Most Underappreciated Classics to Consider This Spring

Spring is in the air, and if you’re like us, this is the time when a young (or not so young) man’s thoughts turn to buying a classic car to work on this summer.

We know that not everyone has a Shelby GT budget (or even a kit car Shelby budget), so we wanted to talk about some cars that get you a lot of oomph without draining your wallet. We’ve got to thank the folks over at Hagerty’s classic car insurance for their classic car valuation tool, which handled the numbers part of this list.

Some of their most undervalued classics are:

•    First Generation Mazda Miata (1989-97- $5,000): If you aren’t fooled by its reputation for cuteness (and don’t mind always having the top down if you’re over 6’2”), it’s hard to beat this little convertible. With tens of thousands still on the road 20 years after the original line was ended, you can still fix one fairly easily.
•    C5 Chevy Corvette (1997-2004- $15,000): Thanks to depreciation, it’s possible to own a Corvette for less than you’d pay for the most stripped down new econo-box. They’ve got some years on them now, but Corvettes are some of the most pampered cars on the road, so you’re likely to find a C5 model in great shape.
•    Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe (1984-88- $6.000): Even though it’s from the 80s, the T-bird Turbo Coupe feels like the child of a 1960s American muscle car and a European performance sedan, and was Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1987. 30 years later, these are a bit hard to find, but still fun to drive.
•    Porsche 914 (1969-1976- $12,000): While not a powerhouse like a modern 911, the 914 is often considered the pinnacle of lightweight, low-power design where the fun comes from nimbleness, not raw power. With a choice of a flat-four or flat-six air cooled engine and a distinctive body, it should come as no surprise that the 914 was designed as the replacement for Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia.
•    Studebaker Avanti (1962-1963- $20,000): The rarest car on this list, the Avanti was the swan song for a venerable American car maker. While it never captured the public imagination, the Avanti featured an innovative fiberglass body with looks that were 20 years ahead of their time, and a 240hp V8 that gave it plenty of muscle. If you can find one of the roughly 6,000 made, buy it and be the only guy you know who has one.
•    Volkswagen Corrado VR6 (1992-1995- under $5,000): Originally designed as a replacement for the Porsche 944, the Corrado VR6 packed nearly 200 horsepower into a sporty 2,800 pound car with German handling. If you can find one that hasn’t been destroyed by a teenage boy, and don’t mind the mysteries of VW electrical systems, you can get a lot of speed for a tiny bit of cash.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. If you do your homework and can be happy with a more obscure car, there are still plenty of deals to be had, particularly in late-classic-era cars (full sized convertibles from the late 60s to the mid 70s are a steal, especially if you know how to fix a top), oddball pickups and work trucks, cousins of classics (a ‘67 Mercury Cougar GT is thousands less than a comparable Mustang, but has almost the exact same specs), and professional cars (what’s cooler than tooling around in a late 60s station wagon turned ambulance?).

And remember, a Backyard Buddy lift can help you double the space in your garage while giving you a great platform to easily work on your new find. Give us a call and then get out there and look for your next treasure

Treat Yourself

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice

If you’re like most of our customers, you’ve just spent a lot of effort and money buying nice things for everyone but yourself. We have no doubt that you’re great at playing Santa, but now it’s time to think about getting yourself something nice, something that will make it easier to work on your hobby, take care of the family car, or keep your garage organized this winter.

Since you’re on our site, you can probably guess what we’re about to suggest: This winter, make your life better with a Backyard Buddy lift.

For hobbyists, a Backyard Buddy lift is a great way to remove some of the less-than-enjoyable parts of working on your vehicle. You can trade in laying on a cold garage floor and hoping your jack stand holds up while you work on the underside of your vehicle for sitting or standing while you work. You’ll never want to use a creeper again once you’ve installed an exhaust system while sitting on a stool, or replaced your brakes at eye level.

