Mind-Blowing Trivia

Some may see the post title as an oxymoron. Whatever…

President George H.W. Bush just passed away, of course. He was born in 1924. President Taft was still alive then and he was born while Martin Van Buren was still alive; Van Buren was the 8th President. Van Buren was born BEFORE George Washington became President. I also think that Van Buren was the first President born a US citizen, as opposed to being born a British citizen. In a way, therefore, we can trace the entire history of the US Presidency through just four people. This is not an old country.

More on that topic…John Tyler was the 10th President of the United States (1841-1845) and died during the Civil War. I am 99% sure that two of his grandsons are still alive! Tyler had 15 children with two wives. One of those children, Lyon Gardner Tyler, was born when John Tyler was 63 years old. Two of Lyon’s sons, born when he was 71 and 74, are the grandchildren of President Tyler that I am almost positive are still alive.

Some more…Henry Stimson was a long-time public servant. Even though he was a Republican FDR appointed him as Secretary of War, what the position was called before it was called Secretary of Defense. Stimson was intimately involved with the Manhattan Project, the development of the atomic bomb. Stimson had a great-grandmother who used to tell him about her visits with George Washington! Someone involved with the development of the A-Bomb was two “degrees of separation” from George Washington. This is not an old country.

Do any of you know any facts like these? I would love to read them.

 

 

Eye Of The Beholder

We are all aware of the famous saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, and I don’t care how politically incorrect this is, not all eyes are created equal.

About what car did noted designer and builder Chip Foose say this, “To be honest with you it’s an ugly car.” (Condolences to the Foose family after the loss of Chip’s father.) No ambiguity exists in that statement. Any guesses? He made the statement during an episode of Overhaulin’. Does that help? OK, here is the car:

 

https://cdn.silodrome.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/AMC-AMX-Car-21.jpg

From silodrome.com a picture of an AMC AMX. The object of Foose’s objection, and mine as well, is the chunky, stubby C pillar. From a Pinterest site here’s a picture showing how Foose tried to “negate” the C pillar:

See the source image

Foose actually called the car “chunky” or “stubby” at one point in the episode. His credentials are beyond question.

I have written and firmly believe that balance is a key to the success of most endeavors and that includes automobile styling. In my opinion, the C pillar of the AMX pulls the design out of balance as it is too dominant a feature. This is my objection to those cars with giant clown wheels that are “slammed” to the ground; those cars are out of balance.

I am not criticizing the engineering of the AMX. Given American Motors limited resources the AMX was a fine car to drive and did well in racing. One AMX finished second in the 1969 Sports Car Club of America B class championship. However, I am often reminded of Ed Welburn’s comment: “If two cars have equal technology, then the better looking car wins.” (Welburn was GM’s Vice-President of Global Design from 2003 to 2016.)

The AMX was not a commercial success. In the three model years (1968-1970) that it was a true stand-alone model only about 19,000 were sold in total and 1970 sales were only about half of the 1969 figure. “AMX” became a trim package of the Javelin although some American Motors aficionados insist the AMX remained a separate model. However, in none of the automotive reference books I own (and I own A LOT of these books) is the AMX referred to as a separate model after 1970.

I already know what my wonderful wife and Carl P. think; they both love the AMX exterior design. What about the rest of you? Please feel free to disagree with me or with them as I welcome honest, thoughtful comments.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Monday Musings

I have long believed that most of us grow stale if we are in the same position in the same venue for many years. Love them or hate them, that is a major reason why I think Bill Belichick’s tenure with the Patriots is so remarkable.

My “1A” team, the Packers, fired head coach Mike McCarthy after yesterday’s embarrassing loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. He is the first Packers head coach to be fired during the season ever.

The Packers were generally successful during McCarthy’s tenure, but pro sports is at least a “what have you done for me lately” business. (Trust that I know of what I speak.) In addition, Packers observers sensed a dysfunction about the team, probably starting with the less than pleasant relationship between McCarthy and star QB Aaron Rodgers.

