Car Words for Car Nerds

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We use so many strange terms when talking about cars that it’s easy to not even consider where those words come from and why we use them. But at Butler Automotive, we’ve never been about doing what is easy. So without further ado, here is the first installment in a series of blogs that dive into the ‘why’ behind the car-words we take for granted.

And what better place to start than the word “car?”

It’s hard to say exactly where most words come from with complete certainty, but the case for the origin of the word “car” seems pretty ironclad. We English-speakers use words that can be traced back to languages from all over the world, but our language has a special fondness for Latin and Greek words (automobile, for example, borrows its halves from both.) So it isn’t much of a stretch to see the Latin word carrus, meaning a wheeled vehicle, and see where we get “car” from. We wonder if people a couple thousand years ago got anxious about carrus dealerships…

And what about the word we use for unusually bad cars, “lemons?”

We like the lemon fruit as much as anyone, especially when you attach “-ade” to it, so how did it come to be associated with the worst cars on the road? Simply put, because the face you make when your new, beautiful car suddenly stops moving is similar to the face you make when you bite into a lemon. In the early 20th-century, bad products were called lemons because they left a sour taste in your mouth. Volkswagen brought the term to the masses with a wildly successful ad campaign in the 1960s, and the U.S. passed “lemon laws” to protect consumers just a few years later. Just don’t tell European carmaker Citroen, whose name means “lemon” in Dutch.

Thus concludes the first run of our car etymology showcase – what car words have you always wondered about?

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Why Do We Care About 0-60 Times?

546b4a49988e1_-_pcoty_091114_1313-lgWhen you think of ways that a car’s speed and performance are measured, what’s the first statistic that comes to mind?

For many drivers, it’s the amount of time a vehicle takes to get to 60 miles-per-hour from a dead stop. 0-60 times have been the bread and butter of car enthusiasts’ arguments for decades, but why? How many drivers actually ever accelerate to 60 mph from a complete stop? And even if we accept the value of comparing cars’ acceleration times, how are those figures determined?

First, the obvious: virtually no-one actually accelerates from 0 to 60. Even stop signs leading to highway on-ramps typically require more work than simply punching the throttle, and if we accept on-ramps as the sole instance where such an acceleration might be beneficial, there’s no reason to really prefer a faster time; as long as you get up to highway speed before you merge, it doesn’t really matter how long it took you to get there.

That doesn’t mean that 0-60 times don’t have their place. You can glean good information about a car’s speed and power-to-weight ratio from 0-60 times, as long as you don’t take tenth-of-a-second differences as gospel.

Assuming the hubbub about 0-60 times is related to highway driving, the number that would best inform the average driver is a car’s 40-70 time. The only time when most drivers are truly “gunning it” is passing other drivers on the highway, and a car’s ability to get up and go from a stop tells you very little about how easily it can get past the Dodge Caravan going 20 miles under the speed limit with its blinker on.

But 0-60 is the number people care about, so that’s the number car companies test for. How do they reach that number?

Generally speaking, by doing everything they can to get the best number possible. The amount of fuel in a vehicle, the condition of the road, wind conditions, air pressure, temperature, and even the ability and weight of the driver behind the wheel can affect how quickly a car accelerates from zero. So if you were to get your car on a track and have a go at your vehicle’s advertised 0-60 time, the chances are good you would come up short of the pros.

So when shopping for a vehicle, consider leaving 0-60 numbers to the kind of folks who start fights on internet forums. The way that a car drives can’t be quantified by a cold, hard number, and a simple test-drive will be more informative than a car’s listed specifications any day.

What Rental Car Would the Rental Manager Rent?

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Chris Hansen, our Super Saver Rentals manager, is a man of many cars. Beyond the cars he’s owned personally, beyond the many cars he’s driven in his career in the car industry, Chris oversees a fleet of 99 rental cars every day. The specific vehicles that he rents out change over time – he’s recently introduced more trucks and vans, for example – but no matter how his fleet changes, his love of cars remains the same. So when we asked Chris if he had a favorite rental car of all time, we were surprised to find that not only did he have an obvious favorite, but that it is currently parked on our lot!

The Kia Cadenza may not be the vehicle that comes to mind when you think of high-end rental cars. But when someone who wants the most luxurious rental vehicle we have comes in, Chris hands them a key that says “Kia” on it.

