The View Through The Windshield - Car Blog

A Blog About Cars ... And More

Wednesday May 31, 2017

AutoSketch: 1952 Lincoln - The Last Real Lincoln For Real Men

1952 was the last year you could buy a V8 Lincoln with a stick-shift. That was the last American luxury car built by carnivores for carnivores. You could have the trappings of wealth and still shift for yourself, proving that you were still a Real Man.

You see, the 1952 Lincoln was built by real men for real men. It was a solid, handsome car with clean, simple lines. It had a brand new body style and a brand new overhead-valve V-8 engine, too. It had a real stick-shift for real men to drive. "Wadda ya drivin', Bud?" "A stick-eight Lincoln, Chief. Want another beer?"

In the good old days, there were ... (more >>>)

Devil's In The Details: Last week my son and his friend arrived at our house to pick up a couple of sofas. He arrived in a Enterprise rental cargo van - a white Ram ProMaster with a 9-foot load floor, 118-inch wheelbase and 195-inch overall length.

Man, was it tall - 90 inches high. The driving position was high and surprisingly tight, probably because the vehicle was based on an Italian design - the front-wheel-drive Fiat Ducato. The Ram version has a 3.6-liter V6 instead of Fiat's diesel four.

Ram ProMasters are made in Fiat-Chrysler’s plant in Satillo, Mexico. A quick look at it didn't reveal any obvious assembly-quality problems but the van seemed poorly designed. Many of the little details screamed, "Cheap!" Especially the excess sharp metal on the rear cargo wheel wells, the odd, out-of-place look of the rear door hinges, the horizontally-narrow front windows, which didn't go all the way down, the awkward front door interior panels and more.

My son didn't care; it was, after all, a rental and it got the job done. But, as someone who used to own a Dodge delivery van in my business, I wasn't impressed with this Ram.

Book Review: 'Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol On The Rocks - A Tale Of Second Chances' by Bobby Rydell

While I was reading this autobiography, my wife had several friends over for a gathering. I mentioned the book and the almost universal reaction of these women (ages ranging from 68 to 80) was, "Bobby Who?"

I must say that I was shocked. Singer Bobby Rydell had a succession of top ten records in the early '60s, including 'Wild One' (Billboard #2), 'Volare' (#4) and 'Swingin' School' (#5). His 1963 recording, 'Wildwood Days', has become the anthem of the southern New Jersey shore. In all fairness, none of these ladies grew up on the east coast, so maybe that explains it.

In the 1950s, it was common for ... (more >>>)

And This Is Bad ... How? Illegal aliens in San Francisco have reportedly begun abstaining from food stamps in the belief it will help them avoid being detecting by the Trump administration. In fact, so many residents have turned against food stamps that "the city is concerned." Of course they are - they care about everyone but the taxpaying citizens of the once-great city.

The article points out that "under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid to run advertisements in Mexico promoting U.S. food stamps so that when illegal aliens came to the U.S. they would be able to access the benefit."

Adiós, muchachos - make America great again.

Question Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "Does the Police Department IT Team ever call for backup?"

Monday May 29, 2017

Flagships: These are the sales figures for the top-of-the line models in luxury cars for the first four months of 2017:

Tesla Model S: 7,200 cars (estimated)
Mercedes S-Class: 5,139 cars
Lincoln Continental: 4,212 cars
Cadillac CT6: 3,382 cars
BMW 7-Series: 3,097 cars
Porsche Panamera: 1,715 cars
Lexus LS: 1,238 cars
Audi A8: 1,084 cars
Jaguar XJ: 966 cars
Maserati Quatroporte: 555 cars

Unlike the flagship car market which is generally declining, the luxury SUV market is hot. Here are the sales figures for the flagship SUV models:

BMW X5: 15,472 units
Cadillac Escalade: 10,113 units
Land Rover Range Rover: 6,949 units
Porsche Cayenne: 4,897 units
Lincoln Navigator: 3,191 units
Lexus LX: 1,895 units
Mercedes G-Class: 1,373 units

Old Car Weather & Music: Last Thursday, the temperature was only 64 degrees at 1:30 pm but it was very sunny - blue skies with a ring of clouds around the northern and eastern horizons. It was great weather for an old car drive, so I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and took off. The traffic was a little heavier than usual but a I had a pleasant ride nonetheless.

On Friday 10:30 am, I drove the Plymouth to my local library - returning two books and picking up a new one. The temperature was a pleasant 63 degrees under almost cloudless blue skies. I got a decent view of snow-covered Mt. St. Helens and had a fun drive, playing old rock-n-roll through the speakers and enjoying the scenery.

The music I was playing was 'Crusin' '57' with WIBG's Joe Niagara hosting. At one point, he announced with all the hyper-excitement a good DJ can muster, ''Don't you forget it. Saturday night - that's the night - the hippest record hop in WIBG-land. It all happens at the Maternity BVM auditorium - 9320 Bustleton Avenue. I'll be there lookin' for you ... I wanna see your face in the place."

The record hop "with guest stars galore" was held at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish hall. Many Philadelphia area Catholic parishes held weekly dances to raise money. One other such place was Our Lady of Ransom parish on Roosevelt Boulevard. "I'm goin' to Ransom Saturday night," was an oft-heard phrase in late-1950s Northeast Philly.

Recently, I learned from the Northeast Times (a nice newspaper that once interviewed me) that Our Lady of Ransom will be merging into Resurrection parish. Once a vibrant Catholic parish - the church seats 1,250 people and is one of Northeast Philadelphia's largest-capacity churches - changing neighborhood demographics have reduced total weekend Mass attendance to only 400 people. Ransom's teenage dances are long gone but, if you stand at the site of the old auditorium and listen closely, you might hear some ghostly strains of music - probably 'Rockin' Robin' by the late Bobby Day.

Maternity BVM is still an active parish and even has an elementary school.

I decided to beat the Memorial Day weekend traffic on Saturday, so I jumped in the Plymouth at 8:30 am and went for a drive. It was a pleasant 63 degrees outside - temperatures reached the mid-80s by afternoon - and the roads were almost empty. I guess people were either sleeping in or still packing up. The skies were bright azure with only wispy hints of clouds here and there. Cloudy weather isn't expected to return until Tuesday.

Over the weekend, we put the flag out on the deck and my wife made her Famous Potato Salad to accompany the burgers and hot dogs I cooked on our outdoor grill. I got to see both of my kids, too. Great weekend!

Replacing Air: Although others had patented it previously, the first practical pneumatic tire was produced in 1888 by John Dunlop of Belfast, Ireland. It was a hollow vulcanized rubber tube filled with air. Soon afterward, tires were constructed of rubber reinforced with cord and used a rubber inner tube to help prevent leaks.

Even in the 1920s, flat tires were a common occurrance because of rough roads and the fact that early cord-ply constructed tires were delicate and prone to punctures as were inner tubes. Flat tires were time consuming and, for business vehicles such as delivery trucks, time-wasting. If only there were a substitute for pressurized air.

Bettern-Air, the invention of a German chemist, was a vegetable compound which looked like rubber but was far more resilient. It was manufactured in 24-inch long logs, which are placed in tire casings under pressure. Bettern-Air minimized the number of flats and its spongy nature provided a smooth ride - like a pneumatic tire.

