A Blog About Cars ... And More
Friday August 28, 2020
AutoSketch: 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special
In the early 20th Century, Cadillac began using the advertising slogan 'Standard of the World'. If you look at period newsreel footage, you'll see potentates, dictators, popes, celebrities and gangsters being ferried about in shiny black Caddys. Pope Pius XII had several Cadillacs (prewar and postwar), including a Derham-bodied model with a throne in the back seat that could be elevated. In those days, Cadillac was indeed the Standard of the World.
Cadillac was such a prestige brand that, starting in the 1920s (according to author Bill Bryson in his book, 'One Summer - America 1927'), "Cadillac maintained a showroom in Manhattan where, as its ads boasted, "Sales are neither made nor discussed." Visitors could admiringly inspect the latest models but had to go elsewhere for the sordid business of making a purchase."
Caddys of the 1948-1956 era were easily recognized ... (more >>>)
Cybergavel Auction: Gooding & Co. set an online auction record of $3.08 million for a single vehicle - a well-preserved original, long-nose 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB.
The inaugural Geared Online sale reached nearly $14.5 million total with 71% sell-through rate. "A 2003 Ferrari Enzo at its recent auction; it sold for $2.354 million. The Enzo was part of a trio of cars from a private collection that included the next-two highest sellers, a 1995 Ferrari F50 for $2.134 million and a 1992 Ferrari F40 at $1.628 million.
A 1934 Duesenberg Model J Town Car, which Gooding called "a timeless American classic," broke the Ferrari cabal, coming in at fifth place with the final 7-figure sale at $1.012 million."
Republican Convention Sum Up: In short, it was very well done. Awesome, in spots.
Interestingly, the Democrats have Hollywood on their side - talented people that know how to put on a good show and yet they couldn't do that for the DNC. All they could produce were hate filled, angry, arrogant rants that were boring and barely watchable.
Donald Trump, an alleged classless, clueless person with no understanding of the intricacies of putting on a good show, wowed 'em. Ordinary Americans took the stage and talked about real issues, problems and how the Trump Administration solved them.
The RNC's entertaining and informative convention overwhelmed the ludicrous clown show that was the DNC. Trump didn't just fight for re-election, he is fighting for the soul of America. He turned up the left/progressive insanity to 11.
Every speaker was impressive in their own way, but I was exceptionally moved by Covington Catholic High School graduate Nick Sandmann, who was harassed by protestors at the Lincoln Memorial, Kayleigh McEnany, blind Chinese dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng, Jon Ponder, a reformed and redeemed ex-con given a pardon live, Pompeo's accomplishment-filled speech from Israel, Natalie Harp, a survivor of bone cancer, Cuban-American businessman Maximo Alvarez, Maine lobsterman Jason Joyce, school shooting activist Andrew Pollack, Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood employee, and, of course, Sister Deidre Byrne, a surgeon, retired Army colonel, and member of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary religious order. She's the nun who excoriated Joe Biden and the Democratic Party for its pro-abortion stance. Naturalizing those five people as citizens - live - on television right in the White House knocked my socks off. I had never heard the oath of citizenship before.
Donald Trump's speech on the final night of the convention covered all the bases, although I thought it was a little long. It was measured and deliberate. The fireworks over the Washington Monument were a knockout, especially the ones that spelled 'Trump 2020'. The operatic tenor closing was anti-climactic and unnecessary.
This is the best convention I've seen in 64 years. And most of the Republican babes are quite the lookers, especially the younger ones. None of those sour, angst-filled faces that we saw last week at the DNC.
Where Were You? The great trilogy of my generation is the where-were-you questions involving: When JFK died. When Elvis died. When Princess Diana died.
I've already discussed where I was when JFK died. And Elvis. Princess Diana died 23 years ago. August 30th was a Saturday night (yes, she died early Sunday - 7/31/1997 - in France but, in the Pacific time zone of the U.S., it was still Saturday) and we had just returned from dinner at Salcido's, our then-favorite Mexican restaurant (now out of business). I flicked on the television and every channel was in Breaking News mode. The early TV reports said that Diana was injured in a high-speed car accident in Paris. "Possibly she has a broken arm" said one. NBC, I think.
My wife, who sometimes exhibits an eerie prescience, proclaimed with certainty, "She's dead."
We had just gotten hooked up to that new-fangled Internet thingie a couple of months before, so I jumped online and, at a blazingly-fast 23.6 kbs, brought up Drudge. (Just because you had a 28k modem didn't mean you got a 28k connection.) Sure enough, Diana was dead. Cross-checked it with a couple of overseas newspaper sites and returned to the TV room, where talking heads were saying that "her condition may be a bit more serious than we initially reported." Talk about Mastery of Understatement.
That's when I realized that not only Diana but television news had died that night.
Twenty-three years later, there are still unanswered questions. The inevitable one is: Did the Royal family conspire to have Diana killed to preserve their image? I don't think so. If they believed in meddling to improve appearances, they would have had Charles' ears pinned back surgically when he was a baby.
Question Of The Day: Who knew what time it was when the first clock was made?
Wednesday August 26, 2020
Hydrogen Vaporware? I don't know whether the Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered supercar will ever be produced, but it is cool-looking and has a claimed 0-60 time of 2.2 seconds.
It supposedly "can travel 1,000 miles between ... (more >>>)
Rare Lambo: Silverstone Auctions in England held an online auction recently and experienced an impressive 76% sell-through rate with over $20 million in total sales. A red 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV, one of 11 right-hand-drive cars and with a mere 32,014 documented miles, sold for $2,520,000.
I remember the first time I saw a Miura roar by me on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the early '70s. It was a lime-green head-turner. A Miura still turns heads today; designer Marcello Gandini's sleek styling has withstood the test of time.
Book Review: 'Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump' by Tevi Troy
This book offers a behind the scenes look at the infighting during various White House administrations from Presidents Truman through (partial) Trump. WH people - staff and cabinet members are either military, academics or pols of various sorts. Most of them have their own agendas and will ... (more >>>)
Actions Have Consequences: As a result of the outta-control rioting in downtown Portland, several large companies, including Standard Insurance, are moving out.
"Standard Insurance, whose headquarters are at 900 SW 5th Avenue, say their buildings have been vandalized and many workers assaulted in recent months. The company has now removed all staff from the area. Many employees had already been relocated because of the on-going pandemic. Standard has removed the last of their 2,100 employees from the center and have relocated them to their office in Hillsboro."
Another unnamed company "reported losses of more than $20 million alone. The company wasn't named in the findings, however the staggering number is said to still be growing." Non-profit OCHIN, announced plans this week to permanently leave the area. Rioting has been going on unabated for almost three months.
You can search the web and find lots of stories about businesses and individuals fleeing Democrat hellholes such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle. In fact, Zillow reported that inventory has risen a whopping 96% year-on-year, as empty homes in San Francisco flood the market like nowhere else in America.
Movers in New York City are so busy they are turning people away. Vladislav Grigor, a foreman and dispatcher at Empire Movers in Manhattan, said. "It's nuts out there. There is double the volume of customers - maybe more - than last year." While the moving industry is fractured among numerous small business owners, and official statistics are tough to come by, one thing is clear: From professionals who are downsizing following a job loss, to students moving back in with their parents, to families fleeing the city for the suburbs, New Yorkers are changing their addresses in droves.
Another Argument Against Mail-In Ballots: The American Postal Workers Unions National Executive Board has endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States.
Bad Beginnings: The 2020 Grand Prize winner of the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest is Lisa Kluber of San Francisco, CA, who wrote, "Her Dear John missive flapped unambiguously in the windy breeze, hanging like a pizza menu on the doorknob of my mind."
