A Blog About Cars ... And More
Monday September 30, 2019
Autosketch: 1957 Mercury - Turnpike To Oblivion
There's an old joke about the fact that "women always complain because you don't pay attention to them. So, you do and, the next thing you know, she takes out a restraining order."
For years, the public complained that a Mercury was nothing more than fancified Ford and the company wasn't paying enough attention to its mid-priced brand. Francis 'Jack' Reith, one of the Ford Whiz Kids, decided to change all that. In 1955, Reith proposed separating Mercury from the Lincoln Division for the 1957 model year and using the soon-to-be Edsel to create an entirely new division to launch in late 1957. Jack Reith became the new Mercury Division's general manager in 1955.
There was, at the time, a ... (more >>>)
Bigger Stake: Toyota Motor Corp. plans to raise its holdings in Subaru Corp. to more than 20% from around 17% now, expanding their partnership to invest more effectively in new technologies.
"Such tie-ups highlight how automakers are scrambling to chase scale, manage costs and boost development required to develop self-driving cars, electric vehicles and new mobility services which are upending the global auto industry."
"The plan appears to be to ultimately make Subaru a fully owned subsidiary, to help create a 'mega Toyota'. This is the first step towards that," said Takeshi Miyao, managing director of consultancy Carnorama. "It's all about building scale."
Fuel History: I've owned my 1939 Plymouth since 1994. The engineer in me keeps a record of all fuel purchases in a spiral notebook. I've posted a record of what I paid for Premium in September of each year here.
Climate Hysteria: Recently, Scott Grannis wrote, "When it comes to climate, beware of those who say it's "settled science." If your predictions end up consistently wide of their mark, you are not dealing with science. More likely, you're part of a cult."
Quote Of The Day is from Dave Burge: "Let's face it, the Interactive Hands-On Children's Science FunSpace will never be as educational as an asphalt-paved playground with equipment made out of galvanized steel pipe."
Thursday September 26, 2019
1949 Philadelphia Automobile Show:
First Fall Drive And A Little Excitement: We received a respite from the rain on Wednesday. Although it was pretty cloudy in the early morning, by 1:15 pm, the temperature was 67 degrees and there was sun and blue skies overhead with lots of white wispy clouds. So, I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive.
Traffic was on the heavy side until I swung onto a back road which was empty. Until a fire truck appeared with flashing lights and siren. I pulled over but it turned in front of me into a driveway. Unfortunately, the driveway was gated and the firemen had to wait until someone opened it. As I continued along, an ambulance came oaring toward me. I stopped, waited and watched as it almost got T-boned by a inattentive idiot in a white compact.
The rest of the trip was pleasant and uneventful. The rain returned early Thursday morning.
Cars With Plugs: Worldwide sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV), totaled 1.13 million in the first half of 2019, an increase of 46% compared to the first half of 2018. The PEV share of the entire global light vehicle market was 2.5% for the first half of this year.
The best-selling vehicle was the Tesla Model 3, which sold about 128,000 units in the first six months of this year.
Electric vehicle sales in China totaled 645,000 units in the first half of the year, a jump of 66% compared to the first half of 2018. Sales in China accounted for 57% of global sales in the first half of this year.
And, in related news ...
Coal Power: Last week, MotorWeek did a segment on Salt Lake City's push for electric vehicles, including public transit buses and taxpayer-funded charging stations. There was much sanctimonious talk of how SLC is helping save the planet from pollution. The people interviewed were smug and preachy.
The reality is a bit different. In 2017 ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Theodore Roosevelt For The Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy' by Dan Abrams and David Fisher
Here's the short version of the book: In 1915, after a five-week trial in the William Barnes vs. Theodore Roosevelt libel suit, the jury's verdict was in favor of the former president. Barnes, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, had sued Roosevelt for $50,000 for calling Barnes "a political boss of the most obnoxious type." Roosevelt won the case but ... (more >>>)
It's Always Hard To Lose A Pal: My very good friend Steve D'Ambrosia passed away following a valiant battle with glioblastoma at age 68. He is survived by his loving wife, Becky, as well as two wonderful daughters, Jennifer and Michelle, on whom he doted and of whom he was very proud.
