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Measuring Up Romania

The Puzzler


RAY: I had to help out Kenneth Letz who sent in the kernel of this puzzler. In fact, I helped out so much, he won't even recognize it.

In the good old USA we still use something called the "British" system of measurement, i.e., the mile, the gallon, the bushel, the inch, the rod, while practically the entire rest of the world has embraced the elegant simplicity of the metric system.

As you would expect American car manufacturers used the British system until globalization infiltrated the marketplace and forced them to adopt the metric system. Well, nowadays every American manufacturer uses the metric system almost exclusively. So that practically every fastener--you know nuts and bolts and whatnot--is measured in millimeters and even torque specifications are now given in Newton-meters and not foot-pounds.

I travel quite a bit and I spend a lot of time in Bucharest, Romania, where they most likely have never heard of the British system of measurement. While being chauffeured around town one day and sitting in in traffic, I noticed something interesting. I noticed that every car from the lowly Dacia, where none of the body parts quite fit, to the high-end Mercedes, is using the British system of measurement. That's right, there's something on all of these cars, that is not metric. What is it?

I'm going to give you a hint. Your Toyota or your Volvo or any car that you drive in the United States might have the same part that's not metric; that is, it's using the British system of measurement.

Think you know? Drop Ray a note!

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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