“They usually look at me like, ‘are you kidding?’” Chris says, laughing. “But I tell them, I’ve driven all kinds of high-end cars, Mercedes, BMW, heck, a boss I had in the 90s let me drive his Ferrari around for an afternoon. And this car impressed me more than any of them, because with the Ferrari, with almost any performance car, you get in expecting a lot, and then end up getting less car than you’d hoped. With the Cadenza, I got in not expecting much, and I got a ton. It’s the most underrated car I’ve ever driven.”

Chris’ love for Kia’s high-end sedan, which he first drove two years ago, has inspired him to bring a new Cadenza into his rental fleet every year. “The options on it are unreal, because Kia has to offer more for less to get people in a car they’ve maybe never heard of,” says Chris. “I literally had the cruise control on, the person in front of me braked, and the car braked, then when he took off from the light, so did I. Without doing a thing. It was like being in a self-driving car for stop-and-go traffic, until I got on some open road and let it loose again.”

While it may be his personal favorite, Chris’ fleet has several other gems that he holds near and dear. We’ll be getting in touch with him again soon to find out what else he recommends for rental.

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Hot Car: Summer in the Civic

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Summer is here, and our cars are scalding. Those beautiful, black leather seats that made us so happy in the fall have now become a seething reminder of the sun’s incomprehensible power. The wood-trim steering wheels we negotiated to get a deal on are wreaking their revenge on our fingers. The black-on-black beauty we put our hard-earned cash into modifying now laughs every time we unlock it, anticipating the speed with which we will drive it home to avoid succumbing to heatstroke.

It’s hot, folks. It’s don’t play with fireworks, don’t leave your dog in the car, don’t leave your chocolate outside the fridge hot. And if, in some small way, we can help you avoid the warm-weather mistakes we made when we bought our cars, if you value staying cool in your vehicle even more than you value looking cool in your vehicle, we’re here to help.

The biggest consideration to make if you want the ultimate summer weather warrior is color. Studies show that white cars can reflect as much as 60% of the sun’s rays, while black cars can only reflect as much as 5%. That’s a pretty dramatic gulf, and it bears out in real world settings as well. If you parked a black Mustang and a white Mustang side by side on a hot summer day, the black Mustang would likely be around 20 degrees hotter than the white one, and it would take longer to cool with AC as well!

Another element to consider is the color of the interior. Cloth or leather, light-colored interior retain less heat than dark-colored interiors. If interior temperature is a serious consideration for you, you’d do well to start liking light-colored vehicles.

You may prefer red cars because of your psychology. You may prefer dark interiors because of your aesthetic inclinations. But if you prefer cars that stay as cool as possible in the summer, you’ll want to go with something white – it’s just basic physics.

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Rocky Moore Recognized by Ford – Again!

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Oregon can sometimes feel like a small world unto itself, but by size the Beaver State is the ninth-largest in the U.S. We may not be the most populous state, but we more than make up what we lack in population with square-mileage. And when you live in a state that has the kind of wide open spaces and beautiful backroads that Oregon has, you also end up with your fair share of Ford dealerships.

Yet despite having Ford dealerships scattered all over the state, just three Oregon product specialists earned Ford’s coveted Employee Excellence (E2) Level-4 recognition. 2 of them are in the Portland area, where there are more car buyers than anywhere else in the state. The other is Rocky Moore.

Ford’s E2 recognition system is fairly straightforward. It honors the men and women who are the most productive while also maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction. So incredibly kind, no-pressure product specialists who only see a handful of customers a year are out of the running, and product specialist who are masters of the car sale but aren’t exceptional with their customer car are also out of the running.

Those are the benchmarks for E2 recognition- the ability to help customers find the perfect car for their wants and needs with an eye towards the satisfaction of the customer over the completion of the sale. Rocky finds himself in even rarer air; to receive Level 4 recognition, you have to meet those benchmarks better than approximately 99% of every Ford dealership employee in the country. Rocky accomplished that feat in 2015, and the star next to his name tells an even more impressive story: he’s achieved this incredible standard of excellence multiple times.

