A Blog About Cars ... And More
Monday April 30, 2018
AutoSketch: 1963 Lincoln - Fine Tuning A Masterpiece
When the 1961 Lincoln Continental was introduced the automotive trade press was stunned. The car's look was a dramatic departure from the styling of the 1960 Lincoln - in fact, it was a complete break from the fins, fat chrome trim and dog-legged windshields which were so characteristic of all cars of the prior five years. It did show some hints of fine cars of the past - the Continental Mark II influence could be seen in the mesh grille, the wraparound taillight design and the rise in beltline just ahead of the rear wheel cutout.
The new Lincoln Continental was a clean, elegant design which influenced the look of many of the cars of the 60's including ... (more >>>)
Prediction ... from Dave Burge: "By 2034, the Earth's mantle will collapse under the accumulated weight of mattress stores. Common sense mattress store control now."
The 30 Blocks: I did not remember this phrase. Referenced in an article posted on The Burning Platform, it is code for the most-blighted 30-block area in West Philadelphia. The 30 blocks run from 69th Street to 39th Street.
The article described a murder, noting that it was "just another normal day in West Philly on the 30 Blocks. ... Nothing changes in West Philly. More bastard children are produced, more murders are committed, more taxpayer dollars are allocated to keep these people enslaved in welfare and squalor, and the public schools matriculate ignorant functionally illiterate idiots into society. The infrastructure will continue to crumble as their culture continues to deteriorate."
It should be noted that notorious murderer and serial abortionist Kermit Gosnell operated his "clinic" within The 30 Blocks.
"Notice the filth, trash and lack of people rushing to their jobs. The bars, fast food joints, and hookah joints are the only forms of commerce among the rat-infested crumbling boarded up hovels." Ghettos are ignored, patronized by politicians at election time and generally looked on with a mix of disdain and fear, much like ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Tucker Carlson: "The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid - I mean, all the stuff that our ruling class is."
Thursday April 26, 2018
I Guess We'll All Soon Be Truckin': Ford Motor Company is going all in on trucks and crossovers, as well as electrified vehicles as it quickly revamps its lineup. The company that put Americans in cars affirmed that "those vehicles are going the way of the Model T and it will focus ever more on trucks and SUVs." Ford said its car lineup soon will be trimmed to just the Mustang and a new Focus Active crossover that comes out next year. By 2020, nearly 90% of Ford's product lineup in North America will be trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.
"Ford's decision to pull back on car production reflects a shift in consumer sentiment that has had an impact across the automotive industry."
Who's Copying Whom? I remember when the Ford Granada came out in 1975, people said that FoMoCo was copying Mercedes-Benz.
Now that the Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury SUV concept has been unveiled, it reminds me of a 20 year-old Lincoln Navigator. Except the Mercedes-Maybach has a trunk, kinda like my 2018 Navigator-based Town Car concept.
Cure-All: Charles G. Hill quipped, "I swear, people think blockchain can cure anything from low market capitalization to the heartbreak of psoriasis." Charles pointed out that Elio Motors, wannabe maker of 84-mpg three-wheelers, is selling a sort of cryptocurrency to fund manufacturing development for its little car.
On a related note, I think I acquired some Bitcoin recently in my Easter basket. It was a gold-colored foil with a milk chocolate center. I traded eight them for a solid-chocolate bunny.
Statues Of Limitations: William Katz of Urgent Agenda is dismayed by the arbitrary removal of statues. "First it was Robert E. Lee, then all the people who fought for the Confederacy, whether they were pro-slavery or not. Then there was talk about Tommy Jefferson and George Washington."
In March, the San Jose (CA) city council got rid of a statue of Christopher Columbus from the lobby of City Hall. The month prior in San Francisco, a monument of a defeated Native American fallen at the feet of Spaniards was also decided to be removed.
Now it's William McKinley. A bunch of Native American activists in the hippie town of Arcata, California want the late president's eight-foot statue removed because they accuse him "of slaughtering Native Americans across the nation."
That's news to me. I've read a couple of biographies of President McKinley and never heard of him being a mass-murder.
Carleton University wants to remove a statue of Gandhi because he was "a misogynist, a racist towards black Africans and a supporter of the caste system in India." Holy cow!
Who's next? Franklin Roosevelt? He did put a bunch of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. Harry Truman? He dropped atom bombs on Japan (although he probably saved the lives of 100,000 American soldiers by doing so).
Before any more statues are removed before any more history is rewritten, everyone should take a deep breath and remember the words of George Orwell's '1984': "Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right."
Book Review: 'Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations' by Mark Steyn
This is a 326-page collection of 50 obituaries for celebrities or near-celebrities as well as Frank Sinatra's piano player and the man who invented Cool Whip. Post-mortem profiles included Bob Hope, the Queen Mum, Prince Rainier, Ray Charles, Rosemary Woods, JFK, Jr., Idi Amin and more. Each obit is interesting in itself. Many are irreverent and witty; all are chock full of ... (more >>>)
Wishing You A Soft And Salty Day: National Philly Soft Pretzel Day is celebrated on April 26th of each year.
