A Blog About Cars ... And More
Friday April 29, 2016
AutoSketch: 1956-58 Dual-Ghia - Celebrity Flashmobile
The Dual-Ghia automobile featured a custom Italian-made body on an American chassis with Dodge Hemi-V8 power. 117 cars were produced between 1956-58. All but two were convertibles.
D-G owners included Rat-Packers Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford and Dean Martin. Dean can be seen driving his '57 Dual-Ghia in the 1964 film 'Kiss Me, Stupid', while Peter Lawford drove his in the opening credits of his short-lived (1957-59) television series, 'The Thin Man'.
Other owners included actors Sterling Hayden and Glenn Ford, singer Eddie Fisher, comic actress Lucille Ball, songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, composer David Rose, politician Richard Nixon, actor/producer/bandleader Desi Arnaz (he wrecked his), ladies' swimsuit magnate Fred Cole, American female tennis star Gussie Moran, and ... (more >>>)
Can't Be Choosy: The weather has been both variable and unkind this week but, on late Wednesday morning, I spotted a patch of sunlight and decided to take a drive in my 1939 Plymouth coupe. Spring is unpredictable weather-wise and I hadn't driven the car at all this week. It would have been nice to have sunny, short-sleeve shirt weather but this time of year, one can't be too choosy.
It was a bit chilly - 51 degrees - as I headed out and I soon found myself driving under ever-darkening clouds. The mountains were obscured and there was one small patch of blue sky surrounded by a multitude of white puffy clouds which, in turn, were surrounded by a big black cloud.
I made it through my little back roads excursion without encountering rain but the skies got darker and darker as the day wore on. Rain eventually fell but, by that time, the Plymouth was back in the garage.
The car ran just fine and, except for the clouds, my ride was quite enjoyable.
Are Any Words Non-Offensive These Days? There is a new word added to the offensive list, according to NPR, which - apparently - has nothing better to do than troll for even more Political Correctness outrage, probably because it appeals to their mostly-liberal listening audience.
"People in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Although the word's exact etymology is unclear, mid-century anthropologists suggested that the word came from the Latin word excommunicati, meaning the excommunicated ones, because the native people of the Canadian Arctic were not Christian."
Oh my. I'll be staying up nights wondering what will happen to the poor (but smiling) Eskimo boy on the labels of Clicquot Club sparkling beverages.
Minority Business Development Agency services are now offered to African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish-speaking Americans, American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts and others, who may have suffered discrimination. Wow - when was the last time you said to yourself, 'I'm not buying from that #@%& SOB - he's an Aleut'? Or boycotted Eskimo Pies?
All of this reminds me of the two Eskimos sitting in a kayak who were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.
Softly As I Leave You: Philadelphia adman Les Waas, who wrote the Mister Softee jingle, has died at age 94.
The mobile ice cream vendor and perpetual butt of erectile dysfunction jokes was a familiar sight when I was growing up in Northeast Philadelphia.
"Mister Softee was established in Philadelphia in 1956. Now based in Runnemede, N.J., it is one of the country's largest soft ice cream franchises, with more than 650 trucks plying 15 states; the company also operates in China.
Mr. Waas wrote the jingle in 1960 for Mister Softee's radio advertisements. At the time, he could scarcely have realized that the jaunty genie he loosed on the region would refuse to go back in the bottle."
If you grew up in an area served by Mister Softee, you'll always remember the musical jingle. Sixty years later and from 3,000 miles away, it still sticks in my head.
Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Softee's music also had lyrics ... (more >>>)
Quip Of The Day is from Jerry Lewis: "The doctor told me I had a dual personality. Then he lays an $82 bill on me, so I give him 41 bucks and say, 'Get the other 41 bucks from the other guy.'"
Wednesday April 27, 2016
The 20 minute promotional film comparing the 1958 Chrysler Windsor, Saratoga and '58 Imperial with its competition (Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Mercury and Lincoln) and is narrated by McCahill his-own-self.
Aside from the usual classic Uncle Tom McCahill quips, you'll enjoy seeing new cars fall apart - such as an air bag suspension blowout on a Buick Limited and a Cadillac's rear door flying open and trunk popping open after hitting a nasty road bump, the same one that the Imperial handled with aplomb.
My Life At The Plastics Lab: Recently, I came across some old photos and other materials which brought back fond memories from the early part of my post-college career.
One was a publicity photo of a young me, working in front of the NATCO 400E injection molding machine at the Plastics Engineering Laboratory. I am on the right, pictured with technicians Johnnie Walker (center) and foreman Wayne Richmond (left):
The photo was published in a Rohm & Haas Co. employee newsletter.
This was a good time in my career. I really enjoyed working at R&H - the pay was very good, the fringe benefits were excellent and the working conditions were many times better than my previous employer: I had been employed at the Uniroyal Timing and V-Belt Plant in Northeast Philadelphia for about a year after I graduated from college.
