A Blog About Cars ... And More
Wednesday January 30, 2019
AutoSketch: 1965 Mercer Cobra - Copper Concept
In 1963, well-known automobile designer Virgil Exner was asked by Esquire magazine to reimagine four classic cars as modern vehicles, he selected the Stutz Super Bearcat (with a sliding retractable roof panel), the Duesenberg Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton, the Packard Convertible Victoria, and the Mercer Raceabout.
Of the marques chosen ... (more >>>)
Presenting ... some Laws of Everyday Life:
Irony Alert: Joe Mama at Eaton Rapids Joe wrote, "William Devane is inescapable. He is the spokesperson for Rosland Capital, a seller of precious metals and his ads carpet bomb Fox News, among others. William's dad, Joseph, was FDR's chauffeur. FDR is the guy who made it illegal for Americans to hold gold."
Thought For Today: We live in a society where people use an $800 phone to check their food stamp balance.
Monday January 28, 2019
Let It Snow: The Old Motor posted a photo originally published in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.
The image was taken on Christmas Eve 1961 and shows ... (more >>>)
Suicide-Door Sell-Out: The 80 special-edition, $110,000, suicide-door 2019 Lincoln Continentals sold out in 48 hours. Customers will be notified in February and start receiving their sedans this summer. Lincoln plans another limited run of these cars in 2020.
Based on the recent Scottsdale Collectible Vehicle Auctions, nice-condition 1961-67 slabside Lincoln Continental convertibles were commanding prices of $100,000 and up - a big jump from just a few years ago.
I Love My Trains ... but I have more of them than I have track on which to run them. So last week, I swapped out two of the train sets on my O-gauge model train layout.
On the lower level, I replaced the Pennsylvania Railroad T-1 steam locomotive and passenger consist with the PRR 2-8-8-2 Mallet pulling a long freight consist, including but not limited to Entemann's vat car, Bonomo's Turkish Taffy boxcar, Gulf Oil tank car and Sunoco Tank Car.
On the middle level, I replaced the Pennsy GG1 electric locomotive and silver Congressional passenger set with a Consolidation 2-8-0 steam locomotive pulling a set of heavyweight-style PRR Tuscan passenger cars.
Everything went smoothly and I'm enjoying my trains - just like this guy.
Let Them Eat Cake: The Z man wrote that these days the ruling class (bureaucrats, Blue State, the Swamp or whatever you want to call it) "can't be bothered to do anything. In fact, they are offended by the very suggestion that they have a duty to the rest of us. (Tucker) Carlson is going through an advertiser boycott because he had the temerity to suggest that maybe the people in charge are not doing their duty. All the beautiful people are rushing to social media to defend billion dollar global corporations against a guy who says stuff on TV.
Of course, the pettiness of the administrative state and the hostility to the idea of responsive government have the same root cause. The ruling class no longer see the rest of us as being citizens in the way they are citizens. We now have active citizens and passive citizens. The former is for members of the managerial class and the latter is for the rest of us. Active citizens get to talk about what kind of country they want and how the government will achieve it. Passive citizens just sit quietly in the cheap seats.
That's why they are so offended by Trump and the surge in populism. They see it as a something like a slave revolt. It's not the material inconvenience. It is the moral effrontery of the hoi polloi daring to question them."
They are the Eloi. And we Morlocks are getting restless.
Book Review: 'Flight: The Evolution of Aviation' by Stephen Woolford and Carl Warner
Coffee table books can be chancy; some are just thrown together without much thought to flow of narrative or accuracy of content. Measuring roughly 10x12 inches, 'Flight' certainly qualifies as a coffee table book in size and has an attractive period photo of a Boeing 747 jet on the cover. Not to worry though, there's good stuff inside. The book is well-illustrated with about 180 color and b&w photos. The authors are knowledgeable experts; both are associates of the Imperial War Museum in England.
The book begins with early fight attempts, including ... (more >>>)
This Is Not The 21st Century I Expected: A sampling of Drudge headlines from last week:
Quote Of The Day is from Dave Burge: "50 years from now there are going to be like 100,000 old maids opening crystal shops in Sedona and Taos, and their student loans still won't be paid off."
Thursday January 24, 2019
Big DeSoto: The 1946 DeSoto Custom 6 Suburban four-door sedan was big; it rode on a 139.5-inch wheelbase seated eight people and weighed 4,012 pounds. For Christmas, I received a 1:43 scale WhiteBox diecast model of this car finished light blue - 1 of 1,000 made in this color.
This photo was taken in front of the Union Station on ... (more >>>)
2019 Scottsdale Collector Auto Auctions: F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand."
Yes, the rich are indeed different. Someone who pays millions for a single Ferrari does not just have one collector car. Or one Ferrari. Typically, he has a collection - 20 to 50 cars. He employs several mechanics just to care for them. Often, such folk own a tricked-out enclosed car carrier to transport their prized vehicles to shows. It's fair to assume that this person's collection is worth north of $30 million. The kind of person who has such a collection is quite rich, probably worth a half-billion or more.
