A Blog About Cars ... And More
Thursday October 18, 2018
Twenty Years Later: In October 1998, I sold my 1956 Continental Mark II. Earlier this month, I was contacted by one of its present owners. Three owners later, the car has been driven a mere 996 miles since I sold it twenty years ago. In the six years I owned it, I put 2,075 miles on it. And had a lot more fun. It is too bad that most collectible cars end up as display pieces; I believe that cars were made to be driven.
My other Continental Mark II, a 1957 model which I owned from 1987 to 1993, got lots of mileage under my stewardship. I drove it from Corvallis, Oregon to Seattle on several occasions. Drove it from Battle Ground, WA to Bend, Oregon. Also did a round trip to Salt Lake City, another one to St. Maries, Idaho, and still another to Baker City, Oregon and back. The more I drove it, the better it ran. It was a touring car rather than a show car. It looked good from 10 feet away but up close the rubber around the glass was age-cracked and it had many other little (but expensive to fix) cosmetic flaws which prevented it from being a big trophy winner. It made a great tour car and that's what I used it for.
As for the 1956 Mark II, I entered the in the 1994 Lincoln and Continental Owners Club's Western National Meet in Silverdale, Washington. It won the Ford Motor Company Concours Trophy for 'Best '56-'57 Continental Mark II.' At the 1997 Western National Meet in Eagle Crest, Oregon, it was one of two vehicles on display in the banquet room of the hotel. (It was the only time I've ever driven a car down a hotel corridor.)
I'm glad to know that the '56 Connie is still around. I just wish it was having more fun.
I Gotcher Best Right Here: Autoblog, always in search of filler material, investigated the "best towel for drying your car."
In my opinion, the best towel for drying your car is a stolen Holiday Inn towel. I began traveling on business in the late 1960s. In those days, if you were traveling to an unfamiliar city, you'd choose one based on the Hotel Redbook (which tended to favor large downtown hotels and didn't usually list motels near the airport) or those 'Take One' paperback directories found in the lobbies of large chain hotels/motels - Holiday Inn, Marriott, Hilton, Ramada Inns, Hyatt, etc.
I tried not to stay at Holiday Inns; many were badly run with broken televisions, poorly-cleaned rooms, glacially slow and overpriced breakfast service, etc. Anytime I got screwed over by a Holiday Inn (and in those days, I was paying full rack rate), I'd steal a couple of towels. After a while, I acquired quite a collection. They were great for cleaning cars. I still have some.
I even used the white with green-lettering Holiday Inn towels regularly on my 1956 Continental Mark II show car. Whenever I would win a trophy at a car show and people would ask me the secret to getting such a shiny finish, I'd tell them, "I always use stolen Holiday Inn towels to polish my cars."
Uh-Oh: China's car market has been one of the most reliable engines of global growth for nearly two decades. Now that may be coming to an end.
Purchases of passenger vehicles by dealerships plunged for a third straight month. With trade ties with the U.S. worsening and car sales barely up for the year already, the industry is now facing the prospect of its first contraction since at least the 1990s. Passenger-car purchases by dealerships declined 12% to 2.06 million units in September. General Motors reported a 15% drop in China deliveries for the three months ending in September. Ford's China sales fell 43% year-over-year in September and are down 30% for the first nine months of the year.
Book Review: 'The V12 Engine: The Technology, Evolution And Impact Of V12-Engined Cars' by Karl Ludvigsen
We live in an age where many manufacturers are killing-off their legendary V8 engines in favor of fewer cylinders. It is therefore a great time to visit the times and siren song of the V12 motors of yore.
There is something special about a V12 motor. In his memoirs, Enzo Ferrari wrote, "I had always liked the song of 12 cylinders." This spurred him to develop many 12 cylinder Ferraris - for racing and touring - over the years.
'V-12 Engines' is a big, heavy tome - 579 pages with 580 photos, drawings, diagrams and appendices. Mr. Ludvigsen's work is thoroughly researched and profusely illustrated. Here are just some of the tidbits I learned from this book ... (more >>>)
Just Wondering: Has Elizabeth Warren ever owned a Jeep Cherokee?
President Trump Keeps Saying … that we'll get tired of all the winning. I haven't yet.
Here's another win: Stormy Daniels and her creepy iron lawyer lost their lawsuit against Donald Trump. The suit claimed President Donald Trump defamed her when he suggested she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their relationship. And she has been ordered to pay Trump's legal costs. Maybe Stormy can get Mexico to pay for it.