Rohm and Haas always offered customer support for its plastics materials but, in 1964, the company opened a new Plastics Engineering Laboratory (PEL) at its Bristol, Pennsylvania site. Customers seeking advice on problems relating to Plexiglas & Kydex sheet and Plexiglas and Implex molding powder were directed the PEL for help.
The building itself was ... (more >>>)
Acela Tuesday: It is so-named because Amtrak's high-speed express train passes through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the five states which had primaries yesterday. (We rode it from Boston to DC in 2004.) Besides, it sounds much better than Super-Tuesday 3.0.
And the Trump Train won at every stop along the way: Connecticut - 58%, Delaware - 61%, Maryland - 55%, Pennsylvania - 57% and Rhode Island - 64%. Donald Trump now has 949 delegates, while Ted Cruz has only 544 and John Kasich has 153.
In related news, data compiled since the New York GOP primary (but before Acela Tuesday) show that billionaire Donald Trump's popular vote total in 2016 in states that have voted so far significantly exceeds - by 32% - the vote totals that Mitt Romney had in those states in 2012.
Happy Birthday ... to my godmother, Aunt Ceil, who would have turned 100 tomorrow.
Book Review: 'Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan' by Craig Shirley
As someone in his 73rd year, I've seen a lot of U.S. presidents come and go. In my estimation, Ronald Reagan was the greatest one in my lifetime. In the Preface of this book, the author quotes philosopher, poet, literary and cultural critic George Santayana, who once said, "History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there."
Well, I was there - in a sense ... (more >>>)
Quip Of The Day is from comedian Nick Helm: "I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."
Monday April 25, 2016
Teutonic Pickpockets: The Porsche Boxster appeared in 1996 as a mid-engined, two-seat sports car - a lower cost alternative to the Porsche 911 series. In that sense, it was kinda like the craptacular Porsche 914 of the 1970s. The Boxster was originally priced in the upper $30K range for the base model. As time went on, fancier editions appeared and prices went up. In 2006, a fastback coupe version, the Cayman, appeared.
The base Boxster now costs over $52,000 and it is easy to top $60k with basic options. Recently, MotorWeek tested a Cayman GT4, which had a ridiculous starting price of $85,595. Remember, that doesn't include the simplest of features - at Porsche, everything is optional. It is the German firm's policy to pick the buyer's pockets clean, leaving nothing but small bits of lint.
When Road & Track tested a 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 many years ago, it revealed the car's list price - $99,900, followed by its "price-as-tested" - $118,250, including $425 for aluminum doorsill trim (!), $175 for center caps with colored crests on the wheels and $115 for floor mats. Why floor mats aren't not standard on a $100,000 car is inexplicable.
As to proper doorsill trim pricing, I purchased nicely-finished aluminum doorsill protectors for my then-new 1967 Volkswagen Beetle from J.C. Whitney for less than seven bucks per pair. When I sold the car to a collector in 1995, the sill protectors still looked great. With the exception of my legendary 9¢ screwdriver, it was probably the best investment I ever made.
Peter De Lorenzo once wrote ... (more >>>)
Wishing You A Soft And Salty Tomorrow: National Philly Soft Pretzel Day is April 26th.
"They say that 'Nature abhors a vacuum'. Nature's got nothing on me." So wrote Gerard Van der Leun as he described the use of one cheesy vacuum cleaner to clean a well-built older model - in his case, a Kirby. It's a fun, well-crafted story and worth a read.
There is much to be said for sturdy old vacuum cleaners. We have a 1966 Hoover upright, given to us as a wedding present. It soldiers on, although it weighs a ton and, over the years, I have replaced belts, bags, bulbs, bolts and even the handle, which suffered metal fatigue from so many years of use. Nevertheless, Stark's in Portland carries all the necessary parts. We also have a crappy plastic unit which will do a half-assed job in a pinch. And it's light, so it is easily carried upstairs.
Speaking of heavy vacuum cleaners, my grandmother's 1937 Rexair Rainbow vacuum was really heavy, especially when the base was filled with water. I don't know whatever happened to it, but I'll always remember its nickel fitments and black crackle finish. My parents' 1953 Lewyt is a lightweight by comparison. I still have that one.
Gerard described his cheesy unit as "a kind of cheap, plastic metrosexual's vacuum bought at some box store because it was cheap. Like all metrosexual items, it performs in a manner that lets you know all cheap things are worth much less than you spent on them. It sucks by not sucking as a sucker of floor dirt should. Very sucky. It is, at the best, back-up. Bags and parts for it are sold everywhere."
Just Asking: Have you noticed all of the commercials/infomercials for cleaning products and devices are hosted by fast-talking Australians? Is Australia really that dirty? (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Samuel Goldwyn: "Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined."
Thursday April 21, 2016
Beetle Times 1.4: Over a three-year period, a father and son team constructed a replica of a 1959 Volkswagen cabriolet which is 40% larger than a regular Bug.
The Big Beetle is built on a lengthened and widened Dodge truck chassis and powered by a Hemi V8. Wow!
