A Blog About Cars ... And More
Tuesday July 31, 2018
AutoSketch: Panic In The Streets - The Birth Of The 1960 Ford
Early postwar Detroit was a clubby, old-boy network town. Secrets were spilled over drinks at posh bars. Consultant George Walker was hired to help with the '49 Ford design. (He later became Ford's Vice-President of Design.) When stylist Joe Oros came up with the 1949's spinner grille, Walker realized that Pontiac was designing an almost identical one for its '49 model. Walker leaked the information to General Motors and the Pontiac grille was redesigned.
In the auto biz, there are a thousand stories like that one.
When General Motors found out about Virgil Exner's new 'Suddenly It's 1960' '57 Chrysler Corp. line-up, the styling department almost soiled its corporate trousers. Suddenly, The General realized that Harley Earl's age of high 'power dome' hoods and chrome applied by the bucketful with a trowel was over. It was too late to do anything about the '58 models (the '58 Buicks and Oldsmobiles are case studies in high hoods and excess brightwork), but a crash program was initiated to make GM's 1959 models as wild as Chrysler's. The result was the soaring-finned '59 Caddy and the bat-winged '59 Chevy.
Earl was retired in 1958.
In those days, Ford Motor Company never paid much attention to Chrysler but studied General Motors' every move with a mixture of awe, envy and paranoia. When Ford found out from its usual spy sources about the 1959 Chevrolet, it had two of its stylists, Bill Boyer and Ken Nelson, make a clay model of the new, radical Chevy based on available information. When management saw it, panic ensued ... (more >>>)
Saturday Run: While the day dawned with lots of overcast, by 9:15 am the sun broke through and blue skies were everywhere. It was a perfect day for a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe.
Skies were a bit hazy. We haven't had rain for a while and, when that happens we often get stagnant air. The large number of wildfires in the West aren't helping either. The closest is the Long Hollow fire, a 17,000 acre, human-caused east of Portland.
Traffic was light but I did see an early '50s tan GMC or Chevy pickup truck with chrome wheels; it turned before I got close enough to see which brand it was.
I had a nice drive - the temperature was only 65 degrees. Highs that afternoon reached 90. The Plymouth didn't go over 60, however.
On Monday, I drove the ol' Plymouth to the library, returning some books. At 9:00 am, the temperature was already in the low 60s and the skies were sunny but very hazy. By late afternoon, the temperature peaked at 92.
A Corral Full Of Ponies: The 2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car will churn out more than 10,000 horsepower.
One Door Closes; Another One Opens: Dennis Gage's 'My Classic Car' has finished its season on Velocity. 'Jay Leno's Garage' just began its new season on CNBC.
Make Him Take The Bus: Bankrupt Puerto Rico buys its governor a $245,000 bulletproof Chevrolet Suburban.
"A receipt … showed a base price of $86,950 for the Chevrolet Suburban "Premier," with black interior and exterior and "client preferred wheels." The armoring package and additional equipment added $126,650, and the "CEO Lite Luxury Interior Conversion" another $58,950. But the final price was offset by a $27,550 "special discount," according to the receipt."
Obama Did It: James Clapper, President Obama's former Director of National Intelligence, stated that Obama was behind spying on President Trump and all the corrupt and criminal actions involving the government, including the Mueller investigation. Appearing on CNN, Clapper seemed to say it was Obama who set the entire Russia witch-hunt into motion by tasking the intelligence community assessment.
Virtue-Signaling Liberal Dilemma Of The Day: An illegal Immigrant has been found using a banned plastic straw in a sanctuary city.
Vote For Earl: Clark County voters have received voter's pamphlets for the August 7th primary election. Do-nothing U.S. Representative Jamie Herrera Buetler (aka: Ridgefield Barbie) of Southwest Washington's 3rd Congressional District is running for reelection. Calling her a RINO is too generous; she votes practically like a Democrat and refused to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Now there is a worthy alternative to her: Republican challenger Earl Bowerman.
Earl pointed out that he would have never voted for Congress' bloated national omnibus budget: "That included funding for things like Planned Parenthood. I would not have voted for that." He also thinks members of the U.S. House and Senate should be limited to three terms. "I think that after a congressman serves three terms or more that they cease being a citizen representative and they start being a special interest representative," Earl said.
In terms of a strong border, Bowerman said he's pleased the president is ordering the National Guard to protect the Mexico-U.S. line. Additional military presence at the border goes hand-in-hand with his take on immigration. "I believe that whenever a question comes up we should follow the law. … That's one of the things I support about the president."
And We're Worried About Single-Digit Inflation: The inflation rate in Venezuela is 1,000,000% annually.
The International Monetary Fund's Alejandro Werner, director of the IMF's Western Hemisphere department, included the astounding projection in an IMF blog post "to signal that the situation in Venezuela is similar to that in Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000s." It's more proof that the only thing socialists never run out of is zeros.
America might face such a problem someday if enough so-called Democratic Socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (aka: Bronx Evita) - the New York City Democratic Congressional Candidate and self-described Democratic Socialist gets voted in with her Free Stuff For Everybody platform, we might have reason for concern.
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane."
Friday July 27, 2018
Jeepers, Creepers: According to Jack Baruth, the $35,530 2018 Wrangler Sport S, which he described as "a coal-black misery pit seemingly designed to suck the will to live right out of your soul," is equipped with "cloth seats that look like they were going to be used in the 2002 Neon before Amnesty International got involved to stop it."
