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OEM Report: Automotive

Custom gone crazy

By Abbe Miller

October 2009- One-off parts are nothing out of the ordinary for metal fabricators. In fact, these shops are often a saving grace for someone who needs a replacement part that's no longer in production. As for custom work, the only limit to some of the requests is the imagination of the customer.

It's one thing when a car owner "tricks" his automobile to his own liking, but it's quite another when customization is introduced in the factory--in mass production.

MSN Autos tracked down the most outlandish vehicle upgrades and published its findings in "10 most outrageous factory options ever." Take a look: Hope for a smooth ride with the Highway Hi-Fi add-on. In 1956, the under-the-dash record player was available for Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, Imperial and Plymouth vehicles.

If listening to tunes isn't your bag, perhaps camping is. For General Motors Co., Detroit, at least, auto tents were apparently an obsession. In 1973, the company released the hatchback hutch for its Chevy Vega and since then has offered tent options on four other vehicles.

Too busy pitching a tent to wind your own watch? Let the steering wheel do the work. In 1951, Oldsmobile introduced the steering wheel self-winding watch, but its time didn't last. It was too expensive and inaccurate to gain mass popularity.

Unlike some of the other auto upgrades to catch MSN Auto's attention, the swing-away steering wheel from Ford didn't enhance the driver's experience. It did make his life easier, though, but to a minimal degree. This add-on engaged when the car was in park and facilitated getting in and out of the car by sliding 9 in. to the right and out of the driver's way.

Eccentric or essential?
Considering the popularity of heated seats, the Airscarf isn't that far-fetched of an idea. With the ability to emit warm air from a seat's headrest, the 2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 allows a driver to leave the top down on a fall day. And if you don't have a top to retract, consider the starlight headliner. Thanks to Rolls-Royce, the nighttime sky can be at a driver's fingertips--if that driver can afford the feature's $8,400 price tag.

But factory add-ons aren't just for the extravagant. Although an electric shaver with a cigarette lighter adaptor isn't quite as outlandish as some of the other add-ons, it still made MSN Auto's list. The editors apparently based its inclusion on Ford's timing. With today's busy schedule, it might seem a bit more viable. Back in 1950s, however, it was less probable that a driver would need such an item. The same holds true for Chevy's makeup tray, which also made the list.

When looking good can be facilitated by your vehicle, smelling good should be an option, too. If Japan is the place you call home and if essential oils are actually essential even when you're in your Toyota, the aroma diffuser is a must. For everyone else, the pine-scented car air freshener will do.

If granite countertops are the only way to go for a high-end condo kitchen, then it was just a matter of time before granite trim would find its way into a high-end car. And high-end might be an understatement in the case of the 2009 Maybach Landaulet, though. With a sticker price is $1.3 million, it should probably come with diamond-studded seatbelts, too.

All in all, what a person does with his or her car is subject to scrutiny. What an auto manufacturer does, however, should be subject for intervention. And this list only serves as proof. FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

WATERJET

DEBURRING/FINISHING

LVD Strippit

PUNCHING

Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

METAL FORMING

Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

WELDING

Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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