Photo Report: Driving a Haval H9 to the middle of nowhere, Australia – Part 4: Tibooburra to Cameron Corner


This is Part 4 of our adventure to the middle of nowhere Australia with a Haval H9, which we baptised Ivanhoe. See Part 1: Melbourne to Mildura herePart 2: Mildura to Broken Hill here and Part 3: Broken Hill to Tibooburra here. We now leave Tibooburra and its gymkhana New Year’s Eve celebrations to try and join Cameron Corner store where we are supposed to spend New Year’s Eve across three time zones. It’s 2pm when we turn the ignition on, which should give us plenty of time to get across the 173 km itinerary. Or so we thought…

Tibooburra-Cameron Corner itinerary – Map by Google Maps

Google maps tells us it will take 6h30 to join Cameron Corner from Tibooburra. It turned out this timing was a little bullish as we had to stop many times along the way…

Ivanohe on the dirt road straight out of Tibooburra: a storm is brewing on the horizon.

As we leave Tibooburra with two bungee straps holding half the underbody protection that dislodged itself in the last post of this series, we can see a storm is brewing on the horizon. We can only hope our itinerary won’t cross its path. It would turn out the storm affected the road we are taking, just not at the same time as us. We need to stop a couple of times over the first 20 km to check on the bungee straps that are getting smashed by the muddy terrain we are crossing. It doesn’t look like they will hold up until Cameron Corner.

Only 96 km to go…It’s muddy out here…
Ivanohe posing and getting a bit of dirt on its sides.

46 km away from Tibooburra, we come to an intersection that leads to Tooney Gate or continues on to Cameron Corner via the aptly-named Cameron Corner Road. Turns out Cameron Corner isn’t 173 km away from Tibooburra but a mere 142. Too easy! Except we are now coping the effects of the storm mentioned above and the track is getting muddier by the minute. We are now in fill mud mode the whole of the time. We stop again to check the bungee straps: one has disappeared and the other one is totally dislocated and destroyed. What to do? Do we retrace our steps and spend the night in Tibooburra or do we push through and hope for the best? We decide to do the latter (but I have a feeling you knew this already).

The flooded clay pan has us thinking twice before continuing.

Feeling somewhat reassured that we won’t worry about the underbody from now on, we start the engine again with an extra bit of motivation. A mere 20 km later though, the track just disappears into a clay pan. Now we are really thinking it’s time to return to Tibooburra. A few pictures were taken to emphasise the incongruous situation, we could bet that a couple of hours ago we would have been able to cross here, but the storm we saw preceding us is the culprit. We would have confirmation of these timings once arrived in Cameron Corner as two other blokes came this very way to reach Cameron Corner and could go through, simply because it was earlier in the day. Thankfully, there is a backup plan…

We have passed the flooded clay pan!

Just before coming to the flooded pan, we had noticed an alternative option in the form of a track seemingly taking a left turn to contour the pan a few hundred metres back. Now this is the real test for Ivanohe our Haval H9. Fresh muddy ruts abound but the car goes through every single one of them with ease. We breathe a sigh of relief when we are able to connect back to the main track as pictured above.

Ivanohe trying to help

We have decided to let nature do its thing and capture our underbody protection. We will need to be extra careful for rocks in order not to damage anything underneath the car. It is now 7:30pm and the sun is setting. Just as we thought we were in for the last straight, we come across a bogged down truck – it would end up being the only vehicle we passed between Tibooburra and Cameron Corner. We must stop to help, as we would expect the same if it was us that were bogged down. We spend the next couple of hours helping, notably by placing dead wood under the wheels, repositioning it at each attempt. We even used Ivanohe to link and give direction to the truck as it was trying to get out of the side of the track, in vain. Note we did not actually try and tow the truck as it was way too heavy for Ivahoe our Haval H9 to pull. We leave the poor bloke for the night as he assures us he’s got everything he needs. It is quite a sizeable truck and he assured us he can sleep in and wait for the muddy track to dry out by tomorrow.

We encountered this little fellow right before reaching Cameron Corner.

Finally, right after 11pm NSW time, we arrive in Cameron Corner Store. Just in time to buy a six pack of beers before the bar closes for New Year’s Eve celebrations…

Stay tuned for the next episode of this series in Cameron Corner.

