Monday Musings

Ten days until Thanksgiving…

This is the 40th post with the exact title “Monday Musings.” Do any of you get tired of a specific post title or concept? Please let me know.

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I have to report that I don’t miss Twitter. It’s amazing how quickly I went from checking my feed 5-10 times a day to almost not remembering that I was ever on the platform. “Social media” is not for me and, once again, is a phrase that I believe is an oxymoron. Yes, some might say this blog is part of “social media.”

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On this day in 1966, still a few weeks shy of his 31st birthday, Sandy Koufax announced his retirement. When I first became a baseball fan around the age of 8 or 9 Koufax quickly became one of my heroes although he had already retired.

With the modern age of baseball analysis, of which I am a founding “father,” it has become fashionable to discount Koufax’s accomplishments, at least somewhat, because of the fact that Dodger Stadium was an extreme pitchers park during his heyday. Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. In the five seasons that Koufax pitched with that venue as his home park, he had a 57-15 record with a 1.37 ERA in home games. On the road his record was basically the same, 54-19, but his ERA was more than a full run per game worse at 2.57. Koufax led the NL in ERA all five seasons he pitched in Dodger Stadium. That’s an impressive accomplishment almost regardless of home venue.

BIll James, the father of modern baseball analysis, once wrote (I wish I could find the exact reference in my library) that Koufax was better than his otherworldly W-L records because he seemed to pitch better when he received little run support and had an incredible record in such games…the Internet isn’t all bad. I found this data here although I’m not sure of the time period:

 

When the Dodgers scored 5 runs or greater Koufax was: 23-0

When the Dodgers scored 4 runs Koufax was: 12-1

When the Dodgers scored 3 runs Koufax was: 9-3

When the Dodgers scored 2 runs Koufax was: 9-4

When the Dodgers scored 1 run Koufax was: 8-8

This is incredible, when the Dodgers scored one, two, or three runs in a game Sandy Koufax’ record was 26-15. He was given only one run to work with in more starts than any other total.

 

Koufax retired early because he had developed severe arthritis in his pitching elbow. He actually pitched his last two seasons with the condition. In order to continue pitching Koufax used Empirin with codeine for the pain, which he took virtually every night and often during the game. He received numerous injections of cortisone. He also took Butazolidin for inflammation, applied capsaicin-based Capsolin ointment before each game, and soaked his arm in a tub of ice afterwards. (By the way, Butazolidin is used to treat inflammation in thoroughbred horses and its use must be publicly noted. It is no longer allowed for use in humans except very rarely as a treatment for ankylosing spondylitis because no other treatment is available.) When Koufax was asked at his retirement press conference why he was retiring, this was his answer:

 

“I don’t know if cortisone is good for you or not, but to take a shot every other ballgame is more than I wanted to do. To walk around with a constant upset stomach because of the pills and to be high half the time during a ballgame because you’re taking painkillers, I don’t wanna have to do that.”

 

Of course, Koufax’s regimen to keep pitching ties right in with the decision to play Tua Tagovailoa in a game that his team would have won without him less than a month after he had ankle surgery. Teams put enormous pressure on their players to play, almost regardless of circumstance, and players are tremendous competitors who want to play. Fans and other laypeople have no understanding of the intensely competitive nature of successful athletes.

In closing I present a picture of Sandy Koufax from MLBShop:

See the source image

 

#MondayMusings

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#SandyKoufax

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Sunday Superfluity

Although I doubt he or anyone in his life is reading this, I offer best wishes for a swift and complete recovery to Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s star quarterback who suffered a serious injury (a dislocated and fractured hip) in yesterday’s game. One thing I wonder, though, besides whether he should have even been playing in a game Alabama would have handily won without him (he recently had surgery to “repair” a high ankle sprain): what would the College Football Playoff committee have done if Alabama had defeated LSU, Tua had been injured the next week, and Alabama went on to be undefeated SEC champ? I’m virtually certain Alabama would have made the playoff, but where would they have been seeded? A minor question, no doubt, but my brain doesn’t always prioritize well.