This man is likely a first or second generation business owner, with a firm large enough to allow his sheet metal indulgences, including the time off to travel to auctions and hobnob with other, like-minded collectors.
This year's various Arizona vehicle auctions were full of middle-aged (and older) white dudes with ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Ship Of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution' by Tucker Carlson
In 241 pages, Tucker Carlson exposes self-serving politicians and special interest groups. The jacket flap proclaims that ... (more >>>)
Desperately Seeking Genuine News: William Katz of Urgent Agenda wrote, "The last week has been a journalistic disaster, with fake news all over the place. And yet, no one really expects change. Indeed, some of the fakers are actually defending themselves. And blunders are glossed over. We are moving toward a fact-free journalism, devoted not to reporting the news "without fear or favor," but to advancing a "narrative." Some consider this a "higher calling," a move toward social justice. Facts just get in the way. And what is a fact anyway, especially if an "oppressed" culture doesn't believe it?"
Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner wrote, "The news media in the United States is horribly, perhaps irrevocably, broken." As the old adage goes, a lie travels halfway around the world before truth gets its pants on.
One of the most egregious examples of fake news was the recent hysterical reporting about the Covington, KY students in D.C. These students did nothing wrong. They did not accost a known Native American provocateur who beat his drum in their faces, nor another Native American who told the students to "go back to Europe where you came from." The Native American drum player misrepresented who he is and has done so before; his resume and repute are not what the press initially reported.
There were racial and homophobic slurs being hurled at the high-school kids, yet they showed incredible restraint and maturity. They also stood their ground - an absolute right given that they were in a public place. They did not respond to the outrageous slurs and provocations.
What was their "crime"? They attended a March for Life event. They were white. And they wore MAGA hats. Apparently, in addition to hate-crimes, there are now hat-crimes.
It's difficult to trust what you read these days. Too many so-called newspeople are not interested in real news - they're pushing an agenda. The insufferable Joy Behar admitted so recently on 'The View' observing that journalists offer biased reporting: "Cause we're desperate to get Trump out of office. That's why."
Almost five years ago, Jim Treacher wrote, "Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn't know because they might reflect badly on Democrats."
People, Not Guns: John Q. Publius wrote, "The firearm homicide rate in the U.S. seems very high for a developed nation, but that's until you look under the hood. The firearm homicide rate for white Americans is 1.7 per 100,000, which is identical to the Czech Republic and lower than countries like Canada, France, and Austria.
The firearm homicide rate for Hispanics in the United States is 6.4 per 100,000, or nearly four times that of white Americans. The firearm homicide rate for blacks in the U.S. is 19.8 per 100,000, or eleven-and-a-half times that of whites. This is very obviously not a gun problem, and a black and brown people problem at that."
Question Of The Day: If thieves wear sneakers and artists wear Sketchers, do linguists wear Converse?
Tuesday January 22, 2019
Punk This: I'm not a gamer but I'd like to point out that Forza Motorsport 7 has added the Atomic Punk bubble-top hot rod to one of its vehicle packs.
The 600-horsepower Atomic Punk was built by Aaron Grote, who once said, "EPA mileage estimates: 35 mpg city, 45 highway, give or take a decimal point." Visit here for photos and awesome video.
The Atomic Punk with its 1959 Plymouth fins reminds me of a car I drew some 60 years ago, probably on this clipboard. Mine had '59 Chevy fins instead. And '59 Ford taillights. (I cleaned up my old drawing a little, shading it with Photoshop. Otherwise, it's original.)
The difference is I only sketched my dream, Aaron actually built his.
Powerful Data: Our electric company (Clark County PUD) has informed us that 58% of its energy resources come from hydroelectric power (Bonneville Dam), 33% from natural gas and 7% from nuclear sources. The remainder is a mix of coal, biomass and the like.
Celebrity Death Watch: The 2019 Old Blue Eyes Memorial Celebrity Death Watch is now out. The top five picks are Kirk Douglas, Bob Dole, Olivia de Havilland, Prince Philip and Jimmy Carter. Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes in at #18; that's not surprising - she's a fighter.
I wish good health and continued breathing to everyone on the list.
Get Off The Bus, Hypocrites: I laughed out loud when President Trump canceled Nancy Pelosi's junket to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan last week. Several other prominent Democrats were on the airport bus, including former Andy Kauffman stunt-double Adam Schiff and, from at least one report, the execrable Patty Murray. Democrats were so depressed, they were ready to hang themselves in the nearest gender-neutral bathroom. "No Brussels," wailed Nancy. "Zut alors!"
Liz Sold wrote, "Pelosi and the Democrats figured they could just blame Trump for the shutdown, but it's Pelosi and the Democrats who won't come to the table. Pelosi took off during Christmas for a luxury Hawaiian vacation, her party went on a group trip to Puerto Rico, and now she and her harpies were hitting the road for a week on an international trip. Does it sound like she wants to find an agreeable compromise to open the government up? Meanwhile, Trump is hanging around D.C., ready to negotiate."
