Sunday French

A Francophile is not someone who admires Julio Franco or John Franco or Generalissimo Franco. A Francophile is a person who admires France and/or the French.

Why did I start today’s post with Francophile? Well, a lot of views for Disaffected Musings this morning are from France, which is unusual for this blog. In my previous blog that was hosted by the Evil Empire (aka Google) France vied with Poland and Portugal for the most number of views behind the US. For Disaffected Musings, though, Canada is clearly the #2 country for page views. Not that anyone cares except me, but in this blog only about 5% of views are from outside the US whereas for my previous blog that number was about 15%.

My favorite French car of all time is almost certainly this:

See the source image

From automotiveviews.wordpress.com a picture of a Facel Vega. The Facel Vega was produced by the French company Facel (no kidding!). It was an original hybrid meaning that it combined European styling with an American engine, in this case from Chrysler Corporation. The famous French writer/philosopher Albert Camus, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957, died as a passenger in a crash of a Facel Vega in 1960.

In its various iterations the Facel Vega was produced from 1954 to 1961, inclusive. Like many European cars of this idiom despite a fairly lengthy production run not many were actually made, just 886. An additional point of allure for me, as if the car itself isn’t beautiful enough, is that the first engines used in the Facel Vega were DeSoto Firedome hemi V-8s. For the nth time I have an obsession with defunct American makes.

In my opinion the Facel Vega is a no-brainer (if the shoe fits!) for being among the ten best-looking cars ever made. Do you think that the cars in an Ultimate Garage need to be constrained by a budget? From Hemmings comes this picture from a listing of a Facel Vega for sale:

This is the most expensive of the five non-auction Facel Vegas currently listed for sale on Hemmings. What’s the asking price? $345,000…

I would very much like to read your thoughts about your Ultimate Garage, what rules you think should apply (if any) to compiling such a list, etc.

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Well, the Nebraska Cornhuskers finally won a game in 2018. Despite the final score (53-28) it was a game not without its nervous moments. Nebraska took a 28-0 lead late in the first half only to see Minnesota cut the lead to 28-22 in the third quarter. The Huskers responded, though, with some explosive plays on offense to salt away the game. Nebraska had three players rush for 100+ yards including their true freshman quarterback, Adrian Martinez. As I have written before I have been a fan of Nebraska football longer than I have been a fan of any other team in any other sport, since I was 10 years old.

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Last Wednesday the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its annual Global Competitiveness Report that ranks 140 countries. The WEF sponsors the annual Davos economic forum in, of course, Davos, Switzerland. For the report, they base their results on their assessment of 98 different indicators. Here are the ten most competitive economies in the world in 2018 according to the WEF:

1. U.S.

2. Singapore

3. Germany

4. Switzerland

5. Japan

6. Netherlands

7. Hong Kong

8. U.K.

9. Sweden

10. Denmark

This is the first time in ten years that the U.S. ranks at the top of the list. China was ranked 28th.

The WEF warned that many countries are not prepared for what they call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is the rise of digital technologies.

What do you think of this list and of assessments like this, in general?

 

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Mega Millions Fever

As many/most of you reading know no winning ticket was sold for the most recent Mega Millions drawing. As of this writing, the annuity value of the jackpot is $1.6 billion and the cash value is over $900 million. Given the enormous number of tickets that will be sold before the next drawing those values will increase. I believe this is already the largest jackpot in US lottery history.

I would rather have a 1-in-300 million chance of winning than a 0-in-300 million chance, which is why my wonderful wife and I buy lottery tickets most weeks of the year. Once again, I ponder which cars I might buy if we somehow won this extraordinary amount of money.

Yes, my wonderful wife and I would make sure our family and close friends never had to worry about money again. Yes, we would donate lots of money to charity. Still, for me an unimaginable windfall means CARS!

