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How are cars made?
Apr 9, 2024
Season 6 | Episode 1

How are cars made?

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We're gonna need some brakes!

Bridget and Ryan are back for a whole new season of “Million Bazillion”! Since we’ve been away, Ryan’s developed an interest in soapbox car racing — just in time for a question from Abigail about how cars are made. Bridget and Ryan head to a car factory to find the answer. By the end of the episode, they’ll need to put their newfound knowledge (and Ryan’s skills as a soapbox racer) to the test!

Tips for grownups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money Talks

After you listen to the episode, here are some questions you can ask your kid listener to see how much they learned about how cars are made:

  1. If you were in charge of making stuff, would you prefer to use an assembly line or some other method?
  2. You have to save up to buy your own car. Would you rather have a car like everyone else’s that is affordable, or a one-of- a-kind car that’s really expensive?
  3. If you could design your own car, what would it look like?
  4. *Bonus* Not-So-Random Question: If you could drive, where would you go?

Tip Jar

For listeners who want to keep learning more about cars and how they’re made, we’ve got ideas!

  • Borpo used a 3D printer to make parts for his soapbox racer. Here’s a video from Nat Geo Kids that explains how 3D printers work. Big automakers like Ford are already using 3D printing in their factories. But listen to this story from Marketplace about an auto startup that wants to use artificial intelligence and 3D printers to change how cars are made (don’t worry, there will still be assembly lines). Time for Kids explains how houses are built using a giant 3D printer that pours concrete.
  • If your kids want to know more about how things are made, check out this episode from “Million Bazillion” where we answer the question: “Why are so many things made in China?” and really get into the different ways businesses think about making stuff.

Gimme Five

Thanks for listening to this episode! Do your kids have more questions about how things are made they want us to answer? Send them to us using this online form.

This episode is sponsored by Greenlight. Start saving for your first car with up to 5% on savings. Get one month free and an extra $10 when you sign up for Greenlight Infinity at greenlight.com/million.

(SFX: TOOLS CLANGING)

BRIDGET: Ryan, what are you doing?

(SFX: SUDDEN BANG)

RYAN: Ow! Bridget! Didn’t see you there! Is it time to do another season of Million Bazillion already?

BRIDGET: Well, yeah, didn’t you get my text? And my voice message? And my postcard? And the carrier pigeon I sent wearing the little Million Bazillion sweatshirt? 

(SFX: DOVE COO)

RYAN: Oh, sorry, I missed those- Ow, my head. That actually hurt- I’ve been building my race car for the local soap box derby race. Y’know as seen in the 1994 movie, The Little Rascals.

BRIDGET: Well, that explains the four wheels! I thought those races were supposed to be for [awkward cough] young people? 

RYAN: Well, I’m a man in my YOUNG forties, so why shouldn’t I be allowed to enter?

BRIDGET: Right, well, uh…are you ready to answer some questions from our listeners? We got some really good ones this season!

RYAN: Ready as I’ll ever be! Just give me a push, and I’ll meet you down the hill so we can get started. 

BRIDGET: Uh, okay….here goes… (GRUNTS)

RYAN: Weeeeeee…  (FADES AWAY) 

(SFX: SWERVING)

(SFX: CRASH)

BRIDGET: Oh my gosh, Ryan!

RYAN: (FROM A DISTANCE) I’m okay! I meant to do that! Crashing the car you spent months to build into a pile of splinters is totally the point! Let’s just…start the show!

–Theme Music–

BRIDGET: Hey, everyone! I’m Bridget!

RYAN: And I’m Ryan!

BRIDGET: And we help dollars make more cents! We’re back for a brand new season of Million Bazillion, and man, we have some cool shows in store for you. You’re not gonna want to miss a single episode!

RYAN:  That’s right. We’re gonna answer more questions that YOU…have about money. And when I say you, I mean the youth, the younglings, the childs- children- childrenesses, kids have about money.

BRIDGET: I mean, they ask the best questions, okay? All right, so let’s kick things off with our first question of the season. Ryan, since you’re a race-car person now, I think you’ll really appreciate it. 

ABIGAIL: “Hi, Million Bazillion. I’m Abigail from Sparta, New Jersey. I’ve been wondering, how are cars made? Thanks!”

BRIDGET: Wow, this is an exciting question! How are cars made? Well, pretty much any THING or item you can buy had to be made somewhere, by someone. And that’s true for cars too! And on this planet, we make like tens of millions of cars every single year! How do we even do that?? 

RYAN: Bridget, I have a great idea for this episode-

BRIDGET: I think I know what you’re gonna say. No, we’re not going to spend the episode helping you rebuild your soap box derby car!  Also, how would that even help us answer the question??