The contest takes its name from Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel 'Paul Clifford' famously begins: "It was a dark and stormy night." Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.
Here's what I may submit next year: "She said she was from Wyoming and, while she didn't have much of an ass, I just couldn't keep my eyes off her Grand Tetons."
Geezer Joke: Three old guys are out walking. First one says, "Windy, isn't it?" Second one says, "No, it's Thursday!" Third one says, "So am I. Let's go get a beer."
Quote Of The Day is from Laurence J. Peter: "An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today."
Monday August 24, 2020
Coupe de Grâce: Most manufacturers are killing off their good-looking coupes because the market for them has tanked. Market share for coupe bodied autos has fallen 60% over the last decade. Honda is discontinuing the Civic coupe.
"By 2015, two-door versions of the Focus, Altima, and CTS were gone. So was the RX-8. The Genesis Coupe had just one more year." The market share of coupes had fallen to below 3%. "Convertibles? From more than 2% in 2005, droptops now own just a quarter of that: 0.54%."
It's Not Just Coupes: The U.S. subcompact car market share fell by 50% since 2016. The Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and Honda Fit are gone. On the other hand, the subcompact crossover market has tripled since 2013.
Timothy Cain wrote, "The shock-to-the-system of a pandemic-altered first-half did the dwindling subcompact car market no favors in early 2020. The ensuing incentives, such as interest rate drops that obviously lend far more favor to more costly products, have done virtually nothing to spur sales of America's smallest cars. As auto sales fell 24% overall in 2020's first six months, subcompact cars were down 51%, greater than twice the rate of decline.
Subcompact crossovers, meanwhile, lost only 7% of their volume while the overall market tumbled at more than three times the rate."
Plymouth Poetry: It's hard to believe that August is coming to an end. As poet Elizabeth Maua Taylor penned:
Well, I do feel that summer is slowly being dragged away but I'm determined to get more old car drives in before the good weather comes to an end. At 8:00 am Sunday, the temperature was only 53 degrees. But skies were light blue with only a few small clouds here and there. So, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive to Hockinson and back. At first, there was some traffic in the other direction but my lane was mostly empty. As I drove the number of cars lightened up and as I headed home I had the road pretty much to myself.
I felt great, even though I was hospitalized for a 'procedure' on Wednesday that left me housebound for a few days. It was good to get out and enjoy my old car. I'm feeling mostly back to normal, have discontinued my pain medications and enjoyed a steak dinner with a rich-bodied cabernet for Sunday dinner.
Commie Thievery: Steve Saleen of automotive tuning, racing and car-building fame has accused China of stealing $800 million worth of his intellectual property. China took "40 years’ worth of intellectual property from him in launching the Saleen brand in China.
In 2016, Saleen entered a joint venture with the government of Rugao, a city in Jiangsu province with a population of roughly 1.4 million. The plan was for Saleen to use his experience, design, engineering and related technologies worth $800 million in the joint venture while maintaining a majority stake in the company with his American partners. Meanwhile, Rugao would bring $500 million in capital and $600 million in subsidized loans over three years to fund manufacturing sites and operations in exchange for a minority stake."
Saleen claims "the deal was a sham." According to the racing legend, "the joint venture applied for 510 Chinese patents based on his designs, technologies, trade secrets and engineering developments. He adds that most of these patent filings didn't list him as an inventor. The company, known as Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technologies (JSAT), unveiled a range of models 12 months ago."
As they say in Hong Kong: "Don't trust China. China is asshole."
Business Advice - Management By Objectives: A few years after I graduated from college, I realized that, although I had a degree in Mechanical Engineering:
As I met business people in various industries, I quickly learned that ... (more >>>)
Democrat Hypocrisy: Last week, Donald J. Trump tweeted, "To get into the Democrat National Convention, you must have an ID card with a picture. Yet the Democrats refuse to do this when it comes to your very important vote! Gee, I wonder why?"
Speaking of the Dem Convention, Julie Kelly wrote, "The party's ailments have been on full display this week. Look no further than the freakish music video that closed out the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Billy Porter, a gay black Broadway star, and geriatric Steven Stills of Crosby, Stills, and Nash teamed up to remake Stills' 1966 classic, 'For What It's Worth'."
That's the Buffalo Springfield song with the beginning lyrics: "There's something happening here …" I saw the performance and, when they did a close-up of Stills playing the guitar, his hands looked like those of an 85 year-old. Get some Neutrogena, dude!
"The video was a performative display of the party’s schizophrenia: A white '60s counterculture icon and a Dracula-costumed POC LGBTQ activist offering an inharmonious version of a Vietnam-era tune as the official anthem for the candidacy of a feeble establishment codger and his unaccomplished cackling sidekick quickly shredding their faux moderate façade in fealty to the party's lunatic fringe of America-hating nihilists."
The American lexicon is changing so quickly that I can't keep up. I learned that POC now refers to People of Color. Ooops. For years, my car buddies and I have been calling any awful car a POC - Pile of Crap. I guess I'll soon be arrested by the PC police. I plan to plead that I Didn't Know Any Better. I call it the Joe Biden Defense.
May I point out that Kamala Harris is not African-American. She is Indian-Jamaican and her Jamaican grandfather was a slave owner. (Awkward!) On the other hand, Elon Musk is African-American. Labeling everyone does nothing but cause confusion.
I saw of little of last week's "festivities," but, based on what I saw and read, the tone of the convention seemed quite negative; there was little in the way of a positive message. And a lot of craziness. And speakers who seemed to be living in an alternate universe. Oh … and Queen Hillary is still in denial.
Joe Biden said that the nation is undergoing four historic crises, including "the undeniable realities and just the accelerating threats of climate change" (proven to be fake news), "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression (I guess he forgot about The Great Recession of 2008-10," (most of which was under the Obama-Biden watch) and "the most compelling call for racial justice since the 60's" (a ginned-up, riot-begetting summer enabled by Democrats and their surrogates) and, of course, "the worst pandemic in over 100 years" (101 years to be exact, brought on by Hunter Biden's employer, China, and exacerbated by that incompetent mass-murderer of grannies, Andrew Cuomo). There was no mention of the awful riots in Democratic-controlled cities.
Biden offered no specific solutions, just: "Elect me." It was all kind of sad. History shows that many Democrats produced great and memorable rhetoric. Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave wonderful, uplifting speeches during the Depression. His 'Date which will live in infamy' address was heartfelt and inspiring. Roosevelt was one of many Democrats who knew how to weave words and enthrall an audience. Others included John F. Kennedy ("Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike ..."), Adlai E. Stevenson ("Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem of Heaven.") and Bobby Kennedy ("There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?").
There are charges that, once gain, Joe Biden plagarized elements of his DNC acceptance speech.
In 2020, America endured banality from Joe and Kamala. It is not a good start.
Another Biden Lie: Last week during his DNC acceptance speech, Joe Biden brought up the Charlottesville riot of two years ago. He totally mischaracterized it as frightening KKK and Nazis with torches.
The riot was over a statue. It was not all about the KKK and Nazis. It wasn't. It was a bunch of bubbas (some were Klanmen and/or neo-Nazis) who had a legally-secured permit to protest the pending removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a legitimate historic figure - especially to those who live below the Mason-Dixon Line ... or as it is now known, the iHop-Waffle House line.
A bunch of permit-less, leftist Antifas, allegedly funded by mega-wealthy troublemaker George Soros and a group Joe Biden has never denounced, showed up and picked a fight. It escalated into a riot; the police protection promised to the permitted protestors was woefully inadequate and many police reportedly left the area on stand-down orders from command. The Antifas were surprised because they generally pick on elderly and/or hippie protestors who don't put up much of a fight. The bubbas were better prepared and gave these bozo anarchists a pretty good whoopin'. Good on 'em, as they say in the South.