Media post: American Automotive Service Solutions Provides a Unique Extended Service Contract For Your Vehicles Needs

American Automotive Service Solutions (AASS) is an auto warranty company, but it’s not your regular kind. Unlike most other auto warranty firms, AASS’ goal is to provide long-term satisfaction to its customers, along with great service. The company has different vehicle service contracts on offer, so that all buyers would find a plan that fits into their scheme of things. Not to mention, there’s money back guarantee as well. By the way, how many other auto warranty firms are willing to offer such guarantees?

AASS has seldom been out of news. The company constantly works hard to offer something unique and new to its buyers, which means the company frequently receives press attention. For example, at the end of 2016, the company came up with a unique service concerning extended vehicle warranties. This service apparently replaces unsolicited phone calls and mails with great customer service and a few other options that help with savings on car repairs.

As aforementioned, AASS takes a unique approach to things. One of the ways it differentiates itself from the competition is by earning certifications from prestigious organizations. The majority of extended warranty firms on the market cannot claim to have such certificates. For instance, the company is a Vehicle Protection Association (VPA) member. This means it can access critical information and resources relating to the extended warranty business that non-member firms cannot claim access to. As a result, customers can rest assured their service agreements would have the backings of industry leaders. VPA is a non-profit firm that is committed to offering first-rate auto service contracts to buyers. The organization is essentially a watchdog entity that oversees industry practices and promotes fair business policies and systems.

Generally, most other American Automotive Services Solutions reviews only talk about certificates and do not throw much light on why the company is so unique. However, we would like to state that AASS is not just about its certifications and prestigious memberships. The company has also allied with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as AAS (American Auto Shield) and MBPI (Marathon and Mechanical Breakdown Protection, Inc.), to name a few. These companies have a solid reputation in the industry with a BBB (Business Better Bureau) rating of A or better.

Getting top BBB ratings is not a minor accomplishment. BBB does a lot of research about a company before it delivers its verdict on it. The rating system entails a maximum of 100 points. A company that scores 94 or more happens to get the A grade. If a company manages an A rating or greater, then that speaks volumes about the business’ quality and credibility. It means the company has few customer complaints against it, is transparent with its business practices, and addresses complaints (if any) in a timely manner.

AASS is committed to its customers and therefore associates with firms that are known for similar or greater dedication to consumers. The ultimate objective is to ensure customers get excellent and reliable service anytime and every time they associate with the company. Most companies cannot claim to have the backing that AASS has. In fact, the majority at times fall back to their own resources (for the lack of other resources) whenever a customer files in for a claim. Since most auto warranty companies aren’t self-sufficient enough, the consumers filing in are left stranded, as a result. AASS has the support of some of the biggest names in the car warranty business. This means its customers can be rest assured that their automobile would stay protected at all times.

Media post: The Dodge Ram Truck History

Ram 2500

Don’t you love that Ram logo on Dodge Ram trucks? It really stands fro toughness and it’s a perfect choice for the sturdy and dependable Ram truck. It’s so tough and such a pleasure to drive that it won the coveted Motor Trend Magazine’s Truck of the Year Award five times! That Ram Tough truck has always been on the top of truck buyers’ lists throughout the years.

The Ram pickup has been on people’s minds since 1981. Of course, back then, it was known as the Dodge Ram Pickup. When that first generation of Ram trucks came out the Ram logo and the ram hood ornament was introduced also. Boy, was that popular! Yes, I mean the truck and the hood ornament, both very cool items. Anyway, Dodge had manufactured trucks before the Ram pickup was born so they used the same signifiers such as “D” “B” or “Ram” for the two-wheel drive versions and the “W” or “Power Ram” for the four-wheel drive models.

To make it easier for truck enthusiasts to instantly know what they were looking at, Dodge used the same numbering system that Ford used. That is, 150 was for the half-ton model, 250 meant it was a three-quarter ton version and 350 was simply a one-ton truck. that made it simple and quick and apparently truck owners loved that kind of talk.

The first gen Ram truck was a big success and it was redesigned in 1994 to give it more of a big-rig look and feel. The designers and engineers were right on the money with that look and feel because the second generation Ram truck kicked some…dirt up in the air and tripled the sales of the first generation truck from the previous year. Everyone should be so lucky! Guess what…Sales doubled again in the next two years.