I wish Green Bay well in its search for a new head coach although I probably won’t be subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket after this season, which means I won’t have the opportunity to see every Packers game. Go Pack Go!

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I bought a new iPhone yesterday. The experience was hardly a piece of cake. If I hadn’t purchased software to use instead of iTunes to transfer files/data I would have lost virtually all of the music I had on my old phone.

iTunes, like every Apple product, is designed to “force” you to adopt the entire Apple ecosystem. When my personal computer (not an Apple) crashed this summer I lost my old iTunes music library, which contained many songs that didn’t exist anywhere else in the universe. Some of these songs had been created by me through editing while others were digital recordings of my playing an old keyboard that no longer works, either.

When I used iTunes to sync my old phone to my new computer (also not an Apple) only the songs that had been purchased through iTunes were backed up on the computer. This represented less than 5% of my music library. Fortunately, AnyTrans saved the day, sort of. I still lost my photos and my calendar; even though I backed up my old iPhone to my new computer I could not retrieve the backup because I was asked for a password I didn’t know existed.

Hey, Apple! People acquire/have acquired music by means other than iTunes! Please respect those choices!

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Do any/some of you feel that a Disaffected Musings post without a car photo/reference is just not the same? I think that sometimes the “car” part of the blog is not organic. By that I mean that part sometimes feels tacked on because this blog is supposed to be a “car blog.” Anyway, today will not feature a car in any way, shape or form except for the hashtag #somanycarsjustonelife.

#disaffectedmusings

 

Sunday C8 Key Fob

From this article in corvetteblogger.com comes these pictures, from FCC filings, of the key fob for the C8 Corvette:

[SPIED] 2020 Mid-Engine Corvette Keyfob and C8 Logo from FCC Filing

[SPIED] 2020 Mid-Engine Corvette Keyfob and C8 Logo from FCC Filing

Here is some more information from the article:

“On the backside of the keyfob is a Crossed-Flags Corvette logo which appears more elongated and pointed than the C7’s crossed flags logo. If you look at it closely, its almost in the shape of a “V”. If this is indeed the logo for the C8 Corvette, it’s a significant sighting as its the first time the C8 logo has been spied in public.”

“Further documents from FCC filing specifically lists the keyfob as a ‘GM MY20 B1 Keyfob.’ [emphasis mine] Also included is the in-car receiver for the transmitter which carries the GM part number of 13529177.”

“This is pretty big news during a time when details have been scant. This FCC filing appears to confirm the C8’s arrival for the 2020 model year, as well as the new crossed-flags logo for the C8 generation!”

What will the C8 look like? How much will it cost? What engines and transmissions will be available? Speculation on these and other questions have existed for quite some time, but based on the FCC filings it does appear that the car is real and will be introduced for the 2020 model year.

Of course, photos of a keyfob don’t confirm a mid-engine configuration. However, it is difficult to believe that with all of the “smoke” about a mid-engine Corvette that a “fire” doesn’t exist.

The “spy” shots of supposed C8 Corvettes in camouflage do nothing for me and seemingly all of them are copyrighted so I can’t use them here, anyway. (Sour grapes?)

Some people must know the real story, but apparently have been fairly tight-lipped. This is contrary to Mark Twain’s famous remark, “The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.”

I assume that the vast majority of Corvette enthusiasts await the C8 and the potential for two generations to be sold simultaneously, which would be a first for the Corvette. For me, while I welcome the innovation I don’t think a mid-engine car can ever look as good as a C2 Corvette.

https://www.corvsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/dsc8414__large.jpg

From corvsport.com a picture of a 1967 Corvette. Hopefully, my restomod will look very similar to this, but in a different color. That body style cannot accommodate a mid-engine configuration.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

 

December?!

Is it really December, 2018?! Time flies whether you’re having fun or not.

My condolences to the family and friends of George H.W. Bush. Someone I hired for his first full-time job in baseball had opportunities to interact with President Bush and had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.

