Twelve Five Twenty

In the latest episode of People Vote With Their Feet comes the news that, apparently, Elon Musk is moving from California to Texas. Let’s see: you can have much of your income taxed at the state level at 13.5%–California’s highest bracket for those “evil” wealthy people and the highest state income tax in the country–or you can have it taxed at zero as Texas has no state income tax. A person doesn’t have to be as smart as Musk to make that choice.

Some extremely misguided people (I am being kind in my characterization) who seem to fail to realize that the US is a federal republic and not a unitary one think all states should have the same laws, taxes, regulations, etc. Wrong!

 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

 

That is the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Many would argue it has been largely ignored and that many federal regulations are implemented without the federal government’s right to do so having been delegated by the Constitution. Still, different states have the right to have different laws unless those laws have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

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Has it really been nine days since Thanksgiving?! It really seems like two or three days to me.

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That is a picture of our desert home. The money shot would show more of the east side of the house and the amazing mountain views behind, but it would also show our address number, which is not a good idea in this day and age. We’ve been in the house about four weeks and we’re still unpacking, still having repairs/upgrades done. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be “done” by the end of January.

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I am a big fan of Mecum auctions, and was long before Scott Hoke and I became friends, but have been somewhat critical of the recent dockets that, in my opinion, have too many Mustangs and pickup trucks. (That criticism applies to Barrett-Jackson dockets as well.) The current auction (which can be seen on NBCSN) from Houston has a lot of those, but has redeemed itself with some cars like this:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk and the picture is, ironically, from Mecum and is a lot offered at their 2016 Dallas auction. For the nth time, Mecum does not allow online photos of lots from recent auctions to be captured.

The ’56 Sky Hawk consigned to the current Houston auction was bid to $12,000, but did not sell. The four Hawk models for 1956 sold 19,165 units (the ’56 Ford Thunderbird sold 15,631), of which only 3,610 were Sky Hawks.

Of course, the Hawk line was a remodeled version of the classic “Loewy coupes” that were actually designed primarily by Bob Bourke. Without the fins that appeared on some of the other Hawks, the Sky Hawk very closely resembles those classic coupes. This is my favorite of the four ’56 Hawks as I think it looks the best; the Flight and Power Hawks had visible B pillars and the Golden Hawk has larger rear fins that look out of place to me.

While this car wouldn’t make my Ultimate Garage 3.0, it wouldn’t be far off. Sacrilege though it might be to some, if I somehow acquired one of these I would certainly make a restomod out of it and might even have that hood scoop made functional.

Is anyone else, besides me and Stephen Cox, a big fan of Studebaker Hawks?

 

#TwelveFiveTwenty

#PeopleVoteWithTheirFeet

#ElonMusk

#DesertHome

#MecumAutoAuctions

#ScottHoke

#1956StudebakerSkyHawk

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Not So Frugal Friday

First…perhaps this lawsuit is a last-ditch effort by a lame-duck administration to gain notoriety, but Fack Fucebook has been sued by the Department of Justice alleging the “company” discriminated against American workers in the way it hired foreigners for high-paying positions. From the linked story in US News & World Report:

 

“A lawsuit filed Thursday by the Justice Department accuses Facebook of refusing to recruit or consider U.S workers for some 2,600 positions from January 2018 to September 2019, instead reserving those jobs for H-1B temporary work visa holders that the company sponsored for permanent residency, often known as a green card.

Federal law requires companies to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers for a position before it offers the job to a foreign worker on a temporary visa who the company can then sponsor for an employment-based green card.

DOJ alleges in its lawsuit that Facebook reserved those thousands of jobs for foreign workers it sponsored for green cards through a federal immigration process dubbed PERM. Facebook did not advertise the positions on its careers website, required applicants to apply by mail and refused to consider U.S. workers for the roles, the Justice Department alleges.”

 

Why should anyone be surprised by a company that even puts itself in a position for such a lawsuit when it’s run by a person who has said, “You can be unethical and still be legal; that’s the way I live my life?” As I wrote here someone who admits unethical behavior is almost certainly not opposed to illegal behavior, despite Muckerberg’s statement to the contrary.

Delete Facebook! Fack Fucebook!

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My wonderful wife and I test-drove a Buick Cascada yesterday. Although the ride was a little “floaty” and the car did have the convertible wobble going over bumps, it was very comfortable and while it is certainly no C7 Corvette, it had more oomph than its power-to-weight ratio would have suggested.

