At the 2019 NADA Show held in January in San Francisco, the mood was generally upbeat among the thousands of auto dealers scouring the aisles in search of labor- and time-saving business solutions and new profit centers.  But there are some clouds on the horizon.

New-vehicle sales are expected to decline—albeit slightly—from the 17.2 million vehicles sold last year. Higher interest rates are creating a consumer affordability issue. And the possibility of tariffs imposed on import vehicles—which will raise prices significantly—is another affordability concern.

On the bright side, however, Patrick Manzi, senior economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association—the 101-year-old trade group which represents nearly 16,500 franchised new-car dealerships—told automotive journalists during a press briefing that NADA is predicting new-vehicle sales of 16.8 million this year.

“The current posture of the U.S. economy is strong,” said Manzi. “A tight labor market continues to put upward pressure on wages, which are rising. Consumer spending…remains solid. It’s a positive sign that consumers are spending money.”

Outgoing NADA Chairman, Michigan dealer Wes Lutz, echoed Manzi’s comments. “NADA’s forecast is 16.8 million. I can concur with that. It should be another robust year. They’re predicting a little bit off last year. Interest rates are having an effect on monthly payments… I wouldn’t be surprised if it (is) a little softer, but all in all, I think we’re looking at a great year again.”

Michigan auto dealer Wes Lutz, who served as NADA Board Chairman last year, predicts 2019 will be a robust year, despite a slight softening in sales.

Among the 500-plus exhibiting companies were several hawking PDR and detailing products in anticipation of encouraging dealers to bring these services in-house, perhaps bypassing more traditional aftermarket distribution channels.



The midsize pickup truck market just got a bit more crowded with the reveal of the long-awaited 2020 Jeep® Gladiator at the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles.  The truck, which takes its name from an earlier version that was produced from 1962 to 1988, is the only open-air pickup on the market and has been engineered to deliver best-in-class towing, according to FCA.

Available only in a four-door configuration, the Gladiator’s new Wrangler-like frame has been extended 31 inches and has a wheelbase that’s 19.4 inches longer. The truck can handle a payload of up to 1,600 lbs., has a three-position tailgate, and is equipped with Jeep-worthy off-road capabilities. Due in dealerships in the second quarter of 2019, the Gladiator is sure to join its fellow Jeeps as one of the most customized vehicles on the road.

The new Jeep Gladiator wowed the crowd at the LA Auto Show and is sure to be a prime candidate for customization.



Mitchell International has announced a milestone for the Mitchell Diagnostics system: 300,000 repair scans have been completed using the patent-pending system. Mitchell also announced significant enhancements to its Freedom Platform, which help facilitate the proper and safe repair of vehicles.

The Mitchell Diagnostics system was introduced in 2017 and has now assisted insurer, independent appraiser and collision-repair facility users. The Mitchell Diagnostics system is a comprehensive collision repair diagnostics solution, operating on all leading vehicle makes and providing both scanning and diagnostic repair capabilities, without per-transaction vehicle fees.

For repairers, the system may be utilized to perform diagnostic repairs in-house, including recalibrations, system resets and module reprogramming. The MCS-415 target recalibration system allows repairers to complete target-based recalibrations on many major OEMs. The Freedom Platform is designed to allow the free flow of repair and claims information among both Mitchell and third-party applications to help streamline processing and assist in the delivery of proper and safe repairs. www.mitchell.com.



Car-crazy celebrity Adam Corolla will serve as the grand marshal at the upcoming Classic Auto Show, to be held at the Orange County Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California, March 16-17.

Corolla, a multi-talented comedian, TV personality, host of a record-setting podcast and a passionate car collector, will treat showgoers to a display of vehicles from his personal collection, participate in an interview and greet fans.

Other event highlights include a live push-start of eight restored nitro dragsters, built and originally driven by Big Daddy Don Garlits; displays of more than 2,000 vintage vehicles as well as pre/post-war hot rods, muscle cars, lowriders and Japanese imports that personify the Southern California car culture. The popular Grand Boulevard will showcase some of the rarest classic and historic vehicles from all eras. And for those interested in shopping for the latest parts, accessories and services, there will be dedicated marketplace featuring more than 200 exhibitors.

Several celebrities will also be on hand, including Dave Kindig, Wayne Carini, Mark Worman and Lyn S. James, to name a few. According to show organizers, each will make a special appearance on the Celebrity Stage, sharing perspectives, expertise and memories. Mark Greene, host of the CarsYeah podcast and CarsYeah TV, will preside over the Celebrity Stage. For more information on the Classic Auto Show, visit www.classicautoshow.com.



Chip Foose, who has earned widespread acclaim for his extraordinary career in hot-rod design, both for his work with noted hot-rod builder Boyd Coddington and for his own workshop, was named Builder of the Decade during the recent Grand National Roadster Show at the Fairplex in Pomona, California.

Foose-built and Foose-designed vehicles have earned numerous accolades, including eight America’s Most Beautiful Roadster titles. Foose, whose his hit TV series Overhaulin’ ran for nine seasons—bringing the hot rodding and car customization culture to a wide audience—was also inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2016.

“We couldn’t be happier to honor Chip Foose as our Builder of the Decade,” said John Buck, show producer. “There are few people who have had as much influence or popularity in the hot rod and custom car industry as Chip Foose. He’s certainly deserving of this award.”

Chip Foose, car customizer extraordinaire, is renowned for his award-winning career in hot-rod design, including this 1932 Ford Roadster 0032, which was inspired by the World War II P-32 fighter plane and named America’s Most Beautiful Roadster in 2000.



Only 80 well-heeled people in America scored an 80th Anniversary Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition within 48 hours of its debut. The 2019 limited-edition model, with a whopping $110,000 price tag, is the most expensive Lincoln sold to date. And Michael Oakley was one of the few lucky buyers.

“You see a particular car driving down the street or at the Detroit auto show, and you say, ‘I’ve got to have one of those,” said Michigander Oakley, who waited years to buy the iconic vehicle that made history in 1961 for its vintage elegance and center-opening “suicide doors.” The new, limited-edition Continental will join his 2015 Chevy Corvette and 1958 Chevy Bel Air. “Melding the past with the present or future, to me, is a cool idea,” he said.

Oakley was among hundreds—mostly from New York, Los Angeles and Miami—who swamped Lincoln dealerships with requests as soon as news broke that a handcrafted 80th Anniversary 2019 Continental Coach Door Edition would soon be available. Each Continental is numbered with special plates, and some buyers want to match a lucky number or birthday. Car collectors have called, along with high-profile individuals, who want to make a standout statement.

“Our first two calls came from New York and the West Coast, each wanted to be first,” said Robert Parker, Lincoln’s director of marketing.  “One customer could have whatever (he) wanted, and he wanted to match the Lincoln with his aircraft.” In noting the continuing interest, Parker said, “We will do a limited 2020 version. We’re hearing not only from here in the U.S., but other markets that are interested, too, be it Dubai or Shanghai.”

Mike and Donna Oakley, Clinton Township, Michigan, purchased an 80th Anniversary Continental Coach Door Edition. Here they’re posed beside a 2019 model on display at the Detroit auto show.

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