Soft pretzels are a Philadelphia institution and pretzel carts were a familiar sight when I was growing up. In Philly, an estimated 300,000 soft pretzels are consumed daily ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week: 'Uranus Smells Like Farts'. It sounds like an elementary school taunt or an outtake from Beavis and Butthead but science has now proved that it's true.
"According to a new study by researchers at the University of Oxford and other institutions, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the upper layer of Uranus' atmosphere consists largely of hydrogen sulfide - the same compound that gives farts their putrid stench."
'The Godfather 2018': Amerigo Bonasera: "Be my friend ... Godfather?" Vito Corleone: "I don't do Facebook anymore. Too risky."
Quote Of The Day is from the late Will Rogers: "Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to somebody else."
Tuesday April 24, 2018
Texas Three-Step: Dave Burge posted photos of "the infinitely recursive supercharged Nash Metropolitan" from this year's Lone Star Roundup - the "best little hot rod show in Texas."
The white and yellow Metropolitan has ... (more >>>)
Imitation Summer: Yesterday was a fine day for driving. The skies were bright blue with wispy white here and there and, by 1:15 pm, the temperature was 70 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took it for a spin along the back roads of unincorporated Battle Ground.
Traffic was fairly light; I only saw one unusual car - a Saturn Sky two-seater with the top down. I had a good drive; by mid-afternoon, the temperature reached 75, although I never had the Plymouth over 55 or so.
Love For Sale ... if you love old cars, that is. Finding a new home at $242,000, a rare 1953 Cadillac Eldorado (white with red leather) was among the top 10 sellers at the RM Sotheby's Ft. Lauderdale auction. Only 532 Eldorados were produced in 1953, originally priced at $7,750. Close behind was a '53 Corvette roadster which fetched $217,250. Only 300 so 1953 Corvettes were produced - all in Polo White.
A slate-blue 1962 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster was sold for $1,540,000. "A late-production, European-specification Roadster featuring an alloy engine block and disc brakes, the never fully restored and maintained 300 SL was offered from four decades of single-enthusiast ownership with 36,600 original miles."
The auction generated in $19.1 million in total sales and a 76% sell-through rate.
Inspirational Homily: "Be thankful you live in America. Produce honest goods in abundance and work steadily and honestly." In 1915 or thereabouts, this tract was inserted in workers' pay envelopes at the Dodge Brothers auto factory. (source: Stan Grayson, Automobile Quarterly Vol.17, No.1, 1979)
In Decline: An updated survey from Gallup, which it has conducted every 10 years since 1955, shows that only 39% of Catholics and 45% of Protestants attend church weekly. Back in 1955, about 75% of Catholics went to Mass every week. For Protestants, about 42% went to church weekly.
Church attendance has remained pretty steady for Protestants - although they are fewer in number now than in 1955 - but church attendance for Catholics has declined dramatically and ... (more >>>)
Weirdly Compelling: Presenting the Surrealist Compliment Generator. For a new one, hit refresh.
Quote Of The Day is from Conan O'Brien on India: "A nation so richly diverse, you can walk into a single neighborhood and find cholera, dengue fever, malaria, typhoid, and plague."
Friday April 20, 2018
Good Day Sunshine: Yesterday dawned sunny and brilliantly clear with bright monochrome blue skies. Puffy Johnson & Johnson cotton-ball clouds littered the horizon.
At 11:00 am, the temperature was 50 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The economy is good and therefore many dump trucks and construction equipment were traveling the roads. But once I turned onto a narrow country road, all of that was left behind.
The Cascades to the east were still snow-capped and Mt. St. Helens was visible to the north. The mountain had a large pointy cloud behind it making it look like a low-budget imitation of tall and craggy Mt. Hood.
I had a good drive. The car ran perfectly; I hope to get some more drives in soon.
Goin' Asian: Ford Motor Company's premium Lincoln brand plans to build as many as five new vehicles in China by 2022 in a move to expand sales in the world's largest vehicle market.
All Lincoln vehicles that Ford now sells in China are brought in from North America. Lincoln was a latecomer to the Chinese market, launching there only in 2015, and initially through just a handful of dealers. But it has been rapidly expanding its retail network. Sales tripled in 2016 and have continued to grow at a fast pace. But Lincoln sold just 54,124 vehicles in China last year, less than a third of the 175,489 vehicles sold there by Cadillac. And it lagged even further behind key German luxury brands like market leader Audi.
"Ford has said it plans to build an all-new sport utility vehicle in China by the end of 2019. Sources familiar with Ford's production plans told Reuters the automaker now expects to begin building the new Lincoln Aviator in China in late 2019 or early 2020, along with replacements for the MKC compact crossover and the MKZ midsize sedan, followed in 2021 by the all-new Nautilus, which replaces the Lincoln MKX crossover."
I would point out that the idea of Lincolns in China is nothing new.
Adios, Detroit Show: Manufacturers abandoning next year's Detroit Auto Show now include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mazda, Porsche and Volvo.