In recent years some college football players who were certain to be drafted very high by the NFL have stopped playing for their college team before the end of their last season so as not to risk an injury that could damage their professional prospects and potentially cost them millions of dollars. None of those players “suffered” in terms of where they were drafted. In other words, NFL teams don’t seem to downgrade a player who “abandons” his college teammates in order to protect himself for the NFL. By the way, I don’t really think the college players are abandoning their teammates. If you don’t look out for yourself it’s highly unlikely anyone else will. Besides, the game itself is just a game, but the chance to be financially secure for life is not one to be squandered without much consideration.

Do any of you have any comments about this topic?

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Some recently hung items although purchased awhile ago:

 

 

As I have written before, my father and I had a complicated relationship, but I wanted to pay homage to him with this Flying A wall. After all, without his involvement with automobiles I highly doubt I would have ever had any interest in them.

 

 

Unfortunately, it was impossible to get both items in the picture without making the “Corvette Parade” on the left difficult to read. OK, here is a shot just of the poster:

 

 

Yes, I took the photo in a less than straight configuration. Sue me…

 

 

My extreme fondness for the 1963-65 Buick Riviera is a matter of record. I purchased the painting during the Elegance at Hershey this past June. Sadly, the event will not be held in 2020. Thanks to my wonderful wife for helping me hang these (and other) items yesterday.

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On this day in 1986 Georges Besse, CEO of Renault, was assassinated outside his home in Paris. The anarchist group Action Directe claimed responsibility three months later as “retaliation” for Renault having laid off a large number of workers. Two women were charged with Besse’s murder, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Two other members of the “group” were convicted as accomplices and given life sentences.

Many automotive journalists and historians have blamed the eventual demise of American Motors Corporation (by way of its purchase by Chrysler) to Besse’s murder. You see, Renault owned about half of AMC by the early 1980s. Besse was a believer in the company and knew that Jeep was at the forefront of the market move to SUVs. Without Besse, Renault just wanted to wash its hands of AMC and sold the company to Chrysler in 1987.

I am very reluctant to write this, but I am actually surprised that the US has not seen more acts of targeted political violence. Anyway, a photo of my favorite AMC car:

See the source image

From classiccars.com a picture of a 1968 AMC Javelin. By the way, classiccars.com is a great place to find automobiles like a 1962-64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk for sale.

 

#SundaySuperfluity

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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House, M.D.

On this day 15 years ago (!) the first episode of House, M.D. aired. Almost always referred to simply as House, it is my favorite TV show ever. Scarily, it has almost been as long since the last original episode aired in May, 2012 as the time between the first and last episodes.

Although the show was a medical drama and, indeed, had some moments of real tension, it also had some of the most humorous moments ever. It contained much wittier humor than what passes for comedy in today’s so-called sitcoms.

Hugh Laurie portrayed the title character. His performances, to borrow Tom Landry’s description of Randy White, ranged from spectacular to spectacular. He had to speak in a foreign accent (Laurie is British, but the character was American), while walking with a limp and a cane, while reciting complicated medical jargon, while appearing in the majority of scenes and while having to pull off this medical drama interspersed with sarcastic humor.

I have always liked medical shows, either drama or “reality.” I loved ER, for example; well, at least for the first six seasons. I like Untold Stories of the ER and Mystery Diagnosis. House, however, was in a different league than any other show I’ve ever watched. Here are some memorable lines from the show, all uttered by Dr. House:

 

– People do not change. For example, I keep saying, “People do not change.”

– If you do not want a sarcastic answer then do not ask a stupid question.

– People don’t get what they deserve; they just get what they get. There’s nothing any of us can do about it.

– What I find hard to believe is the general concept of belief; faith is not based on logic or experience.

– The brain, we all have one. The difference: some use it, others do not.

– There is only one thing worse than stupid people, stupid people who do not know they are stupid.

– Everything is conditional. We just don’t know what the conditions are.

An exchange between Dr. House and his only real friend, Dr. Wilson:

Dr. Wilson: That smugness of yours really is an attractive quality.

