By Wayne William Cipriano
My Mother bought a brand new VW Bug in 1967 for the full price of $1866.00 (taxes, radio, and undercoating included). I remember that so easily because in our entire family history my parents, my brother, and I have only purchased five new cars. The folks bought a 1962 Mercury (that was one very fast car!) and the Bug. My brother bought a 1973 Mercury Capri upon his graduation from the Academy, and my Mother bought a 1991 Toyota. I’m still looking around to decide what my first new car should be.
$1866.00 was a lot of money in 1967 but even considering inflation and all that other stuff over the last 50 years (fifty years? Wow!), you cannot get an equivalent ride today for the same money. And I don’t think you can expect to get 265,000 miles out of whatever you do buy today like we did out of the Bug.
Whenever I see car and truck ads on television, and try to figure what they cost (or what they lease for –– a surprisingly foolish way to finance transportation ranking up there with the “extended warranty” urban myth), I think of the value and the utility of that Bug and wish there was a clone available today. Even more so, however, I wish there was a new truck around for a reasonable price.
Now, I’m not talking about those chrome-plated behemoths you see tooling down the highways and glittering on the television screens that cost two or three year’s salaries and are financed over so long a payback period that not only does the truck not outlast the payment book, but the memory of the truck fades before the last payment is made. These monsters cost as much as a small house and are appointed more luxuriously than the home they return the owner to each night after working hard all week, catching as much overtime as possible, just to pay for the privilege of supporting a vehicle industry that is way beyond bloated – it’s…., it’s…., out of control!
What I would like to see, what we really need, what could make one of these Bill Gates – like entrepreneur fortunes is the Cipriano Truck (C-T).
The C-T is for those who want economy, utility, longevity, reliabil-ity, and ease of maintenance, and don’t much care how ugly the package that delivers these qualities is. You will notice first the body. Angular for ease of production – the C-T operates generally below 50 miles per hour, very frequently at 5 to 10, wind resistance is not a concern. All the windows are like-wise flat for the same reasons and the side windows fold in half for ventilation (like the old Renault 2-CV). The lighting is DOT acceptable, two headlights, two tail lights, four running lights (if they can’t be avoided). The wheels are 15” and the fenders are wide enough to accom-modate any width tire.
And about that DOT: Some serious start-up money will be used to buy some politicians, I mean acquaint some politicians with the concept of low-speed, mostly off-road vehicles not needing safety accoutrements like airbags, crushable body panels and the other things designed to 1) cause any little bump in a parking lot to result in a totally destroyed car for insurance purposes or stratospherically expen-sive refitting at least; and 2) save some idiot’s life who was drunkenly careening down the highway at 85 mph.
There are two doors, each very wide to provide access to the flat area behind the two front seats each of which is a pipe frame unit with strung canvas seating (again like the 2-CV). The brakes are disc and it has 4WD.
The motor is a somewhat large displacement four-cylinder strong enough to pull a fairly loaded trailer; trailer hitch and front pulling hooks are standard. The transmission is a four-speed (with a compound low like the old Chevy trucks) on reverse gear. There might be a heater, with, maybe, a fan.
The C-T is small, light, and very rugged. The body never changes and replacement panels are cheap.
All the component designs that are leased from “big time” auto manufacturers are those that mechanics the world over specify as “bulletproof” and last “forever” and since they are in common usage or “too old” to be attractive will be cheap to score.
Before you start listing all the things you feel are “necessary” on a C-T, relax. The C-T will be around so long, be so unchanging, and so popular that a secondary market offering any “refinement” one may wish from padded seat cushions to sun visors, chrome grills to light-bar bumpers, fancy rear view mirrors will spring up.
But the basic C-T, pledged to be available at the most miniscule price possible forever, will never supply these “extras,” will never inflate its cost with “features.”
Now, who wants to be the first to place an offer for a C-T and maybe buy a few shares of the company during the Initial Public Offering?