Steve was an active member of the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club, having joined in 1981. He served in a number of executive positions in the national club, including the position of Chief Judge. He was also quite active in the Pacific Northwest Region, doing stints as Regional Director and board representative to the national club. He sat on the boards of both regional and national clubs. Steve was a fan of O-gauge trains, had his own very nice layout set up in his 32x60 foot shop and was quite active in the Toy Train Operating Society. Steve worked as a fire fighter for many years in Portland, Oregon.
Over the years, Steve owned a number of Lincolns, including ... (more >>>)
Conspiracy Theory Of The Week: Weird comedian Andy Kauffman didn't die. He hid for a while and then reappeared with a new identity - Congressman Adam Schiff.
Thought For Today: If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
Tuesday September 24, 2019
Searchin': I'd been searching for good old-car weather all last week. It had been very cloudy with off-and-on rain almost every day. On Saturday, at noon, it was a comfy 65 degrees outside with skies dancing between partly and mostly cloudy. I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. There was enough sunshine and blue sky overhead that I wore sunglasses.
As I was driving along, the song Searchin' by The Coasters came blasting through the speakers. This 1957 musical ditty was written by those gods of fifties music, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and was released as a 45 single by Atco Records in March. I still have the white-and-yellow labeled original 45 around here somewhere. Searchin' rose to #3 on the national pop singles chart. The B side, Young Blood - another Leiber and Stoller creation (with help from Doc Pomus), did well too. It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It should be noted that Searchin' was ... (more >>>)
Heart Flutter: Once upon a time, September would make the automotive part of my heart go pitter patter. (Now I take pills to prevent any unusual heart activity.)
There would be renderings and grainy photos of soon-to-be-released vehicles in car buff mags, followed by covert activities at local auto dealerships.
Every year, before the new models came out, dealers moved new cars into their showrooms in the dark of night and whitewashed all the big plate glass windows so people couldn't see in. The public got curious and excited. Prospective buyers and old customers were invited to preview parties hosted by the dealership.
There would be champagne, balloons, clowns and/or piano players to entertain. The service bays were scrubbed spotless and full of shiny new automobiles. People got caught up in the excitement and bought cars.
When you took delivery of your gleaming new vehicle, you were introduced to the service manager, who presented you with his card and gave you a personal tour of the parts and service departments.
In those days, cars really looked new and different each year. Your neighbors would be properly envious of your freshly-manufactured automobile, which looked nothing like last year's model.
Cars in showrooms looked as gaudy as Liberace's Christmas decorations with glittering chrome and bright whitewall tires. (All the cheap stripper models with no chrome and dull blackwalls - the muffin stumps of the model lineup - were parked out back near the Dumpster.) Today, showrooms are full of cars with no chrome and blackwall tires. These vehicles aren't cheap but they sure look it. And most of them look the same as last year's model.
Surprise, secrecy and excitement used to sell a lot of cars.
These days, the surprise is gone. There seems to be a three-year "unveiling" of new models beginning with something called a 'concept' dragged around to various auto shows. By the time the production model finally appears, buyer boredom has set in after eons of hype and overexposure. No secrecy; no excitement. Today, hardly anyone pays attention when new models are unveiled; most trips the local dealer are to the service department and end up with the visitors sitting in the waiting room staring at a television or their smartphones.
Cars are now appliances. No one is interested in a coming out party for the new Whirlpool.
Built In America: Toyota is investing $391 million in its San Antonio, Texas truck plant to expand production. The facility builds the Tacoma and Tundra, which will share a common architecture.
"The plant, which opened in 2007, employs about 3,200 people. The company's Tacoma is the top-selling midsize truck in the country. It has held the crown for 13 straight years and appears ready to retain that title for 2019. In August, the truck enjoyed its best August ever with Toyota selling 27,010 trucks, an increase of 14.8%. Tacoma sales are up 4.7% year to date."
Travel Subsidies: Public transit is by far the most expensive and most heavily subsidized form of transportation in the United States. While transit fares are only a little more than the cost of driving, total transit costs average more than four times the total cost of driving.
User costs range from 14 cents to 36 cents per passenger mile and subsidies range from ... (more >>>)
Another Reason To Never Visit San Francisco Again: Lombard Street the so-called "crookedest street in the world" is one of the essential tourist stops in San Francisco.