And furthermore, "The stereo is utter garbage, crippled even further by AUX circuity that appears to route the signal through an Ibanez 'Tube Screamer' mounted somewhere behind the fascia, but the wind noise is severe enough to render it a non-issue even with the hardtop."
You really have to love the Jeep brand to buy this machine.
I Thought Vietnamese Only Owned Nail Salons: The first 'volume' Vietnamese automaker will reveal two new models designed by Pininfarina during the Paris Motor Show this coming October, setting into motion what it hopes will be a global rollout over the next few years. VinFast, which will be setting up a new "state-of-the-art manufacturing facility" in the northern part of Vietnam plans to launch the two vehicles an SUV and a sport sedan in September 2019, though it will initially focus solely on "affluent" buyers in its home country before targeting opportunities elsewhere in Asia and in Western markets.
"Our show stand will … prominently feature the best of Vietnam, demonstrating the passion and tenacity that we will bring to the global automotive stage," said James DeLuca, CEO of VinFast Trading and Production LLC. "We have the resources, scalability and commitment to become a significant new player in the global automotive industry."
Sometimes I'm Embarrassed By My Own Prescience: Look for any news article regarding homeless people and you'll find a reference to public defecation on the streets or sidewalks. Bums now feel 'empowered' to take a crap anywhere they damn well please.
Back in 2007 I wrote, "A 2006 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless (if you're homeless, how can you afford the #$%@! membership dues?) found 142 attacks last year against homeless people, up from 86 the year before. 142 people!!!! More than 142 people fall off toilets every day. Maybe we should outlaw toilets, too. Then we could all crap on the sidewalk. Liberals could call it an Act of Symbolic Solidarity (ASS)."
Gosh, I hope I don't get blamed for the poop-in-the-street trend.
Most Boring Disney Attraction … according to Dave Burge is Pirates of the Copyright.
Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Cane: Edd Byrnes, the actor who played Gerald Lloyd 'Kookie' Kookson III on '77 Sunset Strip', will turn 85 on July 30th. I posted a photo of Kookie's hot rod here.
Quote Of The Day is from Hilaire Belloc: "The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine - but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight."
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Flattened Thinking: The Truth About Cars wants to know "What's the worst-looking car from the year you were born?" I consider that an offensive
They weren't making cars the year I was born. There was a war on. So, I guess I'll have to choose a 1943 M-4 Sherman Tank with standard rotating turret and 75 mm gun.
I'm fond of it because it can flatten things and has a large gun.
Somewhere Between A Devin Fiberglass Roadster and A Vintage Ferrari: U.S.-based Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus is planning a retro-style two-seat sports car called the 006 that will produce 650 horsepower and cost around $250,000.
SCG claims that carbon fiber-bodied 006 will feature a 650-hp supercharged LT4 V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 mated to a six-speed manual transaxle, with a paddle-shifted automatic as an option. SCG says the sports car will be road legal in 49 states "and hopefully may become California legal at some point." It comes equipped with side exhaust but will be available with regular rear exhaust as an option.
Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer: Stealing a line from the 1963 Nat King Cole hit song, it was certainly hazy and hot on Monday. When I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe at 10:00 am, the temperature was already in the 70s and the cloudless sky was a hazy blue. By afternoon, the temperature was over 90 in the shade - if you could find some - and felt even hotter than it was.
I drove to the library, picked up some books (those book reviews have to come from somewhere) and took a little tour of North Clark County's lightly-traveled roads. I had the windows down and played '50s rock-n-roll through the old coupe's twin speakers during my travels. Good drive.
Malcolm Bricklin, Call Your Office: Peter De Lorenzo predicts that Elon Musk "has had a good run, but when the major automotive brands start launching serious, all-electric vehicles into the market, Tesla's fifteen minutes will be up. And rather than lose face as if he hasn't already with his latest self-inflicted embarrassments Musk will sell Tesla and get out of the automobile business altogether, declaring the whole thing too tedious and boring for his brilliance."
That's if Tesla doesn't go belly-up first. Tesla has "demanded that suppliers give it refunds on parts purchases, some of those dating well into the past," in order to help the carmaker claw its way toward profitability. My experience tells me that this is a very bad sign. Companies usually pull such shenanigans right before they declare bankruptcy. Or, get forced into it by creditors.
Down At The Shore - 2018 Edition: My brother recently returned from a Wildwood Crest, NJ vacation. Knowing that my wife and I enjoy all things Jersey shore-related, he sent us numerous editions of those pulp giveaway shoppers' guides to the New Jersey shore.
I reported on ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Death By China' by Peter Navarro and Greg Autry
This is a chronicle of China's threat to the U.S. in the areas of economics, currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, protectionism and military posturing. One of the authors, Peter Navarro, currently serves as the Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Industrial Policy for President Trump.
The book has ... (more >>>)
"Seattle - We're Better Than You .. And We Know It." Excellent one-minute tourism parody video of America's smuggest city is posted here.
Too bad - 40 years ago, the Seattle area was a fun place to visit.
So Dismal, It Deserved To Die: The GAMCO Mathers Fund will be liquidated on or about August 31, 2018. David Snowball of Mutual Fund Observer wrote, "Wow. It's got that sort of "the last mastodon is dying" feel to it." The Mathers Fund, a mutual fund, launched in 1965 (no one named Mathers ever managed it) the fund's goal was to make money in the long run "without excessive risk of capital loss."
