Birds

My wonderful wife and I live in a nice house in a neighborhood filled with trees and other plant life. Not surprisingly, we also have lots of animals around us: foxes, coywolves, rabbits, squirrels (I loathe them) and lots and lots of birds.

Our house is very tall and the front elevation has large windows. Twice in the last week birds have flown into those windows at such rates of speed that they died as a result. This has happened a few times in the nine years we’ve lived here, but twice in a week is not common. As I write this one of those birds is in a large concrete planter on the front steps. Later today I will move it to the front yard, not a pleasant task for me. Other than unsightly markings in the windows, does anyone have any ideas how to stop the birds from flying into the front of our house?

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I have had a Twitter account (under a pseudonym) for almost a year. Except for the two days of the Bill James tweetstorm, the platform has been virtually useless in driving traffic to this blog. Odds are I will close my Twitter account before much longer.

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Once again, the only constant in the world is change. This fact can have important manifestations or less important ones. In the first iteration of my Ultimate Garage (in 2017) on the blog hosted by the Evil Empire (aka Google) not only was the Avanti included, I even showed the original version and the “modern” version because I couldn’t really choose between them in terms of looks. In Ultimate Garage 2.0 the Avanti was nowhere to be found, not even among the cars that just missed the cut.

Why? Well, for reasons I cannot explain the Avanti design just seems a little dated to me now. I still like the way the car looks and I appreciate its significance, even if it did not turn Studebaker’s fortunes around. (Actually, some historians like Richard Langworth believe the Avanti was too late to save Studebaker.) However, the car just doesn’t have the same effect on me it had even two years ago and certainly not the impact it had on me when I first saw this “picture:”

 

 

This was in The Golden Guide To Sports Cars published by Golden Press of New York. The original publication date was 1966 and I purchased the book in elementary school as part of a program where students could purchase books, which would be delivered to the students at school. You see, I have had the car bug a LONG time. Oh, sorry for the extraneous material in the picture, but I am not well versed in photo editing.

To those of you reading I pose the question: about what car(s) has your opinion changed? Why do you think the change happened?

 

#Bird”Suicide”

#UselessTwitter

#TheConstancyOfChange

#ThePowerOfBooks

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Musings

I had an odd and uncomfortable dream last night/this morning. (I guess I could write, “Consider the source,” but I would never do that.) I was extremely anxious and upset that I had a paper due in three weeks and, I think, I had not begun working on it. This anxiety consumed my life until I realized that I am no longer in school and, therefore, had no paper due. I then woke up.

I have read/heard that dreams are not really connected to our conscious brain, but this is not the first time I’ve had a dream short-circuited by reality. I once dreamt that I was in a sixth-grade classroom and was extremely upset by that fact. After sitting in the classroom for some time I said to myself in the dream, “I have a graduate degree; I don’t have to be here.” That was the end of the dream.

Of course, one dream I had many years ago was short-circuited by something that was not true at the time, but which gave me great comfort, anyway. I dreamt I was struggling to pay my bills. I was worried that I would have to sell my house and my car. All of a sudden I had a revelation, “Why are you worrying about money? You have four million dollars in the bank.” I didn’t then and I don’t really now, but that “revelation” was extremely comforting and ended the dream. As for the exact number “four million” I must have just watched the movie Twins because that amount of money has significance near the end of the film.

What can I say? It can be hell to live with my brain.

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At the risk of alienating some of my readers, I will state my opinion that an amendment that begins with “A well-regulated militia” should not mean that guns can be owned by anyone and everyone. If one looks at the 20 countries with the highest rates of firearm-related deaths, the list shows 19 countries that are not wealthy and the US. (According to IMF data, the 19 countries on that list excluding the US have an average rank of 90th in the world in per capita GDP; the US ranks 8th.) One would also see disproportionate representation by Central American and South American countries. Sixteen of the 20 countries are in the Western Hemisphere. What that means, if anything, is beyond my scope of knowledge.