The third generation of 2002 increased sales and popularity again and the fourth gen trucks, which came out in 2009 blew everyone away with all the innovations and practical renovations it had. Mussleman’s Dodge has plenty of 2017 Dodge Ram trucks and they are just waiting to go for a test drive. Come down and see what new innovations this year’s Ram has to offer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Media post: The Fiat History explained


Fiat, anyone? Why not, everyone else is. Yes, the Fiat car brand is enormously popular, that’s for sure! Everywhere you look nowadays, you see a Fiat buzzing by. Those small cars started appearing on our highways just a few years ago after the Fiat Group, the largest Italian carmaker, purchased a big share of the United States car builder, Chrysler.

That purchase brought Fiat back into the States after being absent for almost a quarter of a century. That’s right Fiat had a presence in this country a long time ago. They actually came over here before many of the American car brands we know today ever started building cars. Fiat set up a manufacturing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1908 and built and sold their cars, the Fiat 60 HP and the Fiat 16-20 HP until 1917, when they closed up shop and moved back to Italy.

Fiat came back to the U.S. in the 1950s and introduced the Fiat 500 and several other models. They did okay, but the company felt that they should have done better, sales wise, that is, and went back to Italy once again to re-think and re-tool their cars for the world market. Apparently, they did a great job because the Fiat 500 along with other models have done incredibly well in scores of countries including the United States.

The Fiat 500, in fact, has become one of the most popular small cars on the market today. It is fantastically celebrated and definitely has the “cool” factor. It is a terrific fuel saver and gets between 24 and 31 miles per gallon in the city and 32 and 38 mpg on the highway. It has a very user-friendly infotainment center, more than comfortable interior, responsive handling and braking and it is simply a cool car to drive around town.

This beautifully designed subcompact car has a distinctive and ultra recognizable appearance and seats four passengers comfortably. Driving the Fiat 500 is not only a pleasure but it’s fun. The little people mover gets you through the day’s chores and is easily maneuverable in the tightest of spots. Parking is a breeze as well as keeping up with the flow of traffic. You can test drive one of these great little cars at Alfa Romeo Fiat of Larchmont today!

Media post: Lexus History – the new premium

1989 Lexus LS 

When Toyota decided to build a new premium sedan they code-named it F-1. Designing a brand new car from scratch is a pretty big thing, so a secret code name is a must. Well, all that secret measuring and engineering and drawing board stuff began in 1983, and after six years of exhausting creative labor, the Lexus LS was born. That luxury car was an immediate hit with consumers and after the initial vehicle came out, Toyota produced the sedan, convertible, SUV and Coupé models, which also were mega hits around the world.

The Lexus was conceived as a luxury vehicle by Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda. He had the very bright idea to build the world’s best car. Since his company already manufactured some of the best cars in the world he felt that Toyota should also be competing against Mercedes Benz and other legendary luxury carmakers. Of course, while the Lexus was being carved out in clay and the designers were in the middle of creating more head, leg and arm room in the context of one of the most comfortable cars ever made, the question came up as to how to market this new elegant automobile.

That question was answered quickly with the help of Toyota’s advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. They came up with the name Lexus by going through a number of beautiful sounding (and meaning) names and whittled them all down to a combination of “luxury” and “elegance,” which somehow came out to Lexus. Of course, that name fit the car to a tee and the advertising team ran with it.

We could say the rest is history but we wanted to share a little about what it really takes to design and manufacture a brand new automobile from just an idea from the chairman of the corporation. As we said, it took six years from concept to launch, but it also took the work of 24 engineering teams, 60 designers, 1,400 engineers, 220 support workers (we’re still trying to figure out exactly what they did), 2,300 technicians to build 450 prototypes of the Lexus. All this creativity cost Toyota over $1 billion. That is, in case you forgot how much a billion really is, 1,000 million dollars, which is a lot of money.

Was it worth it, you might ask? Well, the popularity of the Lexus brand has only increased each year since it came out and you can see why when you take a Lexus for a test drive at Atlantic Lexus of 110.

Media post: To Fiat or not to Fiat?