RYAN: No, how ‘bout we take a trip to an auto factory to see how cars are made first-hand?

BRIDGET: Wow, that is a good idea!

RYAN: Why do you sound so surprised?

BRIDGET: That’s not my surprised voice, that’s my…admiration voice. 

RYAN: Hmm, well… this can be one of those episodes where we don’t have to know anything and we just go to a place and point at stuff and go, “What’s that?” and someone who works at the factory will explain it all! It’s the perfect kind of show for us, because you like to ask questions, and I’m lazy!

BRIDGET: Ok, sounds like a plan. Let’s find out how cars are made right after this.

–Asking Random Kids NOT SO Random Questions–

ANNOUNCER: And now it’s time for Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions. Today’s question is: if you could drive, where would you go?

RANDOM KIDS: “If I could drive, I would drive my sister to school.” “I would go to Disneyland.” “I would drive to New York City.” “To grandma Kathy’s house because she’s super fun to play with.” “I would go to Antarctica because I like skiing, and I like ice skating, and I like animals.” “If I could drive, I would go around a roundabout ten times because it’s fun.”

ANNOUNCER: That was Anele in Vancouver. Emiliano and Theodore in California. Meredith and Tula in Wisconsin. And Benjamin in Austin. This has been Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions.

Part 1:

RYAN: And we’re back! Today on Million Bazillion, we’re answering the question: how are cars made?

BRIDGET: That’s right, Ryan! And, for this episode, we knew the best place to get an answer was at this auto factory for an unspecified maker of cars, here in Michigan… 

RYAN: Cue the funky educational music!

(MUSIC: APM MUSIC “DETROIT’S VELVET”) 

RYAN: Aww, yeah. That’s the vibe. I feel like Mr. Rogers on a trip to the crayon factory! 

BRIDGET: We’ve all heard of Detroit, Michigan. Home of Motown music and the birthplace of car-making in America. Today, cars are made all over the world. But Michigan still makes the most cars out of any state in the U.S. And two of the biggest carmakers in the country have their headquarters here. So, yeah, I think there’s no better place in America to learn how a car is made. 

RYAN: Bridget, aren’t you from here?

BRIDGET: Well, yeah, that too…

(FADE OUT MUSIC)

RYAN: Wait, isn’t your high school reunion this weekend? 

BRIDGET: [AWKWARD LAUGH] Oh, you remembered that?

RYAN: [UNSUSPECTING] Yeah, you said you didn’t think you’d be able to go, but I guess since Million Bazillion paid for our tickets and you’re already here, you might be able to swing it now?

BRIDGET: I mean, it would be silly to waste the opportunity – [CHANGING SUBJECT] Okay, so let’s find out how these cars are made! 

(SFX: FACTORY FLOOR AMBI)

BRIDGET: Our guide’s gotta be around here somewhere, right?  Now, because I’m steeped in the lore of the auto giants, I’m just gonna bet they’ll say making a car all comes down to the assembly line

RYAN: Assembly line? Is that like the line to get in the school auditorium when the principal is giving a speech? Is that what that means, Bridget?!?

BRIDGET: No, assembly lines are a way to make a bunch of the same thing. Every step of the building process is done by a different person and when they finish their part, they pass the thing they’re making to the next person for the next step. We’ve talked about this on Million Bazillion before, but for anyone who’s missed it, pretend we’re making a pizza…

RYAN: Uhhhkay, here we go again…

[MUSIC]

BRIDGET: Person 1 puts the dough on the pizza pan, [SFX PLOP], then passes the pan to the next person in line. [SFX METAL SCRAPING]. 

VO 1: Next!

BRIDGET: Person 2 smears on some pizza sauce [SFX SQUIRT BOTTLE], maybe spreads it around, then passes the pan down [SFX METAL SCRAPING]

RYAN: Gee, I wonder what’s next.

VO 2: You’re up!

BRIDGET: Person 3 sprinkles on the cheese [SFX SHAKER OR JINGLY BELLS]. And then they–

VO 3: I’m all done, next in line!

BRIDGET: Right, they pass it to person 4 who adds the toppings. [SFX THWACK THWACK] 

VO 4: Peppers, olives, onions, anchovies, pineapple, ham, candied yams… ew, this pizza is kinda gross.

BRIDGET: And then someone else puts it in the oven. 

[END MUSIC]

RYAN: Right right, and then, why are we doing this again? I’m pretty sure I could just make that pizza on my own. Like I think in actual pizza restaurants, there’s just one person who spins around the dough and puts it in the brick oven, etcetera and such. 

BRIDGET: Yes, well it was supposed to be just an example – like the thing with cars, they’re not pizzas! They have SO many parts that all have to work together PERFECTLY, it would take SO LONG for one person to get good at making a whole car,  But if you split up each step and you make that a person’s whole job, each person gets really good at the ONE thing they’re doing. And bonus, you can start making stuff with less waste and really quickly! Like, making hundreds of cars in a single day!