A mom-beating, Hillary Clinton-loving slimeball named James Fields ran over people in his Dodge Challenger, killing a woman and injuring 19 others in the process. He was reportedly a member of Antifa. As you might expect, the mainstream media, by and large, didn't not report this because it did not fit their preconceived narrative that Mr. Fields is a racist, Klan-loving, Nazi Trump supporter.
President Donald Trump rightly expressed outrage over the violence mixed with sadness for the dead victim and those injured, noting correctly that "there is blame on both sides." For this, he was excoriated by the press and pundits who were only looking for a condemnation of racist white supremacists. Actually, I feel that Trump should have also blamed the mayor as well as loudmouth lefty Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe - both of whom failed to protect their own citizenry.
At the time, Jeff Laffite Jones summed it up best: "Black people who were never slaves are fighting white people who were never Nazis over a confederate statue erected by Democrats because Democrats can't stand their own history anymore ... yet somehow it's Trump's fault."
Never forget that Joe Biden is a serial liar. Always has been. James Lileks coined another great phrase this week when he wrote about "the soft bigotry of Joe expectations."
Finally, it should be noted that Richard Spencer, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and organizer of the infamous 2017 Charlottesville riots, announced that he will be voting for Joe Biden in the upcoming election.
Virus Update: Cumulatively, there have been 45 deaths in Clark County, Washington, a rate of 94 per million from the China virus as of Friday. 41 of the deceased were people 60 years-old or over.
The death rate for Washington State is 241/million people. The U.S. death rate is 537/million. The U.S. mortality rate is below those of Belgium, Peru, Spain, UK, Italy, Sweden and Chile.
There have been a total of 2,384 cases of the Wuhan flu in Clark County, a rate of 4,968 per million people. Based on the number of tests, the positivity rate is just under 3%. Currently, there are 19 people hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus.
Battle Ground's zip code (98604) has a case rate of 3,375/million - 32% lower than Clark County as a whole. Last week, I got tested for covid-19 and passed.
Washington State has a total cumulative case rate of 9,370/million - almost 2.8 times as high as rural Battle Ground, WA. The U.S. coronavirus case rate is rate is 17,404/MM - 86% higher than Washington state. Washington ranks 23rd among U.S. states in total number of cases.
Dr. Gilbert Berdine, an associate professor of medicine at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center, has collected and analyzed a great deal of information about the virus and noted that "data suggest that lockdowns have not prevented any deaths from covid-19." He provided a chart to validate his observations.
What I noticed about the chart was that New York had far-and-away the most severe mortality from the China virus, thanks to the stupid, murderous policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo. His decision to forcibly remove elderly virus patients out of hospitals and back to nursing homes, devastated the senior population. He claimed his action was to open up hospital beds but the claim is specious in light of the Trump Administration converting the Javits Center into a hospital and docking a large-capacity hospital ship in New York Harbor. These facilities, as well as the one set up by Franklin Graham's charitable organization were mostly unused by New York. Meanwhile nursing homes were stuffed with cases, causing the virus to spread rapidly and savagely to vulnerable elderly people.
Stop Flapping: Here's a headline from the 1922 edition of the Washington Post (11/2/22): 'Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt'. Excerpt: "... great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones ... at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared."
Must have been caused by the body heat of all those flappers doin' the Charleston.
Bad Pun Of The Day: A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Alright, I'll serve you ... but don't start anything."
Wednesday August 19, 2020
Not Much Spark: The zest for electric vehicles in the U.S. seems to have dimmed. CleanTechnica estimated that U.S. buyers purchased 38,214 Tesla Model 3 sedans during the first half of 2020, making it the overwhelming favorite all-electric vehicle on the market. The closest any non-Tesla BEV came was the Chevrolet Bolt which registered a comparatively anemic total of just 8,370 sales.
The Tesla Model Y SUV, still in ramp-up stage, generated 18,861 sales during the first half, with the bigger Model X coming in at 9,500. Though the Chevy Bolt did manage to outsell the now-aging Tesla Model S, at 4,700, all four of the products Tesla offered were in the U.S. market's top five BEVs.
All versions of Nissan's battery-car have combined of just 3,006 units. Put another way, Leaf sales were down about 50% from the year before. The Audi e-tron hasn't exactly lit up the market, sales from January through June totaling a mere 2,872 here in the States. The high-priced, high-performance Porsche Taycan sold only 1,038 units during the first six months of 2020.
Everything Old Is New Again: An article in the Detroit News proclaimed: "For show cars, split hoods can score points'. "It's an open and shut case: Aftermarket kits give regular rides the aesthetics of (Lamborghini-style) doors are cool, but, like, doesn't everyone parking on display at the custom car show have them already?
Now, to really score points with the judges - and the viewing public - what you might need is a split hood kit."
Mismanaged: Last month, Briggs & Stratton, the world's largest manufacturer of small gasoline engines and employer of around 5,000 people (down from as many as 11,000), declared bankruptcy and will sell its assets to a New York private equity firm.
The company failed because of rising steel and aluminum prices, a bankruptcy filing by Sears, Briggs' largest customer and a failure to innovate. Briggs & Stratton builds over 9,000,000 engines in the USA each year but couldn't make a profit in recent years.
Founded in 1908, Briggs & Stratton engines are commonly used on lawnmowers, as well as pressure washers, electrical generators, go-karts, and a wide variety of other applications. Their original cast-iron engines were known for their durability, but the company's success was established following the development of lightweight aluminum engines in 1953.
"Briggs has spent $167 million on research and development but $239 million on share repurchases since its 2012 fiscal year, according to securities filings. With no major product innovations, operating margins - profits after the cost of production declined. Briggs’ operating margins fell to -3% as of June 2019 from 13% as of June 2002, said Richard Wamboldt, a student in the Investment Management Certificate Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Essentially, Briggs has been losing money on the products it sells."
The New Underclass: The results of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns has created a new underclass of people without jobs. Given the great economy and record low unemployment rate in early 2020, most people were optimistic abut their future and secure in their work.
The virus lockdown has destroyed many small businesses. Many small local restaurants have closed forever. Numerous mom-and-pop retailers - as well as some big chains - have shuttered their premises permanently.
Businesses which have had steady non-cyclical work for years find themselves with no business. No county fairs mean that amusement ride providers and their employees are out of work, as are food vendors, booth operators and the like. There is no live theater, meaning actors, set builders, ushers, program printers and the like are unemployed. People who work at sports stadiums are now laid-off. The same with many zoos and other public attractions - concerts, amusement parks and movies.
Non-residential construction is hurting - working from home means there's a developing glut of office space and no one is building hotels, motels or restaurants these days. Construction bonds for schools are being voted down by frustrated taxpayers who don't know what 'school' will be like in the future. So, most new school construction projects are DOA.
Airlines are operating at 25% capacity. Lodging establishments are averaging 40% occupancy. Massive layoffs are evident in the hospitality and leisure industries.
Many of these jobs will either never return, or will take a year or more to return to some semblance of normalcy.
Workers who have never experienced unemployment are now on the dole with zero or limited near-term job prospects.
If you're angry about all of this, don't forget to blame the responsible party - China. My personal opinion is that no one else could have done better than Donald Trump in these unprecedented times. He has responded swiftly and forcefully in handling the virus. Do not believe the liberal hype. The U.S. under the Trump administration, has done much better than its peer and near-peer nations at limiting economic damage, and it has done so without maintaining a higher death rate.
VP Mike Pence noted that "we've created more jobs in the last 3 months than Joe Biden and Barack Obama created in their 8 years in office."