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No excusing Kareem Hunt’s actions, but I am surprised the Chiefs released him. I am also reminded of something I tell people about my time in baseball: except for their ability to play baseball, most baseball players are entirely unremarkable people. I suspect that applies to football players as well.

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LAND YACHTS!

The AACA Museum in Hershey, PA has a new exhibit entitled LAND YACHTS: Postwar American Luxury Convertibles. My wonderful wife had the day off yesterday (her company is very generous with PTO) so we made the long drive to Hershey to see the exhibit.

My two favorite cars in the exhibit were parked next to each other right in the lobby by the front door.

This is a picture of a 1966 Buick Wildcat. The beautiful wheels were a factory option. This car was available with three different engine options: the base 401 cubic-inch V8 with a four-barrel carburetor producing 325 HP/445 LB-FT of torque, a 425 cubic-inch V8 with a four-barrel carburetor rated at 340 HP/465 LB-FT and the same 425 cubic-inch engine with two four-barrel carburetors rated at 360 HP/465 LB-FT.

I don’t know how much the picture conveys, but in person this car looked just stunning to me. By the way, despite the fact that this is a two-door model it is 220 inches in length, more than 18 feet. Buick produced about 5,400 Wildcat convertibles in 1966 in both regular and Custom trim.

 

My other favorite of this exhibit is this 1954 Packard. My (insane) obsession with defunct American makes is well-known to regular readers of Disaffected Musings.

1954 was the year of the Packard/Studebaker merger that, ultimately, contributed to the demise of both companies, IMO. Perhaps 56packardman would like to weigh in about this topic. This was also the last year that Packard offered an inline 8-cylinder engine. The undersquare (bore<stroke) motor displaced 359 cubic inches and was rated at 212 HP/330 LB-FT of torque. The Packard-developed Ultramatic automatic transmission was used.

Only 863 of these cars were produced and Packard only produced about 31,000 cars in total for 1954, of which about 23,000 were the “plebian” Clipper. This was a very poor year for Packard as 1953 had seen about 90,000 cars produced of which about 64,000 were Clippers. By the way, I am only counting finished cars and not chassis. Packard built about 500 chassis in 1953 that were bodied by another company.

I firmly believe that if one is a car enthusiast they should support the hobby in any way they can within their means. My wonderful wife and I are AACA Museum members, despite the fact that it is a schlepp to drive there and back.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Good-bye DeSoto!

Those are the last words written about DeSoto in standard catalog of® American Cars 1946-1975 by John Gunnell. In fact, those are the only words written in the Historical Footnotes section for the 1961 model year.

On this day in 1960 Chrysler announced it was discontinuing the DeSoto. Apparently dealers received the news via telegram. The announcement came just 47 days after the 1961 model year cars were introduced. A year before, Ford had done a similar thing regarding the Edsel in that the company announced it was discontinuing the car just five weeks after introducing 1960 model year cars.

In 1928 Walter Chrysler purchased the Dodge Brothers company as well as introduced the Plymouth and DeSoto. That’s a lot for a decade let alone for one year.

DeSoto’s niche was supposed to be the medium-priced bridge between Chrysler and Dodge. As such, DeSoto produced Airflow models like Chrysler; Dodge did not offer such models. The Airflow was a radical design for its time (introduced in 1934). It was probably the first full-size American production car that emphasized aerodynamics as the basis for body style. Also, the engine was moved forward—over the front wheels—and the passengers were moved forward as well so that the rear passengers were seated within the wheelbase and not on the rear axle. However, whereas Chrysler offered more conventional cars along with the Airflow in 1934, DeSoto did not and saw sales sink dramatically even given the context of the time: from 23,000 cars sold in 1933 to 14,000 in 1934. From this article on motorcities.org comes this ad for the DeSoto Airflow:

1930 DeSoto Airflow ad Robert Tate Collection Chrysler Corporation 3

 

As the ad says DeSoto did release a companion to the Airflow, the Airstream, in 1935 and the Airstream was a more conventional car. The new model helped DeSoto sales increase to about 27,000, or nearly twice that of 1934. (No, this is not going to be a year-by-year history of DeSoto. You can take a deep breath.)