Rat Patrol: Dan Neil weighed in on the new 2016 Honda Civic, noting that's it is much better than the previous iteration. "Mainly, the new Civic doesn't feel as cheap. This bugged me about the old car. The cabin trim was thin and unrewarding to touch, or see, or even smell. Doors sounded hollow; engine noise from the previous 1.8-liter was intrusive; the entire car felt gnawed to the bone by scurrying rat men/accountants."
Quick Before The Rain Comes: The weather forecast predicted a return to Northwest Spring Normal (rain with cooler temperatures) soon, so I decided to get another 1939 Plymouth ride in while the weather was still summery.
At 11:30 am Wednesday, it was 66 degrees with all the makings of a gorgeous day - clear blue skies, good views of the mountains and light traffic. I had a very pleasant drive.
Late in the afternoon, the clouds rolled in and, by nightfall, we had thunder and rain.
Walk Like A Egyptian: As I get older, my memory sometimes scrambles things, often forcing me to Google or Wiki to get dates and events correct.
But I don't care what either source says, I remain convinced that political pundit Monica Crowley was once one of The Bangles' band members.
Kinda like the mixed memories often shown on The Simpsons, such as the time broadcaster Kent Brockman exclaimed, "Let's take a look back at the year 1928. A year when you might have seen Al Capone dancing the Charleston on top of a flagpole."
Book Review: 'These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie' by Christopher Andersen
The title of this book comes from a phrase in the lyrics of the melancholy 'September Song', one of John F. Kennedy's favorites. The 'final year' subtitle is misleading; it took about half the book before the final 12 months of JFK's life began. Much of the book is a rehash of old material - not surprising since so much has been written about the Kennedys.
But I did learn some tidbits ... (more >>>)
Counterfeit Paper: It has just been announced that, in a quest to put a woman's face on U.S. currency, the decidedly unphotogenic civil war abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill.
Don't blame me - I voted for a full body shot of Barbi Benton in her prime. Nekkid, of course. (permalink)
Quip Of The Day is from Sid Caesar: "The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius."
Tuesday April 19, 2016
Putin On The Ritz: I first reported this late last year, but now The Truth About Cars has published a piece on the new Russian limousines, which bear a bit of resemblance to the now-defunct Lincoln Town Car, with a bit of '30s Packard grille mixed in. Perhaps they should call it the Towncarski. Steph Williams wrote, "Putin's limo, due to be delivered in late 2017, will no doubt have the ability to repel both bullets and controversy."
The Russian government plans to launch production of new limousines and premium cars in 2017 as part of the Cortege project at NAMI, the country's central automobile and engine R&D institute in Moscow. The $500 million project envisions production of 30,000 vehicles a year.
"Sources close to the administration of President Vladimir Putin say that total includes a limited number of limousines to be manufactured under special orders, mostly from the state."
Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade analysts say the country has lacked premium-vehicle production capability since the closing of ZIL, a major automobile, truck, military-vehicle and heavy-equipment manufacturer based in Moscow. The first ZIL looked like a '41 Packard.
Saturday Fun 'n' Sun: Yes, it dawned bright on Saturday - with temperatures that eventually reached 74 degrees. By 1:00 pm, it was 60 degrees, so I took a drive in my '39 Plymouth. The skies were ever so partly cloudy with numerous wisps of white. But I had good views of Mt. St. Helens and the Cascades; it was definitely bright enough that sunglasses were required.
I had an enjoyable ride on mostly empty back roads, except for a loose windshield wiper which I tightened after I arrived home.
On Monday morning, I had another good ride. At 9:30 am, the temperature was almost 70 degrees. It felt summery; in fact, the temperature eventually reached a hot 91 degrees in the afternoon - breaking the previous record temperature set in 1934. I drove to town, gassed up the Plymouth and had an pleasant ride along the back roads of North Clark County.
Monday's views were just as good as on Saturday; the mountains were clearly visible and the sky was far less cloudy.
Face Like A ... Columnist George F. Will once described a 1957 Chevrolet grille as "Teddy Roosevelt's grin in chrome." I dunno. I'm thinking 1953 DeSoto. Or 1950 Buick.
The Soft Bigotry Of The Anti-Trump Pundits: Michael Goodwin of the New York Post wrote that "much of the contempt for Trump reflects contempt for his working-class white support. It is one prejudice gentry liberals and gentry conservatives share.
It is perhaps the last acceptable bigotry, and you can see it expressed on any primetime TV program. The insults don't all seem good-natured to me. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, surrounded by the kind of people supporting Trump, and I sympathize with their worsening plight.
For generations, they went all in for the American dream. Their families fought the wars, worked in the factories, taught school, coached Little League and built a middle-class culture. Now they are abandoned and know it.
Nobody speaks for them. The left speaks for the unions, the poor and the nonwhite, even shedding tears for illegal immigrants and rioters and looters. The GOP speaks for the Chamber of Commerce, big business and Wall Street.
