Probably A Pipedream

So, here is the car I really want to buy. It’s not perfect, but given it will be offered on Super Saturday it will almost certainly be bid past my budget.

In person the exterior/interior color combo works. I hope there are more fish in the sea. Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest to me are these: It might have been.

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An Anniversary And A Hiatus

Today (January 10th) is the 61st consecutive day I have posted to this blog (also the 100th of the last 101 days). Of course those numbers are under my control, but I think that shows dedication to this blog. Speaking of which…

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the first post on Disaffected Musings. That post is embarrassing in its brevity, but I was in the process of moving my blog from being hosted by the Evil Empire to being hosted by WordPress.

It is highly unlikely I will be blogging from Arizona; hence, that is why “A Hiatus” appears in the post title. When I return I do not know if I will resume posting on a daily basis or, even, at all.

I am very grateful to those of you who read and comment on a regular basis. However, for the amount of time and effort I expend the number of views/visitors is just very disappointing. The trend in those numbers is not good, either. I know that in the age of “digital entertainment” and “social media” America has a very short attention span.

I also worry that this blog is becoming repetitive and derivative of itself. I can only write what I know and as I age my interests narrow.

Anyway, while on hiatus I’ll leave you the links to the five most read posts in addition to couple of extra links. By the way, the Aston Martin DB5 defeated the Jaguar E-Type three votes to two.

 

Sunday Studebaker

Tuesday Collection

Saturday Studebaker

Wednesday Wanderings

JD Power

 

About

A Long Time Ago

 

Be well.

 

 

Bittersweet

On this day 20 years ago I moved in with the wonderful woman who is now my wife.

On this day 15 years ago my marvelous mom died.

I think this day is an accurate representation of my life. What can I say?

From the outside it appears to me that many people have a different experience, that their lives are seemingly nothing but uninterrupted triumph and happiness. Of course I could be mistaken, but when I tell people about my experiences many of those people seem to be incredulous. I’m sorry, but someone who wrote a book that the Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written should be able to find a fulfilling and interesting work situation fairly easily. Someone who is a pioneer of the application of analytics to professional sports should not have been tossed aside like an empty pizza box.

Yes, I am aware that Theodore Roosevelt’s mother and first wife died on the same day. Yes, I know both of Doug Flutie’s parents died on the same day and not from a single cause. I would probably be able to better accept life’s tragedies if I weren’t in what seems like almost a decade-long losing streak. I think one reason why I want a custom restomod C2 Corvette is I think it might change my luck although I really believe that luck is random.

 

#wayoverdue?

 

Tuesday Is

Q: What do you call the passengers in a Yugo?

A: Shock absorbers.

 

Tuesday is election day in the US because way back in the 19th century people would often have to travel a full day in order to reach a polling place. Since almost everyone attended church services on Sunday in those days, the first day of the week they could leave was Monday and, therefore, elections had to be held on Tuesday.

A move is afoot to move election day to the weekend. It sounds like a good idea to me, which means it will take forever to be implemented. Hey, I don’t vote, anyway. I do not accept the notion that I HAVE to vote, especially when I feel I have no choices. I do not believe in voting for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils should not be elected to public office. As Henry Kissinger once said, “Ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name.” In any event, the hard mathematical odds that my vote will make a difference in a federal election are literally almost zero. “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley  Local elections? Sorry to say I have no interest in local politics. Perhaps that’s because, at one point, I moved 14 times in one 25-year period, then again maybe not.

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As I wrote in an email yesterday, part of me is worried I won’t be able to buy the car I want at the Barrett-Jackson auction next week and part of me is worried that I WILL be able to buy the car. How does that saying go? “Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.”

While I am not poor I am also not working. Is it prudent to spend a lot of money on something that I don’t really need? Is the finite nature of life an excuse to act in a less than responsible manner? Or…should I enjoy my life as much as is “reasonably” possible?

Like EVERYTHING else in life it is not always a good thing to be able to see all sides of an issue because that can prevent someone from making a decision. (Paralysis through analysis…) Also, one can “invent” sides or perspectives that may not actually exist.

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https://images.thecarconnection.com/lrg/2003_ford_thunderbird_007_edition_100006046_l.jpg

From thecarconnection.com a picture of an example of the final generation Ford Thunderbird. On this day in 2001 this iteration of Thunderbird was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show.

