Frugal Friday

If you are a regular reader of Disaffected Musings and have not commented recently or ever, please consider sending thoughtful comments. I welcome an intelligent dialogue. I don’t want to rely on two or three readers for all of the comments, even though I enjoy theirs.


Although some economists don’t believe the absolute magnitude of Chinese GDP data, the fact that data released today showed the lowest quarterly GDP growth rate since 1992 indicates trade issues are affecting the Chinese economy. I refuse to call the current situation a trade “war.” A trade “war” would be something like the nearly complete cessation of trade and the existence of astronomical tariffs. Let me quickly add that I do not necessarily condone (or condemn) the current administration’s stance on trade, but the Chinese economy is experiencing negative effects. As a net exporter, China GDP growth will slow if trade slows.


I was going to use recent results from the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas as the basis for today’s Frugal Friday. However, unlike the Mecum website, I cannot see auction results all on one page, but have to look at each lot to see the hammer/all-in price. That’s simply too inconvenient and time-consuming.

Today’s Frugal Friday cars are the result of a large, free-form search on Hemmings of cars for sale in the US for model years 2004 to 2009, inclusive. I also tried to exclude cars that have previously been featured on Frugal Friday. Here is a picture of a 2006 Nissan 350Z for sale:



The ad copy is almost non-existent and very few pictures are offered. The mileage is not shown, either. However, the asking price is just $6,000.

Hagerty’s website doesn’t seem to be working this morning. Kelley Blue Book “valued” this car at between $5,800 and $7,700 in a “private party” transaction. Of course, I had to make some guesses about mileage and the vehicle condition. Subjectively, $6,000 just doesn’t seem like a lot of money for this car.

Here is a listing for one of my “sleeper” cars, a 2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with a V-8:




2007 was the last model year for the Monte Carlo, which began its run in 1970 although the car was not produced continuously during that period. This is not a low-mileage example with over 103,000 miles, so I would understand wariness on the part of some of you. The seller is asking $9,497.

I think these cars are quite stylish. The 5.3 liter/325 cubic-inch engine had an output of 303 HP/323 LB-FT of torque. Unlike the ad for the 350Z the ad for the Monte Carlo SS is quite expansive, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good car, of course. Still, and almost regardless of the evaluation of “neutral” parties, a car like this listing for under $10,000 seems like a bargain to me.








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Throwback Thursday and A Statement

First, my publishing a reader comment that contains a link to another web page is not necessarily either an endorsement or criticism of the content of that page. As long as the content is not pornographic or excessively violent then I will almost certainly publish the page link.

Second, 56packardman has more than earned the right to put almost anything he wants in a Disaffected Musings comment. He has made 20% of the comments on this blog that are not mine. He posts links to this blog on various forums. I don’t agree with him on every topic, but he has the right to make thoughtful comments with which I disagree. That’s what freedom of expression is supposed to mean.


On the most recent episode of Wheeler Dealers a car like this was featured:


See the source image


From a picture of a 1973 Toyota Celica ST. Why don’t I remember this car?!

The Celica was produced for more than 35 years in seven different generations. I made a brief search to unearth Celica production figures, but was unsuccessful. What I can show is that for 1973 Toyota manufactured more than 1.6 million passenger cars, of which almost 327,000 were sold in the US. Considering that the first Toyota cars were not sold in the US until 1958 and that overall company production didn’t reach 100,000 until 1963, those figures are astounding.

I just think these cars look great. The standard US drivetrain was a 2-liter/120 cubic-inch inline 4-cylinder engine that produced 97 HP/106 LB-FT of torque mated to a four-speed manual transmission. Five-speed manuals and automatics were also available. My understanding is that the US spec engine was less potent than the one installed in Japanese cars. That may have been due to California emissions standards. I believe Toyota sold a disproportionate percentage of their US cars in California and didn’t want to export cars with different engines to America.

Not that I am going to run right out and buy one of these, but if I were and I had some money to play with, I would restomod the car. Here’s a surprise for readers: I might consider an all-Ford drivetrain. The modern Ecoboost turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine generates 310 HP/350 LB-FT of torque. I wouldn’t want to shoehorn a large engine into the Celica engine bay. Of course, I would install the Ford 10-speed automatic transmission although I think ten speeds is at least two speeds too many. I wonder how much the restomod process, which would include suspension and brake upgrades, would cost.