"In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate," President Trump wrote. "I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security Movement to end the Shutdown."
Trump Derangement Syndrome: Catholic priest and retired Navy chaplain Rev. Kevin M. Cusock tweeted, "I suspect this is one of the real reasons why we hear nonstop how he such a terrible, awful, no good human being: 'President Donald Trump Tells March for Life: I Will Veto Any Bill That Promotes Abortion'."
I know several otherwise-reasonable people who have a visceral hatred of this president. I can't understand it; Donald Trump has accomplished more than any other U.S. president in my lifetime. And his first term is only half complete.
G.K. Chesterson Explains … the simultaneous existence of PETA and Planned Parenthood (via Matt Walsh): "Wherever there is Animal Worship there is Human Sacrifice."
Miscommunication: When I was in high school, I thought 'rectilinear' was a fancy way of saying 'straight up your ass.' So, I peppered my invectives with things like: "Rectilinear to you, jerk!"
I also thought that 'incontinent' meant going to Europe. I used to tell people, "I can't wait 'till I'm older and am incontinent."
Of course, I couldn't go to Europe back then. Because, in those days before airline deregulation, airfares were absolutely rectilinear.
Quote Of The Day is from Bart Simpson's blackboard punishment: "Pork is not a verb."
Friday January 18, 2019
2019 Detroit Auto Show: As regular readers know, the first auto show I ever attended was the 1960 Philadelphia Auto Show in November 1959. Ever since then, I have faithfully followed auto show coverage because I wanted to see what the future held by looking at all the wild concept cars on display. In those days, everyone said the future would involve gas turbine engines, Plexiglas bubble roofs and flying cars. Never happened.
Now auto experts claim that we will very soon be driving all-electric cars and/or riding in fully-autonomous vehicles. I've been burned so many times over my lifetime by pipe dreams that never happen, so I hope you'll understand if I'm skeptical about the predicted universality of electric vehicles and self-driving pods ... (more >>>)
More USA Jobs: Volkswagen is building a new plant in Tennessee which will create 1,000 new jobs. The plant will manufacture electric vehicles.
Our economy added 284,000 manufacturing jobs in 2018, the largest increase in U.S. manufacturing jobs in 21 years. The good news continues.
Book Review: 'Ford Model T Coast to Coast: A Slow Drive Across A Fast Country' by Tom Cotter
Before the Model T came along, automobiles were mere playthings for the rich. Henry Ford's T didn't just put America on wheels, it put the world on wheels. The Model T was the first truly affordable car for the working man. Initially priced at $850 in 1908, the price dropped to $390 by 1914 due to production efficiencies. By 1927, a new Model T could be had for as little as $260. At its peak popularity, 1.25 million Model Ts were sold each year.
The Model T was effectively the first ... (more >>>)
Simpsons Character Assassination: Now that Apu is gone … I just hope they don't target Chief Wiggum. Best Clancy Wiggum quotes:
Investment Legend: John C. Bogle, founder of mutual fund giant Vanguard has died at age 92 of esophageal cancer. After graduating from Princeton in 1951, Bogle was hired at Wellington Fund.
In 1974, Bogle founded the Vanguard Company which is now one of the most respected and successful companies in the investment world. In 1999, Fortune magazine named Bogle as "one of the four investment giants of the twentieth century." In 1976, he established the Vanguard Index 500 Fund, the first index mutual fund available to the public. Wellington Fund is now part of Vanguard's portfolio of mutual fund offerings.
Mr. Bogle was a champion of no-load funds with low management fees. RIP.
Question Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "If schools must rename Christmas Holiday as 'Winter Holiday', shouldn't Martin Luther King Day be renamed something like 'Diversity Day'?"
Wednesday January 16, 2019
Make GM Great Again … Or At least As Good As Fiat-Chrysler: General Motors has a radical, profit-making turnaround plan:
More Trucks >>>> Make Cadillac An Electric Brand >>>> ????? >>>> Profit!
Using the same logic as South Park's Underpants Gnomes, Cadillac will be GM's lead electric vehicle brand and will introduce the first model from the company's all-new Tesla-fighting, battery electric vehicle architecture in 2021 or so.
Remember the electric-hybrid Cadillac ELR? Never saw one, although I have a scale model of the Converj concept car on which it was based. The ELR was discontinued in 2016 due to dismal sales. In 2015, only 1,024 found buyers. Then there was the stately, Chinese-made 2018 Cadillac CT6 plug-in, whose death was revealed shortly before that of the sedan on which it was based. So, Cadillac has already launched - and discontinued two hybrid-electric losers - yet it is doubling down, hoping for a different outcome from full-electric vehicles. Why would it be different this time? Last year, sales of the all-electric Chevy Bolt dropped 32% for the full year to 15,922 vehicles.
Zephyr - The Car That Saved Lincoln: The luxurious big K-Series Lincolns of the mid-1930s were fine automobiles but were priced too high for a nation in a Depression. In 1936, Lincoln introduced the mass-produced Zephyr model, which was instantly popular and saved the Lincoln marque from extinction - the fate of so many luxury auto brands of the period.