Trump alone is bringing many of these forgotten Americans into the political system, much as Obama did with millennials and black voters."
Donald Trump is leading a political revolution that's long overdue.
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is from the always-enjoyable Rumsford Meteor: 'Cirque du Soleil Boycotts North Carolina Until Men in a Dress Can Bake Gay Wedding Cakes Using the Hand Dryer in the Girl's Bathroom'.
"Canada-based circus and theater entertainment company Cirque du Soleil has canceled its upcoming shows in Greensboro, Charlotte, and Raleigh in North Carolina to protest the state's Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. 'Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form,' the group announced Friday in a press release. 'The new HB2 legislation passed in North Carolina is an important regression to ensuring human rights for all.'"
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Many of the same people who claim that mental tests are not valid for college admissions decisions, or for employment decisions, nevertheless consider these tests valid for deciding that a murderer cannot be executed when he scores low on such tests - even though he has no incentive to score high."
Friday April 15, 2016
Got Money? If you want to blow over a quarter million dollars on an SUV, the Bentley Bentayga may be the machine for you, as Dan Neil described "in all its quilted-leather, walnut-paneled fabulosity."
"The Bentayga - Swahili for "carried interest" - thus occupies a strange state of being terribly delicate while also being built like the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II. The smoker's package's portable ashtray (fitting in the various cupholders) is heavy enough to kill a man."
Dan is kidding, of course. You'd have to drop the ashtray from a 27 story building to properly kill a man. And the name was inspired by Taiga, the world's largest transcontinental snow forest, and is composed of the first four letters of Bentley and an altered spelling of Taiga. Bentley also drew inspiration from the rugged peak of the Roque Bentayga in Gran Canaria, the subtropical Canary Island.
Or maybe it's named for Harry Bentayga who went to grade school with me.
"Built on VW Group's full-size SUV architecture (Audi Q7/next-Gen Porsche Cayenne), the Bentayga is distinguished from its less well-born cousins first by its utterly ridiculous 6.0-liter bi-turbo W-12 gas reactor, producing 664 pound-feet of torque with the ghostly waft of the Flying Dutchman."
Styling? Dan Neil posited that the "exterior is a crime scene. And I have patiently explained to these masters of the universe why. For one thing, the Bentagya's proportions, though vast, are commonplace. Why? Because, as a vehicle built on VW’s MLB shared architecture, the one dimension it could not change was the dash-to-axle (the distance between the front-wheel centerline and the base of the roof pillar, as seen from the side). And the elegant length of that is the one universal signifier of performance and exclusivity in elite and prestige automobility, going back to the earliest cars.
The Bentayga looks like a giant Toyota, raves The Wall Street Journal.
But, of course, I'm wrong. As VW Board Member Rolf Frech told me ... the grammar of prestige automobiles, the dialect of envy, has forever changed. The long black car has been pushed aside. Today, the status automobile is one of these boxy giants, chrome ablaze.
I want to sit in the back of a Bentley Arnage and cry." I guess a quarter mil doesn't get you everything.
More Tesla Mega Hype: Various media outlets have suffered fainting spells of exuberance over Tesla's latest offerings. The ridiculous gull-winged Model X SUV is an all electric vehicle for off-road, although there don't seem to be any of Tesla's Superchargers located in the woods. And the rear gull-wing doors make no sense and potentially destroy body integrity.
There have been plenty of orders for the "entry-level" Model 3, which - when 'optioned-up' - may cost nearly $50,000.
Investment adviser Malcolm Berko recently wrote ... (more >>>)
Musty Conservatism: The Z-Man recently wrote, "The Buckleyites still run the Reagan Mystery Cult and the adjoining gift shoppe, the latter being the critical piece. Jonah Goldberg lives in a million dollar home in the Washington suburbs. To maintain that lifestyle means keeping the gift shoppe open. Even if he wanted to entertain alternative opinions, he has a mortgage to pay and a college fund to finance. He lacks the talent of a Mark Steyn and the courage of Ann Coulter so he cannot go it alone. He has to remain a clerk in the gift shoppe, writing copy about the wonderfulness of Buckley Conservatism.
The problem for Buckley Conservatives is they have nothing to offer. People see 25 years of failure and naturally begin to look elsewhere for answers."
Americans don't want theory. They don't want dynasties - Hillary Tweedle-Dee on the Left and Bush Tweedle-Dum on the right. Americans want action and solutions. Those on the right see Trump as a flawed would-be politician who has a 30-plus year history of Getting Things Done. Those on the left, see Sanders offering Utopia, even if it is nothing but chrome-plated Communism.
Was She Drinking Blue Nun? A Philadelphia nun on trial for drunken-driving charges testified that she was under the influence of a sedative and had no recollection of crashing her car into a building on a South Jersey highway.
Sister Kimberly Miller, a librarian and theology teacher at Little Flower High School, was arrested after driving her Chevrolet Impala into an auto repair shop last November. "Police alleged that she was intoxicated, had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, and was staggering when she got out of her car."
