The Project Hammer Hauler Concept
Project Hammer Hauler (Before Picture)

Photographed on Route 66 in front of The Old General Store, Hackberry, Arizona.

Project Hammer Hauler.

At a recent Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas, General Motors President Richard Wagoner delivered the keynote address. Among other things he told the attendees of a new parts marketing opportunity that GM had identified and that they plan to pursue.

“As recently as the ‘60s one in six vehicles on the road was a new car or truck,” stated Wagoner. “Today, just one in fifteen is new.” General Motors feels that this shift in vehicle age will lead to a consumer trend that is called “used chic” in which a growing number of people will want to freshen the look and function of their older vehicles. These consumers like the value equation of their car but want an updated, personal look so they plan to modernize and accessorize their car.”

Considering GM’s logic, a vehicle that would be particularly receptive to this trend should be the ubiquitous station wagon. A favorite of generations past, the station wagon body style has been eclipsed in recent years by the popularity of pickups, minivans and sport utility vehicles. Many owners soon discovered that, while these trucks couldn't be beat for functionality, they left a lot to be desired when it came to driving dynamics and, in some cases, appearance.

As a result the buying public is now ready for the “next big thing” and it appears that an updated, hip version of the good old station wagon, known as a Sport Wagon, could be it. Just such a vehicle is being developed and brought to market by a number of automakers from around the world. Mercedes-Benz was perhaps the first to capitalize on this trend with their E55 Sport Wagon by AMG. Unfortunately this model is not imported into the USA so prospective owners have to construct one themselves. Obviously, this situation creates an excellent opportunity for the Automotive Aftermarket Parts Industry.

Project Hammer Hauler, a magazine project car from Rise Sales, is being constructed to address this marketing opportunity. Named after the legendary AMG Hammer models and with the carrying capacity of a station wagon, the name Hammer Hauler is a natural. The project car story line is designed to provide Mercedes-Benz owners, as well as others, with the stimulus and direction needed to modify and update their vehicles to Sport Wagon status.

To create Project Hammer Hauler, Rise Sales purchased a Glacier White W124 E320 station wagon. The intent is to show how a typical owner could reasonably update their station wagon to make it consistent with the appearance and driving parameters of a Sport Wagon. Intended modifications include a suspension lowering kit, ground effects, roof spoiler and a “plus two” tire and wheel package. Already completed are the sound system upgrade and a hand-stitched leather re-wrap of the stock steering wheel.

The project is expected to receive much exposure. In addition to displaying the car at key consumer and trade events an ambitious publication schedule is planned. Currently the Mercedes-Benz Club of America has nearly 30,000 active members. Each member is assigned to one of 90 regional groups called a section and each section has a publication. One of those publications, The Shoreline Star, is committed to running the entire multi-part Project Hammer Hauler build-up article.

The remaining section editors will be offered the Project Hammer Hauler vehicle article at no charge for possible inclusion in their publications. The vehicle, and/or its photos, will be available for use by the marketing partners as well. Finally, the completed story will be “shopped” to appropriate newsstand magazines for publication consideration.

A very limited number of marketing partners are being invited to join this project. We encourage you to consider how your company can increase its product exposure by being a part of Project Hammer Hauler and we look forward to your possible involvement. Please contact Jim Luikens at (616) 662-7473 (Eastern Time) to discuss this opportunity.