In this 1915 photo ... (more >>>)

First Time For Everything: I watched the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday; it was the 101st running of the race. The winner was Takuma Sako, the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500. He was driving a Honda-engined race car. In fact, I think six or so of the top ten finishers were powered by Honda.

It was a little disconcerting to watch the victorious Sako waving a large Japanese flag while being chauffeured around the racetrack in a Chevrolet Camaro convertible pace car. On Memorial Day weekend.

An hour after Sato's win, a big thunderstorm drenched the Brickyard and briefly knocked out power throughout the facility.

School's Almost Over. Thank God. We live a mile from a bus barn. Well, they call it that but there's no 'barn', actually. Just a fenced asphalt lot where school buses are parked. (Yes, it's better than living near a halfway house for convicted sex offenders. Or a Bessemer converter. Or a hog-rendering plant. But I'm not presently in the mood to "count my blessings", thank you very much.)

We get parades of yellow buses on our roads all day long. I hate them. Especially when they stop at railroad crossings.

Coming home from Portland or Vancouver, I must cross the tracks of the Columbia Basin Railroad at least three times. This small railroad runs one lone train per week; the train travels at 5-10 miles-per-hour. Five years ago, every one of the three crossings had drop gates installed to meet a newly-enacted federal requirement. Yet every #%&* school bus still stops at every #%&* crossing because of some stupid-ass law passed in 1912 or thereabouts. And, empty or not, they remain stopped for 10-20 seconds as traffic piles up and frustrations mount.

It is a waste of time and it is not saving any lives. It just pisses off the poor souls stuck behind those huge, yellow tortoises as they spew out dense clouds of filthy, set-the-earth-on-fire, noxious diesel fumes.

I'm sick and tired of this crap and I'm thinking of running for President someday with one lone item on my platform - the elimination of this moronic school bus law. I think there are enough other people who are angry about the Great Yellow Tyranny that I might actually get elected.

Remembrance: Today is Memorial Day. Initiated in 1868 and originally called Decoration Day, it is a day to remember those who have died in our nation's service. We honor those who gave their lives so that our country might survive and that democracy and liberty would continue to flourish.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Moina Michael - 1915

Bad Pun Of The Day: When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Thursday May 25, 2017

Until They Pry The Steering Wheel From My Cold Dead Hands: RethinkX, an independent UK think tank that focuses on technology-driven disruption and its implications across society, predicts that, by 2030, you probably won't own a car, but you may get a free trip with your morning coffee. Transport-As-A-Service will use only electric vehicles and will upend two trillion-dollar industries. It's the death spiral for cars.

Within 13 years, 95% of all U.S. passenger miles traveled will be served by on-demand, autonomous, electric vehicles that will be owned by fleets rather than individuals.

William Katz at Urgent Agenda wrote, "Why am I skeptical of this? We love our cars. We love owning them. When has an American kid ever had a dream about riding in a fleet car? If this be treason ..."

As long as I'm physically able to drive, I'll be behind the wheel, piloting my own vehicle.

Luxury From Those Foreign Devils: Germany's BMW topped its chief rivals Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen in unit sales in China for the month of April. Sales of BMW and Mini vehicles rose 39% to 48,869 during the month. Mercedes-Benz brand rose 35% to unit sales of 47,627 units, while VW's Audi division saw a sales decline of 7% to 46,166 vehicles.

Data are not yet available for Cadillac sales in China for the month of April. In March, Cadillac sold 11,281 units, nearly double the March 2016 total. Cadillac sales reached a four-year peak of more than 16,000 units sold in January of this year.

Earlier this month Lincoln reported April unit sales of 4,533 cars in China, a gain of 95% year over year. Year to date, Lincoln sales in China have more than doubled.

Ratings Now In The Toilet: According to an article by Thomas Lifson at American Thinker, the once-mighty Fox News' ratings are collapsing. Viewership is down across the board for all of its prime-time shows - not just for the key 25-54 demographic but for total viewership as well.

As I looked at the data, it seemed that Fox News viewers were simply turning of their televisions, rather than defecting to another cable network show. And that liberal outlets, particularly MSNBC, were gaining liberal viewers who have ended their Hillary-mourning-period and now tune in to get the latest dirt/smears on President Trump. At MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Matthews are doing particularly well. At CNN, Wolf Blitzer has more than doubled his audience in the 25-54 demo.

I'm not surprised. It seems that Fox News' contributors are mostly a mix of Never-Trumpers (Charles Krauthammer, Steve Hayes, Brit Hume, Jason Riley, etc.) and liberal loudmouths (Chris Wallace, Geraldo Rivera, Juan Williams, Marie Harf, Megyn McCain, Jonah Goldberg, Karl Rove, A.B. Stoddard, Shepard Smith, Michael Hayden, Julie Roginsky, Mara Liasson, Howard Kurtz and others).

The new replacement shows ('The Story', 'The Specialists') are unwatchable as is 'The Five' which features that wretched, insufferable airhead Dana Perino, whose voice is only slightly less shrill than Hillary Clinton's and the smug, semi-obnoxious Jesse Watters. Not to mention uber-liberal Juan Williams. No wonder formerly-loyal viewers are turning off their televisions. Or watching 'NCIS' reruns on USA Network.

Meanwhile, Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdock unveiled plans to revamp Fox News' second floor newsroom in its Manhattan studio. See also: deck chairs, Titanic.

Things have been going downhill ever since Roger Ailes left. If Fox loses the MyPillow, Hurrycane and William Devane's Gold accounts, the network's a goner. Fox News should implement the 'trampoline strategy' recommendations I made last month.

Well Played, Sir: Actor Sir Roger Moore has died at age 89 of cancer. He was best known for playing James Bond in seven of the 007 films - the longest serving Bond to date. He approached his roles with a suave and wry sense of humor. And a raised eyebrow.

I also enjoyed seeing Moore as Simon Templar in 1962-69 television series, 'The Saint' driving his silver Volvo P1800 coupe. RIP.

God Is Not Here To Entertain Us: Recently, Fred Reed wrote, "In today's irreligious and indeed anti-religious climate, the fashion is to dismiss Christianity as crude superstition, and to babble wisely about the separation of church and state. This is unfortunate, and stupid, since Christianity was the heart and soul of as yet the greatest civilization the world has seen. Those who know nothing of it cannot understand the last two thousand years and how our world came to be."

Fred is not referring to today's get-happy, clap-your-hands, superficial Christianity-Lite but, rather, the Original Recipe version.

As to non-Christians, Fred noted, "Islam appeared in the Seventh Century and conquered vast territories, but quickly fell into intellectual sloth and has since produced almost nothing other than splendid carpets and some lovely mosques." Where are all the great Muslim inventions? Muslim art museums? Muslim teaching hospitals and medical research facilities? The squads of Muslim soldiers, volunteer doctors and nurses who rush in to help when disaster strikes in some god-awful Third World country?

"Catholicism in particular has combined spiritual concerns with a strong intellectual bent. The Christian interest in questions of origin and destiny and man's purpose produced profound thought from the Church Fathers to C. S. Lewis.

Today, consideration of such matters as death and meaning are held to be in bad taste. Insensible of the wonder and strangeness of existence, we watch Seinfeld reruns and congratulate ourselves on not paying attention to that, you know, like, religious stuff. We live under a sort or Disneyland Marxism and descend ever deeper into complacent ignorance." At least mosques are serious about prayer.