The JDM market is exploding in the US. A Hemmings search for 1973 Celicas didn’t return any vehicles, but one “fully restored” 1973 Land Cruiser was listed at almost $65,000! Liftback Celicas from 1976 and 1977 were offered with one listed at almost $40,000!

Live and learn…


On this day in 1973 the number one song in the US was “Half-Breed” by Cher. By this time I had discovered jazz and had basically stopped listening to popular/Top 40 music. I can also say that I have never been a fan of Cher, no offense intended.

The first number one song of 1973 was “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. The person about whom she was singing is still a mystery, I believe, although I think she sold the identity to someone (for charity?) and the buyer had to promise to keep the identity a secret. I guess I could look all of this up, but frankly don’t really care enough to do so.






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Apocalypse Almost

On this day in 1962 President John Kennedy was shown a series of photos confirming that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear-capable missiles in Cuba. This was the beginning of what is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I am not particularly knowledgeable about this event although I did include an article with today’s post title in the 1962 Green Bay Packers chapter of my book about the greatest football teams of all time. I was “lucky” that my publisher specialized in military books and was able to add significant information to what I had written. Even with the publisher’s expertise they did not want me to include such an article, but I insisted. Below is a photo of the beginning of that article from my book:



The crisis ended as President Kennedy “quarantined” Cuba (using the word “blockade” could have been seen as an act of war) and Soviet Premier Khrushchev knew, in the end, he couldn’t risk a nuclear war with the US. The missiles were withdrawn from Cuba and Kennedy secretly promised to remove the missiles from Turkey that had spurred Khrushchev to act in Cuba. Tension exists today among Turkey, Russia and the US, but that’s not for this blog.


How to segue to cars or to any other topic…David Banner (not his real name) and my wonderful wife both sent emails with links to reviews of the new C8 Corvette. Most reviewers praised the car, but not all to the same degree, of course. All of those who drove the car do say it has more understeer than previous Corvettes and, given that, some issued a word of caution to those who plan to drive the car “aggressively.”

One article I found on my own was from Motor Trend. The title? “2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray First Test: The C8 Keeps Its Promises” Here is a picture from that piece:


2020 Chevrolet Corvette 3LT Z51 front three quarter in motion 3


Here is the beginning of the Motor Trend review:


“This far, no farther. Chevrolet’s Corvette engineering team has been clear: They had taken the front-engine, rear-drive sports car platform as far as possible. The only way forward was to move the engine backward. After pulling the pin and blowing up 65 years of history and heritage, the mid-engine C8 Corvette made its debut to incredible promises.”

“And after decades reporting rumors and false starts, we can finally confirm: Chevrolet keeps its promises.”


In their road test the C8 Corvette, with “just” 495 HP/470 LB-FT of torque, accelerated from 0-60 MPH in 2.8 seconds (faster, I hate to admit, than my 650 HP/650 LB-FT Z06), and did the quarter-mile in 11.1 seconds (a hair slower than my Z06). It pulled an excellent 1.04g in a lateral acceleration test (one last comparison, my Z06 can pull 1.2g) and braked from 60 MPH to a dead stop in less than 100 feet. As tested the car has an MSRP of about $88,000. I do think Chevrolet is being disingenuous when it talks about the car costing less than $60,000. I can’t imagine anyone buying a 1LT Corvette with absolutely no options unless they desperately want one and can’t afford to pay a dollar more.

The current UAW strike (which may be nearing an end) will delay the introduction of the C8. I’m guessing, and it’s strictly a guess, that full-scale production won’t start until February. I look forward to seeing my first one actually on the road.






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An Almost Post

56packardman sent me two emails yesterday, the subject line of one of those emails was “Blog Fodder.” However, it was the other email that drew me very close to writing a long post in which I would have stated where and why I disagree with most of the policy ideas of both major parties in the US. Ultimately I decided I don’t really want to risk turning this into a political blog.