However, while we were waiting for the Cascada to be brought around for the test drive, I saw this car in the showroom:

 

 

This 2019 Z06 convertible took my breath away. No, I/we am/are not going to buy it, but I started thinking about having a different set of constraints. I don’t mean an unlimited budget or a bigger house with a 6-car garage, but being able to spend for the Grocery Car/Taxi/Corvette Companion an amount similar to what we spent for our Corvettes, about $60,000 each. The car would still have to have four seats and a decent-sized trunk.

Using AutoTrader for such a search yielded a lot of German cars. In fact, and perhaps somewhat unfortunately, I may have to “hold my nose” when we buy the next car because if we don’t insist that it is a convertible, then it may be a German car although it would never be a Volkswagen or Porsche. Here is one of the only cars that met all of our criteria and wasn’t from a German company, picture from 0-60 specs.com:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Once again, this is not the actual AutoTrader car as links to pictures on their website break quickly. The AutoTrader car is White (not a preferred color for us) over Red, has about 27,500 miles and the asking price is $56,199.

Believe it or not, the trunk in these cars is quite large at over 16 cubic feet. Supposedly, the car will seat five, but it should certainly be able to seat four comfortably.

That would be cool having a 700+ HP grocery car/taxi. With the intake and exhaust mods on my Z06, that would give us two cars with 700+ HP. We would almost have a 2,000 HP garage. Still, we are not going to spend $55,000-$65,000 on this car, but I wanted to imagine what we could buy if we were willing AND the car had four seats and a decent-sized trunk.

As for the Cascada, we are not buying anything before the new year–which is scarily just four weeks away–but yesterday’s test drive did not eliminate the car from consideration. With the top up, the trunk has enough size for groceries and the back seats can comfortably carry two normal-sized people. Although I was somewhat facetious the first time I wrote this, the fact that the car was built in the country of my parents’ birth–Poland–is drawing me to the car. The fact that it’s a Buick, at least in name, is also a plus as buying it would be an homage to the car I grew up with and the first car I ever drove, my father’s 1956 Buick Century. Also, having another convertible in Arizona is not overkill. The test drive was with the top down…in December.

If anyone has any additional thoughts on this matter, I would be happy to read them. Thanks.

 

#NotSoFrugalFriday

#DeleteFacebook

#FackFucebook

#2019CorvetteZ06Convertible

#2018DodgeChallenger

#BuickCascada

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Throwback Thursday 43

First…yesterday I criticized those who think taxes have no impact on behavior. Yes, there really are people who think taxes don’t affect how people act. This story from CNBC is about yet another of the countless examples of how taxes profoundly influence behavior.

Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir and founder of a venture firm named 8VC, is moving his company headquarters from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. In an interview, Lonsdale specifically cited California’s high taxes as a key reason why the company was moving to Texas. Peter Thiel, co-founder and Chairman of Palantir, recently announced that his company headquarters were also leaving California and moving to Denver, Colorado.

If they can, people vote with their feet. Making rich people poorer will not make poor people richer, at least not in the developed world. The politics of envy are a road to nowhere.

Second…Hallelujah! Fack Fucebook is likely to be the subject of two antitrust lawsuits, including one that could be filed as early as next week. State attorneys general are preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook as soon as next week and at least 20 to 30 states could join in. Many sources are reporting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also likely to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook.

Facebook has a de facto monopoly on “social media” especially when one considers that they own Instagram. I have tremendous respect for Jim Cramer of CNBC, but disagree with him on this issue. The possibility that the cost of digital advertising will increase if Facebook is broken up is a poor reason for not doing so. The power the company has is dangerous and time and time again they have shown disrespect for the data of their customers.

Delete Facebook! Fack Fucebook!

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What was the best-selling car in the US fifty years ago, or 1970 for those of you who are mathematically challenged? It was a model that sold over a million units for model year 1965 and even though by 1970 that figure had diminished by more than half, it was still at the top of the heap. Here is a picture (from Classic Car Database):

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1970 Chevrolet Impala. For that year about 496,000 Impalas were produced. Based on my admittedly less than thorough research, I believe the #2 car model was the Ford LTD at about 374,000.

For a model that was so successful for so many years, it is quite sad to me that the Impala is no longer being produced and probably never will be again. From the first year that the Impala was a completely separate model, 1959, through 1968–ten model years–more than seven million Impalas were produced.

As I have recounted before in this blog, I have a sentimental attachment to the Impala. When my ’67 GTO was wrecked in an accident two weeks before I was to leave for college for the first time, it was my father’s ’61 Impala that got me back and forth between home and college during my first semester. My aunt and uncle owned a ’64 that they would let me pretend to drive.