Since 1980 ... (more >>>)

Book Review: 'Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers' by Leslie Bennetts

Joan Rivers lived a tumultuous and adventuresome life. The legendary comedienne, was a tireless workaholic even at age 80. Her career mixed peaks of success with rocky times and this juicy 400-plus page book seems to reveal all you'd want to know. And, sometimes stuff you didn't want to know.

Although the book is ... (more >>>)

Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "Doing 90% of what is required is one of the biggest wastes because you have nothing to show for all your efforts. But doing 110% of what is expected is one of the smartest investments because it can pay off with a big reputation for just a little more effort."

Tuesday May 23, 2017

But, It's Yellow! Recently, Bloomberg News speculated that a certain Ferrari is "the most valuable car in the world" and could "be the world's first car to break the $100 million mark, provided it finds its way to the auction block."

One of the most coveted cars in the world lost its driver when Atlanta millionaire Preston Henn, a flea-market magnate and racing aficionado, died recently at age 86.

"Make no mistake, the 1964 Ferrari 275 Gibbet Speciale could well be the Ferrari, the most rare and storied specimen from a brand built on scarcity and lore. It may also be the world's first car to break the $100 million mark, provided it finds its way to the auction block. For decades, Henn showed no interest in selling the machine. Rather, he displayed it proudly at his Swap Shop, a giant flea market and drive-in movie theater complex in Fort Lauderdale, Florida."

Most of the record-breaking Ferraris sold at auction are red - Rosso Corsa. This one's bright yellow.

Hot, Hot, Hot: By 9:30 am Monday, the temperatures was already 70 degrees. The sun was shining fierce and the skies were blue with only a few thin wisps of clouds. By afternoon, the thermometer hit 90.

I drove my '39 Plymouth coupe to town and gassed up. Then I took a nice drive along mostly empty country roads. I got a good view of Mt. St. Helens.

I drove at a leisurely pace and passed only one vehicle - a lumbering old '60s vintage Chevrolet stake-bodied truck which was moving at a mere 15 mph - too slow for me. I was back home and in the garage before things got too hot, although the Plymouth with its big, custom radiator is no longer affected by the heat.

Door. Ass. Bang. Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor Company has been fired. "Fields, a 28-year Ford veteran who replaced Alan Mulally in mid-2014, was reportedly booted by the company's board amid a continued decline in share values. Two weeks ago, the CEO was grilled by board members and shareholders alike over the direction he has taken the company."

Apparently, Executive Chairman Bill Ford and the rest of the board had lost confidence in Fields' ability to run the company. Since taking the helm, Ford's stock price has dropped by 40%. Ford recently saw its first-quarter profits fall 35%. Many questioned whether Fields' aggressive push for Ford's entry into the realm of mobility services has harmed the company's financial footing.

During Fields' tenure, Ford's market share increased, from 14.4% to 15.3%. He also delivered record sales, record profits as well producing the top-selling vehicle in the U.S.

Fields is being replaced by Jim Hackett, a former executive at Steelcase office furniture. "Hackett is tasked with shaping up the automaker's quality control, market strategies, and underperforming areas of its business. Another key priority includes modernizing the company's operations through the use of big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and 3D printing."

Ford vehicles have known quality problems. Ford Focus, Fiesta and Mustang as well as the Lincoln MKC scored much worse than average in Consumer Reports' predicted reliability ratings. Hackett has a reputation at Steelcase for cost-cutting and restructuring which probably means layoffs and buyouts in a quest to pump up Ford stock, rather than improving product quality.

Peter De Lorenzo wrote, "Fields was responsible for some of the most profitable years in the company's history. Fueled by the sales juggernaut that is the Ford F-150 and armed with an array of hot-selling crossovers and SUVs, Ford churned out huge profits. But alas, that wasn't enough for Fields."

FoMoCo's Board was unhappy about the stock price and the perception that Ford was not leading the pack on the New Mobility concept - self-driving vehicles, shared ownership, all-electric power, etc. You know what? People who buy F-150s don't want electric ones and have no interest in ride-sharing - a concept which will surely result in lower vehicle sales and a race to commodify all vehicles. Commodity items are always a low-margin business. Bye-bye record profits.

Wall Street discounts Ford, which they see as Last Century. Instead, stock pickers tout Tesla, a car company which has never made a profit (losing $773 million per year) and may be put out of business by lowly-but-earnest-and-affordable electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt (which has a 200-mile charge range). Tesla Inc. passed Ford in market cap recently, although its sells only 100,000 cars compared to Ford's 6 million vehicles.

Don't cry for 56 year-old Mark Fields though. He personally made a total of $59 million over the past three years.

Good Advice:

Keep Out, Whitey: Black students at UC Santa Cruz "staged a sit-in at the university until the administration agreed to ratify what amounts to a new form of segregation, guaranteeing all black students the right to live together in one building. And, ironically, the building they have succeeded in segregating (in the name of "safe spaces" unsurprisingly) is that university's Rosa Parks African American Theme House. It will now be painted, also based on their demand, the Pan-African colors of red, green and black."

Meanwhile, at Harvard, graduate students plan to host a "black-only" graduation ceremony. Approximately 125 students will participate in the ceremony.

Ol' Rosa and Martin Luther King must be rolling in their respective graves. Welcome back, segregation.

Much Accomplished, More To Come: If you get your news from the mainstream media, you'd think that President Trump has one foot out the door and was on his way to impeachment. It's a pack of lies, possibly a coordinated effort by the DNC and liberal journalists. Remember the 2007-08 JournoList Google Group scandal? It may have been reincarnated as something even more evil.

There is much to celebrate during the first four months of this administration. President Trump made a splashy debut on the world stage over the weekend, ushering in a new era in U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations. The United States will manufacture, sell, train and support over $110 billion in U.S. hardware to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In return, the Saudi government has committed over $350 billion in additional bilateral trade imports and investments, which will "create hundreds of thousands of jobs" for Americans.

The president received a warm welcome in Israel, too. At a press conference in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Donald Trump, "I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran. I want you to know how much we appreciate your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria."

David Prentice of American Thinker wrote, "First and foremost for our culture is the restoration of law and order. That begins with giving the respect due to our law enforcement officials, which has been a hallmark of this administration. The outrageous demonization of law enforcement by the previous administration is gone. The ongoing praise of and cooperation with our police from Trump et al is not only refreshing, it's going to have a long term positive effect. Violent demonstrators are no longer being coddled (except in Berkeley), instead they are prosecuted. Eventually, they won't even get away with being lawless thugs in Berkeley."

When I saw last week's video of Turkish security men viciously attacking protesters across Turkey's DC embassy, I thought, "Why can't the Turks open a satellite office in Berkeley?"

Prentice continued: "The existing border laws are being enforced. Illegal crossings are down 70%. ICE agents have been reenergized, rounding up criminals and deporting them. Bad guys are on notice. Drug trafficking will slow.  MS-13 is being fought. This is just the beginning. The Attorney General is simply enforcing laws that exist."

"The undoing of so many bad regulations from prior administrations is one giant step, with more underway. The unleashing of our energy resources and businesses has been a major win. The first step in positive change to the failing Obamacare is a good sign. If health care legislation, and economic reforms pass, we will be on an economic trajectory that will be exciting, one that will repudiate the failings of Obama's policies, and we can be confident of another Reagan style recovery.

