Archive | June, 2009

Happy birthday NGK Europe

I was lucky enough to be one of the UK delegation of journos invited out to Dusseldorf in Germany to celebrate NGK Europe’s 30th birthday last week.

Founded in 1979, four years after NGK UK, NGK Europe today:

  • is technical partner for 52 OEMs
  • supplies 526 aftermarket customers
  • is represented in 38 European countries

They’ve got a lot to celebrate – and boy do they know how to throw a party!

There were journalists from all over the world, and as anyone who has ever spent time in the bar with a hack will know, everyone was up for a good night.

No one was disappointed.

We were fed mammoth joints of meat (not of the woolly variety, although they were big enough to be from one) in true Bavarian style – delicious. And watered with locally brewed beer, followed by probably one too many Maltesers (not the chocolate sort).

With NGK UK’s Brian Childs and Gez Irving on top form as our generous hosts, the British crew was well looked after – and well entertained!

Now what takes place in the bar stays in the bar, so I’m not going to elaborate. I will say, though, that there were a few sore heads the next day – and it wasn’t all down to the booze…

But before I give you the wrong impression that life as an aftermarket journalist is one long party – we did do some work!

It was an absolute pleasure to be given a tour of NGK’s fascinating technical centre in Ratingen by the charming Stefan, who is always very gracious in spelling out the complex science bits – even to a hungover rabble.

It really was a great trip, so happy birthday NGK Europe and thank you. A fantastic company with a great heritage and, I’m sure, another successful 30 years to come.

Posted in Emma Butcher's BlogComments (0)

UFI diesel filter fitted to new Audi A3

New Audi with UFI diesel filter

New Audi with UFI diesel filter

The new Audi A3 is to be equipped with an UFI diesel filter.

The filter was designed to protect the fuel injection system, guaranteeing high results in performance, reliability and safety.

The new motors will replace the 1.9, reducing cubic capacity while maintaining performance.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions will also be reduced.

The filter is identified with the UFI 26.007.00 code and the SOFIMA S 6007 NE, original reference VW 3C0127434.

Posted in Factor & Supplier NewsComments (1)

Cricket’s T20 World Cup: Love it!

Martin desperately wanted them to do the can-canDANCING GIRLS

Imagine the glamour, the music, the colour, the dancing girls, perhaps a shandy or two and some mighty big hitting.

For those of you who don’t follow cricket, I am describing a typical day at Twenty20 cricket.

As many of you will know, I am a mad keen cricket fan and I have been lucky to watch cricket around the world, including an Ashes series in Australia.

But nothing quite prepared me for the intensity of what I experienced at Lords Cricket Ground on Sunday 14th June at this year’s world T20.


I’d been given some tickets as a bonus for CAT’s 30th birthday issue doing so well, and was determined to make the most of them.

The day began rather sedately with a train ride from the wilderness of the Sussex countryside where I live, heading into the big smoke for a do-or-die encounter between the under achieving but highly talented England and India, the reigning champions.

It promised to be a day of high octane thrill a minute cricket – it did not disappoint!


Basking in the London sunshine and sitting in the best seats in the house, the stage was set at the Mecca of world cricket.

I had flavour of what to expect with a Game 1, which was Sri Lanka v Ireland: a close game with the Sri Lankans the eventual winners.

Once this game had ended, the big screens panned in on the England squad ready to enter the arena to warm up. They were greeted with a chorus of boos from 20,000 partisan Indian fans.

That’s a bit like Michael Heseltine coming to work and getting loudly booed by us lot on CAT!

I doubt Lords had ever seen anything like this, the England team looked totally bemused and we all wondered how they would react.


As the game got the underway, the atmosphere reached new deafening levels, the Indians ramped things up with their whistles and others weird and wonderful musical instruments.

Cricket really is a religion for India!

Seated in the Grand Stand and nicely opposite the dancing girls, we were treated to some revealing dance routines (oooooh!),  not to mention the cricketing shots.

With every boundary and at the end of each over, the DJ played his tunes and the dancers would appear on a mini stage to wow the ogling crowd.

How cricket has evolved!

