each Ghost is “hand-built by more than 60 pairs of hands. The precision and patience our craftspeople put into Ghost make it a masterpiece in its own right. From the five coats of paint on the body to the hand-stitched leatherwork inside, perfection is the benchmark. Anything less just won’t do.” They hope to ramp this up further with the Elegance, stating that the paint job alone is "the most luxurious and lustrous exterior ever seen on a motor car."

Rolls-Royce states that this will be the most expensive paint option ever put on any of their cars, though they haven’t released any pricing details as of yet, nor have they shown any of the other features beside the paint job of the Elegance.

Previously, the world's most expensive paint job was probably found on the Cadillac CTS-V’s Black Diamond edition. That car featured a layer of SpectraFlair pigment sandwiched between a metallic black base coat and the clear on top. Inside the SpectraFlair pigmentation, aluminum flakes encased in magnesium-fluoride, diffract light in a way similar to a diamond. Cadillac paired with JDSU to develop the paint scheme. Encased aluminum, impressive though it may be, just doesn't cut it when compared to actual diamonds.

Bentley also offers some impressive paint options. A matte-coat of paint on the brands flagship Mulsanne costs about as much as a loaded Toyota Camry, around $35,000. If even one speck of the paint isn’t perfect, the entire panel has to be repainted. Talk about dedication! 

What do you think of the opulent new paint job? Too much? Or just enough to match the company’s reputation? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

'Voyage' is hoping to revolutionize autonomous travel in less than half a decade.

By Barett Poley - April 6, 2017

If you live in a large urban centre, you might have an easier time getting around in the coming years, thanks to a new project lead by popular post-secondary learning service Udacity. The project-company, named ‘Voyage’, seeks to put fully autonomous taxis on the road in the next 5 years, saving money for consumers, but also putting traditional drivers out of work.

Udacity is a continuously growing for-profit education company that offers degrees at a cheaper rate than traditional colleges, and also offers free courses to students. Though it may seem like a “too good to be true” proposition, they’ve actually been actively backed and supported by companies like Google, NVidia, Facebook, Bosch, and most recently, Mercedes Benz, who have just pledged to support a Self-Driving-Car engineer and repair program. In addition to that degree, they offer qualifications in Data analysis, web marketing, VR development, AI, robotics and more.

The program comes at a time when autonomous vehicles are more relevant than they ever have been, but with the impressive crash-avoidance systems in many modern vehicles, Collision repairers and body techs might be worried about their job security when said vehicles become more mainstream. You don’t need to worry though, as there are always going to parking-lot accidents, and there are always going to be people who drive their own cars. Beyond that, with the growing market for restored vintage cars, restoration, collision repair and painting jobs will only become more profitable in the near future!

The project is headed by Oliver Cameron, CEO and vice president of Udacity, with help from Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, who is famous for having helped with Google’s earliest self-driving car projects. According to Engadget news, Cameron says “Voyage can hit that goal thanks to a maturing ecosystem that will allow the company to add autonomous functions to existing vehicles without needing to build a new self-driving car from the ground up.”

The cars will also feature voice-control and a fully automated entertainment suite, reminiscent of the Rinspeed Oasis and its contemporaries, which I saw a few months ago at the Canadian International Auto Show. What sets the Rinspeed apart from the likes of the Voyage cars is that it offers the ability to drive the car yourself – which will apparently become a luxury feature in the not-so-distant future rather than the standard.

Another thing to consider, and another reason not to get too worried about self-driving-cars, is that getting companies to standardize with one-another is almost always impossible. This means that each self-driving and autonomous car company will have their own network of maps and vehicles that their cars are connected to. If a self-driving Tesla is going down the street, it is connected to the Tesla network, and can see every other Tesla on said network. What they wouldn’t be able to see are the Google self-driving cars, or any others, and will therefore have to rely on external cameras for collision avoidance. In plain English, that means collisions aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, with the advent of the technology to the masses there will probably be a significant spike in collisions as programmers and companies work out the kinks so fear not, collision repairers of the world!

 

A freshly-collided-into Toyota Mirai, with no explosions to be seen.