San Francisco's city leaders may soon require anybody driving down the street to pay a toll, unless you're a homeless tramp 'driving' a stolen shopping cart.
"A reservation and pricing program is a potentially useful tool for managing automobile demand and access for visitors to the street," California Assemblymen Phil Tingand and Richard Bloom wrote. "It would reduce traffic congestion and fund program administration, traffic management, and enforcement." In other words, pour money into SF’s corrupt and wasteful city coffers.
San Francisco's downhill slide began when they blocked off the cable car turnarounds in the 1980s, preventing the public from helping turn the cars.
Quote of the Day is from Thomas Sowell: "If you want to see the poor remain poor, generation after generation, just keep the standards low in their schools and make excuses for their academic shortcomings and personal misbehavior. But please don't congratulate yourself on your compassion."
Friday September 20, 2019
Help Wanted: Taken in 1942, this photo shows that lots of openings are available for war work at this Detroit employment office.
Note the 1939 Plymouth coupe parked out front. (permalink)
So Long, It's Been good To Know Ya. Or Not. BMW's little i3 electric car is being discontinued … eventually. "Released in 2013, the i3 was Bavaria's first stab at a mass-market EV. While this author sees them routinely parked in coastal cities, they're an anomaly elsewhere. Overt success has eluded the model in the United States, with annual sales dropping from a high of 11,024 units in 2015 to just 6,117 deliveries in 2018.
This year's U.S. sales look to be even weaker for the model. European sales have been on the rise every year since the car's introduction. Last year, that resulted in 24,252 deliveries for the region - with 2019 already positioned to surpass that figure easily."
In six years, I've only seen three or four of these odd little coupes.
Book Review: 'Auto Racing In The Shadow Of The Great War: Streamlined Specials and a New Generation of Drivers on American Speedways, 1915-1922' by Robert Dick
In the first decade of the 20th Century, American race cars were crude and basic, as were regular automobiles of the period. European cars, especially those from Germany and France, offered technical innovations and more sophisticated powertrains and suspensions. Few European race cars made it to the U.S. prior to World War I. In Europe, the French Grand Prix, held one week after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, was the last ... (more >>>)
Hot News: It seems obvious that global warming is being caused by Daylight Savings Time. Think about it - an extra hour of the hot sun every day??? Did we have global warming before the advent of DST? This seems so obvious to me that I am surprised that it is not being talked about."
And furthermore, Freon used to be used as a coolant. Then the Montreal Protocol of 1989 phased it out. Now we've got Global Warming.
Coincidence? Or What?!?!
Retail Apocalypse: Retailers of all scale and size have closed a combined 7,000 stores during the first 5 months of 2019, "already exceeding all prior full years. For 2018 overall, total store closures were just under 6,000, while Coresight Research predicts over 12,000 stores will be closed this year. These closures result from a combination of retailers going out of business and others reducing their physical footprint."
Payless ShoeSource closed 2,354 stores during the first half of 2019. Gymboree closed 749 children's clothing stores. Dressbarn, a women's appeal chain, closed 661 stores during the same period. (permalink)
RIP: Television journalist Sander Vanocur Has died at age 91 from dementia.
Described as "one of the country's most prominent political reporters during the 1960s," he served as White House correspondent and national political correspondent for NBC News in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Vanocur was one of the questioners at the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960 and was one of the first reporters to publicly ask JFK to justify the epic failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Quote Of The Day is from Victor Davis Hanson: "The next time a legislator, mayor, or governor rails about plastic straws or the Paris Climate Accord, be assured that his state's roads are clogged, his public schools failing - and he is clueless or indifferent about it."
Wednesday September 18, 2019
Money Machine: The Porsche 911 is the world's most profitable car in 2019.
"The 911 has accounted for nearly 30% of total Porsche earnings since it launched, even though it made up only 11% of sales, according to a recent report by Bloomberg Intelligence.
That percentage beats elite models such as the Ferrari F8 Tributo, Aston Martin DBX, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and BMW X5, each of which also punch above their weight when it comes to profit margins."
Wrong! Former New York Times columnist Stuart Elliot beat an old erroneous story to death - that the Edsel was a "fabled marketing flop."