I owned shares of Mathers in the early 1990s based on the recommendation of Growth Fund Guide, an investment newsletter which ceased publication in 2009. Mathers did OK for a while, until the managers decided to be market timers, went bearish and moved into an almost all-cash mode. I couldn't see paying high management fees for what was nothing more than a money-market fund so I bailed in June 1992. Good riddance.
Over 52 years, Mathers Funds average annual total return was a lousy 5.84% versus 10.01% for its benchmark S&P 500 Index. No one will miss this turkey.
Why American Teens Can't Get Summer Jobs: Paul Bedard wrote, "Legal and illegal immigrants are "crowding out" American teens looking for summer jobs, and the impact of higher teen unemployment could be a drag on them for years, according to a new analysis of the seasonal workforce."
The article provides a graph showing that teen summer employment has declined from 53% to 35% over the last 23 years Many employers are seizing on older immigrants, often over 20 and with some working experience, instead of U.S. teens to fill summer jobs. And another driving factor may be that immigrants are willing to work for a lower wage.
Quote Of The Day is from Nicolás Gómez Dávila (aka - Don Colacho): "In modern society, capitalism is the only barrier to the spontaneous totalitarianism of the industrial system."
Monday July 23, 2018
Buttermilk Sky: When I looked out the window Friday morning, I was reminded of the ol' Hoagy Carmichael standard. The sky was indeed cloudy, almost the color of buttermilk. We've been having a lot of clouds and cool weather lately, although the weather is supposed to become more July-like very soon.
By 11:00 am, the sun was fully in charge, although there were lotsa clouds. The sky looked like a class project at some Celestial Kindergarten using several enormous cotton balls glued to a monstrous sheet of pale blue construction paper with humongous dollops of Elmer's glue. Or God's glue.
The temperature was only 60 degrees - light sweater weather - and the traffic was heavier than usual but I managed to enjoy a nice drive in my '39 Plymouth business coupe.
Different Gestures: Well-known California car collector Bruce Meyer has an eclectic group of machines, ranging from historic hot rods to vintage Ferraris. He said, "When I drive one of the hot rods, I get a lot of thumbs-ups; when I drive one of the Ferraris, I get a lot of other fingers."
Geef Back Das Money: Hundreds of German Tesla Model S drivers have been ordered to pay back a $4,650 electric-vehicle subsidy after a government agency deemed their luxury cars too expensive to qualify for the program.
Some 800 drivers who bought their cars before March 6 and have received the so-called "environmental bonus" will have to return it, Germany's Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control has said.
Furthermore, J.P. Morgan predicts Tesla shares will plunge more than 40% before the end of 2018.
Analysts highlighted ... (more >>>)
Jolly Knockoff: The Fiat 500 Spiaggina Concept Car is supposed to be reminiscent of the Fiat Jolly of the 1950s and '60s.
It's cute with its whitewall tires, two-tone white-over-blue color scheme and cork floors, but the planned production version won't save Fiat. And it lacks the door-free convenience, wicker seats and awning of the original Jolly.
Quick Change: Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's health suddenly deteriorated after shoulder surgery in Zurich, Switzerland. FCA's board of directors called an emergency meeting on Saturday and replaced him with Jeep and Ram brand executive Mike Manley. Larger-than-life Marchionne is 66 years-old and had planned to retire in 2019.
Update: Sergio Marchionne died on July 25th from a stroke during surgery for an invasive shoulder sarcoma.
Transit Privilege: Once upon a time, public transit was for the common man. Rosa Parks rode the bus because she couldn't afford a car. How times have changed.
Randal O'Toole reported that, these days, "the fastest growth in transit commuting by far has been among people who earn more than $75,000 a year." Since 2010, "transit riders in the over $75,000 class grew by more than 50%, or 616,000 people." In 2010, the over-$75,000 class made up just 18% of transit commuters; now it is 24%.
Moreover, since 2010, the number of transit commuters in the under $15,000 classes actually declined by nearly 5%.
Happy Birthday ... to my wife.
Starting tomorrow, she'll be the same age as me for 12 days or so.
Political Correctness Is Killing Comedy: In a recent announcement of new comedy programming on the BBC, the head of programming, Shane Allen, went out of his way to take a sideswipe at the Monty Python troupe. Allen said: "If you're going to assemble a team now, it's not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes. It's going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world."
Python member and cartoonist Terry Gilliam said, "It made me cry: the idea that … no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show. Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody represented … this is bullshit. I no longer want to be a white male, I don't want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I'm a black lesbian. My name is Loretta and I'm a BLT, a black lesbian in transition."
Don't even think about remaking 'Blazing Saddles'.
How To Wreck Your Reputation In One Dumb Move: The corporate owner of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, the site of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, has preemptively sued more than 1,000 victims of the atrocity in order to avoid financial liability.
"In a suit filed in federal courts in Nevada and California, MGM Resorts International argues that it cannot be held responsible for the 58 deaths and hundreds of injuries that occurred on its property outside the hotel on October 1."
This reminds me of when the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon listed all 390,000 parishioners as class-action defendants in its bankruptcy filing.
Best News Headline Ever: 'New evidence indicates you were right all along'.
Tariffs For Dummies: Actually, it's Tariffs Benefiting Dummies, as explained by Karl Denninger. Whatever you want to call it, it's good for America. And Americans.
Quote Of The Day is from Lawrence Ferlinghetti: "If you're too open-minded; your brains will fall out."