At the time of the accident, Miller was wearing her blue habit and black veil.
Shocking Decline: Since 1980, the number of Americans who believe in God has decreased by half and the number who pray has declined five-fold.
"As of 2014, nearly one third of thirty-somethings who matured in the 2000s said they were "secular" and one fifth reported that they were not even "spiritual," suggesting a decline not only in religious affiliated but also in the core beliefs of Generation Y. Decline in religious affiliation and participation has now extended to private practices and beliefs."
The next generation, often referred to as iGen, is even more secular ... (more >>>)
Quip Of The Day is from Bill Murray: "A few decades ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die."
Wednesday April 13, 2016
Porsche With A French Accent: Quiralu was founded by Emile Quirin in Luxeuil, France, in 1933. The company first produced toy soldiers. In 1955, they released a range of diecast model cars in about 1/43rd scale, including a Porsche coupe.
Production ceased in the early 1960s but, in 1991 ... (more >>>)
Fifty-Eight Grand Worth Of Burble: Dan Neil wrote, "The Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang ($57,970, as tested) is a delivery system for a sound. Yes, the two-door, four-seat coupe is an extremely quick (0-60 mph in about 4.1 seconds) and a fantastically wield-able street machine. It being the baddest original-equipment Mustang anyone has e'er laid eyes on, it makes an impression wherever it goes, a portable sociocultural lovefest, a tumult of admiration.
But decades hence, collectors will cherish this model due mostly to the operatic properties of its unusual engine: a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter, 90-degree V-8 with a flat-plane crankshaft."
For a lot less money, I get the pretty much same kind of wonderful noise from the Glasspacks on my '39 Plymouth coupe.
Neil, a V8 enthusiast, says that the Mustang gives off "the note of joyous virility would make Pavarotti put his head in a bag."
What Price Liberty? Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report wrote about what it takes in 21st Century America to visit the Liberty Bell: "To see the Liberty Bell you enter a secure area, empty your pockets, get wanded down by guards. All this with no sense of irony. Then, at the bell, you're lectured how it was actually the symbol of the struggle against slavery and amen brother hallelujah." Well, at least you don't have to make an appointment to view it.
When we last visited Philadelphia almost five years ago, we didn't bother visiting the Liberty Bell. Admittance required those TSA-style security checks as previously described by Remus, so ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Sinatra: The Chairman' by James Kaplan
This 992-page doorstop of a book covers Sinatra's life from his Academy Award win to his death in 1998. An earlier Kaplan work, 'Frank: The Voice', covered the 1915 to 1954 period.
There are six things that are indisputable about Frank Sinatra ... (more >>>)
As Oliver Hardy Would Have Said ... "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten us into."
Scott Grannis wrote: "Why punish our most successful companies, when it would be so much more reasonable to simply revise our tax code so that U.S. businesses are not double-taxed on their foreign income, and are not taxed at the highest rate in the developed world? If the objective is to have more money to redistribute to the "poor" it's doubly stupid, because income redistribution only creates perverse incentives. Unfortunately, we've been seeing a lot of stupid policies out of Washington, for about as long as I can remember.
Why tear down the rule of law upon which our country was built? As an aside: if Hillary escapes prosecution for what are almost certainly serial and willful violations of U.S. intelligence and secrecy laws, while the Clinton Foundation has every appearance of being massively corrupt, think of the example this sets. When rules are only for the little people, trust in government goes down the toilet almost as fast as government "stimulus" spending. Even Hillary acknowledged this when she said "There's no daylight on the basic premise that there should be no bank too big to fail, and no individual too powerful to jail.""
Yes ... well, back in 2008, I wrote, "I want any solution to this financial crisis to include televised scenes of heavily armed FBI agents in full riot gear taking axes to the expensive carved wood doors of the executive offices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and dragging everyone inside out of the building in shackles.
I also want Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick publicly handcuffed, frogmarched out to a waiting airplane and carted off to Gitmo for some serious interrogation.
And then let's hold public trials and start handing out jail sentences." Unfortunately, nothing like that ever happened.
Scott continued: "It takes magical thinking to believe that a $15 minimum wage will do anything but shrink job opportunities for youth. At its worst, this exercise in hubris will lower living standards for all Californians, by sending jobs elsewhere and increasing poverty among the young."
Furthermore: "And then you have the failure of our educational system, which has allowed a generation to grow up thinking that socialism is the wave of the future. How else to explain the huge popularity of Bernie Sanders?
I won't dwell on the Department of Labor's new rules which will place more onerous requirements on private sector financial advisors and push more people into government-run savings plans. (Who in their right mind would trust the government to invest your money?) Or the ongoing failure of Obamacare, which has only pushed up healthcare costs for everyone while restricting choice, all but ensuring that we will have a growing shortage of doctors in the future. Is it any wonder that the only two institutions that affect most everyone in the country and which provoke the most concern and frustrations - education and healthcare - are almost entirely under the control of government? If a private sector business delivered the miserable results that we find in education and healthcare it would have gone out of business a long time ago."
