Bridgestone is the world’s largest tyre and rubber group. It sells $40bn worth of round rubber every year in 150 countries and has a staff of 138,000.
The boss is Shuichi Ishibashi, 66, and his office is in a very nice building in downtown Tokyo not far from Ginza. The company’s mission is “Serving Society with Superior Quality”.
Mimili Anangu School is one of the world’s smallest and most remote schools. It teaches 60 Anangu kids of all ages and has a staff of 10. The boss is Erin McQuade and her office is in Mimili on an unsealed road about 1300km from Adelaide. The school’s mission is “Stand Strong and Proud”. Not surprisingly, staff find working at Mimili challenging and overwhelmingly rewarding.
One of those staff is 22-year-old Caitlin Young, who decided to give up the airconditioned comforts of teaching middle class students in Adelaide for the overwhelmingly rewarding job of teaching in a school where the induction includes a working with children experiencing trauma course, understanding Anangu culture and a four-wheel drive course.
Given the nearest big night out is 645km north to Alice Springs or another 1496km to Darwin, the 4WD course is a must, as is Caitlin’s Mitsubishi Pajero. In March, she took the Pajero into the Bridgestone Service Centre on the Stuart Highway for a new tyre. She paid $350 for one of Bridgestone’s legendary 4WD tyres, the Desert Dueller. Equally at home off and on the road, it makes sure your light commercial or recreational vehicle is never far from adventure.
Well, Bridgestone was right about the adventure. A week ago the Desert Dueller (DD) blew out on her way to Darwin. If you’ve driven up there you know a blowout at speed can rapidly become a fatal adventure. She pulled into Beaurepaires in Winnelli (a suburb of Darwin) who looked at the DD and said this is a tyre with experience. In fact, Shuichi Ishibashi and the team (‘Serving Society with Superior Quality”) had made the DD in the 42nd week of 2009. (I’ve seen the photo and if that’s the tyre, that’s when it was made.)
It’s hard to kick up a real fuss from Mimili, so Mum in Adelaide has been on the job. You know what’s coming don’t you? Bridgestone’s South Australian rep fobbed her off to Shuichi’s Territory rep, George Kulyn, who Mum tells me suggested it is not illegal to sell nine-year-old tyres and this is an acceptable practice. While the family has the bank statement as proof of purchase, strangely enough the good burghers in Alice didn’t give a receipt and when requested one could not be found at the store. On Wednesday, Bridgestone texted to say the store manager would be getting back to them in the next week or two.
I emailed Bridgestone PR people in Adelaide asking if they could help young Caitlin out.
Mr Bridgestone PR replied: “Now that we have looked into this case, we would like to provide the following clarity. We still do not have all the answers yet, but we believe it is unusual that a store would have fitted a tyre of this age – especially given that this is one of our fastest-moving tyre sizes. Potentially, this could have been a spare tyre of the same brand given it seems that all tyres were removed. In the event that findings show that the licenced location has fitted an aged tyre, we will reimburse the customer for their expenses, as this would be against our policy.” Well, Shuichi would be proud.
When you’re turning over $40bn a year, $340 is not a lot of money. It’s the price of a bottle of 2016 Château Takeda Chardonnay at L’effervescence, the best French restaurant in Tokyo. But it’s a lot to a young Australian woman doing something great for our Aboriginal people. Anyway, there’s a happy ending. The old bloke and I had a whip round at the Kensi last night and we’re sending Caitlin’s mum $340 in loose change and a gift pack of Cooper’s DIY Off the Beaten Track Session XPA, which makes 24 litres of pale gold or enough for two nights at Mick’s workshop at Stepney.
There’s two guaranteed ways to make your car worth twice what you paid for it. One: say Steve McQueen owned, drove or looked at it. Two: say it was in a James Bond movie. Our friends at US insurance firm Hagerty say “just an association with the spy franchise is enough to make car values soar”.
“Our valuation analysts compared the values of real Bond cars which were used during the production of the famous films to the prices of standard examples of the same model and found that a starring role in a James Bond movie added on average over 1000 per cent to the value of a car.”
The biggest value boost is the 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 known as “Wet Nellie” that starred in the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me. RM Sotheby sold it for $1.4m, “a huge 4908 per cent mark-up over the standard Hagerty Price Guide value of the model at the time. Lost after filming, it was rediscovered in a New York storage container in 1989, having been sold for $100 in a blind auction to the next lucky owners.”
RM Sotheby billed The Thunderball/Goldfinger 1956 Aston Martin DB5 as “the most famous car in the world”. It sold just for $9m, a mark-up of 759 per cent over a standard DB5. A similar DB5 used as a stunt car in Golden Eye was sold by Bonhams for only $3.5m, just over three times the value of a standard. Bond’s ordinary 1974 AMC Hornet that did the corkscrew Astro Spiral jump in The Man with the Golden Gun sold by RM for $110,000 – 1600 per cent over the value of a standard.