I haven’t driven a vehicle with a manual transmission in 40 years and reject the “knee-jerk macho” attitude that no one can really enjoy driving a car with an automatic transmission. All that being said, one of these might find its way into my possession after a lottery win:

See the source image

From rarecarsforsaleblog.com a picture of one of my all-time favorites, a Honda S2000 in Imola Orange. I wrote about this car in this post in which I revealed the inside joke about the S2000 that my wonderful wife and I share. Although they are not a common sight 66,000 S2000s were sold in the US and we occasionally see one. When we do I always say, “Did you know that I love these cars?” and she answers, “Really? I had no idea.”

I think the S2000 is almost a perfect blend of styling, performance and aura. I have a soft spot for two-seat roadsters, anyway. All 110,000 of these cars were made with a manual transmission. I guess I would have to reacquaint myself with manuals if we were to win the Mega Millions and I decided to buy an S2000. Oh darn…

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While I am not certain if the actual date was today (October 20th) or October 17th, it was around this time in 1902 that the first Cadillac was built. I wrote about Cadillac in this post in which I detailed how they, in 1908, became the first American company to win the prestigious Dewar Trophy and that it was awarded its second Dewar Trophy just four years later.

At least three Cadillacs would be serious contenders for Ultimate Garage 2.0. I have shown pictures of them before, but what the hell…

See the source image

From momentcar.com a picture of a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado. I would be happy with a 1967 model, also. I think these cars look magnificent and had amazing performance for their size. I might, emphasize might, prefer the ’68 because the engine was larger and had more power.

See the source image

From classiccars.com a picture of a Cadillac Allante that I am almost certain I have shown before. I really like the wire wheels and the green exterior of this particular car. These cars are much maligned and much of that sentiment was “earned.” However, I think they are beautiful cars. How could they not be as the bodies were designed and built by Pininfarina? A later model with a more powerful engine or maybe even a more modern engine would make for a very nice car, in my opinion.

See the source image

From bestride.com a picture of a Cadillac XLR; this is another picture I have shown before. If I didn’t have a friend who had bad experiences with these cars, I probably would have purchased one instead of the Z4. (The Z4 may be an “ex car” by this time next week.) Again, like the Allante the XLR had major quality issues at first. By the time these were fixed the car’s reputation was permanently ruined and then the “Great Recession” was the last straw. I think the XLR has extraordinary looks and more than enough performance for the vast majority of drivers, especially in XLR-V trim.

Cadillac is experiencing an existential crisis. In 2005 Cadillac sales totaled about 235,000 and 1.4% of the US market. By 2015 those numbers had declined to 175,000 and 1.0%. In 2017 sales slumped further to 156,000 and 0.9%. The make is considered passé by younger consumers and the average age of a Cadillac buyer is almost 60. (Hey, I’m almost 60. Yeah, that’s the point.)

Maybe I’m way off base and out of touch with today’s automobile market, but just like I think Buick needs a halo car (I have suggested an improved version of the Solstice/Sky) I think Cadillac also needs a halo car, a vehicle to generate excitement and to help Cadillac stand apart. The company has shown some amazing concept cars and before the departure of Johan de Nysschen Cadillac announced it would be bringing the Escala to market as a production vehicle. Now, I don’t know.

What do you think? As always I eagerly await your comments. Once again I would very much like to “hear” from those north of the border in Canada.

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

Here We Go

The Khashoggi incident shows that the Saudi leadership is hardly an enlightened group and still believes in medieval methods. I would love it if the US never bought another drop of oil from Saudi Arabia. Before one compares what happened to Khashoggi to US interrogation of terrorists, Khashoggi was no terrorist.

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My love of cars with internal combustion engines may seem very inconsistent with my desire to stop buying oil from the Saudis. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” I believe that the phrase “a foolish consistency” applies to those who blindly follow a particular ideology. Repeat after me: NO ONE has a monopoly on truth and wisdom and neither does ANY ideology.

