A Blog About Cars ... And More
Tuesday August 30, 2016
AutoSketch: 1948-49 Cadillac Sedanet - GM's Best-Looking Fastback
In the 1940s, General Motors was in love with fastback styling, calling it 'the torpedo look'. It was a Forties fad and GM made the most of it. The 1948-49 Cadillac club coupe models - also referred to as Sedanets - were arguably the best looking of GM's fastbacks. 1948 and '49 were also very significant years for Cadillac.
The 1948 model was the first true postwar design at Cadillac. It was the first Caddy with fins - often referred to at the time as 'fishtails'. The fastback design and twin-fin combo were inspired by the tail of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter plane, a favorite of GM styling honcho Harley Earl.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and not long after the 1948 Cadillacs made their debut, mail order houses began business selling Caddy-like tailfins that could be mounted on the rear fenders of lesser cars. I recall that most ended up on '49-52 Chevrolets and Pontiacs. The little 1951 Henry J sported miniaturized '48 Caddy fins on its ... (more >>>)
Morning Drive Time: At 9:30 am, the sky was pale azure with nary a cloud in sight and the temperature was 62 degrees - perfect old car weather. I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and went for a drive. Traffic was light; Mt. St. Helens was completely bare of snow and wildflowers were taking over the sides of the road. It's summer! I had a very pleasant back roads excursion.
I forgot to mention that I saw a shiny yellow mid-60s Datsun 1600 roadster last week. In its day, it was quite a looker and, by most accounts, a decent sports car - about as fast as an MGB. You don't see many of these little roadsters around these parts; this is the first one I've seen on the road in almost 25 years.
Book Review: 'Game Of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne' by Christopher Andersen
I remember visiting my friend and grade-school classmate, Sammy Clayton, after school on June 2, 1953. We were playing outside when his mom insisted we come inside and watch something on television. She said, "You won't understand now but this is history being made. A British Coronation is something rare. You may never see another one in your lifetime." And, to date, I haven't.
It was a big deal getting the event televised in a timely manner. In those pre-videotape, pre-satellite days, the ceremony was filmed and the undeveloped rolls were rushed to Heathrow airport, loaded into a modified P-51 Mustang and flown to the U.S. (with a quick refueling in Labrador) and was developed enroute in a makeshift, cramped darkroom. That was the black and white film shown to American television audiences.
Andersen's book is a gossipy ... (more >>>)
Another Good Guy Is Gone: Robert K. Marple Jr., who served in the served in the Army Air Corps during World War II for over three years, died last week at age 92 from interstitial lung disease.
Bob fought in the Battle of the Bulge and flew reconnaissance for General George Patton. After the war, he studied Chemical Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
When you begin a new job, the first thing you do is get a sense of your co-workers. It doesn't take long to tag the BS artists, back stabbers, phonies and dead wood. That's who you want to avoid as much as possible. You want to connect with the good guys - productive, smart people, who lack hidden agendas and just want to get the job done.
At Rohm & Haas Co., Bob Marple was one of the good guys. He was smart as a whip and always ready to help. During his 35 year career with R&H, he worked in various plastic labs, including the Plastics Engineering Lab where I was once employed. Bob also worked at R&H's corporate headquarters in downtown Philadelphia.
I lost touch with Bob after I left R&H but in recent years corresponded by e-mail. He had a great sense of humor and will be missed. RIP. (permalink)
"It's pronounced "Fronkensteen."" Comic actor Gene Willder has died at age 83 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was best known for his performances in 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory', 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Young Frankenstein', where he was frequently upstaged by google-eyed Marty Feldman, who played his assistant, Igor.
I'll always remember these exchanges:
Rest in peace, Gene.
Breaking News ... from The People's Cube: 'The Clinton Foundation set to investigate the FBI'.
Quote Of The Day: "I find it ironic that the colors red, white, and blue stand for freedom, until they're flashing behind you."
Friday August 26, 2016
It's Hard To Argue With Success: Since it went on sale in May, the Jaguar F-Pace SUV has already effectively doubled Jaguar's monthly volume. My problem with it is that I always felt that a Range-Rover is a Jaguar SUV. But that's just me.
Nevertheless, Dan Neil reviewed the F-Pace, which costs between $41,000 and $70,000 depending on model and options. He noted sadly, "Inside, the cabin trim feels less fine than previous Jag offerings, as the cost of materials is ever so gently dialed down to mass-class."
"All for a price that would make dear old Sir William Lyons (the founder of Jag-U-arrr) plotz. Last year, Jaguar announced a major reset on its prices - between -4 and -8%, depending on the model - with a focus on lowering the brand's price of entry, as well as upping standard content, and fattening warranties. In other words, they totally went Hyundai/Kia. Everything but balloons for the kiddies."