One can obviously see the homage to the first generation T-Bird. While I don’t think it’s a homely car, something about the lines are a bit off to me. I can’t even put my finger on it; the car just doesn’t look right. (Sorry, Mrs. @CarKraman. John Kraman’s wife, apparently, really likes these cars.) Maybe it’s just not angular enough for me.

Whether it was the looks or for some other reason(s), the 2002-05 Thunderbird never resonated with car buyers. Some have blamed the underwhelming drivetrain, others have blamed Ford for not properly marketing the car. For 2002 the 3.9 liter/241 cubic-inch V8 produced 252 HP/267 LB-FT of torque. That’s a good specific output, but it was a 3,800-pound car. For 2003-05 output was increased to 280 HP/286 LB-FT. (Total minutia: for 2002 the displacement is shown as 241 cubic inches, but for 2003-05 it is shown as 240 cubic inches. A 3.39″ bore and 3.35″ stroke for an 8-cylinder engine is 241 cubic inches.)

According to my go-to source, Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, production of the 11th and, to date, last generation of the Thunderbird began at almost 26,000 cars in 2002, but declined significantly every year thereafter. By 2004 production had declined to fewer than 11,000 units. Some have speculated that the 2005 model was built only because that represented the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the original T-Bird. Statements that the Thunderbird could “go into limbo again” were attributed to Ford executives in 2004.

Any thoughts from any of you about this car? Given that Ford has really turned into a non-car company it seems highly unlikely the Thunderbird name will ever be used again on a car. Would it be blasphemy to use the name on an SUV or pickup truck? It would to me and I am not even a FoMoCo fan.

 

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First Monday Musings

Yes, I know this isn’t the first post with the title of Monday Musings. This IS the first Monday of 2019. Still doesn’t sound right to me…

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As the calendar turns over a whole new bunch of cars can now be legally imported into the US. Any car 25 years old or older is somewhat exempt from DOT and EPA regulations. By the way, the month a car was built also matters. A car built in March of 1994 won’t technically be legal to import until March of 2019. Again, what car-haters don’t understand is that the vast majority of people don’t use their “collector” cars as everyday drivers.

From this piece on Autoblog.com comes a list of cars that can now be imported into the US. This car, whose existence was unknown to me until now, seems interesting:

From the autoblog.com article a picture of a Mitsubishi FTO. The car had a FWD layout and was available with three engines, the most powerful of which produced about 200 HP. Don’t dismiss Mitsubishi out of hand. The car below was nothing to sneeze at:

 

https://i2.wp.com/smclassiccars.com/uploads/postfotos/1993-red-mitsubishi-3000gt-vr4-in-very-good-condition-1.JPG

From smclassiccars.com a picture of a Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR4. In Japan these were called the GTO; in the US the Dodge Stealth was basically the same car.

This car had 4-wheel steering and all-wheel drive (I think the Dodge variant had neither); in VR4 spec the car was powered by a 3-liter/181 cubic-inch twin-turbo V6 that produced 320 HP/315 LB-FT of torque and could move the car from 0-60 MPH in less than five seconds. This 2016 article from Road and Track was titled “The 1994 Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR4 Was Too Far Ahead Of Its Time” and subtitled “A car with electronics this advanced wouldn’t be out of place in 2016.”

I think in the US Japanese performance cars have more of a cult following. Those in this country with an interest in performance cars either want American “muscle” or, with a bigger wallet, something from Europe. I am an agnostic when it comes to cars (OK, I am an agnostic about a lot of things); as long as the car is interesting I am not too concerned with its origin unless, of course, it’s a Volkswagen. No Shitlermobiles for this son of Holocaust survivors.

Do any of you have a “fetish” for a particular make or country of origin? By the way, right now the vote is 3-2 in favor of the Aston Martin DB5 over the Jaguar E-Type. I’ll keep the voting open until we leave for Arizona later this week.

 

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Under The Weather Weather

Of course mere days before the trip to the Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona I have come down with something. Despite being born and raised in this part of the country, in the last 2-3 years I have completely lost the ability to tolerate the winters here, which are not even particularly harsh. What to do? Hmm…

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On this day 15 years ago I had the last conversation, albeit a very brief one, with my marvelous mom that I would ever have. She was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. Although the diagnosis had come a few weeks earlier this was the only time during her illness that she sounded ill. I will note her passing on the appropriate day. I still think about her every day.

