A Blog About Cars ... And More
Friday May 28, 2021
Autosketch: 1954 Chevrolet Nomad Concept Car - Dream Wagon
The 1954 General Motors' Motorama exhibit opened in New York City in January and later did a four-city tour (Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago). In addition to GM's production models, ten concept cars were on exhibition. These 'dream cars' included two-seater sporty concepts such as the Cadillac La Espada, Oldsmobile F-88, Buick Wildcat II, Pontiac Bonneville Special and the Chevrolet Corvair (a fastback Corvette hardtop).
Also debuting at the 1954 Motorama was the Chevrolet Nomad, General Motors' first station wagon-bodied concept car. It was basically a Corvette station wagon built on a ... (more >>>)
Why Is This Car So Unhappy? Behold the face of the sad-looking 2022 Mini in the left photo ... (more >>>)
Fewer Mazda Models: The Mazda6 - a very nice mid-size sedan - and the small CX-3 crossover are being discontinued for the 2022 model year.
"Ask just about any automotive reviewer what their favorite sedan is in this class, and the majority of responses will be either Mazda6 or Honda Accord. That said, there’s no hiding from sales figures. The Mazda6’s decade-high year was back in 2015 at 57,898 cars sold, and it’s been on a downward slope ever since. Mazda only moved 21,524 in 2019, and pandemic-stricken 2020 saw just 16,204 units sold."
I rented a Mazda6 in 2008 and found it to be one of the best rental cars we've ever had. Sadly, the market has changed and sedan sales are waaaay down.
A Very Old Debate: In Tennessee, a man stabbed his friend after the two men got into a weekend argument over whether Ford or Chevrolet vehicles were better.
One man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries; the other was taken to the county jail. The report didn't state whether Ford or Chevy won the argument.
It Pays To Advertise: Whether you're selling Oldsmobiles or religion, a billboard will increase recognition. The top billboard was painted ... (more >>>)
Another Medical Miracle: A new technology developed by UZH researchers enables the body to produce therapeutic agents on demand at the exact location where they are needed. The innovation could reduce the side effects of cancer therapy.
Scientists at the University of Zurich have modified a common respiratory virus, called adenovirus, to act like a Trojan horse to deliver genes for cancer therapeutics directly into tumor cells, often by direct injection. "Unlike chemotherapy or radiotherapy, this approach does no harm to normal healthy cells. Once inside tumor cells, the delivered genes serve as a blueprint for therapeutic antibodies, cytokines and other signaling substances, which are produced by the cancer cells themselves and act to eliminate tumors from the inside out."
Let's hope the treatment becomes widely available soon.
Outta Control Government: Scott Grannis wrote, "Massive government spending and an overly-accommodative Fed have introduced profound risks to the economy and to financial markets. … The only other time deficits have been this large was during World War II. At least back then we had something to show for the spending: world peace and global growth.
Today, we have done little more than take trillions from the pockets of the more productive only to put it into the pockets of the less productive. Income redistribution on a massive scale cannot possibly lead to a growing and productive economy."
Thanks, President Trump. Half of all U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated.
Q&A: Why are traffic lights always in a good mood? A: Because they never turn blue.
Wednesday May 26, 2021
Surprise Car Sightings: Last Thursday, my wife and I went to the public library in Battle Ground Village to pick up some books. On the way home, we passed a bunch of interesting vehicles, parked along a normally-deserted SE Commerce Avenue. I parked our Lexus nearby and walked over to get a better look.
Disguise: Here are photos of a Corvair test mule on the road in 1958:
This fooled some of the car mags of the period ... (more >>>)
Heavy Duty: Don Surber weighed in - no pun intended - on the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning, the one with the battery alone weighing over 1,800 pounds. "Adding nearly a ton of weight to a vehicle is crazy. Electric cars are the least efficient and least environmentally safe means of transportation. We want an electric grid system that cannot handle a winter storm to suddenly support 150 million vehicles that will double every household's electric needs. Buy a horse." Sounds like the Lightning needs Lightening.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has a claimed 300-mile range on the extended range battery (the base battery has an estimated 230-mile range) and is priced starting at $53,000. Production is set to start at Ford's Rouge River complex in Spring 2022. However, Dave VanderWerp of Car and Driver wrote, "We bet F-150 Lightning's Range is under 100 miles when towing at the max."
Nevertheless, almost 50,000 people have put down deposits for one. It should be noted that Tesla reportedly has one million customer deposits for its Cybertruck.
All-Electric Whether You Like It Or Not: Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann announced that the Italo-German supercar brand will officially be transitioning to electric vehicles, with the last traditional internal combustion model coming before 2024.
Will people pay $250,000 for a car with the same motor as every other electric? And no mighty engine sound? Good luck with all that, Lambo.
In related news, the Italian car maker's owner, Volkswagen AG, turned down a $.2 billion offer for Lamborghini, saying that it was not for sale.
A Swiss-based group of investors, Quantum Group AG, forged a partnership with London-based firm Centricus Asset Management to make a unsuccessful $9.2 billion offer for the Italian super car maker.
Old Meat: I recently found an old Philadelphia area newspaper clipping from August, 1969. The prices for meat in those pre-1970s inflation days were astoundingly low (this week's price for Costco Prime Fillets was $26/pound) ... (more >>>)
May 2021 Virus Update: Clark County had 22,784 cumulative confirmed cases - 1,280 new cases this month, down 19% from the same period last month.