By Barett Poley - March 20, 2017

If you’re worried, as a collision repairer, about exploding batteries, fire-prone wiring, or the cold-war connotations of “Hydrogen” as a prefix to anything, don’t be. As Toyota amongst others reveal their hydrogen powered and more heavily developed electric vehicles, questions arise as to whether or not the same old tricks work with these new technologies?

Thankfully, for the most part, replacing, or welding, a new body panel or frame or what-have-you will pretty much always be the same. Since the earliest days of Collision Repair, body panels, frame straightening and the like have gone through some major changes, but the fundamental act of what you are doing – fixing or replacing a part – hasn’t much changed. The same is true looking into the future for hydrogen and electronic vehicles.

Where companies such as Tesla implement breakers which turn off the cars batteries and completely cut all currents once collision detectors are tripped, Hydrogen powered cars rely on new safety features, most of them unique to the new and not as oft-used fuel cell type. Safety features are important on both models like the Tesla Roadster and a hydrogen-cell car like the Toyota Mirai, as they both have unique dangers associated with them. Hydrogen is a well-known potentially explosive gas, and the Tesla Roadster has over 7000 lithium-ion batteries, each and every one of them capable of creating a massive amount of energy if things should go wrong.

Toyota isn’t too worried about the Mirai though. Nor are other companies who are putting significant R&D into hydrogen-cell-run-vehicles. According to Dr. Frano Barbir, Professor and Chair of Thermodynamics at Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Split, Croatia, the risks associated with hydrogen, despite their H-Bomb connotations, are far less than those that can be associated with Gasoline. “Due to higher sonic velocity, hydrogen would initially escape much faster than natural gas.” he says, adding “Since natural gas has more than three times the energy density than hydrogen, a natural gas leak will always contain more energy. If a leak should occur for whatever reason, hydrogen will disperse much faster than any other fuel, thus reducing the hazard levels.” This can be seen as sort of a natural safety feature of using hydrogen; despite its propensity to explode well when it’s atoms are split, in every day application it’s actually safer than what we’ve all been driving around with for the last century or so; doubly so when in a natural atmosphere. The chances of natural hydrogen explosions in the normal atmosphere are incredibly low. Barbir says “Like any other fuel or energy carrier hydrogen poses risks if not properly handled or controlled. The risk of hydrogen, therefore, must be considered relative to the common fuels such as gasoline, propane or natural gas. The specific physical characteristics of hydrogen are quite different from those common fuels. Some of those properties make hydrogen potentially less hazardous,” explaining, “the likelihood of any detonation depends in a complex manner on the exact fuel/air ratio, the temperature and particularly the geometry of the confined space. Hydrogen detonation in the open atmosphere is highly unlikely.” This is to say, if you’re driving around and you get hit, your Toyota isn’t going to explode. In fact, it’s likely just as safe if not safer than a traditional gasoline combustion-engine car, and the results say the same thing, in fact, a Microsoft tester for the Toyota Mirai was recently in a collision, where, drumroll please…. Nothing happened.

That’s right! As Xbox AOL director Randy Shaffer was test-driving the Mirai, he was crashed into, with no Hindenburg-esque explosion to show for it, just a dented fender and a need for a new-rim. Easy-peasy repairs for any seasoned collision repairer. Shaffer says, per Autoblog, “Out of the corner of my eye I saw a black, '90s-era BMW 5 Series smash into my right rear-tire panel. The Toyota driver also saw it out of his eyes and was hoping she would just miss us. She had a stop sign but either didn't see me or was trying to shot the gap between me and the other Mirai. End result, at about 15 mph (best guess) she hit my Mirai right in-between the two Hydrogen tanks and directly into the main battery.”

I’m certainly impressed and excited about the future of Hydrogen-cell cars, and especially excited to see what other safety features become commonplace in the future. What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

Mike Hall of British Columbia selling 340 vintage cars

By Barett Poley – March 30, 2017

Mike Hall, a British Columbia man, is selling a 5-acre property in Tappen, B.C for over 1.5 million dollars. Land in British Columbia has been expensive as of late, thanks to their booming housing market, but $1,500,000 for a five-acre property outside of the coastal urban-centres would normally seem like a stretch. Such is not the case with the property of Mike Hall. $1,500,000 is completely reasonable considering the wealth you’re getting with the property – in the form of hundreds of parked cars and loads of deadstock OEM parts.


