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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smyth Performance and the end of life

My VW jetta is approaching the end.  Since I have used it not only as a test bed for the new Smyth kit cars but also as a truck for hauling, it is a tad on the rough side.  Numerous scars of a great life are everywhere...cooper's fastball always gets away from someone and "thump" another dent in the side...Brendan missed a three pointer and somehow the ball bounced off the windshield at just the right angle...cracked.  The tan seats have been slid into a couple hundred times too many by a guy who is welding up a new kit car...tan doesn't hide dirt and grime after all.   A very large SUV(hey I have 5 kids)gently bumped the front wheel of the parked Jetta...leaving the wheels aimed at the curb when the steering wheel is aimed straight ahead. Another luxury truck took out the passenger mirror.

On top of these day to day happenings I was leaving the driveway a week ago and I heard a "ka-tung" sound that was different from the usual "ka-tung" sound in that it ended with a clank...a piece of the front spring was laying on the ground under the car...I knew the strut bearing was making sounds, but a broken spring top?...never seen that before....alright then.  The car seemed to still work fine so I did what any car guy does and kept going to work.

Normal people would have had a new car 6 months ago.  So yes. The saws-all will be coming out in a few months and this Jetta will become the second Smyth Performance demo car after the white one being finished now.  Perfect donor really, even with all these problems, the parts of the car I need are in decent shape...plenty of life left.  As Capt. Jack Aubrey said,

"Would you call me an aged man-o-war, doctor? The Surprise is not old; no one would call her old. She has a bluff bow, lovely lines. She's a fine seaboat: weatherly, stiff and fast … very fast, if she's well handled. No, she's not old; she's in her prime."

The entire strategy behind Smyth performance has been to make an incredible car out of an ordinary one, a Jetta needs a bit more of a bluff bow to deserve a second shot.  Ordinary cars are thrown away after a couple hundred thousand miles, incredible cars are always rebuilt.  This is the key to our green story that is ringing true in the car community.  Sure a tdi diesel powered Smyth car gets 60 mpg and rips through the quarter in under 15 the key to the long term strategy of the company is taking cars that are not worth rebuilding and giving you a reason to rebuild them.  Is this the kit car business, not really.

A used Jetta is just not worth the money it takes to rebuild.  If you are a real environmentalist I guess you would rebuild the boring car because it is the ultimate environmental act short of riding your bike...but like it or not we don't drive for completely rational reasons...we drive because it is fun.  And if we are going to drive we usually want our chariot to reflect our personalities, egos and income as well as our day to day transport needs.  Sometimes this mix is a bit off...I enjoy the low key(OK a bit toooo low) wrecked tdi wagon with the diesel clatter instead of the  Italian super cars in the garage...go figure.  I use the ferraris often in these pages since they represent much more than cars.  As art they are a joy.  As cars they are a blast to experience.  And you never throw them away...ever.  This is the key for Smyth Performance and any car that achieves immortality.  If I can provide a package  that puts a bit of passion into that old car, you will rebuild it.

Without this added emotion or passion the car is on its way to the crusher...a huge waste of all that engineering and value that is just sitting there ready to be rebuilt and enjoyed.  V8 mustangs, vettes, Porsches and specialty performance cars have this immortality if they are not completely abused.  Sedans and utilitarian cars/trucks do not.  Even fancy Bmw's, and Audis end up in the scrap yard when they hit 200k miles or are in a minor accident late in life...people are done with them...just not special enough to spend the 5-10 grand it takes someone to rebuild a car.  There are exceptions of course, anyone can attach some sentiment to a car for any number of emotional reasons, but in general...cruncher.

The other day I posted a picture of the new Smyth car we will start working on in the fall.  We are building a $3500.00 kit that will transform your old Jetta into a 40+ mpg pick up truck.  Not just any truck...a truck that will get people to ask you questions at the gas pump...and if you are a car guy/gal that is the ultimate goal...the gas pump "I didn't know the Jjetta came as a truck" line of questioning.  Motorhead heaven. The G3F and the truck make a real statement not only by being exclusive(you can't have one if you don't build one) and stylish,  but by being home grown green.  The prius crowd wishes they could be this responsible....and we get to lay rubber living our green  lifestyle.  Passion comes from the building of the car yourself combined with a nifty ride in the end.  If you build a car you take care of the car...immortality.

As a car builder I like the ability to tell a story that has balance to it.  We drive fast on the track. We waste some gas doing it for fun. We spend countess hours on these machines that we love for single moments of joy on the weekends.  I have been known to have a cup of coffee and just look at the mechanicals of a fancy piece of engineering in the garage.  The analogy is the mechanical Swiss watch...thousands of moving parts ticking and turning away on your wrist...simply amazing.  You either appreciate that amazing feat of micro engineering or you wear a quartz watch just to tell time.  All we tinkering souls need is an emotional  reason to redo our boring cars and we will jump right in. The fact that you can use the Smyth jettruck and the Smyth G3F sports car every day just makes them fun and practical. The real story in this company's strategy is that we are giving a car the second life it never had.
Go Green, Go Fast, Repeat.

mark smith


  1. I had a 82 rabbit Diesel with a transplanted turbo. Wish I still did. Make the kit, I really, really want one. Does it need a wagon or will a sedan do as the base?

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  3. Thanks For Sharing..........
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  4. I've read all the posts on the Factory Five Forum relating to the G3F ( ) as well as all the posts on FB ( )and was convinced I wanted to build a G3F until I found this blog abut the pickup. I can easily justify building the Jetta based pickup because I need to replace my 1986 Chevy S10 and had considered transplanting a 1.9L TDI into S10. Create the kit please. Also, I would consider becoming a beta purchaser.

  5. mark, you would do the world better if you were a writer telling stories and tinkering with cars in your spare time. but that's just me; i did some rallying (with stock beetles and minis) in my younger years so - although my mechanical skills are wanting - i can identify with your passion for practical, albeit fine-tuned and head-turning, vehicles.

    as a small business person myself, i can also appreciate your point-of-view in product-mix, marketing avenues, crowdsourcing attempts and such. keep documenting your voyage with literature and i will read on - while trying to find out how to benefit from your other labor of love...

  6. Mark, do make a truck kit for audi's? I live in hawaii and I haven't seen anyone with your kit. I'm seriously thinking about buying a jetta and your kit. I would be even more sold if u made a audi kit