Despite a dramatic decline in new Clark County cases and deaths, local, regional and national news reports remain full of hysteria and misinformation. There are still onerous regulations on businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality sector. In Clark County, restaurants may still only operate at 50% capacity.
46 people were hospitalized this month - double that of April. But, the mortality rate for May has dropped to 0.6%.
I've created a table summarizing data for cases and deaths in Clark County over the past 15 months ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life' by Jordan B. Peterson
Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He has become a YouTube sensation based on videos of his self-help lectures. I reviewed his previous book, '12 Rules for Life', here.
Peterson's latest work proclaims ... (more >>>)
Hard To Argue Against This: Regarding the presidency of George W. Bush, Don Surber wrote, "Having elected Bush 43 in 2000, what did conservative voters get? Another Cabinet office - the Department of Homeland Security - and a doubling of the national debt, after having spent the 1990s finally getting the budget balanced again. Oh, and they got that jackass John Roberts as the chief justice and chief defender of Obamacare."
"I left out No Child Left Behind, which further expanded federal control of local schools. Also, Bush championed the right to home ownership in 2006, which resulted in mortgages for the unworthy in 2007, which led to the financial collapse of the Western world in 2008, which led to President Obama and the restoration of the House of Lyndon Baines Johnson."
Don wrote that in 2016 and he is a better analyst than me. Reviewing Bush's book 'Decision Points' in late 2010, I wrote, "I think that 50 years out, (future historians) will view George W. Bush in a kindlier, gentler light than today's Instahistorians." I can only confess that I wrote that under the influence of all the Obama malaise. Time and subsequent events, including the Never Trump attitudes of the Bushes and Cheneys, have changed my mind. In late 2001, the Bush Administration allowed Red China to join the World Trade Organization. We now know the disastrous consequences of that decision - a major mistake with an apparent half life of strontium 90. Or yellowcake.
Donald Trump is a populist-conservative. Conrad Black wrote, "Unless he does something to damage his franchise, none of the other plausible Republican nominees will announce until Trump says that he will not run. If he does not say that, he will probably be renominated and reelected."
Surber added, "Republicans want to move on. They appreciate what Donald Trump did as president. He is their leader and their hero. He is their president emeritus. I suspect he will soak up the praise and enjoy being given his due. And then I suspect he will make way for a new generation of conservatives."
Don also wrote: "America was the greatest country the world ever knew because we built it on freedom. Then it took its greatness for granted. Now it is run by the government. We will make America great again." Amen.
Have A Nice Day? No, I Have Other Plans: An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found that "being grumpy makes us think more clearly. In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed."
Quote Of The Day is from Harry Truman: "Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better."
Monday May 24, 2021
Partly Something: We had several days of clouds and rain last week. On Saturday, it was all-clouds until the sun made a tentative appearance around two in the afternoon. At 2:30 pm, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. The temperature was in the upper 50s and felt chilly and it was partly cloudy or partly sunny depending which direction you looked. Mt. St. Helens was not visible behind clouds and traffic was moderate. On a positive note, I encountered no Asian murder hornets (I wonder whatever happened with them), no swarms of declassified UFOs, nor Kim Jung Un stunt doubles during my brief excursion. And everything is in bloom.
The road construction progresses. Some portions are now paved and smoother, others are worse than ever.
I saw a 1969 Pontiac Firebird convertible - very dark blue with a white top, which was up - going in the opposite direction. I also passed a one-year old small housing development which has become a haven for derelict cars. This junkyard development now has a tall wood fence facing the street. It hides the auto wrecks behind it but, for some reason, a very rusted fenderless Ford Model A is parked outside the fence.
All in all, I had an enjoyable afternoon drive.
Big Fins And Other Protuberances: As seen on this new 1957 Dodge displayed ... (more >>>)
Hefty Hummer: The 2022 Hummer EV Launch Edition will be one of the heaviest new cars sold in the United States, tipping the scales at 9,046-pounds. Part of its plumpness can be attributed to its colossal dimensions; it measures 216.8 inches long, 86.7 inches wide, and 81.1 inches tall.
"The electric powertrain also played a major role in slinging the Hummer's weight into dually pickup territory. Batteries are heavy, and the Hummer EV's Ultium pack reportedly has a capacity of over 200 kilowatt hours. It has three electric motors, too."
Next Big Shortage - Lithium For Electric Vehicles: Rystad Energy has projected a "serious lithium supply deficit" in 2027 as mining capacity lags behind the EV boom. The mismatch could effectively delay the production of around 3.3 million battery-powered passenger cars that year, according to the research firm. Without new mining projects, delays could swell to the equivalent of 20 million cars in 2030. Battery-powered buses, trucks, ships, and grid storage systems will also feel the squeeze.
"A major disruption is brewing for electric vehicle manufacturers," said James Ley, senior vice president of Rystad's energy metals team in London. "Although there is plenty of lithium to mine in the ground, the existing and planned projects will not be enough to meet demand for the metal."
Researchers in Finland and Germany recently modeled 18 scenarios for when lithium resources might actually be fully depleted. Lithium availability "will become a serious threat to the long-term sustainability of the transport sector unless a mix of measures is taken to ameliorate the challenge," the researchers wrote in the 2020 study. Such measures include developing new battery chemistries, producing more synthetic fuels, and building more railways - options that don't require lithium.
Early Protest: For everyone who think that protests began in the 1960s, here's ... (more >>>)
Oh, No! The iconic Elephant Car Wash in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood is scheduled to be demolished.