Thursday July 19, 2018
Free Ride: Tim Morgan, President and CEO of AAA Oregon, recently wrote about Oregon's Privilege Tax - a half-percent tax on all new vehicles - to be used to provide rebates to purchasers of electric vehicles. Mr. Morgan believes that this tax violates Oregon's constitution. It states that all taxes and fees paid by motorists must be used to pay for Oregon's roads, highways and bridges. I agree.
Furthermore, electric vehicles pay nothing in road taxes - an unfair use of the state's road infrastructure. This needs to be addressed and corrected now. Soon, there will be large electric tractor-trailers on highways. Heavy trucks cause 80 times the road damage of a single passenger car.
Use taxes are fair taxes - not just in Oregon but everywhere.
I Remember When Corsair Was An Edsel Model: The upcoming Lincoln MKC replacement, will be called the Lincoln Corsair. The compact luxury SUV, based on the Ford Escape, will debut in 2020. According to sources, the style of the Lincoln Corsair borrows many elements from the Aviator Concept.
Book Review: 'The Bootlegger '40 Ford' by Charles S. Clark
This car-centric novel reminds me of a cross between the 1953 book 'Street Rod' and the 1964 movie 'The Yellow Rolls Royce' with a little bit of Robert Mitchum's 1958 'Thunder Road' thrown for good measure.
'Street Rod' is the classic Henry Gregor Felsen novel about a teen and his mildly hopped-up '39 Ford coupe. But Clark's '40 Ford novel is a nitro-burning, supercharged version with far more adventurous and outrageous tales with none of Felsen's drive-safely preachiness.
There is one similarity between the two books. When car guys think of a ... (more >>>)
How The World Works In 2018: An article in American Greatness noted that, at a recent conference, Ronald Brownstein of the Hoover Institute stated "that Trump's coalition rested in great part on states and industries that are high carbon emitters. And it is surely true that, say, Apple's design and marketing headquarters in Cupertino has a carbon footprint much lower than a coal mine or an automobile plant. But Apple is "low carbon" in California because it outsources the manufacturing of its devices to China and the power generation to keep them running not just to the O'Shaughnessy Dam that wrecked the picturesque Hetch Hetchy Valley but to coal- and gas-fired plants throughout the world."
Since 1970 ... (more >>>)
Some People Don't Know When To Quit: Hillary Clinton's plan to run for president - again! - in 2020 reminds me of perennial Republican presidential candidate Harold Stassen. Harold Stassen? Man, that oughta measure 5.7 or so on the Obscure References Meter.
In a 2006 episode of 'The Simpsons', failure-prone salesman and perpetual loser ol' Gil prepared breakfast for Bart and Lisa and asked, "Hey, who wants some eggs a la Harold Stassen? They're always running!"
Stassen sought the Republican nomination for president in 1948, 1952, 1964, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000.
Headline Of The Week: 'Papa John's replaces founder with sullen black guy'.
Are You Tired Of All The Winning Yet? Iranian harassment of U.S. warships:
Thought For Today: Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person how to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks, months, or maybe years.
Tuesday July 17, 2018
"It's Summertime, Summertime, Sum-sum-summertime ..." The Jamies' 1958 musical earwig can get inside your head, displacing more and more rational thought until you become a drooling moron. That's why I don't have the song in my iTunes library.
The tune has been used in commercials for Buick, Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food and Applebee's. I have seen Buicks driven by elderly, drooling morons and I have observed them pulling into the parking lots of many an abominable Applebee's. So there. (Well ... that's better than staying home and eating Ken-L Ration Burger Time Dog Food, I guess.)
In any case, Monday was definitely summertime. The weather was summery - 66 degrees and blazingly sunny with slightly-hazy azure skies at 8:45 am. By afternoon, the temperature reached 96.
It was definitely time to take a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe. And I did. I drove with windows down with '50s rock-n-roll playing through the speakers. But not 'It's Summertime'.
Auto Industry Quote Of The Century … so far, is from the prolific Jack Baruth on the domestic auto industry: "Competition is bloodthirsty and margins in the business are low, although they tend to rise in lockstep with the ground clearance of whatever is being sold at the moment."
Jack added, "The automakers are also addicted to the speedball-like combination of "free trade" (that mostly favors China) and "free movement of labor" (that mostly favors low-wage countries). It's a hell of a business model: You buy your parts from China for dirt cheap thanks to currency manipulation and you do your assembly in Mexico for half-price and then you sell the product in the United States for debt-based American dollars. It literally cannot be a permanent business model, any more than a game of Monopoly can be, but that doesn't bother executives with an ADHD quarterly approach to profits."
Automakers like to bitch and cry wolf every ... (more >>>)
Traveling In (Russki) Style: Vladimir Putin arrived for the Helsinki summit with Trump in a new, 23-foot long, armored limousine, the Aurus Senat, which took six years and cost $300 million to develop. The vehicle can be fully submerged in water without harm to the occupants and has steel-wire reinforced tires (sounds like Firestone 500 steel-belted radials from the 1970s). The front-end styling looks like an awkward mix of Chrysler 300 and Rolls Royce Phantom. The Senat is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter, 592-horsepower, Porsche-developed V8 engine. Inside, the limousine is decked out with white leather seats and wood detailing and features a large Russian coat of arms stitched into the door.
Meanwhile Donald Trump arrived in The Beast - the old, Obama-era Cadillac-Tank. The new Beast was supposed to be delivered last year but is still undergoing testing.