I understand why many people feel the need to be politically active and, of course, that is their right. However (and once again), I will not and cannot support or vote for a candidate with whom I disagree on 75% of policy even if I disagree with the other candidate on 80%.


This Hemmings piece is one of many reporting that for the Corvette Racing program Chevrolet/GM have developed a 5.5 liter, 4 valves per cylinder, double overhead cam, flat-plane crank engine (a V-8, obviously) for use in the C8.R. This development lends credence to the rumors that existed even before the official unveiling of the C8 that such an engine was in development and would be available in the new Corvette.

As the rumors go, the new engine would be available in the Z06 variant of the C8 and would be tuned to provide 600-650 HP. Then, a twin-turbo version of the same engine, producing 800-850 HP, would be in the ZR1 model. Ultimately, that twin-turbo engine would be combined with electric motors in the “Zora” version of the C8 and that power setup would produce 1,000+ HP. Such a hybrid concept is not new, of course, as Ferrari and McLaren have already produced such cars. (Yes, the Porsche Hitlermobile Company has also produced such a car.) These hybrid hypercars had seven-figure price tags. What if the Zora sold for around $200,000?

Remember that seven percent of US households have a net worth of $1,000,000 or more and that the number of households with a net worth of $25,000,000 or more has increased something like 70 percent since 2008. A $200,000 hypercar might have quite a market and maybe not just in the US.

What do you think of these possibilities?


Time for another gratuitous picture of my car:



How tempted would I be if a 1,000+ HP Corvette became available? Well, I am not a big fan of hypotheticals so I don’t really know, but I guess I would sniff around such a car.







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Monday Musings

Thanks to 56packardman for putting a link to yesterday’s post on the Studebaker Drivers Club (SDC) forum. I would thank SDC members for clicking on that link often enough so that views of Disaffected Musings reached their highest level in about a month, but I doubt any of them are reading this.


I absolutely do not condone industrial espionage and theft of IP by Chinese companies and the Chinese government. Without respect for property rights economic activity is excessively constrained and without healthy economic activity nothing that a population and its government want to achieve is really possible. Such behavior is also, obviously, a blatant violation of international law.

However, I understand the motivation for such illegal and unethical behavior. Between the so-called “one child policy” and the enormous number of deaths due to pollution in China, the country is at real risk of growing old, of demographic “collapse,” before its population can become first-world wealthy. Yes, I know the “one child policy” is no longer in effect, but the policy existed in one form or another from 1979 to 2015.

Many people say that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t care about the Chinese people since the party holds control without fear of political opposition. While I don’t accept the view held by many in this country that the Chinese Communists are infallible and all-knowing, the party leadership is not stupid. Economic stagnation and retreat after years of progress could cause widespread dissatisfaction leading, possibly, to rebellion.


On this day in 1965, the Oldsmobile Toronado debuted (as a 1966 model year car). Of course, the Toronado was the first US-produced front-wheel drive car since the Cord 812 in 1937. The car was named 1966 Motor Trend Car Of The Year and also finished third in the European Car Of The Year competition.

Oldsmobile had been working on front-wheel drive (FWD) since 1958, although at first the goal was to put FWD in a compact car. It’s probably difficult to understand today given how many FWD vehicles exist, but for the US market at this time FWD was “way out” there. Eventually, given that buyers of economy compact cars were less likely to be influenced by technical innovation than buyers of larger cars (and more likely to balk at the cost of a car that included some amortization of significant development expenses), Oldsmobile moved its focus to putting FWD in a “personal luxury” car.

(A personal note: my father, who was an auto mechanic, was very dismissive of front-wheel drive cars. He did, however, own many four-wheel drive Jeeps.)

From Mecum Auctions a picture of a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado offered at its Kissimmee auction in 2016:


See the source image


The engine for the Toronado was Oldsmobile’s 425 cubic-inch V-8, but tweaked to give more horsepower and torque than the engine did in other cars. (The Toronado motor produced 385 HP/475 LB-FT of torque compared to the 375 HP/470 LB-FT or 365 HP/470 LB-FT output of other cars.)

The transmission was the Turbo Hydra-Matic 425, which was based on the Turbo Hydra-Matic 400. However, compared to the TH400, in the TH425 the gearbox was separated from the torque converter, turned 180 degrees (which also required reversing the directions of its internal gear rotation and clutch engagements), and offset to the left. The Toronado transmission also used chains, and not gears, to transmit power.

The Toronado was a success selling about 41,000 units in model year 1966. This was a very similar performance to the debut year (1963) of the Buick Riviera, a car in the same market segment as the Toronado, in which 40,000 cars were sold. Although Toronado sales declined by half in 1967 they subsequently recovered and reached nearly 56,000 in 1973 after a redesign in 1971. The car was produced in four different generations through 1992 with almost 800,000 built in total.

Sadly, Oldsmobile cars are no longer manufactured. The company that introduced (or co-introduced) modern front-wheel drive, the modern overhead-valve V8 and, of course, the modern automatic transmission has been out of existence for over a decade. As has been mentioned before, Oldsmobile is the only US company to have produced cars in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. I think aficionados of American cars should never forget Oldsmobile.







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A Sad Sunday; Sunday Studebaker Sky Hawk: October, 2019

My wonderful wife has departed on a long trip, primarily for business. I am very sad. I will never understand men who seem happy or say they can’t wait for their wives/significant others to leave.

Please be careful, V Squared! I LOVE YOU!!!


In one of the Studebaker books I recently purchased the author wanted to make the point that at the beginning of their existence, the Hawk series was fairly popular and outsold the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Thunderbird. Here is a chart I created showing 1956-1957 production/sales for the three cars. The Hawks were introduced in 1956. Of course the Thunderbird was changed into a different kind of car in 1958.


1956 Chevrolet Corvette 3,467  
1956 Ford Thunderbird 15,631  
1956 Studebaker Hawk (All Models) 19,165 Flight, Power, Sky, Golden
1957 Chevrolet Corvette 6,339  
1957 Ford Thunderbird 21,380  
1957 Studebaker Hawk (All Models) 19,674 Silver, Golden
1956-57 Chevrolet Corvette 9,806  
1956-57 Ford Thunderbird 37,011  
1956-57 Studebaker Hawk (All Models) 38,839  


Yes, Ford marketed the Thunderbird as a “personal luxury” car and not as an out-and-out sports car. Yes, the Hawk had four seats while the Corvette and first-generation Thunderbird had two. I didn’t make the comparison, the author did. However, it is true that for 1956-57 the Studebaker Hawk cars outsold the Corvette and the Thunderbird. (Studebaker actually marketed the Hawk series as “family sports cars.”)

I don’t care that much for the Hawk cars with the bolted-on fins and the pillared coupe body style. Granted I am at a long distance from these cars in time and space, but my favorite of these is the 1956 Sky Hawk. Sorry, 56packardman, I know the ’56 Golden Hawk was powered by Packard’s 352 cubic-inch V-8. From Richard Langworth’s excellent book, Studebaker 1946-1966, The Classic Postwar Years, an “explanation” as to why I like the Sky Hawk the best:


“For those who found balance and finesse as important as brute force, the Sky Hawk provided a reasonable alternative. At $500 less than the Golden Hawk, it was one of the best buys around in 1956 [not 2019, $500 was a much more significant amount of money then]. Like the Golden Hawk (but not the Power and Flight Hawks), it used finned brake drums, which were highly resistant to fade. It handled beautifully and with 210 HP was no slouch in performance. There was a vinyl interior of luxurious design, the same tooled metal dash as the Golden Hawk (tachometer optional), and much cleaner exterior styling. The Sky Hawk was devoid of what Bob Bourke called ‘those damnable fiberglass fins.'”


OK, some of you reading might find the part about balance and finesse being as important as brute force a tad hypocritical for someone who drives a 650 HP Corvette Z06. I maintain the Z06 has tremendous balance with its excellent handling and comfortable, well-appointed interior. Without further ado, a picture (“courtesy” of Mecum) of a 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk:


See the source image


The original shape of the Loewy coupes is quite evident. This car, of which 3,610 were made, is not easy to find in the classifieds, but is a contender to be purchased as an homage to defunct American makes. I’m keeping my Z06, though.







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Thoughts Of My Father

A few days ago while watching TV I asked my wonderful wife if she thought my obsession with cars was an attempt to connect with my father. A connection is actually not possible as he has been dead for over a quarter century. He was an automobile mechanic and ran/owned two gas/service stations (not at the same time). Anyway, my wonderful wife honestly replied that she simply couldn’t answer my question. She never met my father.

I sometimes wonder what he would think of my life. He disapproved of my interest in sports and he did not appreciate my achievement of creating a baseball career basically out of thin air. He wanted me to attend a service academy, like the Naval Academy. Anyone who knows me well knows that would have been a disaster. At times, I can be one of the least disciplined people in the world and I almost always chafe at the thought of other people telling me what to do.

I wonder what he would have thought about my wonderful wife (who, eerily, shares the same less than common first name as his second wife), about our house, and most of all, about our cars. What would he have thought about a supercharged V-8 that produces 650 HP in a car with Bluetooth and front and rear cameras? I really have no idea and, of course, I never will.


See the source image

See the source image


The top picture is from and the bottom is from Pinterest. My father ran a Flying A station and later owned and operated an American station. I admit I receive a little thrill every time I put gas in my Z06 at the local BP because the premium grade fuel is still called Amoco Premium. As another salute to my father here is another picture of a car with the same year, make and model as the one in which I “grew up.”


See the source image


From a picture of a 1956 Buick Century.








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Frugal Friday, Mecum Auction Edition

As a change I decided to look at cars that have already been sold, in this case at the Mecum auction conducted in Louisville on September 20-21, instead of cars that are offered for sale. First, how many of you like Frugal Friday? Second, would any of you like to see it offered once a month instead of every week?


See the source image


From, obviously, a picture of a 2006 Jaguar XKR convertible. The XKR designation means the car is powered by a supercharged V-8 engine. For the nth time, Mecum does not allow the online photos of its lots to be captured from its website. The actual Mecum car was Black over Black.

According to Hagerty the average value of this car is $17,600. The Mecum lot sold, all in, for $11,550. Even ignoring for a moment the difference between the auction price and the Hagerty value, $11,550 just seems inexpensive, IMO, for a beautiful, 390-HP convertible built not much more than 10 years ago. In addition, if you had to put $3,000-$4,000 in it after purchase you would still be below the Hagerty value.

OK, how about another European high-performance convertible from the first decade of this century?


See the source image


This is a Mecum auction photograph of a 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG convertible, but not of the lot sold in Louisville in September, which was Black over Gray. These cars were powered by a supercharged V-8 that generated 493 HP/516 LB-FT of torque. (I am using the most conservative torque rating I have seen; some sources put the torque output at 590 LB-FT.) The Louisville car is said to have had fewer than 54,000 miles.

Hagerty values an average example at $24,900. All in, the car sold for $20,350. Once again, subjectively that just seems like not a lot of money for a car like this.

Many people believe that all auction cars are overpriced. While it is true that in the excitement of the moment bidders can bid up a car past what seems to be a reasonable price, it is also true that some bargains are available.

Now, a downer: I am very disappointed by the dramatic decrease in views/visitors over the past 7-10 days. Yes, I know I’m not supposed to complain about such things, especially to people who are reading the blog. Has this blog run its course? Is it just too difficult, in a sea of millions of active blogs, to gain traction without using Fack Fucebook? Any thoughts anyone has would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.








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Throwback Thursday and A Quarter Of A Million

Somewhere in this post is the 250,000th word I have written on Disaffected Musings. (Maybe it’s this one or this one.) If in the roughly 21 months I have been writing this blog I had half as many views as words then I would be happy, well maybe less unhappy.


While my wonderful wife and I were at the National Corvette Museum I entered a raffle to win a 2019 ZR-1. Here is the car, picture from the NCM website:



A maximum of just 1,500 tickets will be sold. Here is a question: if I actually win the car do I keep it and sell my 2016 Z06 (I don’t have room for and don’t want two Corvettes AND I will have to pay taxes on the ZR1) OR do I sell the ZR1—for somewhere north of $100,000—pay the taxes and then upgrade my Z06, etc.? What would you do?


On this day in 1964 the number one single on the Billboard charts was “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. By the way, that is the correct title of the song.

Orbison was very popular in Great Britain. From August, 1963 through December, 1964 he was the only American artist to have a number one single in Britain; he actually had two, “It’s Over” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.” He toured the UK in 1963. His opening act, although some times he opened for them, was the Beatles.

Of course, 1964 was the year the Beatles entered the consciousness of the US. I am not a big Beatles fan, but I appreciate their significance and the fact that they changed popular music forever. On the April 4 Billboard Hot 100, the Beatles occupied every position in the Top 5! In the next chart, April 11, they had 14 songs in the Hot 100. Between January 18 and October 24 the Beatles had 28 different titles on the Hot 100.

When the Beatles phenomenon began their former record labels realized they had quite a treasure trove. While their first “big” American label was Capitol Records, “She Loves You” was recorded and released by Swan Records and “Love Me Do” on Tollie Records, a subsidiary of Vee Jay. (By the way, much of this information is from The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson.)


Of course, 1964 was the debut model year for the Pontiac GTO, considered by most to be the first modern muscle car. Also of significance in the auto industry (some understatement never hurts) was the debut of the Ford Mustang in April, 1964. However, continuing my obsession with defunct American makes I am going to show this car, instead:


See the source image


From an obviously recent picture of a 1964 Studebaker Daytona convertible. Apparently, I have shown a picture of and written about a car like this before. I guess after 250,000+ words I can’t remember everything I’ve written.

The Daytona was one model that survived the closing of the main Studebaker plant in South Bend, Indiana in December, 1963. The wonderful Avanti and Gran Turismo Hawk were not as fortunate. I think these cars (the Daytona) have quite an appealing design. Only 702 1964 Daytona convertibles were produced, 647 with a V-8 and 55 with an inline six-cylinder engine.











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Just Another Wednesday?

From Wikipedia:


“The name [Wednesday] is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, ‘day of Woden’, reflecting the pre-Christian religion practiced by the Anglo-Saxons, a variation of the Norse god Odin. In other languages, such as the French mercredi or Italian mercoledì, the day’s name is a calque of dies Mercurii ‘day of Mercury.'”


Maybe millennials are not committed to central cities, after all…this CNBC article mentions that, according to the Census Bureau, 2018 was the fourth consecutive year in which a “noticeable decline” occurred in the millennial population of major cities. A 2018 Ernst & Young survey of 1,200 adults aged 20-36 found that more people in this group are buying homes in the suburbs than in cities.

In Sunday Suburbia I expressed my preference for living in the suburbs. I also noted that the suburbs have been the most populous part of the US in every census since 1970. Given the trends mentioned in the CNBC piece I guess that won’t be changing any time soon.

A relevant chart showing the 1950 and 2010 central city populations for a few selected locales:

  1950 2010 Pct Chg
Baltimore 949,708 620,961 -34.6%
Chicago 3,620,962 2,695,598 -25.6%
Cleveland 914,808 396,698 -56.6%
Detroit 1,849,568 713,777 -61.4%
St. Louis 856,796 319,294 -62.7%
Washington, DC 802,178 601,723 -25.0%

Yes, some of the loss of population in these cities is due to migration to other metro areas, but much of it is simply a move to the suburbs. For example, Baltimore’s central city population declined by about 16% from 1990-2010, but the metropolitan area population (which includes the central city) increased by about 14%. Sorry to change time frames, but I can’t find metro area populations for 1950 and I wanted to show the full scope of population decline for these cities, which began shortly after the end of World War II.


So, two of the three books about Studebaker have arrived; the other will not be delivered as the order has been cancelled by Amazon due to a “technical problem.” As I order more and more items from third-party sellers I have encountered more difficulties in order fulfillment.

One of the books that was delivered was this:



In all honesty I only ordered the book to get more information about and more pictures of this car:


See the source image


From a picture of a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, the automobile with which I am currently obsessed. (OCD is a bitch even if it’s OCD-lite.) A slight disappointment is, except for the front and back covers, all of the photos in the Reynolds book are in black and white.

Do any of you have your own obsessions that you would like to share? I promise that no one will judge…









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