"The bright, rotating sign was a hit with locals and visitors alike. Elvis washed his car here in 1963 while he was in town filming 'It Happened at The World's Fair'." The elephant sign also made a cameo in the 2010 movie 'Love Happens', starring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston ... (more >>>)
Now That's Racism! Chicago's height-challenged, incompetent, black, lesbian mayor Lori Lightfoot will now only grant interviews to journalists of color.
NBC 5 Chicago political reporter Mary Ann Ahern noted that as Lightfoot "reaches her two year midway point as mayor, her spokeswoman says Lightfoot is granting one-on-one interviews - only to Black or Brown journalists."
No word on whether ... (more >>>)
Properly Attired: The headline reported, 'Man Dressed as Cow Steals 26 Gallons of Milk'. Maybe next week, he'll be dressing up as a gas pump.
Quote Of The Day is from Dan Neil: "I used to wear a rather large and obvious diving watch. "Oh, do you scuba dive? Why, yes, I do, and thank you for asking." One fun fact about this watch is that it was guaranteed watertight to 300 meters, or 984 feet, which means that at that depth my lifeless corpse would know exactly what time it was."
Thursday May 20, 2021
When The General Ruled:
In 1950, General Motors held 45.7% of total U.S. automotive sales. GM's share of the U.S. market has decreased dramatically since ... (more >>>)
Tesla Trouble In China: Tesla exported most of the cars produced at its Shanghai factory in April, raising questions about the strength of demand for its electric vehicles in China after a run of adverse publicity.
The BEV maker sold 11,671 locally-built Model 3 and Model Y cars in China last month, while exporting a further 14,174, according to the China Passenger Car Association. The association confirmed that a wholesale figure of 25,845 published the day before combined local sales and exports. It was the first time it broke down the sales that way.
Tesla's April wholesale figure of 25,845 was down 27% from March, worse than the 12% month-on-month decline in overall electric vehicle sales. Tesla started exporting Model 3s from China to Europe last year, with 7,000 cars arriving in two shipments in October and December. Tesla's Shanghai factory began exporting to Asia-Pacific markets, including Australia and Japan, earlier this year, but outside China, Asian demand for EVs remains limited. The U.S., Europe and China accounted for roughly 95% of global EV sales last year.
Book Review: 'Ford Model T, An Enthusiast's Guide - 1908 to 1927 (all models and variants)' by Chas Parker (with Chris Barker, Neil Tuckett and others)
Before the Ford Model T, cars were mere playthings for the rich. Henry's T didn't just put America on wheels, it put the world on wheels. The Model T was the first truly affordable car for the working man. Initially priced at $850 in 1908, the price dropped to $390 by 1914 due to production efficiencies.
By 1927 a new Model T could be had for as little as $260. At its peak popularity, 1.25 million Model Ts were sold each year. By 1918, Ford's American market share was an astonishing 49%, while 40% of the cars on British roads were Ts. By 1921, the Model T commanded 60% of the new car market around the world. Over 15 million Model T Fords were eventually produced ... (more >>>)
Hello Philadelphia! Those sleek, 1930s-era PCC streetcars were the result of a design and specification collaboration between various trolley operators and manufacturers, called the Electric Railway Presidents Conference Committee - PCC for short. The Philly trolley operator, Philadelphia Rapid Transit (PRT) did not participate.
The resulting trolley car design, dubbed the PCC offered a modern, streamlined ... (more >>>)
Inflation Alert: I am very concerned about the financial condition of the U.S. The current situation has the feel of the inflation I personally experienced during the 1970s and early '80s.
Recently, analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimated that the price of an automobile's raw materials have climbed 83% in first three months of 2021. The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index jumped to its highest since 2011, with metals up 21% so far this year. Other metals, such as copper, silver and platinum have soared. Plywood has just about tripled. Lumber has tripled in price since the beginning of 2021. "$50,000 worth of wood could be used to build 10 homes a year ago. Today it would build only 2."
Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel said inflation could spike to 20% in the next two or three years due to "unprecedented" fiscal and monetary stimulus and an explosion ... (more >>>)
Bad Advice: I enjoy the Costco Connection magazine and there's usually good advice to be had inside, But one article about alternatives to websites is just wrong.
If you're a drywall contractor who only does local commercial work and you only have eight potential customers, you don't need a website. You can build your business based on dinners, drinks and golf games with prospects and clients.
For the rest of us, a website is a necessary way to reach out to potential customers - it is your 24-hour color literature rack, your instantly available curriculum vitae or the always accessible menu for your restaurant.
The author's suggestion about using free... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from Clint Eastwood: "Participating in a gun buy-back program because you think criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you think your neighbors have too many kids."
Tuesday May 18, 2021
Early Summer: Summer officially arrives early in the morning on Monday June 21st - over a month away - but it doesn't always feel summery in late June. That said, the weather around here has been great lately - sunny and warm with lots of blue skies. We actually had to turn our sprinkler system on for the first time this year. It was 67 degrees at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon, so I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive.
The skies were a pleasant, if slightly hazy, azure color with nary a cloud in sight. There was a clear view of Mt. St. Helens to the north and my old Plymouth ran great. I enjoyed my drive, listening to the car's V8 rumble and The Diamonds warbling Little Darlin' through the speakers: "Aye yi yi yi yi, Yi yi yi yi yi yi aye ..." I got some waves and acknowledgements from other drivers who liked my old car.