If you ask Rocky about his achievement, he’s as humble as ever. He’s a man who went to college on a rodeo scholarship, gave guided tours of Hawaii on horseback, and helped oversee the expansion of Ralph Lauren men’s clothing west of the Rockies – he’s heard enough said about himself. He wants to hear the stories and experiences of the people who walk onto our lot. Maybe that’s why he’s unlike any Ford employee in Oregon.

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Convertible Season in Southern Oregon

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It may still technically be spring, and the weatherman may still be calling for rain on what feels like all of your days off, but we’re calling it now: it’s officially convertible season in Southern Oregon.

There may be no automobile more American than the convertible. Sure, convertible tops can be prone to leaks. Sure, convertibles sacrifice a good bit of cargo room to hold the roof. And yes, a retractable roof is yet another piece of equipment that can potentially need repairs. But to Americans, the automobile has always been as much a symbol of freedom as a reliable means of conveyance.

We get our driver’s license at 16, when we are typically both in the process of becoming an adult and dying to escape from our parents, even if it means borrowing their late-90s minivan to do so. Many of us get our first car when we get our first real job, and some of us get our first sports car when we get our first gray hair. Cars allow us free ourselves from our daily lives, to become someone a little more exciting than the person our co-workers know and respect, and nothing says freedom and excitement quite like the feeling of the wind in your hair.

So by all means, if the price is right and the road is calling you, go ahead and get that convertible, or, if the price is wrong but the road is calling anyway, rent one. If you suddenly find yourself behind the wheel of a convertible, here are a few handy tips for convertible ownership:

Plan for changes in temperature by having some long sleeve shirts or jackets stowed in the back.

Don’t turn on the windshield wipers with the top down, unless you’re also looking for a quick shower.

Don’t leave the top down when you aren’t in it. You’ve probably considered the dangers posed by thieves, but have you considered the dangers posed by birds?

If you’re traveling with important paper documents, stow them before you put the top down.

Prepare your refusal speech before every single relative you have between the ages of 16 and 30 asks you to take your baby for a spin.

Consider avoiding the freeway with the top down. You’ll be amazed how much less fun 70 mph wind is than 50 mph wind.

And finally, look into a slick driving hat to keep your head cool, and always remove your toupee when you take the top down, unless you’re looking for an excuse to buy a new one anyway.

We hope this list has been some help in your quest for the convertible bliss, and we hope to see you on some country road this summer!

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A Community Thank You from Butler Automotive Group

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On the day our company celebrated 40 years serving a community that always inspires us, it’s fitting that our 40th Anniversary Celebration and Grand Opening of our new Butler Ford building was more than a little exciting, to say the least.

When we sent out invitations to family and friends, we were anticipating a sizable turnout, but more than 400 people made it to our celebration. If we had any question how many people our new Ford showroom could hold, we got our answer last Tuesday: just over 400.

There’s no better way to remember why you love your community than spending an evening elbow to elbow with your friends and neighbors, and the memories from our celebration were the perfect capstone to our first 40 years of memories in Southern Oregon.

There was the musical accompaniment to the evening’s festivities, provided by the remarkably-talented North Medford High School Chamber Orchestra, which left us amazed at the poise and musicality of the five-student ensemble. Adding to our appreciation of their performance was the fact that the group’s cellist, Conner Hancock, is the son of Curtis Hancock, our Director of Parts and Service, and the grandson of Brian Hancock, our retired Service Director, and Judy Tucker, our retired title clerk. As a family business, it warms our hearts to have been able to enjoy 40 years with local families.

Then there was the incredible time-lapse video playing in the lounge, provided by expert videographer Shawn Adams, who consolidated 9 months of construction into 4 riveting minutes. When you spend as long as we did working next to an active construction site, you start to lose sight of how far the project has come in such a relatively short period of time. Thanks to Shawn, we were all able to witness just how hard Adroit Construction worked, rain, snow, wind and all.

And more than anything else, there was the people. We are profoundly touched to have been in business for 40 years, and we are infinitely more fortunate to have spent those years in a community and region that means so much to us. As much as we’ve grown, as far as we’ve come from our little store in downtown Ashland, we have not forgotten the friends and family who allowed us to make it this far, and we never will.

From all of us at Butler, thank you for 40 incredible years, and here’s to the magical years to come!