The reasons are many, including the calender proximity of the LA Auto Show (November) as well as the Consumer Electronics Show (January), the ever-increasing expense of exhibiting in Cobo Hall, generally inhospitable weather and overall declining influence/relevance of the Detroit Show.
Caddy Swap: In the 1950s, it was trendy to swap out the engine in a less powerful car for a Caddy V8. Studellacs - 1953-55 Studebaker Starliner coupes with big Caddy mills - were just one example.
These days a Caddy swap means a change in top management. Johan de Nysschen, who moved Cadillac headquarters from Detroit to New York City, raised prices to uncompetitive levels and tried to turn Caddy into Audi, has left the building.
Cadillacs are a hard sell these days: The average new Caddy sat on a dealer's lot for 112 days during the first quarter of 2018, compared to 48 days for Mercedes-Benz, 60 for BMW and 74 for Lincoln.
Johan will be replaced by Steve Carlisle, who will be serving as the new senior vice president and president for Cadillac. Carlisle had been working for GM Canada. Maybe Steve will bring back actual model names like DeVille, Fleetwood, Seville and Eldorado. In this SUV era, maybe he could even get the lyrics of an old rock 'n' roll classic changed slightly:
"As I was motorvatin' over the hill
Book Review: 'The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies' by Ben Fritz
As we've all seen many times before, the knockout punches of technology, globalism and culture shifts have put many industries on the ropes. Or turned them upside-down. Twenty-first-century Hollywood is no exception.
Stars have seen their power diminished. Productions are more often than not lifted from old television series and action comic books. Films are positioned to provide a platform for toy sales and to be re-edited to suit foreign markets, especially China. Animation films are popular because they can easily be dubbed into many languages. In addition, subscription services such as Amazon and Netflix are now commissioning films of their own. (The book doesn't cover this but, as I write this review, Netflix is proposing a venture with Comcast to broaden its audience and better compete with Amazon in the longer term.) Market strategies seem to change by the minute.
The author also points out that ... (more >>>)
Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: Recently, my wife - noticing that there was extra room in our Bruiser trash can on trash night - decided to empty the shredder. It was more full than expected and little shreds of paper fell all around the shredder. We used a hand vac to clean up. The little cleaner was quickly overwhelmed and required periodic dumping, which scattered more paper shreds around.
When we were finally finished, my wife exclaimed, "That turned into quite a production!" I replied, "A production? It could be made into a musical!" Here are some possible titles ... (more >>>)
Donald Trump, Peacemaker? Don Surber noted that "news leaked that North Korea and South Korea will reach a peace agreement. I have been telling blog readers for a year now, President Trump will orchestrate the end of a war almost as old as he is. Looks like mission accomplished."
"North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries," daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported, citing an unnamed South Korean official. "Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation."
Surber continued, "President Trump led this. Of this, let there be no mistake. He displayed his cunning, his negotiating skill, and his sense of humor. I would like to see Trump greet Kim next month by saying, 'Hi, Rocket Man,' with Kim smiling and saying, 'Nice to meet you, Dotard.'"
Hey ... it could happen. Anything's possible - the Trump administration is full of surprises.
Headline Of The Week ... so far, is from The People's Cube: 'Experts: California's planned transition of all state jobs from citizens to illegal aliens by 2020 will help to avoid bankruptcy and save money for social programs for illegal aliens'.
Geezer Joke: Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.
Later, the doctor pulled Morris aside and said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?"
Morris replied, "Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.'"
The doctor replied, "I didn't say that. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful.'"
Don't Forget - Sunday is Earth Day: I am fondly reminded of Gilda Radner's Emily Latella (on SNL) - who might have said, "What's all this I hear about 'greenhouse gas'? Can't people just hold it in until they go back outside?"
Quote Of The Day: Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
Wednesday April 18, 2018
Autos Ordinaire: Lest you think that typical Philadelphia high-school students drove cool cars like those seen in 'American Graffiti', a 1958 photo of John Bartram High School, a public school in South West Philly, shows a collection of ... (more >>>)
Ponycar Woes: U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Camaro fell by 25% in March to 5,245 units, continuing a 23% decline for the year and posting third to Mustang and Challenger.
"By comparison, Ford Mustang sales decreased 5% to 8,632 units, keeping it in first place by sales volume, while Dodge Challenger sales increased 31% to 8,150 units."
Alex Luft of GM Authority opined, "We attribute the ongoing negative sales performance of the sixth-generation Camaro to high prices of the sixth-generation model, particularly when it comes to entry- and mid-level models. The scenario appears to have pushed price-conscious buyers to more affordable offerings from Ford and Dodge. The fact that Camaro incentives were not very attractive in March exacerbated the model's higher pricing structure."
Give Your Princess A Wrench Or Two: On parenting, Dave Burge recently wrote, "If your kid asks for a Disney Princess Dream Castle, give her Tonka trucks and tell her to build her own." Good idea. I gave my daughter a set of tools many years ago when she headed off to college.