It was a perfect day for an old car drive along the area's back roads.
Saving Sally: Oh no, Sally fell out of the car again ... (more >>>)
Everyone Wants Electric Vehicles … Except Customers: Issues and Insights noted, "When President Joe Biden declared that he wants all cars sold to be “zero-emission” by 2035, carmakers didn't raise a peep of protest. Worse, they are starting to fall in line with promises to go all-electric, even though the vast majority of consumers don't want these cars."
Despite massive taxpayer rebates to electric car buyers, a multitude of subsidized recharging stations, and the constant talk about how electric automobiles will save the planet, sales of plug-ins - including plug-in hybrids - accounted for a tiny 2% of all cars sold in the U.S. last year.
"EVs can travel average barely half the distance of gas-powered vehicles," noted Car and Driver. Driving speeds, weather, and other factors can dramatically shorten the range of EVs. When C/D tested a Tesla Model 3 in cold weather, it found that using the heater can "kill 60 miles of range, a significant chunk of the Model 3’s 310-mile EPA rating."
"Worse, while it takes minutes to fill up an empty gas tank, it can take hours to fully charge an electric car. Leaving a car plugged into a conventional outlet overnight will give you enough juice to go all of about 30 miles. Even so-called fast-chargers are tedious compared with a simple fill-up at the gas station. (Tesla's 'Superchargers' take a little more than an hour to fully charge its cars, Business Insider reports.)"
The electrical grid in our country cannot provide the needed electricity if electric vehicles replace fossil fuel vehicles.
Nevertheless, private industry has teamed-up with big government to dictate to consumers what they can and can't buy. The article concluded, "What is that system of government called again? Oh, right, national socialism, aka, fascism."
Scale Promotion: It used to be, that when you visited a new car dealer, the parts department sold miniature versions of the big cars you could saw in the showroom. Alas, that's mostly a thing of the past.
Once upon a time, it was believed that little cars helped sell big cars. Starting in the 1920s, Citroën actively assisted toy manufacturers, freely supplying technical details to toymakers and acting as a distributor, selling little cars in its dealerships. The theory was that young children would bond to the brand of auto and, as adults, would be more prone to purchase the full-size namesake. Or persuade their fathers to buy the full-size model. It was just one more way to build brand loyalty in the marketplace.
In the late '40s ... (more >>>)
People Stopped And Stared:
When first introduced in 1935, people lined up at rail crossings just to see the new Milwaukee Road's Hiawatha streamlined train fly by.
Woke Wigwam - or - Goodbye, Columbus: The New York City public school system has officially dropped Columbus Day and replaced the annual federal holiday with Italian Heritage and Indigenous People's Day, which will be celebrated this October. The city's Department of Education announced the change amid ongoing concerns about the European explorer's alleged treatment of indigenous people when in America.
Columbus Day has been celebrated for almost 100 years. Large parades were common in cities with a significant Italian-American population.
Los Angeles eliminated ol' Chris Columbus and replaced his day with 'Indigenous Peoples Day' in 2017. Seattle did so in 2014.
I have never understood ... (more >>>)
Boom! Forty-one years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted, causing a massive debris avalanche. It reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet and replaced it with a mile-wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake uncorked a gas-charged reservoir of magma that leveled 230 square miles, killed 57 people and triggered the largest landslide in history. The explosion equaled the force of a 20-megaton bomb.
I see the mountain every day (unless it's clouded over); I live a mere 35 miles away as the ash flies. I had never really noticed St. Helens on my drives up and down I-5 until it blew its top. The devastation was impossible to imagine. Trees knocked over like toothpicks. Mud and ash everywhere. Gray 'snow' on the ground. I had an incredible view of the eruption, since I was staying at a motel overlooking the Columbia Gorge in Hood River, Oregon. I was provided a ringside seat - a north-facing room with a large picture window.
At the time of the eruption, I was 36 years-old. It was not a great time in my life. My dad had died two months before and my small business was struggling and barely hanging on. The economy was turning downward and interest rates were heading to the stratosphere. 1980's inflation rate was 12.5%.
That week, I was on a sales trip trying to drum up business for my small plastics company. As I headed east on I-84, stopping in various towns to make calls, most of the ash seemed to be running just behind me. By late week, I reached the apex of my trip in Boise, Idaho. By then, the majority of the ash cloud was traveling north into Montana.
Money was tight, so I was staying in cheap motels and living frugally. I was enthusiastically touting our firm's plastic vacuum-forming capabilities as well as our recent foray into ... (more >>>)
Observation: In this day and age of weird gender issues, Debutante Balls take on a whole new meaning.
Sticky Fellow: Spencer Silver, creator of the adhesive that led to Post It Notes has died at age 80.
Spence, a chemist, created 37 patents at 3M company. His biggest achievement was the Post it Note.
He won the 1998 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Invention and induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011. RIP.
Quote Of The Day is from British Modernist painter and serial partier Francis Bacon: "Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends."
Friday May 14, 2021
When You Lower A Shoebox Ford, People Notice:
The Ford in the photo is a '49. The 1949 to 1951 Ford models were known as ... (more >>>)
Bentley Boom: Bentley just had its best financial quarter in its 102-year history. First-quarter sales are up over 40% compared with last year.
The Bentayga SUV accounted for 40% of vehicle sales. "When it comes to regional breakdown, the luxury automaker showed growth both stateside and in its home country with U.S. and U.K. sales up 17 and 15%, respectively, over the same period last year. However, it's in the Chinese market where Bentley really came into its own, reportedly selling 187% more cars there last quarter than it did in Q1 2020."