RYAN: Wow, who came up with this whole assembly line process in the first place?

BRIDGET: Well, I’ll give you a hint. It’s somebody who shares their name with a car.

RYAN: Oh, easy. Bob… Truck.

BRIDGET: No, like a specific brand of car.

RYAN: Oh, um. Bob… Toyota… Truck.

BRIDGET: I’ll give you a hint, his last name was Ford.

RYAN: Harrison Ford.

BRIDGET: Henry Ford.

RYAN: Henry Ford. That’s who I meant. I was just gonna say Henry Ford. 

FOREPERSON: (“AHEM” COUGH) Actually, Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line. Every real Michigander already knows this. 

BRIDGET: Um, no! I knew that–wait, Maggie??

FOREPERSON: Bridget?? I haven’t seen you since high school! 

BRIDGET: How have you been? 

MAGGIE: I’m great! I’m the foreperson of the line for this part of the factory, so I’m in charge. And I also get to lead tours. Oh, and I’m also the president of our local chapter of the Car Makers History Fan Club. 

BRIDGET: Ha! Typical Mags. Always the one in charge! You’re like, the perfect person to give us this tour!

MAGGIE: Well let’s get started! . So, versions of the assembly line have existed since ancient times…

(MUSIC: SAME ITALIAN MUSIC FROM OUR INSURANCE EP)

(SFX: HAMMERING AND WOODWORKING AGAINST BEACH SOUNDS)

FOREPERSON: Heck, people were using them to build ships in the 1300s! It just turns out that it helps you make more stuff faster than other ways to make stuff. So no, Henry Ford definitely didn’t invent the assembly line. 

BRIDGET: Okay, but Henry Ford DID help make the assembly line better!

FOREPERSON: That’s true! See, a Michigan carmaker named Ransom Olds had already figured out that using assembly lines to make cars made perfect sense. But Henry Ford had the idea to put the CARS on a MOVING assembly line. So the car moves from person to person, and the workers don’t have to move around as much themselves. 

BRIDGET: It’s like I always say, you can always make a good idea better!

RYAN: I’ve never heard you say that. 

BRIDGET: I say it. 

FOREPERSON: Fun fact, on Henry Ford’s first assembly line, it only took about an hour and a half  to put together a car from start to finish, which was way faster than his competitors who took like, 12 hours!

BRIDGET: Oh wow, that’s fast! But not as fast as Scotty DiNardo running the hundred yard dash in gym, am I right?

FOREPERSON: That’s right! I had such a crush on him! I wonder what he’s up to these days! 

RYAN: So Maggie, we’re looking for somebody who can answer a ton of questions about making a car and you seem to like to talk a lot. Would you be willing to help us out?

FOREPERSON: Heck yeah.

RYAN: Great, and I’ll get some tips for my soap box derby car. Cue the funky learning music again!

(MUSIC: APM MUSIC “DETROIT’S VELVET”) 

FOREPERSON: (CASUAL GOSSIP) … and you didn’t hear it from me, but remember Tricia Lefiddy, the cheerleader? She sued the salon cause her hair caught on FIRE when she was getting a perm! (LAUGHS)

BRIDGET: Get out!

FOREPERSON: Oh, you have missed some DRAMA, hon! Oh, anyway… (BACK TO GIVING THE TOUR) What you’re about to see today is a streamlined and finely-honed manufacturing facility. This company wants to make as many cars as they can for a price that people are willing to pay. And besides making the cars that you and your loved ones drive around in all day, over four million people in the U.S. have a job in the auto industry. 

BRIDGET: Wow! Hey, listeners…this could be a good time to pause and ask your grownup if their job has anything to do with car making. Even if they don’t work for an automaker, they might work for someone who does a lot of businesses with one. 

FOREPERSON: That could be! The whole auto industry is worth a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy. That’s a good sized chunk!

RYAN: You could almost say it’s…too big to fail. 

FOREPERSON:  [SLIGHT TONE CHANGE] Okay follow me, and put your hard hats on. We’re going to climb up these stairs and use these metal walkways hanging from the ceiling to get around. 

(SFX CLIMBING METAL STAIRS)

RYAN/BRIDGET: Ooh, cool. 

BRIDGET: This is kinda like a jungle gym, but scary.

FOREPERSON: Now, what ya gotta keep in mind, a single car on average can have 30,000 parts! 

 (SFX: HAMMERING, WELDING, SMALLER TOOL USE – SPECIFICALLY NO BIG MACHERY SOUNDS HERE)

FOREPERSON: … and all  those different parts for any single car could be made anywhere in the world. The same car may have an engine from Japan, a steering wheel from Italy, and tires from Ohio. Or right here. We make some of those parts using dies. 