Tis The Season: We're beginning to receive holiday catalogs in our mailbox. Some catalogs I receive are automotive-related because, over the years, I've bought a lot of auto accessories, model cars and automobilia from catalogs. This has gained me the Dubious Privilege of having my good name added to hundreds of mailing lists which sellers gleefully exchange with each other or sell to list brokers.
There are many catalogs crammed with old-timey items, usually inaccurate knockoffs of memorabilia from the 1950s-60s. These are targeted at retired geezers like me, hoping that I'll order something to remind me of my youth.
Nostalgia is a generally-harmless ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week … so far: 'Man run over by lawn mower while trying to kill son with chainsaw'.
Quote Of The Day is from George Burns: "The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending … and to have the two as close together as possible."
Tuesday October 16, 2018
Fall Stabilizing: Last Friday, I drove my '39 Plymouth coupe to town and fueled up. I also added some Sta-Bil to the gas tank. I wanted to get a fill-up before the dreaded Winter Mix arrives. It's mandatory after November 1st, but you can be sure some stations get their first load before than. The weather is getting colder - Chicago temperatures dipped into the 20s last week, Texas experienced snow, parts of North Dakota got 17 inches of white stuff and around here, the nighttime lows dipped into the 30s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I had forgotten one description of Fall air - 'crisp'. And indeed it was - when I was refueling at 11:30 am, the temperature was still below 50 and I was a little cold even with a light sweater and a hoodie. But the sun was out and the skies were virtually cloudless and slightly wan Fall azure in color.
After getting a couple of "Nice car!" props at the Chevron station, I fired up the Plymouth and went for a drive. Traffic was light and the Fall colors were gorgeous. I had a good drive and the car ran … ummmm … crispy.
Yesterday, I made a library run in the Plymouth and went for a back roads drive afterwards. Traffic was very light at 10:30 am but, while quite sunny, the temperature was in the mid-40s. Brrrrr.
Droptop Beauty: Mac's Motor City Garage posted a photo of a 1939 Plymouth P8 convertible with rumble seat and a side mounted spare tire. Owned by Wilbur and Carolyn Burkett. The car was exhibited at the September 2018 Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show held in Riverside Park.
This was the first year for ... (more >>>)
Smooth Moves: Recently, Jack Baruth wrote a sort-of road test for Road & Track, mixing musings about the authenticity of Delta blues music and the civility of the 2018 Chevy Corvette. "The Corvette, too, has a bit of a conflict between its authentic mission and what the people really want. Track rats, internet tastemakers, and magazine writers praise the Grand Sport, drool over the ZR1, and nod approvingly at Chevrolet's commitment to the manual transmission. Then they buy a used Miata. The real customers, on the other hand, want automatic-transmission convertibles for cruise-ins and stoplight drag racing. The challenge facing GM is to develop a platform that can do both, the same way that modern blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. can cover both Robert Johnson and the Beatles in his shows."
Over the years, the Corvette, just like original blues music, has undergone a smoothing process. The same could be said for rock-and-roll, bluegrass and automatic garage-door openers.
The raw blues sound of yore has been smoothed out by less-gravelly vocals combined with ... (more >>>)
Good Question: Tom McMahon asked, "Is it possible to make a pineapple upside-down cake in Australia?"
Bad Prediction: Back in 2007, CNBC stock market tout Jim Cramer proclaimed that Sears Holdings "could be the next Berkshire Hathaway," noting that CEO and chief stockholder, Eddie Lampert "is a terrific investor and he's the brains behind Sears."
Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy Monday, amid plunging sales and massive debt, culminating in the collapse of what was once America's largest retailer. Last Thursday, the stock share price was down to 38¢.
In 2009, I suggested this foolproof plan to make money in the stock market: Do the opposite of whatever Cramer recommends.
Small Piece Of Small Feather: Pocahontas - aka: Senator Elizabeth Warren - released DNA results showing that she is 1/1,024th Native American.
So, if someone has $976.56 in a bank account, can they claim they are part-millionaire?
Elite Incivility: Responding to Hillary Clinton's comments that people "cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about", comedian, actor, car guy and podcaster Adam Carolla did not mince words. "These are the people who kick you in the shin. Then you push them in the shoulder, and they go, 'Why did you push me?'"