In foreign relations, nothing has been a bigger surprise than Team Trump's many successes. In spite of the media perception of disarray, the Trump team has put together a burgeoning alliance in the Middle East, one that includes Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and others. This alliance will be key in dealing with the noxious mess left by the Obama/Clinton years. When Iran tries to flex its might, we will need the repair that the Trump team is working on."

Despite the bad press, Donald Trump is making America Great Again.

Quote Of The Day is from Publilius Syrus: "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm."

Friday May 19, 2017

Remembering The Griffith: Inspired by the success of the Shelby Cobra, Jack Griffith, a Long Island, NY Ford dealer shoehorned a Ford V-8 into a British-built TVR Grantura Mark III, replacing the car's anemic 4-cylinder, 76 horsepower motor. The small fiberglass coupe weighed less than 2,000 pounds and with the high-performance version of the 289 cubic-inch Ford engine could do - according to ads - 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and had a top speed of 145 mph. The car debuted in 1964.

Priced at $3,995 the TVR Griffith Series 400 was .... (more >>>)

In-Between: At 1:00 pm yesterday, the weather was gingerly walking a tightrope between partly cloudy and mostly cloudy with a temperature of 61 degrees. Sunny or not, it was a respite from the rain we've been experiencing for the past week, so I jumped in my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive.

Mt. St. Helens was hidden by cloud cover on the 37th anniversary of its big bang but the roads were lightly traveled, there was a smell of newly-mown grass in the air and I had an enjoyable back roads drive.

European Auto Troubles: New vehicle registrations in the European Union tumbled 7% year-over-year in April to 1.19 million units. The United Kingdom posted a year-over-year drop of 20%, Germany saw sales fall 8%, French sales declined by 6% and Italy posted a decrease of 5%. Only Spain showed a slight gain in April.

The top selling automaker in Europe is Volkswagen (293,608 vehicles), followed by PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) with 124,884 vehicles sold, Renault (128,013), Fiat-Chrysler (87,761) and Ford (76,889).

Ka-Boom! Thirty-seven years ago yesterday, Mount St. Helens erupted, causing a massive debris avalanche. It reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet and replaced it with a mile-wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake uncorked a gas-charged reservoir of magma that leveled 230 square miles, killed 57 people and triggered the largest landslide in history. The explosion equaled the force of a 20-megaton bomb.

It's generally quiet right now, although there are small 'earthquake swarms' under the mountain these days, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

I see the mountain every day (unless it's clouded over); I live a mere 35 miles away as the ash flies. I had never really noticed St. Helens on my drives up and down I-5 until it blew its top. The devastation was impossible to imagine. Trees knocked over like toothpicks. Mud and ash everywhere. Gray 'snow' on the ground. I had an incredible view of the eruption, since I ... (more >>>)

Inexplicable DC: Democrats and their media BFFs are calling for Donald Trump's impeachment without a scintilla of proof of an impeachable offense. News outlets and anti-Trumpers salivate over fake news served up by anonymous sources. All this, despite the fact that former FBI Director James Comey - the cause of much of the turmoil is a long-time tool of the Clintons. Trump's threat to drain the swamp has angered many of its bottom feeders.

William Katz wrote, "I'm more than a little suspicious of the drip, drip, drip, of leaks, parts of memos, parts of transcripts. The leaks seem well timed to come at regular intervals, and their common appearance in the Washington Post and The New York Times, two wildly anti-Trump papers, is more than suspicious.

I'd like to see some facts. I'd also like to see some of our "journalists" point out that because something appears in a memo does not make it accurate. Self-serving memos, diaries, books, are all over the place." Indeed.

The Z-Man wrote, "The revolt that put Trump in office is a revolt of the provincials. Plenty of Trump voters went to college or have office work. It's not the old class divide. It is the new class divide. The revolution over the last 25 years has been led by a cosmopolitan elite, based in the coastal cities of America. These are the people dreaming up gay marriage and transgenders, not because they make any sense, but because they offend the sensible provincials out in the suburbs." Those swamp-dwellers who try to remove this president, do so at their own peril.

All the while, the mainstream media has refused to investigate the murder of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was gunned down near his home in Washington, D.C. - shot twice in the back by two assailants. Rich is believed to be a disillusioned Democratic staffer who released the Democratic National Committee e-mails that exposed how the DNC had tried to thwart Bernie Sanders' campaign. This murder has a certain Vince Foster vibe about it.

Meanwhile, Former Army private, Bradley Manning, who leaked government secrets and should have been shot for treason, was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Manning was incarcerated just long enough to have the government pay for a sex change operation then was pardoned by outgoing President Obama and is now a free 'woman'.

Now that Manning's jail cell is available, it should be occupied by that congressional crook and bank pimp, Rep. Maxine Waters.

Media Giant: Roger Ailes, founder and former chairman of Fox News, has died at age 77 due to complications from a fall. During his 20-year reign (1996-2016), Fox News went from zero to becoming the dominant cable news channel in America. 'Fair and balanced' reporting mixed with female eye-candy proved to be a big winner. Ailes contributed much to the conservative renaissance that continues to this day; he made news reporting great again.

Ailes was also a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as well as for Rudy Giuliani's first mayoral campaign.

Shortly after the announcement of Ailes' death, Fox News anchor and meteorologist Janice Dean wept on-air, disclosing how Roger had helped her family. She said, "I wouldn't be here without that man. When I was diagnosed with MS he got on the phone and said, "Whatever we can do for your family," because we were all family. He was a presence and he will be missed on this channel." RIP.

Quote Of The Day: A Pessimist sees a dark tunnel. An Optimist sees light at the end of the tunnel. A Realist sees a freight train. A Locomotive Engineer sees three idiots standing on the rails.

Wednesday May 17, 2017

Bursting Bubble Ahead? In six years, vehicle loans have increased more than 55%. 32.5% of all subprime auto loans are now categorized as "deep subprime," with FICO scores below 550. In 2010, the percentage was just 5.1%. With the recent decline in new car sales, banks are tightening their lending standards for auto loans.

While consumers have fallen behind on ... (more >>>)

Self-Driving Update: Roush Industries will hire 150 engineers to staff a new 44,000 square-feet technical center in Michigan that will specialize in self-driving technology and electric vehicle engineering.

Roush is best known for racing and high-performance aftermarket stuff, especially for Ford automobiles.

Got Balls? James Lileks opined that malted milk balls "are superior in every way to jelly beans, and always make you think "why don't I eat more of these? Right, right, I'm a grown-up. I should be eating fine dark 67% cocoa slabs from Perugia or something.” If scientists tomorrow said that a plague had wiped out jellybeans - say, Sucrified Bean Smut - we'd be sad, but then we'd think of all the times we tasted one of those Gourmet Jellybeans that was Bubblegum Flavor and said "yes, this provides a fleeting simulacrum of the advertised flavor," and then thought I suppose this one's root beer. Eh.

But malted milk balls are different. They crunch; they release malty goodness; they have a certain lightness to them. The world would be lesser for their absence."

Personally, I'm a big fan of Maltesers - the ones made in Great Britain.

Book Review: 'Natalie Wood: Reflections on a Legendary Life' by Manoah Bowman

This oversized, coffee table-style, 320-page picture book includes commentaries by husband Robert Wagner, daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner, Courtney Wagner and others. It is not really a biography, rather a series of written sketches about specific periods in her life. Nevertheless, I learned some new things about Natalie Wood and enjoyed the stories and photos. It's apparent that she is remembered by her children and her husband with fondness and much love.