If you live in a snowy climate like we do, a Backyard Buddy lift can help keep you out of the freezing slush and cold water that comes in with your car any time you need to make a repair to your daily driver. Just put it on the lift and let the snow drip off at your feet. No more soaked-through back and knees while working.

Even if you’re not planning to work on your car in the winter, a Backyard Buddy lift can make your life easier. Our vehicle lifts can help you get back valuable real estate in your garage, and are safe enough for you to lift your vehicle out of the way and put mowers, bikes, snow blowers, garden supplies, and other garage clutter under all winter long. Drive up onto your lift, lift your vehicle to the ceiling, and enjoy brand new floor space.

We also have a special boat lift that is specifically designed to accommodate most 102 inch boat trailers. Your boat can spend the winter on the lift and your car can have some garage space back to keep it out of the snow. We also offer a solid deck for our 7,000 pound capacity lifts so that you can store ATVs, jet skis, snowmobiles, lawn tractors, or other mid-sized items on our lifts.

Backyard Buddy also offers a variety of lift accessories to make your life even easier. Our caster set allows you to move our lifts around, even with a vehicle on them. Combine our casters with our crane accessory and you can pick up and drop engines into your vehicle, move heavy objects around your garage, and even pull a body off of a frame for painting or body work. Our hydraulic jacks allow you to raise the front or rear of your vehicle off of the lift with the flip of a switch so that you can comfortably work on your wheels or brakes. If you’d rather use your own jack, our jack platforms easily roll along the length of the lift and support any kind of jack (including our two-ton air jack).

Now that your Christmas shopping is done, it’s time to get yourself something nice. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 any time between 8:00 and 4:30 EST, and we will help you customize a gift to yourself that will make you happy for years.  Merry Christmas!

Support Small Businesses

Backyard Buddy as a small business

Looking around our factory floor and seeing the intricate dance of workers and machines, you may find it hard to think of Backyard Buddy as a small business, but on a global scale — and compared to some of our foreign competitors — we definitely are.

We don’t say this as something we’re in a hurry to change.

Small businesses, which for our sector is those with fewer than 1,500 employees, are one of the largest drivers of the American economy. The economic recovery since 2009 has been almost completely reliant on small businesses, including people who are self-employed. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, businesses like Backyard Buddy, with less than 500 employees, were responsible for 74% of the jobs created since our economic recovery began in 2009.

Unfortunately, you’d never know this unless you dig deep into the media. Most economic reporting focuses on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (mostly made up of the largest companies in the world) and the S&P 500 (made up of 500 large companies). While both of these are showing positive signs, it is companies like Backyard Buddy, and thousands of other small businesses that are quietly driving our recovery, creating jobs, and making sure the American economy stays strong.

Why does this affect you?

If you’re an American, and you’ve got the device and internet connection to read this, you’re part of the American economy. In a very real way the economic growth provided by small businesses is one of the reasons that you have a job (and by the numbers, your job is likely to be at a small business) and can provide for your family. Even if you’re retired and think this doesn’t apply to you, your pension or investments depend on the continued growth of our economy, driven by small business.

If that’s too esoteric for you, consider that small businesses are better for the consumer. In our case, we’re able to make a better product than our competitors because our business model needs to be centered on a quality product and happy customers. We don’t have or want the capacity to make our living on getting junk products out the door as fast as possible.

In addition to a better product, customers get better service at a small business, where the person you’re talking to on the phone or in the store probably has detailed knowledge of the product or service that they sell, and in many cases has made the product themselves. Thanks to the global economy and manufacturers controlling prices of their products, you will often pay the same for something purchased from a local business as you would from a multinational big box chain, and get the added benefit of service, something almost impossible to find in chains.

Still looking for more reasons, maybe something nobler? When you buy from an American small business, your money stays in your country, and in many cases right in your community. Small businesses are also far more likely to then also spend that money in your community, either through paying salaries to local residents, or investing it back into the business. When you buy from a global business, your money almost always leaves the U.S. and far too often ends up in an offshore bank account where it pads the company’s cash reserves or just makes a wealthy person wealthier.