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An interesting set of comments from BMW’s head of research and development, Klaus Fröhlich, as quoted here in Automobile Magazine: “If you assume that, from this 30 percent [pure electric cars and hybrids], half of them are plug-in hybrids—I have 85 percent in my portfolio in 2030 with a combustion engine.” Fröhlich also remarked, “But the world—Russia, Australia, a large portion of the world—they will have combustion engines for a very long time.”

More than 1.2 billion cars and trucks are owned by citizens all over the world and almost all of those vehicles run on gasoline or diesel. Every year, more than 70 million new cars and trucks are purchased by people all over the world and most of those run on gasoline or diesel. Even forgetting that the manufacture of plastics is based on petroleum, the sheer number of vehicles in the world using internal combustion engines means that the oil infrastructure is not going away any time soon. Countries that seek to ban all internal combustion engine vehicles from operating within their borders in the intermediate future are seeking a pipe dream and/or a harmful disruption to their economies. “Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.”

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Does that last statement apply to winning the lottery? The level of Mega Millions ticket sales has boosted the annuity value of the jackpot to $970 million and the cash value to $548 million. I believe this is the second highest jackpot in US lottery history. I can’t find rock-solid research on this topic, but I have read in multiple places that about two-thirds of lottery winners are bankrupt within five years of their win. I have my theories as to why that might happen, if true, but those theories are extremely politically incorrect and I am not interested in starting a flame war. I will simply repeat something I have written here: Ignorance is NOT bliss.

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If my wonderful wife and I were to win the Mega Millions lottery, what other cars might I buy besides a C2 Corvette and a De Tomaso Longchamp? Earlier this week I showed the 1987 Buick GNX as a possible purchase. How about this?

See the source image

From hotrod.com a picture of a 1967 Mercury Cougar with what I think are non-standard wheels. While every regular Disaffected Musings reader knows I am not a big FoMoCo fan because of its founder, I like to think I am an agnostic when it comes to cars. That is, with the exception of Volkswagen and Porsche, I try to judge the car apart from its manufacturer.

While the Cougar was basically a Ford Mustang with a different body I think the Cougar is a great example of crisp American styling. I didn’t show the front end, but I am a big fan of hidden headlights, which is one of the very few topics about which I can be accused of preferring form over function.

Six 1967 Cougars are currently listed for sale on Hemmings, not counting auction vehicles. The asking prices range from $8,000 to $29,900 with four of the six listed at less than $20,000. I didn’t grow up with money so maybe that’s a partial explanation as to why I like so many cars that are not expensive.

OK, folks…what cars would you buy if you won an imaginable amount of money?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Throwback Thursday

A little bit of a change for Throwback Thursday.

Who was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1955? You can probably guess that he had something to do with automobiles. Any idea? OK, here is the cover:

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From a Pinterest site a picture of the Time Magazine cover announcing Harlow Curtice, who was the GM President from 1953 to 1958, as Man of the Year for 1955. In the article about Curtice Time wrote, “in a job that required it, he has assumed the responsibility of leadership for American business. In his words ‘General Motors must always lead.'”

Curtice aggressively increased capital expenditure for GM in the 1950s forcing Ford and Chrysler to do the same and, perhaps unintentionally, sounding the death knell for the independent manufacturers. Even with the increase in capital spending, in 1955 General Motors became the first corporation in history to record a profit of more than $1 billion in a single year. As I wrote here General Motors’ 1955 production increased almost 70% compared to 1954, which is impressive even in light of the overall industry increase of 43%. After further research, I don’t know if I can trust those numbers exactly, but the general conclusion is still correct.

In 1955 GM had more than a 50% market share of the US auto industry. It produced more than twice as many cars as Ford and more than three times as many as Chrysler. That dominance (an inside reference) was aided by the company’s new cars for 1955, cars like this:

See the source image

From curbsideclassic.com a picture of a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief. Chevrolet wasn’t the only GM make with a great 1955 model year. Take a look at the increase in production in 1955 compared to 1954 for all of the GM makes:

Chevrolet    +49%

Buick           +66%

Oldsmobile +65%

Pontiac        +92%

Cadillac        +45%

Given the GM policy of mandatory retirement at age 65, Curtice retired from his position as President in 1958. Sadly, the next year he accidentally shot and killed retired GM vice president, Harry W. Anderson, while on a duck hunting trip to Canada.