It seems like every luxury automaker is going downmarket these days - except ... (more >>>)
Full Of Gas: On Wednesday, I fired up my '39 Plymouth business coupe at 9:00 am. The temperature was 62 degrees or so but eventually warmed up to 91 by mid-afternoon. Skies were bright summer blue with almost no clouds.
I drove to the Chevron station in Battle Ground and filled up with Techron Supreme. Then I took an extended ride along the back roads of North Clark County. The drive was pleasant and I was back home by 9:30 am.
I hope to get in some more rides while the weather is still good.
Headline Of The Week: 'USDA teams up with Iowa law school and Cyndi Lauper to celebrate lesbian farmers'.
It's tough being gay and living in rural areas, at least according to the taxpayer-supported and bloated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). "The goal is to help LGBT people sign up for the USDA's programs, such as food stamps and housing loans, which “strengthen the daily lives of LGBT rural community members."
You can't make this stuff up, folks.
Twenty-First Century Coddling: From the folks at Maggie's Farm, comes this: "Self-driving cars aren't a problem to be solved, because there's no problem there. Why do Millennials want to sit in a booster seat clutching a ziploc bag of Cheerios and a Gameboy until they're ready for a nursing home? Drive your own damn car. It's not that hard if you're not texting."
And then there's this about Facebook: "I love watching Millennials trying to operate punctuation and spelling. Apparently all twelve years of regular schooling now consists of the advice: Take a stab at it."
As to the self-driving car idea, I'm not totally against it. I certainly enjoy driving on near-empty back roads but take no pleasure in navigating city traffic. Nor do I look forward to rush hour driving. I'd rather read a book. Or watch television. Or talk on the phone. With a self-driving car, I can do any - or all - of these things. Just tell the car your destination and it will get you there, using sensors, navigation software and a GPS.
Of course, a self-driving car would change everything. How can the police arrest one for being drunk if the car is doing the driving? MADD will probably go out of business. (I would hope they'd be happy to do so.) The taxi business would probably suffer - who needs a cab when your car is your own chauffeur? You could even sit in the back seat. Or take a nap.
Ever have one of those medical or dental procedures where you're told that you must bring someone along to drive you home? "Not necessary, doc. My car will get me there. Just carry me out and dump me in the back seat."
Quote Of The Day: "If I had a dollar for every girl that found me unattractive, they'd eventually find me attractive."
Wednesday August 24, 2016
Traffic & Idiots: On Monday, I took a short ride in my '39 Plymouth coupe. Conditions weren't ideal: Overhead, the skies were summer blue with cloudy streaks but there was a solid ring of clouds ran around the horizon, obscuring all the hills and mountains. I immediately thought of a giant ring of duchess potatoes surrounding a big juicy steak. I guess it was because I was a bit hungry; I hadn't eaten breakfast yet.
It didn't really get sunny until 1:30 pm; the temperature topped out at 74 degrees.
There was more traffic than usual, along with the annoyance of a new school bus driver "practicing" by stopping at a railroad crossing for a full minute, resulting in a large back-up of cars, each with an angry motorist behind the wheel, including me.
Then there was a poky little subcompact car, one of the anonymous 10 year-old Asian muffin stumps of the automotive world, doing 10 mph under the speed limit. Originally just a dot on the horizon, I quickly began gaining on it, even though I was cruising along at or below the speed limit. I caught up with the silver slug just after I got to my favorite patch of 50 mph smooth road.
Luckily, there was no traffic coming the other way, so I pulled out to pass. As I got even with the car's front door, the idiot behind the wheel decided to speed up. This happens far too often, regardless of what car I'm driving. What is it with these slow pokes? Do they get their tutus in a twist because someone is getting ahead of them? Or are they uber passive-aggressive? Or just plain jerks? I don't know why people do such stupid stuff.
Thank God for V8 power; I simply floored the Plymouth and left the dinky little vehicle in a cloud of dust and a roar of Glasspacks.
In any case, Monday's drive was still better than no ride at all. It felt cooler than it really was (60 degrees), probably because of the cloudy conditions. Better luck next time.
The Queen's Jubilee Bus: In 1977, Elizabeth II celebrated the 25th anniversary of her coronation as Queen of England. British marketers commissioned boatloads of Silver Jubilee merchandise - tea towels, mugs, commemorative plates, salt & pepper shakers and the like. As often happens for celebratory events, they made waaaay too many and the merchandise was soon heavily discounted.