My Tax Dollars At Waste: Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D, of course) has set aside $40 million in coronavirus relief for workers in the U.S. illegally.
Shouldn't someone prosecute Inslee for aiding and abetting criminals?
Me Too! Dave Burge tweeted, "I'll go back to movie theaters when they install pause & rewind buttons."
I also want volume control and the ability to fast-forward through all those loud and insufferable pre-movie 'commercials'.
Quote Of The Day is from writer Tom Weller: "A watched clock never boils."
Monday August 17, 2020
Fast And Expensive Carryall: Car and Driver tested a $134,235 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S crossover, equipped with a twin-turbo, 4-liter V8 making 603 horsepower coupled to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The 195-inch long chubby-looking schnellwagen did 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. 0-100 mph took 6.5 seconds. Mercedes claims it will top out at 174 mph.
"AMG has also fitted its 48-volt Active Ride Control anti-roll system, which helps keep body roll tightly in check in the more aggressive settings. Even on our test car's optional $3250 22-inch wheels (21s are standard), the GLE63 S deftly soaks up midcorner bumps and undulations without feeling brittle. Ride quality is almost too plush in the Comfort setting, though. Overall, AMG's suspension setup can drop the GLE63 S 0.4 inch above 75 mph to reduce drag or raise it 2.2 inches in the Trail and Sand modes to increase ground clearance."
"Two decades after AMG released its first high-performance luxury SUV, many enthusiasts (including us at times) still struggle to see the appeal of monster-engined tanks such as the GLE63 S. Yet, the trough of willing buyers for such vehicles continues to grow as quickly as their overall performance improves with each new generation."
Scorcher: The weather forecasts had let me know that Saturday was going to be hot, with posted 'Excessive Heat Warnings' from the National Weather Service. So, I got up early and by 8:10 am was already on the road in my '39 Plymouth coupe. The temperature was a comfortable 57 degrees, skies were bright summer blue with almost no clouds and the grass was emerald green with morning dew and sprinkler water.
Traffic was quite light as I drove to Hockinson and back. The Plymouth ran great and I felt great. When I got back home, I enjoyed a nice breakfast. By late afternoon (5:00 pm), the temperature had soared at 101 degrees. It was a good time to stay indoors with the A/C on. Sunday's temperatures reached 98 degrees.
A Different Kind Of 'Stang: Russia-based Aviar announced plans to build a carbon fiber-bodied, Tesla Model S-based coupe called R67 that's shaped like a 1967 Mustang fastback.
Pricing and availability has not been announced, so it may just be a Russian pipe dream albeit a nice one.
Always Buy; Don't Rent: General Motors' much-touted Supercruise system is only free for three years. Then you have to subscribe.
Johnathan Gitlin wrote, "If you bought a model year 2018, 2019, or 2020 CT6, you actually only get a free three-year trial of Super Cruise functionality. After that point, you must have an active OnStar account for Super Cruise to continue to work. ... Given the cost of a new Cadillac CT6, it's probably reasonable to expect that an owner will continue to maintain their OnStar subscription - the cheapest of which costs $25 a month - after the initial three years. And obviously the car needs to be able to receive map updates remotely." What's next - subscription keyless entry? Electric window subscriptions?
Gitlin concluded, "If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that you should expect the worst (and even then you'll be disappointed)." True dat.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: I've updated my 1953 Cadillac Le Mans Motorama show car Autosketch with more photos and additional information. I have also updated my Funeral Planning web page.
Expensive But Always Needing Repairs: Have you ever noticed that the sole mission of the International Space Station is to do more repairs on the International Space Station?
It seems like the International Space Station is like a sinkhole fixer-upper house, with bad plumbing, termites and a tilting foundation.
Or like some of the vintage cars owned by some of my friends. They are impressive to look at but every time they're taken on the smallest road trip, they break down. And it's never something simple either. It's always some obscure vacuum diaphragm thingie that is unrepairable and that NAPA hasn't stocked for decades. Until the part is replaced, the car won't start ... and/or run. And the only diaphragm available is a "fair-to-good" used part from an obscure junkyard in the middle of Nebraska. The proprietor doesn't take credit cards and won't mail it "until yer check clears, city boy."
I'm starting to think that NASA is staffed by former service writers from car dealerships.
Virus Update: Cumulatively, there have been 43 deaths in Clark County, Washington, a rate of 90 per million from the China virus as of Friday. 39 of the deceased were people 60 years-old or over.
Nationally, the median age for death from the Wuhan flu is 78. And, based on a 7-day rolling average, daily new cases are trending down. People in nursing homes represent 1% of the population but 50% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S.
The death rate for Washington State is 228/million people. The U.S. death rate is 516/MM. The U.S. mortality rate is below those of Belgium, Peru, Spain, UK, Italy, Sweden and Chile.
There have been a total of 2,219 cases of the Wuhan flu in Clark County, a rate of 4,623 per million people. Based on the number of tests, the positivity rate is around 3%. Currently, there now 19 people hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus.
Battle Ground's zip code (98604) has a case rate of 3,043/million - 34% lower than Clark County as a whole.
Washington State has a total cumulative case rate of 8,836/million - almost three times as high as rural Battle Ground, WA. The U.S. coronavirus case rate is rate is 16,434/MM - 85% higher than Washington state.
Donald Trump Deserves The Nobel Peace Price For This. Sadly, he probably won't get it. The deal brokered by the Trump administration to normalize relations between the United Arab and Israel is a major global event.
The initial idea had been to establish peace between Israel and Palestine but, as they have for almost 50 years, the loser Palestinians balked. So, Donald Trump decided to go for a work-around. This new deal is expected to be one of many which will eventually marginalize the Palestinians toward insignificance.
The United Arab Emirates has become the first major Arab state to recognize Israel since the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was signed in 1994. This is the most significant step toward peace in the Middle East in more than 25 years.
The Trump Administration went right to work building trust in the Middle East. The ISIS caliphate was destroyed, and terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was brought to justice. After decades of past U.S. presidents promising on the campaign trail to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem - only to break that promise once in office - President Trump made it happen. After nearly two decades of war, America under President Trump began to bring troops home from the Middle East. In February, the United States reached a historic agreement with the Taliban that secured important commitments necessary to finally end the conflict in Afghanistan responsibly.
The President's commitment to energy independence has made America less dependent on Middle East oil - bolstering our national security, lifting our economy, and improving U.S. foreign policy in the process.
Even Tom Friedman was impressed, calling it a geopolitical earthquake. Normally an anti-Trumper, Friedman wrote "The agreement brokered by the Trump administration for the United Arab Emirates to establish full normalization of relations with Israel, in return for the Jewish state forgoing, for now, any annexation of the West Bank, was exactly what Trump said it was in his tweet: a 'huge breakthrough'."
And the Palestinians are livid, so it must be a really good thing. Iran and Turkey are pissed, too. Good. Screw 'em.
William Katz wrote, "The Nobel Peace Prize is a farce, and highly politicized. It's given in Oslo, unlike the other Nobels, which are given in Stockholm. The choice for the Peace Prize is made by Norwegian politicians, decidedly leftist, and aloof to America. Trump could bring peace to every nation on Earth, and the Nobel committee would give the prize to someone who baked a new cookie saying 'peace'."
Blonde Jokes: A blonde, a redhead, and a brunette were all lost in the desert. They found a lamp and rubbed it. A genie popped out and granted them each one wish. The redhead wished to be back home. Poof! She was back home. The brunette wished to be at home with her family. Poof! She was back home with her family. The blonde said, "Awwww, I wish my friends were here."
A blonde, a redhead, and a brunette were trapped on an island and the nearest shore was 50 miles away. The redhead swam trying to make it to the other shore; she swam 15 miles, drowned, and died. The brunette swam 24 miles, drowned, and died. The blonde swam 25 miles, got tired, and swam back.