In 1937, the Lincoln Zephyr coupe was ... (more >>>)
Silly Statue Stuff: There's a big push in Philadelphia to remove the bronze statue of its former mayor, Frank Rizzo, located near City Hall. Frank was not some Civil War-era slave owner; Rizzo served as the city's police commissioner from 1967 to 1971, and then as mayor for two terms, between 1972 and 1980. He was one of the leading law-and-order politicians of his time. "Funded by his admirers, Rizzo's statue went up in 1999, eight years after his death. Less than two decades later, in response to Black Lives Matter protests, Mayor James Kenney (a useless white PC liberal bozo, in my opinion) pledged to move the statue." Because he can't fix the city, he wastes time trying to move statues. Meanwhile ... (more >>>)
Kiddie Close: Children's clothing company Gymboree has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is expected to liquidate all 800 stores under its flagship brand. The death of brick-n-mortar retailing continues.
I Call It Smanger - Smugness & Anger: Kevin D. Williamson wrote, "The thing about places like Portland and San Francisco is that they aren't nice. They have a reputation for being wooly and hippieish and silly, but they are in fact very angry places, full of very angry people. They are also highly segregated places in ways that the South and Southwest really aren't. Angry white people with money make the world go 'round, apparently."
Goodbye Dolly: Actress, singer, dancer and comedian Carol Channing has died at age 97 of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, CA. In 1955, Life magazine wrote, "Finding roles that suit the strange and wonderful charms of Carol Channing has always been a problem to Broadway showmen. She looks like an overgrown kewpie. She sings like a moon-mad hillbilly. Her dancing is crazily comic. And behind her saucer eyes is a kind of gentle sweetness that pleads for affection."
In the 1980s, we saw her perform the starring role in 'Hello Dolly' in Portland. She had a broken arm at the time and wore it in a sling but that didn't slow her down.
In January 2008, I almost got run over by Carol Channing, who blew a stop sign on El Paseo in Palm Desert, CA. Later that day, she was on local television. She was standing outside the Palm Desert branch of Washington Mutual which had been robbed. "It's just terrible. I can't get inside to get my money." For the full effect, try reading those sentences aloud in a mock Carol Channing voice. RIP.
Nothing Insanely Great: I thought I might be the only one who was not wowed by last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It turns out I'm not alone; the Z Man agreed, noting that "the consumer electronics business seems to have run out of road, as far as cool new ideas. This is apparent in the troubles Apple is suddenly facing. It makes a cool looking toy, but there's nothing unique about an iPhone. It does what all the phones do now. The gap between it and the low end brands is not enough to warrant a premium. This is an issue turning up all across the consumer electronics space. There's just no new technology to make any of it 'must have' or any brand unique.
The big new idea this year is 8K TV, which is just becoming a reality. TV makers have made 4K the default now. Everyone hopes these super high resolution TVs will spark a revolution in both accessory items and the content itself. So far, 4K has not made much of an impact on consumers. It turns out that better resolution does not improve the quality of the content. That was true of HD, but at least those sets looked cool and they were much easier to move around the living room. They also made 80-inch screens possible."
"Virtual reality or some other immersive technology is the assumed to be the next step, but people don't seem to like the idea. VR headsets have been out for a while and they have been a big flop with the public. Part of it is you look like an idiot wearing the things and no one wants to look ridiculous. The experience so far is less virtual reality and more altered reality, like being on hallucinogens."
Whether this is a temporary lull or the maturing of technology is anyone's guess. In the 1980s, I used to attend CES yearly. Even after I stopped going, I followed it in the news. I've never seen it this boring. In 2019, the item that got all the press attention was an A.I. dildo.
Where is the Steve Jobs of 2019? What happened to the insanely great ideas from Apple that kept the industry on its toes? A poster with the monicker Christopher S. Johns commented, "Apple is in trouble because the markets have figured out that under their preening homosexual CEO they have no new product in development, much less a market-changing product. Added to that, the Chinese are now kicking their ass in the only smart phone market that's still growing China. The hipster techie utopia cult image has also taken a hit, as Apple's real world politics endorse an intrusive, technologically-policed progressive conformity."
The Z Man concluded, "The PC revolution ran its course, just as we are seeing with home entertainment and mobile phones. At the end, we quickly saw a consolidation and commoditization of the market. No one thinks much about the big name computer makers and in time no one will care who makes their television or smart phone. These household names will either move onto other things or go out of business."
Cortizone-10: Yeah, I use it sometimes. But only because they won't sell me Cortizone-15. You know they have it. They keep it locked up in a subterranean vault, right next to the 100,000 mile tires. And those 200 mpg Fish carburetors. (permalink)
Quote Of The Day is from Jack Benny: "I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either."
Monday January 14, 2019
Stuck In Traffic: The Old Motor posted a 1940s-era photo of a line of cars waiting in line at a scenic spot, possibly Yellowstone National Park.