Baloney. I've posted the real Edsel story here. Excerpt: "At an August 28, 1957 press preview dinner, before the Edsel had even been introduced to the public, McNamara told an associate, "I've got plans for phasing it out." One automotive historian wrote that the Edsel would have survived if McNamara hadn't "axed it to bolster his ego."
In January 1958 (only four months after introduction), McNamara disbanded the independent Edsel Division, folding it into the Lincoln-Mercury Division. Edsel dealers were soon told to get other franchises to represent, killing dealer enthusiasm and support. In November of 1959, a few weeks after the introduction of the 1960 Edsel, production ended for good.
So .... while the Edsel was a mere infant, McNamara stabbed it in the back - multiple times. No wonder the brand didn't survive.
Comfort, My Ass: If there were comfort donkeys, that's what most people would exclaim. Musician Charlie Daniels thinks the whole comfort animal thing - and a lot of other nonsense - has gone too far.
After seeing a news report about a woman boarding an airplane with a miniature horse she claimed to be her "comfort animal," he wrote, “People, come on. Ain't this a few points south of downright insanity? As one who has owned horses for the last fifty years or so, I am here to tell you that there has never been a horse that cannot be spooked, and the meanest horse I've got on my place is the littlest one. I also submit to you that somebody who is so off-center that they have to take a horse with them everywhere they go, probably has no business getting on an airplane anyway.
Can you imagine a plane hitting really rough weather and a horse, even a miniature, twisting off, raring and pawing? And believe me, even a couple of hundred pounds of scared horse is totally unmanageable. Any animal, no matter how docile or well-trained, is capable of violent behavior, as evidenced in the Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas some years ago when a tiger they considered tame and safe enough to expose thousands of people in the audience to seriously injured one of the best animal trainers in the world.
I am in total agreement with our servicemen and women and the physically impaired who use dogs for guidance, therapy and emotional needs being able to take their animals on board an airplane.
But a danged horse?
What would happen if I walked into the airport with a 2,000 pound bull and claimed I just couldn't face the flight without him? I'll admit that trying to fly with a bull would be pushing the envelope, but you probably get my point. Where does it stop?
It will only stop when people in authority in this country gain enough common sense and courage to say "NO.""
Charlie added, "The truth is the truth. It always has been, and it always will be. And truth's oldest child is common sense. Unfortunately, that child has all but been banished by segments of the American population in the last several decades." Amen.
Question Of The Day: If women are upset at Trump's naughty words, who bought 80 million copies of '50 Shades of Gray'?
Monday September 16, 2019
"But The Days Grow Short ... As They Reach September." Indeed. Sunrise is now listed as 6:45 am and it's dark at 8:00 pm. The weather has been un-September-like - overcast and rainy with clearing around 4:00 pm. But last Thursday dawned with bright sun and cloud-free skies and, by 10:00 am, the temperature had reached 60 degrees.
I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive along the back roads of Clark County. Traffic was fairly light and I drove with the windows down so I could hear the V8 burbling through the Glasspacks. I saw two Porsches along my route. The first was a 20+ year-old white convertible with the top down, driven by a bald, white bearded geezer. The other was a maroon early 911 coupe with small bumpers probably something from the mid-to-late '60s.It was behind me for a while until I turned off. I always liked the early 911s - they had very clean lines.
The rest of my drive was uneventful. I'm glad I got one in, because the rain began Thursday night and wet weather is forecast for much of this week.
What Is That Thing? The BMW Cocept 4 looks like a Mazda trying to swallow an Audi. Introduced at the frankfurt Motor Show, the car represents, according to Autoblog, "the new face of next BMW 4-Series coupe."
"We're not sure that "confident" and "classy" are the first adjectives that come to mind, but we'll admit the grille is definitely distinctive. The automaker says the face references "legendary classics such as the BMW 328 or the BMW 3.0 CSi," which is fair, but it does so in such an exaggerated way that it takes away from the rest of an otherwise harmonious design. Its classic rear-drive coupe proportions are marred by a grille so comically large that the hood has to bulge outward just to flow into it."
Am I Blue? A friend recently asked me about blue-tinted auto glass. I have never seen any in a production car, probably because blue is not very good as an ultraviolet absorber and heat reflector.