If you are not a regular reader you should know that I do not consider myself to be a blind adherent of any ideology. I believe in capitalism and not socialism, I think the phrase “affirmative action” is a euphemism for discrimination and I think that the estate tax and other forms of confiscatory and punitive taxation are theft by the government. However, I believe in common sense and empiricism above all else and no one in the US should be proud of the fact that its rate of gun homicide is 8 or 10 times higher than Canada’s and 55 or 60 times higher than that of the UK. Guns make it way too easy for people to kill people.

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Many of us who are or have been NFL fans are mourning the loss of long-time writer Don Banks. From Peter King’s FMIA column today:

 

“Don Banks, one of the leading NFL reporters in the country, died suddenly on Sunday in Canton, Ohio. He was in Canton to cover the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies over the weekend, and his first story in his new job, as NFL columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was published in Sunday’s editions.”

“Banks, 56, had a 36-year career in sportswriting, beginning when he covered prep sports as an intern in the Tampa Bay area for the St. Petersburg Times. He moved on to cover the Buccaneers for the Timesbefore moving to Minnesota to cover pro football for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and later the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It was there that Banks caught the eye of editors at Sports Illustrated. In 2000, he was hired as NFL columnist for the Sports Illustrated website, SI.com.”

“Banks was an NFL lifer. At SI, his Snap Judgments column on Sunday evenings became appointment reading for NFL fans. After an illustrious career at SI ended in 2016Banks moved on to write about the league for NFL.com, Bleacher Report, Patriots.com and The Athletic. That led to the editors at the Review-Journal, needing a respected national presence to cover the NFL with the Raiders moving to Nevada in 2020, conducting a one-candidate job search. They hired Banks as their NFL correspondent. He started last Thursday, and his first story appeared on the paper’s website just hours before he died.”

“He was known for his absolute impartiality, covering the league at a time when he both lampooned and praised Roger Goodell, the commissioner who has been under fire for much of the last decade.”

 

I used to enjoy Banks’ columns when I followed the NFL more than I do now and was disappointed when he was let go by Sports Illustrated. I think it is a most cruel irony that Banks died just as his first column in his new job was published. My condolences to the Banks family.

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Time for something lighter:

 

See the source image

From en.wheelsage.org a picture of a Daihatsu Copen Cero, one of Japan’s Kei Cars. This is the Japanese classification for the smallest highway-legal cars. (“Lighter”—see what I did there.)

The Copen is currently in its second generation (as of 2014) and has been produced since 2002 with the exclusion of a short pause from 2012 to 2014 caused primarily by the increasing strength of the Japanese yen versus the Euro currency. The current Japanese version of the Copen is powered by a turbocharged three-cylinder engine of 658cc/40 cubic-inch displacement that produces 63 HP/68 LB-FT of torque. If I understand correctly, the Copen used to be available with either a manual or automatic transmission, but is now only available with a CVT automatic. The car only weighs about 2,000 pounds and probably wouldn’t be too safe in the US among all the SUVs and pickup trucks. I think they are quite fetching and could have a use, I suppose, in uncongested areas, if such places still exist in the US.

 

#Bad/GoodDreams

#SayNoToBlindAdherenceToIdeology

#DonBanks

#DaihatsuCopenCero

#KeiCars

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Sullen Sunday

I am a troubled person. For most of my life I have been a high-achiever and cannot, apparently, get used to a “life” where I am, basically, a non-achiever. I will not present my bona fides again, but suffice to say that it would not have been fair if I had been made ugly and brain-dead. (Apologies to my wonderful wife who, not surprisingly, is not a fan of that last statement.)

I am also cursed with a brain that will not allow me to work on something in which I do not have a high level of intrinsic interest. The longest I have ever stayed in a non-baseball office job is one year. Is that ADD? OCD? WGAF? I CANNOT sit at a desk, in front of a computer screen (or two or three) doing someone else’s bidding 40+ hours a week, just like someone with Type 1 Diabetes cannot consume large quantities of sugar/carbohydrates. Actually, there’s no insulin analogue for my brain.