The gray coupe circled in red is a bluish gray 1939 Plymouth. Behind the Plymouth is ... (more >>>)
Sinking Sales: The growth engine for the world's car industry has been thrown into reverse. China recorded its first yearly fall in auto sales in more than two decades, the victim of slowing GDP growth and the U.S.-China trade war.
Retail sales of passenger vehicles - which include sedans, MPVs, mini-vans and SUVs - in China fell a whopping 19% in 2018 to 2.26 million units.
Troubled Kitty Going Electric: Jaguar Land Rover lost money - $446 million - in the first half of 2018 amid falling sales, high costs and production freezes. The firm's sales almost tripled to 604,000 vehicles in the automaker's 2017 fiscal year from 241,000 in 2011. JLR has capitalized on surging global sales of utilities, posting record profit after record profit, peaking at $3.4 billion in the 2015 financial year.
JLR's sales slumped 44% in China during the quarter, a collapse blamed on falling consumer confidence and import tariff changes. In response, JLR dramatically cut production to reduce the resulting buildup of unsold cars, both in the U.K. and at its joint-venture plant in Changshu, near Shanghai. "Changshu has basically been closed for most of October," JLR CFO Ken Gregor said.
China became JLR's biggest market in 2017, accounting for 146,399 sales, according to company figures. With global sales falling 5% in 2018, Jaguar-Land Rover plans to lay off 4,500 UK workers.
Anonymous styling, ever-present quality problems and a sedan-heavy line have substantially hurt Jaguar in the marketplace. JLR's bold plan is to transform Jaguar into an electric brand. "It's definitely an advanced plan and is only a matter of time before it's signed off," said a person with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous. Good luck with that strategy.
Sunday Drive: The winter weather has been a combination of lotsa rain with occasional sun. Luckily, we've had no snow so far this season. At 1:30 pm yesterday, the temperature was in the mid-40s (at 7:00 am, it was a sub-freezing 27 degrees) but the sun was shining. I hadn't driven my '39 Plymouth coupe for almost two months, but the 80 year-old beast fired right up.
Traffic was fairly light and didn't slow me down one iota. Or half an iota.
It was pretty cloudless with beautiful, pale Winter-blue skies - that odd color for which there's no Crayola match. Snow-covered Mt. St. Helens was a snow-covered half-ball and the tips of the eastern Cascades were clearly visible. It was a real treat to be behind the wheel, listening to the V8 rumble through the Glasspacks while 'The Joe Niagara Show: Cruisin' '57' blasted from the speakers. It made me feel like I was 16 again. Except I tolerate the cold much less well than I did in 1959.
I had a very enjoyable drive. Absence makes the old-car heart grow fonder and I was in a great mood following the positive news from my oncologist (see next posting).
Cancer Update: Good news. Last week, I visited the Oncology Center for the usual blood test, which measures cancer markers - carcinoembryonic antigen. Mine is ... (more >>>)
Phone Tip: If you're calling a company, don't know anybody and a gatekeeper is giving you grief, ask for "Brad in Sales."
There's a Brad in every Sales Department.
If that doesn't work, ask for "Chris in Tech Support."
Book Review: 'None Of My Business: P.J. Explains Money, Banking, Debt, Equity, Assets, Liabilities, and Why He's Not Rich and Neither Are You' by P.J. O'Rourke
This book is allegedly about banking and finance but is in reality a collection of O'Rourke's essays which are kinda, sort-of related to the subject at hand. This 244-page mini-tome was very disjointed, lacking flow between chapters.
Many years ago, Mr. O'Rourke wrote brilliantly-witty books on a variety of subjects. At his best, P.J. O'Rourke is a thoughtful Hunter S. Thompson, with considerably lower systemic drug levels. His trademark rapier wit was often seen on various on-air cable news gigs.
Entropy - the enemy of all of us aging geezers - is clearly ... (more >>>)
What Me Worry? Some 30 Democratic lawmakers left the government shutdown behind last Friday on a chartered flight to Puerto Rico for a winter retreat with 109 lobbyists and corporate executives during which they planned to see the hit Broadway show 'Hamilton' and attend three parties including one with the show's cast. Meanwhile, none of them seem to be worried about ending the government shutdown.
Some 109 lobbyists and corporate executives will be there too, including R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association.
Truth In Packaging Needed: If hobo stew were made with real hoboes, surely we'd have far fewer homeless people. (permalink)
Thought For Today: The man who invented autocorrect should burn in Hello.
Thursday January 10, 2019
What Do They Have To Hide? Ford Motor Co. plans to switch to quarterly sales reporting in 2019, following General Motor's lead. Tesla also reports only quarterly sales numbers.
In the past, I've spent a lot of time at the beginning of each month gathering, tabulating and reporting monthly auto sales in detail. Absent data from these manufacturers, I'm rethinking the frequency of my reporting schedule.