The Big Bus: I'm not a fan of public transit but these commercials for a Danish transit company are incredibly well done.
Jesse Bowers of Just A Car Guy posts lots of interesting transportation-related items every day. His site is definitely worth a visit. Jesse has posted over 34,000 times since 2006.
Anyone remember 'The Big Bus' movie from 1976? A spoof of disaster movie of the era, it featured the cross-country journey of an enormous, articulated, nuclear-powered bus named Cyclops. In the film, Cyclops has a passenger capacity of 110, is equipped with a bowling alley, Oriental-style cocktail lounge with a piano bar, swimming pool, captain's dining room, private marble-and-gold bathroom with sunken tub, and chef's kitchen.
I bet Stockard Channing, who starred in it, wishes everyone would forget it. Joseph Bologna was her co-star. Ned Beatty was in the film, too.
Hissy Fit: Egomaniac Elon Musk, apparently piqued because his unproven, makeshift submarine wasn't used in last week's cave rescue, called one of the Thailand cave rescuers a pedophile. Brit Vernon Unsworth plans to sue Musk. I hope he wins bigly.
Retailing Sign Of The Times: Sears was founded in 1886 as a mail-order watch business and grew to become the largest retailer in the United States. It was once headquartered in Chicago. In 1974, Sears completed the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago, which became the world's tallest building, Now the last Sears store in Chicago has closed for good. (permalink)
Outrage Of The Month … so far: CEO of Texas non-profit migrant shelter draws a $1.5 million salary.
"The group's revenue increased more than ten-fold since 2008 as the numbers of unaccompanied minors and separated families increased over the year. Southwest Key CEO and founder, Juan Sanchez, drew a salary of $1.5 million in 2016, according to a Fox News report." In addition, his wife Jennifer drew a $280,000 salary in 2015 as the non-profit's vice president.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: The best sum-up of arrogant FBI agent Peter Strzok is here.
Diluting Christianity: Kyrgyzstan Catholic Bishop Athanasius Schneider, when asked about the Catholic Church's call on nations to be "humanitarian" in dealing with illegal migrants, said, "The phenomenon of this so called "immigration" represents an orchestrated plan, prepared for a long time by the international powers to change radically the Christian identity of European populations. These powers are using the enormous moral potential of the Church and its structures to achieve more efficiently their anti-Christian and anti-European objectives. Towards these ends, the very concept of humanism and even the Christian commandment of charity are being abused." (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from legendary investor Sir John Templeton: "Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria."
Friday July 13, 2018
Gas N’ Go: By 9:30 am Wednesday, the temperature was already in the upper 60s (it reached 88 in the afternoon), so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe, drove into town, fueled up ($3.579 for Premium) and went for a drive in rural Clark County.
Once I got out of town, traffic was very light; at times, I couldn't see a vehicle in either direction. The sky was pure, cloudless summer blue and ol' Mt. St. Helens had lost much of its snow.
All in all, I had a great, relaxing drive.
Second Act: The little, Korean-made Buick Encore crossover was introduced in 2015. And heavily advertised - I've seen more commercials for this model than any other Buick - clearly aimed at the female market. Now that I think of it, I haven't seen TV spots for any other Buick offerings.
Mark Baruth observed, "Nearly 50% of all Buick volume is the Encore, which sets new sales records every year and is on pace to do so again in 2018." Unfortunately, Buick heavily subsidizes the ... (more >>>)
Happy 10th Anniversary … to the awesome Simone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia.
I visited there in 2011 and posted two pages of photos starting here.
Merc Money: At $3.695 million, a 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster (with removable hardtop) with only 1,380 original kilometers on the odometer was the top seller at the Artcurial LeMans Classic Auction in France. A 1956 300 SL Gullwing coupe sold for $1.19 million.
Makes Sense To Me: An article by L. Todd Wood, national security expert and political analyst, published in The Washington Times, raises the question that many don't dare ask: Was Barack Obama the Manchurian Candidate? And Mr. Wood didn't even raise the question of Barry O's birth certificate.
"After returning from a tour of some of the war zones in the Middle East - which ended with the Free Iran Gathering 2018 in Paris - I am struck by the realization that America really did have a Manchurian Candidate in The White House for eight years. If you look at the evidence, there really is no other conclusion. The calamitous consequences of the Obama presidency will be felt for the foreseeable future.
In the short year and a half that President Trump has been in office, he has put in place policy that has mitigated the damage that President Obama inflicted on our national security and on our allies. The speed with which Trump has been able to turn things around points to the diabolical depths the Obama administration went to in order to undermine our national strength and way of life. All Trump had to do was stop doing things that hurt America; America could then take care of itself. The results are plain as day. However, it will take decades for the Obama damage to be completely undone. The deviousness of the Obama sedition runs deep."
It's a fair question. The issues raised in the article certainly point to that conclusion.
Todd concluded, "What I will say is that there was a big fox in the hen house for eight long years. Eight long years for people like Brennan, Hillary, Kerry, Clapper, Comey and Jarrett to really hurt us regarding our safety and security.
Trump has a lot of house cleaning to do. Thank goodness he's being quick about it."
Now That's Talent: Watch Weird Al Yankovic play the legendary 1963 surf anthem, 'Wipeout', on the accordion. Awesome! (hat tip: Charles G. Hill)
Watch Out: Today is Friday the Thirteenth - Bad Luck Day. Or so they say.
Cereal Killer: James Lileks described Grape-Nuts as "so archaic; it's like the 20-Mule-Team Borax of cereals." I remember seeing both in stores as a child.
Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "In the anti-matter Universe, Leadfinger is the black folk singer and Goldbelly the Bond villain."
Wednesday July 11, 2018
British Much? Indian-owned Land Rover will cut more jobs in Britain as it moves all production of its Discovery SUV to lower-cost Slovakia.
This announcement comes after the firm said it "will cut 1,000 jobs and reduce production at two of its English factories as demand for diesel cars slumps in the face of higher taxes and a regulatory crackdown."
Best Of The Best: The Society of Automotive Historians has selected a list of 10 Cars That Changed the World.
SAH's list has many differences from my list of Ten Cars That Changed Everything, published in 2007. About the only things the two lists have in common are the Ford Model T and the VW Beetle.
Bring Your Big Checkbook: The sleek 2019 BMW 8 Series grand touring coupe is priced from $112,895 (including $995 in destination fees), "and all of the cars come with an automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and M Sport brakes. There's no shortage of kit, as "individual" specification Merino leather is standard, as is a 16-speaker Harman-Kardon stereo system, adaptive suspension and full LED headlights with BMW's LaserLight system. But in case the standard setup isn't enough, a 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system can be specified, along with glass switchgear or a carbon fiber exterior trim package.
The sole engine choice for North American cars is the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, which produces 530 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque."
Book Review: 'The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook' by Niall Ferguson
It is claimed that the 21st Century is the Age of Networks. In this book, the author points out, through a plethora of examples that networks have been influencing humankind for millennia, despite the more apparent towering structures of hierarchy.
The book makes for a formidable read ... (more >>>)
Or, You Can Send The Money To Me: The legendary William Shattner tweeted: "Sixteen US Presidents owned slaves. Many of them are featured on U.S. Currency. I'd suggest those offended round up all this objectionable currency - make sure you check the pockets of the clothes in the hamper and send all that offensive cash to me. If you need my address ..." An The Shatt listed an actual mailing address.
The Biggest Problem In America Today ... according to the House of Eratosthenes: "We have an unfortunate tendency to direct very high levels of energy into making people happy who are never going to be happy."
Because Twenty-Six Would Be Weird: A research study concluded that, at any point in life, people spend their time in 25 places. "The study showed that people are constantly exploring new places. They move to a new home, find a new favorite restaurant, find a new bar, or start going to another gym, etc. However, the number of regularly visited places is constantly 25 in a given period. If a new place is added to the list, one of the places disappears."
Quote Of The Day is from Donald Trump: "It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag."
Monday July 9, 2018
Summer Clouds: At 8:30 am Saturday, the temperature was already in the mid-60s but the skies were partly to mostly cloudy depending which direction you looked. To the north and east, clouds were heavy. Mt. St. Helens was not visible. To the south and east were patches of blue and bright sun.
I hadn't taken my '39 Plymouth business coupe for a drive for some time. Either the weather was lousy, the traffic was too heavy or I had other priorities. Cloudy or not, I was determined to fire the old car up and head out. And I did. The traffic was quite light and it was warm enough that I drove with the windows down, listening to the rumble of the Glasspacks.
It was a great way to begin the day.
Just In Case You're In The Market For One: Road & Track has a list of every new car on sale that goes 200 mph or faster.
Shifting Perceptions: In an article titled 'Plate Tectonics of the Prestige Drift', Jack Baruth opined that Ford Explorers have better peer-prestige among oldsters than Chevy's SUV offerings.
Back in the 1950s, the low-priced three each had their own fans: "I'm a Ford man and always will be" or a similar mantra for Chevrolet or Plymouth. In those days, if you got a big raise, you could move up to a Mercury, Pontiac or Dodge to raise your status in the 'hood.
Now, the entire mid-priced field has disappeared, replaced by entry-level luxury. And well-optioned, pricey SUVs. Why is ... (more >>>>)
City Of Parks (and a sports car or two): To many, Philadelphia is known as the City of Parks. Look around certain spots and you'll find greenery everywhere ... (more >>>)
Strange Search Inquiries: Charles G. Hill lists odd search engine requests from time to time using data taken from his server log, so I'm imitating him by revealing some of my server log's search strings for June, with my comments:
All That Glitters: Financial columnist Malcolm Berko wrote recently, "You might be surprised to discover that if you went all the way back to the time of Christ and bought 1 ounce of gold, the compounded rate of return would be less than 0.2%. Gold won't cure athlete's foot or create anything. It can't be eaten. It has no scent. It won't keep you warm or cure a cold. Gold is a nonproductive asset, and the only reason it increases in value is that the next person buying it will pay more than you because he's more enthusiastic than you. Gold is not an investment; it's a bleeding speculation."
Lock Her Up: Last week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted: "Crazy Maxine Waters, said by some to be one of the most corrupt people in politics, is rapidly becoming, together with Nancy Pelosi, the face of the Democrat Party. Her ranting and raving, even referring to herself as a wounded animal, will make people flee the Democrats!"
Corrupt Indeed. Maxine Waters doesn't even live in her district. Maxine represents District 43 which includes the high crime/high gang area of South Central LA a region of Los Angeles so bad even Maxine won't live there. (I visited with businesses in that area back in the mid-1980s and it was a scary place back then - even in broad daylight. I can't imagine what it must be like now.) Instead, Maxine resides in the tony neighborhood of Hancock Park not far from Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Hancock Park is 71% white and only 4% black.