Visiting Victoria, Canada in August, 1983 (six years after the Jubilee), we picked up a couple of stamped lithographed Silver Jubilee serving trays for 99¢/each (69¢ American). We gave one ... (more >>>)
Post-Industrial Job Woes: An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, profiles Philadelphia's current jobs picture, suggesting that is reflective of many large American cities, struggling in a post-industrial environment. Once prosperous factory towns are now desolate and half-abandoned. Two examples: Detroit, MI and Camden, NJ.
"Overall, Philadelphia, the nation's fifth-most-populous city, notched a 14.3% decline in median income from 2000 to 2014 on an inflation-adjusted basis, a drop that exceeded the 10.4% nationwide decrease." Any income gains in Philadelphia over the past 15 years have clustered around the flourishing, trendy parts of center city.
As with other metro areas, "Philadelphia's job mix has changed since 2000. Manufacturing accounts for less than 4% of jobs, down from 7%, and government positions make up 14% of the total, down from 16%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largely low-wage hospitality sector accounts for 9.4%, up from 7.7%. Education and health have grown from about 25% of city jobs to about 31%. The professional and business services sector including law firms has edged up as well."
In the Oxford Circle section of Northeast Philly, there is ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike' by Phil Knight
This autobiography is the story of the man, the company he built, the friends he made, of massive business struggles, the many business relationships he encountered and the great adventures - both personal and business.
Phil Knight, Nike founder and board chairman, began with a fifty dollar loan from his dad (after Phil sold his beloved MGA sports car and traveled the world) and an idea to import high-quality running shoes from Japan. Less than 50 years after this inauspicious start, Nike has grown to a $30+ billion dollar colossus.
I found Knight to be a believable and sympathetic character and ... (more >>>)
Funny Headline ... from Ace: 'Obamacare Collapsing Like Hillary Navigating A Flight of Stairs'.
Q&A Of The Day: Do you know why urologists don't need to advertise? Because their patients just keep trickling in!
Monday August 22, 2016
Hot August Days: It was only 9:00 am on Friday but the sun was an angry orange ball, indicating that a hot afternoon would soon be upon us. The temperature was already in the low 70s and seemingly getting hotter by the minute. It eventually reached 100 degrees. Saturday was even hotter (102 degrees in the shade).
In any case, I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and headed out on the road. Traffic was surprisingly light - everyone was at work or had gone away on vacation. School was out, so there were no dreaded yellow buses to contend with.
With the windows down, the morning breeze providing some fresh country air and the summer 1957 version of The Joe Niagara Show pouring from the speakers - mixing with the burble form the Plymouth's Glasspacks, it was a wonderful ride and a great way to begin the day.
Electric Excess: Introduced during Monterey Week, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept is a stunning, gullwinged, two-door, four-passenger - if two of the passengers are Barvarian dwarves - coupe is 18.5 feet long, nearly the size of a 1970s Lincoln Town Car. It has a very aggressive front end and looks like something Darth Vader would drive. The rear view has slit-like split window, reminiscent of the '33 Pierce Silver Arrow. Or a Panzer armored vehicle. The interior of the concept looks very futuristic-cool in a Jetsons sort of way and reminds me of those wild concept cars from the 1950s and '60s.
Powering this massive coupe are four electric motors that can produce a combined 738 horsepower. Mercedes says that will be enough to get the car to 62 mph from a standstill in under 4 seconds. Mercedes says the Maybach 6 is a throwback to the "glorious age of the aero coupes." But exactly what age and on what planet, the company was stoicly silent, as Germans are sometimes inclined to be. It's no retro-car though. Rather, it's a perceived future with a nod to the past.
This is what a proper concept car should be: bold, impractical and imaginative.
A Dull Future: The Cadillac Escala four-door coupe concept is a pillarless, hatchback, revealed to the press during 2016 Monterey Week. Compared to the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 concept, it's fairly pedestrian - a pleasant but derivative design, featuring bits of other production and concept cars. A little Chevy Impala here, a little Jaguar XJS there, a little Genisis over that way and a whiff of Nissan Altima thrown in for good luck. The rear is, sadly, somewhat reminiscent of the PT Cruiser convertible's trunk. Perhaps it's a tribute to the unloved, bustle-backed '81 Caddy Seville.
Cadillac called the Escala, "The next evolution of Cadillac design and previewing the craftsmanship and technology being developed for many future models." The engine is said to be a 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 with cylinder deactivation - another uncreative combo. Oh well ... at least it's a V8. This concept Caddy is 210 inches long, about halfway between a 1990 Caddy DeVille and a 1995 Lincoln Town Car.