Fave added, "The basic ethos of Disney boiled down: Monarchies are great, and disease-carrying rodents are lovable."
Option B: As a result of an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks where two black men were arrested because they refused to leave the store (after taking up table space and not buying anything), there was a big Black Lives Matter protest held at the 18th & Spruce St. store. The original incident was described by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross and is posted here.
Starbucks has announced that it will close 8,000 stores for an afternoon in May so that its employees can undergo "racial bias training."
I have a better idea: The city of Philadelphia should close for an afternoon in May and have its many black thugs undergo "civility and proper behavior training."
I would also add that my good friend and fellow car nut, Ray Lukas, experienced the No Bathroom Key For You treatment even though he's an aging white guy, proving that the whole 'racial bias' thing is baloney. Starbucks treats everyone poorly, regardless of race, color or creed, as they used to say.
Book Review: 'Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams' by Matthew Walker, PhD
This book is a New York Times bestseller probably because people are attracted by the title and by thumbing through the first chapter or so. In fact, the first few chapters were quite interesting, then ... (more >>>)
Theology: People waste too much time arguing about Limbo. I believe that Limbo is much like a doctor's waiting room in January - a lot of hacking coughs and old issues of Time magazine strewn about.
In fact, that's probably Time's major market these days - waiting rooms of one sort or another.
Bad Pun Of The Day: Corduroy pillows are making headlines.
Monday April 16, 2018
Prius Safety Problems? A Toyota dealer in California is refusing to sell certain models of the popular Prius over a potential safety issue. The automaker began voluntarily recalling hundreds of thousands of Prius hybrids in 2014 and 2015 because some cars would lose power while being driven.
"Toyota says it issued an effective remedy, but one Southern California dealership is suing, saying it didn't fix the problem. The automaker says the lawsuit is not about a safety problem and is instead about bad blood. The problem with the Priuses, which affects models years 2010 to 2014, is that the car's inverter could overheat. The company did a software fix, but years later, Roger Hogan says he's seeing a steady flow of the hybrids at his dealership with a problem he believes the recall should have fixed."
Hogan owns two Southern California Toyota dealerships. He says after seeing more than 100 of the sedans come in with failed inverters that had previously received the recall fix, he stopped selling many used Priuses - which were among his best sellers.
Withering Mini: Sales of the Mini brand have been in a downward spiral since 2013 and U.S. dealers are dismayed. "Any prospects for the nameplate to grow into a volume brand appears to have been thrown out the window by BMW Group, and it's now looking like it could shift into electrification." With three distinct models, the sedan, Clubman and Countryman, Mini sells 3-4,000 units total per month, making it hard to justify many stand-alone dealerships.
Retro cars are sooooo 2000. The PT Cruiser is long-dead as is the overpriced 'new' Thunderbird. The VW Beetle will soon be gone as well, according to industry rumors. Nobody's buying those puny, late-to-the-party retro Fiats, either.
Mini lost its cool and became tiresome late in the last decade. The marque keeps making its offerings larger and expanding its product line. The problem is that in a SUV-oriented market, an SUV-Mini is an oxymoron.
Minis have a long-standing reputation for poor reliability. The dealer network is sparse and the cars are perceived as expensive for what you get - fully-optioned examples are priced north of $40,000. Consumer Reports noted recently that, in addition to sub-par reliability, Mini models are noisy and rough-riding.
Around these parts, people who want a quirky-looking box buy a Kia Soul. I see 15-20 Souls for every Mini I manage to spot.
New Skins: Last week, I replaced the tires on my Lexus LS 460: Four Bridgestone Turanza EL42 All Season / Performance tires in size 235/50R18. They were expensive, costing twenty-times more than the tires I put on Underdog in the early 1970s, but they ride and handle so well that I didn't want take a chance on a cheaper brand.
Bubble Nation: Karl Denninger - who is definitely not a stock market optimist - recently warned, "There is an extremely-dangerous pattern setting up right now in the markets, which I remind you have been led higher by the gross over-extension of a handful of names. This isn't either an error or accident; it's how market indices are designed with market-cap weighted indices.
Here's the real problem: None of the so-called "growth" in those stocks has been real. Tesla, for example, has never turned a profit, even on paper. Amazon has never turned a material profit and only exists due to what looks like blatantly-illegal (under anti-trust law) cross-subsidization.
Netflix has negative free cash flow, which means that while on a GAAP basis they have made a "profit" they do so by assuming their "shows" have recurring residual value post-release, which anyone who has ever sold anything on a royalty basis knows is total and complete crap; nearly all of your money is made in the first cycle (for a book in the months after release, for a TV series the first showing of same, etc.)
And finally, Facebook and other "social media" companies only "make money" by radically invading your privacy including in places you cannot give consent such as every single web page anywhere that has one of their "like" or "sign-on" buttons. Without such data their so-called "enterprise" is worth zero as the cost of operating it exceeds the ad revenue they can gain from doing so.
So what we have is an outrageous bubble - exactly as we did in 1999."