Ms. Wood was one of the few child actors to ... (more >>>)

Burger Slam: Iowahawk tweeted, "Five Guys is decorated like a cheap Soviet knockoff of Johnny Rockets." I would add that Johnny Rockets has a location in Bangladesh. Not that I'd ever eat there. In fact, I've never eaten at Johnny Rockets. Faux-retro frightens me. Plus, the Bacon Cheddar Double Hamburger has 1,770 calories. And the two locations I knew about have closed.

I have eaten at Five Guys and found the food to be great, although the ambiance is nothing to write home about.

Then there's Red Robin, which also has good burgers. RR recently opened a location two miles from my house. Unfortunately, all Red Robins are noisy. I used to enjoy that in the 1980s when Happy Hours were really happy and there was a certain conviviality between humans - now absent thanks to .08 blood alcohol laws.

Politicians tell us that we are a bitterly divided electorate. People should drink more; alcohol is the social lubricant that brings everyone together. And they should stop talking on cell phones and texting in social situations. Talk to your bar mate instead. When I left a Red Robin recently, I passed a guy hanging half out the front door in an apparent attempt to get good cell reception. If The Robin is blocking cell reception within, I cheer, "Boo-Ya!"

People have three voices: inside voice, outside voice and cell phone voice. Cell phone voices are very close in volume to outside voices. That's why I hate cell phones in restaurants - every user is a loudmouth. At least texters are quiet. And, if they're wearing hoodies, they look like monks bent over in prayer.

In the good ol' days, Red Robins used to be jumpin' places every night as were T.G.I. Fridays, which in the '70s, featured magicians as entertainment on Friday evenings. But all the Fridays around here have closed their doors; the chain has been on a long downhill slope for decades. A reviewer once wrote, "T.G.I. Fridays is where you go if all the Red Robins have burned down." True dat.

Red Robin is also about hype. The colorful, laminated menus are supplemented by seasonal specials of all stripes. During a Fall visit, my waitress cheerfully proclaimed, "This is the final day for our Octoberfest Burger!" - something which I believe involved an unnatural and unholy mating of ground beef and sliced Black Forest ham. And possibly Lederhosen. I replied, "Thank God - our long national nightmare is almost over." She was not amused.

Quote Of The Day is from H.L. Mencken: "Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage."

Monday May 15, 2017

car blogWho's Got The Most Juice? Every auto site carries the latest 'news' about Tesla which is as much a cult as a car company. In the first quarter of 2017, Tesla sold 24,950 electric vehicles. Meanwhile, Renault-Nissan sold 36,723 electric cars during the same quarter - 47% more than the sainted, mega-hyped Tesla.

Why didn't you know this before? Because, while other manufacturers spend lots of money on product development, Tesla uses some of that money for excessive, self-aggrandizing PR.

auto blogBecause People Have Too Much Money And Don't Know What To Do With It: BMW will soon offer an 8 Series luxury coupe. Pricing is expected to start around $165,000. A V12 engine will be available.

Harald Krüger, BMWs board chairman said, "The BMW 8 Series Coupe will build on our tradition of luxurious sports coupes and add a genuine dream car to our line-up – a slice of pure automotive fascination. The 8 Series Coupe will underpin our claim to leadership in the luxury segment. I can tell you today that this will be a true luxury sports coupe." So there.

He could have said, "Hey ... quit being a piker and buy one of our Rolls Royces."

joe sherlock blogThis Blog Is Now A Teenager: The View Through The Windshield debuted on May 13, 2004. You can see my earliest posts here. I used few images back in '04; in those early days, most people (including me) still had dial-up internet and I didn't want to slow down page-loading any more than necessary.

My blog is self-described as "about cars ... and more." I usually lead off almost any day's posting with something transport-related. Non-automotive postings include news articles which I find significant or humorous, nostalgic items as well as my opinions on social and political issues. And lots of other stuff; I'm still posting book reviews at the rate of 50 or so per year.

Most of my website traffic goes to the main blog page - it averages over 300 visits per day. The main page of my site remains the second most popular page. But the blog page is twice as popular. Overall, averages over 1,300 visits daily.

Traffic to the blog page up over 26% compared to last year. Since I don't sell ads, web traffic has no impact on my life. The View Through The Windshield is strictly a one-man voluntary operation; I don't have co-writers or a comments section. This blog is my journal, not a collaborative or a community forum. And that's how it's going to stay.

I have no plans to expand my online presence: No Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, RSS feeds or podcasts. Furthermore, I don't want 'Facebook friends'. If you are a real friend, you'll show up in person and buy me a couple of drinks.

It's always gratifying when readers compliment me about something I wrote. While I'm merely a loose thread in the mighty warp and woof of the internet, this little filament of a blog will continue to cling to the internet fabric for a while longer.

In the meantime, here's to the beginning of another year: Cheers!

Cut Government Fat First: Don Surber 'weighed-in' on the rollback of Michelle Obama's disastrous 'healthy' school lunch mandates: "What business is it of the government how much your kid weighs? A national government that cannot protect its border, has not repaired its roads, and has not balanced its budget in 17 years has no business worrying about childhood obesity.

By the way, banning the use of food stamps to buy candy, soda, and potato chips would do wonders for poor fat kids."

Observation Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "Umlaut doesn't have one."

Thursday May 11, 2017

car blogQuick, While The Sun Is Still Shining: The weather forecast is quite pessimistic, calling for rain from today through eternity, so I decided to take an old car drive while it was still sunny and dry.

When I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage on Wednesday morning, the temperature was in the mid-50s at 9:45 am and the skies were hazy at the horizons. Mt. St. Helens was visible but had a gauze-over-the-lens look about it.

Nevertheless, the roads were lightly traveled and I had an enjoyable morning outing.

Late To The Party: Recently, Jack Baruth wrote about the last American muscle car in Road & Track. The vehicle in question? A Honda Accord coupe with V6 engine and a six-speed manual transmission. Its mighty little engine puts out an official 270 horsepower. Some say the real number is closer to 300.

In September 2008, when I was a young lad of 65, I compared the Honda Accord to the Dodge Challenger muscle car. I concluded that the Accord was nearly as fast, was far less costly to operate and that a buyer could acquire a pair of Accords for the price of a single Challenger.

Happy Mother's Day this Sunday to all moms (especially mine) - whoever and wherever they may be.

Mother's Day was officially established in the early 20th Century. At first, it was the custom to wear a white carnation to honor one's mother. In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers on Mother's Day, florists invented the idea of wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was deceased; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into a popular observation at churches.

I remember carnations being sold outside of churches on Mother's Day, when I was young. Men wore one as a boutonnière on the left jacket lapel. I was always saddened by the sight of my dad wearing a white one; his mom died when he was only 23.

In the past 40 years, I've not seen carnations worn on Mother's Day, either because the custom never caught on in the Pacific Northwest or because the tradition has waned. Perhaps it's because no one seems to dress up anymore, so there are no lapels on which to affix carnations.

the view through the windshield

But Khaki Is A Color: James Lileks considers Banana Republic to be "The Gap for people who have tired of color."

Book Review: 'The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds' by Michael Lewis

In 2014, I read and reviewed 'Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt' by this author. I found it informative, noting that "the author keeps things interesting, even for the lay person."