Book Review: 'Jaguar XK: A Celebration of Jaguar's 1950s Classic' by Nigel Thorley
Since its founding in the 1920s, Jaguar has always offered sporting cars. Yes, saloons were produced for gentlemen who required extra doors or wealthy, portly lads who couldn't fit in a sports car, but Jaguar's flagship was always a sports car. When the Jaguar XK120 burst on the automotive scene at the 1948 London Motor Show, the British sports car stunned the public. Its swoopy lines were quite a contrast with other British two-seaters - as well as older Jags - and made all of them look stodgy and ancient by comparison. The XK 120 was wickedly fast for its time.
The original Jaguar XK was to be a four-cylinder car called the XK100. Thankfully, that idea was scrapped. The 1948 Jaguar XK120 was powered by a new overhead-cam six-cylinder engine used by Jaguar until 1992.
The XK120 became a big hit in the U.S., after the British government reduced ... (more >>>)
Goin' Nowhere: In 2018, we did less driving than last year. As a retired couple who don't do much long-distance car travel, we put less than 7,100 mile on our three automobiles.
My wife racked up 3,398 miles on her 2005 Toyota Avalon; the odometer read 71,454 miles at year's end.
My 2008 Lexus LS 460 showed 36,179 miles on the odometer; 3,252 miles were added in 2018.
My 1939 Plymouth coupe experienced 447 miles of fun in 2018, driving around the back roads of North Clark County.
Your Tax Dollars At Waste: Randal O'Toole noted that the federal government could save nearly $250 billion over the next ten years if it fixed some of the problems with its transportation programs based on a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office. "The report lists 72 different ways Congress could reduce spending and 40 different ways it could enhance revenues in order to reduce the federal deficit. The savings in modifying transportation programs are some of the largest in the possible reductions in discretionary spending."
The report lists five specific transportation reforms:
Makes sense to me. As O'Toole write, "These are all ideas that the Antiplanner supports based on the fundamental principle that transportation should be funded out of user fees, not general tax dollars. The report notes that both Amtrak and the Essential Air Service program were originally supposed to be temporary and it could be argued that they 'provide little if any benefit to the general public'."
Might I add that the deficit and national debt keep rising and no one in Washington seems to care anymore. In 2007, policy wonk Paul Ryan said he was going to get a handle on fiscal deficits. Not only did he fail to do that, he made it much worse. As did every other congress-critter. They're all complicit.
And I Always Thought The Emoluments Clause Involved Hand Lotion: Victor Davis Hanson authored a brilliant essay defending President Trump. It is titled 'Our Exhausted American Mediocracy'. Excerpt: "Doing mostly the opposite of what elite conventional wisdom advocated since January 2017 has made the nation stronger, not weaker. Strangest of all, the elite's furious venom directed at Trump, couched in ethical pretense, has had the odd effect to remind the American people how unethical and incompetent these people were, are, and likely will continue to be."
And: "The 2016 election and refutation of the ruling class did not signal that those without such educations and qualifications were de facto better suited to direct the country. Instead, the lesson was that the past record of governance and the current stature of our assumed best and brightest certainly did not justify their reputations or authority, much less their outsized self-regard. In short, instead of being a meritocracy, they amount to a mediocracy, neither great nor awful, but mostly mediocre." MAGA.
Coincidence? Or What?! Peter Paul Reubens painted great, fleshy mounds. Peter Paul Mounds tastes great after a Reuben sandwich. (permalink)
Quip Of The Day: When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
Tuesday January 8, 2019
2018 Auto Sales: For calendar year 2018, new U.S. vehicle sales were 17.33 million cars and light trucks - making it the fourth-biggest year on record. Sales were up slightly from 17.2 million in 2017. Light trucks - pickups, SUVs and crossovers - accounted for a record 69% of the U.S. market.
"New vehicle sales were surprisingly strong in 2018 despite late cycle headwinds from higher interest rates and more nearly-new competition in the used market," Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said. "The key positive factor was stimulated demand from tax reform, which strengthened retail demand as the year progressed and also enabled strong gains in fleet sales."
Overall, U.S. light-truck sales (pickups, SUVs) rose 8% in 2018, while car deliveries slid 13% for the year, marking the fifth straight annual decline in car volume (sedans, coupes). Just over 20 models sold more than 200,000 units each last year, demonstrating how much the auto industry is concentrated on a few products. The five top sellers were Ford F-Series pickup truck, soon-to-be-discontinued Chevy Cruise sedan, Ram pickup, Toyota RAV4 crossover and Nissan Rogue crossover.
It was a very good year for ... (more >>>)
Fifties Posh: In 1956, the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, convertible was Caddy's top-of-the-line offering. One of my Christmas gifts was a 1:43 scale top-down example of the Eldorado, finished in ... (more >>>)
Happy Birthday, Elvis! He would have turned 84 today. And probably would have weighed 840 pounds. Or, as the ever-quotable Yogi Berra might have said, "If Elvis were alive today, he'd be dead!"
Elvis didn't invent rock and roll but he spread the message across America. And the world. Music changed greatly during the postwar era, helped by ... (more >>>)
How To Buy A Backpack: Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report offered this opinion, "You can't beat civilian backpacks in the mid and upper price ranges. Army stuff is good, I have some, but unless you have partisan ambitions they're as much about provenance as about fitness for purpose.