What ever happened to the boldness that resulted in ... (more >>>)
Bring Your Checkbook: The sleek Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante is the convertible version of the Zagato coupe. Production of the convertible - introduced during Monterey Week - will be limited to just 99 cars. The Volante will share the coupe's enhanced V12, cranking out 592 horsepower. The 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds is almost as quick as the 3.5 touted by the new DB11.
2016 Monterey Week and Pebble Beach Concours: Last week's annual car fest offered the usual mix of spectacular and fascinating vehicles on display as well as always-interesting auto auction results. Once simply the Pebble Beach Concours, this car-centric, scenic Pacific location has been expanded to include week long events, including new car reveals by manufacturers as well as debuts of endless Special Editions of current production models which are getting stale.
Monterey Week includes road rallies, races, auctions, displays, seminars, art exhibitions and parties. And mega traffic jams, as people try to attend every event and cram in every activity. This year's Tour d'Elegance found Sir Stirling Moss riding in a vintage 300SL roadster. It's good to know that the legendary Mr. Moss is still alive and well.
The week can be exhausting, even for a hard-core car enthusiast. I know. I traveled there twenty years ago, when things were far less hectic with fewer people in attendance and not as many venues. And I was younger and more energetic in 1996. I still have my Pebble Beach Miracle Hat, purchased at the Concours event. In my lifetime, I've been to hundreds of automotive events and nothing ever compared to Monterey.
I recommend that every car enthusiast do Monterey Week at least once in his/her lifetime. It's Pamplona for those who are interested in powerful, snorting creatures of a mechanical nature. With wheels rather than hooves.
The area's convention bureau expects almost 90,000 visitors, who will drop $50-60 million on hotel rooms, restaurants and bar tabs. The locals whine but they like the trickle-down effect of all that money, so they smile, make nice and mutter under their breath when no one is listening.
Last year, $396 million was spent at the many vehicle collector auctions - a new record. Experts expect this year's totals to drop 7%-12%. Median sale prices dropped slightly. C2 Corvettes recorded subpar prices, as have Mercedes-Benz 280SLs. Conversely, Ferrari Testarossas and Maserati 3500GTs all realized strong prices relative to their conditions. As usual, the auction results were eye-opening ... (more >>>)
Trouble A-Brewin': Malcolm Berko thinks we're headed for a recession. He wrote, "We may be on the verge of a car bubble. New cars can be financed for 96 months. Delinquent car loans are soaring. And 1 in 3 vehicles traded in for a new car have a negative equity.
Last year, 23.5% of new car loans were subprime, meaning they were made to people with credit scores below 620. This year, the percentage will be larger. Delinquencies in Texas and Oklahoma exceed 14%, and 3.4% of all auto loans made last year are at least 90 days delinquent.
The numbers for 2016 may be hugely larger because dealers and banks will finance cars for consumers without taking down payments."
She Hates To Wait: Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton flew by jet approximately 20 miles from Martha’s Vineyard - where she was partying Friday night with President Obama - to Nantucket for a fundraiser on Saturday. Because .... Hillary Clinton is very important, and she can’t be bogged down by pesky things such as boats or waiting.
The presidential candidate, who is endlessly trying to tell factory workers in Ohio and Pennsylvania that she’s one of them, acted like the queen she perceives herself to be.
Glaf Ekberg of The American Mirror wrote, "While Louisiana is still trying to dry out, it pays to have Clinton Privilege. Just ask the mainstream media."
Quote Of The Day is from Mariah Carey: "Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that but not with all those flies and death and stuff."
Thursday August 18, 2016
Morning Clouds; Afternoon Sun: Wednesday began with unexpected heavy clouds which didn't lift until late morning. At 11:45, when I fired up my old '39 Plymouth coupe, it was still cloudy with sunny patches and only 64 degrees. By late afternoon, temperatures reached a warm but comfortable 83 degrees.
I had a good ride, although the traffic was heavier than usual. I enjoyed my ride, as I almost always do.
Will It Happen This Time? After several false starts over the last 40+ years, word has again surfaced that a mid-engine Corvette will be in showrooms in 2019.
"Insider sources told The Detroit News that not only will a mid-engine ‘Vette bow in 2019, it will soon be the only Corvette offered by GM. ... GM won't comment on future products, but the sources say it's a done deal."
Yeah ... well ... I'll believe it when I see it. I mean, this is just what Corvette needs: to be even more expensive and complex.
So Bad, He's A Winner: Steve Lynch, who normally writes about automotive topics, has received a dishonorable mention (a good thing) in this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, where awards are based on deliberately atrocious writing.
