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The Road to AAPEX starts here

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You may notice a different type of show car at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) this year. It only has 140 hp, with a four-speed automatic transmission and clocks in at 20 feet long. This car is not arriving at the show on a trailer. Instead, it’s coming from Akron, Ohio, on its own power. The car and its adventures over the next nine days promise to be a rolling testimonial for the $1.6 trillion global industry that keeps more than 1.3 billion vehicles on the road: the automotive aftermarket.

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Over the past five months, Babcox Media and 16 sponsors have rehabilitated a 1989 Cadillac Brougham so it can make the epic 2,500-mile journey to be a part of the 2022 AAPEX. The journey from the used car lot to the AAPEX show floor is being documented in a six-episode video series, starting on Sept. 19, called “The Road to AAPEX.” The finale will air on Oct. 31 just prior to the AAPEX opening reception. All episodes will be available on the AAPEX Blog as well as the Babcox Media YouTube Channel.

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“This project car is not about quarter-mile times or chrome,” said Randy Loeser, executive director of content and video services, Babcox Media. “The project is a proof of concept to show how the auto care industry keeps the world moving, no matter what they drive.”

The Caddy

When Babcox Media’s automotive video producer Joe Keene spotted the listing on Craig’s List for a 1989 Cadillac Brougham, he knew it would be the perfect car for the journey to Las Vegas. The Brougham had more than 180,000 miles on the odometer. Unfortunately, it also had a leaking transmission, no A/C and the air suspension was no longer working.

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“After a quick inspection of the car, it was not as bad as I thought,” said Keene. “But we had to make it reliable, safe and able to handle conditions like desert driving.”

The rehabilitation process addressed all mechanical systems on the vehicle. In addition, the body was restored with new parts and paint. The complete process will be shown on the first episode of “The Road to AAPEX.”

“Many people think it would be difficult to get parts for a 33-year-old car,” said Keene. “However, all of our sponsors still manufacture and stock parts for this aging vehicle.”

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Vital Statistics

Make/Model: Cadillac Brougham 

Year: 1989

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Mileage: 180,000+ miles 

Engine: 307 LV2 Olds V8

Power: 140 hp and 245 lb/ft

Weight: 4,500 lbs.

Length: 20 ft

Fuel Capacity: 21 Gallons

Fuel Economy: 15 City/22 Highway

Tires: 225/65R17

Transmission: Remanufactured Turbo-Hydramatic 200-4R

Brakes: Front Vented Disc/Rear Drum Brakes

Air Conditioning: R134a Conversion

Air Bags: None

The Route

“The Road to AAPEX” begins in Akron, Ohio, at Babcox Media’s headquarters. Keene will then travel to Joliet, Ill., to pick up the historic Route 66. Keene will take the “mother road” to visit historic roadside attractions, parts stores and shops in eight states. The trip will cover more than 2,500 miles in nine days.

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“The Road to AAPEX is an incredible demonstration of the freedom and choice that our industry provides Americans, every single day,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association. “Every part of our supply chain enables this freedom to go anywhere, anytime: from parts manufacturers, to distributors, to retailers and shops. There’s nothing more quintessential than a road trip across America, fueled by these essential businesses. Without the aftermarket, the affordability and convenience the motoring public relies on wouldn’t be possible – and we are proud to be that anchor for the consumer for generations to come.”

After reaching the Grand Canyon, Keene will head North to Las Vegas and AAPEX. Following its debut at AAPEX, the Cadillac is being gifted to a U.S. Military Veteran through the 800 Charity Cars Organization, with the whole project truly capturing the spirit of the aftermarket from start to finish.

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“The Road to AAPEX looks different for each member of our great industry, from snowy mountain roads to sandy, beachside highways or the classic Route 66. However, these journeys all have one thing in common – the strength and power of the aftermarket behind each vehicle,” said Paul McCarthy, president and CEO, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association. “AAPEX is the home for each part, tool, chemical, technology, or component needed to safely maintain America’s 280 million vehicles. We are proud of our industry, and to serve the millions of people who rely on the aftermarket on their own ‘roads to…’ every day. I am glad AAPEX provides us with the opportunity to come together to build the relationships we need to grow our businesses.”

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The Driver

Joe Keene is an automotive video producer for Babcox Media. He has worked in the auto care industry as a technician, service advisor and instructor. He is the host for “Auto Pros on The Road,” which is now in its third season. Keene is an ASE-certified automotive technician and is the chief mechanic for the Cadillac. 

The Sponsors

Transtar Industries

Transtar Autobody Technologies

AP Emissions

BCA Bearings 

Blackburn OEM Wheel Solutions

Continental Tire

MotoRad

Motorcar Parts of America, Inc. (MPA)

O’Reilly Auto Parts

Wix Filters

TRW

Litens

Penn Grade 1

Auto Care Association

AASA

Right to Repair   

AAPEX

AAPEX represents the more than $1.6 trillion global automotive aftermarket industry. Historically, the event draws approximately 2,500 exhibiting companies that display innovative products, services and technologies that keep the world’s 1.3 billion vehicles on the road. AAPEX also provides advanced technical and business management training for professionals to maintain excellence and take their businesses to the next level. Industry buyers include automotive service and repair professionals, auto parts retailers, independent warehouse distributors, program groups, service chains, automotive dealers, fleet buyers and engine builders.

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AAPEX is co-owned by the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), the light vehicle aftermarket division of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). For more information, visit www.aapexshow.com or e-mail: [email protected]. On social media, follow AAPEX at #AAPEX22.

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