None of these stocks are among 30 equities comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And they represent minor components of the S&P 500 Index. Their prices do strongly influence the NASDAQ averages, so beware if you're heavily invested in tech-heavy stocks or funds.
Memorable Eulogy: A young Alabama minister was asked by a funeral director to hold a grave-side service for a homeless man with no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a new paupers' cemetery way out in the country; this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.
Unfamiliar with the farm country area, the preacher soon became lost. After driving around for an hour, he saw the backhoe and the workers, who were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.
He apologized to the crew for his tardiness and stepped to the side of the open grave, where he saw the vault lid already in place. He assured the workers I would not hold them up for long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. The preacher earnestly poured out his heart and soul. As he preached, the workers began to say 'Amen', 'Praise the Lord' and 'Glory'!
He closed the service with a prayer and walked to his car. As he was opening the door, the minister overheard one of the workers remarking to another, "Lord In Heaven, I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for over twenty years."
Quote Of The Day is from Warren Buffett: "Forecasts usually tell us more of the forecaster than of the forecast."
Thursday April 12, 2018
Sedan Death Watch: We are living in an SUV-crazed world. That's why the tiny Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta subcompact and full-sized Ford Taurus are on the chopping block. And rumors of the compact Ford Fusion's demise abound. As well as the full-sized Chevy Impala.
First introduced as the top-of-the-line model for the 1958 model year, the Impala was Chevrolet's most expensive passenger model through 1965 and helped Chevrolet maintain its crown as the best-selling automobile in the United States from 1958 through '60 and '62 through '65, when the range-topping Caprice model appeared.
Ford debuted the Taurus ... (more >>>)
French Sweet Tooth: Students from the Lycée des métiers Sainte-Anne spent 4,000 hours creating a full-size Citroën 2CV in chocolate. The deux chevaux creation weighs over 2,600 pounds. (hat tip: Jesse Bowers)
Forty Years Of Fuel Prices: Here's a chart of retail gasoline prices since 1977.
I've owned my 1939 Plymouth since 1994. The anal-retentive engineer in me keeps a record of all fuel purchases in a spiral notebook. (I have one in each car.) Here's what I paid for Premium in September of each year.
Cliff Notes: In the final chapter of the movie serial 'Batman & Robin' (Chapter 15), damsel-in-distress Vicky Vale is tied up and placed behind the wheel of a '39 Plymouth convertible. The bad guys push the car forward toward a steep cliff. But Batman arrives in the nick of time and ... (more >>>)
Burn Baby Burn: New Maine News (a parody site) reported recently that Maine's Supreme Court ruled that rubber marks are constitutionally-protected free speech.
"In a rare unanimous decision, the Maine Supreme Court ruled peeling-out is a form of free expression. In her remarks, Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley said the court finds laying rubber a way to give "a voice to the voiceless." "What good is a huge truck? What good are fat tires, a screaming exhaust set up, and a killer big block if all that power can't be used to make a statement?"
Justice Andrew M. Mead's statement on the decision echoed much of the same sentiment. "For many in Maine, taching her up and dumping her is the only way they can be heard, sometimes from miles away." The killer posi-traction rubbermarks are often done late at night, by people who otherwise have no place to speak their minds. "When you see a wicked rubbermark, and you know someone put her right sideways, that can speak volumes." For many, there's no other way to let everyone in town know you either just got a new set of tires, or you’re just about to retire an old set.
Awesome Potato Chips From The Emerald Isle: Keogh's Crisps, are "hand cooked on our Family Farm" in County Dublin in Ireland. "The Keogh Family believes that good things come from Mother Nature and that is why we've been farming the fertile lands of North County Dublin for over 200 years." Post-famine, thankfully. I don't think blighted potato chips would be any good.
The potato chip was invented around 1817 - listed in an English cookbook. One of the bags I had was cooked by ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Day is from The Peoples Cube: 'NASA unveils 'ass-crack' space suit for plumbing repairs at int'l space station'.
Book Review: 'The Life Steve McQueen' by Dwight Jon Zimmerman
Done in a lotsa-pictures, coffee-table-book style (but too-small in size) and containing biographical information (but lacking the drilled-down details found in most biographies), this book is more of a celebration of Steve McQueen - the person, the movie star, the racer and, ultimately, the legend - the King of Cool.
Each chapter is a stand-alone vignette about a particular aspect of ... (more >>>)
Thought For Today: Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
Tuesday April 10, 2018
Rare Sighting: In Chapter 13 (titled: The Wizard’s Challenge) of the 15-chapter movie serial, 'Batman & Robin', a 1941 Lincoln Custom makes an appearance, driven by the bad guys. The Custom was a special model ... (more >>>)
Face Like A ... Columnist George F. Will once described a 1957 Chevy's grille as "Teddy Roosevelt's grin in chrome." I dunno. I'm thinking 1953 DeSoto. Or 1950 Buick:
Lame Excuse: The Truth About Cars solicits car reviews from its readers. Recently, Managing Editor Tim Healey admitted that TTAC often fails to acknolowedge these submissions and doesn't offer would-be authors a yes/no answer. The reason given: the editor gets a lot of e-mail spam in his in-box. Welcome to the real world, Tim.
