3 American Performance Cars

Bear with me as I step back in time to formulate what I believe are three terrific American built performance cars: the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger, and the Chevrolet Camaro. Currently, only the Mustang is in production with the Challenger coming back by 2009. GM hasn’t committed to building the Camaro just yet, but the company is likely to make a decision in ford_mustang_shelby_gt500_f1_10favor of the car and its sibling, the Pontiac Firebird, by this summer. So, what is it about American performance cars that set them apart from the rest? In one word: muscle. Read on as I compare and contrast these three vehicles and share with you my feeble attempts to explain the culture behind the cars.

So, you think I forgot the Chevy Corvette and Dodge Viper when talking about performance cars? No, I did not. Both models are performance cars as well as race cars. On the other hand the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro are mass produced performance cars with muscle. There is a difference in the way a typical race car handles, rides, and performs vs. a muscle car.

Typically, a muscle car was a coupe version of some of the larger cars that were pervasive on U.S. highways in the 1960s and 1970s. The Mustang and Camaro, however, were designed separately [although they both heavily borrowed parts from other models] and these “pony” cars were a category all to themselves. For comparison’s sake, they join the Dodge Challenger, a performance version of Mopar cars of its time. All three were compared by critics of that time and all three will once again be compared in a few years when production has been ramped up.

Ford Mustang -– Step back in time with me to April 1964 to an era when America was heavily involved in the space race, Lyndon Johnson was president, and General Motors ruled autodom. Ford, for its part, had been nipping at GM’s heels for years, but the failed Edsels of the late 1950s had cost the company dearly. Still, it was the time of the New York World’s Fair and Ford used the fair and television technology to promote its newest offering, the Mustang. A 2+2 coupe borrowing parts from the Fairlane and Falcon, the 1964 ½ model was the first one sold and is widely credited with being the best introduction of a new vehicle ever. With a V6 engine standard and V8 optional, the all new Mustang quickly broke sales records and has been a hot seller ever since. Indeed, with the introduction of the “retro” look Mustang in 2005, the car once again has spawned interest in the muscle car segment as both DaimlerChrysler and General Motors craft competing models of their own.

Dodge Challenger -– After the success of earlier muscle cars including the Dodge Charger and Plymouth ‘Cuda, the Dodge Challenger was launched as a 1970 model. The car borrowed heavily from the ‘Cuda although the sheet metal was Dodge Challengersomewhat different and the wheelbase was stretched by a couple of inches. Because the muscle car era was in decline at the time of its introduction, the Challenger lasted only five model years before it was cancelled. The concept Challenger currently on display at many auto shows is based on the 1970 design and is the talk of message boards and blogs across the nation. Look for Hemi powered engines as being favored by many owners; the car is likely to share some technology with the current Magnum wagon and Charger sedan.

Chevrolet Camaro — GM was asleep at the wheel when the Mustang came out. It took nearly three years before the company could respond and when it did the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird were the result. Although both cars sold well over the years, neither one could match the Mustang’s sales levels and by the time the last cars were sold in 2002, production dropped to a trickle. Still, the end of the Camaro after 35 years has stirred renewed interest in the name and thanks to the retro Mustang, the entire muscle car category is growing once again. Look for a 2010 Camaro to be the first Camaro since Camaro2002; a ragtop version is also being considered.

So, just who can be expected to purchase a muscle car these days? People just like me: middle aged men who grew up with the original models. In addition, a whole new generation of younger drivers tired of the “me too” look of so many of the compact cars out there. Muscle cars of today are so much different from earlier era cars as they incorporate the look of the originals while harnessing today’s technology. Thus, fuel savings will be decent without sacrificing performance: a true win-win situation.

No, I cannot wait to see a Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro lined up at a traffic light waiting for the light to turn green. A new muscle car era is upon us and for that I am very excited.