Mark made the molds; we modified them so they'd work better and we did the heating and forming. All parts were complex, three-dimensional curvilinear shapes, even the side windows. A couple of months after we completed the work, he came back with photos of the finished car. Mark was very happy with our work, commenting that we were the only people on the West Coast willing to tackle the job. But we never saw the guy or the vehicle again.
I wonder where the car is now? (permalink)
Old Iron: Jesse at Just A Car Guy has posted some pictures of items from the upcoming Iron Ranch auction.
The Alan and Marcella Schurman Iron Ranch in Ridgefield, WA is a lifetime collection of thousands of tractors, engines, trucks, parts, signs, toys, farm antiques and other odd stuff like an English Iron Works stationary steam engine, a steam donkey, a 1922 Stanley Steamer, a Corliss 600 hp steam engine, a steam engine clock, and a Plymouth shunting locomotive.
Alan Schurman, who passed away last year, was once a client of mine and a rabid collector of large mechanical and agricultural items. He once had a working steam locomotive which chugged around a large track on his property. Alan was a truly nice and generous man. I hope all of his cherished stuff finds good homes.
Book Review: 'White' by Bret Easton Ellis
Remember the signs posted at the entrance of roller coasters at old amusement parks: "You must be this tall to ride this attraction."? This book should carry the warning ... (more >>>)
Thought For Today: Jim Comey answered, "I don't know," "I don't recall," and "I don't remember" 236 times while under oath. But he remembered enough to write a book. Go figure.
Thursday September 12, 2019
Buh-Bye: The Fiat that brought the brand back to America is going away after this year. All forms of the 2019 Fiat 500 - hatchback and convertible - are being discontinued with the current 2019 inventory being sold off through 2020. This includes the electric, standard turbo and the Abarth iterations.
Once the little 500 is gone, Fiat's lineup will consist of the 500X crossover, 124 Spider sports car and the 500L micro-minivan thing. These 'Italian' Fiats were made at a plant in Toluca, Mexico.
I'm not surprised - sales of the Fiat 500 and its variants have been dismal for years. In the first half of this year, sales of the 500, 500L, 500X and the Spider were down 38% year over year to just 5,103 units. Fiat sales peaked in 2014 at around 46,000 units and have plunged every year since, reaching just 15,521 last year. Why? It might have been due to unreliability, poor reputation, quality issues and/or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
Rumor has it that the 124 Spider, a Mazda Miata clone, isn't long for this world either.
Surprising Data: The Tesla Model 3 was the third top-seller in August's UK new car market, finishing behind the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf. It's the first time a full-electric car has been in the United Kingdom's overall ranking of top 10 selling models. The UK is Europe's second-largest car market after Germany.
With sales of 2,082 Model 3s, the Tesla model was ahead of the Ford Focus at position 4 and the Mercedes-Benz A class, which rounded out the UK top five last month.
Still Turns Heads: Last Sunday, in the early morn, I spotted a blue Triumph TR7 coupe headed southbound on Interstate 5. I hadn't seen one in over six years. TR7s were pretty small by U.S. standards of the era - only 160 inches long. Because they were so low-slung - 50 inches tall, they looked swoopy rather than stubby. It was a winner at first - Triumph enthusiasts pounced on it faster than Lena Dunham on a fresh pie. Over its life, about 115,000 TR7s were produced.
These end-of-the-line Triumph sports cars were so unreliable and prone to rust - thank you, British Leyland - that most went to the crusher. So, TR7s make for a rare sight these days - 45 years after they were first unveiled.
When my son was in grade school, the TR7 was his favorite car - it was pretty wedgy and futuristic-looking when introduced in September 1974. (U.S. sales began in early 1975.) He had a framed poster of one in his room.
Preferred Parking: Seeing a photo of a Ferrari F40 supercar online triggered a memory.
In the early 1990s, we often dined at the Couch Street Fish House (it closed in 2000) in the questionable neighborhood (aka - seedy, filled with drunks and drifters) of Old Town Portland. The establishment had a small valet lot and, when we arrived in my Lincoln Mark VII, the car was always buried in obscurity amongst the other vehicular iron. When I purchased my new 1992 Twin Turbo Nissan 300ZX and fitted it with sparkling chrome wheels, the valets parked it right next to the door, like a piece of automotive jewelry.
