Detours: It's Good to Be Here - BodyShop Business

Detours: It’s Good to Be Here

A recent trip across the pond gave Scott Shriber some insight into the European automotive and collision industries.

As many of you know, part of my job involves traveling around the country to participate in industry events. One of the by-products of that travel is the columns I write about the unique shops and vehicles I find along the way.

This time, for once, I found myself outside of our native soil. I was traveling through Europe and ran across some interesting sights. On the car front, it was quite an eye opener. Frankly, I only recognized about 25 percent of the vehicles on the road.

Interestingly, there were many brands I was familiar with, but at one point in time or another they disappeared from our roads – Citroen, Peugeot, Opel, Alfa Romeo and Renault, just to name a few. Of course, there were Fiats everywhere along with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and the like. Then, there were the ones I had never seen here – Skoda, Lancia, Rover and Seat. Most were fairly unremarkable, but some of them caught my eye.

Then, of course, there were the offerings from our domestic manufacturers. The surprising thing was that most carried different nameplates than their stateside counterparts. Some were models that aren’t even available here. I’ve included a couple of photos of these from Ford and Toyota. Some were very stylish but also seemed practical. Most day-to-day vehicles seemed to be diesels and sticks.

The last category is the fun one. Of course, it’s the high performance group. Frankly, I’ve never seen so many top, high-performance vehicles on the road for everyday driving. There were many Ferraris and Lamborghinis sporting around in everyday situations. I stopped counting Audi R8 Cabriolets. Likewise, Aston Martin Vantage and DB-7s in convertible form were pretty common. Matte finish seemed to be the new great thing. I’m a big gloss guy, but I will say that a red Ferrari is still pretty breathtaking even in matte.

Check out the black Ferrari in the photo. I found it parked in the dropoff lane at baggage. I don’t know about you, but in the unlikely event that I find myself as a Ferrari owner, I highly doubt you’ll find me parallel parked at baggage claim.

Bringing all this home to us, I looked around for repair facilities. Some were certainly better than others. Dealers had fairly up-to-date facilities, but when you got into the older cities, working conditions deteriorated rapidly. I saw many a tech under a car on the ground with a floor jack supporting the vehicle. And there were lots of vehicles being worked on in the streets on the ground, of course.

What struck me was the stark contrast of outstanding vehicles with the rather crude or ill-equipped repair facilities. Not to say they were all lacking, but the majority would classify as a C or D shop over here. Again, one more reason to be thankful we’re part of our great country and our economy.

While the elaborate train system in Europe is a marvel, I wouldn’t trade it for the flexibility provided by our individual-based transportation.

I hope to see you at SEMA!

You May Also Like

Reader’s Choice: What Does the Future Look Like for EVs?

What is the future for EVs, what can shops expect, what are the pros and cons, and what must we do to prepare?

“What is the future for EVs, what can shops expect, what are the pros and cons, and what must we do to prepare? What will our role be? It addresses an unknown future. I have read that some manufacturers like Tesla are going all-in while others like Toyota are dabbling in the market but are going to keep giving consumers what they want for now." – Brad Larsen, Unique Auto Body, American Folk, Utah

Modern Vehicle Construction: A Material Matter

ADAS grabs the headlines today, but let’s not forget about another vehicle complexity: advanced materials.

Plastic Repair: A Solution to the Parts Shortage

If you can’t get parts, then it makes sense to repair them. So maybe it’s time to dust off the old plastic welder and two-part bumper repair adhesives.

Vehicle Structures: A Mixed Bag

By now, we all should know that vehicles today are made from an amalgam of different materials that require identification and research.

Auto Body Welding: Look Before You Weld

Don’t just grab and go; are you looking up the OEM procedures before welding?

Other Posts

Reader’s Choice: Required Vehicle Safety Inspections

If we are going to agree that inspections are needed when a collision occurs, then we should all be on the same page on what that means.

Reader’s Choice: Why Don’t Insurers Pay the Prevailing Rate?

If in the past insurance companies would only pay the prevailing rate, then why do they not have to pay the prevailing rate now, since the prevailing rate went up?

Meet the Auto Body Instructor: Norm Markham

Norm Markham was a student at Dennis Technical Education Center in the early 1980s and is now one of the collision repair and automotive refinishing instructors there.

Auto Body Refinish: Paint Prep Fundamentals

Nothing is faster or more profitable than accuracy — doing it right the first time.