Taxi! In New York, many of the yellow cabs you see are based on the Nissan NV200-based van, produced at Nissan's facility in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The Ford Transit Connect has won taxi contracts in Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago.
These boxy conveyances look dull and uninspired and will never become iconic like the late, great Checkers of yore. Where's that New York City style, edginess and audacity?
New York deserves something more fun: cartoon cabs, looking like the Toontown yellow taxicab or Speedy Gonzales' Tijuana Taxi.
Ones that will generate tire-screeching noises with the slightest lateral move, have horns that can go 'Oooooga' and make sounds like a giant whoopee cushion whenever they hit a pothole. And …. (more >>>)
When Gas Was Cheap: Check out these early 1960s prices ...More about Sunoco gas can be found here (more >>>)
"Oh Pancho!" "Oh Cisco!" If you're of a certain age, you'll probably remember those catchphases from the television series 'The Cisco Kid'. The 30 minute episodes ran from 1950 to 1955.
A total of 156 episodes were filmed and ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond' by Bruce Greyson, MD
In 1975, Dr. Raymond Moody wrote 'Life After Life', a book describing experiences of patients who had near-death experiences. It was an interesting book on a subject which was not well-covered. Lots of people have written books about the afterlife/near-afterlife since then.
Forty-five years later ... (more >>>)
Truth Of The Week is from Donald Trump: "I see that everybody is comparing Joe Biden to Jimmy Carter. It would seem to me that is very unfair to Jimmy Carter. Jimmy mishandled crisis after crisis, but Biden has created crisis after crisis."
"First there was the Biden Border Crisis (that he refuses to call a Crisis), then the Biden Economic Crisis, then the Biden Israel Crisis, and now the Biden Gas Crisis," Trump noted. “"Joe Biden has had the worst start of any president in United States history, and someday, they will compare future disasters to the Biden Administration- but no, Jimmy was better!"
Quote Of The Day is from Scott Grannis: "Socialism has always failed. Our educational system (dominated by state education and unions) has utterly failed to educate generations of kids about the dangers of too much government. Teachers' unions have done serious damage to the health and education of our kids this past year. It's a tragedy."
Wednesday May 12, 2021
Happy Birthday: This blog will turn 17 years-old tomorrow. The View Through The Windshield debuted without fanfare on May 13, 2004. (You can view the first post here.) My earliest posts were in a simple, quick-loading format - suitable for dial-up users. Remember dial-up? I do. It's what I had the day I began this blog. Speed: 56K ... on a good day.
Back in 2004, I had an active management consulting practice. I retired in 2011 and am now approaching my 78th birthday. Tempus fugit.
My blog is self-described as "about cars ... and more." I usually lead off almost any day's posting with something transport-related. Non-automotive postings include news articles which I find significant or humorous, nostalgic items as well as my opinions on social, political and cultural issues. And other stuff. I sometimes post newspaper comics and editorial cartoons on the blog. Because I don't have reprint rights, I remove them after a week or so. So ... if you want to see 'em, you better stop by frequently. Everything else can be found in the Archives or Greatest Hits sections.
Most of my website traffic goes to the blog page; the main page of my website remains the second most popular page. My Philly Memories pages also remain quite popular. Pages involving cars and model cars also get decent traffic.
Traffic to the blog page was down about 2% from last year. Since my blog brings in absolutely no money, there is no financial incentive for me to care. And, since I don't sell ads, web traffic has no impact on my life. The View Through The Windshield is strictly a one-man voluntary operation; I don't have co-writers. This blog is my journal, not a collaborative. And that's how it's going to stay. I write about things which interest me. Nevertheless, it's always gratifying when readers compliment me about something I wrote.
I also don't have a 'comments' section or a community forum. They require too much moderation to keep out unwanted posters, crazy people, trolls and spambots. Furthermore, I've observed elsewhere that comments seem to beget disagreements and arguments, often loony ones by people with strong opinions but little knowledge and/or no common sense. Thomas Paine wrote, "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead."
There are no plans to expand my online presence. No Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, podcasts or other social media. I want to enjoy my life rather than chain myself to a computing device day and night. Unless someone can present me with a compelling business case for doing so: "Show me the money." Lots of it. No? Well, never mind then.
As it is, I spend a lot of time creating and maintaining this blog. It takes two to four hours each day scouring the web searching for and developing content. My own research and writing takes a lot of additional time as well. Then there's the images - some are self-created. Some are ones I find online. All must be cropped and resized using Photoshop, which takes more time.
I'll stop blogging whenever I get too tired, bored or sick to continue. Or when my 2009-vintage computer blows up. (I have a new computer but it doesn't have the proper software installed and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay a monthly subscription fee for software which I already purchased for my old computer.)
Over the last twenty years or so, a lot of new blogs have debuted with much noise, fanfare, acerbic wit, outrage and fireworks. I have enjoyed them but am disappointed when they sputter and die. You can't sustain anything - a blog, a business, a show, a relationship - on hype and ambition alone. You must make a commitment and then work at it, putting one foot in front of the other on a regular basis. A lot of people don't understand that. Running is impressive but plodding along is better than standing still ... or being defunct.
There are still many great blogs out there - so many, that I struggle to keep up just with the ones I've bookmarked on my browser. After being declared obsolete due to the dominance of Twitter and Facebook, blogs are beginning to make a comeback.