Sucker Punch: This week, AMC is opening 100 of its movie theaters. Tickets will be 15¢ plus tax, claimed to be 1920 pricing.
But popcorn will cost $88 per bucket - 2120 pricing.
Quote Of The Day is from Tom Wolfe: "An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others."
Friday August 14, 2020
Won't Be Singing Around Here For A While: Cadillac debuted its new Lyriq, a mid-sized battery-powered two-row SUV, last week. The vehicle will be sold in China next year and is supposed to be available in the U.S. in late 2022 as a '23 model, which shows where America fits in the General Motors scheme of things.
GM took the opportunity to remind everyone that it is on "a path to an all-electric future." The Lyriq is an odd but futuristic-looking vehicle that seems to lack bumper protection.
We'll see what the U.S. production version looks like when and if it appears. There is often a great deal of difference what GM's concept vehicle looks like and the appearance of production version. Remember how little the production Chevy Volt resembled the concept?
Ford-Free Neighborhoods: A while back, Paul Mirengoff of Powerline wrote, "In the early 1960s, less than 20 years after the end of World War II, a hot topic in the Jewish community was: should a Jew buy a Volkswagen? I never discussed the matter with my parents, but their answer must have been in the affirmative because my mother ended up driving one, and I don't think she stole it."
Growing up in 1950s Philadelphia, I never saw a Ford product in a Jewish neighborhood. I didn't see many Chryslers, either. But there ware lots of Cadillacs and Buicks parked on the streets.
If my memory serves me correctly ... (more >>>)
Aussie Auto History: At the beginning of the 1970s, Australian car manufacturers were building faster and faster sedans, and the government had safety concerns.
Ford had released the fastest sedan in the world in 1971, the Phase III GTHO Falcon. The Aussie government then told Australian manufacturers, "If you produce 160 mile-an-hour supercars, we won't give you fleet orders."
Only 120 super cars were built after that threat.
Hard For Me To Believe ... but Elvis Presley will have been dead for 43 years this Sunday. He's now been dead longer than he was alive.
On August 16, 1977, I was in Chicago on a business trip. It was sunny and hot. I had finished a meeting and was driving east on I-90 in a rented Buick Century - with the A/C going full blast - headed toward South Bend, when I heard the news on the radio. I don't know why I remember these details but I was wearing a gray wool, three-piece suit with a white button-down shirt and maroon club tie - the mid-1970s version of a corporate Dress-for-Success outfit.
That night, I watched the 11:00 pm news in a depressingly dark motel room and saw an old b&w clip of a young Elvis performing 'Ready Teddy' on The Ed Sullivan Show. I had seen that very show when it originally aired on September 9, 1956. It was one of Elvis' finest live television performances. Ed Sullivan was in the hospital after a serious car accident in his big '56 Lincoln Premiere sedan. Substitute host Charles Laughton introduced Elvis; he performed from a remote hookup in Hollywood where he was making his first movie, 'Love Me Tender'.
In those days, young Elvis Presley was an awesome talent. I've written more about Elvis here.
Before There Was Infrastructure: "In 1816, a U.S. Senate committee found that it was as expensive to move a ton of goods 30 miles overland as it was to move the same ton across the Atlantic from Europe." (source: 'The First Tycoon' by T.J. Stiles)
Another Virus Casualty: Stein Mart, a 112 year-old discount apparel retailer, has filed for bankruptcy and will close most, if not all, of its 280 stores. There are no Stein Marts around here but we bought lotsa stuff from them any time we were in the Palm Springs or Phoenix area.
Returning To Childhood: All parents make jokes about stuff their kids did when they were little. Trouble is, the now-grown-up kids don't remember it.
My parents used to joke that I had a 78 rpm record which I played over and over which drove them nuts. It was called 'Wilbur The Whistling Whale'. I had only a vague recollection of it.
We live in an age where everything is available online. I googled 'Wilbur The Whistling Whale' and found an establishment that would provide me with a CD copy. Of course, I ordered it. 'Wilbur' is a ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Adam Carolla: "Fish are essentially cannibals. They eat smaller versions of themselves. This would be like me saying, 'I'm hungry. Get me a midget.'" Jerry Seinfeld once quipped, "Know why fish are so skinny? They eat fish."
Wednesday August 12, 2020
Autonomous Vehicles - Real Or Vaporware? While every automaker is working on fully-autonomous vehicles (when they're not working on electric ones), Jack Baruth predicted, "You are never going to share the road with a significant number of autonomous vehicles. "Never," in this case, is a fancy way to say never. Not in the lifetime of anyone reading this column. I am stone-cold certain about this."
He makes a good case for his prediction ... (more >>>)
Two-Door Or Four-Door Cervix? In a politically-correct St. Vitus Dance fit, the American Cancer Society has announced - via CNN - that "individuals with a cervix" are now recommended to start cervical cancers screening at 25 and continue through age 65." Not women, mind you. Individuals.
I gotta call my brother. I think he used to used to own a Honda Cervix. A blue, four-door model, actually.
Consider This: People are angry that Bill Gates has strong opinions about coronavirus treatments because he's not a physician. OK, but he is an expert on viruses - remember Windows 95?
Book Review: 'In Hoffa's Shadow: A Stepfather, A Disappearance In Detroit, And My Search For The Truth' by Jack Goldsmith
Longtime Jimmy Hoffa associate Chuckie O'Brien was a suspect in Hoffa's disappearance for many years. He claimed not to be involved in it but knew who did it and why. But O'Brien died earlier this year and took many untold details and secrets to his grave.
The author was O'Brien's stepson and ... (more >>>)
Business Advice - Indecision, Procrastination and Louie: Most small business owners are action-oriented and decisive. They don't have the time or money to agonize over minor issues. They make a decision and move on. Because of their bias toward action, they are sometimes a bit impatient with prospects, clients and customers who don't move as fast.
We've all experienced the indecisive prospect. In retail shops, they come in and browse and may come back several times, examining the same object over and over before they buy it.
At car dealers, they keep returning to the showroom bringing a different friend or family member each time. Then they arrive again to look in the trunk or fiddle with the seat adjustment controls. If your procrastinating prospects and customers are large corporations or government agencies, there are seemingly endless stages of approval with presentations and meetings a requirement at every level.
The trick to selling under these conditions is ... (more >>>)
Geezer Joke: An elderly gentleman developed serious hearing problems. He went to a doctor who fitted him with a set of hearing aids. At the follow-up appointment, the doctor remarked, "Your hearing is now perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."
The man replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've already changed my will three times!"
Thought For Today: Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
Monday August 10, 2020
July Vehicle Sales: The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated light vehicle sales of 14.52 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in July 2020, up 11% from the June sales rate and down 14% from July 2019. The impact of the China flu remains significant, but it appears that April 2020 was the worst month. The industry is slowly recovering from the lockdowns that closed thousands of dealerships in March, April and May. Fleet sales continue to be dismal.
General Motors guessed that U.S. new vehicle sales would finish the year at around 14 million units, compared to about 17.1 million vehicles last year.
While most automakers now report only on a quarterly basis, Mazda's new CX-30 crossover helped the automaker post back-to-back monthly sales increase in June and July, replacing volume lost among the brand's passenger cars - and then some. Mazda posted a 3% year-over-year gain.
Hyundai sales increased 1% y-o-y in July. "Crossovers now make up 67% of Hyundai's sales volume, and the number of those sold was up 16% over the same month last year."
Toyota sales in July fell 19% versus the same month in 2019, to 169,484 units. That was Toyota's best month since before the pandemic shuttered North American production. Lexus sales fell 10% year-over-year.