The Cars, which range from turnkey to terrible, are valued between 500-30,000 dollars each. The most valuable vehicles having been taken great care of and restored – Amongst the rarer cars to grace the lot are a row of 55-57 Chevrolet two-door station-wagons, a 1926 Chevrolet Roadster pickup truck, a 1927 Ford Model T pickup, a collection of Dodge Super Bees, and one of only 45 Pontiac Beaumont Sports Deluxe models, which were made for the rich and famous and came equipped with a v8 and four-speed manual transmission.Mike himself restores cars, and his daily drivers are a Chevrolet Firefly Turbo Coupe and a 1968 Chevelle with a big-block 396 CI V8, which he has owned for 30 years after restoring. His property is described not just as land and buildings, but as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

 More interesting perhaps to the body-techs and collision repairers amongst us are all of the thousands upon thousands of rare and unique OEM body-panels, lights, interior components and more that come with the lot. Old cars can be notoriously hard to restore to OEM specifications if they’ve been in a collision, and to insurers, they’re far easier to write-off due to the extremely expensive nature of OEM spec parts. Even rarer are the plethora of deadstock parts that come alongside the property as part of Hall’s collection for restoration and repair.


Per Driving.ca, the collection started when Hall began his job climbing cliffs and getting boulders off of plateaus so that they wouldn’t fall down and crash onto cars. He wouldn’t have found much to do in Ontario or any of the plains, but in B.C, thanks to their mountainous geography, he made a mint. According to Driving.ca, Hall Says, “I was away 10 months of the year working around the province. I made more money than I knew what to do with, so I would buy cars all across B.C.”


“I started accumulating cars when I was 20,” says Hall per Driving.ca, continuing to say “First it was 50 cars. Then the collection grew to 100. I bought more and more. It’s easy to buy them when you’re working. It’s like an addiction. With 100 cars, 200 seemed better, and now it’s well past 300.”

If you’re interested in purchasing the property, you can contact Listing agent Hudson Purba of Century 21 Desert Hills Realty in Kamloops.

 

A Rusty Chevy Apache at Motorama '17

By Barett Poley - March 15, 2017

Here’s one to make all you painters and paint techs shake your head in confusion! Patina-finished hot-rods were all the rage in the showcar category at Motorama this year, defying conventions as well as conventional paint-jobs. Of the rust-clad rat-rods were a 1959 Chevrolet Apache, a 1954 GMC 9100 heavy-duty, a flat-head-v8 equipped 1940 Ford, and more, their owners all choosing to keep their cars’ naturally-aged finishes rather than repainting or refinish the vehicles.

If the painters amongst us are wondering just why in the world somebody would skip out on the painting process, the answer is likely two-fold, with a modifier to the second possible answer. The first answer is cost-effectiveness. Patina ‘paintjobs’ came to be with the advent of the rat-rod in the late 60s onward. Rather than restoring or ‘hot rodding’ cars, racers and grease-monkeys would make their cars driving purposed, rather than show-purposed. Where they could save money on paint they would, and chose instead to put those resources into superchargers, bored-out-engines and forged components. In short: they didn’t want to look pretty; they just wanted to go as fast as possible on as little money as possible.

This evolved into the second reason many cars kept their rust: the looks. Believe it or not, as more people saw these rusty speedsters driving around, the styling caught on, and at any show now you’ll see a collection of patina-clad and rusty hot-rods. The subculture has its roots in classic Americana, but it’s sort of evolved on its own now to something completely different, with imported cars donning the rust just as often as American cars – drift missile Nissan Silvias with rusted hoods or even rusted-in designs (such as the car’s logo or a rising sun) are common on the drift track and in D-series races.

Fear not, though, paint techs! All of that rust can be bad for a frame and body unless properly done and properly clear-coated afterwards! Now that the culture is more about the look than doing things as cheaply as possible, there’s plenty of room for the spray-booth when it comes to building a rat-rod! Clear coating and sealing is the way to go with these cars, so that their age can show, without harming the structural integrity of the car or truck!