Fiat 500 detail 

To Fiat or not to Fiat, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to drive a big gas-guzzling car or to take aim at a sea of troubles and avoid the heartache that big cars bring – is a thought devoutly to be wished. Yes, that is a quote from shakespeare’s play “Fiat, The One and Only Fiat.” The manuscript was discovered in Turin, Italy not too long ago and has since been widely read and performed. Apparently, the bard did plagiarize a few Italian playwrights in the sixteenth century and changed the names to protect the innocent – or at least that’s what we think.

Had he written about Fiat, he would most likely have made this beautiful little subcompact car his starring vehicle, no pun unintended. Fiat should be the star of every play, in our humble estimation, for it is the car of the future and most certainly, the car of the present. It’s small, but comfortable. It’s dependably, yet attractive. It’s cunning, but agile in tight spots.

Fiat has been around longer than most United States carmakers have. Fiat actually set up a manufacturing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1908 and produced some very cool cars up until 1917 when the company packed up and moved back to Italy. (Apparently, The United States and Italy were at war but let us say this here and now: Fiat had absolutely nothing to do with that unpleasantness at all! There, we said and we feel better.

The 1950s brought Fiat back to the states and the Fiat 500 was introduced to the American car buyer. They did okay but for some reason they didn’t do as well as expected – we thing that America just wasn’t into small cars yet and Fiat was way ahead of its time. After going back to Italy to re-tool, re-design and re-engineer the Fiat – that cool little car just got a lot cooler. So, Fiat came back, showed off its new look and design and sales went through the roof. They are still going through the roof today because the United States is finally ready for what Fiat has to offer: beauty, agility, gas economy and the perfect size and price – all in an Italian sub-compact car. Ciao Fiat! Ciao America! Take a test drive at Fiat USA of Larchmont.

Media post: The Dodge brothers

Dodge Brothers delivery trucks in Salt Lake City, 1920. Picture courtesy Wikipedia

Hey, whatever happened to the Dodge brothers? Well, the Dodge brothers have been gone for almost a hundred years but their cars and Ram tough trucks are still around. Horace and John Dodge were at the right place at the right time to get into the burgeoning car industry. They opened up a machine shop in Detroit in 1900 and called it the Dodge Brothers Company. They manufactured automobile components and distributed them to car companies, the main ones being the Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the Ford Motor Company.

They were highly successful in the car parts business but they always wanted to build their own car, which they did in 1914. They actually competed with their former client, Henry Ford, with their Model 30 automobile. They went up purposely against Ford’s incredibly popular Model T, only the Dodge brothers marketed their car as a higher quality vehicle than Fords car, which put them on the naughty list at the Ford plant.

They didn’t care much because Ford ended up buying their Ford stock back for about $25 million, which put them in a very happy and lucrative position in the auto industry. Their Dodge Model 30 had a lot of innovative elements to it that made sales sky rocket to number two in the nation – right behind Mr. Ford’s car numbers. They and Mr. Ford had not seen eye to eye for years and John Dodge was quoted as saying: “Someday, people who own a Ford are going to want an automobile.”

Consumers loved Dodge cars and they relished the quality that was heaped on each vehicle. Dodge got a big boost when Lt. George Patton (yes, that George Patton), was in Mexico chasing Pancho Villa. Patton was involved in a gun fight with several of Villa’s officers and when it was all over and the smoked cleared, Patton had the dead bodies of the Mexicans tied to the hoods of the Dodge Model 30 cars and drove them to his headquarters. The photographs were not very flattering to Villa’s men but they boosted sales of the Dodge Model 30.

The Dodge brothers both died in 1920 during the worldwide influenza outbreak. Their valuable company was sold initially to an investment firm and then it ended up (fortunately) in the hands of Walter Chrysler. And the rest is history. You can see the 2017 Dodge models at Locklear’s.

Media post: How one man built a leader in the Auto industry

Walter P. Chrysler. Picture courtesy

Most people are familiar with the name Chrysler but do they really know where it came from? There are Chrysler automobiles and how about the famous Chrysler Building in the heart of New York City? These are both named after one man, Walter Chrysler, Walter Percy Chrysler, to be more precise.

He was born in 1875 in a very small town in Kansas and then he and his family moved to an even smaller town, probably to get away from all fast paced wheat and dairy farmers. You know how they are. When Walter got to be old enough he took correspondent courses and earned a mechanical degree and started working as a machinist and railroad mechanic. It doesn’t sound all that romantic, but wait a bit the interesting stuff is coming up soon.