Kia reported overall sales down 2% year over year in July, with strong sales of its Telluride, Seltos and Sportage crossovers. Subaru had limited inventory, which pushed its sales down 20% for the month.
Start Raiding Your 401(k) Now: Porsche introduced its 2021 911 Turbo Coupe and Cabriolet. These 572 horsepower cars are available for pre-order now.
Pricing: $170,800 for the 911 Turbo Coupe and $183,600 for the 911 Turbo Cabriolet, both not including the $1,350 delivery, processing and handling fee. Ouch.
Sunday Morning Comin' Down: After several days of overcast skies, when the sun didn't appear until late morning - or not at all, yesterday dawned bright and sunny. At 8:15 am, it was gorgeous, if a little brisk at 53 degrees, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The roads were almost empty along my eight-mile loop to Hockinson and back.
The skies were summer azure and I saw one lonely cloud to the north and east. The Plymouth ran just fine and as I listen to the mix of exhaust pipe burble mixed with 1957-59 rock 'n' roll coming out of the speakers, it made my 77 year-old heart feel like it was 16 again.
Sunday's high temperature reached the low 80s. For dinner, I cooked fillets mignon on the outdoor grill. We enjoyed it, with sides of scalloped potatoes and onion rings, along with a bottle of Educated Guess Cabernet. Life is good.
They Got The Orders, But Do They Have What It Takes To Produce? Fisker Inc. reports it has received more than 7,000 orders from 30 countries for its upcoming Ocean electric crossover, exhausting the planned 2022 production run.
No one knows if the Ocean will be the start of a sales tsunami for Fisker or just a drop in the vast ocean of auto sales. 2020 has been so crazy that it's impossible to know what 2022 will bring.
Just Plant Your Feet And Hold On Tight! In 1954, Howard Gandelot, a Vehicle Safety Engineer at General Motors Corporation, proclaimed: "I find it difficult to believe that the seat belt can afford the driver any great amount of protection over and above that which is available to him through the medium of the safety-type steering wheel, if he has his hands on the wheel and grips the rim sufficiently tight to take advantage of its energy absorption properties and also takes advantage of the shock-absorbing action which can be achieved by correct positioning of the feet and legs."
Another Cancellation: The Specialty Equipment Market Association announced it is canceling its annual Las Vegas SEMA convention because of the Chinese flu.
The show was planned for November, but "mounting uncertainty has rendered continuing with the event inadvisable."
Now That's Enthusiasm! Polish racing fans were not allowed to enter the stadium where the race was being held because of China flu restrictions. So, they rented 21 cherry-pickers, parked them in the outside parking lot and raised the buckets 65 feet for the Motor Lublin team's race against team GKM Grudziaz from over the wall.
Where Many Kinds of Transit Used To Meet: The Margaret-Orthodox El Stop - now known as the Arrott Transportation Center -was once a diversified transit hub - elevated trains, trolleys, buses and trackless trolleys converged at this spot. The Frankford El (aka: Market-Frankford Line) had a station there.
Below the elevated ... (more >>>)
In The Doldrums: America's Gross Domestic Product fell almost 33% in the second quarter of 2020, thanks to China who - inadvertently or deliberately - tried to destroy our economy and sanity with the Wuhan flu. Individuals and businesses are experiencing the short-term consequences of the virus and there will be long-term effects as well. I outlined them here in late May and stand by my forecasts.
Continuing school closures and restrictions on restaurants and other retail businesses especially by Democrat governors - aren't helping. Dunkin' Donuts is closing 800 U.S. locations and California Pizza Kitchen is filing for bankruptcy. Lord & Taylor, the oldest department store chain in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy last week. Tailored Brands, the parent company of Jos. A. Bank and Men's Warehouse, has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing 500 stores. Last week, Virgin Atlantic airlines went bankrupt due to the pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal "floated an estimate that as many as 4 million small businesses could be lost entirely this year." Since most new jobs are created by small businesses, this could have devastating effects on employment numbers.
Actions Have Consequences: Andy Ngô, a journalist best known for covering street protests in Portland, tweeted, "According to a law enforcement source, there have been 22 homicides in Portland since June 1st. In all of 2019, there were only 36 homicides. Last month, (mayor) Ted Wheeler dismantled the Gun Violence Reduction Team because he and others said it was unfair to blacks."
It is difficult to sympathize with the long-suffering residents of Portland, because they have consistently voted for far-left Democrats to 'run' their city. If they're unhappy, the answer is to vote differently or move somewhere else. And stop trying to blame President Trump for their troubles.
Another Problem With Mail-In Ballots: Charlie Kirk wrote, "The American Postal Workers Union endorsed Joe Biden for President. Are we still really supposed to trust the USPS with our election?"
Virus Update: As of Friday afternoon, there were 42 cumulative deaths in Clark County, WA. 38 of those who died were over 60 years-old. Older people and those in nursing homes are especially at risk and should be doubly cautious. 12 people are currently hospitalized with the Wuhan flu.
Clark County's cumulative death rate from coronavirus is 66/million people. Washington state has a death rate of 218/million, with hot spots in Seattle metro, Yakima and Kennewick areas. The U.S. has a mortality rate of 494/mm. States with over 1,000 covid-19 deaths/mm include New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
There is a mountain of evidence that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for covid-19. But Democrats and the media have relentlessly dismissed it because President Trump spoke favorably about the drug back in March. Steven Hatfill, a veteran virologist, wrote, "There are now 53 studies that show positive results of hydroxychloroquine in covid infections."
Meanwhile the advice remains the same: wear a mask when you're near others, avoid crowds, wash your hands frequently and get some fresh air every day.
My theory - an it's no crazier than any of the many jumbo-laced mumbo floating around cyberspace - is that fresh air is the key to avoiding the coronavirus. I have yet to read anything about people dying in the many homeless encampments around the country.
Based on what we've been told, there should be: these urban flotsam live in dreadful squalor, have questionable personal cleanliness habits and many have immune system-compromising, untreated medical conditions. Yet there seems to be no epidemic in the various quotidian Trampvilles throughout the land. My theory is that the homeless spend a lot of time outside and get plenty of fresh air. They're not exposed to sophisticated HVAC systems which recirculate old air - and germs - in the name of energy efficiency. So, I'm doing what I can to get some fresh outside air every day.
My mom was a believer in the health benefits of fresh air. I remember her throwing open windows with alacrity to get fresh air into various rooms of our house even during freezing winters weather. Sixty-plus years later, I'm following her advice. Fresh air - it can't hurt. And it might help.
Double Standard: Two pro-life students were arrested recently for chalking 'Black Preborn Lives Matter' on a sidewalk outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Washington DC. The two protesters were arrested after police told them to stop chalking on a public sidewalk. How is that a crime? The radical left does that and much more every night in streets across America. Apparently, it's only legal to paint 'Black Lives Matter' on the streets but not 'Black Preborn Lives Matter' in our nation's capital. I guess Babies Lives Matter doesn't count.
There is a double standard for pro-lifers versus everyone else. When protesting, pro-lifers must stay in a restricted area, often across the street from an abortion clinic. If they don't obey the law to the letter, they are arrested. Pro-life protestors may not speak, even softly to women entering the clinic. If they disobey, they are arrested. If they pray in a normal tone of voice, they will be arrested. If they litter or leave any signs or other items behind, they will be arrested.
All I want is Black Lives Matter and every screaming, looting, window-smashing, property-defacing, lefty protestor to be held to the exact same standards as pro-life demonstrators.
Political Quote Of The Day is from Daniel John Sobieski: "Benghazi liar and former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice has seemingly risen to the top of Joe Biden's VP list, which would make a unique pairing of someone who can't tell the truth and someone who can't remember the truth."