As the holiday season approaches, we ask that you spend your hard-earned money at small businesses to not only give someone in your life a gift, but to give all of us the gift of a strong community, a strong job market, and a strong national economy.

To find small businesses in your community (for everything other than vehicle lifts and accessories, which you know exactly where to find), check out this searchable map from the American Express Shop Small program: https://shopsmallnow.americanexpress.com/shopsmall.

Let’s Work Together

I don’t know about you, but if I never see another political ad again, I’ll die a happy man.  This was one of the most tumultuous presidential elections I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve been around for a little while.  Whichever side of the aisle you stand, you have to admit that there was far too much negative rhetoric being hurled at the other side.

The result of this election stunned “the establishment,” shocked the mainstream media, and left the pundits asking, “How could we have been so wrong?”  Even The New York Times’ publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. admitted the paper failed to appreciate Donald Trump’s appeal.  He is quoted as saying, “After such an erratic and unpredictable election there are inevitable questions: Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?”

He’s not the only one asking those questions.  And there are a large number of people who are pretty damn angry about him winning.  But the Electoral College spoke volumes on election night; it was a sea of red.  Our president-elect is a candidate who appealed to Americans who felt unheard.  He listened.  They voted.

I employ nearly 30 hard-working, blue collar workers; many who have families to support.  During this economic decline; they’ve had no voice.  I stumbled on an explanation of this year’s presidential election outcome by Mike Rowe, former host of “Dirty Jobs” on The Discovery Channel.  He wrote a Facebook post comparing Trump’s White House win to his 2003 “Dirty Jobs” pilot on The Discovery Channel.  His reasoning sure makes sense to me.

This is an excerpt from a November 11, 2016 article in The Washington Times, titled, “Mike Rowe Explains the Real Reason Donald Trump Won” —

“It wasn’t pretty or careful. It took place in sewers and septic tanks, and featured a subversive host in close contact with his 8-year-old inner child who refused to do second takes,” the 54-year-old wrote. “Everyone agreed that Dirty Jobs was totally ‘off-brand’ and completely inappropriate for Discovery. Everyone but the viewers.

“Dirty Jobs didn’t resonate because the host was incredibly charming. It wasn’t a hit because it was gross, or irreverent, or funny, or silly, or smart, or terribly clever,” he continued. “Dirty Jobs succeeded because it was authentic. It spoke directly and candidly to a big chunk of the country that non-fiction networks had been completely ignoring. In a very simple way, Dirty Jobs said ‘Hey — we can see you,’ to millions of regular people who had started to feel invisible. Ultimately, that’s why Dirty Jobs ran for eight seasons. And today, that’s also why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.”

You see, the silenced finally found a voice; they found someone willing to listen.  Celebrity elitists just don’t represent a majority of the electorates.  (Have any of them packed up and moved out yet?)

There are lots of angry people out there; some of them are still protesting.  And because they live in this country, they have that First Amendment right – the rights that allow us to march in the streets, to worship freely, and to share our thoughts through blogs like this one.

Speaking to supporters at a victory celebration, Trump said it best, “It’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.  I say it is time for us to come together as a united country.”

I agree. Let’s start working together.

Stand Up, America

It’s obvious that there’s a lot of turmoil going on in America right now. In the past few years, we’ve seen riots over race and officer-involved shootings, an extremely divisive presidential race, and a growing feeling that something’s just not right.

At Backyard Buddy, we’re proud to be a business that is keeping Ohio’s strong manufacturing tradition alive. We’re proud of our commitment to building our lifts and accessories using American-made raw materials assembled by American workers. But what we’re most proud of is what we all are: American.