Not so for 'The Undoing Project'. The cover blurb states, "Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations." Really? Reading the book, I found their approaches to decision-making tentative and random.

Daniel Kahneman eventually settled in at Princeton University and was awarded a Nobel Prize. It is interesting to me that ... (more >>>)

Comey's Downfall: The ex-FBI director couldn't keep his lies straight. J. Edgar Hoover could lie like a thick Persian rug, knew how to quietly blackmail politicians of all stripes and could wear a strapless, drop-waist organza gown in ways that James Comey could only dream of. Although, to be fair, Comey seems more of a drama queen than a drag queen.

Irony Alert: A vandal 'graffiti artist' died after falling through roof of an arts complex. The alleged 'arts complex' doubles as a recycling center, so it's not exactly the Louvre. A friend of the deceased said that "he was always pushing the boundaries." Indeed.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Former President Barack Obama traveled to Italy this week to make a speech on climate change at the 'Seed & Chips: The Global Food Innovation Summit' in the city of Milan. Barry O. flew on a fuel-guzzling private jet to Milan. Then, he "had a 14-car convoy to get into the city, which also included protection from above with a helicopter."

So much for leaving a small carbon footprint to prevent climate change.

Quip Of The Day: I went to the Air & Space Museum but there was nothing there.

Tuesday May 9, 2017

car blogMotor Trends: Car windows keep getting smaller, all-wheel-drive is becoming ubiquitous, people buy SUVs to get more ground clearance, tires are becoming larger and pedestrian crash requirements are making front ends blunt and more massive.

In five years, we'll probably all be driving Stryker combat vehicles. (permalink)

Fantasy Garage: Kim du Toit posted a photo grabbed from a Plano, Texas real estate listing. The cars in the four-garage make an interesting quartet.

Mr. du Toit asked his readers for their fantasy, money-is-no-object auto selections to fill the garage and then revealed his four picks. Play the game - make your own picks.

the view through the windshieldA Good Way To Begin The Week: On Monday, it was 55 degrees at 11:00 am. I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took my son-in-law Dave for a drive.

The sun was out, the roads were fairly clear and we had an enjoyable drive.

The forecast calls for more sunny weather this week, so maybe I'll get another drive in soon.

Dumb & Dumber: The Z Man wrote that we should bring back smoking. "Smoking rates began to decline in the middle of the last century, with the Baby Boomer interest in health. Nicotine is known to increase focus and increase your cognitive abilities. It’s why writers and computer programmers were all smokers. In fact, STEM fields in the 20th century were dominated by men who chain smoked at their desks. Anyone who has had to sit for hours working a math problem knows how exhausting it can be. Even a small boost in focus has enormous results.

What if the apparent uptick in Western IQ was accelerated by smoking? Tobacco was introduced to the West in the 16th century and its use increased steadily. By the 18th century, the use of tobacco was common. By the 19th century, smoking cigarettes was ubiquitous. Everyone smoked. It also corresponds with the Industrial Revolution. Once tobacco use became universal, Western technological progress took off like a rocket, culminating in a rocket literally taking off and putting men on the moon.

Once the anti-smoking crusades got a purchase in the '60s and smoking rates declined, it does appear that the West began to decline. Perhaps that small boost to our cognitive ability had a huge impact on our intellectual achievements. Now that the crutch is gone, we’re doing idiotic things like putting minorities in charge and inviting in low-IQ barbarians from the fringes of civilization. Perhaps the lunacy that has gripped the West is simply the withdraw symptoms of kicking the habit.

Maybe we need to start smoking again."

Interesting hypothesis but I've got my own: lack of fresh air.

The scores of intelligence tests stalled in the mid-1970s and have declined in recent numerical reasoning sub-tests. In the mid-70s, companies hopped on the Save Energy bandwagon and sealed up windows in offices and factories. Then they set their heaters and A/C systems on maximum recycling mode. Vent windows disappeared from automobiles during this same period, further reducing the amount of fresh air available to humans.

auto blog

Or, on second thought, maybe it was Disco that caused us to get stupid.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: At its commencement ceremony on May 13, Florida Memorial University will present a posthumous honorary degree to Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager killed by George Zimmerman five years ago, after Trayvon attacked Zimmerman.

I had never heard of this school. Based on its name, I would have thought that it taught tombstone carving or cemetery management. "But nooooo!" as the late John Belushi used to say. Florida Memorial University is a private school, "one of 39 member institutions of the United Negro College Fund," according to Wikipedia.

Until Martin died in 2012, I had never heard of the name Trayvon, either. I had thought that 'Trayvon' was the name of a Toyota model. You know, the one that looks like Obama's son, if he had one. (When she's angry, Michelle Obama looks more like the front end of a Tundra Limited CrewMax Cab.)

Trayvon will be awarded a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical science with a concentration in flight education on behalf of their son. The degree is in "honor of the steps he took during his young life toward becoming a pilot," said the school. Or maybe its in recognition that he was frequently flying high on weed.

Ol' Remus quipped that Trevon's degree didn't improve his employment prospects.

Quote Of The Day is from Milton Friedman: "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

Friday May 5, 2017

car blogThe General's Electrified Losses: The high cost of producing electric vehicles - mainly battery expense - makes it a money-losing proposition for automakers that have been imbibing the Electric Kool-Aid.

General Motors reportedly loses $8-9,000 on every Chevrolet Bolt it produces. Mark Reuss, General Motors' executive vice president for product development, has said that eventually electric vehicles will be profitable, but he doesn't know when.

I'm not a GM stockholder, so I don't really care, but this approach is 180 degrees away from my business mantra: Make a profit on everything you do. Or else.

I've espoused that principle - and the six reasons behind it - to clients and readers for years. Apparently, GM hasn't been paying attention.

auto blogSummer Preview: At 11:00 am Wednesday, the temperature was in the mid-60s and the skies were bright azure with only a few puff-ball clouds near the horizon. It seemed like perfect old car weather, so I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and took a nice back roads drive with the windows down.

I cranked up the speakers and played '50s rock-n-roll which blended nicely with the V8's burble through the Glasspacks during my travels. I got a good view of snow-covered Mt. St. Helens during my drive and was reminded that it's been almost 37 years since the old girl blew her top. The land around these parts is quite fertile because there's still ash mixed in with topsoil. Think Pompeii but with lots more fir trees.

Later in the day, temperatures rose to the low 80s.

On Thursday morning, it was already 66 degrees at 9:30. So I took another drive under cloudless blue skies. Awesome. But the afternoon brought rain. I'm glad I took my enjoyable excursions when I did.

Big Market: The government of China expects its annual automobile production output to reach 30 million by 2020 and 35 million by 2025.

China is currently the world's largest market for new car sales - 28 million cars were sold in China last year, compared with 17.5 million units sold in the United States.

The 35 million-unit target includes increased sales in overseas markets. Last year Chinese-built electric vehicles were sold in more than 30 countries by carmakers BYD, Geely and BAIC.

Meanwhile, China's SAIC Motor announced it will begin sales of MG vehicles in mainland Europe starting at the end of 2019, led by the MG ZS subcompact SUV. The iconic once-British MG brand has been under Chinese ownership since 2005. The current model doesn't resemble the MGs of yore in any way whatsoever.

At last month's Shanghai Auto Show, Jeep unveiled the Yuntu SUV Concept, a three-row crossover with a plug-in hybrid powertrain exclusively for the China market.

