"Used-car production" sounds like it ought to be the punch line of a joke among automotive statisticians.
That's because you can't tally used-car production. Everybody knows automakers don't produce used cars; they produce new cars that are converted into used cars by the consumers who buy and drive them.
If you want to wax philosophical, you might argue that every new car is just waiting to become a used car as soon as it's sold. That reasoning is along the same lines as "He not busy being born is busy dying," and it's too dark for an autumn day, thank you.
None of that logic mattered to Malcolm Bricklin, who tried to promote the concept of a used-car factory where consumers could "build" themselves a used car to fit their needs. That was during the heyday of the used-car superstore, but it never caught on.
So you may not be able to build used cars, but you can rebuild them. If you visit a vintage auto show you'll know that restoring classic cars can cost big bucks. And there are a lot of businesses that specialize in it.
Since 1993, owners of vintage Mercedes-Benz cars have been able to ship them back to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Center in Fellbach, Germany, to be rebuilt and restored.
Business is so good the automaker is opening another Classic Car Center in Irvine, Calif., next month. That will make it more convenient for well-heeled Mercedes owners in North America -- and their dealers -- to take care of their babies. The company says there are 350,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles still on the road in the United States.
Why a factory store? It has access to parts, tooling and drawings needed for an accurate restoration of Mercedes models going back a century. And the company wants to maintain the relationship with the customer through the dealership, says Michael Kunz, manager of the California center.
At first, the new store in Irvine won't be able to do full restorations, although it can be a drop-off point for cars headed to Germany. Eventually, Irvine will ramp up and be able to do several restorations a year.
Just don't call it a used-car factory.
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