He advises those who submit articles to "be patient." TTAC openly invites submissions and then refuses to treat writers with respect. No wonder most of the good people no longer write for TTAC. You'll find some of them over at Riverside Green these days.
Oh, how I wish for the return of Robert Farago and crew. Sadly, The Truth About Cars has largely become a rewriter of press releases with a distinctly Canadian viewpoint.
Get Out While You Can: No, I'm not talking about the stock market. I'm referring to the weather around these parts. It rained most of last week, including a wind storm on Saturday afternoon. Monday was dry but the sky was full of gray hazy clouds with sun peeking through from time to time. It was marginally sunglasses weather. Rain is forecast Tuesday through Friday.
At 11:30 am, the temperature was 56 degrees, so I slipped on my hoodie, hopped in my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a twenty-minute drive. Traffic was moderate to light and, despite the clouds, got good views of snow-capped cascades and the white half-pimple-ball known as Mt. St. Helens.
It was good to get out and drive my old car.
Book Review: 'China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle' by Dinny McMahon
Author McMahon, who spent a decade in China as a journalist covering the Chinese economy and financial system for the Wall Street Journal and for Dow Jones Newswires, provides an inside look at the unsteady foundations of China's 'miracle' economy, which ... (more >>>)
Geezer Joke: Two elderly women were out driving in a large car, both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just sailed through it.
The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself, "I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went through a red light." After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red. Again, they drove right through. The woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red.
She was getting nervous. At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they blew through it. She turned to the other woman and said, "Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us both!"
Mildred turned to her and said, "Oh my! Am I driving?"
Quote Of The Day is from Homer Simpson: "I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day. Now I'm lucky if I can find a half an hour a week in which to get funky."
Friday April 6, 2018
March Vehicle Sales: Whether it was due to March Madness, Spring Fever or the effect of the tax cut, light vehicle sales were at a surprisingly strong 17.48 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) last month - up 5% year-over-year from March 2017, and up 3% from last month. Sales were driven primarily by increases in SUV sales.
Thomas King, senior vice president of data and analytics for J.D. Power & Associates pointed out, "Fleet sales, including sales to rental customers and commercial customers who purchase more than a single vehicle, have been growing steadily since 2014 and in the first two months accounted for more than 24% of total industry sales." Part of the reason is that more individual customers have drifted into the used-car markets, looking for deals among the growing number of lightly-used vehicles coming off lease, but it also a sign that what is traditionally cyclical industry has reached another point of the industry's sales cycle that indicates sales are likely to slow. But not yet.
The Ford F-Series truck was the best selling vehicle in March, followed by the Chevy Silverado, Nissan Rogue and Ram 1500.
General Motors Co. posted U.S. March sales of 296,341 vehicles, an increase of 16% compared with March 2017. Retail deliveries rose 14% in the month to 231,156 units and fleet deliveries rose to 22% for the month. Cadillac brand retail sales jumped by 13% in March. Cadillac sales totaled 14,494 units in the month, driven by sales of the Escalade sport utility vehicle, ATS, and XT5. Total Chevrolet deliveries in March rose by 16% year over year to 199,367 units. The Chevy Equinox SUV posted a sales increase of 41% in March, while the Impala full-size sedan saw a sales drop of 15%. The Equinox is the Chevy brand's second-best selling vehicle, behind Silverado. Buick experienced a year-over-year sales increase of 28% in March. The Buick Encore posted a year-over-year sales gain of 82%, and Envision sales rose 22%. GMC sales were up 11% to 55,646 vehicles.
At Ford Motor Co., sales rose 3% year-over-year to 244,306 vehicles. Passenger car sales fell 8% in the month, while sport utility vehicle sales rose 8%. Truck sales rose 7% for the month, and sales of F-Series pickups increased by 7% to 87,011 units and posted an average transaction price of $46,800. Sales of the Lincoln brand slipped by 2% year over year in March as sales of Lincoln cars plummeted 24% to 2,635 sedans while SUV sales rose 10% to 6,717 units - total: 9,352 vehicles.
Fiat-Chrysler reported that March sales increased by 14% to 216,063 vehicles. The Jeep brand posted a sales increase of 45% year over year as sales of the new Wrangler jumped 70% to nearly 28,000 units and Compass sales soared 553% to 17,302 units. The Jeep Patriot showed a year-over-year sales decline of 98% and the Renegade posted a sales gain of 21%. Grand Cherokee sales fell 4% and Cherokee rose 63%. Ram pickup sales declined 11% in March to 41,307 units. Year-over-year Chrysler sales rose 15%, as sales of the new Pacifica minivan posted March sales of 13,086 units, up 40%. Sales of the Chrysler 300 jumped 25% to 6,223 units. Dodge brand sales fell 2% in March. Dodge Caravan sales rose 4% to 16,292 units in the month but Journey compact SUV experienced a sales drop of 13% to 10,275 units in March. Fiat sold just 1,544 units in March, a 47% year-over-year decline. 2,576 Alfa Romeo models found buyers in March.