Makers of civilian packs rely on customer appeal, performance, reputation, repeat business and referrals. Makers of Army gear have benign indifference for the user, he's not the paying customer. I'm an American, I know my rights, I demand to be coddled."
Sounds Like A Scam The Kingfish Would Pull: The caucus of black New York state lawmakers runs a charity whose stated mission is to empower "African American and Latino youth through education and leadership initiatives” by "providing opportunity to higher education." But it hasn't given a single scholarship to needy youth in two years.
"The group - called the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. - instead spent $500,000 in the 2015-16 fiscal year on items like food, limousines and rap music. … The politicians refused to divulge the charity's 2017 tax filing to the Post despite federal requirements that charities do so upon request." Lock ‘em up, I say.
Cool, Man: Recently, I got a spam e-mail from the Hip Recall Legal Center. If it's so hip, do they employ beatniks? I wonder if there's Muzak in the office. Maybe Brubeck, Shearing, Coltrane or the Modern Jazz Quartet. (permalink)
Thought For Today: If you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them.
Friday January 4, 2019
It Begins: Tesla missed its sales target, despite holding a Midnight Sale to try and move a backlog of its Model 3. The electric car manufacturer has also cut prices by $2,000 on all models, in an attempt to improve things.
"How things will play out for Tesla in the New Year is far from certain, but there is clear concern among investors who have been hammering the company's share price since mid-December, even before the broader stock market sell-off began ahead of the Christmas-New Year's holiday."
Perhaps everyone who wanted a Tesla has already bought one. The technical term for this is Market Saturation.
I don't know if Tesla has a future in the long long-term but they have sold an amazing number of cars in a short time and currently have rabidly-loyal, high-income customers. I bet Buick wishes it had a piece of that customer/prospect enthusiasm. Same for Lincoln, Cadillac, Genesis, Acura and Infiniti. (permalink)
Fewer Sales, More Product: Hyundai Motor Group predicted "another year of tepid car sales growth on the back of a slow 2018, saying trade protectionism adds uncertainty and major markets such as the United States and China remained sluggish."
"The 2018 sales fell short of the group's target of 7.55 million vehicles, marking its fourth consecutive annual sales goal miss. (Hyundai/Kia) sold 7.25 million vehicles in 2017." How does Hyundai plan to solve the problem? Introduce more models - 13 of them, including a premium Genesis SUV, the big Hyundai Palisade SUV and a redesigned Sonata sedan.
Baby, It's Cold Outside: In Norway, where winter temperatures challenge battery performance, electric vehicles accounted for 31.2% of all auto sales. Go figure.
In the U.S., electric vehicles represent a mere 1.2% of sales.
"And Mexico Will Pay For it." Nissan Motor Co. will lay off around 1,000 workers at its Cuernavaca and Aguascalientes plants in Mexico, the company announced, citing "challenging market conditions."
Cuernavaca builds the NP300 Frontier pickup and Versa sedan, among other models. Nissan's $2 billion Aguascalientes plant, which opened in 2013, builds the Sentra. Earlier this year, the Japanese automaker said it would reduce vehicle production by up to 20% in North America. The decision was a response to the company's declining profitability in the United States, the world's second-biggest auto market and Nissan's top market for sales. Japanese automakers have grappled with weak sedan sales in the United States. Nissan's sales of the Versa sedan were down 31% from January through November, compared with the same period last year.
Seventy-Six Is Not A Good Number: Daryl Dragon, former Beach Boys keyboardist and the ’Captain' of 1970s pop band The Captain and Tennille, has died at age 76 of renal failure.
Bob Einstein, a two-time Emmy winner best known - to me - as wacky and funny Super Dave Osborne, has died at age 76 from leukemia.
May they both rest in peace.
Twisted Priorities ... in government spending:
Posted at Ace: "Ain't that something? The federal government spends more on AIDS/HIV research, an almost completely preventable disease that kills relatively few people in a mostly select group each year than it does on heart disease, a condition that kills about 1.7 million a year.
Mitt Is The New McCain: Roger Kimball wrote, "Many commentators noted that Romney was happy to have Trump's endorsement when he ran for President in 2012 and, just a few months ago, when he ran for the Senate. As Tennessee State Senator Frank Nicely put it on Twitter, "Mitt Romney has always been there when he needs you. The American people sensed that and he lost." ... Mitt Romney thinks that Donald Trump has not risen to the "mantle" of the presidency. But that mantle has been denied to Trump by an establishment that refuses to countenance his legitimacy and, moreover, by implication refuses to countenance the legitimacy of those who elected him."
Like many of Trump's critics, ol' Mitt is a coward masquerading as a noble truth-teller. Mitt might have won in 2012 if he had punched back at Obama. Trump punches back at his critics instinctively.
Roger concluded, that President Trump's "tenure has been a litany of achievement in the light of which Mitt Romney's complaints appear not just churlish and beside the point but slightly rancid and pathetic, not unlike the establishment he embodies."