RYAN: Dyes, like Easter egg dyes? How am I supposed to use Easter egg dye to make a soap box derby race car??

FOREPERSON: No, these dies are spelled D-I-E-S and think of them like cookie cutters that we use to STAMP out the parts from material like steel. See down there?

(SFX: FACTORY AMBI, MACHINES WHIRRING, SPARKS FLYING)

BRIDGET: Ooh, there’s one cutting out the shape of a car door!

RYAN: There’s one in the shape of a gingerbread man!

FOREPERSON: Uh, what, no, that definitely shouldn’t be–

RYAN: Oh, my bad, it’s just a car hood! My gingerbread men always turn out kinda blobby, easy to mistake with the shape of a car hood!

FOREPERSON: Right, right. I was going to say, and the important thing is every car hood for this particular car model is cut out in exactly the same shape as the next. It makes it faster to put together cars at the end, but we have to be really good at making the exact same thing over and over again. 

BRIDGET: That’s trickier than it sounds I bet, but maybe gets easier if you’re the worker down there who does this exact same thing over and over again, all day, for years upon years upon years. 

FOREPERSON: Exactly! Now we’re getting into the welding department. That’s when we start connecting the different pieces we’ve cut out by melting the parts together–

(SFX RUNNING ON METAL)

BORPO (BLIPPY-TYPE SCREECHING): Excuse me, are you explaining how cars are made? 

FOREPERSON: Um… yeah.

BORPO: I’m visiting this factory to learn the exact same thing. My name is Borpo, and I host a show where I learn about different things!

(MUSIC: KIDDIE MUSIC)

BRIDGET: Oh wow, it’s Borpo! I thought you looked familiar. You host Learning with Borpo! It’s one of YouTube’s most popular pre-K educational shows!

BORPO: That’s right! When kids want their questions answered, they turn to me, Borpo! Hahahahew!

FOREPERSON: Oh yeah, now that you mention it, your suspenders look familiar. Pretty sure my daughter has watched your show for a few thousand hours.

RYAN: Well, it’s nice to meet you Borpo. We’re Ryan and Bridget. We host Million Bazillion. It’s, like, a kid’s money podcast thingy. But we’re in the middle of our episode on cars. Good luck with your episode on cars. Bye for now-

FOREPERSON: Hey, if you’re all touring the assembly line today, why don’t I take you all on the same tour and we can learn this all together?

BORPO: Waaoow! That sounds like a great idea to me! If that’s ok with you, Ryan and Bridget.

RYAN: Ummm. Excuse us for just a second.  (WHISPERS) Bridget, do we have to take the same tour as Borpo?

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) You don’t want to? Why?

RYAN: (WHISPERS) Because I think our show is sort of different style than Borpo.

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) Do you not like Borpo or something?

RYAN: (WHISPERS) That’s not- that’s not relevant. I just think our styles are very different. I understand we’re both educational shows, but I’m not seeing a lot of overlap between us and Borpo. The middle of the Venn diagram is empty if that makes any sense-

FOREPERSON: Hey, can we keep this tour moving? I don’t have all day here. We got cars to make!

BORPO: I’m ready for the tour!

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) Kids love Borpo. What’s wrong with that? Look, they’re waiting on us. 

RYAN:  (RESIGNED) Ok, ok. Ok, ok. All right, let’s do it.

FOREPERSON: So like I said, this is the welding department. This is where a car is going to get its roof and doors. They use a lot of robots here, either doing the actual welding or the robots are helping the humans. 

BORPO: Woooaw! So some of these factory workers look like people, but are actually ROBOTS? That’s so cool.

BRIDGET: Uh, no no, I don’t think that’s what Maggie meant, Borpo–

RYAN: (SIGHS, WHISPERS)  See, this is what I’m talking about, if this is the way it’s gonna be, I just can’t-.

BRIDGET: (CHUCKLES, TRYING TO SMOOTH IT OVER) The workers you see are people, the “robots” are actual machines, like those mechanical arms that welding those doors, right? 

FOREPERSON: Exactly, we’ve started to use robots for jobs that can be extra dangerous to humans, or if the work needs to be super super specific. Robots can just be programmed to get it right every time. With a human keeping an eye on them of course. 

BORPO: Oh, look at me, I’m doing the Borpo Robot! [MAKES STACCATO MOUTH NOISES]

RYAN: Very comical. And now this batch of cars is being moved on to the next stage. This is the famed moving assembly line you spoke of earlier. 