Quip Of The Day is from Joan Rivers: "A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp."
Monday April 11, 2016
Driving Before Surgery: I wasn't sure that I'd get a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe last Thursday. I was scheduled for a 3:00 pm removal of a cancerous tumor on the my side of my forehead, near the hairline.
This is the result of too many summers at the Jersey shore, too much driving around on sunny sumer days with the driver's window down and probably the bizarre facial acne treatments I endured as a teenager - a dermatologist applied a mixture of dry ice, alcohol and acetone to my face and then rolled me under a UV lamp to 'bake'. I had several of these treatments. I related this tale to another dermatologist a few years ago and he was appalled.
Now I'm paying for the 'skin sins' (or, as agnostics call it, 'epidermal errors') of the 1950s and '60s.
Anyway, the weather was gorgeous at 11:15 am - the skies were blue and the temperature was a balmy 71 degrees. Surgery wasn't scheduled until later, so I fired up the Plymouth and took a drive. This week is Spring Break for the local schools; therefore, there are no lumbering school buses to contend with. When classes are in session, you can't 'time' the buses; they're on the roads constantly - for field trips, for short bus half-days and for the occasional unexpected 'early release' - a term favored by school district administrators and seedy massage parlors.
Anyway, I had an excellent ride: traffic was almost non-existent and and it was relaxing to watch the spring blooms of trees and shrubs while still being able to see snow on the mountains.
The surgery came off without a hitch and I'm left with an ordinary Band-Aid on my forehead with some stiches underneath.
On Friday, it was already 70 degrees by 11:15 am, so I had another great drive - Band-Aid and all.
A Maserati SUV? Pulleeeze ... I'm Waiting For A Bugatti SUV: Peter De Lorenzo, not a fan of anything Fiat-Chrysler these days, wrote of the soon-to-be-produced Maserati Levante SUV: "It will be uniquely attractive to those who don't want to see themselves coming and going, and who aren't moved by such quaint notions as resale value or quality.
FCA has demonstrated repeatedly that they are simply incapable of building a vehicle with meaningful, demonstrable quality, and the Levante looks to be the perfect shit storm representing everything wrong with the company, all in one overwrought SUV. I pity the first-on-the-block fools who are hell-bent on spending real money on them, because after that new car smell wears off, oh, in about a nanosecond, the problems will be just beginning."
The Maserati SUV was originally to be called the Kubang. Jeremy Clarkson once quipped that it was named after "the noise it will make once the warranty expires."
Your Tax Dollars At Waste: Tri-Met, the transit agency for the Portland, Oregon metro area, wants to build yet another light rail line, according to transportation expert Randal O'Toole.
Of course they do - most of the cost is reimbursed by federal funds, so it's like ... free money! Wheeeeee!
"A state auditor says TriMet, Portend's transit agency, is falling behind on light-rail maintenance. TriMet's general manager says that the agency's pension and health-care obligations are so great that it will have to cut all transit service by 70% by 2025 to meet those obligations. So naturally, it makes perfect sense to talk about spending $2 billion that the agency doesn't have on another low-capacity rail line." Sounds like today's DC Metro lines.
Come To Think Of It, There Weren't Any Moderate Nazis, Either: Nonie Darwish wrote in Front Page Magazine, "Muslim legal systems in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan and Yemen, do not hesitate to whip, amputate, stone and behead those who violate Islamic sexual taboos, but never behead, amputate or whip jihadists who terrorize in the name of Islam. Almost all Muslim governments claim to be moderate, but none have apologized for 9/11."
"There are approximately 1.5 billion Muslims divided among 49 majority Muslim nations around the world and all claim to be peace-loving and "moderate." Many of these Islamic nations have some of the largest and well-equipped armies in the Middle East and Africa. Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons. Egypt's military has approximately 468,500 active personnel, in addition 1 million reservists. Turkey has 662,719 active personnel. Saudi Arabia's military is estimated to have 150,000 active personnel and Pakistan has 550,000 active troops, 500,000 reserves.
Yet the huge armies of the above four Muslim nations are watching the ISIS slaughter and refuse to end it. Has anyone asked why?"
"The answer is simple and I hope the West is ready for the truth. If Muslim governments go to war ... (more >>>)
Quip Of The Day is from Dave Barry: "My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I’ve finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already."
Thursday April 7, 2016
How Many Copters?! F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."
Charles J. Hill offered an informative factoid about the latest Bugatti model gleaned from Motor Trend: "The average Chiron buyer owns 42 cars, at least one jet, three helicopters, and four houses. More than half are art collectors."
That's only three-quarters of a helicopter for each home. On the other hand, each home must have a ten and one-half car garage.
This Is An Unfair Comparison, But ... Tesla has racked up almost 300,000 pre-orders for its duckbilled Model 3 in the four days following its introduction last week. Each pre-order was accompanied by a $1,000 deposit.