Carolla noted that the Left's incessant maligning of the Right - and the constant accusations of "moral bankruptcy in the form of sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia - is profoundly demeaning."
"People never really think about how insulting it is. I mean, it's wrong … It's wildly insulting to those of us who just raise their families and pay their taxes and walk their dogs."
Why We Never Go To Portland Anymore: There were riots in Portland last week and over the weekend. Michael Walsh wrote, "Portland has now become a lawless city, one in which the authorities, including the mayor and the cops, turn a blind eye to a horde of American brownshirts taking over the city's streets and threatening its residents." Police arrested no one on either occasion.
Our days of supporting Portland's economy by buying pricey theater tickets, paying high parking rates, dropping big bucks on shopping sprees and dining at the city's expensive restaurants are done. Lawlessly liberal, out-of-control Portland can go straight to Hell. The people of Portland elected the current mayor, so they can now suffer the consequences.
Still want to go to Portland? Watch this informative promotional video.
Question Of The Day: If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?
Friday October 12, 2018
The Devil Is In The Details: That sums up why the Kaiser Darrin sports car was a failure. Also known as the Kaiser Darrin 161, it was an American sports car styled by ‘Dutch’ Darrin and built by Kaiser Motors for the 1954 model year.
An article in The Old Motor noted, "Howard 'Dutch' Darrin, was an internationally famed American automobile stylist who also operated his design studio in Paris, France for a time. 'Dutch' designed the unique coachwork for the Kaiser Darrin. In the early-1950s, he penned the design for the distinctive Kaiser Darrin sports convertible that featured a fiberglass body shell produced by Glasspar, which featured sliding doors, and a three-position convertible top." The Darrin was conceived as a response to European roadsters being imported to the United States in the early postWorld War II period.
The Kaiser Darrin was essentially a ... (more >>>)
Seasons: There's a Fall chill in the air. The days are still warm but temperatures are dipping well into the 40s at night. I have to turn on lights in the morning when I get up. Darkness falls a little earlier each day.
When I drove my '39 Plymouth coupe on my favorite rural route yesterday, I noticed that the many leaves have turned to rich Autumn colors. I suspect that peak color is only a week or two away.
Skies are still blue but it is a more intense and anxious hue than the carefree bright blue of summer. Nevertheless, it was sunny, which really lit up the foliage.
Fall is my favorite season, though. It is nature contemplating the richness of its yearly accomplishments, following a blooming but messy - like a happy, muddy puppy - spring and a glorious summer that it - and we - hoped would never end.
If nature were human, it would now be sitting on the back deck, swirling a balloon glass of Pinot Noir in late afternoon. It would be wearing a light sweater and appear deep in thought.
Fall mixes comforting nostalgia with trepidation, knowing that winter - the season of death - is not far away. The Plymouth seems to know this too. It is running especially well, somehow realizing that the last ride of the year - and the bitter but good-for-ya taste of Sta-Bil - will soon arrive.
Thursday's drive was slightly marred by being stuck behind a line of cars slowed by a road striping crew. But at the next stop sign, the painters went straight, I turned right and all was well. At 1;30 pm, the temperature was only 55 degrees but, since I was wearing a sweater, I drove with the windows down.
Corn Hustle: President Trump has unveiled a pro-ethanol perk for farmers, which will include lifting a federal ban on summer sales of higher ethanol blends of gasoline. The plan is expected to be enacted before next year's summer driving season.
This is a bad idea. All-around, corn-based ethanol is more expensive than gasoline. A vehicle running on E85 needs 40% more fuel to go the same distance as one burning gasoline, and E85 would cost 9.6% more per mile driven.
Emissions from the fossil fuels used to produce the corn-based ethanol as well as the greenhouse gasses E85 produces are more pollution than gasoline. "When looking at the total pollution produced by each fuel, E85 produces 15.5% more greenhouse gasses per mile."
When winter-blend ethanol gas hits the pumps, the gas mileage on my cars drops 2-4 mpg. And ethanol fuels spell trouble for old cars.
Someday, history books will have a chapter devoted to The Great Ethanol Scam.
No Money: Faraday Future, the high-performance, whiz-bang, swooopy electric car introduced at CES 2017, is out of cash. Again.
According to a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, the intended Tesla challenger went through $800 million between December 2017 and July 2018. In July, they signed an agreement with an investor for an advance of $700 million, but that payment has not come through and now some suppliers haven’t been paid in weeks.
I often criticize Tesla but at least they’re actually producing cars for sale.
Dirtier Than You Thought: Emissions from most diesel cars in Europe greatly exceed laboratory testing levels.
A new MIT study reports that "Volkswagen is not the only auto manufacturer to make diesel cars that produce vastly more emissions on the road than in laboratory tests. The study, published this month in Atmospheric Environment, finds that in Europe, 10 major auto manufacturers produced diesel cars, sold between 2000 and 2015, that generate up to 16 times more emissions on the road than in regulatory tests - a level that exceeds European limits but does not violate any EU laws."
Don't Forget To Get Your Flu Shot:
I got my flu shot last week and had a mini-flu reaction for a couple of days. But it's better than the full-blown version.
Conspiracy Theory: Treasury Bill action rattled the stock market this week. Someone was dumping lots of them, making prices tumble and increasing the yield. China owns lots of U.S. debt in the form of T-Bills. Was this an attempt to scare investors and pressure President Trump to back off tariffs on China? I wonder.
Book Review: 'The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles' by Gary Krist
In 300 pages (plus bibliography, extensive notes and index), author Krist weaves together the true stories of three people ... (more >>>)
Thought For Today: I wonder if clouds ever look down on us and say, "Hey look! That one's shaped like an idiot."
Wednesday October 10, 2018
There Are No Real Self-Driving Cars … but in the world of semi-kinda-self driving vehicles, Cadillac bested Tesla, according to Consumer Reports.
CR noted that the Cadillac Super Cruise system did "the best job of balancing high-tech capabilities with ensuring that the car is operated safely and that the driver is paying attention." Consumer Reports director of auto testing Jake Fisher said, "We have been evaluating these systems on a case-by-case basis for a few years, but we are at a tipping point where they are now going mainstream. Stacked up against each other, you can really see significant differences. The best systems balance capability with safeguards - making driving easier and less stressful in the right situations. Without proper safeguards, overreliance on the system is too easy, which puts drivers at risk."
Cars, Cars And More Cars: Randal O’Toole (aka: The Antiplanner) wrote, "The number of households that lacked access to a motor vehicle declined in 2017 as did the number with only one vehicle. Meanwhile, the number with two or more rapidly grew. In fact, the more vehicles, the faster the growth: the number with two vehicles grew by 1.4%; the number with three grew by 2.8%; the number with four grew by 4.5%; and the number with five or more grew by an astounding 7.2%."
"Although transit seemingly has a natural market among people whose households have no vehicles, only 41.1% of workers with no vehicles took transit to work in 2017, down from 41.7% in 2016. This is heavily weighted by New York City, where 73% of people with no vehicles take transit to work. In many places, however, the number of people with no cars but nevertheless drove alone to work outnumbered the number with no cars who rode transit to work."
How do people with no cars drive alone to work? Randal has a theory: "I don't know for sure, but I suspect most of them use employer-supplied vehicles. In any case, this is just one more indicator of transit's declining relevance."
For those graph enthusiasts among you, he has posted one showing vehicle ownership rates over time from 1960.
Remember When Truck Models Were Named For Their Load Capacity? Or Size? The 2019 Ram Rebel 12 pickup is named for the size of its 12-inch touchscreen.
"The Rebel 12 starts at $48,685, including destination charges - about $3,000 more than the base Rebel." I'm showing my age by disclosing that the model-name 'Rebel' conjures up a fuel-injected '57 Rambler sedan.
Holy Antarctica, Batman! Al Gore has actually endorsed a penguin for Congress. We don't need The Penguin; we already have enough villains in Congress.
Random Thought: When I see her on television, I often wonder if political commentator Bre Payton is the daughter of one of Robert Palmer's Patrick Nagalesque backing 'musician' chicks from that 1986 'Addicted To Love' video.
Quote Of The Day is from Greg Gutfield: "The media are good news fire extinguishers."
Monday October 8, 2018
What A Difference 15 Minutes Makes: Last Thursday morning, I had a medical appointment in Vancouver, requiring a 12-hour fast. Afterwards, I piloted my Lexus home in bright sunshine, grabbed a quick breakfast and went out to take a drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe. In that short time (10:00 to 10:15 am), the sun had disappeared and heavy clouds had rolled in.
I took off anyway in the chilly 49 degree weather. I did have a good drive remembering that, as a 16 year-old, I drove my other '39 Plymouth coupe on lots of cloudy days. Traffic was light and I had a pleasant drive.
The weather could have been worse - the rain began Friday and continued through the weekend.
Strange Vision: The BMW iNext show car, an all-electric and autonomous crossover set to make its debut in 2021, is supposed to offer BMW's vision of its future.
Chairman Harald Krueger said, "The iNext project will provide our building blocks for the future, from which the entire company and all of its brands are set to benefit."
Car & Driver pointed out some of the iNext's features: "Absurdly large 24-inch wheels and suicide doors? Check. A lounge-style cabin where passengers roam about without the burden of buckling up? Got it. Seat fabric you caress with your fingertips to play a song? Now we're onto something new."
"Beneath the rear bench with its 1960s-style green upholstery, which resembles Don Draper's office furniture, is a matrix of sensors and fiber optics that respond to touch, handwriting, or anything BMW thinks you'll want to trace onto a seat. Doodle a music note with your pinky, and the pattern illuminates through the fabric; the car might then play Bon Jovi. Swipe with a few fingers to crank up “It's My Life,” that classic hit that BMW passengers in the previous century had to buy in a store."
I can neither get excited about autonomous vehicles nor electric ones and I find the styling of the iNext odd and offputting. I can't get past that pig-snout grille.
Maybe the future isn't so great, after all.
Going Home: After four years in New York City, Cadillac is moving its headquarters back to Detroit. Makes sense to me. Everybody in New York City uses taxis, Uber, the subway or black car services to get around town.
Too bad, Cadillac couldn't have taken the millions they spend on this stupid move East and spent it on improving product quality. And giving its offerings real names like DeVille and Eldorado.
Mo Money: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car insurance premiums have risen sharply in recent years, increasing 33% between 2010 and 2016. Much of it is caused by higher payout claims per accident, because cars are more complex and cost more to repair.
Book Review: 'Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit' by William Knoedelseder
It is difficult to imagine what the automobile world would have been like without a Harley Earl. Yes, there were other talented stylists: Gordon Buehrig (Duesenberg Model J, 1935 Auburn 851 boattail speedster, coffin-nosed 1936 Cord 810/812), E.T. Gregorie (1936 Lincoln Zephyr, 1939 Mercury, 1940 Lincoln Continental, 1940 Ford), Frank Hershey, Virgil Exner - but all were trained by Mister Earl, as he was known. Edsel Ford was a talented guy who recognized good taste enough to hire some of these designers but he was browbeaten so badly by his father, crazy Henry Ford, that most of his ideas never came to fruition.
Many good designers left General Motors because, while Earl had a good style sense and could squeeze the best out of designers, he was also a tough taskmaster - a hard-charging workaholic who expected all of his employees to work as many hours as he did. He bullied his subordinates and gave them little or no individual credit for their styling breakthroughs.
Harley Earl brought style to Detroit; the automobile was ... (more >>>)
Short Days Ahead: I took this photo from our back deck, while cooking a filet mignon on the grill. It was only 6:10 pm but the sun was already below the horizon and the moon was well on the rise.
There was a chill in the air and I was wearing a sweater. But I drove away the cold with some 2010 Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc. By 7:10 pm, it was completely dark.
Unscientific Science: John Tasioulas reported that "CERN has suspended an Italian theoretical physicist after he allegedly denied that physics suffers from a misogynist bias and criticized affirmative-action policies." CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The organization operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Science is about brains and talent, not diversity.
Often Called 'The Honorary Mayor of Portland': Locally renowned restaurateur Sherwood Dudley - aka Mr. Hospitality - has died at age 82. Working at Chicago's Mr. Kelly's Comedy Club, Sherwood caught the eye of Hugh Hefner. Sherwood quickly rose through the ranks at the Playboy Club in Chicago and was instrumental in establishing locations in New York City and Los Angeles, becoming the first African-American to manage a Playboy Club.
In 1983, Sherwood moved to Portland, Oregon and worked at Simon's as well as 13 Coins restaurants. Later, he was the affable head maitre d' at a variety of upscale eateries including the late, great Couch Street Fish House, El Gaucho Steakhouse and Wilf's Restaurant at Union Train Station. RIP.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep … Retail chain Mattress Firm, which has been grappling with declining sales amid an overexpansion and a scandal at its parent company, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
How do any of these places stay in business? I am one of the 3% of Americans who lives greater than 500 yards from a mattress store. There are two of them in the small town of Battle Ground, WA.
Quote Of The Day is from Stewie Griffin on ice cream: "No sprinkles. For every sprinkle I find, I shall kill you."
Thursday October 4, 2018
It Looks And Feels Like October: On Wednesday morning, the temperature was 38 degrees at 7:30. The skies were blue and nearly cloudless but the heater has been running at night and Summer is definitely in the rear-view mirror.
At 11:00 am, I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe and went for a drive. The outside temperature was barely 50 degrees and there is much more Fall color than I saw a mere five days ago.
Gas History: I've owned my 1939 Plymouth since 1994. The anal-retentive engineer in me keeps a record of all fuel purchases in a spiral notebook. (I have one in each car.) This September, I paid $3.769/gallon for Chevron Supreme with Techron - triple what I paid in 1994.
I've posted a year-by-year comparison chart here.
September Auto Sales: Several automakers posted a hefty drop in U.S. new vehicle sales for September, caused in part by a drop in sales in areas hit by Hurricane Florence and a difficult comparison to September 2017 when consumers rushed to replace vehicles damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
U.S. light-vehicle deliveries last month fell more than 6% in September to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized sales rate (SAAR) of 17.45 million units. Light trucks accounted for 69% of new-vehicle retail sales, according to J.D. Power. "September was a bloodbath for cars," Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs said. "They dropped like a rock."
General Motors posted U.S. third-quarter sales of 694,638 vehicles, a decrease of 11% compared with the third quarter of 2017. Fleet deliveries amounted to about 21% of quarterly sales. The Chevy Silverado pickup and Equinox sport utility vehicle were the company's two best-selling vehicles during the quarter. On a monthly basis, Chevrolet sales fell 20% to 159,171 vehicles. GMC sales declined 12% to 41,584 trucks. Cadillac sales dropped 11% to 12,409 vehicles. Buick sales declined 10% to 15,101 vehicles.
Ford Motor Company's September sales fell by 11% year-over-year to 197,404 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Passenger car sales fell 26% while sport utility vehicle sales fell 3% and truck sales dropped 10%. Ford's best-selling SUV, the Escape, posted sales of 20,398 units in September. Sales of the Lincoln brand fell by 7% year-over-year to 8,168 vehicles, as sales of Lincoln cars dropped 12%. Car sales totaled 2,543 units in the month and SUV sales totaled 5,625 units, down by 5% year-over-year. Navigator sales rose 77% to 1,257 units.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outsold Ford Motor Company in September 2018. FCA's September sales increased by 15% year-over-year to 199,819 vehicles. The Jeep brand posted a sales increase of 14% as sales of the new Cherokee rose 87% to nearly 22,000 units and Compass sales jumped 46% to 16,339 units. The Ram brand of pickups and other light trucks had a sales jump of 9% to 56,447 units. Chrysler brand sales dropped 7% y-o-y to 14,683 vehicles and Fiat sales tumbled 46% to just 1,185. Alfa Romeo brand sales rose 29% to 1,639 vehicles; the Stelvio crossover accounted for the majority of those sales with 864 vehicles sold. Dodge brand sales soared 41% to 42,101 units in September. Sales of the Journey jumped 48% and Challenger sales rose 14%. Caravan sales totaled 13,829 units last month.
Toyota sales dropped 11% to 178,501 vehicles. Prius sales fell 21% to 7,378 hybrids. Avalon sales were down 14% to 2,225 sedans. The biggest seller in Toyota's lineup remains the RAV4; 37,440 found buyers last month - a drop of 12%. Honda sales slid 8% to 119,167 vehicles. Honda's most popular model, the CR-V, experienced a sales decline of 1% to 30,587 SUVs. The redesigned Pilot experienced a sales leap of 50% to 15,464 units. Nissan sales declined 13% to 110,283 vehicles. Subaru sales declined 1% to 57,044 Subies. 56,940 Hyundais found buyers last month - an increase of 3%, while Kia sales dropped 2% to 51,503 units. Volkswagen sales fell 5% to 30,555 VWs. Mazda sales declined 17% to 21,257 vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz sales fell 15% to 30,817 Benzes. Tesla sold 29,975 electric vehicles - an almost six-fold increase over last September. (I saw my first Model X on I-5 Tuesday; it looked taller and squatter as it passed me.) BMW sales increased 1% to 25,908 Bimmers. Lexus sales declined 6% to 24,597 units. Only 668 LS flagship sedans found buyers last month. Acura sales increased 4% to 13,511 units. The RDX crossover is Acura's most popular offering; sales increased 54% to 5,699 vehicles last month. Infiniti sales declined 2% to 12,536 vehicles. Volvo sold 8,715 vehicles, an increase of 10% over last year. 6.966 Land Rovers found buyers last month - an increase of 9%. Jaguar sales declined 38% to 2,040 units. Genesis sales fell 76% to only 419 cars.
Only 98 little Smart cars found homes in September - a drop of 59% from last year. Rolls Royce sold 90 vehicles last month.
Not Every Volvo Is From China Or Sweden: The 2019 Volvo S60 sedan is now officially in production at the carmaker's new 2.3 million square-foot, $1.1 billion assembly plant in Berkeley County, South Carolina.
"Volvo will export half the sedans built at the plant to other countries, with global deliveries beginning in spring 2019." Volvo will add production of a second model, the next-generation XC90, in 2021. With two model lines, the automaker will be able to make 150,000 cars a year at the plant.
Money Bug: A black 1964 Volkswagen Beetle sedan with 23 original miles on it is posted for sale on Hemmings for $1,000,000.
What If … 'The Love Bug' had been a 1968 movie about a classic Bugatti and 26 year-old Michele Lee's part was played by 25 year-old Catherine Deneuve and 35 year-old Dean Jones' part was played by 36 year-old Steve McQueen?
Book Review: 'The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics' by Salena Zito and Brad Todd
The 2016 presidential election was indeed a revolt by the common people against the elites - Republicans, Democrats, Uncaring Bureaucrats with cushy, protected government jobs (Lois Lerner, for instance), Corrupt Corporate Insiders, Too-Big-To-Fail Banks, the IRS and others - who, over the years, have betrayed the people's trust.
In 266-plus pages, this book succinctly ... (more >>>)
Good News: Last week, I visited the Oncology Center for the usual blood test, which measures cancer markers - carcinoembryonic antigen. Mine is now 1.1, which remains well within normal range (0-5.0 µg/L according to my oncologist). My next test is scheduled for early January 2019. (permalink)
Good Times: Recently, Scott Grannis wrote, "A person making an average income in the U.S. enjoys all the advantages that our nation's net worth has created. Regardless of who owns the country's wealth, everyone benefits from the infrastructure, the equipment, the computers, the offices, the homes, the factories, the research facilities, the workers, the teachers, the families, the software, and the brains that sit in homes and offices all over the country and arrange the affairs of the nation so as to produce over $20 trillion of income per year. Would the average wage-earner (or, for that matter, the average billionaire) in the U.S. enjoy the same quality of life if he or she earned the same amount while living in a poor country? I seriously doubt it."
Humorous Comparison Of The Day is from Dave Burge: Voting Booths - The Arcade Claw Machines Of Democracy. Jonah Goldberg once wrote, "Voting is the government's way of getting your fingerprints on the murder weapon."
Tuesday October 2, 2018
Driving Past Summer: Fall is definitely here. The days are still warm but temperatures dip into the 40s at night. The heater kicks on and starts rumbling about 10:00 pm.
Darkness falls a bit earlier each day. If I forget to get the mail before dinner, I have to bring a flashlight to locate the mailbox's keyhole.
When I drove my '39 Plymouth coupe along my favorite rural route last Friday, I noticed that some leaves are starting to turn. Others are still green but losing their glossy lister.
At 11:45 am, it was a summery 70 degrees outdoors with bright blue, cloud-free skies. Mt. St. Helens has a top coating of gray-brown - a dusting of snow barely covering the dirt and rock. This will soon change as October moseys along.
Speaking of moseying, I had a good drive in my old coupe and got a hat tip and wave from a flagger at a construction zone. Of course, it wasn't about me; it was about the Plymouth.
Surprising When You Consider The Narrow Streets And Tight Parking: Small SUVs and crossovers are now the fastest-growing market segment in Europe, gaining 20% in sales volume during the first half of 2018 in a market that was up by just 2.5% overall.
"SUVs and crossovers accounted for one-third of European sales during the first half (of 2018)." On the other hand, driven by a 61% "rise in demand for the second-generation Nissan Leaf, electric car sales grew by 37.7% to 105,736 units from January to June."