It was a memorable day of thrills and spills… and thankfully an England victory, but not without the loss of a few finger nails.

Roll on the Ashes…

Posted in Martin Lee's BlogComments (0)

Boge/ZF Trading

The new Boge PC Shock Absorber catalogue for 2009/10 is now available from ZF Trading UK Ltd. With over 400 new parts added, it’s our most comprehensive range of shock absorbers, top mounts and service kits for both passenger and CVs to date. It covers 44 manufacturers with vehicles listed on the roads in the UK and Ireland. To order your copy, contact the ZF Trading customer service line on 01788 822855 quoting part ref 20277 GB.

Posted in Shock AbsorbersComments (0)

Klarius: Lambda Sensors

Klarius Lambda Sensors are produced using the latest design and manufacturing processes. Suitable for most production cars – with over 548 products available. Can be fitted to Klarius and other brand systems. Its sensors are fully interchangeable with other leading brands – Klarius is confident that all of its sensors will match or beat the performance of a car’s OE sensor.

Posted in SensorsComments (0)

2010 CAT Awards – Nominate Now

[form 1 “2009 Awards Phase One”]

Posted in UncategorisedComments (3)

CAT 30th birthday issue: from inception to your letter box

Life working on a magazine isn’t always easy. I’ve spent 13 years in the trade now, in editorial and publishing on consumer and B2B titles. So I should know.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the efforts we put into our trade are well rewarded.

Such was the case with the June issue of CAT, which also marked the brand’s 30th year in existence.

At the start of the year we all knew that here was an opportunity, a chance to create something special that would be kept and remembered for years to come by the industry we serve.

The question was: how would we create that something special?


Back in January the CAT team (consisting of me, Emma, Karen and Martin) sat down in a local pub and talked it through.

Ideas were discussed – some good, some zany.

They ranged from holding a 007 Bond-themed ‘CATsino’ gambling night through to a jaunt on a boat up the Thames and a deep-sea fishing trip out of Brighton.

Eventually, we hatched a plan that we hoped would result in an issue of CAT that would be revered for years to come.

The idea was a simple.

Inside the regular issue of CAT, we’d place a 64-page, bound-in supplement. And in that supplement, we’d look back at the aftermarket in each and every year since CAT’s arrival on the scene in the summer of 1979.

It would become a record of the entire industry in that period, as reported by our predecessors.

Our 30th anniversary issue would be history recorded for posterity; with individual characters, companies, scandals, collapses and successes documented in one place for the very first time.

We would name it, ‘The CAT Chronicles’. Genius.


From a commercial perspective, creating a publication along these lines made sense.

Not only would it be an interesting read for anyone associated with the IAM during the last 30 years, but importantly it made sense commercially, too.

We decided to offer unique sponsorship opportunities for every year, offering clients the chance to write advertorial about their company’s development in a timeframe of their choosing and ‘own’ a year of their choice.

Emma and I became quite excited at the prospect of creating this CAT behemoth. But a few days after we agreed to do it, it became clear to us that, from a workload perspective, we’d created a monster.

But we couldn’t stop now. Initial sales pitches had been made, some agreed. NGK expressed a keen interest in sponsoring the whole thing.

So there was no turning back. Initial feedback we were getting pointed one way: that we were onto a winner.


All this had to be done with no promotional or extra cash.

Budgets were tighter than sales manager Martin Lee’s wallet. We couldn’t hire anyone else to work with us, other than our part-time art editor. We didn’t have the funds.

But what the hell, we were going to do it. We’d smash through the extra workload like a juggernaught ploughing into a Smart car.

We were going to create aftermarket history by recording aftermarket history in one tome: in a way it had never been done before. And that was exciting.

For me, it meant a return to my journalistic routes: writing the supplement as I brokered sponsorship deals with clients, agreed costs with the printers, looked at postage charges and ensured the whole thing didn’t go over budget.

For Emma, it meant writing it as she worked on standard issues of CAT.

For the sales guys, it meant selling deals on an extra platform, trying to eke extra money from clients’ already hard-pressed budgets.