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So far, the vote is 3-1 in favor of the Aston Martin DB5 over the Jaguar E-Type based on looks alone. I asked you what you thought; for me, while the DB5 is a handsome design and I think some of the more recent Astons are stunning, on looks I prefer the E-Type. Supposedly upon seeing the E-Type for the first time Enzo Ferrari remarked that it was the most beautiful car he had ever seen. I think, though, that I prefer the F-Type to the E-Type. I’m sure those reading in the UK are apoplectic. Oh well…

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I guess one could say this picture is a microcosm of my life. I am way into middle age, but I have resumed purchasing model cars. As I have written before I “read” automotive reference books for fun. Many “experts” do advise that a person fill their library before they fill their garage.

On the left is a model of a C5 Corvette, similar to the one I owned but mine was Electron Blue Metallic. On the right is a model of a BMW Z8. I think I paid $30 total for both models. During a televised auction in 2017 or 2018, I think it was Mecum, one of the commentators said that the Z8 and 2005-06 Ford GT are the only two cars manufactured in the 21st century that have appreciated in value. I don’t know if that’s still true because I think the Ferrari LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 have also appreciated.

My mother always used to claim that I was able read by age two. Of course, I have no way of knowing if that’s true, but I still love to read. However, the universe of topics in my reading material has become incredibly small. I’m not bragging and I’m not ashamed; it is what it is.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Saturday Word

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Ennui (N): a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. Describes me very well…

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I have been using Amazon for about 20 years. Twice in the last month orders have not been executed well or at all. Early in December I purchased an item intended to be a gift for my best friend, Dr. Zal. I thought I had ordered it early enough so that it would arrive before his visit to my house. It has never arrived. I did receive a prompt refund when I notified Amazon and the third-party seller, but I would have rather had the item. That’s why I purchased it in the first place; to me, the item was “worth” more than the money I spent on it. (A complete tangent: in general, I am not a big fan of opinion polls. The difference between a person’s stated preferences and their preferences as revealed by their actions can be quite stark.)

Yesterday an item arrived that I had ordered from Amazon and not a third-party seller. It was a lockbox in which to store important papers, etc. However, it arrived with no keys! (By the way, we have a safe and access to a safe deposit box. I am just OCD; what can I say?)

Before the last month only one order from Amazon had failed to be delivered or was delivered incomplete. Is the last month the start of a new trend? Is Amazon creaking under the weight of the tremendous increase in online shopping?

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Given the current landscape for automobile auctions in the US, it is difficult to believe that when Dana Mecum started his auction company 30-odd years ago he differentiated it by focusing on muscle cars. He said that he didn’t want to sell “just Packards and Model A’s.”

A search of the docket for the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction reveals just one Packard, no Nash or Fraser cars, a few Model A’s but some of them are “custom” cars. I guess the generation that collected those cars either doesn’t collect anymore and/or is no longer around to collect them.

The current Mecum auction at Kissimmee does have 13 Packards for sale, but about 3,000 vehicles will be offered. Thirteen is only about one-half of one percent of the docket. 175 Ford Mustangs are on the docket, not including another 15 Shelby Mustangs. Combined those cars represent more than six percent of the docket. Yes, about 10 million Mustangs have been sold since 1964 while Packard has been out of business for 60 years and sold only two million cars total. Yes, I have an unhealthy obsession with defunct American makes.

Are rare cars only sold at auctions like Bonhams? If anyone reading is familiar with automobile auctions in the US feel free to let me know.

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Although their reliability hasn’t always been optimal, in my opinion Aston Martin and Jaguar have made some of the most beautiful cars in history. I hope to execute a Disaffected Musings first: a poll. First, a couple of photos:

https://i2.wp.com/bestcarmag.com/sites/default/files/1964-aston-martin-db5-1314631-4994260.jpg

 

https://i0.wp.com/svs-ltd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/1964-Jaguar-E-Type-3.8-FHC-Multi-Concours-085.jpg

The top picture of a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is from bestcarmag.com; the bottom photo of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type is from svs-ltd.com.

Until I hit publish I have no idea if the poll is embedded in the post.