The contest takes its name from Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel, 'Paul Clifford', famously begins: "It was a dark and stormy night." Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.
Damn. I forgot to submit my entry:
Book Review: 'The Man Who Saved The V-8' by Chase Morsey, Jr.
Every big business is full of unsung heroes who make things happen or help do so. They are not known to the world at large. In the acrylic plastic business, J. Franklin Moore and Bob Gardner come to mind.
These folks are the unsung heros of modern American industry. We owe them much.
The author, Chase Morsey Jr., fits in this category. When he joined Ford Motor Co. in 1948, he had no idea of the significant contributions he would make to the auto industry. Following World War II, FoMoCo was in turmoil. The company had suffered under the increasing lunacy and unpredictability of founder Henry Ford, whose emerging dementia had him on the trolley line to Crazyville. He had tried to run FoMoCo into the ground with his agrarian-focused, semi-addled brain and his refusal to add modern improvements to his cars.
His grandson, Henry II took the reins and hired the best and the brightest, nicknamed the Whiz Kids, to help bring modern management methods to the automaker. One of the original Whiz Kids quickly hired Morsey to help.
I never knew this before but the Whiz Kids, in a misguided example of value engineering .. (more >>>)
Issue Number One: Before there was The Internet, I used to get my political news by watching 'The McLaughlin Group', the PBS show which starred its loud and acerbic host, the former Jesuit priest and Nixon speechwriter, John McLaughlin. President Ronald Reagan once referred to the show - which often featured much yelling and interrupting - as the "political version of 'Animal House'."
Along with his fondness for combative politics, McLaughlin had a lighter side, naming his production company after his beloved dog, Oliver - a basset hound that he lived with at the Watergate apartment complex in Washington D.C. - when he worked for President Richard Nixon.
He remembered the dog during a year-end episode of 'The McLaughlin Group' in 2014 saying, "Person of the year: Pope Francis, especially now that he's told that animals can go to heaven. And Oliver is up there waiting for me."
John McLaughlin died this week at age 89. Requiescat In Pace.
Bad Pun Of The Day: Definition of a will - a dead give-away.
Tuesday August 16, 2016
How To Empty Your Wallet In One Easy Lesson: The 3-Series used to be the "entry-level" compact BMW (until the 1-Series came along a few years ago). In the 1990s, a new 3-Series could be had for $30,000 or so. The M3 was a more expensive, hopped-up version of the basic 3, adding $5-10,000 to the base price.
Fast forward to 2016: To mark the 30th anniversary of the high-performance BMW, 500 '30 Jahre M3' special editions will be produced, of which 150 units will be available here in the U.S. The Limited Edition M3 gets nineteen more horsepower, which ups its output to 444 horses and 406 lb-ft of torque.
And, in the tradition of all poncy special edition packages, the "30 Years" M3 will cost more too. A lot more: $83,250 for a manual gearbox and $86,150 with the Dual-Clutch transmission. Destination and Handling are extra.
Sleek Olds: A very nicely customized 1939 Oldsmobile Model 60 convertible won the Hot August Nights top award.
Who knew that an Oldsmobile could look so good? Cool ride.
Monday Meander: After a very hot weekend - temperatures reached into the 90s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - Monday dawned cloudy and cooler. But the sun came out around 10:00 am.
The sky was a gorgeous color, looking like a light blue topaz gemstone with cotton ball clouds scattered here and there. The weather was just fine (sunny and 63 degrees at 10:30 am), the roads were uncrowded and I had a most enjoyable drive in my '39 Plymouth coupe. By afternoon, the temperature had reached 85 degrees.
Cadillac Uprising: The riots (now known by the euphemism 'violent protests') in Milwaukee, WI began after a black police officer shot and killed an armed black criminal.
The thug's name was Sylville Smith, who may have been named after a now-defunct Cadillac model by parents who couldn't spell. I wonder if he has a sister named DylVille?
Fighting Terror: Donald Trump gave an excellent foreign policy and ant-terrorism speech on Monday. He gave some specifics without giving away his game plan to, say, ISIS. He talked in a measured voice and made no wild, ad hoc accusations.
He should use that teleprompter at all public events because it makes him stay on message. Hillary seems to use one at every event.
How Much Did You Make Last Year: In speaking fees alone, Bill and Hillary Clinton made $6,725,000. It's all part of their Pay-for-Play strategy. Oh ... and 96% of their charitable donations went to - wait for it - the Clinton Foundation, which has more pork than a Reubens nude.
In somewhat related news, Hillary Clinton's running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, dined exclusively with the son of progressive billionaire, currency manipulator and anti-American globalist George Soros.
