T Minus Five Days

Yes, OCD “sufferer”/Numbers Nerd that I am I am counting to my first “damn virus” vaccine. As I write this it’s actually a little less than five days because my appointment is quite early in the morning, earlier than I am writing this today.

I am still quite upset that my wonderful wife does not have an appointment despite much trying by both of us. I know the probability that she will be vaccinated when she accompanies me is not 100%.

While, in all honesty, we have been affected far less by the damn virus than much of the population, the last year has not been great. I would also offer my opinion that life will never go back to exactly the way it was before.

What do you think? How many of you have been partly/fully vaccinated or have an appointment to receive a shot?



Today, our high temperature here will be in the low 80s. It’s hard to believe that only about six weeks ago, this was a view from our house:



I did enjoy the snow, especially since it melted two hours after it stopped snowing, except in the surrounding mountains.


Frustratingly, the issues with writing posts in WordPress using the FireFox browser have not completely gone away. About 1-2 days a week, like today, the issues with the disappearing toolbar and the word count not updating in real time appear.

Hey, WordPress! Can you fix this for good?!


A picture from a place that we will probably never visit again, the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania:



Only about 6,600 GTO convertibles were produced in 1964. Of course, that alone was more than the total number of GTOs Pontiac management expected to produce in the debut year of the GTO option.

One thing I have missed during this last year is attending automotive events and venues. As you may recall, we did attend one outdoor auto show during the first weekend after we moved, but were put off by the low proportion of people wearing masks. Oddly, in a supermarket or big box hardware retailer, virtually every customer wears a mask and all of the staff are masked.

Here’s to hoping the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.








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First Saturday In March

Most Saturdays this blog gets a little boost in readership as, apparently, some people still don’t realize that Cristy Lee is no longer part of All Girls Garage, which airs on Saturday. Where Is Cristy Lee? has accounted for almost two percent of all blog views so far in 2021. Of course, that’s only about half the proportion compared to 2020. Anyway, here is a recent photo of the aforementioned Ms. Lee:



On this day in 1896 inventor, engineer and polymath Charles Brady King became the first person to drive a car in Detroit. King designed and built the automobile becoming the father, in a way, of the evolution of Detroit into “Motor City.”

The Detroit Journal interviewed King afterwards and he made a prescient comment:


“I am convinced they [horseless carriages] will in time supersede the horse.”


King would be a mentor to Henry Ford and Ransom Eli Olds. King would later go to Europe for two years to study automotive design. When he returned he founded the King Motor Car Company in 1911, which was, apparently, the first company to offer a V-8 engine. Company production reached 3,000 for model year 1916, but was severely affected by the post World War I recession. From 1912 through 1918, inclusive, King produced almost 15,000 cars.

Early in 1921, the assets of the company were sold to Charles Finnegan of Buffalo and the company headquarters were moved there in 1923. However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1924. From The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile a picture of a 1912 King:



I think only the most knowledgeable of automotive historians are aware of King and his contributions to the industry. I was only vaguely aware of him until today and, I guess, don’t really know that much about him even now.


On this day in 2017 General Motors’ intention to sell its European Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary to PSA Automotive became official. General Motors acquired a majority stake in Opel (a German company) in 1929 and gained full control in 1931. Vauxhall (a British company) was acquired by GM in 1925.

Maybe I missed the coverage, but this is a big story in the history of the automobile industry that seemed to go relatively unnoticed. The sale basically represented GM’s “raising the white flag of surrender” in terms of Europe. Ironically, PSA Automotive very recently completed its merger with Fiat-Chrysler forming a new company called Stellantis. Of course, from 2001 through 2016 General Motors’ European operations lost money every year with a total deficit of more than $15 billion.

The two transactions by PSA Automotive supposedly signal an intention to return to the North American vehicle market. Peugeot and Citroën are part of PSA and neither make has been sold in the US for decades. Of course, Stellantis now “owns” the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands as well as Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Maybe Peugeot and Citroën will not be brought back to this market. Citroën has a history of being an innovator in the automobile industry.

Does anyone have any comments on these transactions, Stellantis or any related topic?









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A Very Mixed Bag

At noon local time on Tuesday, the minimum age for registering for a COVID-19 vaccine was lowered to 55 in this state. A limited number of vaccine appointments were made available, first on the state’s Department of Health Services website.

All of those appointments were gone by 2 PM. Amazingly, I was able to snag one for myself, for next Friday at 6:15 AM. State Farm Stadium, one of the public vaccination sites, is open 24/7 when they have vaccine supply.

Very unfortunately, I was unable to get an appointment for my wonderful wife. Later, I tried the website of the national pharmacy chain where we had secured appointments for her parents, but with no luck. All vaccine appointments are currently booked. So much for vaccine hesitancy, huh?

I have continued my efforts to get her an appointment, but it seems as though no more new appointments will be available for awhile. I am very conflicted about being able to get a vaccine while my wonderful wife cannot.

I know supply is still somewhat constrained, but this is an unfortunate turn of events, a very mixed bag, if you will. I was hoping to get both of us signed up with the national pharmacy chain and then I would have cancelled my state appointment. The best laid plans of mice and men…


Those who sympathize with the cause of the “Palestinians” should read this article, which appears in the bastion of liberal news, The New York Times. The piece is titled, “As Palestinians Clamor for Vaccine, Their Leaders Divert Doses to Favored Few.” From the article:


“…in secret, the [Palestinian] authority has diverted some of the thousands of vaccines it has received to some senior members of the ruling party in the West Bank who have no formal role in government, according to two senior Palestinian officials and a senior official from the party, Fatah, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.”

“Vaccines have also been secretly given to top figures at major news outlets run by the authority, according to one of the senior Palestinian officials and two employees at those outlets. Family members of certain government officials and Fatah leaders were also given the vaccines, the senior official and a former government official said.”


In my opinion, the “Palestinians” have no moral ground on which to make any claims for themselves about any issue. Their governments (yes, they have two governments: one in the West Bank and one in Gaza) are beyond corrupt. The “citizenry” is obsessed with the annihilation of a sovereign state that has existed for more than 70 years and is the only democracy in the Middle East.

Maybe those inclined will see this article as more reason to sympathize with “Palestinian” citizens. Well, they elected Hamas as the ruling “party” in Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has only one policy initiative: to annihilate Israel. (Yes, I know the Times article is about Fatah.)

I stand by my statement. The “Palestinians” have no moral ground to make any demands for themselves.


Taking deep breaths to calm down…

May is about eight weeks away. In late May of 2019 I began to unveil my Ultimate Garage 2.0. As I have mentioned before, I am considering an Ultimate Garage 3.0 to be revealed in May and/or June of this year.

Version 2.0 had 11 cars. My first Ultimate Garage, released on my first blog hosted by the Evil Empire, had seven. I am aiming for 10 cars for 3.0, but it will not be easy to limit my choices to ten.

Some have offered the opinion–and not in the form of a blog comment–that I should only include cars I’ve actually driven. I understand that view, but feel it’s too limiting. An Ultimate Garage is an exercise in fantasy, which by definition is not grounded in reality.

A car on the bubble for 3.0 is this one, a car that just missed the cut the first two times:


See the source image


From FastLaneCars a picture of a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, a 1962 model to be exact. The timeless design of this car is an homage to the original Loewy coupes, designed by Robert Bourke and Holden Koto.

In profile or rear three-quarter view, I still think the car looks stunning. While if somehow I had the means and the space to acquire one it would probably be restomodded, for an Ultimate Garage exercise I would include a stock car. Here is sort of a three-quarter view I took at the Mecum auction in Arizona almost exactly one year ago. First, an aside: a very mixed bag also means getting started on being vaccinated against the damn virus, but not being completely vaccinated in time to attend either the Mecum or Barrett-Jackson auctions that will take place here later this month. Yes, that’s a shallow and selfish perspective; I’m only human and I LOVE attending car auctions.



Part of me almost feels obligated to include the Gran Turismo Hawk for 3.0, like I can’t leave the car out again. Those of you, like C/2, who were gracious enough to send me your own Ultimate Garage almost two years ago, can do so again. Of course, you can send me your Ultimate Garage even if you weren’t reading this blog two years ago. It’s amazing how writing about Ultimate Garage 3.0 and the GT Hawk succeeded in calming me down.








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Threadless Thursday

I am disappointed that so few readers clicked on the two stories whose links I shared at the beginning of yesterday’s post. Without clicking on the links and at least reading the titles and sub-heads, the first part of the post would not likely have made any sense.

Anyway…the point was that many people who oppose price controls also oppose getting vaccinated. I believe those two “views” are part of the same syndrome in which people have come to believe that no one can ever tell them what to do for any reason. Once again, in the context of a country or society absolute freedom is not freedom, it’s anarchy.

I disapprove of price controls (they always create negative distortions in markets), but think people should get vaccinated against the damn virus. (One story was about the disastrous failure of price controls in Berlin’s rental market and the other was about the success of COVID-19 vaccines in Britain.) I am adamant in my belief that what I call the bullsh*t binary political paradigm in the US is a detriment to us all. Think for yourself!


On a related note, something I read recently:


Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.


From Corvette Blogger including a picture:


2023 C8 May Get Interior Changes

Rumors are being reported that the current GM design chief Michael Simcoe is not a fan of the center console button layout on the C8. The central console puts a small wall between driver and passenger and fills the top of it with buttons for the AC and seat heat/vents. This design has gotten some bad feedback from customers, and Chevy is listening. The new layout may be introduced in 2023 according to reports.


Do any of you own a C8 Corvette? If so, we would like to read your thoughts about the interior.


Until 1937, this day (March 4th) was the day of the Presidential inauguration. Of course, that makes Franklin Delano Roosevelt the only President to be inaugurated on March 4th and on January 20th.

Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration had an infamous attendee: John Wilkes Booth. From On This Day a photo:


A photo of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration in 1865, highlighting the location of his eventual assassin John Wilkes Booth as Lincoln makes his speech


Writing in his diary after observing Lincoln’s speech, Booth wrote “what an excellent chance I had, if I wished, to kill the President on Inauguration day!” Sadly, just 41 days later, Booth assassinated Lincoln.

I am reluctant to write this, but in this extremely polarized country I am surprised more assassination attempts have not occurred. Many of the mass murders seem to be workplace-related.







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How Is That Possible?

Here are links to two stories (first, second) that many of those who are blinded by political ideology wouldn’t understand could co-exist in someone’s mind as “the truth.” In my opinion, people blinded by ideology are just blind, period. Oh, there is a world beyond the US.


On this day in 1893 the Agricultural Appropriation Act authorized the establishment of the Office of Road Inquiry (in October by the Secretary of Agriculture, government has almost never worked quickly), the first road agency for the US Federal Government. The responsibilities of that office are now the domain of the Federal Highway Administration.

The Office of Road Inquiry was actually established because of the bicycle boom of the 1890s. It became a burden way beyond their means for local landowners to maintain roads. In 1905, the Office of Road Inquiry became the Office of Public Roads and then the Public Roads Administration in 1939. The Federal Highway Administration was created in 1966 and assumed the duties of the previous offices/administrations.

One might be surprised to learn that federal aid for building roads began in the US in 1917. As the automobile boomed, it was apparent that without a good road network, the growth in commerce that could result from motorized transportation would not be realized. As best as I can surmise, trucks account for about 70 percent of all freight transported annually in the US.

Many believe that federal involvement in road building began with the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. If you told them that involvement began decades earlier, they might reply, “How is that possible?” Just because you don’t know something or don’t understand something or have never heard of something doesn’t mean that something is false or invalid.

“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

– Shakespeare


The saying, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” is attributed to 19th century British politician Lord Acton. My 21st-century corollary is that almost everyone who seeks power is already corrupt and gaining that power just increases their corruption.


From Cadillac’s website (I hope the links don’t break) comes pictures of the upcoming CT5-V Blackwing:


White CT5-V Blackwing Passenger Side Rear View of Exterior

White CT5-V Blackwing Passenger Side View Exterior


This car is supposed to have “limited availability” beginning in late summer or early fall this year as a 2022 model year vehicle. It will be powered by, basically, the supercharged LT4 engine available in the Z06 versions of the C7 Corvette. In fact, the engine will be built at the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. For the Blackwing the engine has been tweaked so it produces 668 HP/659 LB-FT of torque compared to the 650/650 output of the C7 Z06.

The car is supposed to be a real drivers car and will even be available with a 6-speed manual transmission although, of course, a 10-speed automatic will also be offered. Here is some of the advertising copy:


“Refinement magnified by power. The CT5-V Blackwing is powered by the highest output in Cadillac’s history: a 6.2L Supercharged V8 hand-built in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But make no mistake, this performance machine masterfully balances raw power with precise poise on the open road…Elegant and expressive, the CT5-V Blackwing combines striking style with excellent functionality. From its bold-faced grille to its sleek, long and low proportions, aesthetic beauty works in tandem with extensively validated aerodynamics, resulting in design that’s understated yet riveting both on and off the track”


As regular readers know I am not a fan of 4-door cars, but this car is not ugly and it sure sounds like it will be fun to drive. A fully “configured” CT5-V Blackwing will be priced at about $125,000. A Bentley Flying Spur 4-door sedan is about twice as expensive. I seriously doubt it’s twice the car and may not even be as good a car.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the Cadillac Blackwing cars? We would like to read them.









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Blank Tuesday

I really have nothing to write today. Do you care that Volvo has announced it will only sell electric cars by 2030 AND that it will only sell cars online? I think an enormous market opportunity will remain for companies offering vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, unless they are banned from doing so by governments. I do think that online vehicle sales will become the dominant paradigm.


This metropolitan area is one of only three with a Mayo Clinic. I am now a patient of that practice. The reasons for my seeking them out are irrelevant.

I went to the Phoenix “campus” yesterday and have an appointment there today. I have three more appointments before the end of March and one of those is at the Scottsdale venue.

I overheard a conversation where one of the Mayo Clinic employees told someone that the Phoenix venue had more than 1,000 appointments booked yesterday! So, how was the experience?

Given the tremendous number of people with appointments everything seemed to operate efficiently. For example, my appointment was late in the afternoon. Usually by then medical practices are backed up and behind schedule. I was taken back to see the practitioner pretty much at my scheduled time.

Although I had no input into the scheduling, I like that all of my subsequent appointments for this issue had been arranged even before yesterday. The PA I saw was very patient and did not treat me in a condescending manner. (The doctor was on vacation; I will see him later this month.) Based on my symptoms and initial testing, she tried to assure me that something serious was extremely unlikely. I am the child of Holocaust survivors, however, and an Ashkenazi Jew to boot so I can never be certain that anything will turn out well, especially when it comes to my health.


I have not been a pro basketball fan for decades, but on this day in 1962 my first basketball “idol,” Wilt Chamberlain, scored 100 points in a game. Befitting the NBA’s status at the time as less than a first-rate league, the game between Chamberlain’s Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks was played in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Chamberlain was a poor foul shooter, but in this game he was successful on 28 of 32 free throw attempts.

For the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain averaged over 50 points a game and is still the only player in NBA history to score more than 4,000 points in a single season. The free-throw lane was widened from 12 to 16 feet before the 1964-65 season in large part to make it more difficult for Chamberlain to stay close to the basket.

Of course, Chamberlain died a long time ago (in 1999) at the relatively young age of 63 although he had a long history of heart disease. As Bill James would want me to point out, before Chamberlain became an all-time great NBA player he was a star at the University of Kansas. He left college early to play for the Harlem Globetrotters; at that time, the NBA would not sign players who had not completed their college eligibility.


See the source image









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March Monday Musings

Yes, it is March 1, 2021. Two of the many bonds in my investment portfolio pay me in March and September; one of those, a municipal bond from our former state of residence, pays me today. Most bonds, corporate or municipal, pay their interest twice a year, such as in March and September. Some bonds pay every month.

The interest from that muni bond is no longer exempt from state income tax. A small part of me wanted to sell it after we moved to Arizona, but I don’t think it’s wise to sell a AAA-rated bond with a 4% coupon with the US 10-year Treasury yield at less than 1.5% simply because the interest will now be subject to state income tax.

The other bond that pays me in March/September has an interesting story. Its coupon is in excess of 7%; I paid 103% of par for it initially. After some false news about the issuing company broke some years ago, the price of that bond plummeted to 58% of par. I doubled my position; it’s now trading at 130% of par. (The yield on most bonds has dropped in the last year–until quite recently–and that means that bond prices have increased. Of course, the causation really goes the other way.) Transactions like that explain how, for more than the last decade, our fixed income investment portfolio has more than doubled the average annual rate of return of the fixed income benchmark used by our brokerage company.

I have been investing in bonds for a long time as I have always been more risk averse than the average investor. My wonderful wife now has an extensive bond portfolio, but didn’t when we married. Not too long ago I bought one bond for her IRA (not a muni bond, obviously) whose price increased by 33 percent in the first 23 months she owned it. I sold half the position. Bulls make money, bears make money, but hogs get slaughtered.

Companies that pay dividends on their stock can decrease or simply stop paying the dividend at any time. A bond is a contract in which the issuer agrees to pay a fixed amount on a fixed schedule until the bond matures. Which is the safer source of income?


From an email sent to me by my friend and former neighbor, MB:



See the source image


From canadianautoreview (an unsecured site) comes a picture of the new Maserati MC20. Like all manufacturers should do, this car is available with an internal combustion engine (ICE) OR electric motors.

The 3-liter twin-turbo V-6 will produce 621 HP/538 LB-FT of torque and propel the car from 0-60 MPH in 2.9 seconds. This engine has 12 spark plugs and 12 combustion chambers. The “pre-chamber” system was originally developed for Formula 1 racing engines. By the way, the ICE engine for this car was developed by Maserati and not by Ferrari. From The Drive another picture of the same car:


See the source image


Every regular reader knows of my long-time affinity for Maserati. Starting at more than $200,000, it’s out of my price range, but I would love to have this car.








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5,000 Z06 Miles

I took delivery of my Z06 23 months ago today. On Thursday I passed 5,000 miles of my own doing. Of course, that’s not a lot of driving, about 2,600 miles a year on average.

Some would say no one should drive a car like mine. Others would say I haven’t driven it enough. I think in this polarized world it’s very easy, too easy, to appeal to one side and make the other side angry. I think the truth often lies in making both sides angry.



It’s too bad that 56PackardMan has seemingly vanished. I wonder if he knows about this development as chronicled in this Classic Cars piece, “Packard plans a comeback, starting with a watch.”

Apparently, James Ward Packard liked watches, collected them and even designed them. Also, plans are afoot to bring back a Packard car, but the watch is first.

For you Packard fans out there, which year/model would you like to see brought back? New federal regulations, finally created and implemented to make the Limited Vehicle Production Act (or whatever it is called) a reality, make such a comeback possible albeit at no more than 325 cars a year.

Of course, I am partial to the 1956 Packard line: the Caribbean, the Four Hundred, the Executive. I suspect, however, that the magnificent cars of the 1930s may be the ones to be “resurrected.” From RM Sotheby’s a picture of a 1956 Packard Caribbean convertible:


See the source image


Such a car was included in my Ultimate Garage 2.0. You will be surprised to read it is not a lock for 3.0.

You might want to read this review of The Packard Story by Robert Turnquist. The number of books about Packard is amazing to me, but then again, I seek them out.


This opinion piece by George Will is titled, “Progressives want a new New Deal. The old one failed at its main task.” In it, Will quotes FDR’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, from his testimony for the House Ways & Means Committee in May of 1939,


“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong . . . somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. . . . I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”


Here is more from Will:


“Morgenthau was mistaken about one thing: When Roosevelt took office in March 1933, the unemployment rate was 25.4 percent. But about the spending Morgenthau was correct: By 1936, for the first time in peacetime history, the federal government’s spending was larger than the combined spending of all states and localities. And credit Morgenthau’s candor: The New Deal failed at its principal task of putting the nation back to work. The 1939 unemployment rate was worse than the 16.3 percent of 1931 [my note: 1939 unemployment was 17.2%], and worse than the 11.7 percent peak unemployment during the severe but short recession of 1920-1921. In 1939, the Depression had lasted longer than any prior U.S. contraction. In 1940, with the pre-war surge of military spending underway, the unemployment rate was 14.6 percent, more than eight points higher than today’s.” [my correction: this piece was written when US unemployment was about 10 percent during the tighter grip of the damn virus, Will wrote “four points higher”]

“Historical data seems powerless to dent progressive nostalgia for the New Deal’s fictitious triumph of economic revival through job creation.”


Blind adherence to ideology and excessive allergy to the facts are never a good thing, but they are more alive and well than at any other time, in my opinion. Quoting Huxley once again, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Oh, George Will wrote a cover blurb for the book I co-authored about the greatest baseball teams of all time. In my presence, he would tell his companions–friends and family–that I knew more about baseball than anyone else he knew. I guess the baseball industry decided that my age and “lack” of coding skills were far more important than my aptitude and knowledge.








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Nothing Is A Panacea

Thanks to Bill James for graciously tweeting the link to yesterday’s post, Wayfaring Wednesday.


Despite trying for weeks, we were unable to secure vaccine appointments for my wonderful wife’s parents via our state’s Department of Health Services website. The first day we tried the website of a large national pharmacy chain, who has just introduced the vaccines here, we were able to make all four appointments. Government is not a panacea.

Of course, without the federal government guaranteeing payments to companies like Moderna and Pfizer, it is likely the vaccines would not have been produced as quickly. The private sector is not a panacea; if you don’t agree then explain Enron and Facebook.

Yes, the real world is complex. However, engaging in impossible distillations of reality and blindly following ideology almost always lead to the wrong path.


I really enjoy watching Everyday Driver on Motor Trend and Amazon Prime. One of the cars that has been featured in more than one episode is this, the Toyota 86:


See the source image


(Picture from Motor Trend)

In 2022 for the tenth anniversary of the car–jointly developed and produced by Subaru (their version is called the BRZ)–the 86 is supposed to receive an upgraded engine and transmission. The new engine is supposed to produce about 25 more HP (up to about 230) and 30 more LB-FT (up to about 185) of torque than the current motor. (Whether or not they fix the “torque dip” in the middle of the RPM range that Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker complain about in Everyday Driver remains to be seen.)

One of these (branded as a Scion FRS, the Scion make no longer exists, but it was really just a Toyota with a different badge) is always parked on a driveway in our neighborhood. Every time I walk past it I think it is a handsome car and is probably an affordable way to get a decent performing, decent handling automobile.

I find it interesting that Toyota will upgrade the 86 at the same time it is producing the new Supra (in conjunction with BMW). In this post I wrote about a CNBC video report on Japanese automobile manufacturers continuing to produce sports cars when the rest of the world is, basically, abandoning them to produce SUVs and pickup trucks (much to my chagrin, of course).

One of the reasons the Japanese auto industry is still making cars like the 86 (and the new Supra) is to distinguish themselves from the rest of the industry by giving people the option of buying cars for the fun of driving and not for grocery shopping and schlepping the kids. For the nth time, I will offer my strong opinion that the shift to non-cars in the US is due, in large part, to the fact that more than 70% of American adults are overweight and more than one-third are obese. Obviously, I am not a politically correct person nor do I aspire to be one. As far as I am concerned, political correctness is just another form of fascism.

Does anyone have any opinions about the Toyota 86? We would like to read them.






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