A Blog About Cars ... And More
Thursday July 21, 2016
Made Elsewhere: The 2016 Jeep Renegade is based on a Fiat 4x4 platform and is not made in red, white & blue 'Murica. It's built "in Italy, Brazil and China. It's a globalization baby."
Dan Neil commented, "That's interesting because Jeep has long leveraged its 'Made in the USA' message: More than 97% of Jeep vehicles on the road were assembled domestically, according to the research firm Experian."
Nevertheless, "people seem to like it. U.S. sales in May were nearly 11,000 units, a pace that could put Renegade over the 100,000 mark for 2016. That's Subaru Outback territory. In terms of growing the youth vote, a huge chunk of the Jeep's fantasy sand-camp style is available at lower price points. Base MSRP is $17,995 for 2WD Sport."
The four-wheel-drive Trailhawk model Dan tested cost $32,945. That's a lot of mozzarella, feijoada and egg rolls for a small, underpowered, un-American Jeep - and a disgrace to the real Jeep.
Nice Weather We're Having: On a busy Wednesday, I managed to get a drive in my '39 Plymouth business coupe. The weather was July-gorgeous - blue skies with puffy clouds here and there and a comfortable temperature of 69 degrees at 11:00 am. (By late afternoon, it was 83 degrees.)
During my travels, I spotted a very nice electric blue late-1960s Corvette StingRay C3 coupe.
I also saw a charcoal Tesla Model S with dark gray wheels. The conservative paint job did nothing for the Tesla's lines and the dark wheels made the car look cheap. I'd rather see aluminum-colored wheels or chrome ones, but I realize that's just my not-so-inner geezer talking.
The roads weren't too busy and I enjoyed my little back roads trek.
For The Long Haul ... stick with stocks as an investment. A table comparing the 87-year performance of U.S. stocks, compared with bonds and T-bills ... (more >>>)
Book Review: 'Playing To The Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror' by Michael V. Hayden
"What are you reading?" asked my wife. I told her the title. "Who wrote it?" I told her. "Who's that?" I replied, "The Gerber Baby guy we see on Fox News." Michael V. Hayden is a retired United States Air Force four-star general, former Director of the National Security Agency, one-time Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence and the former Director of the CIA but when we see him on television, he looks like what the Gerber Baby would look like after he reached his early 70s.
Hayden has great credentials and always sounds logical and intelligent when on television but ... (more >>>)
In Trust: John C. Haas was the last surviving child of F. Otto Haas, co-founder of Rohm & Haas Co. John C. died in 2011. John and his wife were big-time philanthropists.
Now there's this: "Adding a final jewel to the philanthropic legacy of John and Chara Cooper Haas, their children are donating the family's Stoneleigh Estate in Villanova to the conservation group Natural Lands Trust, which will manage it as a native-plants garden, open free to the public."
Stoneleigh's history dates to 1877, when Edmund Smith, a Pennsylvania Railroad Co. executive, bought 65 acres in Villanova and built a home. In 1932, after the land was subdivided, Otto Haas, John's father and cofounder of Rohm & Haas, purchased a portion. So began eight decades of Haas residency.
Current tax records put the estimated market value ... (more >>>)
Best Moments from the Republican National Convention (so far): On Tuesday, Chris Christie presented a multi-part indictment of Hillary Clinton (in case you didn't see it, he put her on trial and the audience cried 'Guilty! every time Christie asked, 'How do you find the defendant?' - and there were cries of 'Lock her up!' from the excited crowd many of whom had their hands crossed, handcuff-style, above their heads), all the Trump Kids were swell (good-looking and good speakers with great stage presence), Rudy Giuliani (New York's best mayor ever) fed the crowd some effective red meat and the gorgeous Melania Trump did herself proud.
On Wednesday, Laura Ingraham, Newt Gingrich and Eric Trump were the best speakers. VP pick Mike Pence gave a workmanlike presentation but it wasn't a barnburner.
I've been watching most of the convention on C-Span because the moderators don't talk over the speakers and the convention is shown in its entirety - not just the prime-time parts.
The police seem to have done a great job controlling protesters and the RNC had an effective action plan - blocking any signs held up by Code Pinkers (who snuck into the convention center) by surrounding each with multiple people holding up American flags. Clever and effective.
Another Of Catholicism's Mysteries: Does the Pope's speedometer have Roman numerals?
Quote Of The Day is from Peter Ustinov: "When growing up, I aspired to be an Amilcar."
Tuesday July 19, 2016
Noisy, Expensive ... and Deadly: Recently, MotorWeek tested the Tesla Model X, the all-electric crossover with the gullwing rear doors. The top-of-the-line P90D model with the $10,000 Ludicrous performance option costs nearly $127,000. Yet, MW complained about numerous rattles and squeaks in this brand-new car.
These days, even the cheapest car sold in America doesn't rattle or squeak when new. My wife's Toyota Avalon has been bumping down various roads and hitting unexpected potholes for over 11 years now and has nary a rattle or squeak.
For $127,000 the only squeak this electric car should make is when a mouse gets caught in the charger and is electrocuted. This is just one more reason to avoid Tesla.
Recently, the self-driving feature of a Tesla apparently malfunctioned and the driver was killed. At least one other ... (more >>>)
The Soulless Nature Of Bureaucratic 'Charity': Theodore Dalrymple, an English writer, retired prison doctor and psychiatrist, wrote, "Compassion, it seems to me, is better as a retail than as a wholesale virtue."
The most important criticism to be made of the welfare state is ... (more >>>)
Vote For Me! If you're a resident of Washington State, don't forget to vote in the upcoming August 2nd election.
Barbara Madsen is running for the reelection to the State Supreme Court. Her web page stated, "Justice Madsen increased opportunities for women and attorneys of color to receive appointments as pro tem judges. She encouraged and increased diversity among the court employee population." It also notes that she has a "commitment to equal justice and diversity" and is "chair of the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission.""
I find this diversity stuff dismaying. I want judges to be fair. But I don't care whether the judge looks like the blonde winner of a Nordic Large-Breasted Beauty Contest or is a member of an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band. Or one of the Village People. I just want my judges to administer the law. And mete out justice. Stern justice, preferably, especially in the case of hardened criminals.
But ... fear not, Washington voters. There is an alternative.
You can vote for me as a write-in candidate for Supreme Court Justice. I have always been open about my education, experience, etc. You'll find a lot of it posted here. And, if you're a regular reader of this blog, you are already familiar with my philosophy, outlook and opinions.
Growth Business: In 1978, there were only 89 breweries in the U.S. Now there are more than 4,600.
Quote Of The Day is from H.L. Mencken: "It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office."
Friday July 15, 2016
Under The Summer Sun: On Wednesday, the temperature was in the mid-60s by 11:00 am but it felt warmer because there was lots of sun, although clouds to the north obscured Mt. St. Helens. This was a nice change after several days of heavy clouds and occasional rain.
I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a drive. There was surprisingly heavy traffic on my back roads excursion - usually I have the roads almost to myself. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the outing.
Thursday was hot - 80+ degrees - and clouds are forecast for today.
Fight To The Bottom: At TTAC, Mark Baruth has declared Tim Esterdahl to be the worst car reviewer of all time. He makes a good case. I agree that Tim's writings are pretty execrable but I think Ken Chester, Jr. of Motor News Media could give Tim a run for his money.
Motor News Media Corp. a soulless flack house out of Iowa. MNM has never met a vehicle it didn't like. ("Inside the cabin, the driver enjoys a commanding view ...") These "road tests" appear to be pieced together from corporate press releases.
Mr. Chester claims to personally review 120 cars each year. Since he must take some time off to go to automotive press briefings and newspaper conferences (to promote his column) as well as Christmas, vacations, etc., I would guess that he's got to do four a week just to meet his annual quota. What if it's raining? Or snowing? Or there's a tornado? (I mean, it's Iowa, for Pete's sake.) Well, I guess Ken can sit in the vehicle in his driveway and write about that "commanding view." Of the twister.
As an opinionated car enthusiast, I've often thought of contacting Ken and asking him how he sleeps at night. But, I'm afraid he'd counter with that famous answer from an old 'Simpsons' episode: "On a very large pile of money!"
Old Downtown; Old Memories: A 1957 photo shows a Route 50 PTC trolley car southbound on 4th Street in downtown Philadelphia. (The northbound streetcars used 5th St., which was also a one-way thoroughfare.)
Nearby - but not in the photograph - is Independence Hall, which spans Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th. This particular trolley car was built in 1946 by the St. Louis Car Co. It was scrapped in 1982.
The front of the ... (more >>>)
A Twofer: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who seems to get smaller in every annual Supreme Court photo, apparently plans to move to New Zealand if Donald Trump becomes president. Sounds wonderful. This will give President Donald not one - but two - seats to fill immediately on the Supreme Court.
Let's make America great again.
Croak-phobia: George Carlin once said that "thanks to our fear of death in this country, I won't have to die ... I'll pass away. Or I'll expire like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital, they'll call it a terminal episode. The insurance company will refer to it as negative patient-care outcome. And if it's the result of malpractice, they'll say it was a therapeutic misadventure."
Quote Of The Day is from Rev. Billy Graham: "Our society strives to avoid offending anyone - except God."
Wednesday July 13, 2016
Be Careful Of Old Iron: Here's a great vintage postcard with a photo of late 1950s Portland, Oregon:
There are some interesting cars to be seen ... (more >>>)
Fair Addition: Recently, I uploaded new photos to my 1964-65 New York World's Fair page. Enjoy.
Succinctly Done: Legendary sports announcer Vin Scully recently did a wonderfully pithy takedown of socialism between pitches of a Dodgers game: "Socialism, failing to work as it always does. This time in Venezuela. You talk about giving everybody something free and all of a sudden, there's no food to eat. And who do you think is the richest person in Venezuela? The daughter of Hugo Chavez. Hello."
"And a very pleasant good day to you, wherever you may be."
Book Review: 'Rise Of The Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars' by Nathalia Holt
In the early post-war era of the late 1940, California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed sharp mathematicians to calculate things like velocities and develop plotted trajectories for its new rocket program. They hired young women, who with only math smarts, pencils, paper, slide rules and French curves, transformed modern rocket design, helped give birth to the first American satellites of the late 1950s and, eventually, made space exploration possible.
Holt's book reveals the fascinating untold story of ... (more >>>)
Question Of The Day: Given the recent violent and deadly events, is it time to declare Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization? Perhaps the movement started as a hashtag but it was quickly taken over by thugs and radicals.
To put things in perspective, police shootings of black men in the U.S. are "down from around 100 a year in the 1960s to about 35 yearly these days. Taking into account the fact that America's black population has roughly doubled in that timespan, on a per-capita basis, police shootings of black men have plummeted around 80% since the 1960s."
On Monday, Fox News Senior Analyst Brit Hume said, "The president has consistently chosen to see things through the eyes of an aggrieved black activist rather than of a president of all the people. He's not failed to speak out whenever a black is killed by a white police officer, but has said next to nothing about the continued slaughters of blacks by other blacks in the streets of Chicago, Baltimore and other cities.
He has made his sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement obvious and never mind that the whole premise of the movement seems to be fallacious."
Scott Johnson of Powerline wrote, "President Obama is a proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement. He finds them a worthy ally in the "cause" (as he refers to it) of "fundamental transformation" of the criminal justice system. Obama promotes the lie of a racist system without pause or conscience."
Quote Of The Day is from Peter Hitchens: "Given that all the social evidence shows that children from stable homes with two parents are more likely to do well at school, more likely to do productive work when they grow up, less likely to take to crime than those who come from fractured and fatherless homes, why doesn't the state use the sort of efforts it uses to curb smoking, to encourage marriage?"
Monday July 11, 2016
Back In Black: Dan Neil drove the Cadillac CT6 flagship model and wrote that it "is the first decent-looking long black car made in America in a very long time. There's power in the silhouette, Jungian urges and wicked thoughts. The low, louche hood flies into the deeply raked windshield almost seamlessly. The Cadillac escutcheon, now modernized and free of laurels, is centered in the full-frame grille, and it never looked better."
Sorry, but I always liked the old Caddy emblem better.
So what have we learned? In black, it's a looker. For the money, it should be.
The $88,460, 4,000-pound, 204-inch long car rides on a 122-inch wheelbase. It is powered by a 3-liter twin-turbo V6 which makes 404 horsepower. The model Dan tested was the top-of-the-line CT6 3.0TT Platinum AWD edition.
The problem is ... (more >>>)
My Kind Of Art: Mike Hill paints iconic Portland, Oregon scenes from days gone by. Vintage automobiles are usually included. I particularly like the Southern Pacific 4448 Daylight steam locomotive posed next to an early postwar Chrysler woodie sedan at Portland's Union Station.
More of Mike's artwork can be seen here.
Oxymoron Watch: Recently, as my thoughts turned to mid-year financial planning, it occurred to me that the term 'Variable Annuity' is much like 'Unsafe Volvo'. (permalink)
Terminal Condition: Over the past 11 years, I've chronicled the decline of the newspaper industry as well as other print media. Over the last few years, newspaper circulation has declined by 22-40%, depending on which newspaper one measures.
Recently Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner has provided additional evidence, writing, "The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been charting the demise of newspapers, and its latest numbers reveal what many in the industry have been witnessing. Newspaper employment, as of March, had dropped to 183,200, compared with 197,800 working in Internet publishing and Broadcasting."
An analysis by the Nieman Journalism Lab charts the beginning of the end of newspapers to the dawn of ... (more >>>)
Quip Of The Day: I went to buy some camouflage trousers yesterday but they were all so good that I couldn't find any.
Thursday July 7, 2016
June Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 16.6 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in June, down about 2% from June 2015, and down 4% from the 17.4 million annual sales rate last month.
Ford Motor Company's sales increased by over 6% year-over-year in June. Lincoln sales were up 6%. Ford's best-selling F-Series, which accounted for 30% of Ford brand sales, posted a 29% year-over-year increase.
General Motors overall sales declined 2% year-over-year in June. Cadillac sales rose 5%, while Buick sales dropped 5%. Chevrolet sales were flat; GMC sales were off 9%.
Toyota Motor Company's sales dropped 6% year-over-year. The Toyota Camry claimed the top spot among cars despite its own sharp decline, a 13% sales loss worth nearly 5,000 units. Prius sales were off 27%. Scion sales increased 61%, even though the brand has been discontinued. Lexus sales were down by 1% to 25,779; sales of the flagship LS sedan declined 16% to 529 sedans. LS sales represent 2% of the brand's overall sales. Utility vehicle sales account for over 56% of Lexus' overall sales.
Fiat-Chrysler sales were up 7% last month. Jeep sales jumped 17%, while Ram truck sales increased 14%. The Dodge brand saw a 3% rise, while the Chrysler brand dropped 20%. Fiat sales fell 19% to 2,544 vehicles.
Sales of the Nissan brand increased 13%, while Infiniti sales rose 11%. Honda sales increased by 7%, while Acura sales fell by a whopping 27%. That's worse than the much-maligned Volkswagen brand which dropped 22%. Honda's CR-V was America's top-selling SUV/crossover.
Jaguar sales increased a surprising 125% to 2,743 vehicles; Land Rover sales increased 23% to 5,705 SUVs. Mercedes-Benz sales increased 4%, while rival BMW saw a 10% sales decline in June. 4,482 Porsches found buyers last month a y-o-y increase of 6%.
Volvo sales jumped 41% to 8,454 units. Subaru sales increased 5%, while Mazda sales fell 4%. Kia sales increased 16%, while Hyundai sales were flat June-to-June.
Bentley sales dropped 35% to 144 vehicles; the rich are too busy planning their vacations. Or taking them. Or summering somewhere exclusive. Remember, there are no Bentley dealers on Martha's Vineyard.
Hypocrite On Wheels: Global-warming advocate and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo crashed his blue, high carbon footprint 1969 Pontiac Firebird convertible in Southampton, NY recently when he was drag racing on the street.
Don't Forget: Tomorrow is National Car Collector Appreciation Day.
Speaking of which ...
Just About Perfect: At 11:30 am on Wednesday, the sun was shining, the grass was emerald green and the temperature was a moderate 70 degrees. Perfect old car driving weather. For an old guy.
I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage, rolled down the windows and listened to the burble of the exhaust. Sweet.
There were puffy clouds at the northern horizon but overhead it was almost cloudless and a spectacular shade of summer blue. I enjoyed a great drive along northern Clark County's back roads.
Fewer Customers; Bigger Costs: The Washington Policy Center, a Seattle-based think tank, has excoriated Clark County's public transit agency, C-Tran.
The firm issued a report, noting that "ridership decreased by 4% between 2010 and 2014 but operating costs increased by 23%, from $36.1 million to $44.4 million. That was more than double the inflation rate of 8.6% over the same period."
I have no idea what the ridership is. C-Tran buses have such dark-tinted windows that it's impossible to see if anyone is inside.
The Fix Is In; It Always Was: Queen Hillary skated on all charges. The FBI proved she was a lair but, under pressure from "someone" apparently, declined to prosecute despite the fact that knowingly removing classified documents is a criminal offense. My wife predicted this outcome months ago.
Donald Trump proclaimed, "Wow! Rigged system." He speaks for many of us.
Too Many Cooks Spoil The Broth: 'Maya & Marty', the NBC summer skit/variety show, stars Maya Rudolph and Martin Short. Both are seasoned, talented performers and sketch comics.
The show features legendary guest stars (Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Miley Cyrus, Nathan Lane, etc.) and, on paper, should be a delightful hit. But it stinks. The sketches are awful. The show is dull and unfunny. It didn't make me laugh even once.
What's the problem? How about this: the show has four producers, three head writers and 19 writers. All that for a one-hour show? Ridiculous. With that many writers in a room, you get humor-by-consensus, which is not humor at all.
Book Review: 'The Last Goodnight: A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal' by Howard Blum
I think a deckled announcement or invitation is a perfectly acceptable thing, if a bit pretentious. On the other hand, a book with 528 deckle-edged pages just makes it more difficult to turn those pages and makes the book look ragged. It's contrived but so is the spy story, 'The Last Goodnight'.
The book is the biography of Betty Pack, an American who spied on behalf of the British before and during World War II. She spent much of her time ... (more >>>)
No Wonder They Chose Brexit: Britain today receives more immigrants in a single year than it did in the entire period from 1066 to 1950.
Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "If you read all the fine print in all the documents you have to sign, you would have no time left to live a life."
Tuesday July 5, 2016
Defining American-Made: According to the Kogod School of Business at American University (Washington, DC), the three highest 2016 automobiles for domestic content - at 90% - are the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia.
The highest-rated 'foreign' automobile is the Honda Accord at 81%. The Toyota Avalon came in at 76%. The lowest-rated American badge was the Chevrolet Spark with only 13% domestic content. Results are shown here.
On the other hand, Cars.com disagreed, claiming that the Toyota Camry is the most American vehicle with 75% domestic content. The top five include the Honda Accord, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and Honda Pilot. The full-size General Motors crossovers that topped the Kogod list - Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave come in at number six, seven and eight.
"The two studies used different methodologies to reach their patriotic conclusions, with Cars.com focusing on parts content, assembly location and volume. Kogod added labor, research and development, and corporate profits to the mix."
Which one's right? Discuss among yourselves.
"And On That Bombshell ..." Last year, 'Top Gear' co-host Jeremy Clarkson was sacked by the BBC. His cohorts, James May and Richard Hammond, left the well-acclaimed show as well. The trio are now in the process of putting together a new car show, 'The Grand Tour', to be available via subscription though Amazon Video.
The American version of 'Top Gear', shown on The History Network, was unwatchable from the start, in my opinion, and has been canceled after six seasons. I'm surprised it lasted that long.
The new British 'Top Gear' debuted on BBC America a few weeks ago. I found the primary host, BBC radio DJ, Chris Evans, to be loud, brittle and annoying. It was announced over the weekend that he has left the show. Good news as far as I'm concerned.
Let's hope for better chemistry between Matt LeBlanc and the various co-hosts next season.
Crusin' With The Clouds: Recent days have been chilly and overcast in the morning with sunshine delaying its appearance until afternoon.
On Thursday, I took my '39 Plymouth coupe for a drive. At 11:30 am, it was partly cloudy and 63 degrees. There was a solid circle of clouds around the horizon but blue sky overhead with numerous white clouds. Mt. St. Helens was hidden by a puffy white duvet.
At the four-way stop sign in Brush Prairie, I gave the old coupe the gas for a little get-up-n-scoot. I actually burned rubber. Geezer delinquent.
On Friday at 11:00 am, I took another old car drive. It was 61 degrees and there were more clouds than Thursday but there was less traffic on the road and I had a good ride.
I'm glad that I took those drives when I did. Due to my son-in-law's work schedule, we had our July 4th cookout on Saturday. It rained Sunday. Monday was dark and cloudy most of the day with temperatures peaking in the lower 60s.
Nevertheless, we were patriotic - when the sun finally appeared at 4:30 pm, we put our big flag out on the back deck. I wore a white collared polo, a navy blue hoody and drank red wine - a very nice Petite Sirah from my friend Dennis G. and his wife, Sandy.
Back And Forth: An illegal immigrant from Mexico who was charged with aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of three people at a rural Oregon farm had been deported six times. Thanks, Obama.
The Wealth Of The Nation: Scott Grannis wrote, "On a real, per capita basis, the net worth of the average person living in the U.S. reached a new all-time high of $273,560. This measure of wealth has been rising, on average, about 2.4% per year since records were first kept beginning in 1951."
Here's a graph to illustrate the ... (more >>>)
Happy Birthday to my mom who would have turned 98 years old today.
Quip Of The Day is from Spike Milligan: "I thought I'd begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine."
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