One of the core, fundamental values of being an American is that we are all responsible to and for our country. We are all in this together. This is our country, and together with our fellow citizens, we will keep her strong and work to solve any problems that we run into along the way. This spirit has kept our country strong even through a Civil War that almost tore us permanently apart, and through all of the ups and downs over the past 240 years. Even though we are facing some tough issues right now, every one of us should be proud to be American, and committed to working together for our future, even if there are many different visions of that future.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. This summer and fall, we’ve seen athletes from the NFL to high school teams, and even American Olympians taking a knee for the national anthem. While we respect everyone’s right to free speech, this is a deliberately disrespectful act and we cannot support those who do it. Our flag and our anthem are symbols of the rights and duties that each and every one of us has as an American, and disrespecting them is disrespecting all of us, especially the veterans who fought and died for everything these symbols stand for.

We understand that the people doing this may feel that they don’t have a voice, but they are wrong. Each of us has a voice. Our collective voice is heard every time we vote. Our individual voices are heard through a free press, and thanks to the internet, everyone can share their opinion with the rest of the country. If we want to commit to deeper change, any one of us can participate in local politics by attending and speaking at local government meetings, or even running for office. In most places, running for local elective office is far easier than people think, and often only requires that you be well-respected in the community.

One of the greatest things about being an American is that each and every one of us has the power to change our country, but none of us can do it alone. We can organize our neighbors to change a neighborhood. We can work with others to change an entire city. A select 44 of us have inspired their peers to be given the honor of helping change the entire country.

Instead of protesting the symbols of our country, those who want to change it the most should celebrate that they are given the opportunity to do just that. No matter how much you disagree with what may be happening, stand tall and proud that you are an American, and that you have the power to create the change you want to see.

Get Out and Vote

This year’s political scene is unprecedented.  No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, it’s been an ugly, heated and tumultuous battle of wits and words.  People are passionate about their candidate and are just as passionate about their disdain for the opponent.  I’ll refrain from expounding on my political views, but what I will do is implore you to get out and vote in November.

The United States of America may just be the world’s oldest continuous democracy; something we should never take for granted.  Voting is a privilege and a right that many Americans fought hard for and struggled to win.  There are people around the world whose voices are never heard; their opinions never known.  Thanks to our soldiers, our freedoms and the democracy we embrace are protected.

Stop and think about this; which would you rather contend with?  You arrive at your polling location, you’re running late for work, only to be met with a very long line and just two poll workers to handle the rush. Or, you live in Afghanistan (you’re already concerned about backlash for simply voting), the line at the polling booth is long, leaving more time for exposure to potential threats, outright danger, or terrorist violence just because you’re trying to cast a vote.  I think I’d rather be late to work.

You get the gist – voting is a privilege.  Honor that privilege.

We live in a free country, so our voices can be heard through the votes we cast.  This is an important way to show support for the issues that matter most to us by helping to elect the representatives who can best implement policies and effect the changes we want to see.

Consider voting a civic duty.  It is one of the most important rights and responsibilities that U.S. citizens have.  Not only it is everyone’s right to vote, it is also everyone’s duty to vote in order to ensure freedom of expression, equality, and well-being of this country we live in.

Be American. Vote.

Said it before; Say it again – Buy American!

As the Presidential campaign heats up, one thing that has been refreshing to hear is both candidates talking about the need for more American jobs, especially in manufacturing. Even Walmart, probably the country’s largest purveyor of foreign-made products, is running an ad talking about their commitment to buying American-made products.

Of course, where the politicians get it wrong is that they think only they have the answer, with some grand plan for bringing jobs back to the USA. While we’re all waiting for those campaign promises to come true, every one of us has a way to bring back good American jobs:

Buy American. Create more jobs

It’s a simple as that. The more American-made products each one of us buys, the stronger our country and its economy will be.

You don’t need to make a radical commitment to only buy American products (and some things, like electronics, are almost impossible to buy from American manufacturers). All you need to do is to get in the habit of checking labels to see where whatever you need is made, and you’ll be surprised what you can find that is still made in the USA.