Grim Retail News: Macy's plans to close 100 stores in early 2017 - about 15% of its total locations and focus on online sales. It's a little late for that, no?
Rumor has it that the old Meier & Frank flagship store in downtown Portland (Oregon) is on the list as is the Lloyd Center store and the Vancouver Mall store in Washington. Macy's revealed it's also in talks to sell its Men's Store on Union Square in San Francisco for redevelopment. Macy's closures come amid a sixth-straight quarterly decline in sales.
Macy's is not alone ... (more >>>)
Quote Of The Day is from humorist Robert Benchley: "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
Friday August 12, 2016
Summer Heat: Thursday was a scorcher with the temperature reaching almost 90 in the afternoon. But at 10:30 am, it was a comfortable 66, so I took my '39 Plymouth coupe for a spin along the back roads of unincorporated Battle Ground and Brush Prairie.
Skies were bright summer blue with almost no clouds. Mt. St. Helens is now almost bare of snow.
I had a peaceful and enjoyable drive.
So Much For Cost Savings: The new 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S turbo has an "economy" four-cylinder engine but Dan Neil's test model cost a whopping $93,420.
AutoSketch Update: Recently, I updated the Lincoln Mark VII page to include a February 1981 design sketch by Jeff Teague which is remarkably close to the production 1984 model.
Jeff was the son of well-known auto designer Dick Teague. Jeff was then was employed at Ford Motor Company, where he worked under Jack Telnack on designs for the '83 Ford Thunderbird, the 1984 Lincoln Continental Mark VII and the '86 Ford Taurus.
So Long, Suckers: Comrade Bernie Sanders has bought a $600,000 summer dacha along the bank of Lake Champlain. He's keeping his regular home in Burlington, VT.
Also, Bernie never yet he never filed a personal financial disclosure to the Federal Election Commission. I guess 'rules' are for squares, man.
"Go Ahead, Make My Day!" In a recent interview, Clint Eastwood said that "secretly everybody's getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That's the kiss-ass generation we're in right now. We're really in a pussy generation. Everybody's walking on eggshells.
We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren't called racist. And then when I did 'Gran Torino', even my associate said, "This is a really good script, but it's politically incorrect." And I said, "Good. Let me read it tonight." The next morning, I came in and I threw it on his desk and I said, "We're starting this immediately.""
Quote Of The Day is from Eric Hoffer: "An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything in to an empty head."
Wednesday August 10, 2016
Super Charger, Super Pricing: If Tesla's pricing doesn't scare you off and Tesla's Supercharging subscription pricing doesn't frighten you, then - I guess - you won't be dismayed by its planned $40 car wash.
AutoBlog noted that "as with almost everything associated with Tesla, a Supercharger car wash is not cheap. Tesla is proposing a hand-wash subscription service at Supercharger stations for its owners that would charge $80 a month for Model S owners and $90 a month for Model X owners.
Think of it this way: Teslas cost about three times the average new-vehicle costs, and under this program, their car washes would also be about triple the typical trip to the car wash." (permalink)
Popularity Contests: I spent quite a bit of time perusing the goodies for sale in the August issue of Hemmings Motor News. As usual there are pages and pages of popular collectible cars for sale - multiple pages each for Chevies, Corvettes, Fords, Mustangs, Thunderbirds, Ferraris, Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes, Bimmers, Rolls Royces and Volkswagens. There were hundreds of ads for each marque/model.
But I was surprised at the comparative number of ads for more obscure brands ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Andy Warhol Was A Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities' by Claudia Kalb
This book is a collection of fascinating stories of historic figures with an analysis of their personalities, maladies and mental disorders through the lens of modern psychiatric theory psychology.
Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Abe Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Frank Lloyd Wright and others are subjects of the author's scrutiny.
The stories are a blend of ... (more >>>)
Thought For Today: Who says building a border wall won't work? The Chinese built one over 2,000 years ago and they still don't have any Mexicans.
Monday August 8, 2016
In The Summertime: With apologies to Mongo Jerry:
Last Thursday, it was already 70 degrees at 10:30 am (by afternoon it was a hot 89 degrees), so I fired up my old '39 coupe and took a drive. Traffic was so light that, for much of the ride, I had the road entirely to myself.
The fields were summer green, wildflowers were wildly growing everywhere and the sky was blue with mere wisps of clouds and there was typical August morning haze on the horizon. The eastern hills looked like a colored pencil sketch that had been blurred slightly with a tissue. It was my last drive as a 72 year-old.
On Friday (8/5), the weather was once again inviting but a bit cooler (64 degrees at 9:30 am - the high reached a mere 79), so I took another old car drive in celebration of my 73rd birthday. Traffic was even lighter than Thursday - for much of the drive I couldn't even see another vehicle in either direction.