We’ll skip the years of hard work on the railroad and jump right into the place where Walter, at 36 years of age, through a railroad connection, met the president of Buick, who offered him a job as head of production for the car company. Well, Walter jumped at that idea and headed to Flint, Michigan, and started impressing everyone with his ability to cut costs and increase production, which, of course, meant that profits were increased also. The big guys at Buick loved the idea of making more moolah and they loved Walter for being able to do it.

Chrysler’s bosses were so enamored of him that they gave him the unheard of salary of $10,000 a month (equal to $165,000 now) and a half a million dollars in a year end bonus, along with another half million in stock. Apparently, this guy could really get the job done right!

He stayed for three years, sold his stock for $10 million and was hired to turn around the Willys-Overland Motor Company at $1 million a year and left a couple of years later and took control of the Maxwell Motor Company. He started the Chrysler Corporation in 1925, which absorbed Maxwell and then he purchased the Plymouth and DeSoto brands and then he bought Dodge in 1928. Okay, here’s where the Chrysler Building comes in to play. He started to build the Chrysler Building the same year (1928) that he took over the Dodge Company. That’s all you get about the Chrysler Building. You can get more information on the Internet.

Walter Chrysler was one of the real automobile manufacturing titans in the United States. Every car that bears his name is built with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, just like Walter would have wanted. Come see his beautiful cars at Texan Dodge Chrysler.

Media post: Buying A Used Car Online Safely

Buying a car online comes with certain risks and often we write it off as a bad idea. But like everything else within the car industry, there are pros and cons attached.  Surprisingly buying a used car online is more common than you may think, thanks to websites like eBay and Gumtree.

However, it is important to protect yourself and take extra caution as you won’t have the same sort of customer services, rights or protection offered buying privately that you would get when buying from a registered dealer. On the plus side, there are serious bargains to be had on eBay motors and it is definitely worth taking a look when the time comes to buying a new (used) car.

Read on for some helpful guidelines to follow when buying a car online that will help keep you safe from being conned and ensure you don’t end up with a written off banger.

First of all, when it comes to using eBay always check the seller’s feedback. This will give you a general idea of the type of person the seller is and if you see anything suspicious it is best to avoid this person (plenty more sellers online).

Always examine the photos and descriptions in depth for any discrepancies and ask the seller as many questions as possible. This will also give you a good indication of what type of person you are dealing with and if they are not forthcoming with answers this should raise red flags.

When you do find a car online that suits your needs and budget, always purchase a full car history check. For the sake of a few quid, this will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Purchasing a car history check will tell you: the car’s legal status (if it’s ever been written off or if there is outstanding finance on it), MOT history, mileage and the running costs of the car.

If you do buy a car that has finance on it, that car will belong to the finance company and you will run the risk of it being repossessed.

If you are satisfied with the background check ask to view and test drive the car. Never exchange money for a car that you haven’t viewed! If the car isn’t as described you are under no obligation to go through with the purchase.

When it comes to test driving the car, remember don’t test drive a warm car as the seller may be trying to cover up a fault. Take someone with you when test driving to help you look out for any faults with the car such as strange noises when driving etc.

Latvia January 2017: Octavia leads, Kia Cee’d & Peugeot 2008 shine

The Peugeot 2008 breaks into the Latvian Top 10 in January. 

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

The Latvian new car market is up 14.5% year-on-year in January to 1.445 registrations. The Skoda Octavia is the best-seller for the month thanks to sales up 133% to 93 and 6.4% vs. 3.2% over the Full Year 2016. In fact, the Top 10 is alive with staggering year-on-year improvements: the VW Passat up 106% to #2, the Kia Cee’d up 253% to #3, VW Tiguan up 293% to #5, Kia Sportage up 200% to #7, Toyota RAV4 up 127% to #8, and the Ford Fiesta up 1267% to #9. In terms of improvements vs. Full Year 2016 ranking though, the Kia Cee’d (+18 to #3) and Peugeot 2008 (+26 to #10) are the best performers.

Previous post: Latvia Full Year 2016: Qashqai and Octavia top market up 15%

Two years ago: Latvia Full Year 2015: Nissan Qashqai and VW Passat outpace Skoda Yeti

Full January 2017 Top 10 models below.

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