This is remarkable when you consider that America's best selling sedan, the Toyota Camry, racks up less than 400,000 buyers in an entire year. And even more remarkable is that, in 2015, Tesla sold less than 23,000 vehicles in total. Peter De Lorenzo is skeptical that Model 3 production will happen any time soon, writing, "One analyst had the cojones to say that the Model 3 would be lucky to see the light of day by 2020. I concur."
Meanwhile, Lincoln has a list of 40,000 or so people who have "expressed interest" - but not put up any deposit money - in its new Lincoln Continental, which debuted to generally high praise at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
Tesla Model 3 prices begin at $35,000 but, when optioned up, may actually approach the starting price for the 2017 Lincoln Continental.
Tesla has yet to make any profit selling $80-100,000 dollar cars. Based on orders in hand, the Model 3 is a big sales hit but only time will tell if it is a winner or loser in the profit column.
The fate of the Continental is completely unknown, since Lincoln has yet to take an order. Lincoln enthusiasts are hoping for the best. The Continental will be in showrooms this Fall.
Naturally, I took a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe. It was a pleasant drive; I had the windows down so I could hear the magnificent burble of the V8 though the dual Glasspacks. The only unusual thing of note - I passed an ice cream truck headed the other way.
Spring has officially arrived!
Book Review: 'Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll' by Peter Guralnick
Mr. Guralnick has written extensively about music, especially rock & roll as well as rhythm and blues. His two autobiographies of Elvis Presley are considered the standard against which other Elvis books are judged. I reviewed his Sam Cooke biography earlier this year.
Sam Phillips owned the legendary Sun Records in Memphis. He recorded what is arguably the first rock & roll record - Jackie Brentson's 'Rocket 88' in 1951. It certainly had the correct elements - it was about a car - a 1950 Oldsmobile 88 with a high-compression, overhead-valve Rocket V-8 engine - and featured Ike Turner on keyboards.
Phillips recorded legendary artists such as Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas, Jerry Lee Lewis and, of course, Elvis Presley.
This meticulous 784-page tome covers the life of Phillips from ... (more >>>)
The Climate Change Scam Summed Up ... in one cartoon.
Implied Promises Not Kept: Politicians of yore promised us the modern version of A Chicken In Every Pot ... work hard and you'll get womb-to-tomb security.
Blue-collar and mid-management white collar voters now feel betrayed. Their jobs have disappeared because of 1. automation, 2. computers, 3. the internet and 4. free trade.
Said one worker, who was employed by a hospital furnishings manufacturer for almost 43 years until his job was outsourced to China, "You had the job, you figured you were planning out how things were going to go. Now you've got to back up and rethink."
The manufacturer "shuttered its plant in Stevens Point, WI in 2012 after years of gradually outsourcing work to China. It cut loose 175 workers." Milwaukee, once known as "the machine shop to the world," is now ... (more >>>)
Cruz For Women: It supposed to be a noble cause for Ted Cruz but, when you say it, it comes out as 'cruise for women', which sounds like something Bill Clinton used to do.
Quip Of The Day is from comedian Peter Kay: "I went to a restaurant that serves breakfast at any time. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."
Tuesday April 5, 2016
March Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 16.45 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) last month - down 4% from March 2015 and down 6% from the 17.43 million annual sales rate last month. Overall sales were below expectations; perhaps some of the air is leaking out of the overinflated balloon. Incentives and creative financing can only go so far.
General Motors posted total U.S. sales of 252,128 vehicles, an increase of 1% compared with March 2015. Retail deliveries rose 6%, fleet deliveries slipped 4% and commercial sales rose 13%. The company's best-selling vehicle for the month was the Chevy Silverado pickup, which saw a year-over-year sales increase of 6% to 47,966 units. Sales of the GMC Sierra pickups rose nearly 24% in March to 21,548 units, while the Colorado mid-sized pickup posted a sales increase of 47% to 9,718 units.
Total Chevrolet deliveries in March rose over 1% year over year to 176,283 units, although retail sales rose 6.8% to 125,920 units. Buick saw a year-over-year total sales drop of 11% in March and a drop of 6% in retail sales.
Ford Motor Co. reported a U.S. sales increase of 8% year-over-year to 254,711 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Truck sales rose 11% for the month; sales of F-Series pickups rose by more than 9%. Truck sales comprised about 39% of all Ford sales in March and F-Series pickups accounted for about 29% of total sales in March.
Sales of the Lincoln brand rose 11% in March, as sales of Lincoln SUVs rose by more than 28%. Passenger car sales fell 11% year-over-year.
Sales rose 8% at Fiat-Chrysler in March to 213,187 units, the company's best March sales level in 10 years. The Jeep brand posted a sales gain of 15% year-over-year (82,337 units), its best March sales ever. The Jeep Compass posted a sales gain of 53%, the Cherokee posted a monthly sales gain of 1% and Grand Cherokee sales rose 10%. Four Jeep models, the Cherokee, Compass, Wrangler and Renegade, posted their best March sales month ever.