Remember 30 years ago when pretty much everyone in China rode bicycles and dressed like Mao Tse-tung?

joe sherlock blogHappy Cinco de Mayo! Let's honor it with this little joke:

Q: What do you call four Mexicans in quicksand?

A: Cuatro sinko.

On a related note, Gerard Van der Leun penned an article titled 'The Taco Wall of Cinco de Mayo'.

He observed, "Of late the May 5 street celebrations in the US seem to be orgies of hating on the United States and praising the bouncy car and taco culture of Mexico from safe spaces (so far) inside the US.

Your moral and intellectual betters lose no time in reminding you that May 5 is just a Hispanic version of St. Patrick's Day. Maybe but I don't recall the St. Pats Parade in NYC being a hotbed of treason, felonious behavior, and America hating. Still, our shopkeepers never pass up an opportunity so when I entered my local Safeway yesterday I had forgotten all about this smarmy little holiday imported from south of the border down Mexico way.

In one moment I was confronted by this wall (a tall, aisle-end, wall-like, cardboard point-of-purchase display of taco chips and related products); a wall that Safeway and the faux-Mexican food producers somehow (unlike Congress) found the money to build." Olé!

"I Got One Word For Ya, Kid. One Word. Plastics." The late George Carlin once said, regarding our allegedly fragile Earth, "The planet will be here for a long, long, long time after we're gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, 'cause that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system.

The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic.

The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, 'Why are we here?' Plastic.

So, the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now."

In the end, polyethylene and cockroaches will survive.

Bank Shot: Last week, the FDIC closed a bank for the fourth time this year, shuttering First NBC Bank of New Orleans.

Bill McBride noted, "Since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, 525 insured institutions with assets of $749 billion have failed with resolution costs of $96.3 billion."

Quote of the Day is from Michael O'Donoghue: "Life is one big minefield, and the only place that isn't a minefield is the place they make the mines."

Wednesday May 3, 2017

car blogApril Auto Sales: The air is leaking out of the balloon. During the Great Recession, auto sales fell faster than the residuals on a new Jaguar, dropping to sales rates of less than 10 milion/yr. As the U.S. economy sluggishly recovered, auto sales inexplicably soared to record heights.

Everyone with even a faint connection to the auto industry knew that multiple record years of 17+ million in unit sales was unsustainable. Finding buyers for all those shiny new vehicles has now become more difficult than pushing a dumpster through a magnet factory, even with automakers boosting incentives to record levels - 13% higher than one year ago - in a desperate attempt to move metal.

Last month, light vehicle sales were at a 16.8 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate), down 3% from last year. Unadjusted sales were down 5% from March. This is the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases.

General Motors reported a sales decline of 6% overall. Sales of some GM's top-selling cars were battered. The Malibu fell 20% to 17,364 sedans. Sales of the Buick Enclave SUV dropped 21%. Nevertheless, Buick saw a year-over-year sales jump of 17%. The driver was the Mexican-built Buick Encore CUV with a 27% gain.

April sales of GM's top-selling Silverado pickup fell by 20% to 40,154 units and GMC Sierra sales tumbled 15% to 17,400 units. Sales of the Colorado midsize pickup dropped 11% to 9,221 units and the comparable GMC Canyon saw a decline of 22% to 2,368 units.

Total Chevrolet deliveries in March decreased by 10% year-over-year to 164,367 units. Cadillac retail sales increased 9.5% (12,300 units).

Ford Motor Co. sales fell 7% last month, with SUV sales seeing the only increase for any of Ford's segments. Truck sales declined by 4%. Mustang sales dropped 37% to 8,063 ponycars. Sales of the Lincoln brand dropped 1% with 9,691 vehicles finding new homes. Fleet sales now account for over 34% of Ford's total sales.

Fiat-Chrysler did poorly across most of its model lines, with overall sales dropping 7%. Jeep sales fell an ominous 17% to 68,879. Sales of inexpensive Jeeps declined more. Compass sales were down 61% to 3,520. Patriot sales were off 53% to 4,939. Sales of Chrysler brand fell 3% as did Dodge sales. Fiat sales dropped 18% to 2,539 vehicles. Ram truck sales increased 5%. Only 677 Alfas found buyers in April.

Toyota Motor Co. sales declined by 4% with its Lexus luxury brand falling 11% to 22,116 vehicles. Only 294 Lexus LS sedans found buyers in April. American Honda sales dropped 7%; Acura sales declined 13% to 14,132 vehicles. Subaru continues to rise - sales increased 4% in April. Nissan Motor experienced a decline of 2% but Infiniti sales were up 4%. Audi sales increased 5%, while Mercedes-Benz fell 8% and BMW dropped over 9%.

Mini sales declined 27% to 3,481 units; this is a big drop from 18 months ago when Mini was selling 5,000 vehicles per month. U.S. Mini sales peaked in 2013. BMW, owner of the brand, has responded by replacing both sales and marketing mangers. I guess the Mini-fad is truly done, killed by so much line-extension that no one knows what a Mini is anymore. Would Alec Issigonis even recognize the big AWD Mini Countryman?

Meanwhile, Smart sales fell 22% to 365 microcars. You have to wonder why Smart stays in business ... ummm ... probably to avoid dealer lawsuits. On the other end of the size-price spectrum, Bentley sales jumped 53% to 168 vehicles, Jaguar sales leaped 197% to 3,230 kitties and Maserati sales increased 19% to 1,265 units.

joe sherlock blogMemorable Date: Fifty-eight years ago, May 3rd was drilled into my brain during my Junior year at St. Joe's Prep.

For six months, Father William F. Pichla, S.J. repeatedly reminded us that he was taking on us on a field trip to see a steel mill on that date. Except, with his accent, he pronounced it May Turd. Then three weeks before the trip he got pissed off at the class for some minor infraction and canceled it.

"Dat's it! No May Turd trip for youse," he yelled. Therefore, I've never toured a steel mill. I don't think I missed anything. Bessemer converter, my ass.

The trip probably would have been to U.S. Steel's Fairless Works, a fully-integrated steel mill which began operations in 1952. The facility was located north of Philadelphia in Fairless Hills, PA and included two blast furnaces, nine open hearth furnaces, two coke batteries, an 80-inch hot strip mill, rolling mills, a sheet and tin department, a pipe mill and a vessel slip, all located on nearly 4,000 acres along the Delaware River. Peak employment reached more than 8,000 in 1974. The mill closed in 2001. Father Pichla died in 1971. RIP.

Book Review: 'Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future' by Johan Nordberg

We are awash in a turbulent sea of bad news. You can't get ratings, sales or profits if your news organization's daily message is, "All is well. Good day." The mantra in the news biz is: "If it bleeds, it leads."

Yet, there is much to celebrate in this 21st Century ... (more >>>)

Still No Comments: At 'The View Through The Windshield', I don't have a 'comments' section. My blog is one man's journal rather than a community. I've always wanted my blog to be a writing outlet for my observations, many of them about cars. In the four-plus years I've been posting, I think that 'The View Through The Windshield' has remained true to my goals.

Too many bloggers have quit because they were deluged with hate and spam. It is a little-known fact that the great Abraham Lincoln was an early blogger ... (more >>>)

Bad Pun Of The Day: Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you," says Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaims Daisy.