Lots of clothing, household goods, tools, and other consumer goods are still made right here. If you’re shopping for something a bit bigger and durable, like appliances, machinery, or a car, your odds of finding something made in the USA are even better.

When you vote with your wallet and buy American products, you’re helping your country by keeping our manufacturing capacity strong, helping your countrymen by ensuring that they have good jobs, and helping yourself by buying a superior product.

Right now, American manufacturers that make non-consumer goods and components are thriving because business customers can’t afford to risk buying a cheap foreign product that is likely to break or be out of spec in the first place. Why should consumers settle for any less?

Here at Backyard Buddy, we are proud to be part of our country’s manufacturing base. Our American workers use American steel to produce a high-quality product that our foreign competitors can’t touch, right in the heart of America’s manufacturing belt. Obviously, we’d like you to buy one of our lifts, but our constant refrain of “Buy American” goes way beyond that. Even if you never have any intention of buying one of our lifts, we implore you to buy as many American-made products as you can.

Just like it’s your patriotic duty to vote this November, it’s also your patriotic duty to vote with your wallet in November and all year — Be American. Buy American.
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Backyard Buddy at the Fall Carlisle

Hey, auto fanatics!  If you haven’t ever attended the Fall Carlisle – a collector and classic car swap meet, car corral and auction – make this your year to see what it’s all about; and of course, we invite you to visit Backyard Buddy while you’re there!  The Fall Carlisle takes place in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (just west of Harrisburg) and runs September 28 through October 2, 2016.  (http://www.carlisleevents.com/carlisle-events/carlisle-fall-swap-meet-corral-auction/default.aspx) Did you know that this event “plays host to thousands of collector and classic automotive enthusiasts, who travel the 150-acre Carlisle PA Fairgrounds from all points of the globe to buy, sell and celebrate all things automotive?” This is one of the premiere auto events of the year!

Backyard Buddy has been exhibiting at the Fall Carlisle for years.  We’ve made plenty of friends along the way – whether they’re buying, selling or trading at the Carlisle with total confidence or purchasing a Backyard Buddy automotive lift they can fully trust to use in their home garages or professional shops – we all share in the belief that auto enthusiasts deserve the very best.  If you’ve visited us in the past or this is your first Carlisle experience, come on by and check out our quality-made lifts by Backyard Buddy in section O134-140.

This is a family-friendly destination – plenty of entertainment for everyone to enjoy.  Or maybe this is a “guys only” getaway?  Either way, there’s no shortage of fun to be had!  Tickets run $10 Wednesday through Saturday and $7 on Sunday.  An event pass is only $30.  If you’re planning to make a weekend out of this, there are plenty of lodging options available (http://www.carlisleevents.com/carlisle-events-hotels-and-lodging/default.aspx), but act fast, Carlisle events attract 40,000 to 120,000 visitors on any given weekend!

See you in Carlisle on September 28 – look for the red, white and blue – lifts proudly made in the USA.  Be American and Buy American!

Better Living Through. . . Cranes

Backyard Buddy, crane system, engine hoist

Hoist slides across cross beam and along tracks the length of the lift.

You already know that Backyard Buddy makes the best four-post vehicle lift that money can buy, but did you know that we also make a great crane? We know what you might be thinking, and no, we aren’t trying to break into the construction market, we’re just making it as easy as possible for you to work on your vehicles.

The Backyard Buddy crane is probably the most unique accessory available for a car lift. It turns your lift into a true workhorse, bringing many of the features of a professional restoration shop into your own garage.

Our half-ton rated crane accessory provides two tracks that bolt onto the posts of your Backyard Buddy lift, spanning the long sides, and a cross-member with an attached hoist that slides along the tracks. This allows you to pick up a load no matter where it is positioned on or under the lift. Even more useful, the tracks have extensions that allow you to pick up or put down a load in front of the lift.