One evening, I exited the restaurant and found my Z buried amongst the more plebeian vehicles. It had been dethroned; a low-slung, red Ferrari F40 was parked by the door. Fame - especially car fame - is fleeting.
Book Review: 'The Hill To Die On: The Battle for Congress and the Future of Trump's America' by Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer
The authors are writers for Politico, so one would expect a leftward bias. Yes, it's there but - all things considered - this seems to be a reasonably straightforward book, focusing less on ... (more >>>)
Who Says Europe's Sad Demographic Trends Are Inevitable: Consider Hungary, a predominantly Christian country, these days, although it was once part of the Ottoman Empire. Sunce 2010, marriages are up, children are up, divorces and abortions are down.
"The Hungarian government responded to the problem of population decline with a policy of supporting families," State Secretary Katalin Novák said, adding that "this policy is for introducing further family supporting measures each year without scrapping any of the existing ones. As a result, Hungary now spends five percent of its GDP on family support schemes, twice the OECD average and two-and-a-half times more than in 2010."
39% of Hungarians are Catholic.
Quote Of The Day is from Nicolás Gómez Dávila (aka - Don Colacho): "Society until yesterday had notables; today it only has celebrities."
Tuesday September 10, 2019
August Vehicle Sales: The seasonally adjusted, annualized sales pace came in at 16.5 million, based on several estimates. This is the fifth month this year that the SAAR has dropped below 17 million. GM, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler offered no data - they now only report quarterly sales.
Charles Chesbrough, senior economist with Cox Automotive, said, "The market may finally be succumbing to toughening buying conditions and satiated vehicle demand." Considering the continuous cries of "Woe is me; the recession is coming!", the auto market is holding up surprisingly well, I think. Since the beginning of this year, auto experts have been predicting that vehicle sales would sink like a mastadon in a tar pit. Or a Maybach in a tar pit.
Toyota sales were down fractionally compared with last August, while Honda sales jumped 20%. Both American Honda and Subaru of America set all-time monthly sales records in August, with Honda selling 173,993 vehicles and Subaru moving 70,039 units. Subaru sales increased 9%, while Nissan sales leaped 16%. Hyundai and Kia saw their sales rise by 12% and 13% respectively. Volkswagen sales increased 10% year-over-year.
In the luxury field, Mercedes-Benz sales increased 25% to 30,144 vehicles, Lexus rose 5% to 28,662, BMW was up 7% to 25,505 units, Audi sales increased 1% to 20,907 vehicles, Tesla sales fell 26% to 16,025 vehicles, Acura sold 15,189 units - an increase of 1% - and Infiniti sales dropped 15% to 9,185 vehicles.
74 Smart cars found buyers in August - a drop of 31% year-over-year. Around here, newish Smart cars are seen less often than a Higgs boson particle.
Sad Anniversary Tomorrow: "The people ride in a hole in the ground. New York, New York - it's a hell of a town!"
Every time I hear those words from the musical 'On The Town', penned by the legendary songwriting duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the 1944 Broadway musical about three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City (later transformed into a 1949 MGM movie, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Betty Garrett), the 'hole in the ground' part acts as an aching reminder of that tragic 2001 day in Lower Manhattan when terrorists murdered 3,000 innocent souls and created a ginormous hole.
September 11, 2001 - it was unthinkable and ghastly. It's hard to believe that it has been 18 years since 9-11.
On that day, my clock radio went off at 6:00 am (Pacific Time) but there was no top-o-the-hour news report - just continuous jumbled updates about a "small airplane" hitting the North Tower of World Trade Center a few minutes earlier.
I quickly got up, turned on the television and ... (more >>>)
The Global Warming Scam: Recently, Scott Grannis noted that "in the contiguous 48 states there has been a statistically insignificant amount of warming over the past 14 years.
U.S. temperatures have increased by about 0.6º F per decade, or roughly 0.06º per year. It's worth noting as well that US temperatures have been below average for most of the past year. This, at a time when headlines trumpet soaring global temperatures."
In related news, the MS Malmo, with 16 passengers on board, got stuck in ice on September 3rd off Longyearbyen, Svalbard Archipelago, halfway between Norway and North Pole. The ship is on Arctic tour with a Climate Change documentary film team, and tourists concerned with Climate Change and melting Arctic ice. All 16 Climate Change warriors were evacuated by helicopter in challenging conditions, all are safe. Seven crew members remain on board, waiting for Coast Guard ship assistance.