It was a good way to begin another year. (permalink)
Where Is The Professor When You Need Him? Hillary Clinton was asked last week if she misrepresented FBI Director Comey's conclusions in two recent interviews she gave. She responded, "I may have short-circuited." Queen Hillary is, apparently, a robot; this explains much, doesn't it?
Perhaps, Professor John Frink from 'The Simpsons' could repair her. He has much robotic experience and correctly analyzed the problem with malfunctioning robots at Itchy & Scratchy Land, remarking, "Elementary Chaos Theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving."
Frink added, "Well, according to my calculations, the robots won't go berserk for at least twenty-four hours. Oh, wait ... I forgot to, uh, carry the one."
Everything's Coming Up Muslim: The Obama Administration has, in the past seven-plus years, has frequently displayed its anti-Christian bias. Just ask Hobby Lobby. Or the Little Sisters of the Poor.
It is not surprising then that non-Muslim Syrian refugees "have been virtually locked out by the Obama administration, according to current data from the State Department.
According to the Refugee Processing Center, of the 6,877 Syrian refugees that have arrived in 2016 through July 31st, 6,834 of those are identified as Sunni, Shia, or generic Muslim. Only 43 (0.7%) refugees admitted have been non-Muslim.
That 0.7% of refugees arriving this year represents a statistically insignificant fraction of the more than 2.6 million Catholic, Syriac, Assyrian, and Greek Orthodox Christians, as well as Yazidis, other religions, and atheists living in Syria.
Yet all of these groups are being targeted by Islamic extremists -- indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry himself has claimed these groups are facing a genocide."
House Speaker Paul Ryan - or is it Paul Rino? - announced that he is opposed to any religious test for entering the United States: "A religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America's fundamental values. I reject it."
Christians represent 9.3% of the Syrian population. Other, non-Muslim religions account for an additional 2.7%. But, if you're not a Muslim Syrian, you're screwed when it comes to getting into America.
Quote Of The Day is from the late Will Rogers: "Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for."
Thursday August 4, 2016
July Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 17.4 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in July, about the same as July 2015, and up about 4% from the 16.7 million annual sales rate last month. In some sectors, these figures are sparking fears of a long overdue sales plateau in the industry.
Sales at Ford Motor Company declined 3%. There was a 5% decline at Lincoln, a 10% Ford passenger car sales decline, a 5% drop of Ford SUVs (Explorer was down a whopping 22%), and a modest 1% Ford F-Series decline.
General Motors suffered a 2% July drop. Buick posted a 10% increase thanks to sales of 1,421 of the Chinese-made Envision, improved Enclave and Encore volume, and a Regal surge (which sounds like the description of a queen throwing up). Cadillac sales were up 1%, while sales of Chevrolet fell 5%. GMC truck sales were up 5%.
FCA's sales were flat. Dodge sales fell 10% and Chrysler brand sales were off 4%. Jeep sales increased 5%, as did Ram truck sales. Fiat sales declined 14% to 2,754 vehicles. Aren't you glad you didn't sign up to be a Fiat dealer? But wait, you were promised an Alfa Romeo franchise, too. Well, too bad, because only 43 Alfas found buyers in July.
Toyota Motor Co. sales were off 1%; Lexus sales fell 7%. The Toyota RAV4 and Highlander both reported best-ever July sales.
Hyundai said its 75,003 sales represented the brand's best July ever. Together, because of a 6% increase at Kia, the Hyundai-Kia Korean conglomerate outsold the traditionally higher-selling Nissan last month. Nissan USA reported a 1% increase in sales, despite a 5% Infiniti drop and a 9% Nissan-brand passenger car decline. As with other manufacturers, pickups and SUVs saved the day.
American Honda posted overall sales gains of 4%. Civic, Fit, CR-V, HR-V, Pilot, and Ridgeline sales all improved, boosting the Honda nameplate to a 6% increase. CR-V sales jumped 13%. Acura sales fell 6%.
In the minor leagues, Mazda sales were up 3% to 27,915 units and Subaru sales grew 3% (52,093). Subaru has now sold more than 10,000 Outbacks in 29 consecutive months and more than 10,000 Foresters in 36 consecutive months. Mitsubishi sales were flat at 7,890 vehicles. Volkswagen sales continued to slide, falling 8% to 28,758 units, although sales of the Tiguan SUV jumped 40%. Volvo sales rocketed upward 53% to 8,584 vehicles, largely because of XC90 sales.