If you’ve ever taken a motor out of a car, you’ll know exactly how useful this is. Instead of trying to position a vehicle under the roof beam you’ve got holding your hoist, hoping that you’ve got it perfectly aligned so the motor doesn’t start swinging when you get it out (and if you’ve ever done that, you won’t forget it), gingerly backing the vehicle out with the motor hanging there, then fussing with a motor stand or cradle while you lower the hoist back down, you can simply lift the engine and move it while it hangs in the air.

With our crane, you can easily remove a motor from a car on the lift (and even work on it from below to do so), then gently slide it onto the extensions and put it down in front of the lift, into a truck or trailer, or onto a stand.

Combine the lift with our casters and your life gets even easier, since you’ve now got a rolling crane platform.. Having a mobile crane lets you pick up a motor off of a stand (or out of a truck on your driveway), push it back to wherever you need it, and lower it onto your stand, workbench, or into your vehicle. The crane/caster combo also allows you to pick up a heavy load anywhere that you can roll your Backyard Buddy lift and drop it back off anywhere else you can push your lift. Anyone who has taken 10 trips to move a pallet of parts from a curbside drop-off, or had to find a way to put a piece of heavy equipment into a pickup bed knows how useful this is.

Combining it all, the Backyard Buddy crane attachment allows you to roll a car onto your lift, use the hoist to pull its motor and put it on a stand, then raise the car up on the lift, attach the body to the crane’s rails and cross-member, and then lower the car, lifting the body off the chassis and setting you up for a complete restoration in your own garage. The best part about combining our lifts and a crane is that you can do all this work at whatever height is comfortable for you.

As always, we’re happy to talk to you more about our lifts and accessories, or to show them off in our showroom in Warren, Ohio. Give us a call anytime between 8:30 and 4:30 Eastern at (800) 837-9353.

Being a Target

One of the problems with being at the top of your field is that you end up with a big target on your back. Everyone is aiming to take you down, by any means they can find.

At Backyard Buddy, making the best lifts that money can buy means that we have to constantly deal with detractors who insist that their shoddy, imported product is just as good as ours.

One of our favorite things that they attempt to insult us with is that our lifts are “over engineered.” Mostly, we take issue with the idea that something you literally are trusting your life to should be called “over engineered” as a negative.

Our lifts are built to be incredibly strong and incredibly reliable, and are designed to make failure almost impossible. Our lifts have survived earthquakes with cars on them. Our guiding principle isn’t value engineering or making our lifts just safe enough so that we can avoid lawsuits if they fail while still maximizing our profits. Our guiding principle is producing the best lifts possible. Full stop.

We do things the right way, not the cheap way. Most importantly, we use high-quality, American steel that we know will perform as advertised, not foreign steel that has a low chance of actually being inspected and a high-chance of having air bubbles and impurities in it. We use welded steel and frames to make our platforms, not cold formed or pressed steel. We use full square legs for strength, not formed C-shaped legs for more profits. We use externally routed, high-quality cables so that in the unlikely event they begin to fray our users can see the damage, and not find out about it from a sickening snap and clang of a broken cable hitting steel, or even worse, the crash of a vehicle hitting the ground.

Another thing that our competitors don’t like to mention is that we use American workers who actually care about making great products. Our employees are not moving as fast as they can to put lifts on cargo ships. They’re working as hard as they can to put lifts onto trailers to go down the road or across the country, not across the ocean.

This is not to say that we don’t dish out a little of our own. We’re happy to point out that a lot of our competitors use cheap foreign steel, cheap foreign labor, and cut corners wherever they can. We’re even happy to point out that some of our competitors’ lifts wobble when you push them, even under a load.

Ultimately, we are happy to put our lifts next to any of our competitors’ and have anyone give them a try to see which one they would rather stand beneath with a couple tons of steel above them.

If you’d like to come stand under one of our lifts and try to make it wobble (we’re happy to tell you that you won’t be able to), come visit our factory and showroom in Warren, OH. Give us a call at (800) 837-9353 during business hours and we will answer any questions you might have.