In 1942 DeSoto became just the second American auto maker to produce a car with hidden headlights. (Cord had produced such a car in 1936-37, the legendary 810/812.) These headlights were called Air-Foil lights and the slogan was “Out of Sight Except at Night.”

From Wikipedia and Steve Brown of Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA) is, obviously, a picture of a 1942 DeSoto with the hidden headlights.

In the 1950s DeSoto was a part of the horsepower race and, as such, offered a version of the first Chrysler hemi V-8 although its first hemi offering was smaller than the Chrysler 331 hemi (DeSoto’s was 276 cubic inches) and it wasn’t offered until a year after Chrysler. It is this vintage of DeSoto that really floats my boat.

I have shown this picture before; from en.wheelsage.org what I consider to be the ultimate DeSoto: a 1956 Fireflite Sportsman. This car is a longshot contender for Ultimate Garage 2.0.

https://i2.wp.com/i.wheelsage.org/pictures/desoto/fireflite/autowp.ru_desoto_fireflite_sportsman_2-door_hardtop_2.jpg

A DeSoto was the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1956; five years later, the make did not exist.

With the Chrysler Corporation moving Imperial to its own make, the Chrysler make began to move down the price spectrum into the space supposed to be occupied by DeSoto. Dodge began to creep up into DeSoto’s space as well. Of course, these decisions were made by the company so maybe the DeSoto was “supposed” to be phased out. The severe recession of 1957-58 really hurt DeSoto; sales plummeted from 127,000 in 1957 to just 49,000 in 1958. Supposedly the cars also acquired a reputation for poor quality around this time as well. Who knows what came first, though?

Rumors that DeSoto would be eliminated began appearing around 1959 and those rumors, like the ones that would soon plague Studebaker, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despite a rebound in the US economy (US GDP grew by nearly 6% in 1959) DeSoto production declined to 46,000 for the 1959 model year. Sales for 1960 evaporated to 26,000 and the DeSoto was no more by the end of the calendar year.

As I have written so many times that regular readers are, no doubt, very tired of reading it, fewer car companies means fewer sources of innovation for styling and for engineering. Today’s automobiles are very safe and very reliable compared to those of generations past, but the cars have a disturbing sameness. From my perspective, I think almost all SUVs and pickup trucks also look very similar to each other. I think we automobile enthusiasts should always remember the cars that have gone before.

Good-Bye DeSoto!

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

Did the Fed blink?

CNBC’s Jim Cramer opined that Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has blinked. In early October Powell stated that he thought current Fed rates were far short of the “neutral” rate that neither stimulates nor dampens the economy, implying more rate hikes for 2019. Yesterday, Powell said that the rates were close to the neutral rate. Equity markets loved that news and stock prices soared.

Say what you want about Jim Cramer’s on-air histrionics, but he is a VERY smart man and was very successful running a hedge fund. He has been critical of the stance of Powell and the Fed regarding interest rates and the US economy. It looks as though Powell has listened to Cramer, either explicitly or implicitly.

I think it is a sad state of affairs that more Americans know who Kim Kardashian is (I don’t care if I spelled her name correctly) than who Jerome Powell is. Ignorance is NOT bliss!

FWIW, Cramer does not believe that China is a “friend” of the US. I believe that China, at least in their own hemisphere if not both, wants to be the dominant world power. Whether they can accomplish that goal before their population gets really old is an open question, in my opinion. (FYI, in 2017 the US trade deficit with China in goods AND services amounted to 1.7% of US GDP. I guess you can decide whether or not that’s a significant number.)

I love cars, but I live in the real world. As much as I despise politics, what large national governments do affects us all whether we realize it or not.