Something is very wrong with Arctic ice. Instead of melting as ordered by global warming proponents, it captured the ship with the Climate Change warriors aboard.
In summation, don't believe the hype that climate change will kill us all within the next 12 years. Unless there's a huge meteor strike ... then all bets are off.
Makes You Wonder What's In Those Swedish Meatballs: A Swedish behavioral scientist has suggested that it may be necessary to turn to cannibalism and start eating humans in order to save the planet.
And … Get Off My Lawn, Too! Old man Bernie Sanders yelled at a baby to "Keep it down!" during a campaign event.
Sad News: Charles G. Hill, founder and proprietor of the long-running Dustbury website, has died from injuries sustained in a car accident on Tuesday, September 3rd. He was 65 years old, lived in Oklahoma City and had been in poor health for the last couple of years.
The Dustbury blog dates back to 1996 - the Paleolithic Age of websites/blogs. Charles was an online pioneer and a prolific wrter, posting 2-3 items every single day. The website typically got 300 visitors/day.
As a regular reader for the last 15 years or so, I enjoyed his postings and his sense of humor. Charles wrote intelligently on a variety of subjects, including cars. He and I corresponded from time to time and we occasionally linked to each other's postings.
Requiescat in pace.
Don't Mess With Cowboys: Argentinian cowboys used bullwhips on vegan protestors at a rodeo.
"Gauchos do not take kindly to having their rodeo festivities broken up by screaming and sign-waving, a group of vegan protesters in Argentina learned last week. ... Audience members also appeared to join in on the fracas, throwing protestors out of the event area by the collars and kicking them. When the last remaining vegans were herded out of the arena the crowd erupted into cheers as music blared in the background."
Quote Of The Day is from John F. Kennedy: "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
Friday September 6, 2019
Fifteen Year-Old Predictions: In 2004, this then-new blog made eleven predictions for 2035, including three about car marques:
How will 2035 really turn out? I have no idea. Just look at how radically the auto industry has changed just over the past fifteen years.
When It Comes To Practical Technology, Hyundai Beats BMW Hands-Down: Auto scribe James Riswick had a far easier time connecting his dad's rented Hyundai Kona to Apple CarPlay than he did in several high-end BMWs which often failed to connect at all.
Got an Android phone? Things get worse: "Android Auto isn't available on any BMW. On the $21,085 rented Hyundai? Standard."
Fast Company: British sportscar veteran, Le Mans winner and official Bugatti tester, Andy Wallace, drove to an astounding 304.773 mph at the VW Group's secretive Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany.
"The Chiron's "near production" spec included an additional safety cell, aerodynamic changes and a taller seventh gear, as well as a 1,578 horsepower version of Bugatti's quad-turbocharged 8-litre W16 engine taken from up from the 1,479 hp of the 'standard' car."
How To End The War In Afghanistan: Are you as tired of the 18 years of deaths and carnage as I am? There is a solution. Here's my plan to accomplish it in four easy steps ... (more >>>)
The Decline Of Vanguard: John C. Bogle founded The Vanguard Group in 1975, promising a family of low-cost mutual funds for everyman. He established the first index fund, now the Vanguard 500 Index. Mr. Bogle retired and left Vanguard in 1999.
Since then, Vanguard has been run by a series of chief executives - each one moving the family of mutual funds away from Bogle's original vision.
Over the past few years ... (more >>>)
Ironic Headline Of The Week ... reported by Ace: 'Democrats Blame Global Warming on Meat, Air Travel, and Business at CNN's "Climate Crisis" Town Hall, and Then CNN Airs Ads For All of Those Things'.
Hypocrite: Elizabeth Warren is pushing for free college. Meanwhile, her Harvard professor husband earns $400,000 a year.
"In the past when Warren taught as a law professor at Harvard, she also earned a substantial salary. During 2010 and 2011, she earned $429,981 from the Ivy League university. Prior to that she was listed as being one of the top earners at Harvard."
If ol' Liz is so concerned about the affordability of college, why doesn't she and her hubby work pro bono.
Thought For Today: The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in the dark.