FOREPERSON: Well spotted, Ryan! THIS is the innovation from Henry Ford I was telling you about! The whole assembly line is one moving platform- think like the kind you ride at the airport or your groceries go down at the checkout line. 

BORPO: Oooheww! I just love the checkout line. Beep!… Beep!…Beep!

FOREPERSON: Yeah. In an auto factory, the line stretches from one part of the factory to the next. These cars are headed to the “paint dip” next!  

BRIDGET: Ooh, color me, impressed! 

RYAN: Hmmm, this shade of red would look amazing on my soap box derby racer. 

FOREPERSON: Painting the body of a car involves cleaning it really well, painting it with a special mix to make sure the paint won’t rust, and baking the whole thing dry, so it’s super smooth. 

BORPO [IN BACKGROUND]: Red! Silver! Blue! All the colors of the rainbow

FOREPERRSON: We go for that new car gleam. Like Justin Mitchell’s PT Cruiser in senior year, I thought that car was so cool!

BRIDGET: (LAUGHS) Maggie! I haven’t thought about that in years! Anyway, these cars look great, but they’re basically like giant sized matchbox cars…they look great, but I don’t think they can actually drive anywhere. 

FOREPERSON: Not yet, but that’s where we’re headed next! To get the engine! Now see how big and bulky those engines are? They’re heavy too, so they’re using robot arms and heavy chains to help lower them in. We do that for all the really big and heavy parts, like the batteries in our electric vehicles. 

RYAN: Oh nice. Another way machines help the human workers. 

BORPO: (ON TOP OF RYAN) The machines help the human workers! Isn’t that super duper, my YouTube troopers?

RYAN: (WHISPERS) Who’s Borpo talking to?

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) His YouTube followers. (RE-FOCUSING) Um, cool, then what’s next? 

FOREPERSON: The car also gets its suspension system here, that helps absorb some of the bumps on a not so smooth road. See how quickly the workers move? They have so much practice doing their one specific job, they get really good at it. The last thing we add is the tires!

BRIDGET: Oh, interesting, so- 

BORPO: Woaw! So this is how they make the car go vroom vroom! How coolio is that, my little buddies? Can you say “vroom vroom”?

BRIDGET: Uh, I was going to ask why happens-

BORPO: Hahahew! That was great!

BRIDGET: I was going to ask how long does this entire process take? 

FOREPERSON: Well from start to finish, about 20 hours. From starting a car to the moment it’s finished and ready to roll off the line. That’s longer than back in Henry Ford’s day that I told you about earlier, but cars are more complicated now. But at this factory, we can be in production 24 hours a day! Okay, are we ready for the next step?

BORPO: Come on everyone! Follow me! 

FOREPERSON: Now, we’re almost done. We just have to add a few important things like the electrical wiring, the windshield, the airbags, seatbelts, and of course, the steering wheel!

BORPO: Can I get a little “toot toot” from my audience??

FOREPERSON: The final step is quality control. We check to make sure everything works, like the headlights and the brakes. 

BRIDGET: Ok, so what if something-

BORPO: That was super! Now, who wants to watch me do a little dance?

(MUSIC: BLIPPY-STYLE DANCE MUSIC)

RYAN: (LONG SIGH) 

BRIDGET: You ok, Ryan?

RYAN: (SIGHS) I just can’t- You know, I’ve been through so much in life. You know, I’ve loved. I’ve lost, Bridget. And now I’m watching this.

(MUSIC STOPS)

BRIDGET: (TRYING TO MAKE PEACE) Ok, so what happens if you realize something isn’t working right? 

FOREPERSON: Then we stop and fix the problem before the car gets shipped out to the people who want to buy it. If there are no problems, then the car is pretty much good to go!

RYAN: Interesting. I feel like I could apply some of this knowledge to building soap box derby racers.

BORPO: You build soap box derby racers? That sounds really cool, and fun, and neat!

RYAN: Oh, that’s squarely in the Ryan part of the Venn diagram, not in the Borpo Venn diagram, not really your style, more my style.

FOREPERSON: Time for my closing thoughts. Everything you’ve seen today is in pursuit of one goal…to make cars. The reason we make them like we do is because we’ve found that assembly lines help us to make more cars for less money than if we weren’t as efficient and fast. In the U.S., we’ll make millions of cars this year, using this method! 

BRIDGET: Welp, looks like that wraps up our little tour of the assembly line. Thanks so much, Maggie.

FOREPERSON: You got it, Bridget! See you at the reunion later! 

BRIDGET: Alright, how bout we take a little break, and we’ll learn more about how cars are made after this, ok?

BORPO: That sounds great. We’ll be right back after this!

BRIDGET: Yeah, that’s what I just said. See you after the bre-

BORPO: See you after the break! 

BRIDGET: Yep, right after this.

BORPO: Right after this, we’ll be back!

