How a Car Should Be Put Together

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Jan 6, 2005
Each car maker has a philosophy about How a Car Should Be Put Together. Let's take a single case...
Let us say there is a single hypothetical panel in a hypothetical car. As a baseline, a totally unbiased (and therefore, Martian) engineer examines this cover and determines that it should be held in place with five Phillips head (cross head) screws.

JAPAN: The Japanese would hold it down with exactly five .05c screws. Boring, reliable, soulless, exactly what is needed.

UNITED STATES: For a long time, a US car's panel would be held on with three screws. This has changed, and now not only does it have five screws, all floor workers must have a communal decision as to how many screws it needs, and have the ability to stop the line entirely should a single screw be a funny color.

GREAT BRITIAN: As with the US, previously this car's panel would be held on with three screws. Additionally, these screws would be flathead style and made of Britishinium Metal, a mysterious alloy that can rust sitting under six inches of oil.

FRANCE: Only Americans would be so obnoxious as to think how a panel is held on is important. Unions and employee pride are of far more concern. Please come with us to strike for ten more weeks paid vacation.

GERMANY: Every panel on every car is held on with precisely ten aircraft grade titanium/tungsten alloy nuts and bolts torqued to precisely 15.402 lbs-ft. Replacements are sold only in sets of 20, and typically cost $350US. A German mechanic will explain to you, in graphic detail, exactly what would happen should you use a "lower quality" nut or bolt.

RUSSIA: Owing to parts shortages, each panel is welded in place. A cutter costs 8,000,000,000,000,000 rubles (about $12.15 US), and the official wait is approximately 28 months. However, a stranger named "Igor" will sell you a cutter right away for $40 US (cash only). You notice PROPERTY OF SOVIET ARMY scratched out on the side.

ITALY (Goes Fast approach): The Italian is somewhat different. If the panel has something to do with making the car Go Fast, it will be just like Germany's entry, with the addition that every bolt head will have a beautiful logo cast into it.

ITALY (Everything Else): The Italian panel has no screws at all. Rather, it is held in with a very clever arrangement of grommets, snap rings, and C-clips so that it seems to be part of the Car. However, due to lack of testing, the rubber in the grommets rots in a few years, and since the panel can only be removed with special tool AR001.2399943.011034444.2.1.1, the rubber is hardly ever replaced and so tends to rattle. Enthusiasts of this car will have endless debates on the value of this panel, some will remove it, some will maintain it religiously, and at least one author will write a book telling you how to make a tool that will work out of a '73 GMC lug wrench.

SWEDEN: The panel in a Swedish car is held on with 25 screws. Curiously, one has to put the car in reverse in order to remove it.
"SWEDEN: The panel in a Swedish car is held on with 25 screws. Curiously, one has to put the car in reverse in order to remove it."

LOL! Sounds like you've had a go at replacing an A/C blower motor in a Volvo 240.
COLUMBIA: The panel is designed to camouflage a cavity where things can be hidden. The screwheads are false and are actually snaps.

PANAMA: The panel is designed to be held on with duct tape.
Pretty good, but the Japanese would use 10 more parts than necessary, sourced from other Japanese companies.
And they couldn't be torqued more than .005 ft lbs more than spec'd without breaking.
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