Wednesday September 4, 2019
Late Summer Fun: Last weekend brought delightful weather. At 9:00 am Saturday morning, it was 63 degrees and sunny, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The roads were virtually empty, the skies were bright blue with high clouds and a bit of morning haze. The Plymouth ran great and I had a most enjoyable, pre-breakfast drive.
And to that poky little Kia Soul driver who didn't see the speed limit change from 35 mph to 50 mph, I hope you enjoyed getting a dose of my car's high-test fumes as I blasted past you in my 80 year-old car with the 40 year-old V8.
We celebrated the long Labor Day weekend with a cookout. I made Don't-Bother-Me Burgers on my propane outdoor grill and my wife served up a batch of her Famous Potato Salad. My daughter and son-in-law were with us and enjoyed the food.
On Tuesday at 11:00 am, I took another '39 Plymouth drive along my usual route. Skies were summer azure with puffy white clouds here and thereat the horizon, the temperature was a comfy 73 degrees, traffic was quite light and I had a very enjoyable time.
Looks Better Than A Rolls: Looking like a mashup of a Roller, an Audi and a 1997 Lincoln Town Car, the Aurus, made by the state-owned Russian firm that made Vladimir Putin's limousine, is accepting orders for shorter versions of its Putinmobile at $275,000 each.
"Power comes from a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 engine tuned to deliver 600 horsepower ... but the line-up will eventually grow with the addition of an 800-horsepower V12 and a comparatively puny 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to 245 horsepower.
Aurus' expansion plans don't stop at two additional engines. It doesn't want to remain a one-model brand for long and is planning to launch a minivan, and an SUV named Komendant tentatively scheduled to make its public debut during the 2020 Moscow auto show. Additional Senat variants - including a hybrid, an electric model, or both - will join the range by 2025."
Re-creating A Long-Lost Prototype: Bentley's Mulliner coachwork division has built a one-off re-creation of the 1939 Bentley Corniche prototype, a streamlined sedan which never went into production. It is slated to debut at Salon Privé (held at Blenheim Palace in the UK) this week.
Initially conceived as a high-performance version of the technologically-advanced ... (more >>>)
Aston Martin Tractor Connection: In the post-war era David Brown Ltd. was one of the UK's largest tractor manufacturers but its owner's subsidization of his beloved Aston Martin could not be sustained forever; when the sports car maker was sold in 1972 the tractor division was bought by Tenneco International, which re-badged its products as ‘Case’.
Book Review: 'Driven: An Elegy To Cars, Roads & Motorsport' by John Aston
Mr. Aston's motoring autobiography is about one man's love of cars, especially Caterham Sevens, which he used to race. While Aston is British and some of the cars, racing circuits and slang may be unfamiliar to American readers, his car obsession is familiar to all car guys, regardless of nationality.
As a young man, he poured over ... (more >>>)
Bass Bucks: Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? Back in 2000 or so, the animatronic latex fish could be found floppin' and singin' on the shelves of every major retailer and toy store. It graced the walls of George Bush's oval office and Queen Elizabeth's Balmoral castle. It made a guest appearance on an episode of 'The Sopranos'.
It has been rumored that Big Mouth made Gemmy Industries, a small novelty toy business out of Coppell, Texas, over $100m in revenue, and sold more units than the popular Tickle Me Elmo during its 9-month run in 2000. It was very profitable, too. Retailing for $30, it reportedly cost $4.50 to produce in Hong Kong.
21st Century Problems: A lesbian couple face a dilemma after one transitioned to become male, leaving the other struggling to cope after years of being in a same-sex relationship. Andy Arnold and Kate Murray of Washington, DC have been together for several years. In 2017, Andy revealed that he identified as a man and would be transitioning. While Kate was supportive of his decision, it has since left her struggling to cope since she is inherently homosexual and attracted to women. The pair, who are still together and are now engaged, say they are working to 'navigate' the issue as a team.
As If They Don't Have Enough In DC Already: A new species of blood-sucking leech has been discovered in a swamp around the nation's capital. The creature is the first new species of leech discovered on the continent in more than 40 years.
The bloodsucker is olive-green, has orange spots, is about as long as cigarette and as wide as two. It has three jaws, each containing 56 to 59 teeth that it uses to clasp onto its prey, slurping up to five times its body weight in blood. It also accepts satchels of lobbyist money.
Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research."
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