Deservedly, Curtice was elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1971 although it was a posthumous selection as he died in 1962. Who knows how the burden of having accidentally killed his friend weighed on him?

As I have written in Disaffected Musings and elsewhere the decline of General Motors is a story that would take hundreds, if not thousands, of pages to tell. Of course books have been written on the subject, but the ones I have read all seem to have had an agenda. I would have preferred an objective and honest treatment of the topic. No, I am not going to write that book. I think three published books is enough for me, thanks.

I apologize for not writing more about Curtice, but I am not that well versed on his life and didn’t simply want to copy snippets of other work.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

 

Wednesday Wackadoodle

It’s Wednesday and some people who know me think I’m a wackadoodle.

I am very proud of yesterday’s post. So much so that I sent the link via email to a few people who are not signed up as followers. I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing this, but one of those people was Michael Lewis. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind telling me his reaction to the post. What did he write? “Main reaction is it’s a pity you aren’t working in sports.”

In a reply to another friend to whom I sent the link I wrote this: EVERYONE thinks “it’s a pity” that I’m out of sports and yet, here I am. Of course in reality it’s not EVERYONE or I would have never left. It’s too bad so many people are arrogant ingrates. I’ll leave it to you to conjure up the names of the people to whom I am referring.

While I really have little interest in sports, and none in baseball, I still think it was a “miscarriage of justice” that someone with my skills and experience, someone who is a pioneer in analytics and pro scouting was simply tossed aside by the entire industry. Are you tired of reading my “whining?” Tough…I am on a campaign against those who think that everyone gets what they deserve and/or that everything is a matter of destiny.

I believe that life is a Monte Carlo simulation. I think that if it were somehow possible to run the same person’s life 100 times the same life would not occur all 100 times and that numerous different lives, maybe even as many as 100, would occur. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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OK…the annuity value of the Mega Millions jackpot has reached $868 million and since the prize is so large the number of tickets sold will drive the jackpot even higher. By the way, the cash value of the Mega Millions prize is $494 million. One side effect of higher interest rates is that the cash value has decreased relative to the annuity value of the Mega Millions and the Powerball. For any given annuity value it takes less cash to generate the returns needed to fund the annuity. In the state in which my wonderful wife and I live we would probably net about 52 percent of the cash prize after taxes, or about $257 million.

In this post from July called Mega, I asked how many cars could a person buy if they won $154 million, which was the amount we would net after taxes if we had the only winning ticket for the next drawing. What would you do if you netted roughly a quarter of a billion dollars?

Once again, I do not expect to win the lottery. On the other hand, if I don’t play then my chances of winning are zero. If I do play then my chances asymptotically approach zero.

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My taste in cars does not run to the ultra-expensive. Although I would like to be able to afford one, I really would not want a Koenigsegg and certainly not a Bugatti given its membership in the Volkswagen Group. I also would not want to own what is, essentially, a museum exhibit that cannot be driven. I often say to my wonderful wife about the clutter in our home that we live in a house, not a museum.

Everyone who reads Disaffected Musings on a regular basis knows about my affinity for C2 Corvettes and the De Tomaso Longchamp. If the roughly 1-in-300 million odds are overcome and we won the Mega Millions, what might I buy besides those two cars?

Without revealing Ultimate Garage 2.0, here is one car that might end up in my possession:

See the source image

This is a photo from Hemmings of one of the 547 1987 Buick GNXs. Car and Driver just ran this story on the evolution of the car and maybe that’s why I am thinking about it.

I can bore you with the details of how the car evolved, of McLaren’s intimate involvement with the car, of how Buick almost certainly understated the output of the turbocharged 3.8 liter (231 cubic inches for Bill Stephens) V-6 engine. What I want to say is this: it was this car, a Buick, that was without a doubt the fastest production car sold in the US in 1987. It is this car that, in my opinion, SCREAMS to General Motors to let Buick have an improved version of the Solstice/Sky as a halo car. It is also my opinion that the styling of the GNX is still fresh more than 30 years later.

Given the rarity, the GNX is not a cheap car. Hemmings currently has two listed for sale with asking prices of $105,000 and $125,000. At the Mecum auction in Kissimmee in January of 2018 a GNX hammered for $90,000, which means the buyer actually paid $99,000 with commission. Still, for a car with its rarity and history the GNX is not really expensive, especially if you just won $257 million!

Good luck to all of the lottery players out there, but not too much. WE want to win it all!

 

 

A Long Time Ago

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Baltimore Orioles’ last World Series championship. I was born and raised in Baltimore and was a huge fan of the Orioles and the Colts. Ironically and even though no one knew it at the time, the Baltimore Colts would soon play their last game as the team moved to Indianapolis, under cover of darkness, just a few months later.

The Orioles’ fortunes declined enough after that championship so that the Baseball Operations department would, not long after, hire someone with no formal baseball background and no membership in one of baseball’s royal families, first as a consultant and then in a full-time job. Of course, that person was me. The real story of how I was hired to a full-time job not much more than four years after the World Series title is for another day.

When I lament my current situation it is due, in no small way, to the fact that I have achieved much in my life. I like to describe my journey into major league baseball as the “infinite leap” because I went from nowhere, as far as baseball is concerned, to full-time employment and, eventually, to being a pioneer in the application of analytics to sports. I am still capable of “infinite leaps,” but I can’t leap without a place to land.

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See the source image

See the source image

The top photo, from c1toc3vettes.blogspot.com (it still pains me to use anything from the Evil Empire, aka Google), is of a 1955 Chevrolet Corvette. The bottom photo, from silodrome.com, is of a 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

1955 was the first year of the Thunderbird and it was a success, with production of 16,155 units outperforming Ford’s initial tool-up estimate of 15,000.

1955 was almost the last year for the Corvette as only 700 were produced for that model year. However, 1955 was a great year for Chevrolet as the launch of the newly-styled 150, 210 and Bel Air as well as the introduction of the legendary small-block V-8 engine led to nearly a 70% increase in production compared to 1954.

Of course that production increase could not have happened in a vacuum. The industry as a whole enjoyed a 43 percent increase in car production compared to 1954. That leads me to my point. (Yeah, get to your point already.) According to Fins, William Knoedelseder’s book about Harley Earl and General Motors, US GDP grew by 7.1% from 1954 to 1955. (I did “confirm” that number with some research.) Today, we are happy with a quarterly GDP read that shows an annualized growth rate of 4%.

The auto industry was a much bigger portion of the US economy in the mid-1950s than it is today. Did a booming economy lead to higher auto sales or did excitement about new cars lead to a booming economy? I don’t know the answer, but I think it is an interesting question. Of course the answer could be that it’s both.

Not long after the introduction of the two-seat “baby bird” Thunderbird, Ford was already planning the four-seat version of the car. Chevrolet, its hackles raised by the first-generation T-Bird, committed even more to the Corvette and the rest, as they say, is history. According to Fins, someone at GM tipped off Frank Hershey, formerly with GM under Harley Earl but by now with Ford, about Chevrolet’s development of the Corvette early in the process. It is ironic that Ford wanted to beat Chevrolet by bringing out the Thunderbird, but in the end the Thunderbird led Chevrolet to improve the Corvette so much that it’s still here in 2018 and the Thunderbird, in any version, is long gone. Once again, history is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future.

Not surprisingly Frank Hershey was upset when he heard of Ford’s plans to turn the Thunderbird into a four-seater. Frank Hershey as quoted in Fins, “The company was in such a mess at the time. It was amazing they could build a car at all.” Hershey especially disliked Robert McNamara, future US Secretary of Defense but then the Ford division comptroller. He later became general manager of the division and eventually the first President of Ford Motor Company who was not a member of the Ford family. Hershey said about McNamara, “They were grooming Mac, who didn’t know anything about automobiles, and didn’t like automobiles, and had no right to be in the automobile business. But he thought he did.”

I have to be careful about criticizing the hiring of “outsiders” because I would not have had a 20+ year career in baseball if this “outsider” had not been hired in the first place. However, similar to Hershey’s criticism of McNamara is the criticism of General Motors turning operational control of the company in the late 1950s to “bean counters” instead of leaving it in the hands of “car guys.” Much of what went wrong with GM is often laid at the feet of the “bean counters.”

I mentioned in a previous post that Bill James (it’s been awhile since I “dropped” his name) hired me to write an article for one of his books. What was the title of the article? “Baseball From The Inside And Outside”

 

 

It’s Monday

As I wrote here, Friday doesn’t have the same meaning for someone like me who is (involuntarily) retired as it does for someone in a full-time job. Well, of course, neither does Monday. In all of my non-baseball office jobs I dreaded Monday. As I keep writing virtually nothing in life is all good or all bad; everything is a trade-off. As I have also written, the fact that someone with my skills and experience cannot find a meaningful and fulfilling work situation is not a good sign for America, even if it’s just a sample size of one. I don’t even want to work full-time, but I would relish a part-time or consulting role in which I can use my combination of analytical and communication skills to help a company make decisions.

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I have written about Patrick Mahomes, the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, a couple of times. Between fatigue and the rerun of a Mecum auction I missed almost all of last night’s Chiefs-Patriots game, which apparently was one for the ages. Since I didn’t watch maybe I shouldn’t comment, but 1) the fact that the Chiefs came back to take the lead at Foxboro bodes well for them and 2) NO penalties against the Patriots is very suspicious to me. It is well-known that the Chiefs’ defense is suspect, but I think the Patriots’ defense is not that good, either.

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I have no idea why Disaffected Musings already has dozens of views today, supposedly all from Canada, from very few unique visitors. It’s actually a little disturbing because it seems like a prank or even like a hack. ALL blog hosting platforms should understand that bloggers have no control over what strangers do. Since the beginning of this month the number of views/visitors for Disaffected Musings has increased dramatically, for which I am grateful, but that increase seems organic unlike today’s activity.

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A shout-out to Lee Iacocca who is, hopefully, celebrating his 94th birthday today. Iacocca is one of the most significant figures in the history of the American automotive industry. For all that he accomplished, he will probably always be most associated with his role in bringing this car to market:

See the source image

From silodrome.com a picture of a 1965 Ford Mustang. While I am tired of seeing an endless parade of Mustangs/Shelbys at car auctions I do appreciate the significance of the car. I have recently developed an affinity for the hardtop coupe (pictured above) of the first generation Mustangs up through 1968.

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From autoevolution.com a picture of a rendering by a Korean company, KKS Studios, of the upcoming C8 Corvette:

A lot of Ferrari 488 in that design as the autoevolution article points out. So many drawings and renderings have emerged regarding the C8 Corvette that it’s almost too many, almost. I still think the C2 Corvette (1963-1967) is the best looking American car ever (yes, I broke the moratorium which lasted 18 days) and with a restomod I can get a C7 in performance that looks like a C2. In any event, here’s hoping that the C8 will debut early in 2019.

 

 

Sunday Sales

Not counting the Model T what is the only American car model to reach the 1,000,000 mark in sales for a single model year? (I’m fairly certain that only one such car exists, but I am human and I could be wrong.) Any thoughts?

 

Behold the 1965 Chevrolet Impala:

See the source image

From carswithmuscles.com a picture of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS. Actually, the SS accounted for a minority of Impalas produced that year, which reached 1,046,514. Of those, 243,114 were Super Sports. (I think the total production I showed here does not include Impala wagons. Remember station wagons?)

As recounted here, I have an affinity for 1961 Impalas because of the ’61 that enabled me to get back and forth between college and home during my first semester while my 1967 Pontiac GTO was being repaired after a major accident. However, this affection for Impalas goes beyond the 1961 model year.

Like the Mustang I think the Impala was successful because it was stylish and versatile. Six different Impala types were available in 1965 ranging from a four-door wagon to a two-door coupe. The Impala was available with an inline 6-cylinder engine or multiple V-8s. The 1965 model was the first year of a major redesign or generation.

An aside: I don’t consider pickup trucks to be cars, but in case you’re curious (or even if you’re not) I don’t think the Ford F-series pickup truck has ever reached 1,000,000 in sales in a single model year. As far as I can tell, the high-water mark for F-series sales was about 940,000 in 2004. I also don’t consider the F-150 and F-350 to be the same model. In any event, and as I have written many times before, if Americans would lose weight maybe they would buy more cars and fewer trucks/SUVs.

For the US auto industry as a whole 1965 was a good year as production reached a record 8.8 million units. That means the Impala accounted for about one-eighth of all US sales. About 4.5 million Impalas were sold in the fourth generation (1965-1970). That’s more than twice as many cars as Packard sold in its entire history (1899-1958), which is not intended as a slight to Packard.

What is the best selling US car today? I have to admit that I don’t know, but I guess I can try to find out…I think that for 2017 the best-selling car in the US made by an American car company was the Ford Fusion with sales of about 210,000. (Total US vehicle sales were a little over 17 million in 2017.) However, Ford is probably going to discontinue production of the Fusion sedan in its effort to de-emphasize cars in favor of SUVs and pickup trucks although a Bloomberg story from earlier this year reported that the Fusion name might be used on an upcoming crossover vehicle. Just what America needs, another crossover….Boo!

Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I am unhappy at the demise of the American car. I know that an older and heavier America finds SUVs and pickup trucks to be more comfortable, but I don’t have to like it. For me an SUV is like a necessary evil because we can’t take our cars grocery shopping nor can we drive them in winter weather. Wake up, Car Enthusiasts! One day that phrase will be an anachronism.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

 

 

Saturday Seconds

I guess I’m posting again to distract me from the fact that my wonderful wife will be out of town for a week…

Many thanks to the very entertaining and VERY knowledgeable (remember that for me learning IS entertainment) John Kraman (@CarKraman on Twitter), one of the hosts of Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN, for following Disaffected Musings. My handle is @RulesofLogic1 and I have tried to start the hashtags #somanycarsjustonelife and #disaffectedmusings. I have no idea if I have successfully done so, however.

All first-run episodes of the Mecum auctions are set to record on my DVR and I think have ten episodes residing there at present. As I have written before, I enjoy watching the Mecum auctions more than I enjoy watching the Barrett-Jackson auctions although as a genuine car lunatic I watch them all.

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Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 20% of Italian citizens owned 80% of the land. The 20/80 (80/20, what’s the difference?) rule has come to be known as the Pareto Principle. This rule has been found to apply to many phenomena, both of human design and not.

For example, the rule has many applications for business, such as:

Many project managers will state that 20 percent of the work consumes 80 percent of time and resources. Other examples of the principle include:

80 percent of a company’s revenues are generated by 20 percent of its customers

80 percent of complaints come from 20 percent of customers

80 percent of quality issues impact 20 percent of a company’s products

Flipping the 20 and the 80:

20 percent of investors provide 80 percent of funding

20 percent of employees use 80 percent of all sick days

20 percent of a blog’s posts generate 80 percent of its traffic

 

In the US, 20% of patients consume 80% of health care resources, which is a reason why some advocate taking the sickest people out of the main healthcare insurance pool. According to a widely reported study in New Zealand (the Dunedin Study), 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals. In computer science, Microsoft noted that fixing the top 20% of the most reported bugs, 80% of the related errors and crashes in a given system would be eliminated.

Pareto is also well known for his principles of efficiency/optimality, but that theory is not the topic today. On the 1-in-1,000,000 chance that someone in the auto industry is reading, what applications of the 20/80 rule apply there? Could it be that 20% of vehicles have 80% of the defects?

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What do you think about the Jaguar XJS?

See the source image

From odicis.org or Car-from-UK.com is a picture of a Jaguar XJS convertible. Bringing this back to Mecum, three XJS cars were offered for sale at the most recent auction in Dallas. Only one sold ($6,600 all in, which means it hammered for $6,000), but all three cars were convertibles.

The XJS had the “misfortune” to follow the legendary E-Type as the Jaguar mainstay. The XJS is not a high-performance car to threaten road course records, but I think it has a great look and it’s not a slug. It was a wonderful GT car and very successful for Jaguar as about 115,000 were produced during its 21-year run. I think the XJS is one of the least respected successful cars in history.

 

Sad Saturday

I am sad today. My wonderful wife has left for a week-long business/pleasure trip. I am always unhappy when she leaves, which thankfully is not too often since she was promoted two years ago.

I abhor “macho” behavior, which I distinguish from heroic behavior. Men who trash their wives to other men, who engage in foolhardy activities because “we’re men” are simpletons in my opinion. If you are always complaining about your wife then why did you marry her? I love my wife and very much enjoy her company. That’s what marriage is supposed to be, right?

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BillBabowsky commented on Ferrari or Lamborghini? by asking for my opinion on his father’s two favorite cars, the 1955 Chevrolet and the 1960 Ford Falcon. I replied that I like the ’55 the most of the Tri-Five Chevys (1955-57) and while all Mustang fans should appreciate the Falcon because the first Mustangs were built on a Falcon chassis, to me the ’60 Falcon is just a car.

In Fins, William Knoedelseder’s book about Harley Earl and General Motors, designer Bernie Smith is quoted as saying, “The ’55 Chevy was a real designer’s car; we all loved it.” Chuck Jordan, later the vice president of design for all of General Motors, said, “As designers, we didn’t like the ’57.” I am no designer, but I concur. I think the ’57 Chevys are overdone.

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From curbsideclassic.com a picture of a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. At that time the Bel Air was the top of the line model; the 150 was at “the bottom” and the 210 was in between. That hierarchy changed in 1958 with the introduction of the Impala, a model that became extraordinarily successful.

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On this day in 1916 General Motors was incorporated in the state of Delaware. (Of course, since the 2009 bankruptcy that company no longer exists technically.) This iteration of the company was organized by the man who started GM in the first place, William C. Durant. General Motors was initially founded in 1908, but Durant was ousted in 1910 due to the large debt burden incurred as a result of the numerous acquisitions that formed GM. Durant then founded Chevrolet in 1911 and after a huge proxy fight (Durant, an almost obsessive player in the stock market, had secretly acquired a large block of GM shares since founding Chevrolet) he regained control of GM. He then merged Chevrolet with GM and incorporated on October 13, 1916. Durant was ousted for good in 1920; he had a great mind for big concepts, but could not execute the day-to-day details needed to run a company of any size, let alone one as large as GM. General Motors was the world’s largest automobile manufacturer for roughly three-quarters of a century, from the early 1930s until just before the “Great Recession.”

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Seems like I should stick to GM today…what do you think of this car?

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From momentcar.com a photo of a 1963 Buick Wildcat. I can’t really tell from this perspective, but on many pictures of the same car the badging on the hood reads “Wildcat” and not “Buick.” I think these cars are very sharp. The Wildcat was powered by the famous “Nailhead” Buick V-8; this year the displacement was 401 cubic inches. This engine was rated at 325 HP, but 445 LB-FT of torque. Increased torque was the intent of the “Nailhead” design.

I am still dreaming that General Motors will wake up and let Buick sell an improved version of the Solstice/Sky as a halo car. I can dream, can’t I?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

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