Quote Of The Day is from Winston Churchill: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Wednesday January 2, 2019
Past Future: One of my Christmas gifts was a 1:43 resin model of the 1955 Ford Mystere concept car. Painted black over a pinkish fuchsia with a pearly white roof handle, the model was made in China by Neo.
The Ford Mystere concept car - in those days, such vehicles were known as 'dream cars' - was introduced to the press ... (more >>>)
"Speed Holes .. They Make The Car Go Faster." I'm not sure what to call this: click bait, desperation posting or waste-O-time, but The Truth About Cars has posted clips of car references from various episodes of The Simpsons.
But, since I'm a fan of the cartoon series, I enjoyed the references to past episodes. According to Homer Simpson, personal vehicles rule: "Public transportation is for jerks and lesbians." And ... realizing that Homer and Marge are being too nice, Bart exclaims, "That's it! They're selling us to be crash test dummies." Lisa implores, "Oh please, let it be Volvo!"
Ending 2017: We had much to celebrate on New Year's Eve. We stayed home and had cocktails and appetizers in the afternoon.
In the evening, I cooked an eight-ounce filet mignon on our outdoor grill - monitored by flashlight (technically, a Coast strap-on headlamp) - on a cold, dark foggy night. My wife and I shared a bottle of 2013 Sinclair Estate Vinyards Mourevedre from grapes grown on the Wahluke Slope in eastern Washington. This wine - a gift from a neighbor - was part of a one-barrel run of this vintage. It was quite good and was a unique experience.
After dinner, we watched the New Year's celebrations on television. They're just not the same since Dick Clark died. Oh well. I'm sure my parents said the same thing about Guy Lombardo.
Staying home seems more popular than ever - it's what 48% of Americans do on New Year's Eve. Only 9% actually go out to a bar, restaurant or event. About 70% of Americans stayed up past midnight as they welcomed 2019.
Hope you had a good New Year's Eve.
So Much For That "Pacific Century" Baloney: Syndicated financial commentator Malcolm Berko doesn't think much of China's economy.
"The yuan is hurting so badly that China is secretly dipping into its foreign exchange reserves to preserve the currency's integrity. That's scary. China's bureaucrats in Beijing are reluctant to share their economic data, which they cleverly contrive to hide and disguise China's economic weakness. And China will be dipping deeper as Donald Trump's tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods are beginning to move Buddha to the mountain and exact a toll. Yes, the slowdown is accelerating, and Trump seems to have the Chinese tiger by its tail and be looking it squarely in the eye. The yuan's slide has ignited a capital flight that continues to crash the currency, and China's stock market is a menacing minefield. Unfortunately, China's central bank lacks the alchemy to support the yuan.
China's debt, at over 300 times the country's gross domestic product, scares the diyu out of China's leaders and me, too. The yuan has been sullied in the past few years by an economic slowdown. Factories continue to mass-produce unsold bicycles, cars, toys, solar panels, electronics, building supplies, textiles, etc. Rather than lay off millions of workers and shut doors, provincial governments admonish factories to continue production. Resultantly, billions of dollars' worth of tires, sports equipment, calculators, steel, furniture, medical products, tubing, air conditioners, tools and mobile phones are literally buckling the floors of China's factories and warehouses. The Chinese stock market is crashing, and massive unemployment of nearly 9.2 percent (actual figure, not the official government figure) is giving China's leaders serious laundry problems."
"Home sales are sagging, while mortgage fraud is rampant. Commercial property values are collapsing. Ghost towns litter China's landscape. Lessors are canceling leases, and industrial property prices are foundering for want of lessees. … China's largest property developer, Evergrande Group, recently issued $2 billion in five-year dollar-denominated bonds paying 13.5%. The syndicate could sell only half the issue. … China's insurance companies are destitute, and many are unloading their real estate portfolios to increase liquidity. In fact, Anbang, China's largest insurer, is begging for someone to buy the Waldorf Astoria."
It should be noted that Mr. Berko's article is a refutation of the conventional wisdom about China peddled by the mainstream press, including the financial press.
2019 Stock Market Prediction: Financial guru Ken Fisher wrote, "I see stocks rising 15 to 25% or more in 2019."
He noted that "after corrections, when stocks fall 10% to nearly 20% from a recent high, the returns during the next 12 months average 34% before dividends. That's been true since 1926."
I hope he's right. Fisher has a particularly good forecasting track record.
Plurality: Order a couple of center-cut tenderloins and they're known as filets mignon, not filet mignons.
When you order a couple of breakfasts at McDonald's, is it Egg McMuffins or Eggs McMuffin? Eggs McMuffin sounds like the name of a 1920s Irish mobster. (permalink)
Book Review: 'The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World' by Simon Winchester
This 352-page book (plus acknowledgements, bibliography and index) traces the development of precision manufacturing from the very imprecise pre-Industrial Age to the digital world of the 21st Century. This is a ... (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.
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