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In an episode of the original Top Gear, the hosts stated their opinion that Lancia has built more great cars than any other company in history. On this day in 1906, Lancia was founded.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.hiconsumption.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/1974-Lancia-Stratos-HF-Stradale-0-HERO.jpg

From hiconsumption.com a picture of the Lancia Stratos, one of the most successful rally cars in history. I really like the look of this car except for the box handle spoiler at the back of the roof.

 

https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/1975-lancia-fulvia.jpg?quality=85&w=1717&h=966

From thedrive.com a picture of a Lancia Fulvia. A recent episode of Wheeler Dealers featured this model.

Fiat purchased Lancia in 1969. At first, the Lancia name stayed “independent” and the production of a model like the Stratos was a manifestation of that “independence.” Eventually, Lancia models really became badge-engineered Fiats.

At this moment I believe the only model with the Lancia name is the Ypsilon “supermini” built on the Fiat Mini/Fiat 500 platform. If Wikipedia is to be believed, then Lancia production has declined dramatically: from 300,000 cars in 1990 to 60,000 in 2017. Lancias were sold officially in the US only from 1975 to 1982. As I have written before a Stratos model recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $440,000.

 

I’m sorry, but does any other place exist where one can read a discussion of Fed policy AND about the Lancia automobile? If you like this blog, PLEASE tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

P.S. From corvetteblogger.com comes this news about the key fob and LOGO for the C8 Corvette being unearthed from an FCC filing. Very big news, IMO.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Wednesday Weirdness

I forgot to mention this earlier today…

I am REALLY obsessed with cars (duh!). I had a dream last night that I was entrusted with the care of a 1937 Cord at a large car gathering. I sat in the passenger seat and strangers would get into the drivers seat. One stranger asked if he/she (don’t remember the gender) could start the car. I said no, but he/she put the car in neutral and it started to drift backwards. I said that as long as the car wasn’t started everything was alright.

Yes, a strange dream, but if the shoe fits…

 

I took this picture a couple of months ago at the large annual car show hosted by a local museum. It is, of course, a 1937 Cord. Anyone else care to share any strange car dreams?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

An Anniversary

Twenty-one years ago today I met the wonderful woman who is my wife. It was not love at first sight; our second date wasn’t until January. The relationship, if you can call it that, was initially hamstrung by many factors, not the least of which was my wife’s self-confessed status as a workaholic.

The relationship might not have progressed far except for one phone call I made. I left her a message, “When you find time in your busy schedule to see me, let me know.” My wife said that was the event that “woke her up.” We became engaged about a year after we met.

I reject the notion that one’s life is pre-ordained, that actions don’t really matter and that we, basically, just go along for the ride. She and I made an effort to meet and I made that phone call that pushed the relationship forward. What’s the point in living if we really have no influence in how our life turns out? Luck is undoubtedly a factor in life outcomes, but luck does not explain 98% of outcomes.

I also believe that life is about doing things and not waiting to do things. Socrates is supposed to have said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He believed that the love of wisdom was life’s most important pursuit. I have also seen that remark turned around, “The unlived life is not worth examining.” I believe the latter remark also has much relevance.

I love you, V Squared!

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General Motors has announced the end of the Chevrolet Impala. The Impala was discontinued once before (in 1996, Impala production resumed for the 2000 model year), but this feels permanent. I will once again state my extreme displeasure that an obese America is killing the passenger car as we know it and that the future vehicle marketplace will seemingly consist of nothing but self-driving SUVs and pickup trucks with electric drivetrains. Talk about tyranny of the majority. By the way, it’s not as though the Impala is a bad car. In 2014, Consumer Reports named it the best sedan on the market, the first time it had ever bestowed that honor on a car from America’s Big Three. However, Impala sales declined from 172,000 in 2010 to just 76,000 in 2017. (In 1965 Impala sales exceeded 1,000,000.) The market has spoken although I can’t stand the message. This market change is one reason why my restomod C2 Corvette build is so important to me.

 

https://ccnwordpress.blob.core.windows.net/journal/2017/08/9332019-1958-chevrolet-impala-std-c.jpg

From journal.classiccars.com a picture of a 1958 Impala, which was the first model year for the car. The 1958 was a one-year only body style, which seems odd now, but The Big Three really believed that something close to annual model change was important in keeping up the demand for new cars.