Michelle Malkin recently wrote, "I covered Waters in the early 1990s as an editorial writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Her federally funded Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center was a gang-infested boondoggle.
She embraced Damian Williams, the infamous thug who hurled a chunk of concrete at white truck driver Reginald Denny and performed a victory dance over the bloodied innocent bystander. ... She secured an ambassadorship to the Bahamas for her husband, a former pro football player and car salesman whose main qualification was having traveled to the island for a vacation."
Maxine's daughter Karen has gotten a nice chunk of change courtesy of Mad Max's campaign funds. Since 2006, Karen Waters has received around $750,000 running the mailers for Citizens for Waters. Maxine is worth at least $2 million.
According to an article written by Chuck Neubauer and Ted Rohrlich, published in the Los Angeles Times in 2004, Maxine's relatives had made over $1 million by doing business with the people that were helped by her. She was also accused by 'Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington' of corruption. They added her to their report of corrupt members of Congress in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011. She was also investigated by the House panel for ethical violations.
And her role in the Boston-based OneUnited Bank scandal is well-known. In my book, Mad Max is a crook.
Karma's A Bitch: Lions ate three rhino poachers in a South African game preserve.
Quote Of The Day is from Steve Sailer: "The Diversity industry is a self-licking ice cream cone." I've posted more on "diversity" here.
Thursday July 5, 2018
June Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 17.47 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in June - up 5% year-over-year from June 2017 and an increase 4% from last month. The SAAR was above the consensus forecast and as the highest sales rate this year. Trucks and SUVs are the main reason for industry gains, driven by America's seemingly unquenchable thirst for these utility-type vehicles. As Martha Stewart often said after a satisfying prison meal, "It's a good thing."
Ford Motor Co. reported that June sales rose 1% year-over-year to 230,635 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Passenger car sales fell 14% in the month, while sport utility vehicle sales rose 9%. Sales of F-Series pickups increased by 2% to 79,204 units. Truck sales comprised 44% of June sales and the F-Series accounted for 34% of total monthly sales, selling like spare electrical parts at a British car meet. Total Ford SUV sales rose by 9% year over year in June. Ford Focus sales dropped 30%.
Sales of the Lincoln brand rose by 3% year over year in June as sales of Lincoln cars dropped 27%. Car sales totaled 2,370 units in the month and utility vehicle sales totaled 9,534 units. SUV sales rose 19% year over year.
General Motors posted U.S. second-quarter sales of 758,376 vehicles, an increase of 5% compared with the second quarter of 2017. Fleet deliveries amounted to 22% of quarterly sales. The Chevy Silverado and Equinox are the company's two best-selling vehicles. Buick brand saw a year-over-year sales decrease of 12% in the second quarter, including a 45% drop in LaCrosse sales. The Buick Enclave posted a year-over-year sales gain of 25%, while Encore sales rose just 4%.
In the first 6 months of 2018, GM sales dropped 7% to 1,310,042 vehicles. By comparison, FoMoCo sales fell less than 2% to 1,276,667 during the same period, while Toyota Motor's sales increased 4% to 1,204,132 units.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported that June sales increased by 8% year over year to 202,264 vehicles. The Jeep brand posted a sales increase of 19% year-over-year as sales of the new Wrangler rose 23% to more than 23,000 units and Cherokee sales soared 89% to 22,433 units.
Ram had its best June sales ever, up 6% to 51,729 units. Year-over-year, sales of the company's Chrysler brand fell 32% as sales of the Pacifica minivan posted June sales of 9,114 units, down 26% for the month. Sales of the Chrysler 300 dropped 19% to only 4,318 units. Dodge brand sales rose 9% year-over-year to 46,387 vehicles. Dodge Caravan sales were flat at 16,267 units in the month. The company's Journey compact SUV saw sales jump by 86% to 11,286 units. Alfa Romeo sales rose to 2,249 in June. The Fiat brand sold just 1,426 units in June, a 36% year-over-year decline. Fiat's US sales are down 44% this year. Fiat has sold just a third as many cars in 2018 as it did during the first six months of 2014 - its high-water mark in the U.S. Americans bought far more pricey Alfa Romeos than economy Fiats this year.
Toyota Motor Co. reported June sales of 209,601, up 4% year-over-year. Avalon sales increased 19% to 2,996 sedans. The RAV4 remains Toyota's top-seller with 37,722 finding buyers in June - an increase of 11% from a year ago. Lexus sales fell 1% to 23,750 vehicles. 789 LS sedans were sold in June, a leap of 163% over last June.
American Honda reported a 2% sales increase over last year, selling 142,676 vehicles. Acura sales declined 23% to 10,645 vehicles. Nissan Motor Co. sold 156,245 vehicles up 4% from last June. Infiniti sales dropped 13% to 10,698 vehicles. Mitsubishi sales jumped 45% to 11,148 vehicles. Remember a couple of years ago when Mitsu was thought to be a dying brand?
While Hyundai-Kia Group sales increased 9% overall to 120,623 vehicles, its Genesis luxury brand sank like a mastadon in a tar pit - falling 51% to only 786 cars.
Volkswagen sales rose 6% to 28,974 units. Subaru sales increased 9% to 59,841 Subies. Audi sales increased 2% to 19,471 vehicles. Mercedes-Benz sold 23,750 vehicles - a decline of 20%, while BMW sales increased 2% to 29,404.