Just this week, Instapundit guru Glenn Reynolds wrote about the return of blogging. "So now Donald Trump is, basically, blogging in response to being kicked off of Facebook and Twitter.
And in response to having her posts throttled, Hannah Cox now has her own website. Is it back to the future? When you abandon the big platforms, you lose a ready-made audience, but you also gain freedom. And the 'audience' on social media is pretty thin: My experience was that people almost never followed links, and quitting Twitter didn't cost me any detectable traffic; rather the reverse."
A commenter, Bmata99, added: "People who want a high signal-to-noise (SNR) and decent content don't find it on the snippet places (FB, Twitter, etc.). You also notice that those platforms are used to drive readers to blogs or other information sources, so they largely act like billboards."
While I'm merely a loose thread in the mighty warp and woof of the internet, this little filament of a blog will continue to cling to the internet fabric for a while longer.
In the meantime, here's to another year: Cheers!
Monday May 10, 2021
A Good Way To End Last Week: On Saturday, the temperature was 56 degrees at 2:30 pm and conditions vacillated between partly cloudy and mostly cloudy with the sun peeking through now and then.
Nevertheless, I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive along the back roads of Battle Ground. There was a solid ring of clouds around the northern and eastern horizons. Mt. St. Helens was hidden by cloud cover as were the eastern Cascades. I cranked up the speakers and played '50s rock-n-roll which blended nicely with the V8's burble through the Glasspacks during my travels.
Traffic was fairly light and all the flowers were in full bloom. The land around these parts is quite fertile because there's still ash from Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption mixed in with topsoil. Think Pompeii but with lots more fir trees.
I had a very pleasant old car drive.
Cars Without Stories ... or ... Dead Objects, Living Memories: Physical things have their own utility - a car as transportation, a dwelling as a place to live - but also evoke memories within us. The memories may be associated with the object but are not an integral part of it.
Grace Houghton, associate editor at Hagerty, wrote: "Cars are dead-eyed without their stories, but the irony has always been that those stories are far less durable than the physical object, harder to preserve and rebuild, with less attention generally paid to their maintenance. Which makes sense, really; you have to work at that sort of thing." ... (more >>>)
April Auto Sales: The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated light vehicle sales of 18.51 million SAAR in April 2021 (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate), up 3.1% from the March sales rate, and up more than double from April 2020. This was the highest sales rate since 2005. The impact of COVID-19 was significant, and April 2020 was the worst month.
Automakers who report monthly sales figures indicated that April was a strong rebound month, with volume manufacturers reporting increases of as much as 50% for year so far, compared to 2020's pandemic-ravaged figures. April was particularly good news by itself, as some brands doubled last year's single-month sales figures. Acura more than tripled its sales compared to the same month last year, for example.
Toyota Motor North America reported U.S. April 2021 sales of 239,311 vehicles, up 183%. Toyota Division sales for the month were 212,283 vehicles, up 183%. Lexus Division sales in April were 27,028 vehicles, up 177%. Hyundai Motor America reported total April sales of 77,523 units, a 128% increase compared with April 2020. Honda reported a 171% sales increase in April with Acura posting a 226% increase and the Honda brand posting a 165% sales increase.
Ford brand sales increased a whopping 63% in April, while Lincoln sales jumped 115% to 10,468 vehicles. 8,000 gas-fueled Mustangs were sold (up 51%), while 1,951 Mustang Mach-Es found buyers in April. SUVs/crossovers were big sellers in April; 8,880 Expeditions found homes - an increase of 187% over last April, while 27,040 Ford Explorers were sold - a jump of 103%. Lincoln's biggest sellers for April were also crossovers: the Aviator (2,844 sold, up 194%) and the Corsair (2,821 sold, up 142%).
Subaru of America also reported 61,389 vehicle sales for April 2021, the company's best-ever April sales and a 101% increase compared to April 2020. Volvo Car USA set a new April sales record with 11,036 cars sold, up 186% over 2020.
Over in the UK, new car sales rose by more than 3,000% in April. "Registrations stood at 141,583 vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, up from just 4,321 in April 2020, the lowest level of any month since February 1946 as plants and showrooms shut due to the pandemic."
Luxury-Level Pricing For A Non-Luxury Vehicle: The high-performance GT version of the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover with 480 hp, all-wheel-drive, and 88 kWh long-range battery is available for order. New GT price begins at $61,600, not including the $7,500 federal tax credit.
Iconic Name Revived: Ford's new electric version of the F-150 pickup will be called the Lightning, a name first used by the automaker on its gasoline-powered V8 performance trucks in the ’90s.
It was first seen "on the SVT F-150 Lightning street truck that was introduced for 1993 on the ninth-generation truck and then followed on the 10th generation. The electric Ford F-150 Lightning will go on sale in the middle of next year."
Market Street 1920: This Philadelphia street scene was photographed ... (more >>>)
Easy, Low-Cost Repair: A research expedition surveyed a deep-sea dump site on the sea bottom near southern California. Their findings reveal a stretch of ocean bottom studded with at least 27,000 industrial waste barrels - and possibly as many as 100,000. Many contain DDT - dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, an insecticide that was widely used for pest control during the 1940s and 1950s.
Naturally, the government wants to put together multi-billion-dollar disposal boondoggle.
That's a waste of money.