Car enthusiasts, particularly American car enthusiasts, should acknowledge the significance of the Chevrolet Impala.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#SayNoToThePoliticsOfEnvy

#TaxesMatter

#FackFucebook

#JimCramer

#1970ChevroletImpala

#1970FordLTD

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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A Or B, O-Kei

First…when the damn virus became the front-page news every day I was determined not to let it take over my blog. I wanted this space to be a refuge from the unrelentingly bad news.

While I have little doubt that the MSM has over-reported the negative and under-reported the positive, this damn virus has been a scourge of scourges. That’s why the news that the UK has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for use is worth mentioning. The U.K. government is the first in the world to formally approve the U.S.-German vaccine for widespread use; that approval means Britain will be one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population.

The FDA will not be formally considering Pfizer’s and Moderna’s applications for emergency use authorization until next week. The US does not do everything better than every other country in the world. It is true, though, that 60% of all new pharmaceuticals come from the US. That wouldn’t happen under a government scheme of price controls and other constraints.

Let’s hope the recent Goldman Sachs report on a vaccination timeline is at least close to right. This report, based a combination of supply assessments (using data from leading vaccine developers) and demand using consumer survey data, estimates that half the population of the US and Canada will be vaccinated by the end of April. This report did predict that the UK would reach the 50% threshold before the US and Canada (by the end of March).

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Yes, I love Corvettes and first-generation Buick Rivieras and the DeTomaso Longchamp and Aston Martins, etc. Like many automobile enthusiasts, I am a big fan of high-performance cars with great styling.

However, I have a thing for small cars. While I do not like the SmartCar, I think the Scion iQ was a handsome little car (picture from Auto Evolution).

 

See the source image

 

Today’s A Or B post was inspired by an episode of Everyday Driver. In this episode Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker drive an Autozam AZ-1 (manufactured by Mazda) and a Suzuki Cappuccino–Kei cars–in the streets of Seattle.

It was actually kind of funny to watch the 6-foot-3 Deeken try to wedge himself into these Kei cars. In case you don’t know, or even if you do, the Kei car category was created by the Japanese government in 1949, and the regulations have been revised several times since. These regulations specify a maximum vehicle size, engine capacity, and power output, so that owners may enjoy both tax and insurance benefits. I believe the current regulations are that to qualify as a Kei car, and so the owner can receive the tax/insurance benefits, the car cannot be more than 11 feet long, more than 5 feet wide and the engine cannot have a displacement of more than 660 cc, which is 40 cubic inches.

These cars have been enormously popular in Japan, at times reaching a 40% market share. Not surprisingly, when the Japanese government raised the Kei-car tax by 50% in 2014, sales of the cars declined. The people who think taxes don’t matter so government can make them as high as they want should have operations to have their heads removed from their rectums. <end soapbox>

As one of the hosts said (I think it was Paul Schmucker), not all cars are world cars that can be sold in every market. As the facts that more than 70% of American adults are overweight and one-third are obese are a major driver in the move away from cars and towards SUVs and pickup trucks, only a very small percentage of Americans could drive these cars comfortably.

The top photo of an Autozam AZ-1 (without its gull-wing doors open) is from Import a Vehicle. The bottom photo of a Suzuki Cappuccino is from Wikipedia.

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

I believe both cars use the same Suzuki engine: a turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine of 657 cc displacement (40 cubic inches) that produces 63 HP/63 LB-FT of torque.

OK, maybe this is an extremely idiosyncratic manifestation of my “enthusiasm” for cars, but I like what I like. What can I say? Besides, where else can you read about Maseratis one day and Kei cars the next?

Kind people, please choose between the Autozam AZ-1 and the Suzuki Cappuccino. Thanks.

 

#HelpOnTheWay?

#AOrB

#KeiCars

#AutozamAZ-1

#SuzukiCappuccino

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Decem

Despite my not posting for a good chunk of the month, November had the highest number of unique visitors for any month in the history of Disaffected Musings. It also had the third highest number of views and would have easily had the highest if I had posted on a more regular schedule from the beginning. Thanks for reading and please tell your friends. I’ll spare you the longer commercial today.

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According to Wikipedia, “December got its name from the Latin word decem (meaning ten) because it was originally the tenth month of the year in the calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC which began in March. The winter days following December were not included as part of any month. Later, the months of January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, but December retained its name.”

Of course, this is the last month of 2020, a year of scourges. Maybe the following news, from CNBC, is a ray of hope:

 

CDC panel to vote Tuesday on who gets vaccine first

A CDC panel is set to vote Tuesday on who will be first in line to get a Covid-19 vaccine once one is authorized by U.S. regulators.

The meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an outside group of medical experts that advises the CDC, comes after Moderna and Pfizer requested emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for their Covid-19 vaccines. Vaccine doses could be distributed in the U.S. in as little as two weeks. [emphasis mine]

Medical experts have said health-care workers should get the vaccine first, followed by vulnerable Americans, including the elderly, people with preexisting conditions and essential workers. The CDC will follow ACIP’s guidance, but states are not obligated to do so.

 

Of course, some would say the CDC has played a role in the havoc that has occurred with its inconsistent messaging and “guidance.” Some would ask why the FDA is waiting until next week to “evaluate” the requests from Moderna and Pfizer. Anyway, some real weapons are on the way.

My long-time friend, the estimable Dr. Hoss, has made out well investing in “vaccine stocks.” As a Ph.D. in a difficult science discipline from an Ivy League school, he is among the sharpest knives in the drawer. He was warning me about the damn virus well before it reached the public radar screen. He is also optimistic that these new vaccines, created with new technology, will make a real difference. His belief is echoed by many doctors in the field of public health.

Let’s hope it really is at least another 100 years before another scourge like this is unleashed on the world.

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On this day in 1914, and in the middle of The Great War, Maserati was founded in Bologna, Italy. The five Maserati brothers had been involved in automobile racing/building for more than a decade when they founded the company, which was almost exclusively a racing company and not one that manufactured cars for the street.

The brothers that were still alive sold the company to the Adolfo Orsi family in 1937 and they moved the company headquarters to Modena, where it remains to this day. (Would have been a nice dovetail if the city name were Moderna, like the pharmaceutical company that has developed a promising vaccine candidate for the damn virus. Hey, Modena is close enough.)

After the crash that killed 16 people, including 13 spectators, at the 1957 Mille Miglia, Maserati moved into building Grand Touring automobiles. I have previously shown the “picture” below, but it’s worth sharing again:

 

 

This rendering of a Maserati 5000 GTI is from The Golden Guide To Sports Cars, first published in 1966 and first purchased by me in 1968 or 1969 through a program sponsored by my elementary school. This copy of the book is one I bought far more recently, but remnants of my original version are still in my possession. I have been a fan of Maserati automobiles since seeing that rendering.

Although wildly impractical, I still hold onto a sliver of hope that one of these will be in our possession in the not too distant future:

 

See the source image

 

A picture of a GranTurismo coupe that I have shown before (from Motor Authority). Hey, they have four seats and a trunk meaning they could function as Grocery Car/Taxi and would certainly qualify as a worthy Corvette Companion. Yes, I know: too expensive to acquire and to maintain, too long for the garage, too valuable to park outside, too small a backseat. Details can be a pain in the ass.

 

#December

#Maserati

#MaseratiGranTurismo

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Racing Gas

Yes, I “broke down” and purchased 100 Octane gasoline a few days ago. It was, by far, the most expensive fill-up in my life. Maybe it was just my imagination and/or the power of suggestion, but my Z06 did seem to have “stronger legs” and run more smoothly with the higher octane fuel.

I can’t predict with any accuracy how often I will use the high octane gas, but that was never an option anywhere near us in the mid-Atlantic, at least not as far as I know. What was also not “an option” in the place in which we used to live is to be able to drive 5-10 miles without stopping on roads that have lights.

On a couple of the major north-south roads near us, I have had multiple drives where even though there are lights, the way the lights are timed meant I didn’t have to stop for miles. Sometimes, I could see a red light in the distance, but by the time I reached that intersection the light had changed to green.

Obviously, that makes for a much more enjoyable driving experience. The fact that this area has about 300 sunny days a year and no snow doesn’t hurt, either. OK, maybe it will snow once every 4-6 years, but the snow will be gone within 24 hours. We have been told to be careful driving on the few days it does rain and if we don’t have drive when it’s raining, then we shouldn’t.

Here’s a photo not of a major road, but of a road in a neighborhood close to us:

 

 

Hey, you’ve been warned about my affinity for the native scenery and of my propensity to show it here.

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Here’s a photo of some more “native scenery.”

 

 

This Maserati GranTurismo coupe is typical of the genre of automobiles we see in this area. I have written this before, but it is really the case that I see more interesting cars in three days here than I would see in a year in the mid-Atlantic. Oh, that color looked amazing in person.

As regular readers know, I am quite enamored with these cars. Unfortunately, they are simply too impractical (read that as too expensive to acquire/maintain, too long for our garage, too valuable to be parked outside) for us to acquire for any reason at present. Maybe some day…yes, so many cars, just one life.

 

#RacingGas

#TimedTrafficLights

#MaseratiGranTurismo

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Freeform Friday

Hope all of you that celebrated the day had a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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From this Corvette Blogger piece comes the data on final 2020 Corvette production. Oh, please feel free to click on the blue hyperlink as I only link to secure sites whose URLs begin with https.

The fact that the data is available obviously means that 2020 production has ended and 2021 production has begun. I hope “Professor” John Kraman has received his new 2020 Corvette.

The final production figure was 20,368 2020 Corvettes, about half of the expected total before the damn virus and UAW strike. Coupes were 82.4% of the cars built meaning that convertibles were 17.6%. The Z51 performance package was very popular as 76.0% of 2020 Corvettes were equipped with it.

Torch Red was the most popular color at 25.2% with Arctic White second at 15.2%. My favorite color, Sebring Orange, was fourth at 6.8%. From the famous Corvette Mike, a picture of a 2020 Corvette in Sebring Orange:

 

See the source image

 

I hope Chevrolet/GM can sell 40,000+ 2021 Corvettes. The car does seem to be very popular so the hand-wringing by “purists” (otherwise known as sticks in the mud) over the change to a mid-engine layout seems to have been much ado about nothing. (Sorry, Mr. Shakespeare.)

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If I have interpreted and extrapolated from this chart correctly, then the air pressure at our home in the desert is 6.7% less than it was at our previous home. I guess that means for a given volume of “air” there’s actually 6.7% “less” air.

I have been struggling with my running on the treadmill since the move. (Yes, I was able to get it fixed by an excellent electrician who jerry-rigged a connection.) David Banner (not his real name), a former physician, replied to a text that the change in altitude/air pressure can certainly affect exercise. No one has been able to tell me when or if my body will adjust.

I had never had any difficulty running 30-40 minutes or even longer, but in my last workout I ran out of gas at about 26 minutes, pushed myself to 27 and then had to spend 10 minutes on the floor catching my breath. My wonderful wife and I have been here about four weeks. I hope my body will adjust and soon. By the way, although it wasn’t the same calendar day, we met on the day after Thanksgiving 23 years ago. Happy Anniversary, V Squared!

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Our Simplisafe security system seems to be working just fine with one exception: one of the motion sensors won’t stay on the wall. The flat part at the back of the sensor doesn’t fit into the wall corner so the two adhesive strips are not adhering to anything. Here are some pictures:

 

 

We think the sensor has to be perpendicular to the corner (if that makes sense) so the beam covers the most area. The other motion sensors in the house are mounted that way and, at least so far, they’re still on the wall. I know the textured surface is somewhat of an issue.

Anyway, any suggestions will be appreciated. I have ordered what is supposed to be “super sticky” double-sided tape and it will be delivered this weekend.

Have a great weekend.

 

#FreeformFriday

#2020CorvetteProduction

#MotionSensorFall

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Happy Thanksgiving…

I wasn’t going to post today. I’m not “blaming” this post on OCD so much as on a desire to make up for lost time given the two hiatuses (March, October-November) and the fact that days with posts have more views and visitors than days without.

I am thankful for my wonderful wife and for my small circle of real family and friends. I am thankful that we have moved to the desert. I am also thankful that (he wrote hoping not to jinx anything) we have no financial worries.

Some photos:

 

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The paradox of choice…now that we’re in the desert we are going to buy a car in the next 2-3 months. Even though its cargo area is not small, my Z06 is not an optimal grocery car. Besides, we are hoping to have visitors and can’t get three or four people in a Corvette.

The problem is that because of the plethora of choices and my own OCD- and ADD-addled brain I just can’t decide what car to buy. The short garage would seemingly rule out a car like a 2000-02 Cadillac Eldorado, but this is Arizona where the car could be parked on the driveway. Many of our neighbors do that.

Do we want to buy another convertible? Do we want a more modern, as in more serviceable, car from around 2015? The list of questions is seemingly endless as is my droning about this choice.

Remember that this odyssey started a long time ago with a focus on cars like this:

 

 

The top picture is a 1965 Buick Riviera while the bottom is a 1964 Studebaker GranTurismo Hawk. For many reasons, neither car would be a practical choice in any way, shape or form. Still…

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

#HappyThanksgiving

#TheParadoxOfChoice

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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