OK, the poll didn’t seem to work. (No wonder I haven’t used one before.) I want to know which car do you prefer, ONLY considering its looks. Thanks.

 

 

 

Friday Freakout

From this post by 56packardman:

No nonsense coffee

 

I do think much of America has become quite pretentious.

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Is the (alleged) impending release of the C8 Corvette hurting C7 sales? From this piece by corvetteblogger.com:

 

Archived Monthly Corvette Delivery Statistics
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total
2018 1,005 1,351 2,101 — 5,758 — — 4,639 — — 3,910 — 18,791
2017 1,263 2,081 2,460 2,756 2,535 2,612 1,930 1,748 1,506 1,345 2,565 2,278 25,079
2016 1,501 2,116 2,753 3,142 2,673 2,483 2,159 3,063 2,829 2,626 1,941 2,709 29,995
2015 2,127 2,605 3,785 3,469 3,514 2,807 2,794 2,725 2,572 2,526 1,952 2,453 33,329
2014 2,261 2,438 3,480 3,514 3,328 2,723 3,060 2,679 2,467 2,959 2,378 3,552 34,839
2013 908 980 1,053 974 905 853 671 655 831 3,929 2,527 3,005 17,291
2012 629 927 1,376 1,396 1,219 1,475 987 1,210 1,351 1,167 1,104 1,291  14,132
2011 721 955 1,163 1,454 1,304 1,299 1,291 936 1,147 946 910 1,038 13,164
2010 854 624 955 1,089 1,428 1,405 1,199 1,135 1,109 1,011 836 979 12,624
2009 842 1,027 1,183 1,407 1,643 1,396 966 746 1,585 1,154 952 1,033 13,934
2008 2,015 2,071 2,692 3,190 2,904 2,082 1,870 4,242 2,318 1,170 1,093 1,324 26,971
2007 2,234 2,784 3,158 3,227 3,300 2,377 2,377 2,877 2,837 2,484 2,438 2,914 33,685
2006 2,579 3,058 3,655 3,516 3,317 2,938 2,794 2,990 3,056 2,761 2,773 3,081 36,518

 

The reason 2018 doesn’t have all of the months reported is that GM has moved to a quarterly reporting of sales instead of monthly. Ford has done the same thing. By the way, 2018 was the fourth consecutive year with total US vehicle sales of 17+ million units; of course, more than 70% of those “units” were not cars. BOO!

Every year of the C7 generation (2014-present) has seen declining sales although the decline seems to be accelerating faster than the actual car. From just the second quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter sales declined by almost a third. 2014 and 2015 had months where sales were almost as high as the fourth quarter of 2018.

I’m sure General Motors/Chevrolet are not happy with these numbers. Remember that the Corvette has come close to extinction on more than one occasion. I think these numbers create extra pressure to get the C8 out as soon as possible, but that risks quality issues. Not even America’s legendary Corvette is immune from the effects of the sea change in the vehicle market in the US. For the nth time I offer the opinion that America’s obesity is the number one reason for the change.

 

See the source image

From newcars.com a picture of a 2018 Corvette.

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I titled this post Friday Freakout before I almost lost the post. In importing the chart of Corvette sales I forgot to hit a couple of hard returns first in order to leave space for the chart. Once I pasted the chart I could not get the cursor to move anywhere below it so I could not continue with the post. AI, my ass! I had to copy what I had written before the chart to the clipboard and start over. Feh!

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The Bricklin mentioned in yesterday’s post sold for $8,800 all in at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida. That means it hammered at $8,000. The buyers premium may seem insignificant at these levels, but when the hammer price reaches tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is NOT insignificant. In allocating resources to bid on the car I want at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale I had to “raise” substantial additional capital in order to account for the premium. Let me quickly add that given this car is being sold on “Super Saturday” it is unlikely I will be successful in buying the car.

It is probably more than 90% likely I will buy my restomod instead of building it. Expert advice from people like Steve Dallas has nudged me in that direction based primarily on the fact that I will save time and money by buying instead of building. Since I certainly don’t possess an infinite amount of either I must bow to the realities of the situation. I have dreams, but I live in the real world.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

#havedreamsbutliveintherealworld

 

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Addendum: Given that I am a numbers nerd I could not help putting these Corvette sales figures into a spreadsheet. This is a disturbing table if you are a Corvette fan or are GM/Chevrolet:

Year Q1 Y/Y Q2 Y/Y Q3 Y/Y Q4 Y/Y Total Y/Y
2018 -23.2% -27.1% -10.5% -36.8% -25.1%
2017 -8.9% -4.8% -35.6% -15.0% -16.4%
2016 -25.2% -15.2% -0.5% 5.0% -10.0%
2015 4.1% 2.4% -1.4% -22.0% -4.3%
2014 178.1% 250.1% 280.4% -6.0% 101.5%
2013 0.3% -33.2% -39.2% 165.6% 22.4%
2012 3.3% 0.8% 5.2% 23.1% 7.4%
2011 16.7% 3.4% -2.0% 2.4% 4.3%
2010 -20.3% -11.8% 4.4% -10.0% -9.4%
2009 -55.0% -45.6% -60.9% -12.5% -48.3%
2008 -17.1% -8.2% 4.2% -54.2% -19.9%
2007 -12.0% -8.9% -8.5% -9.0% -7.8%

 

Basically, except for the one-year/four-quarter spurt associated with the release of the C7 for model year 2014, Corvette sales have been stagnant or worse for more than a decade. Can the C8 even save the Corvette?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday, Mecum Edition

When the 2009 baseball season started I had four teams as clients. Less than two weeks after the 2010 season ended I had one. My business was essentially dead so I had to find a job. This excerpt from Steve Magnante’s 1001 Corvette Facts could have been written by me: “My life as a Chevrolet salesman was brief. After six months, I learned there was a big difference between liking cars and selling them.” By the way, Corvette fans should buy the book.

My first job after baseball was training to be a salesman at a local Nissan dealer. I didn’t last six months, though; I lasted four days before I quit. I received a job offer from a (very) large financial services company, the same company where my wonderful wife was working so I accepted. I lasted nine months at that job before I resigned. I am NOT cut out to sit at a desk in front of a computer screen 40-45 hours a week doing someone else’s bidding. The longest I’ve ever stayed in a non-baseball office job is one year.

Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but I would love to work for an automobile auction company, like Mecum. Don’t these companies have a need for someone who can analyze data?

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See the source image

From playtoysclassiccars.com a picture of a 1975 Bricklin SV-1 like the one that will be offered for sale today at the giant Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida. Once again, Mecum does not allow online pictures of its lots to be captured. I used to have a couple of photos of a Bricklin, but they were lost when I couldn’t access the backup of my old iPhone after I bought my new one.

Malcolm Bricklin, who started the General Vehicle company that manufactured the SV-1, seems like quite a character. A Rolling Stone article from 2013 described him as, “brash, bombastic, and pathologically prone to betting the farm on pie-in-the-sky automotive endeavors.” Bricklin founded Subaru of America in 1968 and was the importer of the Yugo, considered by many to be the worst car ever made. In fact, I just ordered a book titled The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History by Jason Vuic.

From Hagerty a concise history of the car: “The Bricklin SV-1 was conceived in 1973, when the U.S. auto industry was in a slump due to fuel shortages, emissions regulations, and increased safety requirements. Subaru importer Malcolm Bricklin believed there was a seam in the market for a ‘safe’ and individual sports car, so he persuaded the Canadian government to invest money for construction of such a car in depressed New Brunswick. [My note: the unemployment rate in New Brunswick at that time approached 25%.] Cost overruns and quality control problems with the inexperienced workforce led to eventual bankruptcy. The first Bricklins were built in 1974, and the factory shut down in late 1975, with a few 1976 models built from leftover parts.”

I believe the Canadian and/or New Brunswick government pulled the plug on the project so even though Bricklin was providing jobs something must have made the government(s) think the investment was no longer worthwhile.

The “SV” in SV-1 stood for Safety Vehicle. Bricklin wanted to build a car that exceeded US government safety regulations. Initially the SV-1 was powered by a 360 cubic-inch American Motors V-8 and later by a Ford 351. The SV-1 was a front-engine car, looks notwithstanding. The car was fraught with quality issues like overheating and gull-wing doors that wouldn’t open. About 3,000 cars were produced in total.

In person the Bricklin is quite a handsome car, in my opinion. It’s not a contender for Ultimate Garage 2.0, but very few cars are. What do you think of the Bricklin?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

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