Phil Swift could fix this in a jiffy. I'm sure that there's a Flex Seal product that would put a protective layer/barrier over all this toxic goop. As Phil always yells, "Flex-Seal even works underwater!"
Personal Note: I had a follow-up visit with my cardiologist last week. My heart is much improved and I can resume exercise and normal activities. I've posted details here.
Remember When Cemeteries Were Peaceful Places? A Barnesville, Minnesota woman who was told not to come to her ex-boyfriend's funeral was charged after witnesses said she drove her SUV through the cemetery and tried to run over mourners during the ceremony.
The father of the late 24-year-old Colin MacDonald told police he witnessed Blair R. Whitten, who he said was not wanted at the funeral, driving an SUV at high speed across the cemetery. Another witness told police he was approaching Whitten's parked vehicle after the burial to ask her to leave when Whitten accelerated toward him, causing him to jump out of the way.
The witness said Whitten was not welcome at the funeral because she had made harassing posts on social media about her Colin's death.
Ms. Whitten, 28, was charged with reckless endangerment following the incident at Riverside Cemetery in Fargo, North Dakota. The family and friends of the Colin MacDonald say they've been dealing with threats and harassment from Whitten for at least five years now. Colin unexpectedly passed away in his sleep following complications from a minor surgery.
Thought For Today: If you're happy and you know it … it's your meds.
Thursday May 6, 2021
Dress To Match Your Car: That's apparently what this woman did, capturing the horizontal chrome on the side of her 1958 Oldsmobile:
On the other hand, these ladies took a much different approach ... (more >>>)
Book Review: '1970 Maximum Muscle: The Pinnacle of Muscle Car Power' by Mark Fletcher and Rich Truesdell
When I first saw the title of this book, I wanted to punch somebody. 1970? Are you kidding? But then I began to read the book and calmed down. I would have thought that 1967-68 was the muscle car pinnacle. Certainly, there had been Shelby Mustangs since 1965, the Chevy Camaro debuted in the 1967 model year as did the Z/28 performance version. The Pontiac GTO was introduced in 1964 and got more powerful every year. As did the Olds 442.
The Buick Skylark Gran Sport appeared as a performance package in the 1965 model year. The AMC Javelin debuted in late '67, the AMX appeared a few months later. On the other hand, the Pontiac GTO 'The Judge' wasn't introduced until 1969 and the Dodge Challenger didn't appear until the 1970 model year. And, although the cars of 1970 were bigger, fatter and more federally-regulated than cars of 1967, they had far more powerful engine options and there were more of them. So, I'd say that the authors made a compelling case for their pinnacle pick.
Certainly by the mid-70s, muscle cars - and cars in general - were a joke. Horsepower was curtailed and performance was lame. Starting with the 1973 models ... (more >>>)
Good News For Ford: Ford Motor Co. reported strong first quarter earnings, including net income of $3.3 billion, which was the company's best result in a decade.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker also "set a new record for adjusted EBIT - earnings before interest and taxes - "with $4.8 billion on revenue of $36.2 billion, which was up 6% compared with the year ago period. The company also managed to turn around its operations outside North America during the quarter, reporting total automotive EBIT of $454 million - a $980 million improvement from the $526 million loss in Q1 2020."
Ford has $31 billion in cash with overall liquidity of $47 billion. But Ford does expect the semiconductor shortage to negatively affect future earnings.
General Motors did well, too. Its "first-quarter financial results not only smashed through the automaker’s year-earlier numbers but also far exceeded even the most optimistic Wall Street estimates." GM's net income jumped tenfold from 2020, while earnings were more than double consensus forecast.
Protecting Biden: One hundred days into the Biden administration, Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post newspaper is "calling a lid on the presidential fact-checking database. Glenn Kessler, editor and chief writer of the Fact Checker, tweeted late Monday that the team would continue to fact-check President Biden "rigorously" but would no longer maintain the database started under former President Trump."
Not surprisingly, the decision to shut down the database just three months into the Democratic presidency after running at a fever pitch during the Trump administration did not go unremarked on the right.
"The Biden presidency is over. Rest easy," tweeted media critic Stephen L. Miller. "Whew - what an incredible 100 days presidency."
Think of the mainstream media as a bunch of Democrat operatives and it all makes sense.
Sunday is Mother's Day, so ... I wish a hearty Happy Mother's Day to all moms (especially mine) - whoever and wherever they may be. This cartoon spoke to me:
Mother's Day was officially established in the early 20th Century. At first, it was the custom to wear a white carnation to honor one's mother. In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers on Mother's Day, florists invented the idea of wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was deceased; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into the popular observations at churches.
I remember carnations being sold outside of churches on Mother's Day, when I was young. Men wore one as a boutonnière on the left jacket lapel. In the past 35 years, I've not seen carnations worn on Mother's Day, either because the custom never caught on in the Pacific Northwest or because the tradition has waned. Perhaps it's because no one seems to dress up anymore, so there are no lapels on which to affix carnations.
Live Long And Prosper ... And Get Your Money Back: A report in Bloomberg News noted, "The rate of growth in retired Americans who collect Social Security has slowed down sharply, and the drop may be due in part to the disproportionate number of deaths from Covid-19 among the elderly."
"The number of people who received retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration rose 900,000 to 46.4 million in March, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2009.
While the Office of the Chief Actuary at the government agency said it is still too early to assess the impact from Covid-19, the year-over-year change appears to reflect excess deaths. About 447,000 people who died from the virus were 65 or older, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or about 80% of total deaths."