When I do find something in which I am interested, however, I am extremely satisfied. I remember how happy I was when in my first full-time baseball job I stumbled on to thinking about which minor league player was the best prospect in all of baseball. I spent most of the next 20 years evaluating minor league players using original mathematical models.

Currently, when I am watching a car auction or thinking/reading about cars that interest me I get a tremendous feeling of satisfaction almost bordering on euphoria. This blog is an attempt to create that feeling more often.

I realize, of course, that I have much for which to be grateful and that many would trade places with me. However, a life as a high-achiever creates expectations. People do not really judge life against objective reality, but against expectations and the status quo. I have used this example before, but the Arizona Cardinals would be happy with an 8-8 record in 2019 while that would be a disaster for the New England Patriots even though it would be the same record.

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A local Corvette club hosts a car gathering the first Saturday of every month from April through October. My wonderful wife and I attended the get-together yesterday. We are not members, but after an enjoyable experience yesterday she might join. Besides the many nice Corvettes people are encouraged to bring whatever collector car they own, Corvette or not. Here are pictures of two cars I really liked, one Corvette and one not.

 

 

The top photo is of a 1995 Corvette while the bottom is of a 1966 Buick Electra 225 convertible. I had originally posted that I thought it was a ’65, but 56packardman corrected me. We have found that most people who attend events like this are very polite and friendly and we usually enjoy ourselves. If I could only find a way to make a living in an endeavor that was connected to cars…

 

#Troubled

#Power/CurseOfExpectations

#1995Corvette

#1965BuickElectra225Convertible

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Throwback Thursday, Wayback

1896 Armstrong hybrid

 

I first became aware of this car when it was shown during an episode of Chasing Classic Cars. It may very well be the world’s first hybrid automobile, even though it was built in 1896. What is it? From this Hemmings article that is a picture of an 1896 Armstrong.

Surprisingly and disappointingly neither the classic Standard Catalog of American Cars nor the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of Automobiles goes into much detail about the Armstrong merely listing its year of construction and place (Connecticut). The Hemmings article has much more detail, such as:

 

“Harry E. Dey had a passion for electric vehicles, and his 1895 design for an electric car brought him to the attention of the Rogers Mechanical Carriage Company. The firm had been importing Rogers Motor Carriages from France, but wanted to reverse-engineer the automobile for assembly in the United States. Dey pushed for the new motor carriage to be powered by electric, but company executives, concerned over range limitations, insisted it be powered by gasoline instead.”

“Undeterred, Dey blended the two worlds, creating a vehicle with a 6.5-liter opposed-twin gasoline engine and a dynamo wound flywheel that could perform numerous functions. At rest, the flywheel served as an electric motor, powered by the car’s onboard batteries to act as a revolutionary “self-starter,” addressing the hand-cranking concern of early motorists. Once underway, the flywheel acted as a generator, charging the onboard storage batteries, providing spark and delivering power to the lights; as with modern hybrids, it also supplied a degree of regenerative braking. Remarkably, the motor was said to be powerful enough to propel the carriage limited distances under battery power alone.”

 

So, not only was it a hybrid in today’s sense of the word, but it had electric starting 16 years before Cadillac introduced the “first” such system. It was, unfortunately, the only one of its kind built. By the way, the Hemmings article was also about the sale of this car at the Bonhams auction in Amelia Island, Florida in March, 2016. The sale price? All in it was $483,400. According to the Chasing Classic Cars episode the winning bidder was Evert Louwman, owner of the famous Louwman Museum in the Netherlands. Fittingly, this museum has the world’s largest collection of cars built in 1910 or earlier.

Live and learn; I cherish that idea. What about you?

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#WorldsFirstHybrid

#1896Armstrong

#LiveAndLearn

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Anniversaries Abound

This day 20 years ago was, unknowingly at the time, my last day as a full-time employee for a major league baseball team. I had actually tendered my resignation in late May, but stayed through July 31 because that is the trading deadline. July 31, 1999 was a Saturday, I believe. The General Manager, Kevin Towers, asked me on Friday the 30th if it was OK if he could call me at home on that Saturday. I told him, “Of course” and he did call to ask my opinion on a potential trade.

Why did I leave a high-paying, high-profile job in professional sports? I felt that my path to advancement within the organization was blocked. I also knew that, and perhaps this was a compliment to me, the team President would not help me advance in baseball if it meant leaving his team. Even though I was not under contract, the practice in baseball is/was that another team is supposed to ask a person’s current team for permission about a potential position.

I also was unhappy at what I felt was a lack of morality that permeated the organization. I’ll just leave that thought there.

For awhile it looked as if my plan might work. In the months subsequent to my resignation I had conversations with multiple teams about a job. I was even in the running for the Assistant General Manager position for one team, which would have been an “advance” from my position as Director of Baseball Operations. In the end, though, I was not able to acquire a new full-time position with another team.

About a year and a half after I left my position as Director of Baseball Operations I was able to start my own baseball operations/player personnel consulting business. Necessity is really the mother of invention, but that’s another story. I had the business for more than ten years, and it was quite lucrative for me, but then the game (and the rest of America) labeled me as obsolete and I haven’t been able to find a satisfying career since.

Not coincidentally, four years ago tomorrow I received my first baseball pension payment. As I had accrued more than ten years of service as a full-time, non-uniform baseball operations employee I could begin receiving my pension long before my 65th birthday. I spent months calculating the net present value (NPV) of pension payments using constant and variable discount rate models in an effort to find the optimal time to begin receiving my pension. I should not have been surprised that the NPV, calculated at the first possible age one can receive this pension with 10+ years of service, hardly varies regardless of when one begins receiving the payments. Of course, the earlier one starts getting the pension, the smaller the nominal amount, but that is offset by the additional years the payments are received and by the time value of money. Would you rather receive $1.00 today or $1.00 five years from now?

In the end, I decided that I wanted baseball to make as many payments to me as was possible (almost) so I only waited four months past the earliest age at which I could have begun receiving my pension. The date I chose—August 1st—was selected because it was as close as possible to my last day as a full-time baseball employee—July 31st.

“If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

– Shakespeare

 

 

#MultipleAnniversaries

#IAmNotObsolete

#disaffectedmusings

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Sold-Out C8

56packardman and David Banner (not his real name) both sent me links to articles such as this one with the same story: the 2020 C8 Corvette is almost sold out. Of course no one knows at present how many 2020 models Chevrolet was planning to build. Anyway, from the article linked earlier:

 

“‘I think the orders have already hit the first year of production numbers,’ Simcoe [Michael Simcoe, General Motors design chief] said when addressing the attentive, large crowd at the golf course. We pulled him aside afterwards, and asked Simcoe to elaborate. Turns out, the C8 is extremely close to being sold out for the 2020 model year, but it hasn’t officially hit the mark yet. ‘It’s nearly sold out. It’s so close that it’s bound to be sold out soon,’ Simcoe told us.”

 

Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. If the 2020 Corvette is relatively trouble-free then that should bode well for the C8, I would think. Also remember that rumors abound—which aren’t always true, of course—that the C8 will eventually be available in a whole host of specs. Some of those might include a twin-turbo, small-displacement V-8 that could produce 800+ HP and a hybrid version with electric motors augmenting the twin-turbo motor to create a 1,000+ HP Corvette.

As a Corvette fan I wish nothing but success for the C8. Who knows? Somewhere way down the road one could wind up in our garage.

 

2020 Chevy Corvette

 

From the autoblog article a picture of a 2020 Corvette.

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From Peter Ackroyd’s history of England (by way of this): “History is an accident…Everything grows out of a soil of contingent circumstance. Convenience, rather than the shibboleth of progress or evolution, is the agent of change. Error and misjudgment therefore play a large part in what we are pleased to call the “development” of institutions. A body of uses and misuses then takes on the carapace of custom and becomes part of a tradition…One result of historical enquiry is the recognition of transience; the most fervent beliefs will one day be discredited, and the most certain certainties will be abandoned. Opinions are as unstable and as evanescent as the wind. We may invoke, with George Meredith, ‘Change, the strongest son of Life.'”

I don’t know that I totally agree that history is an accident, but as has been written here many times before luck plays a significant role in life outcomes and we do not have total control over our lives. Also, change is inevitable and the route to change is not always planned.

 

#2020C8Corvette

#HistoryIsAnAccident

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Whither Cadillac?

No, Whither Cadillac is not the name of a Cadillac dealer. On this day in 1909, a relatively new company—General Motors—purchased the Cadillac Automobile Company. Cadillac was already an established maker of luxury automobiles. For example, the company earned a major distinction in 1908 when it became the first US automaker to be awarded the prestigious Dewar Trophy, which was presented the Royal Automobile Club of the United Kingdom.

To me, Cadillac seems lost. An old joke in the US car biz went like this:

 

Q: What is the average age of a Cadillac buyer?

A: Dead

 

Cadillac management has made an effort to attract younger buyers, but most young US car buyers seem uninterested. Here are Cadillac US sales and market share for 2015-2018:

 

YEAR SALES SHARE
2015 175,267 1.00%
2016 170,006 0.97%
2017 156,440 0.91%
2018 154,702 0.89%

 

You think that looks bad, look at where US Cadillac sales/share were 30-ish years ago:

 

YEAR SALES SHARE
1987 261,284 1.76%
1988 266,548 1.73%
1989 266,899 1.84%
1990 258,168 1.87%

 

The 0.89% market share for 2018 is the lowest since at least 1985, probably longer. By the way, all of this data comes from carsalesbase.com.

HOWEVER, Cadillac is making huge inroads in China. Take a look:

 

YEAR SALES SHARE
2015 53,086 0.26%
2016 111,532 0.47%
2017 172,832 0.71%
2018 228,043 0.98%

 

Yes, China should “play fair” and not steal intellectual property, etc. However, US car companies can hardly ignore the Chinese market, which is only the largest car market in the world. Note that Cadillac sold more vehicles in China than in the US in 2018. Remember, too, that it was Buick’s success in China that saved it from the chopping block in the GM bankruptcy/reorganization of 2009 while Pontiac was consigned to the scrap heap with better US sales than Buick.

Not being 30-ish myself I don’t know why Cadillac doesn’t resonate with that demographic. For me, though, the cars seem boring, which doesn’t mean they are boring. Of course, I am not a typical car purchaser. I do think the three-character naming convention for models is awful, though. CTS, XTS, ATS, XT-4…who the hell can remember what is what?! I don’t know whether that idiosyncrasy negatively affects sales.

From cars.usnews.com a picture of a Cadillac ATS two-door coupe:

 

See the source image

 

The ATS used to be offered in both 4-door and 2-door versions, but sales have slumped and rumors abound the model itself will be discontinued. Cadillac does offer a “V” spec for the ATS, powered by a 3.6 liter twin-turbo V6 producing 464 HP/445 LB-FT of torque and available with either an 8-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual. (Does anyone else think it’s very ironic that Cadillac offers cars with manual transmissions, but Ferrari and Lamborghini don’t?) From their peak at about 38,000 sold in 2013 US ATS sales have declined every year since reaching a very low number of under 11,000 in 2018.

I would very much like to read your thoughts on Cadillac. Given their increase in Chinese sales, does it matter how well they do in the US so long as they continue to build cars for this market? (The Chinese consumer would probably drop Cadillac quickly if it became an orphan make in the US.)

 

#Cadillac

#CadillacATS

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Sunday Sling

From Winston Churchill by way of Richard Langworth:

 

George Bernard Shaw sent Churchill two tickets to his new play, saying “Come early and bring a friend, if you have a friend.” To which Churchill replied, “I can’t make opening night but I will come the second night, if there is a second night.”

 

Some more from Winston Churchill:

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

“The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself.”

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My wonderful wife sent me this…I don’t believe in Santa Claus (did I really need to write that?!), but I still think this is funny.

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A: “I’ve never been so insulted in my life!”

B: “You must have been.”

 

A: “I’ve never been so insulted in my life!”

B: “That’s because you don’t get around enough.”

 

One of my favorite TV show exchanges ever (from Everybody Loves Raymond):

Debra Barone: Do you know what I think?

Ray Barone: If I say yes do you still have to tell me?

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See the source image

 

From rmsothebys.com a picture of a 1994 Bugatti EB110, which was one of the fastest cars in the world at that time. This is a pre-Volkswagen Bugatti, so it has no disgust factor for me.

These cars were manufactured from 1991 to 1995 at which time the “resurrected” Bugatti company folded and was liquidated. This was the only model produced while Romano Artioli was chairman. The EB110 (“EB” was in honor of Ettore Bugatti, the original company founder) was powered by a small-displacement V-12 (just 3.5 liters) with four turbochargers that produced 552 HP/451 LB-FT of torque in GT spec, but 603 HP/479 LB-FT in Super Sport spec. Only 139 were produced and the base price for the GT was $350,000.

To give you one of many examples of how cars have evolved in just the last quarter-century, my 2016 Z06 has much better performance than this EB110 for a fraction of the price. The EB110 would accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 4.4 seconds; the Z06 will do that in 3 seconds. Until the electric/autonomous cars take over I think we are living in the golden age of automobiles. Enjoy it while it lasts because it won’t last forever.

 

#WinstonChurchill

#BugattiEB110

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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State Of Saturday

Frugal Friday will not return until after Labor Day.

 

According to a not always reliable source, on this day in 1950 the five millionth (5,000,000th) Oldsmobile was built. As I have written before Oldsmobile was the only American auto company to manufacture cars in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

 

test

 

From this 2014 Hemmings article a picture of a 1950 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Coupe. The subtitle reads, “More than 8,000 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Coupes were built for 1950, yet few are known to exist today. Why?”

Most of the 8,000-plus 98 Holiday Coupes were of the Deluxe model, 7,946 of 8,243 to be exact. Some prose, facts and figures from the aforementioned Hemmings article:

 

“…GM’s postwar, fashion-forward hardtop coupes were a revelation. Frameless side glass and doors, and eliminating the B-pillar merely by tightly aligning the window-edge chrome, once seemed impossible, yet GM had a brisk trade in doing the impossible. Adding to the open-air feeling were wrap-around rear windows, which were also claimed as an industry first.”

“Launched mid-1949, GM’s three highest-end divisions (Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac) were each bestowed a hardtop model: Buick had the Roadmaster Riviera, Cadillac had the Coupe De-Ville, and Oldsmobile actually had two Holiday Coupe models, on both the 98 and the hot new 88 model. These hardtops managed to split the difference between solid-top safety and security, and a convertible’s feeling of fresh-air freedom and ability to bring the outside in.”

“Oldsmobile’s 98 had introduced its fastback Futuramic styling concept for the 1948 model year with the low-line 76 and the division’s new hybrid model, the 88, following suit. Olds stylists did it once again for 1950, giving the 98 all-new slab-sided styling and a one-piece windshield that would also hint at what was coming for the 1951 A-body 88. Olds division sales went from strength to strength in the late ’40s and early ’50s: from 172,852 cars sold in 1948, to 288,310 for 1949, to 408,060 in 1950, skipping from eighth to sixth in the national sales race. Breaking 98 Holiday Coupes out of those numbers, just 3,006 were built in that abbreviated 1949 model year, but production nearly tripled to 8,263 (inclusive of 317 cars lacking Deluxe equipment) in 1950.”

 

A decade or so ago cars from this era did little for me. Now, I can be quite smitten with those I consider to be the best of the period. These 1950 Oldsmobiles fit that description.

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I pass along the link to this informed exposition about C8 Corvette styling without opinion, passion or prejudice.

 

#FiveMillionthOldsmobile

#1950Oldsmobile98HolidayCoupe

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday Last Of July

First…I must really be messed up. Despite the fact that it’s been more than two months since the last Big Bang Theory episode aired I am still sad that the show will no longer be produced. Despite many attempts I cannot watch the series finale—either all or in part but always including the tag (the mini-scene at the end of a show)—without tearing up at the end.

I am trying to wrap my head around why this is so. Is it because I watched The Big Bang Theory for more seasons (all 12) than any other TV show? Is it because it is highly likely I will never watch a new sitcom ever again? (Sorry, but I have tried watching some current “sitcoms” and none of them are funny to me in any way, shape or form.) Is it just as simple as I liked the show far more than I realized and will miss not being able to watch new episodes? Of course, as I am writing this I hear the theme song in my head, but it’s the acoustic, solo version used only in the finale and the wrap-up show and not the main theme used in the 279 episodes. Farewell once more, Big Bang Theory.

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A recent episode of Wheeler Dealers featured a car like this:

 

Large Picture of '91 MR2 - OUER

 

From classiccars.com a picture of a second-generation/W20 Toyota MR2, in this case a 1991 model. I have written about this car before, but not specifically about the second generation.

Despite the wheels, they’re not appealing to me even if they’re stock, I think these cars look great. It was this version, a significant re-design from the first generation, that was dubbed “a baby Ferrari” or “a poor man’s Ferrari” as many styling cues were adopted from Ferrari and this car is mid-engined.

This one is offered for sale by a company in Virginia that apparently specializes in Japanese right-hand drive vehicles. The asking price is $16,900. The ad doesn’t indicate whether or not this is the turbo version, but I suspect it isn’t. I mean, if it were that fact would be prominent. I still think that’s a great price for a good-looking car that’s not a slug. By the way, the MR2 Turbo engine produced 200 HP/200 LB-FT of torque and the car would accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 6.1 seconds. It could run a sub-15 second standing quarter mile.

 

Sticking with mid-engined cars, I guess as a nod to the new mid-engined Corvette:

Large Picture of '88 Fiero - QI2E

This is a 1988 Pontiac Fiero. These cars were, unfortunately, a symbol of some dark days for General Motors, from an era when GM seemed to use its customers as beta testers. From Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, “As it had with the X-cars, GM shot itself in the foot by selling a car [the Fiero] before it was fully developed.” I’ll tell you what, though, I think these are great-looking cars. Like the Cadillac Allante and other cars, just as the Fiero seemed to be sorted out, GM pulled the plug. This was the last model year for the Fiero, which started successfully in 1984 with almost 137,000 sold, but after that sales declined dramatically as word spread of the issues with the car.

This Fiero was powered by the 2.8 liter/173 cubic-inch V6 that produced 135 HP/165 LB-FT of torque. Of the 23 Fieros that are listed for sale on classiccars.com, only five were listed for more than $10,000. This is not one of those five; the dealer is asking $8,900. The car does have a lot of miles, more than 143,000.

I still think in an effort to shed its “boring” image, GM should let Buick produce a halo car. I think a modern, slightly larger and roomier version of the Fiero could be a contender. Of course, it could be that GM/Chevrolet wouldn’t want to steal the thunder from the release of the mid-engined Corvette.

 

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