Tesla reportedly sold 6,000 vehicles in June, a year-over-year increase of 36%, although if Elon Musk sees this figure he'll probably throw a fit, claiming that it's waaaay low. Milton Waddams sure gets touchy when you talk about his red Swingline stapler.
Smart sold 126 minicars in June - a drop of 45% from last year. Autoblog road-tested one recently and called the little electric car "the saddest way to spend $25,000."
Be Careful What You Ask For: Ford has patented a voice-activated adjusting seat. Suppose you're having an in-car argument with someone and exclaim, "Bite my ass!" Would you experience a sharp, unpleasant surprise from the seat?
Ford's design "allows a user to initiate a seat movement with either a voice command or touchscreen input, and to stop the movement in one of the same ways. Choosing the nature of the seat movement (its adjustment mode) can also be a verbal exchange."
Ford claims the patent offers a hands-free way to adjust seating position, and would incorporate features to limit seat movement "based on occupant safety." Ummmm ... aren't you supposed to adjust your seat before you put the car in gear?
Don't Forget: This Sunday, July 8th, is National Collector Car Appreciation Day. If you see someone driving an old car, wave to them or give them a thumbs up.
Book Review: 'Jaguar From The Shop Floor: Foleshill Road and Browns Lane 1949 to 1978' by Brian James Martin
This is Mr. Martin's memoir of his time as a Jaguar employee. He began working there in 1949, during the early days of the XK120 sports car and left for good in 1978, after the execrable British Leyland took over the firm and the XJS touring car had been introduced as a replacement for the iconic E-Type sports car (much to the chagrin of sports car types). Even after leaving, Brian has stayed connected through his active membership in several Jaguar clubs.
Martin's stories provide a glimpse of the difficult overall conditions ... (more >>>)
Happy Birthday, Mom: My mother would have turned 100 years old today.
Strawmageddon: Seattle has become the first major U.S. city to ban restaurants from giving plastic straws and utensils (knives, forks, spoons, stirrers, etc.) to customers in an effort to "help the environment." Restaurants in the Emerald City are barred from providing customers plastic straws, cocktail picks or utensils unless someone specifically requests one.
It should be noted that approximately eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the world's oceans every year, and the majority of this polymeric waste comes from just five countries: China (mostly), Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Only 1% of all plastic ocean pollution comes from the United States.
Paper straws are eight times more expensive to make than plastic ones and cause environmental problems as well. Contrary to popular myths, paper does not dissolve in landfills.
In Seattle, you're still free to drop used needles on the sidewalk after you're done shooting up. Or use those same sidewalks as a public toilet, as many homeless are wont to do.
Unfortunately, if you want to stab one of Seattle's many annoying and disgusting hobos, you'll now have to try it with a ... (more >>>)
Thought For Today: One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball.
Tuesday July 3, 2018
How Much??!! No wonder people in NYC don't own cars ... (more >>>)
Bear Service: When I was growing up, the happy bear on the Bear Service sign was a familiar sight at auto repair shops.
Unbeknownst to me, the firm also had a presence at the Indy 500: "The Bear Manufacturing Co. of Rock Island, Illinois, for over four decades set up its state of the art wheel alignment equipment near the car garages in Gasoline Alley and offered wheel alignments to all car owners and crew chiefs."
Brothers Will Dammann and Henry Dammann, invented an electric starter for the Model T so auto owners could forgo their cranks. The founders moved to Rock Island in 1913, founding Bear Manufacturing to produce and sell the starter. The company was quickly successful. The starter was so popular that Henry Ford started making electric starters standard equipment, and the Dammanns' market disappeared.
The company then got into the design and manufacture of auto equipment. Bear equipment became the standard for diagnosis and repair of wheel, steering and frame alignment. Later the company expanded into ... (more >>>)
Famous Portland Lesbian Bookstore, Parodied In 'Portlandia', Goes Out of Business; Blames Racism or Something: Portland's foundational feminist bookstore, In Other Words, the inspiration for the famous "feminist bookstore" sketches on 'Portlandia', has closed because of "white supremacy, the Patriarchy, racism, and the decline of modern feminism." And perhaps, very bad financials because they didn't sell enough books to survive.
The bookstore had no sense of humor, whining about the 'Portlandia' skits. I guess the owners forgot that old Oscar Wilde quip, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Small Win: In the first 6 months of 2018, the S&P 500 stock index rose 1.7%, or 2.6% with dividends reinvested.
Happy Birthday ... to the Wellington Fund, a mutual fund which began operations on July 1, 1929, just months before the worst stock market crash in U.S. history and the onset of the Great Depression. A young Philadelphia accountant named Walter L. Morgan was its founder and offered a diverse portfolio of common stocks, preferred stocks and high-quality corporate and U.S. government bonds. Despite Walter's awful timing, the groundbreaking fund - originally called the Industrial and Power Securities Company - hung on, thanks to its prudent management, balance, diversification and long-term perspective.
But the fund (which was renamed in 1935 for the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo) didn't simply survive - it thrived. For more than eight decades, Wellington Management Company has served the fund's shareholders well, using the very same investment principles that guided it through the Great Depression. And those timeless themes still ring true today.
Wellington isn't very flashy and gets little notice from those investment gurus du jour. But, as I got older, I began to shift some of my investments away from growth mutual funds into Wellington. I have not been disappointed.
In the 1950s, my grandmother owned Wellington Fund shares and during her 90-year life, she never ran out of money.
Quote Of The Day is from Samuel Butler: "God cannot alter the past, though historians can."
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