And so it was that, in March,  Ems and I began the job of reviewing 360-odd back issues of CAT, summarising each year’s news and stories into a page or two of editorial.

Often we’d in the office til 9 or 10pm at night, reading through back issues, researching, writing and subbing. Before writing some more, double checking the research and subbing the same pages over and over again.

Many old CAT issues were memorable for the right reasons. Good copy, good stories, interesting news with humour aplenty. There were also pictures of topless women and a sexism that would not wash in the CAT office today.

But many issues were poor. The early to mid 1980s saw CAT go through a period when the layout was so sketchy you’d be reading a feature on page 6, only for it to abruptly end mid-sentence – along with instructions to turn to page 31 and then to page 9.


Little by little, though, we got there, although not without some good old fashioned blood, sweat and tears.

And finally, at about 10pm on deadline day, the mag was finally dispatched to the printers


We went home that night and quite probably consumed more units in three hours than you’re supposed to absorb in a week.


A week later and, following a congratulatory day at Thorpe Park in which we all enjoyed ourselves on the various roller coasters (you’ve just got to have a go on Saw, it’s mental), the magazine was delivered to the office.

We opened the boxes with trepidation.

Silence ensued as the content was checked for errors (a typical journo thing to do).

“Shit!” exclaimed Emma. “Shit, shit shit.”

I wondered what she was upset about. Maybe some pages had been printed in the wrong order? Maybe a photograph was missing, with a blank space in its place?

“We got a comma in the wrong place,” she said.

I laughed. You’re never going to spot everything, not when there’s only two of you working on such a big project.


The issue was okay. In fact, it was better than okay. It looked the absolute nuts. We had conceived an idea and executed it well. The result was brilliant.

Within hours copies were dropping through company letter boxes all over the country. Calls started coming in. “The best issue of CAT for many many years,” was the consensus of many. “The best issue of CAT ever,” was the view of most.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the effort we put into our work is rewarded…

Posted in Blogs, Jim Foster's BlogComments (0)

Osram Ltd

Osram are the world’s leading automotive lighting company. The new catalogue incorporates the following:

* Original 12v/24v products

* Full range of innovative upgrade bulbs

* New Night Breaker for 90% more light

* Cool Blue range for the Xenon look

All products are listed in the British Standard reference no (BSref) for ease of use. All POS displays are listed and the application guide at the back of the brochure is designed to help establish which bulb type is used where on a car or motorcycle.

Posted in LightingComments (0)

Blue Print

Blue Print LIVE is a state-of-the-art online catalogue, ordering and technical reference system, which offers access and up to the minute detail on Blue Print’s range of over 26,000 part numbers including 20,000 hi-res images for Asian and American vehicles.

To see the full list of features or to register for Blue Print LIVE please visit

Posted in Japanese - Korean - American, Japanese PartsComments (0)

UFI Filters returns lower than ever

UFI Filters' Italian factory

UFI Filters' Italian factory

UFI has claimed that its filters have a return rate of just 0.01% – the lowest figure the firm has yet released.

That’s according to John Goodland, sales director of UFI’s key strategic distribution partner, Universal Automotive.

“Considering UFI supplies a full range of air, oil, fuel and cabin filters to factors nationwide, the fact they have a returns rate of just 0.01% is phenomenal,” said Goodland.

“Because the brand has such market exclusivity, UFI filters provide independent factors with excellent sales opportunities – yet they are still available at a competitive price.”

CAT asked Goodland why UFI filters seem so reliable that returns are virtually unheard of.

“It’s because globally-patented technology, deployed on the H2O range, does not rely on traditional, vertical-pleated paper technology,” he said.

“This means UFI can produce filters of higher spec that eliminate particles more efficiently.”

Posted in Factor & Supplier NewsComments (0)

  • FRANCHISING: The perils of buying into an unproven chain
  • EAT MY (BRAKE) DUST: Should we take brake pad emissions more seriously?
  • PRODUCTIVITY PUZZLE: Is the aftermarket as productive as it should be? .

more info

    • Should hand car washes face further regulation?

      View Results

      Loading ... Loading ...
    • Popular
    • Latest
    • Comments
    • Tags
    • Subscribe