Ram pickup sales rose 8% in March to 44,874 units. Sales of the FCA's Chrysler brand fell 13%; sales of the Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan tumbled a jaw-dropping 68% to 6,176 automobiles. Meanwhile, Dodge sales rose 11% year over year in March - the best since March 2014. Fiat sales declined 24% to 3,402 vehicles in March.
The Fiat and Chrysler nameplates have become the dogs of their namesake's portfolio - their combined sales represent less than 15% of Fiat-Chrysler's total vehicle sales.
Honda sales increased 11%. Toyota sales slipped 4%, partly because of cheap fuel. Prius sales fell 24%, sales of the little Yaris dropped more than 50%, while sales of its SUVs were up slightly overall.
Subaru sales were flat, as were Hyundai and Kia. Nissan sales increased 13%. Volkswagen continued its downward slide - down 10% in March. Mini deliveries fell 18% year over year.
Luxury brands, for the most part, didn't have a good month. Lexus was down 3% overall (autos off 14%, SUVs up 10%), Mercedes-Benz sales also fell 3%. Cadillac declined 5%, while BMW dropped a whopping 13%. Bentley were down 52%. Porsche and Maserati sales were flat. As mentioned before, Lincoln sales were up. Audi sales increased 8%; Acura sales increased 1%. Jaguar was up a remarkable 28% to 3,133 units, while Land Rover sales jumped 29% to 8,733 vehicles.
Four In A Row: I think the last time that I drove my 1939 Plymouth coupe four days in a row was over 20 years ago when we traveled to two car club meets over a weekend, starting in Marysville, WA - about 200 miles north of here.
We first toured with the Lincoln Club. At the time, my wife and I were very active in the club and knew most of the members. It was the first time most had seen my Plymouth, although our various old Lincolns were a common sight at meets. People liked the '39 business coupe and, although it wasn't a Lincoln, club members like old cars of any kind and gave me a warm welcome and lots of compliments on my latest acquisition.
On Sunday, we met up with the Northwest region of the Walter P. Chrysler Club in Renton, WA - just south of Seattle. We had never been to one of their gatherings before and met many Mopar enthusiasts. All in all, it was a nice weekend, although long freeway drives in an old car can be tiring and hard on one's back.
On Wednesday of last week, I took a short drive under blue skies featuring great views of snowy Mt. St. Helens. It was clear enough that I could see snow on the Cascade Range as well. At 11:30 am, the temperature was in the mid 50s.
On Thursday, it was a bit warmer (60 degrees at 11:30 am) and the views were still great and I had a pleasant back roads drive. Friday was also a nice day - 60 degrees at 1:00 pm. I had a good drive, except for some moron in a big Ford pickup truck, who didn't seem to know where he was going and kept randomly slowing down. When he finally came to a stop for no reason, I blew the horn as I zoomed past him on the narrow two-lane blacktop.
Saturday dawned cloudy but, by noon, the sun had popped through the clouds and I took another drive. The roads were practically empty and it remained partly cloudy during my drive; cooler temperatures prevailed (55 degrees at 12:30 pm).
I didn't drive the Plymouth on Sunday. The day was considerably cloudier and, by avoiding my normal driving route that day, I didn't have to contend with the hordes of Apostolic Lutherans who seem to believe that God has given them a dispensation from Earthly traffic laws.
The rain returned Sunday evening.
Nova Nation: For the first time in 31 years and the second time in men's basketball history, my alma mater, Villanova University, won the NCAA Championship, defeating North Carolina, 77-74.
British Humor ... (Warning: this is absolutely politically incorrect but it made me laugh anyway) ... forwarded by my friend, Hud:
Second String Coaching: Based on The Donald's many faux-pas last week, I assumed that his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was so busy preparing for his legal defense in the ridiculous Florida court case, that he turned over his duties to Triumph the Insult Dog.
The proof is that, when asked if he would unequivocally promise to repeal Obamacare if elected, Trump replied, "Unless some dog pooped on it!"
In related news, the Florida-based prosecutor whose office will handle the battery case of Donald Trump's campaign manager is a Hillary Clinton supporter who once characterized Trump's rhetoric as "divisive and inflammatory." Dave Aronberg was a former Democratic state senator and in November was named as part of Clinton's Florida Leadership Team.
Sounds like the fix is in. As Triumph - or Donald - would say, "This stinks worse than a large pile of my poop."
Quote Of The Day is from Peter Egan of Road & Track on the Fiat 850 Spider: "I know a lot of people who liked these cars and claim that Fiat always gave you a lot of value for the money. Well, so do chorus girls, but they don't rust out."
Friday April 1, 2016
The Sad Tale Of The Chuffley-Waite: I wrote the fictitious Chuffley-Waite story as an April Fool's contribution to a local car club's newsletter in 1989. I just wanted to tweak the noses of a couple of British car buffs who were members of the club.
They enjoyed it and we all had a good laugh. And several pints of Mackeson stout.
It begins thusly:
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