Summer Car Care Checklist

1. Check your Coolantsummer car care
Often known as radiator fluid, or antifreeze, coolant fluid dumps the heat your engine produces away
from the vital machinery. It’s not a bad idea to check in on your coolant every couple months, but as
we head into the hottest part of the year you better be sure it’s topped off. Blowing a gasket because
you never checked the level of fluid in your radiator is one of the most easily avoidable headaches, and
one of the ones that can cause the most damage.
2. Measure the Tire Pressure
Air in tires expands and contracts with the rise and fall of the temperature. It also tends to escape over
time, especially in older tires. If you haven’t checked them for a couple months, by the time that
summer rolls around you are probably somewhere between three and six pounds per square inch off
where you want to be. Improperly inflated tires can reduce gas millage and road traction. They also
wear out faster and in extreme circumstances can burst long before they should have given out.
Air is free from most gas stations, and many even have free tire pressure gauges. This time of year you
should be able to make good use of them.
3. Get your Air Conditioning Working
Yes, we all know that air conditioning guzzles fuel like little else. But how many of you know that,
depending on the car you are driving, it actually becomes more efficient than an open window at
around forty five miles an hour? In Florida, an air conditioning system is more than a luxury. Your air
conditioning can keep you from showing up at the big meeting already soaked in sweat, or keep you
out of trouble during a heat index warning. Checking out your AC system and taking any necessary
steps to keep it healthy will pay you back tenfold.
4.Cover up in the Sun
You know what we have a lot of here in Florida? Sun. Sun and heat. Neither of those is particularly
good for your car. Consider picking up a car cover or at least window shades as we head into the
hottest part of the year. They will protect your interior and paint from fading and UV damage. A cover
and an awning can also reduce the initial engine temperature of your car and help prevent overheating.
5. Spring Cleaning
We understand that things tend to collect in cars. It’s a personal space that travels everywhere that you
go. But that doesn’t mean the mess has to stay there. Clean out all the extra odds and ends you’ve
picked up in the last couple months and make sure you have what you need for roadside emergencies.
If you’re still carting around your friend’s free weights, random paving stones, or that set of tools your
uncle chuck gave you last November, you might want to take them out. For every hundred pounds of
weight in the car you can lose as much as two percent of your maximum fuel efficiency.
And replace some of what you do take out with things that are useful. Maybe not every driver needs a
set of road flares, a couple bottled waters, and jumper cables. But when you’re in a situation where you
do, you will feel a heck of a lot better than the guy who has to go without.
6. Spring Maintenance
Summer is the season for vacations and road trips. Make sure your car’s innards are up to the task. Oil,
air filters, and oil filters all need changing on a regular basis. Rotating your tires is also good, ensuring
they wear at an even rate. A mechanic can keep an eye out for this and anything you missed, and
qualifying Car Credit customers should be sure to take advantage of their limited maintenance
agreements when applicable.
But anyone who needs to pick up a vehicle this summer should stop by Car Credit Tampa Bay. All
vehicles on our lots go through a multi-point service inspection [link to form] to ensure that they’re
ready for whatever the season throws at them. So get out there and enjoy summer. If you need us,
we’ll be waiting at the lot.
(1) http://www.kiplinger.com/article/cars/T009-C004-S001-5-essential-summer-car-care-tips.html

6 Keys to Credit Repair

A credit score is a value calculated by one of three reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. They use the Fair keys to good creditIsaac Corporation (FICO) scoring system on your collected financial information to come up with a score that reflects the credit industry’s appraisal of your reliable profitability. Note that this is not an evaluator of whether you are a good customer or even a trustworthy person. It’s a number that indicates how reliably lenders can make money off your accounts. The more reliable you are, the more likely they are to cut you a good deal. But bad credit can make it hard to get loans and other sources of credit at reasonable rates or at all

This leads to a number of situations where the best course of action isn’t necessarily the most obvious. But with a little help, there are often things that you can be doing to better your number. Car Credit would like to present a list of our top tips for raising your credit score.
1. Keep an eye on your credit scores

Sites like annualcreditreport.com allow you to check your credit score on a regular basis. This will give you an idea of just how much you need to improve, but it also has a more important function. Clerical errors happen, and your account could be unfairly impacted by something as simple as a bad customer with a similar name.

Don’t worry about these queries affecting your score. They count as “soft” queries, and like queries from potential employers and companies pre-approving credit cards will not affect your credit.1 Keeping careful track of your credit reports will let you know if this happens and allow you to take the appropriate actions to fix it.

2. Don’t miss payments

One of the quickest ways to sink your score is to be tardy with your bill payments. Payment history makes up a full 35% of your FICO credit score. And perhaps the most damaging are charge offs, debtors silent so long the credit companies have to write their their debts off as a loss.

Paying your bills on time is perhaps the most commonsense way of maintaining your credit score. But it is also very easy to mess up. Automatic payments are helpful tool in this regard. Sites like mint.com can help keep on top of all your accounts. But even with this kind of help, keep a close eye on things. The only way to guarantee you will catch fraud and errors is to look it over yourself.

3. Be proactive with problems

It’s often possible to get late payments and other mistakes removed from your account, especially if it’s the first time it has happened. Even when you are sure you aren’t going to be able to make a payment it is better to talk to your creditors beforehand and explain the situation. You may be able to come to some sort of arrangement that is better for your credit score and your bank account.2 It never hurts to ask.