Goodbye, Impala. 😦

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

Tuesday Trivia

OK, what is this?

  Pct of US Per Capita
United States 100
Canada 28.09
Ireland 17.68
Israel 17.55
Puerto Rico 16.32
New Zealand 14.78
Australia 11.07
Hong Kong SAR China 6.83
Norway 5.84
Cyprus 3.62
Sweden 2.68
Switzerland 2.16
Netherlands 2.09
United Kingdom 1.58
France 1.33
Belgium 1.16
Colombia 1.02
Portugal 0.87
Czech Republic 0.84
Singapore 0.75
Germany 0.67
South Africa 0.65
Dominican Republic 0.44
Greece 0.42
Spain 0.27
Chile 0.25
Poland 0.23
South Korea 0.17
Ghana 0.16
Italy 0.14
Peru 0.14
Venezuela 0.14
Mexico 0.11
China 0.05
India 0.04
Nigeria 0.02
Indonesia 0.02

 

Not surprisingly the US has the most views of Disaffected Musings and the most per capita. Canada is second in total views/views per capita and its views per capita are 28.09% of the US figure. You can argue with WordPress about Puerto Rico and Hong Kong being considered separate countries, but that is how they categorize those jurisdictions. I am and always have been a numbers nerd.

Taking this tangent even further, Australia is third in overall views but seventh in views per capita. Not counting the US, 16 countries have a per capita view rate of at least 1% of the US rate. The US accounts for 93% of blog views. That’s enough…I promise.

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This article titled “Corvette Power in the Modern Age” from Hemmings is similar to something I posted in my previous blog. Here is a photo (from squir.com) germaine to the piece:

https://squir.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/c/h/chevrolet_corvette_zr1_convertible_2019_0011_1.jpg

 

This is a 2019 Corvette ZR1 convertible. The car is powered by a supercharged 6.2 liter/376 cubic-inch V-8 that produces 755 HP and 715 LB-FT of torque, the highest rated GM engine ever, at least for now. The ZR-1 accelerates from 0-60 MPH in 2.8 seconds, which is way too fast for most drivers I promise you.

In the wake of the General Motors announcement yesterday that it is closing multiple plants, “laying off” thousands of workers and discontinuing several sedan models in order to “right-size production for the realities of the market” I thought mentioning THE American sports car was a good idea and the Hemmings piece was the catalyst.

The legendary L88 engine option from 1967-1969, of which only 216 were made, had a likely HP output between 525-575 and that would have been a gross rating (Chevrolet lied and rated the engine at 430 HP in order to dissuade most people from ordering the option; the L88 was also only available without a radio or heater further discouraging people from ordering it), meaning the HP figure was at the crank (not at the driven wheels) and excluded all accessories like the water pump. The ZR-1 engine produces about 200 HP more than the L88 and that is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

I’m sure most of you reading know this, but in the late 1970s automobile engines were much less powerful than they had been earlier. This denuding of output was due to oil shocks, emission and safety regulations and pressure from insurance companies. For example, the highest-rated Corvette engine for 1979, 40 years before the current ZR-1, was 225 HP. The standard engine was rated 195 HP.

A Corvette engine rated at 400+ HP wasn’t available again until the LT5 engine for the ZR1 option was upgraded to 405 HP for 1993. The first engine rated at 500+ HP was available in 2006; the first 600+ HP engine was available in 2009.

Where will it end? My guess, and others are making the same guess, is that barring unforeseen circumstances Chevrolet/GM will introduce a hybrid drivetrain for the Corvette similar in concept to the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1. Much speculation exists that such a drivetrain in the Corvette will produce 1,000+ HP. Supposedly, GM/Chevrolet have already trademarked the term “E-Ray.”

For the nth time, what do you think of the Corvette speculation? Can you foresee a day when the Corvette is discontinued?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings