A Blog About Cars ... And Much, Much More
Friday July 3, 2015
Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer: That 1963 Nat King Cole hit ran through my mind as I was driving along country roads in my '39 Plymouth coupe on Wednesday morning.
The sun was bright and, even at 9:00 am, the temperature was already up to 70 degrees (it would reach 96 by afternoon) and, due to a lack of rain, there was a bit of haze in the air.
I could just barely make out Mt. St. Helens through the haze. Traffic was light and I had a good drive.
Happy 4th, everyone!
June Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 17.1 million SAAR in June - up 1.5% from June 2014, and down 3.5% from the 17.7 million annual sales rate last month. Cheap gas and readily available financing are keeping sales at a high level.
Ford Motor Co. posted a U.S. sales increase of 2% year-over-year in June to 225,647 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with June 2014 sales of 222,064. Truck sales declined 0.7% for the month after falling 5.1% in May.
After repeated assurances that sales of Ford’s flagship F-150 would rise as production of the new generation model came online, the opposite held true in June. Sales of the F-Series collapsed another 9% to 55,171. Truck sales declined 1% for the month after falling 5% in May. Ford is seriously missing its truck targets, apparently due to slow start-up and build-up of the new F-150. Ford has said that F-150 sales will strengthen in the second half of this year, once the second assembly plant in Kansas City is running at full capacity.
On a more positive note, sales of Lincoln vehicles rose 15% year over year. Car sales totaled 3,068 units in June and utility vehicle sales totaled 5,258 units.
Year-over-year, sales rose 8% at Fiat-Chrysler in June to 185,035 units, the company's best June sales level since 2006. The Jeep brand posted its best June sales ever, with Patriot sales up 41%, Wrangler sales up 17% and Cherokee sales up 39%. The company's Jeep brand sold 71,529 units in June. Jeep has now set a sales record for 21 consecutive months.
Ram pickup sales rose only 1% in June to 33,332 units, and Dodge brand sales were down 14% year over year in June and are now down 16% for the year to date. Sales of the venerable Caravan dropped 40% in May and are down 49% for the year. Dropping sales continues to fuel rumors that the Dodge brand may not be long for this world.
Year over year, sales of the Chrysler brand are up 28%, as sales of the new Chrysler 200 jumped 153% to 18,560 units. Year to date, Chrysler 200 sales are up 136% and Chrysler brand sales are up 21%. Fiat sales fell 30% compared with June '14.
General Motors, the largest manufacturer of new vehicles in America, posted a 3% decline but laid the blame all on a sharp decline in fleet volume. GM says their retail market share for the month was at its highest June level since 2011. Buick was down 18%, Cadillac dropped 3% and Chevrolet fell 4%. Sales of GMC vehicles were up 8% in June.
Toyota sold 179,953 vehicles - 90,952 cars and 89,001 trucks/SUVs in June 2015, an increase of 4%. The Toyota Camry was America's best-selling passenger car in June. Lexus sold 26,121 vehicles in June 2015 - 13,083 cars and 13,038 trucks/SUVs. This represented a year-over-year increase of 11%. 629 flagship LS sedans found buyers in June.
Scion sold 3,838 cars in June - a drop of 17%.
Acura sales, led mostly by SUVs, leaped 39% last month, while Honda saw only a 1% increase. Nissan sales were up a respectable 13%; Infiniti sales increased by 16%.
Mercedes sales were up 6%, while BMW had a marginally higher gain and outsold Mercedes 32,176 to 30,486. Volkswagen sales were up 6%, while Volvo sales were unchanged. 774 Smart cars found buyers last month, an increase of 15% over June 2014.
Ancient Zinc: Dinky Toys are die-cast miniature vehicles which were produced by Meccano Ltd. the makers of Hornby Trains. Dinky Toys were made in Liverpool, England from the mid-1930s until late 1979. Originally, Dinky cars and trucks were promoted as accessories for Hornby's O-gauge line of trains and, therefore, were made in 1/48th scale to match the scale of the toy locomotives.
In pre-World War II England, Meccano's Dinky Toys reigned. But ... (more >>>)
A Lot Can Happen In A Year: It's now less than 18 months until the 2016 presidential election. Think you know who's going to run? Or win?
Don't be too sure. Consider how things changed between the summer of 1967 and the presidential election of 1968.
There's already an interesting parallel: The once-obscure Senator Bernie Sanders is now getting the same kind of enthusiasm and support that another obscure senator, Eugene McCarthy, received in 1968 when he helped drive the seemingly-inevitable nominee, incumbent President Lyndon Johnson, from the Democratic ticket.
Watch for Joe Biden to soon reprise the Happy Warrior role of Hubert Humphrey.
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "When the political left wants to help the black community, they usually want to help the worst elements in that community - thugs they portray as martyrs, for example - without the slightest regard for the negative effect this can have on the lives of the majority of decent black people."
Wednesday July 1, 2015
British Flair, Japanese Reliability: Road & Track's Peter Egan reminisced about old British iron while riding in a friend's Mazda Miata. "As we hummed along the four-lane highway at 75 mph or so, I looked around myself at the Miata and said, "This thing is really running nice. Still feels like a new car. How many miles do you have on it?""
"Just turned 140,000," Chris said.
"Any trouble with it?"
"After a while I started chuckling to myself, and Chris asked what was so funny."
"I was thinking about my first TR-3 ..." I told him.
"Then Chris started to grin, and pretty soon we were both chuckling. The concept of 140,000 miles without trouble is always a source of mirth to British car guys."
Did I mention it's sunny, too?
At 10:30 am yesterday, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a pleasant drive along Clark County's back roads. There wasn't a cloud in the pale summer sky.
The car ran perfectly; I hope to get some more drives in soon.
I Hope This Won't Be America Twenty Years From Now: Greece is offering free public transit service this week because no one has money. The country's debt to GDP ratio is 170%.
Think of Greece as Atlantic City but with the Parthenon instead of the Boardwalk.
As a result of Greece's banks shutting their doors and ATMs for the entire week in order to prevent potential bank runs at the expense of their customers, transportation minister Christos Spirtzis declared transit service in Athens would be free to all until next week.
What's next - free gyros?
The United States' own debt-to-GDP ratio is now more than 100%. We can maintain (and increase) that ratio only because dollars have become the world currency. But what happens when creditors decide we are no longer good for it?
Book Review: '17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History' by Andrew Morton
This book is about Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor and once king of Great Britain, until he abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the Nazi plot to make him a puppet king after the invasion of Britain and the attempted cover-up of the duke's pro-German inclinations and possible collaboration with Hitler and his minions.
The claim to 'biggest cover-up'? I think not. Most of the book is a ... (more >>>)
Questions Worth Considering: Recently, Kathy Shaidle asked, "If streets named after Confederate generals inspire violence, what's causing all the crime on MLK Boulevard?"
Comedian Chris Rock once said, "If a friend calls you on the telephone and says they're lost on Martin Luther King Boulevard and they want to know what they should do, the best response is 'Run'. You know what's so sad? Martin Luther King stood for non-violence. And I don't care where you are in America, if you're on Martin Luther King Boulevard, there's some violence going down."
Let me raise another question: If we're going to ban Confederate flags because they "incite violence," why didn't we ban Korans and prayer mats after 9-11?
And here's another question: If a deeply-religious black Christian couple own a bakery and they refuse to bake a wedding cake with stars and bars icing and a Confederate flag on top for an engaged gay Klu Klux Klan couple, should the bakery be driven out of business?
Finally, Tom McMahon asked, "How about Confederate flags sewn by breast cancer survivors - would those be OK?"
No Longer Funny: Jack Carter, a motor-mouthed comedian who became one of television's first stars in the late 1940s and continued working, as both a comic and an actor, well into the 21st century, has died at age 93.
Carter was a frequent guest on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' during the 1960s and early '70s and was known for his impression of Ed Sullivan. Carter also made guest appearances in many television series and sitcoms. And he did movies.
He's probably the only person who appeared in both 'Viva Las Vegas' and 'History of the World, Part I'. RIP.
Unintended Consequences. From the always-interesting Gerard Van der Leuen: "I can't wait until Granny, on her death bed, marries her favorite granddaughter, and the IRS watches all that Estate Tax money just drifting away into the sunset - instead of into the IRS coffers."
"Two same-sex anyones even when not sexually connected can marry and same thing - there goes all that Estate Tax money. Same with SS spousal benefits, health care insurance, military pension spousal benefits, and I'm sure we can all think of other scams that will now become perfectly legal. Oh, the divorce lawyers and the tax lawyers are going to have a field day!"
Quote Of The Day is from Terry Pratchett: "I once absent-mindedly ordered Three Mile Island dressing in a restaurant and, with great presence of mind, they brought Thousand Island Dressing and a bottle of chili sauce."
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