Don Surber observed, "You paid into Social Security for 40-plus years. Get the vaccine and make sure you get every cent back." He's absolutely right.
Social Security is not an entitlement. Every time you or your spouse earned a paycheck, the employer sent Social Security 6.2% of it to an account under your or her name.
And each time you or your spouse earned a paycheck, the employer also sent SS a matching amount to your account. That's 12.4% per paycheck, and your spouse never received a dime of it. You earned it! You paid for it! It's your money! It's not an entitlement!
The illustration shown in this post is from a Social Security information brochure I was given when I began working in 1958. The hapless character on the Social Security brochure is named J. Wilbur Worker. The entire pamphlet, originally created in 1953 is shown here. (My copy is a 1956 revision.)
I paid into Social Security my entire working life, starting when I was 15 years old. Social Security is a promised annuity, which is greatly underfunded. All of the money paid in by a younger generation is immediately paid out as obligations to an older generation.
In the private sector, this is known as a Ponzi scheme.
Well, We've Still Got Brenda Lee: Annoying activist Greta Thunberg is only 4 foot 10 inches tall. While she's also quite short, at least Brenda seems like a nice person.
Where's Gary Coleman when we need him? Oops, he died over ten years ago.
Quote Of The Day is from Robert Benchley: "I know I'm drinking myself to a slow death, but then I'm in no hurry."
Tuesday May 4, 2021
Sunday Drive: At 1:30 am Sunday, the temperature was 58 degrees and the skies were partly sunny, so I drove my '39 Plymouth coupe into town and got my first fuel fill-up of 2021. Gas is $1.00 per gallon more than the last time. Mt. St. Helens was behind the clouds although I could see the snow-capped Cascades to the east. Traffic was fairly light.
Because of all the road construction, weekends are the only times available for an old car drive. Even then the main road at the end of our development is 5-mph bumpy for about a half mile. Saturday was very cloudy with it looking like rain any minute - all day.
At one point, I rolled the windows down so I could hear the burble of the exhaust mixed with the sounds of '50s rock-n-roll through the speakers. As usual, I had an enjoyable old car excursion.
End Of The Road: A photo - posted on The Old Motor website - was taken in the mid-1950s at a Pennsylvania wrecking yard. It shows a ... (more >>>)
Aston Martins Of Yore … were - according to Jack Baruth - "simultaneous lash-ups of shelf-stock British components and wildly outrageous engineering attempts, alt-universe Mustangs that combined an often brutal street presence with a perpetual homesickness for the service garage."
What about the new Aston Martin DBX crossover? Jack writes that "from the moment one engages the flimsy doorhandles to open and shut the ill-fitting doors, it’s obvious that this is no Lexus LX570. … Nearly everyone with whom we shared the DBX commented on the uneven stitching and ruching of the leather interior parts."
All this can be yours for a base price of $176,900 ($210,986 as tested). No thanks.
Racing Legend: Bobby Unser, Indy 500 champ in great racing family, has died at age 87 of natural causes. He won the Indy 500 three times over a three decade period - 1968, 1975 and 1981. At Indianapolis, Unser produced 10 top-10 finishes in 19 career starts.
"He was one of just 10 drivers to win the 500 at least three times and Unser and Rick Mears are the only drivers to win the 500 in three different decades. Unser was one of six members of the Unser family to race in the Indianapolis 500." RIP.
Childhood Memories: On last week's episode of 'Top Gear', the hosts got to drive examples of their parents' cars - the ones they had riden in as small children. The feel and the sounds of the cars triggered specific memories for each of them.
Many years ago, the late Lawrence Henry reminisced about his 1948 Ford. There is nothing quite like the sound of the starter on a flathead Ford V-8. I still can remember it, even though I've not heard one in years. It sounds like a large tin frog being strangled.
I grew up with that noise - my parents owned a blue 1936 Ford Tudor and, later, a big, black 1947 Mercury four-door sedan, which my dad bought in 1949.
Don't Forget - Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo: Let's honor it with this little joke:
In Search Of Tinkerers: When John Derbyshire wrote for National Review, he bemoaned the general loss of interest in creating and fixing stuff.
"The other evening Bill O'Reilly had a segment on the old Cheers! sitcom of the 1980s. He brought in John Ratzenberger (Cheers' Cliff Clavin and host of 'Made In America') as a guest. As well as being an actor, John is founder of the Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness of skilled trades and engineering disciplines among young people." John says, "Skilled trades form the backbone of America!"
Derbyshire continued: "To anyone under forty, a garage is a place to keep your car, and a basement is a rumpus room for the kids. Yet the U.S.A. sprang up out of garage and basement tinkerers, small workshops, teen boys fixing up their cars on a Saturday morning. Everything from the aeroplane to the personal computer started in someone's garage."
"Take a walk down your street on a Saturday morning. See any young guys fixing up their cars? No, they're all indoors playing Grand Theft Auto and texting each other."
He concluded, "If we give up tinkering, we might survive but only as a bureaucratic empire of paper-pushers and lotus-eaters."
Shop class seems headed toward becoming a thing of the past, as educators prepare students to become "knowledge workers" - clerks and bureaucrats. Or diversity consultants. Or life coaches. Or community organizers.
I believe that tinkering skills should be encouraged and nurtured. I offer the following unscientific observations … (more >>>)
Thought For Today: Remember when plastic surgery was taboo? Now if you mention Botox, no one even raises an eyebrow.
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