Dr. House: Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain.

 

Of course, without context I can’t really convey how effective the show’s dialogue was. Anyway, I will show a picture (“courtesy” of FanPop and hughlaurie.net) of the original cast of House and then bid you adieu for the day.

 

See the source image

 

#House, M.D.

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Frugal Friday and Goodbye, Twitter

After thinking about doing so for a couple of months I deleted my Twitter account yesterday. With the exception of two days, the platform was useless in driving traffic to this blog in the 14 months I was “on” Twitter, which was the only reason I established the account in the first place.

I will miss not being able to communicate with people like Dominic Chu of CNBC, but I will not miss the large number of Twitter users whom I call Twidiots. Excessive profanity is the refuge of ignorance and lends no credence to one’s position. Making statements without facts to back those statements proves nothing. Oh, people in America can no longer spell worth a damn.

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My wonderful wife suggested today’s car for Frugal Friday. It was a car she owned and drove without incident for six years.

The fellows of the original Top Gear named this car as the worst car in the history of the world. Top Gear was entertaining at times, but like many car show hosts, the boys forget that people live in the real world, that the price of the car matters to 99% of the population and that reliability is important.

Without further ado:

 

Used 2003 Lexus SC 430 Convertible SYKESVILLE, MD 21784 - 532622115 - 3

 

From this AutoTrader ad a picture of a 2003 Lexus SC 430. The story of how my wonderful wife wound up buying a car like this (a 2006 model purchased new in March of 2007) is very interesting, but I’ll save it for another day.

This car rode with a smoothness unmatched by any other car she had ever driven and with a 4.3 liter/262 cubic-inch V-8 producing 288 HP/317 LB-FT of torque the car was not slow. The SC430 did not give her one day of trouble in the six-plus years my wonderful wife owned it.

The SC430 pictured above has about 51,000 miles and is being offered at $13,995. My wife’s 2006 model stickered at about $67,000, but because it was a new 2006 still unsold in March of 2007 she received a significant discount from MSRP.

If owning a reliable convertible that is not a slug appeals to you then you could do a lot worse than buy a used SC430. Remember that Lexus finishes at the top of the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study almost every year and was recently named the most reliable car brand in America by Consumer Reports.

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Throwback Thursday, It’s Cold Edition

I used to be able to tolerate cold weather. In fact, I much preferred it to hot weather. I guess with less “efficient” circulation due to aging and the fact that I have run most of the fat off my body I don’t like the cold, anymore. (My hands are freezing as I type this.) I certainly don’t like the temperature I’m about to show you two weeks before Thanksgiving.

 

 

It was warmer at 6:30 this morning; it was 22 degrees. Yes, a feeble attempt at sarcasm.

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Inspired by photobyjohnbo here is a picture of our Japanese Maple tree almost in full fall color:

 

 

This tree has survived a traumatic injury and annual assault by rats in fur coats, also known as squirrels. We live in a nice neighborhood and we will miss it after we move, but move we will. The desert beckons.

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From stampnewsonline.net a picture of a stamp featuring a very famous person:

 

See the source image

 

This is a picture of the 1983 Babe Ruth stamp. I believe another stamp in honor of Ruth was issued later. Note the cost of first-class postage, 20¢.

To honor Ruth, who was born in Baltimore as was I, and the 1983 Orioles’ World Series championship I mailed myself an empty envelope with this stamp in late 1983. I wrote some notes on the envelope about Ruth and the Orioles. That was a long time ago and qualifies as a genuine throwback. Although I don’t follow baseball I understand the Orioles are going through a rough patch.

Of course, I worked for my home-town team for six years in a full-time capacity and before that as a consultant for about a year and a half. It’s amazing how poor human beings are at predicting the future. For five years before I was hired full-time all I wanted was to work for the Orioles for the rest of my life. It’s a good thing the rest of my life has lasted longer than six years.

Like my change in attitude towards cold weather I never could have predicted that I would be completely divorced from baseball and not miss it. Once again, the only constant in the world is change. Those who cannot or will not deal with change will be unhappy and/or left behind.

 

#disaffectedmusings

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Wednesday Words

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”

I don’t know the source of that remark, but that is how I eat. I have no choice as I suffer from a severe case of GERD, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease. I have had my upper GI tract scoped at least 17 times. Basically, I eat almost nothing after about 3 or 4 PM every day.

I have grown accustomed to going to bed hungry every night. In fact, I am happy when my stomach “growls” from hunger at night. That “growling” means I will not be awakened by the feeling of choking on my stomach contents and of feeling that my throat is literally on fire.

I think human beings can get used to almost anything. People who insist on ignoring their own realities are pissing into the wind, in my opinion.

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I suspect many readers don’t look at the comments. I am going to show part of my reply to a comment from 56packardman:

 

My father, a Holocaust survivor who watched his family murdered by Nazi troops, always said that Americans have no idea how good they have it. Too many people in this country have a severely deficient lack of perspective. Not being able to buy your child an expensive pair of sneakers or not being able to binge watch a TV show because you have to work are NOT tragedies in any way, shape or form.

A tragedy is what happened to my father. A tragedy is what happened to my uncle who survived a concentration camp only to be murdered when two pieces of sh*t robbed his grocery store in Bloodymore, Murderland. Not being as rich as you think you should be is not a tragedy.

 

Please read the comments and please feel free to send thoughtful remarks. The more people who participate, the better.

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I was amused by this part of a review of the 2020 Subaru BRZ in this article by Automobile Magazine:

 

“A six-speed automatic transmission is also available if you want to hammer one of the last nails into the manual transmission’s coffin while making the BRZ heavier.”

 

The article was titled, “The Lightest Sports Cars You Can Buy for Under $30,000.” From the article a picture of the aforementioned 2020 Subaru BRZ:

 

2020 Subaru BRZ 03

 

Both the BRZ and its twin, the Toyota 86, were listed in the article, which seems a little dubious to me. I like the looks of both cars and they are not slugs in terms of performance as their low weight obviously helps with their power/weight ratio. Maybe one of these days I will prepare a chart of HP per pound of various cars and then show the chart here.

 

#GERD

#TooManyCluelessAmericans

#2020SubaruBRZ

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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25 Should Be The New 18

From this article comes this conclusion that is consistent with most published research:

 

“Under most laws, young people are recognized as adults at age 18. But emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don’t reach full maturity until the age 25.”

 

I don’t know why the age of 18 has been considered the age of majority. One could guess that, at least in this country, since that’s the age people graduate from high school and since until the 1950s most people didn’t attend college, then people would be considered adults as they entered the working world. However, the only constant in the world is change. Now, two-thirds of high school graduates are in college the academic year after they graduate. More and more research reveals that the human brain does not reach its “adult” ability to assess risk and reward until about the age of 25. My opinion, based on the prevailing research, is that the minimum legal age of purchase and consumption for substances like alcohol and marijuana should be 25.

What does this research mean for driving privileges, for the minimum voting age, for the age of being to able to enlist in the armed forces? Would this mean that the military draft would have to be reinstated, for example? Consider that the age group with the highest rate of fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers is the group aged 20-24. The rate for those aged 25-29, while high, is almost 20% lower than the rate for those aged 20-24. Those who are blinded by ideology are unable and/or unwilling to understand the world is more complex and nuanced than their beliefs. “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” That Shakespeare could write some truths.

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On this day in 1908 General Motors purchased Olds Motor Works, better known as Oldsmobile. It retained its original name until 1942 when it was officially renamed the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors. Oldsmobile was the best-selling make in the US every year from 1903 to 1905, inclusive, selling about 16,000 cars in those three years.

As I have written before, Oldsmobile has/had a long history as an innovator. It introduced “Knee-Action” independent front suspension in 1934, the legendary and revolutionary Hydra-Matic automatic transmission for model year 1940, along with Cadillac the first modern overhead-valve engine in 1949, the first production turbocharged V-8 in 1962 and the first US front-wheel drive vehicle in almost 30 years for model year 1966. Oldsmobile is the only American company that produced automobiles in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

For me, of course, much of my interest in Oldsmobile stems from the fact that it is, sadly, a defunct American make.

 

 

Note the Oldsmobile Service sign at the lower left. As for my most desirable Olds car with price not a factor, this might be it:

 

See the source image

 

From Barrett-Jackson a picture of a 1957 Oldsmobile 98 hardtop coupe with a wonderful two-tone paint job. I don’t know the hammer price for this car. On Hemmings the list prices of ’57 Olds 98 coupes are all over the place from $34,000 to $85,000. However, even at the lower price, barring an unforeseen financial windfall, this car is out of my price range as a Z06 companion. I have dreams, but I live in the real world.

 

On an unrelated topic, it is highly likely that before the end of this year I will delete my Twitter account. The only reason I created a Twitter presence was to drive traffic to my blog, but Twitter has been virtually useless for that purpose. After I delete the account, most of the hashtags at the bottom of each post will disappear.

 

#25ShouldBeTheNew18

#Shakespeare

#Oldsmobile

#1957Oldsmobile98

#ByeByeTwitter?

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Musings, 2019 Veterans Day Edition

First, I offer thoughts of gratitude to all of those who have served and are serving in the US armed forces. I also want to note the sacrifice of the nearly 1.4 million who lost their lives in the service of this country.

Please remember that those who are serving today have chosen to do so.

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Second, this would/should have been Kevin Towers’ 58th birthday. It is difficult to believe that he has been dead for almost two years. Towers was the General Manager for most of my tenure with the San Diego Padres. He always treated me as a friend and valued colleague. A picture I have shown before:

 

 

This picture was taken in the visitors clubhouse in Dodger Stadium after the Padres clinched the 1996 NL West Division title. Kevin is the one kneeling; I am one of the other three people.

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Speaking of untimely demises, this past weekend I learned that someone with whom I attended graduate school and with whom I remained friends until about ten years ago passed away in the summer of 2018 before his 59th birthday. We didn’t have a falling out, we just drifted apart, which happens probably more often than is good for us.

I think one reason I have lost so much interest in sports is that as I hear the clock ticking I have come to believe that it is the actions of my wonderful wife and me that matter, not those of people I don’t know who happen to be wearing a certain uniform.

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On this day in 1989 Jaguar became a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Ford’s ownership of Jaguar—and Aston Martin and Land Rover—was not long as they sold Aston Martin in 2007 and Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008.

Ford expanded Jaguar’s product line, introducing the S-Type in 1999 and the X-Type in 2001. James May, of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame, criticized the S-Type, saying he thought the car was designed to appeal more to the American and German markets than the UK, and that the car, “…sums up everything that is wrong with Jaguar.”

In what can only be described as ironic, Jaguar and Land Rover, two ultimate British icons, are now owned by Tata Motors of India.

For me this photo represents the most interesting Jaguar to me during the Ford period:

 

See the source image

 

From historics.co.uk a picture of a Jaguar XKR coupe, a 2003 model as it turns out. The “R” in the model name means the engine is supercharged, which pushed the output of the 4.2 liter V-8 to 390 HP/399 LB-FT of torque. The transmission was a 6-speed automatic. By the way, if you’re willing to roll the dice on a model with some mileage (>50,000), these cars can be purchased for less than $15,000.

For me, every two-door Jaguar looks good. Strictly in terms of exterior design I don’t think any two makes have a better history than Jaguar and Aston Martin.

 

#VeteransDay

#KevinTowers

#LifeIsShort

#2003JaguarXKRCoupe

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Not Everything New Is Progress

Too many people are seduced by the cult of the new. If it’s new, they believe, then it must be better than something older.

Well, and this might seem like a trivial example, in my opinion the person who invented blister-pack packaging was a moron and so are the companies that use it. I can’t tell you how many pills I have destroyed, how many capsules have been punctured and how much medicine has WOUND UP ON THE FLOOR with the stupid design.

I try to avoid buying medicine packaged in blister-packs, but for some of the things I take such packaging is unavoidable. By the way, does anyone besides me think the very name “blister-pack” is an awful choice of words?

Since all human beings are flawed it only stands to reason that all institutions and inventions of people are also flawed, although, of course, not all to the same degree.

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The mind-numbing homogeneity of car design is another “new” thing that is worse than what it replaced, in my opinion. I know regulation severely hampers what car companies can do, but surely they can show more originality. From a comment by David Banner (not his real name):

 

“I was at Panera this morning. Looked out the window at my Malibu. Saw nearby car and thought it was also a Malibu. Too many cars look the same. Hyundai just stretches its car body style: Elantra begets Sonata begets Azera.”

 

To me, all modern pickup trucks look the same. Some variation in styling does exist among SUVs, but many SUVs are indistinguishable by sight.

From Top Speed a picture of a modern, regulation-compliant car that didn’t look like everything else:

 

See the source image

 

Of course this is a picture of a Saturn Sky, a car that has been shown and discussed before in this blog. Before one remarks that it’s a clone of its corporate cousin, the Pontiac Solstice, be aware that while the two cars shared the same Kappa platform, they shared no sheet metal nor any part of their interiors.

As my favorite TV character, Dr. Gregory House, once shouted, “Climb out of your holes, people!” You don’t have to buy the indistinguishable and the mundane. (By the way, next Saturday will mark the 15th anniversary [!!] of the airing of the first episode of House.)

 

#SayNoToTheCultOfTheNew

#SayNoToBlisterPacks

#SaturnSky

#HouseMD

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday, Sort Of

Until now, virtually all Frugal Friday posts have shown cars being offered for significantly less than the average “transaction price” for a new car in the US, about $40,000. On March 8th I did show a Ferrari 456 GTA with a list price of $39,999. However, with the news that Alfa Romeo will cease making interesting cars I decided to show at least one automobile from them.

 

Used 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe Chicago, IL 60611 - 534178609 - 4

 

From this Autotrader listing a picture of a 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C coupe. Yes, I am not a big fan of white cars, but I think the color is a reason the asking price is only $39,841.

This 4C has been driven quite a bit, almost 40,000 miles, which is another reason the ask is under $40,000. I like the car mainly because it looks like nothing else on the road; it is also quite a good performer. The 4C is powered by a turbocharged, 1.7 liter/106 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 237 HP/258 LB-FT of torque. For a car weighing just 2,500 pounds, that is a lot of oomph. The 4C can accelerate from 0-60 MPH in under five seconds.

This is not a practical car. For one thing it is quite small with a wheelbase of just 94 inches. As a comparison, a C7 Corvette, not a big car by any means, has a wheelbase of just under 107 inches. It is loud inside a 4C while driving as well. However, if you want something fun and unique you can do a lot worse than this. Kelley Blue Book estimates a car like this should be worth between $42,000 and $45,000. Arrivederci, Alfa Romeo!

 

Another desirable car, while not inexpensive, priced within the range of many buyers:

 

Used 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport ORLANDO, FL 32809 - 505621117 - 5

 

This 2013 Maserati GranTurismo coupe, also listed on AutoTrader, is being offered at $38,498. Unlike the 4C shown above, this Maserati has reasonable mileage for its age, almost exactly 20,000. Once again, I think the color holds the price down as do, most likely, the potential maintenance costs. These cars were about $130,000 when new depending on options.

This car is powered by a Ferrari-built 4.7 liter/286 cubic-inch V8. I have seen different output ratings, seemingly odd for such a recent automobile, but I will show HP/Torque at 433/361 LB-FT. These cars were equipped with a six-speed, paddle-shift automatic transmission.

These have a less idiosyncratic look than the 4C; I think the Maserati GranTurismo is quite stunning. Stating my well-known opinion, I would MUCH rather buy one of these for $35,000-$40,000 than some generic SUV. It’s too bad that is becoming more and more difficult.

 

#FrugalFriday

#2017AlfaRomeo4C

#2013MaseratiGranTurismo

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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