Monday May 1, 2017

Mercury's Answer To The Barracuda: Mac's Motor City Garage has posted photos of a one-off show car - the 1964 Mercury Comet Super Cyclone. It was "constructed by Dearborn Steel Tubing, a local Ford contractor that was also responsible for the Fairlane Thunderbolts, the Thunderbird Itelien concept, and other exotic skunkworks-type projects."

the view through the windshield

This Mercury concept, one to 'Step Out With', has a backlite that "bears a powerful resemblance to the one on the original 1964 Plymouth Barracuda, just then going into production. Though we have no reason to presume it's anything more than coincidence, the similarity is striking. Other custom features included a complete interior in white Naugahyde, Astro custom wheels with bolt-on knockoffs, and teardrop racing mirrors."

The revised front end treatment featured a custom grille with fine vertical teeth and French Cibie rectangular headlights.

In the 1960s, Mercury sometimes did some cool things.

car blogSaturday Fun: At 10:30 am, the temperature was in the mid-50s and the skies were partly cloudy but not so bad that I couldn't see Mt. St. Helens. I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a short drive. Traffic was light and the green of Spring could be seen everywhere.

My mini-excursion was most enjoyable and I'm glad I didn't wait because, as Chuck Berry sang in 'Maybelline': "It done got cloudy and started to rain."

Everything Old Is New Again: Sales of vinyl records are expected to top $1 billion this year.

"However, faced with twin onslaughts from digital music and big-box stores, independent record stores in the United States banded together in 2007 to create an annual day of special sales - and much to their surprise, vinyl has been king."

Hillary In Oz: Regular readers of this blog know that I don't use the term Must-Read lightly, but Joseph Bottum's review of the book, 'Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign', is .... well .... a must-read.

Bottum believes that all of the book's characters are a rip-off of L. Frank Baum's 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'. Hillary is, of course, Dorothy Gale - admittedly an old, shrill and unlikable version but undoubtedly the main character around whom everything revolves.

joe sherlock blog"What was Robby Mook, for example, but the Tin Man? Clinton's campaign manager, he had a robotic confidence in his computer-generated "data analytics" - so much so, in fact, that he refused to finance such ordinary campaign expenditures as yard signs or candidate literature or even polling, which might have warned of the campaign's weaknesses."

"The Scarecrow of the campaign was its chairman, John Podesta. Despite his long history of political and government work, 'Shattered' shows that Podesta is the man without a brain. What a strawhead he proved to be. The book reports that after Clinton’s first attempt to deal with the issue of her private e-mail server, she e-mailed Podesta to thank him for "helping steer the ship thru our first choppy waters" - because Podesta, like the Scarecrow misdefining the Pythagorean Theorem, had convinced her that casual dismissal of the news was the right response."

As you continue to read the review, you'll learn about other characters including the Cowardly Lion, played by Bill Clinton and faithful canine companion Toto, with Huma Abedin assuming that role.

"What a mess. Was Trump the tornado that blew them all to the fantasy land of Oz? Obama is clearly the Wizard, flying off in his balloon at the end. Hillary Clinton wanted to be Glinda the Good, and the Trump campaign tried to portray her as the Wicked Witch of the West. But, as 'Shattered' shows, she was actually a dour Dorothy, marching relentlessly toward the Emerald City to find a way back to the White House she was convinced she deserved."

What a hilarious piece. Congratulations to Joseph Bottum. As they always say in the more popular blogs, "Read the whole thing."

First 100 Days: President Trump accomplished much during his first 100 days in office. But you'd never know it if you're getting your information from the mainstream media.

Here is a selection of good things which have happened so far:

The Dow-Jones stock market index rose more than 15% since the election.

President Trump decreased the US Debt in his first 100 days by $100 Billion. (President Obama increased the US debt in his first 100 days by more than $560 Billion.)

The US Manufacturing Index soared to a 33-year high in this period, which were the best numbers since 1983 under President Reagan. This has personal significance: In my plastics manufacturing business, from 1982 to '83, sales increased 89%. The following year, sales continued to climb, growing over 62%. To me, this is proof that if you unleash the power of business, the economy will soar.

Illegal immigration is down 67% since the President's Inauguration.

NATO announced Allied spending is up $10 Billion because of President Trump.

Trump's nominee, Constitutionalist Judge Neil Gorsuch now sits on the Supreme Court.

Trump's new regulations will cost $28 million dollars, compared with Obama's $4 billion in new regs implemented durung his first 100 days.

16 productive meetings have been held with foreign heads of state.

17 meetings with business leaders and industry groups - over 500,000 new jobs have been created.

21 cabinet nominees have been confirmed.

28 bills have been signed into law.

The Trump Administration's first budget takes a pick axe to a bloated list of government programs, eliminating funding for old stalwarts like the community development block grant program and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, slicing into traditional areas of diplomacy and annihilating federal environmental efforts while dedicating more money to defense, veterans and building a wall along the Mexican border.

There are many other obvious accomplishments, including the bombing of Syria, the use of MOAB, the 21,000-pound bomb in Afghanistan to destroy tunnels and caves known to be used by ISIS. Then there's the strong response to North Korea's threats. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The president has withdrawn from the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership. The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects are back on track. West Virginia coal industry executive Mike Grose said, "Once Trump was elected, I have increased staff 20-fold - it went through the roof." All of this has happened despite almost zero help from Congress - an obstructionist Democratic party which seems to say 'No' to everything and an ill-prepared, clueless Republican leadership which trips over its own feet.

It's not just the president - Mike Pence, General Mattis, Rex Tillerson and other cabinet members have been globe-hopping promoting and protecting our interests.

President Trump held his Hundred Day celebration at a rally in Harrisburg, PA on Saturday. In a brilliant move, Trump had the rally begin at the same time as the White House Correspondents' Dinner in D.C. Trump told the record-breaking crowd of 14,000 at the rally that he'd rather be with them instead of "the swamp 100 miles south of here." He was surrounded, not by smug, self-centered people in formal dress, but rather by casually-attired supporters expressing genuine enthusiasm because they view the president as the embodiment of their hopes for their country and its future.

Consider this difference: Whenever the liberal media used a blow torch on Bush 43, he stood there stoically. But whenever they've tried the same thing on Trump, he responds - as he always does - with a flame thrower. That's what happened Saturday evening. And that's why we Deplorables support him.

Meanwhile, Washington's circle-jerk, rubber-chicken extravaganza was MC'd by 'comedian' and 'Daily Show' correspondent Hasan Minhaj, someone I had never heard of, whose name conjures up images of a swarthy man wearing a suicide vest. During his 'comedy bit', Hasan called White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon a Nazi and Attorney General Jeff Sessions a racist. His like-minded audience chuckled. One wag quipped that Minhaj's comedy performance was "just another Muslim bombing." Donald was right to avoid this event.

This year, big-name celebrities stayed away in droves from the D.C. gala. Al Sharpton, Jerry Brown, Madeline Albright, other Democratic has-beens and a gaggle of D-list celebrities, like Matthew Modine were there. Jesse Jackson had planned to attend but cancelled at the last minute when he lost his Rhyming Dictionary.

Message to the press: You've been Trumped. Make America Great Again is off to a pretty good start.

Quote of the Day is from Mark Russell: "The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage."

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This blog, The View Through The Windshield, is about cars, automobiles, vehicles of various sorts and more.

The facts presented in this car blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

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Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.

copyright 2017 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved