The Big Unit

Today is not his birthday (that was September 10th), but I am compelled (it is OCD, after all) to write about Hall-of-Fame pitcher Randy Johnson. In my 20+ years of working in major league baseball he was, by far, my favorite player to watch either in person or on TV. In the context of baseball Johnson was the very definition of sui generis.

From mlb.com a picture of The Big Unit:

 

See the source image

 

Let’s see…when I began my first full-time job in baseball in 1988 I compiled a list of my picks for the top five prospects in baseball. Johnson was the only pitcher on the list. I had much disagreement about The Big Unit with a friend of mine who was a sports radio host. He thought Johnson would never amount to much because his control was not good. I thought a pitcher with Johnson’s stuff and strikeout rates had a real chance to be great.

The team with whom he first signed, the Montreal Expos, must have thought he had irredeemable flaws because they traded Johnson to the Mariners in 1989 after he had only made ten starts with Montreal. Johnson showed flashes of brilliance in his first three full seasons with Seattle. He led the league in strikeouts in 1992 and pitched a no-hitter in 1990. However, he also led the league in walks in each of those three seasons.

After fellow fireballer Nolan Ryan gave Johnson some tips in 1992 The Big Unit (his most used nickname) turned into an amazing pitcher. In the strike-shortened 1995 season Johnson compiled an 18-2 W-L record and led the league in ERA and in strikeouts. In his career Johnson had over 300 wins, a very lofty mark, nearly 5,000 strikeouts—the most by any left-handed pitcher in history, and won five Cy Young awards including four consecutive (1999-2002). Johnson led his league in strikeouts nine times, in ERA four times and in W-L percentage four times. He pitched one of only 23 perfect games in major league history (when no opposing batter reaches base) and, at age 40, was the oldest to do so.

For much of his career Johnson needed only two pitches: his 98-100 MPH fastball and his wicked 90-ish MPH slider. His slightly-above sidearm release and his great size (he is 6’10”) made him death on left-handed batters.

OK, I have a good Randy Johnson story…when I worked for the Padres we shared a spring training complex with the Mariners. I don’t exactly recall how this came to pass, but the Padres played the Mariners in an exhibition game at the complex, but on a side field and not in the main stadium. Johnson started the game for Seattle. He was pitching to Rob Deer (I think) and threw a pitch that the home-plate umpire called a ball. Johnson angrily grabbed the ball out of the air when the catcher threw it back to him. Johnson’s next pitch was a called strike and he yelled at the umpire, “The last one was a strike, too!” Remember, this was just an exhibition game. He then threw Deer one of his patented sliders that Deer must have missed by a foot for strike three.

The year the Padres won the National League pennant and played in the World Series (1998) they beat Johnson twice in the National League Division Series. (I was Director of Baseball Operations for the Padres from November, 1995 until I resigned effective July, 1999.) After being traded to Houston by Seattle at the trade deadline (July 31st), Johnson had been lights-out compiling a 10-1 record with a ridiculous 1.28 ERA. The most nervous I’ve ever been watching a baseball game was Game 1 of that NLDS in Houston. Johnson started for the Astros and Padres’ ace Kevin Brown started for San Diego. Brown was brilliant finishing with an NLDS record 16 strikeouts and the Padres squeaked out a 2-1 win. Right after the game ended I tried to get up so I could go to the Padres’ clubhouse, but my legs were like jelly and I had to sit and to compose myself for about 10 minutes before I could actually walk.

I LOVED watching Randy Johnson pitch. Somehow, I guess, I sensed there would never be anyone else like him. I don’t watch or follow baseball anymore and haven’t in years, but I just felt like writing this post today.

 

#RandyJohnson

#TheBigUnit

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday, Idiosyncratic Edition

As I have written often, virtually nothing in life is all good or bad. Virtually everything is a trade-off. (By the way, this is going to be a very long post.)

Not being highly scrutinized by outsiders (a euphemism for not having thousands or tens of thousands of daily readers) means I have almost complete freedom to write what I want. In that way I can indulge my highly idiosyncratic nature.

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Many people, especially those of a certain ideological bent, are highly critical of publicly traded companies buying back their stock. They think it is a “waste” of resources, but also that it distorts the stock prices of those companies by artificially inflating their Earnings/Share ratio through decreasing the number of shares in the float, the total available pool of shares.

If that were the case, then one might conclude that the stock price of companies that buy back their stock would perform better than those that don’t engage in buybacks, ceterus paribus. From the insightful Mike Santoli of CNBC comes these facts:

In the last five years the S&P 500 has seen a 49.7% increase.

In the last five years the SPDR Buyback ETF (SPTB) has increased by…35.4%.

OK, maybe something idiosyncratic about SPTB, its sector-weighting perhaps, means it’s not fully representative of “buyback” stocks.

In the last five years the Invesco Buyback Acheivers ETF (PKW) has increased by…38.5%.

If a company’s float is reduced by 10% through buybacks, but the company’s earnings (profits) decrease by 20% what happens to the Earnings Per Share (EPS) ratio? A company’s stock price is, to a large extent, an estimate of the future value of its EPS adjusted somewhat for dividends.

Would I like to see companies spend more on capital investment and less on buybacks? Probably, but it’s not up to me. It’s also not clear that buying the stock of companies who buy back a lot of their stock is a good investment strategy, anyway. The reason for investing is to make money.

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Today’s selection of Frugal Friday cars started with an impossibly large search on Hemmings and then morphed into something idiosyncratic and personal. I began by looking at cars from model year 1956 through model year 2005! The only filtering was that I looked solely at US cars and cars with listed prices and photos. I then sorted by price from lowest to highest. This car caught my eye:

 

 

From this ad a picture of a 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix. This car is in Blue over Gray cloth and has about 82,000 miles. The seller is asking $2,750.

When I moved to California and was unable to buy a Buick Reatta I wandered the showroom of the Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealer until I saw a 1995 Grand Prix. I was really taken by the styling. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the car I owned the longest (at least as of now) and the first car I would own in two states as I took it to Texas when my wonderful wife and I moved there. When I bought the Grand Prix I had not even met my wife.

I also didn’t know at the time that I would soon be promoted to Director of Baseball Operations and be placed in charge of one of my pet projects, a department devoted solely to scouting the minor leagues. I won’t bore you with details, but I believe this has now become standard operating procedure for major league baseball organizations. I also had no inkling that as head of a department I would be able to receive a car allowance on top of my not-small salary.

The car I bought to replace the ’95 Grand Prix was this one:

 

 

This is a 2002 Corvette that I purchased used from Corvettes of Dallas in 2004. I think the business now operates under a different name. The ’02 was my first Vette and I had no idea at the time that I would become totally hooked on them and would, eventually, end up owning (at least) three Corvettes. From this Hemmings ad a picture of a 2004 Corvette coupe for sale:

 

 

Talk about an iconic car, it’s a little red Corvette. 2004 was the last model year of the C5 Corvette. This particular example is in Red (OK, Burgundy) over Black and has about 101,000 miles. The asking price? $10,900…it was not the least expensive car in the search, either.

C5 (and C4) Corvettes are incredibly affordable. Of course, the C5 almost didn’t happen…a long section from Steve Magnante’s 1001 Corvette Facts:

 

“Planning for the C5 began in 1988, a full nine years before the finished car hit dealerships…when planning began the goal was to unveil the new model for 1993, just in time for the Corvette’s 40th anniversary. However, in May 1989 a cut in the GM engineering budget delayed the release until 1994. Then in August 1989, General Motors pushed back the release date to the 1995 model year. In October 1990, the release was further rescheduled for 1996. Hiccups along the way included the fall 1992 retirements of chief engineer Dave McLellan and stylist Chuck Jordan…while General Motors posted a record $4.86 billion profit for 1988, four years later it lost a staggering $24.2 billion. Through it all, certain factions in GM management viewed the ultralow-volume Corvette as an unnecessary frill and lobbied for its termination.”

 

So, not only was the Corvette almost killed after the 1955 model year it was almost terminated in the 1990s. Who knows? After the 2008 recession calls for the end of the Vette may have grown quite loud at GM.

Getting back to Frugal Friday…my search on Hemmings for 2000-2004 Corvettes (US only, only with photos and listed prices) yielded about 50 with an asking price of less than $20,000. When the average “transaction” price for a new US vehicle has reached nearly $40,000 don’t you think spending half of that on a Corvette is a great option if you don’t have kids?

As much as I have written today I want to continue, but I will stop here. Please feel free to post thoughtful comments. Thanks for reading.

 

#FrugalFriday

#IdiosyncraticTradeOff

#DontCommentWithoutCommandOfFacts

#1993PontiacGrandPrix

#2002ChevroletCorvette

#C5Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Throwback Thursday

Today’s date is, of course, 9/19/19, which is a palindrome. This is the last of ten consecutive days in which the date is the same forwards or backwards.

As far as I know the longest one-word palindrome in the world is saippuakauppias, which is the Finnish word for soap-seller. Don’t ask me how I know because I don’t know.

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I wonder if Apple is in cahoots with my wireless “provider.” Even though we have full Wi-Fi coverage throughout the house for some reason my phone is often in LTE mode without my realizing it. If we exceed our data usage for a month we have to pay an overage fee.

Anyway, that happened (once again) while I tried to send this picture:

 

 

This is a 1942 Buick Roadmaster. All 1942 model year cars are rare. Unless you flunked history many times you should know why, but remembering what can happen if one assumes I will remind everyone that the US entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. Civilian car production was halted early in 1942 and didn’t resume until the war ended in 1945.

Buick produced about 8,400 Roadmasters for the 1942 model year, of which approximately 5,400 were 4-door sedans. While the legendary Hydra-Matic automatic transmission was already available on Oldsmobile and Cadillac vehicles, automatics were not available for Buick until the introduction of the Dynaflow transmission in model year 1948. In this era, while General Motors had many makes under its umbrella the individual “companies” retained much autonomy until the late 1950s. Many point to the homogenization of GM makes as a key reason why the company lost market share. Many consumers with loyalties to specific GM makes were not fooled by the increasing amount of badge-engineering that occurred later.

As I have written many times before [so one more time won’t hurt, :)] I have an affinity for Buicks as the first car I remember in my family and the first car I ever drove was a 1956 Century. As I have also written before I have developed an appreciation for pre-war cars that I did not have just a few years ago.

What older cars do you like? We would all like to read about them so please feel free to comment.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#Palindromes

#1942BuickRoadmaster

#BooOnBadgeEngineering

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Life Intrudes

My thoughts are with one of my best friends, Bob. His mother is gravely ill.

Bob and I have been friends for 30 years. In that time we have experienced enough ups and downs to fill five lifetimes.

He is a real mensch. During a visit to us while we lived in Texas we were on our way back from a meal when we passed a pickup truck that was parked on a side street with the tailgate down and a large cardboard box in the street behind the truck. I thought nothing of it and continued driving. Bob insisted that we stop and offer help. We stopped and helped.

In my very broken Yiddish and Hebrew: Zei Gezundt, Mein Hahver!

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It’s difficult to segue to cars, but I’ll just do it.

This post from Corvette Blogger is titled, “The Amazing Corvette Collection You Could Have Instead Of One Bugatti.” Bugattis are repugnant to me from the start because they are really nothing but Volkswagens in a fancy dress. I also think they are hideous in appearance. I have written that if beauty is only skin-deep and ugly is to the bone then Bugattis are skeletons. Without further ado, here is the list:

 

The Amazing Corvette Collection You Could Have Instead of One Bugatti

 

Here is more from the post:

 

“In the end, we ended up with 20 Corvettes spanning all eight generations, a total of 9,933 Horsepower, and we still had $314,100 leftover to continue adding to the collection as more mid-engine variants keep showing up. This kind of perspective makes the Bugatti look pretty trivial (looks already haven’t been a particularly strong point of modern Bugattis).”

 

Amen! Here are some random Corvette pictures:

 

 

Carpe Diem!

 

#TheSadnessOfLife

#LongLiveTheCorvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Not Yours To Take

Wealthy people who “complain” that they are not taxed enough are just engaging in virtue signaling. If they really think they don’t pay enough in taxes then they can voluntarily give more money to government. They should keep their hands out of other people’s pockets because other people’s money doesn’t belong to them. “Fair” is subjective, but property rights are not supposed to be.

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This article from Hagerty is titled, “The 25 cars buyers are forgetting about.” Below is the picture at the top of the article:

 

1988 Buick Reatta

 

Here is a picture of the same make/model I took this past Sunday:

 

 

In case you don’t know, or even if you do, those are two pictures of the Buick Reatta. The Reatta was a failure; it cannot be described in any other way. Buick’s minimum yearly sales goal for the car was 10,000 units, but in four model years (1988-91) only about 22,000 were built in total. From Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, “Reatta was a sad loss for those who appreciate interesting cars…”

It is not a performance car in any way, shape or form, but I think it is a stunning looking car. When I moved to California in the mid-1990s I needed to buy a car and went to a Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealer specifically to buy a Reatta. The salesman informed me the car was no longer in production (I wasn’t following cars much at that point having been turned off by the nadir of US autos in the late 70s) and he didn’t offer to find me a used one. Frankly, he wasn’t the friendliest salesman I ever met.

In the Hagerty article mentioned above the Reatta is shown as having the lowest Hagerty Vehicle Rating (HVR). I’ll let Hagerty explain the HVR:

 

“The Hagerty Vehicle Rating takes into consideration auction and private sales results, insurance quoting activity, and the number of new policies purchased to sort through hundreds of car models and compare them to the collector car market as a whole. Our valuation team then assigns each car a score from 1 to 100, with a score of 50 denoting a car that’s perfectly following the overall market trend. Popular cars that are gaining interest and value will score higher, while those with flagging interest or sale prices score lower. A vehicle’s position on the list isn’t a sign of future collectability—it’s more of a pulse marker on the current market.”

 

Some subjectivity seems to be a part of Hagerty’s rating, which is okay, but I always wonder about personal bias in such an endeavor. Anyway, here are the bottom 15 cars in the latest HVR (I know the article is about the bottom 25, but that seemed excessive to me):

 

Vehicle HVR
1988-1991 Buick Reatta 9
1967-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 10
1963-1971 Mercedes-Benz 230SL 15
1968-1971 Lincoln Continental Mk III 15
1975-1980 MG MGB 15
1976-1989 Porsche 911 Carrera (Turbo 930) 15
1958-1959 Ford Fairlane 17
1968-1982 Chevrolet Corvette 17
1997-2005 Acura NSX 17
1965-1970 Cadillac DeVille 18
1946-1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster 19
1946-1951 Mercury 19
1958-1961 Austin-Healey Sprite 19
1977-1988 Porsche 924 19
1987-1993 Cadillac Allante 20

 

Remember Hagerty’s disclaimer that the HVR is not, necessarily, a sign of future collectability, but an indication of where a car currently stands in the market in terms of collector demand. Some of the cars on this list are a surprise to me, but I am not a devoted student of the overall collector car market. I am also quite sure that cars with very few transactions don’t appear in the Hagerty evaluation at all. Remember, too, that this is just Hagerty’s assessment. No one metric or system can fully describe this market.

Do any of you see cars on this list in which you have interest? I would very much like to read your thoughts.

 

#KeepYourHandsOutOfOtherPeoplesPockets

#BuickReatta

#HagertyVehicleRating

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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9 and 14

 

 

 

 

Pictures From Another Sunny Sunday

Once again my wonderful wife and I had a great time at the annual car show staged by a local museum. It was, perhaps, a tad warm, but our new hats that reflect sunlight away and have a liner that can be soaked with water were of much use. The experience was made better by the fact that we were, once again, welcomed by some of those with whom we drove on the recent Corvette Caravan to Bowling Green, Kentucky. As always, we also enjoyed seeing our friend, C/2, who reads Disaffected Musings and often comments.

Yesterday I wrote that maybe a car like this would be among those I would see:

 

See the source image

 

From Mecum a picture of a 1941 Cadillac Series 62 convertible. Well, wouldn’t you know:

 

 

Yes, a 1941 Cadillac Series 62 convertible. The car was quite majestic in person. Two-dimensional representations of the three-dimensional world can lose something in translation. I do realize that the front grills are not the same on the two cars that are supposed to be the same. (The wheel covers are not the same, either. Read the comment by Scott Hoke. Thanks, Scott!)

Speaking of our new friends, this 1965 Pontiac GTO was brought by one of them, Bill:

 

 

That’s not Bill in the picture. The car is in very good condition, but I think Bill would part with it for the right price. I don’t know what that price is.

 

 

I really like these mid-60s Buick convertibles; this is a 1966 Skylark. The 1984 Lincoln LSC facing the other direction belongs to C/2. This was the first time he has shown this car as he usually brings his 1966 Thunderbird. In five years he will be able to bring his ’99 Vette.

Yes, Packards abounded. The “special” display vehicles this year were of the theme “Living Luxury” or something close to that name. Here is a beautiful 1932 Packard. Sorry, I didn’t record any more detail than that.

 

 

The yellow car on the right is the ’32. The car next to it is also a Packard. Despite the fact that Packards have not been produced for 60+ years, they are still well represented at many car shows we attend. A tangent: it is Packards and not Packard’s when writing about a multiple. People can no longer write correctly. Packard’s is either a contraction of “Packard is” or the possessive of Packard. Packards means more than one Packard.

Of course, a post like this would not be complete without a picture of one of these:

 

 

This is a 1955 Packard Caribbean. I believe I showed a picture of the same car last year in the blog the day after the show. While I prefer the ’56 I love the ’55 as well.

I did not take as many pictures as I usually do at this event. That is true despite the fact that the probability we attend the event next year, or ever again, does not remotely approach 100 percent. The desert beckons…

 

#GreatCarShow

#1941CadillacSeries62Convertible

#1965PontiacGTOConvertible

#1966BuickSkylarkConvertible

#1932Packard

#1955PackardCaribbean

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Sunday Show Day

Later today, but not much later, my wonderful wife and I plan to attend a great car show held annually by a local museum. This will be the 10th time in the last 11 years we will have attended.

Any car that is at least 25 years old is eligible to be shown and one year more than 600 cars were exhibited. The usual number is about 550. Maybe a car like this will be one of them:

 

See the source image

 

From Mecum a picture of a 1941 Cadillac Series 62 convertible sedan. While some cars seem to be entered in this show every year, some cars are new to us, of course. The cars do not have to be American, either. How about this one from across the pond?

 

See the source image

 

From Bring A Trailer a picture of a 1989 Jaguar XJ-S V12 convertible. Yes, I know I showed and wrote about the XJS on Friday. For some reason or not (what does the “C” in OCD stand for?) these cars are currently occupying a lot of what’s left of my brain.

 

 

Here is a picture from last year’s show. This is a 1964 Corvette convertible shown as I like them best, with the auxiliary hardtop in place and side exhaust.

Of course I will post photos from this year’s show. See you later.

 

#GreatCarShow

#1941CadillacSeries62

#1989JaguarXJS

#1964CorvetteConvertible

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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The Official End Of The C7?

I received this link in my email this week. It is the URL to a “post” from the Corvette Museum about final 2019 model year Corvette production numbers. If 2019 numbers are final doesn’t that mean their production has ended?

Maybe I’ve missed the story, but one would think some automotive publication or two (or three) would have noted the actual end of the C7. After all, as far as we know that is the end of the front-engine Corvette.

OK, for model year 2019 34,822 Corvettes were produced. About 39% were Stingrays, 32% were Grand Sports, 20% were Z06s and 9% were ZR1s. The Stingray percentage is lower than I would have guessed; the Grand Sport and ZR1 proportions are higher.

Total C7 production (2014-2019 model years) was 179,526. Here are all other Corvette generation production numbers:

 

C1 (1953-1962):   69,015

C2 (1963-1967):  117,966

C3 (1968-1982):  542,861

C4 (1984-1996):  359,028

C5 (1997-2004):  248,715

C6 (2005-2013):  215,123

 

C6 production/sales were hurt by the recession. Production was 147,264 for 2005-2008, but just 67,859 for 2009-2013. Total production for the first seven generations of Corvettes was 1,732,234 cars. Remember that for the first three years, 1953-55, Corvette production totaled just 4,640.

More from 2019:

More than three-quarters of Corvettes (77.6%, to be exact) were sold with automatic transmissions. More Corvettes have been sold with automatic transmissions than with manuals every model year since 1972. Coupes outsold convertibles more than 5-to-1 (84% coupes).

Arctic White (19.5%) was the most popular exterior color followed by Black (17.7%) and Torch Red (13.9%). My two favorite colors, Sebring Orange and Long Beach Red, accounted for 15.4%. Although I would never buy a white car, I was pleased to see that the two reds and orange accounted for almost 30% of 2019 Corvette production. About 86% of convertible tops were black; the least popular color was blue at 2%.

Only 2.1% of 2019 Corvettes, fewer than 750, were delivered to Europe. If the LT2 engine can be certified by the EU, then that percentage should increase. I’m sure Chevrolet is hoping so, anyway. Of course, if the UK leaves the EU then maybe certification won’t matter. Total minutia: one Z06 convertible was delivered to Japan!

Farewell, C7. It is a GREAT car!

 

 

#ByeByeC7Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday

To those who have political reasons to “wish” for a recession, they don’t occur with jobless claims at their current level. For the most recent reporting week, initial jobless claims fell to 204,000, which was the lowest level since April. The four-week “moving” average fell to 212,500.

I have lost track of how many consecutive weeks claims have been below 300,000; that number is in the hundreds. In general, the 400,000 level is often described as the dividing line between good and bad labor markets.

Of course, situations can change quickly and, indeed, a sharp spike in the weekly initial jobless claims figure could be a sign of a downturn. However, that is not happening now.

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On this day in 1991, which was also a Friday the 13th, I was driving in the downtown area of a large city when the belt that drives all of the engine accessories (power steering, fan, alternator) snapped. I couldn’t drive the vehicle especially since it was a hot day and I couldn’t risk having the engine overheat.

This was before car phones, cell phones, and membership in AAA. I don’t really remember how, but I managed to call a garage near my office who sent a tow truck. During the trip to the garage a bottle of grape juice exploded on the passenger seat. I owned that vehicle for almost four more years, but the juice stain was never fully removed. So, I am a little wary of Friday the 13th. Oh, that’s not the only bad thing that has happened to me on a Friday the 13th, either.

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My wonderful wife suggested a car for this edition of Frugal Friday.

Say you want an exotic V-12 convertible, say you don’t have more than $10,000 to spend. Tell you what I’m going to do…

 

 

From this Hemmings ad is a picture of a 1992 Jaguar XJS. The seller is asking $6,900. According to Hagerty, the average value of such a car is $14,500.

Part of the ad does read, “The engine needs tuning and the car needs minor work. We do not have time to finish this car to our standards. This is a good project for the Jaguar enthusiast.”

I believe and have probably written before that the XJS (XJ-S) is one of the least respected successful cars in history. Sometimes I think it would have had to have been a flying car to escape the shadow of its predecessor, the legendary E-Type. However, the XJS was manufactured for more than 20 years with about 115,000 produced.

For 1992 a larger 6-liter/365 cubic-inch V-12 engine was introduced, but in Europe only. The bigger motor produced 326 HP/357 LB-FT of torque. The North American V-12 remained the 5.3 liter/326 cubic-inch that generated 263 HP/288 LB-FT. The car was also available with a 4-liter six-cylinder engine.

I can’t seem to find the price of this year of Jaguar XJS when new, but I can tell you that a 1990 XJ-S convertible had a POE price of $57,000. Even if you buy this car for the asking price and spend another $10,000 to “restore” the car, you will have a beautiful, V-12 convertible for about $17,000.

 

#LowJoblessClaimsUsuallyMeansNoRecession

#BeAfraidOfFridayThe13th

#JaguarXJS

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Throwback Thursday

First…as I have often written it can be hell to live inside my head. A couple of nights ago I had yet another disturbing dream. A doctor was telling me I had a pancreatic tumor, but that he was 99.9% sure it was benign. However, he kept asking me to spell “benign” and, somehow, I inferred that if I couldn’t then maybe the tumor wasn’t benign. In the dream I couldn’t spell the word.

My mother died of pancreatic cancer.

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Maybe the collector car market is softening because wealthy people are buying…thoroughbred horses. A filly sired by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah sold for $8.2 million at the September yearling sale at Keeneland in Kentucky. That’s the highest price ever for a filly at the September Keeneland sale.

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For 1963 Motor Trend’s Car of the Year was certainly the Corvette, right? I mean that was the first year of the second generation with its beautiful, timeless styling. That was the first year a coupe was offered, the legendary one-year only split window. The 1963 Corvette was also the first American production car with independent rear suspension. Well, that was not Car of the Year.

OK, then Car of the Year was the Buick Riviera. The Riviera, with its great blend of American and British styling, took the personal luxury car to a new level. Try again…

All right…going off the range then Car of the Year must have been the Studebaker Avanti. The Avanti had unmistakable styling and was a good performer, too. 0-for-3…

Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 1963 was actually the entire line of Rambler cars by American Motors Corporation. The Rambler was cited for “engineering excellence and outstanding design achievement.” This was the first Motor Trend Car of the Year award for a non-Big Three company.

Rambler was on a roll during this period in its history. In model year 1961 it was the third-best selling make in the US behind only, of course, Ford and Chevrolet. AMC Chairman and President George Romney had steered the company through the teething pains of its beginning as a merger between Nash and Hudson and had positioned AMC as sort of the “anti-Detroit” selling sensible, efficient cars while the Big Three were selling horsepower, chrome and fins. In 1963 Rambler finished just a few thousand units out of fourth place in the US car sales race.

 

See the source image

 

From AMC via flickr a picture, obviously, of a 1963 Rambler Classic Six 550 2-door sedan. AMC offered quite a few body styles and engines for 1963. The Classic series alone offered ten styles, six sedans and four station wagons. The inline-six came in four different power configurations and AMC offered two different displacement V-8 engines. The smaller 287 cubic-inch variant was available as an option on the Classic line.

 

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From en.wheelsage.org a picture of a 1963 AMC/Rambler Ambassador 990 2-door sedan. The Ambassador was only available with the company’s larger V-8 engine of 327 cubic-inch displacement. The lower output version of this motor produced 250 HP/340 LB-FT of torque.

I can understand Rambler receiving the prestigious award although I prefer the three cars I mentioned at the beginning. These Ramblers are cleanly styled and had engineering developments such as one-piece “Uniside” door structures, a US first, that saved weight, increased rigidity and reduced squeaks and rattles. Everyone together now…fewer companies manufacturing cars means fewer potential sources of innovation in styling and in engineering.

 

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