4. Keep your credit use low, but regular

Credit companies look at the percentage of available credit you are using at the current moment. This includes individual cards and accounts in addition to your total available credit, so it is best to spread out debts between accounts. In each case, the less available credit you are using, the better you look. But the kicker here is that using your credit and paying it off is what builds your credit score in the first place. Using and promptly paying off small amounts of credit on a regular basis shows your ability to manage your accounts and keeps companies from canceling available lines of credit.

Also don’t open a bunch of accounts just to boost your available credit. Every time you apply for a card the company will send a “hard” credit report query that will temporarily lower your credit score. Note that car and home loan applications placed within a fourteen day period will count as a single query.1

5. Don’t close your oldest accounts

The length of your credit history determines fifteen percent of your potential credit score. Closing your oldest accounts can reduce the effective length of your history and the average length of your open credit accounts. This is especially problematic if your credit history in general is fairly short.

6. Clear credit blemishes

Outstanding debts and collections accounts are not helpful to your credit score. Try to negotiate with companies to remove them from your record in exchange for paying them off. Make sure to get any promises in writing. If you can’t, try to pay up anyway. A paid collection account is still better looking than an open account.

The one time this may not apply is if you have a charge-off debt approaching or more than seven years old. Paying off the debt will actually keep it on your record for another seven years. You are still legally obligated to pay these off. So negotiating the payment of one of these for removing the incident for the record is a win-win.

Sometimes it can be hard to get the credit you need just to raise your score. If you are having trouble finding credit or you need a new car, stop by Car Credit Tampa Bay. Whether you have no credit or damaged credit, our guaranteed approval program will guide you through the process to building up your credit in no time. Stop by today.
(1) http://www.saveandinvest.org/controldebt/creditscore/P124390
(2)http://thepointsguy.com/2013/07/how-can-i-save-my-credit-score-after-a-late-payment/
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What Happened to the Sunday Drive?

Cars have only gotten better over time. Parts are machined more precisely now, cutting down on wear and tear breakdowns. Dog in a Car Window and enjoy road tripFeatures once considered luxuries are included on the average model: air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, and powered windows. And cars are safer than ever, featuring dedicated crash protection systems far beyond what we ever had before. The automobiles we drive around in are better appointed and more sophisticated every year.

So why have we seemingly abandoned the pursuit of the open road as a national pastime?

Diminished Auto Maintenance

There was a time when car repair could be a pleasure. In between a round of golf and rooting for the home team, getting beneath the undercarriage of your ride and figuring out how to stop that engine knock was a way of relaxing. Even when we were just taking the family car in for a tune-up, it was an event, a day marked bold on our calendar every couple months.

We were proud of our cars, and the act of maintenance was a form of bonding. It was a connection reminiscent of the time when travel was still by horse; the feeding and brushing of the animal replaced by fuel stops and car washes. In every afternoon spent teaching the next generation how to wax the vehicle and get the swirls out of the finish, we taught lessons about diligence and workmanship beyond the act of basic maintenance. Take care of your tools and they will take care of you. We became more attached to the things and the memories we built around them when we invested our own sweat and elbow grease.

Cars require less personal care now. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in losing this connection, we lost some of the affection for our rides. They barely need to be broken in; their finishes look better longer without much effort; and the companies who build them are less interested in encouraging the home mechanic.1

It’s more cramped under the hood these days. The spark plugs and oil filters are often recessed, and harder to reach without special tools. Much of what we once could fix is electronic, and what isn’t might not need replacing quite so often. For many of us, we just don’t have the skill set to do it ourselves. It was something our dads did, but we no longer have the time or the tools to practice the art.

Everyday Treatment

Even having a car has become the default for so long that it has started to lose some of its gloss. Car ownership has hit market saturation. We have reached a point where getting a license has started to slip from a rite of passage to just another government mandated hassle for an increasing number of potential drivers. If that sounds odd, just look at the statistics. Teenagers and young adults are getting their licenses later or never at all.2

There isn’t clear evidence as to what is causing this. It could be the combination of the still painful recession and rising gas prices. Perhaps the connectivity of modern technology makes physical transit less important to recent generations. In any case, these are kids whose fathers, and father’s fathers likely foamed at the mouth in anticipation of their first ride, but the thought of driving no longer appeals to them.

In a sense, this has been happening since Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway act into place in the 1950’s. For those of you not old enough to remember, the Pixar flick “Cars” dramatized the results and the eventual closing of the iconic Route 66. The roads that were once a means for leisure had been made efficient. They serve to get us from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss, if at the price of our sense of wonder and discovery.

And the autos are following suit. Between Google and the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenges, self driving cars are quickly becoming a thing. Google’s manned autonomous fleets reached half a million miles without human intervention in 2013.3 Pundits are claiming all cars will be self driving by the year 2050.4 And it’s little wonder, vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injuries and death in the U.S. with approximately 2.2 million people a year hurt in a crash. Self driving cars promise to lower that figure, and if the technology proves true the changeover seems inevitable.3

But that isn’t today. There isn’t a thing in the world like finding yourself in the driver’s seat on a beautiful day with nowhere in particular to be: when your favorite song comes on the radio and the setting sun breaks free from the trees on the side of the road to wash the world in light; or maybe listening to the motor growl a solo as you feel the acceleration, the wheels biting into the curve of a back country road. It doesn’t feel like an endangered experience, especially when you want to be anywhere but dwelling on morning traffic. But it’s something we might not always have, and there won’t ever be anything to replace it once it’s gone. So the next time you find yourself behind the wheel of your car, take a moment to indulge your inner driver.

And if you want to add some spice to your commute, consider stopping by Car Credit. We can help you slip into something a little more comfortable. Car Credit has a selection of autos to give you a taste of what your father grew up on. It’s still there after all this time, a little smoother, different than it might once have been. But this is a love affair that runs deep in the heart of the land. It will not be so easily forgotten.
Sources

(1)http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/saturday-mechanic-blog/how-to-break-in-a-new-car
(2)http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/13/teen-drivers-license/2891701/
(3)http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2013-09/google-self-driving-car
(4)http://www.policymic.com/articles/78183/study-nearly-all-cars-to-be-self-driving-by-2050

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Just What are We Driving?

Not every one of us is a stock broker or lawyer where money spent on the right look is as much an investment as an upscale office location.  But the car that you drive is just as much a part of your image as the clothes that you wear.  And at Car Credit we know you might just have to take a good long look at what you are driving around in.  What sort of person does your car make you out to be?

Here are a couple categories that should give you thought for pause.

Youthful Follybn

We all make mistakes when we’re young.  Most of us aren’t still driving around in them.  Did it sound like a really good idea to you at one point to try souping up your Nissan Ultima?  How about putting a fin and racing stickers on a Volkswagon Jetta?  Not everyone has enough foresight to focus their tuning efforts on a bland Honda Civic and keep it looking that way.  And now you have something with neon colors and tinted windows.  You might as well have a sign floating overhead reading, “Pull me over officer. I’ve heard of something called a speed limit, but I’m not entirely clear on the subject.”

Maybe it impressed your teenage buddies.  Heck maybe it even impressed a girl or two in it’s heyday.  But now you are a grown adult.  You work a nine to five and are looking at raising a family down the road.  As much as you may have loved that car you need to consider whether it actually fits in your life anymore.  And hey, if it actually netted that girl, you might just be considering something with a couple more seats for the rest of the family.

The Beater

You know what I’m talking about.  A jalopy or a lizzie to those almost old enough to remember the Great War.  A hooptie for the hip-hop crowd, and a wreck or beater for the rest of us.  This is a car with a sheet of plywood down on the floor to cover up the hole rusted in the bottom.  The A/C doesn’t work, and if there isn’t a warning light on in the dashboard you are probably safe to assume the thing burnt out.  The car has seen better days, and it shows.

Maybe vehicle was originally picked up in high school or college, when less than two thousand dollars for a set of wheels seemed like a steal, and the ability to make it from point A to point B (most of the time) was good enough.  Your friends may or may not make fun of you for still driving that thing around.  But who cares about your friends?  We care about what your boss thinks.  He isn’t looking to promote the guy who drives into the parking lot belching black exhaust and has to use sick days when their ride breaks down.  And when it does you know you will be spending more money to fix it than it’s even worth.

The Gas Guzzler Money Guzzler #2

It is all of 2014 at the moment.  We live in an era of skyrocketing fuel prices and tightening pocketbooks.  And it isn’t going to get any better.  Gas is hovering around twice what we pay over in Europe, and the American public is voting with their feet.  Market mainstays like Minivans and SUV’s are losing ground to smaller more efficient vehicles and full on Conversion Vans are all but extinct.  Instead we live in a world of hybrids, economy cars, and cleaner more efficient burning models.

Are you driving around that old Buick you inherited from your dead uncle Sal?  You know, the one that is more boat than car.  Or maybe you have something that lets you ride high above the heads of your fellow commuters.  But you have to wonder how much that vantage point is really worth to you when you are getting just Northward of ten miles to the gallon.  In today’s economy can you really afford to keep throwing money away like that?

Everyone who drives a car has to come to terms with the fact that what they drive colors how the rest of the world sees them.  Is your car at odds with the life you’re living?  Car Credit carries a range of models that will help you upgrade your ride to match your current lifestyle or upgrade your life to match your new ride.  See you at the lot.