Toyota North America reported an increase of 5% from March 2017 to 196,750 units, even though sales of Lexus brand vehicles dropped 3%. Honda sales were up 3% to 128,885 vehicles. Volvo sales jumped 54% to 8,233 units. Mazda zoomed up 36% to 33,302 units. Subaru sales increased 6% to 58,097. Honda sales rose 3% to 128,885 vehicles.
Volkswagen reported sales an increase of 18% to 32,548 vehicles. Nissan Group said its sales decline 4% (145,103 vehicles sold) compared to the previous year as it continued to trim fleet sales. Hyundai sales dropped 11% to 60,154 vehicles, Kia increased 2% to 50,645 units and Genesis fell 21% to 1,386 luxocars.
Acura sales increased 16% to 13,573 vehicles. Audi was up 7% to 20,080 units. Mercedes-Benz sales dropped 2% to 28,407 Benzes. Lexus dropped 3% to 27,032 Lexi. BMW sales were up 1% to 31,311 vehicles. Infiniti sales declined 5% to 17,432 units. Land Rover soared 38% to 10,972 vehicles, while Jaguar fell 34% to 3,260 Kitties. Tesla sold 6,000 vehicles in March, an increase of 36%. Porsche sales rose 6% to 4,756 vehicles. Bentley sales fell 34% to 165 units. Maserati sales dropped 33% to 884 vehicles.
Small thinking didn't pay off last month: Mini sales were down 9% to 4,531 vehicles, while sales of Smart fell 72% with only 119 little cars finding homes.
Tesla Death Watch? An article posted at The Burning Platform noted that "under Musk's leadership, Tesla's chronic financial incompetence has racked up more than $4.97 billion in operating losses for its shareholders."
John Thompson, Chicago-based value investor and Chief Investment Officer of Vilas Capital Management recently wrote ... (more >>>)
War - What Is It Good For? Blogger Cdr. Salamander, a military guy, wrote that "we cannot afford the military we think we need - even if we could, we shouldn't." He continued, "We need to finish up the wars we have. Give our friends enough notice to get their defenses in place, as we need to come home.
Let me a repeat again what I have put out for over a decade; remove all land-based maneuver forces from overseas. Maintain a few combined bases with allies for training, logistics, and the occasional surge exercise. No forward deployed TACAIR (tactical air support). Exceptionally limited forward deployed naval forces, if any.
We are a maritime, air, and space power. That is our competitive advantage. We were not ... (more >>>)
Political Quip Of The Week is from Mike Huckabee: "Having Hillary Clinton come in and campaign for you, if you are a Democrat candidate, is like having Jeffrey Dahmer do the ribbon cutting at a restaurant opening."
Not What You'd Expect: Doesn't it seem odd that a singer named Jackson Browne is a white dude?
Quote Of The Day is from Robert A. Heinlein: "You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once."
Wednesday April 4, 2018
"... A Brand New Start Of It, In Old New York": Peter De Lorenzo once wrote that the New York International Auto Show is as important as the one in Detroit because:
Despite all the other famous auto shows held throughout the world, many legendary vehicles got their start debuting at the New York Auto Show.
Fifty-two years ago, I first attended the show, held at the New York Coliseum, and posted some cool period photos and program advertisements here.
This year, the following vehicles caught my eye:
I wish I had been there to see all the vehicular eye-candy in person. David Conwill posted an interesting article at Hemmings.com titled, 'An Old-Car Guy's View of the New York International Auto Show'.
No Numbers For You! General Motors has decided that it will no longer report monthly sales figures in the U.S., China and Brazil, three of its largest markets. The March 2018 figures will be the last monthly report.
According to Bloomberg, GM "will end a 25-year-long practice of disclosing monthly vehicle-sales results and shift to quarterly reporting, complicating investors' efforts to gauge the health of the U.S. auto market."
"The switch comes as analysts widely expect industrywide deliveries to slump for the second year in a row after an unprecedented seven-year growth spurt."
I wonder what General Motors is planning to hide?
Attention Must Be Paid: Villanova won the NCAA championship this year, defeating Michigan 79-62. The Wildcats won its second national basketball title in three years. Impressive.
Book Review: 'The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace' by David B. Woolner
Seventy-three years after his death, historians are still debating the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Regardless of how you feel about his legacy, there is no doubt that, in his 12 years as president, FDR changed America forever.
This book is about the 100 days preceding Roosevelt's death. Significant events happened during ... (more >>>)
Always Remember ... the 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong. (Just because it doesn't add up doesn't mean it's not true.)
The Geezer State: Pennsylvania has the second oldest population of all U.S. states. Florida is first. I was surprised; I don't think of Pennsylvania as a retirement destination. Geezer meccas like the Carolinas, Arizona, Oregon, southern California and New Mexico come first to my mind.