Mini sales dropped 8% to 4,774 vehicles. The once trendy, gotta-have-it, sorta-British import is now handily outsold by once stodgy Volvo. Oh, the irony!
In the luxury market, Mercedes-Benz sales increased 7% (making it the top-selling premium brand for the month), while Audi sales grew 4% and BMW sales dropped 4%. Porsche sales fell by 18% - Gott im Himmel!
On the super-premium end of the automotive spectrum, Maserati sales fell 15% to 811 vehicles and sales of Bentley dropped 21% to 165 vehicles. Well, hedge funds are doing poorly this year, so waddya expect?
Local Car Event: There was a little car show sponsored by and held at the Battle Ground Albertsons supermarket last Saturday.
About 20 vehicles were on display - a mix of vintage iron and hot rods. I snapped a few photos ... (more >>>)
Gettin' To The Shore On The PRSL: In the early 20th Century, Atlantic City was considered the crown jewel of the New Jersey Shore. The town was founded in 1854 when a rail line was constructed from Camden, New Jersey to AC. The Atlantic City Boardwalk was the first boardwalk in the United States, opening in 1870.
The 1920s and '30s are considered by many historians as Atlantic City's golden age. Many Fortune 500 companies once had stores or showrooms on the Boardwalk - General Electric, Lucky Strike and Underwood Typewriter. General Motors had a showroom on the Steel Pier. H. J. Heinz once had an entire pier of its own. All to showcase products to the hordes of tourists who strolled the boardwalk. People used to 'walk the boards' in winter, believing that the salt air was good for their health.
While people came from all over the eastern seaboard to visit, the vast majority of regular tourists came from Philadelphia and its suburbs. There were no high speed roads to Atlantic City until the 1960s, so many people arrived by train.
The Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines was born ... (more >>>)
Headline Of The Week is from The People's Cube: 'Travel advisory: airlines now offering flights to front of TSA line'.
Book Review: 'Ninety Percent Of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate' by Rose George
Logistics - a military term, co-opted by industrialists in the 1960s, defines the complex movement of manufactured products from factory loading docks to the ultimate customer. Logistics include both the physical movement of the product (truck, rail, air, ship, etc.) as well as the ownership transfers (e.g. - factory>importer>master distributor>wholesaler>retailer>consumer).
George's book attempts to cover the movement of goods by sea, specifically the use of container ships, a fairly recent development using those now-ubiquitous large cargo intermodal stacking containers seen on highways, railroads and major seaports.
The book provided much new and interesting information ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day is from Lilly Tomlin: "If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?"
Tuesday August 2, 2016
Small Wonder: Last week, I picked up the print edition of Hemmings Motor News. One of the most interesting ads was for a 1958 white over red Gogomobil TS coupe "formerly owned by CBS anchor Walter Cronkite," who raced at Lime Rock and elsewhere.
Cronkite died in July, 2009 at age 92. In his prime, he also raced Volvos, driving a PV444.
The team campaigned and won races at Lime Rock's 'Little LeMans' in 1957, '58 and '61. Walter was the only finisher in a five-car team one year, taking a B-division win and placing third overall.
As for the Gogomobil ... (more >>>)
Expensive Strategy: TTAC has reported that Nissan is pushing for greater market share and more volume by increasing low-margin sales to rental car companies and putting more cash on the hood for retail customers.
Such actions lower profit per unit. I have also heard that Nissan has lowered credit standards and is duking it out with Fiat-Chrysler for the King of Subprime Loans title.
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 Monday afternoon.
Skies were enough to see Mt. St. Helens and the tip of Mount Hood. At 1:30 pm, it was 67 degrees - highs were in the low 80s.
I had a very satisfying drive.
In Philly, The Liberty Bell Isn't The Only Thing That's Cracked: Service on Philadelphia commuter trains has been interrupted due to serious defects found in Silverliner V cars, which are less than six years old. The cars were built by Hyundai, which had never built railcars for an American transit line before, and make up 30 percent of Philadelphia's commuter-rail fleet.
"Recently, a SEPTA worker noticed one of the cars was leaning to one side. A close look revealed a 10-inch crack in one of the car's wheel sets. Further inspection discovered similar cracks in 95 percent of the cars made by Hyundai. These have all been taken out of service, and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has urged commuters to find another mode of travel for the foreseeable future."
I used to ride the original Silverliners ... (more >>>)
Quip Of The Day is from Mel Brooks: "I met a beautiful girl last night, but she was rather thin. I mean this is a skinny girl. You never saw anybody so thin. She turned sideways you didn't see her. I took her to a restaurant and the maître‘d said to me, 'Can I check your umbrella?'"
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