How Oddball Auto started...
The "Oddball Auto" idea was born several years ago, somewhere along a long stretch of highway, in the Canadian prairies. I was a truck driver, hauling cars back and forth across the country, on a trip that had happened a hundred times before. Somewhere along one of those long straight stretches, where the mind has time to wander, and think about how there must be something better out there.
We were delivering road salt covered, "eastern cars", to western dealerships, where the unsuspecting locals would buy them for top dollar, despite the future rust. Then for an eastbound load, we'd head over to one of the salvage auctions. Usually for a big load of accident damaged, insurance write-offs, and deliver them to Ontario dealerships, and body shops for rebuilding. Somehow, I doubt those customers knew what they were getting either. It seemed that everybody was getting a poor deal, each dealer was cutting an extra corner, and integrity was a thing of the past.
I was looking for something better, just as the car buyers are, and then I saw it. A Japanese minitruck, in a small prairie town. One look at it, and a short talk with the owner had me hooked. A vehicle only the size of a "Smart-car", that holds just as many passengers, is just as easy to park downtown, and barely takes any fuel at all, compared to my full sized pick-up. The best part was, this thing had a 4 x 6 foot box, and was a 4x4 like mine, but this was a factory built dump truck, and could also replace my ATV on weekends at the lake. It was everything people want, in one tiny truck, that was in great condition.
After months of research, constant thought about it, and one bad load of cars too many, I left my career as a car hauler. It was time to get off the road, and get a more local job anyway, so I decided to become an importer, used car dealer, and start selling mini trucks in Canada myself. Not to become more like the car dealers I had delivered to, but in many cases, the exact opposite.
How Oddball Auto is different...
Over the years, I've seen a lot of places, doing a lot of different things to sell cars, and I'm hoping to learn from their mistakes.
- Instead of competing with everybody in town, I've decided to focus on cars that are in great demand, but not widely available. The first step in separating myself from the competition, is in selling a completely different product, that I believe is better.
-The trucks may look a little different, and so will the dealership. Nothing fancy, and no silly gimmicks required here. Our vehicles have to be good enough to actually sell themselves, based on performance, ability, and efficiency, where as "normal" cars usually can't.
-We send our trade-ins to the auction, if they aren't good enough to put on our own lot, just like the best dealerships do. We don't buy junk there, just because it's easy. By the way; the auction isn't some kind of bargain center, like most people seem to believe. It's where dealers sell cars at a discount, because they want to, or have to, distance themselves from vehicles, that they wouldn't sell themselves. Why settle for another dealership's rejects, when there are so many great vehicles available, all over the world?
-Our prices are clear, easy to explain, and easy to understand. We've done the hard part of importing JDM cars, and have priced them according to the cost, and work involved. Not on competitor's prices, or what we might be able to get if you're desperate. We are a "one price" dealership, and the lowest price is posted, to remove the pressure of haggling with the pushy salesmen you get elsewhere. The price points all reflect the age, and options of the vehicles available. If you want a cheaper minitruck, simply choose the appropriate truck to suit your budget, or place an order for the model you're looking for.
-The next thing regarding price that we aren't going to do, is try to sell anyone a car they can't afford. While most dealers will try to get financing for the potential customer, (at almost any cost) to make a sale, I have a conscience, and wouldn't do that. We aren't so desperate to make a sale, that we'll stoop to that level. If normal loans, or financing aren't available, your purchase may have to be delayed, but we don't do in house financing, at loan shark rates, to sell cars.
Oddball Auto - The way we do business is a little different too.
About the products...
While minitrucks are a relatively new sight in this part of the world, and certainly qualify as an oddball auto, they've actually been around for quite a while, and are in use all over the world. These tiny trucks are just part of an entire class of sub-compact vehicles from Japan, known as Keijidosha, (or Kei, for short). It's nothing new, or a passing phase. They've been around since the 1940's, and are still being built today. There are all types of kei class vehicles available, kei cars, kei trucks, kei s.u.v.s, and even kei minivans. All of them are strictly limited in size to qualify for the tax savings of the Japanese Kei class of vehicles. Whether you buy a small car, truck, van, or SUV, they're all the same maximum size, just a different shape. The maximum length is always 3.3m, or 10'-10". The maximum width is 1.4m, or 4'-7", and the maximum height is 2.0m, or 6'-7". The engines are also limited to just 660cc, (0.66L), but still have more than enough power to move these light vehicles down the road, since they only weigh around 700kgs, or 1500lbs.
All of the vehicles that we are importing, including 4x4 mini trucks, are all made by companies that you already know, and trust. Made by Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, Suzuki, etc., and originally made for the Japanese domestic market, (JDM), you can be assured of a high quality product, that may even be better than what they've been sending over here. These are a little smaller than what they've chosen to sell in North America, but many of the parts are also interchangeable, and many others are widely available.
In the event you need parts for your JDM vehicle, most of the time, your local auto parts stores will have the best deal on routine maintenance parts, and can find replacement parts in the interchange book. If not, there are many large parts suppliers in the U.S. that carry almost everything, and can be shipped very quickly. Anything else, can be sent by express mail directly from Japan, and should arrive within a few days, just like some parts for North American vehicles.