Apt Description: Jeremy Clarkson says that the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao "looks like an aircraft carrier that has crashed into a city."
Bad Pun Of The Day: A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
Thursday August 6, 2020
Something Cadillacy: I watched a Cadillac commercial last week. It showed all the models in motion. I thought, "Take the Cadillac crest off these vehicles and they could be anybody's brand." All of them looked generic to me.
On the other hand, the most Cadillac-looking of the 2020 offerings is the Genesis G90 sedan. It has a big, in-your-face grille which commands your attention if not your respect. It just needs a Caddy emblem on the grille and you'll fool most admirers.
Road & Track tested the Genesis and found it impressive. Mack Hogan of R&T wrote, "Regardless of whether you get the 3.3-liter V-6 or the 5.0-liter V-8, effortless torque is available everywhere. The 8-speed automatic slides through gears with no noticeable jerk or harshness, serving up quick downshifts for passing when necessary. Neither powertrain can keep up with what Mercedes, BMW, and Audi will sell you for $60,000 more, but hopefully you're not drag racing your 17-foot luxury barge anyway."
The G90 offers "a serene cabin, a great place to spend time. But that's always been true. The difference is, with its imposing looks and bold design choice, the G90 no longer feels like a cheap imitation. It feels like a statement piece, proof that the Genesis brand finally has found its footing."
Meet The New Boss … Same As The Old Boss: Jim Farley, who was responsible for the launch of the failed Scion brand and left Toyota for Ford Motor Co. in 2007, will replace hapless Jim Hackett as Ford's CEO effective October 1st. Ford is a company that has been on a downward ski slope since the day Alan Mulally retired. Take away the F-150 and FoMoCo's sales have been sinking like a mastadon in a tar pit.
Ford continues to struggle with a "turnaround" that has extended - with little progress - over three years.
At the press conference covering his promotion, Farley said that "the company is on the proper course, with no need to reverse the tech-driven direction taken under the outgoing Jim Hackett." Remember when Kevin Bacon's ... (more >>>)
Old Iron: IHS Markit analyzed ownership data and revealed that the average car plying America's roadways is 11.9 years old.
Todd Campau, associate director of Aftermarket Solutions at IHS Markit, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created the perfect storm to accelerate U.S. light vehicle average age in coming years. This should be a positive side effect for the aftermarket, as the majority of repairs for older vehicles come through the aftermarket channel." The average age of vehicles is about to rise.
New JLR Boss: Jaguar Land Rover parent Tata Motors has announced the hiring of Thierry Bolloré, ousted CEO of Groupe Renault, as the automaker's new CEO. A Frenchman? Zut alors! I wish they'd picked someone with a proper British-sounding name, such as Sir Manfred Whittingbone, Geoffrey St. James or Colonel Nigel Pipington or such.
Be Careful Who You Vote For: Joe Biden says that on his first day in office, he will develop "rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions." If you care about cars, this should be upsetting. No more internal combustion engines. No more V12s, V8s or twin-turbo V6s for you. Or me. Few sounds in this world are sweeter than an American small-block V8 at full song.
"The Green New Deal was never about saving the planet. It's always been about the left's desire to gain control of every aspect of our economy and our lives. Biden’s version might be a modestly watered-down version of the one proposed by socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, but it's hardly any less crazy."
Here is a list of 42 disastrous things Joe Biden would do if elected President.
Scott Adams recently tweeted, "Democrats are waking up to the terrifying realization that if Hollow Joe debates, he's done. And if he doesn't debate, he's done because he didn't debate. Dems also suspect they really did push Trump supporters to lie to pollsters." I agree.
I would add that, if he can't make a timely decision on his VP running mate, how can voters expect him to be decisive during a crisis? Remember the 3:00 am phone call ad?
One-Word Brand Identity: Jeremy Clarkson wrote that "advertising men will tell you that when it comes to cars they need to attach a single word to the brand. So if you want a 'safe' car you buy a Volvo. If you want a 'reliable' car, you buy a Volkswagen. And if you have a small 'penis' you buy a BMW."
Milestone: Yesterday, I turned 77. My wife and I had a quiet celebration with takeout from Olive Garden and a nice bottle of wine. We already had a big celebration last weekend. My kids showed up to celebrate a joint birthday for me and my wife. There were cakes: Boston cream pie for me and a strawberry cheesecake for my wife. There were lots of nice gifts, too.
Yesterday, I went for a birthday spin in my '39 Plymouth business coupe. When I arose, it was quite foggy but the sun began to poke through at 10:00 am. About 15 minutes later, I fired up my old coupe and went for a drive. The temperature was 66 degrees and there was blue sky to be seen to the south and west but it was still foggy and overcast to the north and east.
As I drove along and sighted down the hood of the Plymouth, I was reminded that, 61 long years ago, I was sighting down the hood of my first 1939 Plymouth coupe, probably at the New Jersey shore.
Driving my old car always brings back a lot of good memories from times past.
Was The Wuhan Flu Really An 'Accident'? John Hinderaker at Powerline asked: "If you ran the Chinese Communist Party, what would your number one strategic goal have been in late 2019? Undoubtedly, to get rid of China's nemesis, Donald Trump, and replace him with Beijing Joe Biden. How far would China's rulers have gone to achieve that goal? Look what they have done to get rid of the Uighurs, a minor annoyance."
"Could the Chinese have deliberately arranged for the worldwide dissemination of the Wuhan virus? Yes, rather easily. They could have created the virus, too, but that isn't necessary. Once the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, by means unknown, the rest was probably inevitable."
Of course, the virus did some damage within China, but ... (more >>>)
Best Tweet Of The Week is is from C.J. Pearson: "Keeping colleges closed this fall is far more likely to stop the spread of communism than it is to stop the spread of covid."
Thankfully, I'm Older Than Average ... and I don't live near San Francisco. So, you don't have to worry about me.
"The average Golden Gate Bridge jumper is a 41.7-year-old white guy. A study of jumpers from the past decade reports the youngest was a 14-year-old girl and the oldest an 84-year-old man. Men outnumbered women almost 3 to 1. Although jumpers came from all races, 83% were white."
Many: There are at least Eight Americas.
In the mid-1960s, there were only Two Americas: People who preferred 'The Addams Family' and people who preferred 'The Munsters'. Life was simpler then.
Exchange Of The Day ... is from the old 'Hollywood Squares'. Peter Marshall: "Paul, is there such a thing as a female rooster?" Paul Lynde: "Yeah, they're the ones who just go "a doodle doo!""
Tuesday August 4, 2020
It's Supposed To Go Anywhere: The Toyota Land Cruiser has lots of loyal fans in third-world zones where roads are bad or nonexistent: Outer Mongolia, mountainous sections of Patagonia, the Australian Outback, bombed-out parts of Iraq and South Boston.
Now things are changing - Toyota is pondering the future of its big SUV - often seen in white with UN logos on the side - especially since Mitsubishi announced that it is discontinuing its smaller but mighty Panjero in 2021 - another third-world fave.
Zach Bowman wrote in Road & Track: "It feels like a betrayal when automakers attempt to apply one model's glory to a less-deserving product.
A Mustang is Parnelli Jones and Frank Bullitt, equal parts hair and grit. Not an electric crossover. A Blazer is a classic K5 SUV on mud terrains, its flanks spattered with black earth torn free by a ripping V-8. Not a compromised soft-roader. And a Land Cruiser is Toyota's globe-conquering standard-bearer, the model that defined the brand as the pinnacle of reliability and capability. For more than two decades, Toyota has attempted to walk a fine line with its range-topping SUV, appeasing comfort-addicted Americans while maintaining the truck's legendary build quality and off-road prowess. Now, at the end of the line for the 200 Series, Toyota is wrestling with the future of its longest-running nameplate. Will it abandon the traits that made it an enthusiast darling?"
Zach tested the tarted-up, 5,700 pound, $88,000 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition. It got stuck in mud. "We extracted ourselves by switching off every aid, every bit of traction control, and getting righteous with the throttle, reversing out of the rut. Mud went atmospheric, and the Land Cruiser wallowed its way out, its sides sprayed in Pollock arcs and splotches. I got out and eyed the truck. The rear valance was scratched and punched in, that special black paint marred by pebbles. We’d been on the trail for less than five minutes."
Getting stuck so easily was disconcerting; Zach felt that "the mighty Land Cruiser has lost its place in this world and that we’ve lost something because of it. Now, in a time when fewer and fewer automakers are willing to carry the enthusiast banner forward. When BMW will water down its steering and slap ever more obnoxious grilles on its vehicles. In our world of crossover Blazers and Mustangs, of baby Broncos and automatic-only Supras, this felt like a betrayal. "Yeah … well Zack, I've felt betrayed ever since automakers removed vent windows from cars.
"Toyota plans to unveil the next-generation 300 Series later this year, and rumors already point towards a more efficient driveline, among other changes. We hope there's room in the new Land Cruiser for the traits that have made generations of off-road enthusiasts fall for the machine over and over again. That it earns the badge we all hold dear."
Toyota has sold over 10 million Land Cruisers since 1951.
How Many Summers? Some twenty years ago or so, I visited a custom car builder in Portland as part of a car club meet. The owner used to do restorations of classic cars - Cords, Packards and the like - but he switched to creating high-end, custom resto-rods because the profits were better and, unlike many of his classic car customers, the resto-rod patrons never ran out of money in the middle of the job.
When I was there, he was doing a Chevy Nomad, coupling a clean '55 wagon with an almost-new Corvette that had been rolled. The Nomad was sectioned and slightly chopped and the Corvette frame was stretched and narrowed to fit the Nomad's revised body. Finished price was around half-a-million bucks. His typical customer was a wealthy, aging California tech wizard who wanted to relive his somewhat-to-mostly fictional dream youth.
Speed of completion was far more important than cost. Said the contract designer hired for this job: These guys are feeling the weight of age upon them and ask, "How many summers have I got left?" Indeed.
I ask myself that same question from time to time; that's why I try to take as many drives in my '39 Plymouth coupe as I can. So, even though Sunday dawned clouds with a bit of haze/fog, I said to myself, "Let's go. No time to waste." At 8:30 am, the traffic was quite light on the Hockinson loop and the temperature was a moderate 60 degrees. The sun didn't appear until about 10:15 am or so. On Saturday, it didn't show up until afternoon.
I had the windows down and played '50s American rock-n-roll through the old coupe's twin speakers during my travels. Good drive - I hope to get in many more before this summer's end .. and any/all future summers in my life.
What Price Luxury? For the 1956 model year, the ultra-exclusive Continental Mark II was introduced. It carried a price tag of $10,000 - almost as much as a Rolls-Royce. Using an inflation calculator, that translates to $95,385 in today's dollars.
Such a sum is chump-change in today's super-luxury market. It won't even buy you a decent 7-Series or S-Class Mercedes. Even a well-equipped Lincoln Navigator Black Label Edition costs close to $100,000. And Roller prices begin well north of $300,000.
The Mark II was very exclusive not only because of its price but because it was to be offered only to 'selected' buyers. Presumably, this would weed out the riff-raff. There is no evidence that this selectivity was ever enforced; if you could come up with the money, you could buy the car.
Were they still alive, I wonder what these folks would be driving today? I could picture Elvis being chauffeured around in a bullet-proof stretched Escalade or Navigator. Sinatra would probably be behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental drop top. The Shah? Probably a heavily-armored Rolls-Royce.
Another Cancellation: The 2021 Consumer Electronics Show will be digital only. I'm sure businesses in Las Vegas aren't happy.
"Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association. "Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way. By shifting to an all-digital platform for 2021, we can deliver a unique experience that helps our exhibitors connect with existing and new audiences."
Yeah, but what about all those good-looking spokeschicks in the low-cut gowns?
Back in 2016, as more automakers were touting their electronic stuff, news sources declared with the Voice of Authority that the Consumer Electronics Show "is now a car show." Huh? There have been cars at CES for decades. Back in the early-1980s at the CES, I saw the mega-hyped Vector W2 mid-engined supercar, with its twin-turbocharged, 600 horsepower V8 motor on display. Top speed was claimed to be 242 mph. The Vector was the Tucker of the late 20th Century.
In recent years, there were usually ten or so car manufacturers with booths plus a horde of vendors hawking vehicle accessories, especially audio-related. CES was becoming more like SEMA in many ways, except there was more chrome at SEMA.
Virus Update: Cumulatively, there have been 40 deaths in Clark County, Washington, a death rate of 83 per million from the China virus - as of last Friday. 23 of the deaths were age 80 or older, according to the Clark County Public Health which used the phrase "Covid-associated deaths" - whatever that really means. Females are more likely to test positive but have a death rate which is half that of males.
The death rate for Washington State is 206/million people. The U.S. death rate is 471,/MM. The U.S. death rate is below those of Belgium, UK, Spain, Italy, Peru, Sweden and Chile.
So far, there have been a total of 1,778 cases of the Wuhan flu in Clark County, a rate of 3,704 per million people. Over 32,378 tests have been conducted in the county. As of last Friday, 20 people were hospitalized with coronavirus.
Washington State has a total cumulative case rate of 7,547/million, ranking 40th among the 50 states. The U.S. coronavirus case rate is rate is 14,105/MM. Washington States total cumulative death rate is 7,547/million ranking 40th among the 50 states. The U.S. covid-19 death rate is rate is 14,105/MM.
Governor Jay Inslee has further restricted indoor restaurant dining by declaring that only family members may sit at a table. No friends or neighbors. Why? Not because there's any scientific data behind this. Apparently, because he wants more establishments to fail.
The U.S. population is over 330 million. Between February and now, there have been 4,668,940 cases (1.4% of the population) and 156,015 deaths (0.47% of the population).
A recently-issued, detailed scientific study concluded:
Scott Grannis wrote, "The risk of Covid to the world has been blown all out of proportion, and the lockdowns have been totally unnecessary and egregiously expensive. Once again, I reiterate what I said many months ago: The shutdown of the US economy will prove to be the most expensive self-inflicted injury in the history of mankind."
RIP: Wilford Brimley has died at age 85. An actor who appeared in numerous films and television shows, Brimley became widely known for portraying gruff or stodgy old men. My favorite Brimley performance was in he 1981 flick, 'Absence of Malice', as the curmudgeonly, outspoken Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Wells. Best line: "Wonderful thing, a subpeenie."
Mr. Brimley was the long-time face of television advertisements for the Quaker Oats Company. He has also promoted diabetes education and appeared in related commercials for Liberty Medical. He played an intimidating United States Postmaster General Henry Atkins in a 1997 episode of 'Seinfeld' ('The Junk Mail'), who forced Kramer to end his boycott of the mail service.
Geezer Joke: An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house and, after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen. The two men were talking, and one said, "Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly."
The other old guy said, "What's the name of the restaurant?"
The first man thought and thought and finally said, "What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know ... The one that's red and has thorns."
"Do you mean a rose?"
"Yes, that's the one," he replied.
He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, "Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?"
Thought For Today: When any Marketing War draws to an end and the last battle is being fought, the MBAs saunter on to the battlefield to bayonet the wounded and forage for whatever's left in their wallets.
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