I wonder if part of the reason Pennsylvania ranks so high is that people just don't move away - they tend to live their entire lives in the area. There's the old stereotyped tale of the South Philly Italian baby who grows up, gets married and moves down the street into an identical brick row house.
A report from my old high school, St. Joseph's Prep - a Philadelphia private Catholic institution founded in the 1850s, noted that 52% of its alumni still live in the Philadelphia area. 82% live in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Only 0.55% live in what the school calls "The Northwest" (WA, OR, ID, MT, WY). In fact, more alumni live abroad than in that five-state designated wilderness where I reside.
When I was in high school, most of the school's students lived in Philly and used public transit to commute. Today, only 18% live within the city limits. 58% commute from the Philadelphia suburbs and a surprising 24% travel from New Jersey. The school now provides bus service to outlying areas.
Leaving Portland: In 1900, before coffee was Yuppiefied with various flavoring bells-and-whistles, there was Boyd's coffee of Portland, Oregon. Many Oregon restaurants stated on their menus, "We proudly serve Boyd's coffee."
Boyd's grew because it offered very good coffee. Now the new owner, Farmer Brothers, is shuttering Boyd's Portland roasting and shipping operations, laying off 135 people and ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Winston Churchill: "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
Monday April 2, 2018
Not A Leftover April Fools Joke: General Motors will begin production of an autonomous Chevy Cruise AV sans steering wheel in 2019.
"GM will invest more then $100 million to build the Bolt-based, self-driving EV at the Orion Township assembly plant in Michigan, alongside the standard Bolt and the Sonic. The roof modules containing LIDAR arrays, cameras, radar, and other sensors for the Cruise AV will be manufactured at the Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant. GM says this is the first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls."
"The Cruise AV can open its own doors, and passengers will interact with it via a phone app and three interior touchscreens. The hatchback will first run in geofenced areas, with five LIDAR units, 21 radar sensors, and 16 video cameras feeding the data to navigate its territory."
One has to wonder if last month's fatality in Arizona will throw cold water on GM's plans.
Confusingly, there's another Chevy Cruze - with a different spelling. GM has been offering it in the U.S. since 2008. Speaking of which ...
Wicked Awful: Watch a Massachusetts wise-ass participate in focus group ad for Chevrolet Cruze. If only real commercials were this truthful.
Rituals: Easter weekend has long had secular, car-related rituals for me. In the old days, when we lived in New Jersey, I would turn on the outside faucets at our house, drag out the rubber garden hoses and hook them up. Then I'd jack up our cars and swap the studded snow tires for regular ones. Finally, I'd wash both cars which - typically - hadn't been cleaned since Thanksgiving. In these 1971 photos (below: center & right), you'll see our two freshly-washed Volkswagen Beetles as well as my three year-old son in his newly-cleaned VW pedal car.
I continued the auto laundering tradition this year - since there was no rain - by taking the Lexus and Avalon to a nearby car wash and running them through. Then I cleaned the metal door edges and wheel arches, dressed the tires and wiped down much of their engine compartments.
In more recent times, I've tried to get in an old car ride over Easter weekend. On Saturday afternoon, the sun finally came out. At noon, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive on my favorite back roads loop.
The temperature was an even 50 degrees and the weather varied from hazy clouds to blue skies and sunshine. I had good views of the snow-capped Cascades to the east and all-white Mt. St. Helens to the north.
It was a most enjoyable drive. The rain returned Sunday morning. (permalink)
Anyone Watch MotorWeek Over The Weekend? The PBS television show visited the Simeone Museum, located in Southwest Philadelphia - not far from the airport. My wife and I visited the museum in 2011 and found it most impressive.
My father-in-law - a precision machinist - fabricated some of the impossible-to-find parts for a few of the collection's cars. Dr. Frederick Simeone is a neurosurgeon and serious car guy. His father was physician and car enthusiast as well - some of the cars originally belonged to Dr. Simeone Sr.
During our visit to the museum, we got to meet Dr. Simeone, Jr. He remembered my father-in-law and his machining/fabrication efforts. We even got a tour of the on-site restoration shop. I have posted two pages of photos starting here.
Bit Part: In Chapter 9 of the 15-chapter movie serial, 'Batman & Robin', a 1939 Plymouth convertible makes a brief appearance ... (more >>>)
Hell, Yes! Pope Francis has declared, "There is no Hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls … those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear." But, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of Hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell, where they suffer the punishments of Hell, 'eternal fire'. The chief punishment of Hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs."
In 1971, John Lennon - who some idiots think is God - sang, "Imagine there's no Heaven … It's easy if you try … No Hell below us … Above us only sky." Maybe there is a Hell, John: think of a small room full of two-dozen caterwauling Yokos. Sounds like Hell to me.
As for me, I know there's a Hell, because ... (more >>>)
My Newest Word: Procrastitard (noun) - Someone who employs turn signals when the maneuver indicated is already 90% complete.
My Doctor Said that, at my age ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "When you can't remember the name of your meat cutter, that's Butcher's Block."
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