Silly Me … I Thought Electric Cars Would Be Cheap: I remember in decades past, there were numerous bearded, earnest, cheap and ecologically-conscious young men who would buy a semi-derelict VW Beetle, scrounge an electric motor from a junkjard, wire four lead-acid batteries together and make an electric car for less than $800 outta pocket.
Those days are apparently gone. Electric cars are now premium vehicles. And if you don't believe Elon Musk, just look at the Audi E-Tron mid-size SUV. Peter DeLorenzo observed, "The E-Tron is available in three trim levels: Premium Plus ($74,800), Prestige ($81,800) and First Edition ($86,700). And remember, this is for an Audi Q5-sized SUV." Ouch.
Peter continued: "The marketing and advertising of fully-electric vehicles is going to be nothing short of the biggest single challenge facing automotive marketers in the coming years … the vast majority of the cars and trucks being sold over the next ten years will be traditional, ICE-powered vehicles." Ones that you can full-charge (fill-up) at any gas station in three minutes or less.
If you still want one of those electric Audis, the company proclaimed, "Customers can configure their E-Tron and reserve their vehicle with a fully refundable $1,000 reservation fee ahead of delivery in mid-2019."
I Used To Think ... Elon Musk was the 21st Century Preston Tucker. Now that his crazy behavior has resulted in SEC securities fraud charges, I'm thinking he's the 21st Century Howard Hughes. Has anybody checked the length of his toenails lately?
No Bucket Truck Needed Here: A 1910 Philadelphia Electric Co. streetlight maintenance vehicle made light bulb changing a snap ... (more >>>)
Curry Optional: The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC compact crossover will be imported from Pune, India.
"Ford has also been importing its EcoSport crossover from its plant in Chennai, India, the first car built in that country to be sold stateside."
Better Than A CD: In the first nine months of 2018, the S&P 500 Index - with dividends reinvested - returned over 11.5%.
Will Red USMCA Hats Be Available For Sale? NAFTA is dead. Long live the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement - henceforth to be known as USMCA. "These measures will support many hundreds of thousands American jobs," President Trump said in remarks at the White House. "It means far more American jobs, and these are high-quality jobs." The presdent also said that this agreement would restore the U.S. to a "manufacturing powerhouse."
I'm all for that - I once wrote, "Once upon a time, the U.S. exported everything from die casting machinery, earthmovers, agricultural equipment and, yes, trolley cars. All were high value-added products manufactured entirely here, bringing in new currency to the U.S." And: "Manufacturing is vital to the economy of the United States because it is a generator of wealth. Taking low-cost raw materials (wood, baking flour, steel) and processing them to produce much more expensive items (furniture, cakes, automobiles) creates profit. This in turn produces prosperity - for individuals and for a nation.
Furthermore, if the nation's products are unique and interesting enough that people in other countries want to buy them, fresh capital is brought into the United States. Such capital can used to expand capacity, improve product offerings and increase efficiency - these things make our wares even more competitive and attractive in the world market."
Changing NAFTA was one of the president's top campaign promises. He even threatened to simply exit the deal, which he frequently called one of the "worst" deals ever. Mexico got on board pretty quickly. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau balked petulantly. Donald Trump gave him the same treatment he used on recalcitrant drywall sub-contractors during his construction days and Trudeau quietly came around.
The U.S. got a lot in the 16-year deal, including a review period after six years. USMCA raises the U.S.-Mexico-Canada content requirements for new vehicles from 62.5% to 75% to avoid tariffs starting in 2020. The agreement also boosts U.S. access to Canada's dairy market.
The Day Lindsey Graham Grew A Pair: I've been reluctant to write abut last week's circus known as the Kavanaugh Hearings.
Roger Simon wrote that "it dawned on me I was watching an event that I thought was political being transformed into a spiritual one.
Nothing was as expected. A real rape had taken place but it wasn't the one everyone was talking about. It was simultaneously a rape of Judge Kavanaugh, his family, and the American people themselves. The collateral damage was Dr. Ford, her friends, and her family. And the perpetrator was the Democratic Party, principally their Judiciary Committee members, their ranking member, and the minority leader."
The Republican Senate, generally a bunch of shuffling, white-shoe do-nothings finally had enough. Lindsey Graham, a man whose ... (more >>>)
Quote of the Day is from Thomas Sowell: "It is amazing how many people think they are doing blacks a favor by exempting them from standards that others are expected to meet."
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