–MIDROLL–

BRIDGET: Welcome back to Million Bazillion, everyone! Ryan and I are back from a whirlwind trip to Michigan where we learned how cars are made, so that we could answer Abigail’s question! We also went to my high school reunion where the drama was, like, off the charts. I honestly might have to start a different podcast to cover it all. Anyway, Ryan, what did you learn from the factory? 

(SFX: WOOD CARVING SOUNDS)

(MUSIC: FADE UP SOME DREAMY ‘80s BUSINESSY “POWER” MUSIC)

RYAN: A whole lot, actually. And now I’m planning to apply what I’ve learned to my soap box car. I’m going to take my mass assembly line know-how and use it to manufacture a great soap box car that will win tomorrow’s big race. And my victory will be so amazing and inspiring, I will become the premiere manufacturer of soap box cars in the country!  

BRIDGET: Wow, I’m kind of impressed that the tour was so inspiring to you. Michigan can really have that effect on people, though so, you know. Uh, so, where are you going to start? 

RYAN: Right here, in my garage. If Steve Jobs could build his empire surrounded by spiders and discarded exercise equipment, so can I! Step one- I’m going to need you to call everyone we’ve ever met in the making of this podcast and get them to come down here, so we can assign them to a spot on my assembly line. 

BRIDGET: Ooh, Ryan, I don’t know, that’s kind of a big ask. Can we phone a friend instead? I think my neighbor runs like, some kind of smaller car company, maybe we can just ask him for tips on how to start your own? 

RYAN: We flew to Michigan when you could have asked your NEIGHBOR the answer to Abigail’s question?

BRIDGET: [FAST] Well you had fun tagging along at my high school reunion, right – Dialing him now!

(SFX PHONE DIAL RINGING)

BRIDGET: Oh, hey Giancarlo! It’s Bridget!

SFX: TRUMPET/PEANUTS ADULT 

BRIDGET: Oh, I didn’t hear they changed trash pickup day, thanks for the hot tip! But look, okay so,  I was hoping you could help, Ryan and I are trying to answer a question about how cars are made. We went to one of the big factories in Michigan, but I know you do things a little differently.

SFX: TRUMPET/PEANUTS ADULT 

BRIDGET: Well, it’s no rush, you don’t need to drop everything and come over immediately.

(SFX: FOOTSTEPS RUSH UP)

GIANCARLO: (SUAVE ITALIAN ACCENT) I understand that someone is in need of a fine, custom automobile.

(MUSIC: SOME FELLINI-ESQUE/NINO ROTA ITALIAN ‘60s MUSIC HERE)

BRIDGET: Oh, hey, that was fast. Giancarlo, this is my friend, Ryan. And Ryan, this is my neighbor, Giancarlo Ciccone. 

RYAN: Giancarlo Ciccone? The Giancarlo Ciccone of Ciccone Luxury Motors?

GIANCARLO: Yes, I am HE. HE IS I. . At your service. 

BRIDGET: You know who my neighbor is?

RYAN: Bridget, Giancarlo Ciccone makes some of the fastest sportscars on earth. Their work is legendary in the world of super-rich car buyers and people like me who’ve only seen pictures of their cars on calendars at the mechanic. 

GIANCARLO: It’s true. All of it. My business is a luxury. At Ciccone Luxury Motors, we focus on quality, not quantity. We only make 2,000 cars a year! Fine cars. Rare cars! And the main secret to how we make OUR cars is that everything is done by hand. 

BRIDGET: Wow, like what’s an example? 

GIANCARLO: The wood for the dashboards? Carved by hand. The leather headrests, stitched by hand. The cushion of the seats, tested by hand- and also by butt. A real butt sat in each seat to make sure it was comfortable. That is the Ciccone Promise of Luxury, everything made by hand or butt.  

RYAN: Oh, so no assembly line. Just a fine handcrafted car. I want to make a car like that. 

GIANCARLO: (HESITANT) Uhhhhh, no. We still use an assembly line. (CHUCKLING) It would be very hard to make a car without an assembly line.  But we don’t use as many robots. We specialize in craftsmanship, precision, functional elegance and formal beauty! After we make a car, we look at the car very hard to make sure we did a really good job. 

BRIDGET: Right, right, so you’re taking your time, going slow. I mean, cars are all highly regulated so generally any car is going to be of a certain standard quality. But yeah, leather seats do sound very plush!

GIANCARLO: Golden embroidery too! Only the best!

RYAN: Okay, Signor Ciccone. I’m trying to make the perfect soap box derby car for the big race tomorrow. 

GIANCARLO: Oh, like in the classic 1994 film, Little Rascals?

RYAN: Yes, exactly. Will you help me and Bridget finish the car?

GIANCARLO: We’ll have to stay up all night working, but yes, I will help. Just leave it to me.

RYAN: We better get to it.

(MUSIC: BUSY FELLINI-ESQUE MUSIC)

RYAN: Screw driver! I need a screw driver.

BRIDGET: Here you go!

GIANCARLO: Ah yes.

RYAN: Anyone seen the tape measure?

BRIDGET: Raise it higher!

GIANCARLO: This is my finest work yet!

BRIDGET: Time for a carrot stick break!

RYAN: No Mr Skimbleshanks, not now! We’re making history over here!

BRIDGET: (YAWNING) Ok so it’s the morning of the race, we’ve been up all night. Ryan and I spent all night getting the wheels aligned to the body.

RYAN: (TIRED) Yeah, and Signor Ciccone said he’d handle the rest. How’s it looking?

GIANCARLO: It took me all night, but I’m almost done hand-stitching the seat cushion. I just need another two hours.

RYAN: Wait. You worked all night and the only thing you finished was the seat cushion?

GIANCARLO: Yes, but lemme explain- it’s a luxury seat.

RYAN: Signor Ciccone, the race is in thirty minutes and all we have are wheels and a seat! This thing needs doors, bumpers, a steering wheel, maybe some brakes.

GIANCARLO: Ok. Ok, but you see, the way I work, each of those things has to be luxury, handcrafted, tested, re-tested-

RYAN: Awww, man! I can’t make a car the Ciccone way! It takes too long!

BRIDGET: Look, you’re just gonna have to race with the car as it is. 

RYAN: But what about the steering wheel?

(SFX: THUNK SOUND)

BRIDGET: There! That should be good enough to hold for one race!

RYAN: But what about brakes?

BRIDGET: Are you in this race to go fast or to brake?

RYAN: I’m in this race to go fast.

MUX_Upbeat Challenger

BRIDGET: Then get out there and race without brakes!

RYAN: Ok, let’s get this car to the starting line.

GIANCARLO: Wait, the embroidered initials aren’t done!

MIX out

(SFX: SOAPBOX DERBY RACE CROWD AMBIENCE)

ANNOUNCER: Hello and welcome to the 10th Annual Quad-County Soap Box Competition for Grown-Ups with Too Much Hobby Time! 

(MUSIC: QUICK RACE “OPENING FANFARE” STING PIPED THROUGH PA SPEAKERS)

ANNOUONCER: First we have Ryan racing on behalf of Million Bazillion. He’s wearing a jumpsuit with his team’s sponsors, Greenlight, the Sy Syms Foundation, and the Ranzetta Family Charitable Fund. And his competitor, from Learning with Borpo, you know him, you love him… it’s Borpo!

BORPO: Heheee!

(MUSIC: DRAMATIC STING)

RYAN: Borpo! I can’t believe I’m racing Borpo.

BRIDGET: Borpo, you made a soap box racer too?

BORPO: Yeah, when I heard Ryan was into soap box racers, I thought it would be cool to do too!  I was so inspired by our trip to the car factory, I set up a working assembly line on my estate. I’m pretty rich, so I was able to afford factory-grade robots to help with the machinery. And I’m very popular, so I was able to get 300 people from the neighborhood to come help me out. I even used my 3D printer to make the seat cushions! Isn’t that super?

BRIDGET: Yeah, I mean, your car looks really professional.

RYAN: Ours is pretty good too, though.

BRIDGET: Yeah, but Borpo’s is really good. Like, you could drive this thing on the highway.

RYAN: Ok, whatever.

BORPO: May the best car win! Have a great race and most importantly, stay safe out there, Ryan!

RYAN: [GRUMBLY] Uh, yeah, you too, Borpo.

ANNOUNCER: Alright, racers, come to the starting line and start your engines! (BEAT) That’s a joke, these cars don’t have engines. Just, uh, have your friend give you a push down the hill.

BRIDGET: Here goes nothing.

(MUSIC: SUSPENSEFUL RACE MUSIC)

(SFX: SOAPBOX CAR RACING DOWNHILL)

(MORE RYAN AND BORPO IN CARS!)

ANNOUNCER: Borpo comes to an early lead, but we’re heading around a corner, and Ryan appears to be picking up some speed.

RYAN: Ha ha! I’m going really fast!

BORPO: Whoo hoo!

SFX: MORE VROOM VROOM

ANNOUNCER: Some would say Ryan’s car is going too fast!

BRIDGET: Uh oh, we shoulda put those brakes in. My bad!

BORPO: Ryan looks like he’s out of control.

RYAN: (DISTANT) Help!

BORPO: Don’t worry! Borpo’s on the way!

ANNOUNCER: Borpo is catching up in his state of the art vehicle! And he’s rescuing Ryan from his out-of-control racer and driving them both to safety! Ryan’s empty racer is careening into the lake!

(SFX: CAR SPLASHES INTO THE LAKE, CROWD GASPS, THEN CHEERS)

ANNOUNCER: And Borpo wins the race by default, having rescued Ryan from a grisly fate! Happy to report that both drivers are safe and in good condition.

BRIDGET: Wow, Borpo was so brave and kind. He saved Ryan’s life! (BEAT) Ryan’s not gonna like that. We’ll check in with them right after this break.

-mini-seg-

How to: Lemonade Stand

KYREI: “Hi Million Bazillionaires! I’m Kyrei from Killeen, Texas. I’m the founder of Stoke Survivor Lemonade & Co. This is the part of the show, where the real experts…kids like you and me…share knowledge with each other on how to do all sorts of cool things. Today, I’m going to share my top three tips for how to start a lemonade stand. Tip #1: Be creative. You want to have a unique and eye-catching stand. Tip #2: Unique flavors! Don’t be afraid to be experiment with different fruits and herbs. Tip #3: Marketing. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors all about your lemonade stand. This way, more people will know about your business and want to support! Thanks for listening! Have fun!”

BRIDGET: Alright, we’re back. That was exciting. Borpo saved Ryan, it was a whole thing. I don’t need to tell you. Anyway, today’s question was: how are cars made? And today we learned that in some ways, cars are made with an ancient technique…the assembly line! With modern improvements of course. Remember when Borpo used a 3D printer to make his derby car? Some automakers have been experimenting with those too! And if you want to learn more, just check out the show page for this episode. We also learned that the making of cars is a big part of our economy. It employs a lot of people. So, I think carmakers will keep making cars for a long time. 

RYAN: I tried to be one of those carmakers. But ultimately, small-time automakers like me will be squeezed out by hotshots with big resources, like Borpo.

BORPO: Did someone say my name?

RYAN: Borpo, you and I may be very different people. Very different. We have nothing in common, basically as all.  But you raced like a gentleman. And you saved my life. And you built a good car. So you have… earned my respect.

BORPO: Whooo hooo! That’s so nice to hear! It makes me want to do a little dance!

(MUSIC: BLIPPY STYLE DANCE MUSIC) 

BORPO: Bridget, Ryan, do you wanna join in?

RYAN: Oh, I don’t think that’s necessary.

BRIDGET: Oh, don’t be stick in the mud! Let’s do this little dance with Borpo!

RYAN: Aarrrghh… ok! 

(SFX: DANCING ON PAVEMENT) 

BRIDGET: Hey, this is kinda fun.

RYAN: Yeah, I get why Borpo does this little dance. It’s good for circulation. Gets the blood flowing to the brain. Maybe our show should add little dance breaks.

BRIDGET: I’ll bring it up to the producers on Monday.

RYAN: Ok, good deal.

CICCONE: [OUT OF BREATH] Ryan, Bridget! I finally finished the seat cushion! When is the race?

–Theme Music-

BRIDGET: Alright, that’s it for this episode of Million Bazillion! Thanks for listening! Make sure to check out the tip sheet linked in the show notes if you want to learn more about how cars are made.

RYAN: We’ll be back next week to answer the question a lot of you sent us…what is a union? You can send us the money questions you want answered at marketplace.org/million. 

BRIDGET: Special thanks to the folks who helped us answer this question: Doug Plond and Dan Barbosa at Ford Motor Company

RYAN: Million Bazillion is brought to you by Marketplace, from American Public Media. This episode was written and hosted by me, Ryan Perez and Bridget Bodnar.  

RYAN CONT: With additional voicing from: Drew Jostad, Marissa Cabrera, Juan Carlos Torrado, Dylan Miettinen, Courtney Bergsieker, and Melody Perkins

BRIDGET: Jasmine Romero is our editor. Courtney Bergsieker is our producer. Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Thalia Menchaca is our intern. Our sound designer is Chris Julin. Bekah Wineman mixed this episode. 

RYAN: Our theme music was created by Wonderly. Bridget Bodnar is the Director of Podcasts at Marketplace. Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital. Neal Scarbrough is the VP and General Manager.

BRIDGET: Million Bazillion is funded in part by the Sy Syms Foundation, partnering with organizations and people working for a better and more just future since 1985. And special thanks to The Ranzetta Family Charitable Fund and Next Gen Personal Finance for providing the start-up funding for this podcast, and continuing to support Marketplace in our work to make younger audiences smarter about the economy.

RYAN: If Million Bazillion is helping your family have important conversations about money, consider making a one-time donation today at marketplace.org/givemillion, and thanks for your support.

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The team

Ryan Perez Co-Host
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