Hall of Very Good Cars

If this series continues should I include the featured car in the post title? Should I number these posts or include the publication date?

 

Today’s car had an engine that revved so quickly, from idle to its 9,000 RPM redline in 0.6 seconds, that it had to be fitted with a digital tachometer as no analog device could keep up. Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame called it the best car he had ever driven.

In an episode of Everyday Driver in which another car from the same manufacturer was featured, Todd Deeken remarked, “It [the engine] feels like it has some genuine personality. It wants to have some fun and [in a mocking tone] it’s not allowed to. We don’t do that at […]. We don’t have fun, we just are nice.”

Any idea what today’s car is? It had a claimed top speed of 202 MPH and a 0-60 MPH time of 3.6 seconds. Without further ado:

 

 

See the source image

 

This is the Lexus LFA. In the same episode of Everyday Driver quoted above (a comparison between the C8 Corvette convertible and the Lexus LC convertible) Paul Schmucker said, “I think building the LFA caused Lexus to think a little bit naughty.”

This is certainly not an accessible car for the masses. Only 500 were built in total during its two-year production run (2010-2012). In the US and Canada, 150 cars were initially sold through a two-year lease program. This was to prevent owners from reselling the vehicle for a profit. When it was later made available for outright purchase, at $375,000, it was only on the condition that the buyer sign an agreement giving the dealer the first right of refusal to buy back the LFA if the owner wanted to sell it within the first two years. The dealer would have the option to buy back the used LFA for either fair market value or the original sticker price, whichever was lower. In all of Europe only one Lexus dealer, located in the UK, sold the LFA.

A few “purists” were not happy that the LFA was only available with a six-speed automated manual transmission and not a traditional stick. Some didn’t like the wave-like air scoops behind the doors or the fact that the hood isn’t flush with the front valence. That’s all nitpicking to me. I have never driven one, nor is it likely I ever will, but these “read” like amazing cars.

The LFA was powered by a 4.8 liter/293 cubic-inch V-10 engine that produced 553 HP/354 LB-FT of torque. If that torque figure seems “low” note that 90 percent of the maximum torque is available by 3,500 RPM. Remember that redline is 9,000 RPM. The LFA’s engineers selected a V-10 engine over an equivalent displacement V-8 engine for its ability to rev higher, and over a V-12 for its lower reciprocating mass allowing for more rapid engine response.

The more I researched the LFA and the more I write about it, the less I can explain why it was not part of any of my Ultimate Garages. It certainly looks the part and no sane person can complain about its performance. I doubt this blog will continue long enough for an Ultimate Garage 4.0, but I think it’s more likely than not this car would be included in that compilation.

As for the Hall of Very Good Cars, I really need to see significantly more views for this post than for the first one. I would be disappointed if the identities of the more than two dozen cars I have written down (so far) are never revealed.

As always, please feel free to submit thoughtful comments, to share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com) with friends, to “Like” posts and to click on any ad in which you have genuine interest. Thanks.

 

#HallofVeryGoodCars

#somanyCARSjustonelife

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Wandering Wednesday

This is the 17th post with the title “Wandering Wednesday.” Do you think my penchant for alliteration is an asset or a liability? I do think, and granted this is a subjective observation, that post titles affect readership.

 

A “dump” of links to posts from Why Evolution Is True:

 

Every planet in one photo (except Pluto)

Pinker: The “evolution war” is also a culture war

Peter Singer’s contrarian view on the Dobbs decision

I have avoided writing about this because, in my opinion, abortion is the very definition of a “hot button” issue. One thing I like about Why Evolution Is True is that the blog author (Jerry Coyne) can acknowledge that points of view with which he disagrees can still have merit, unlike the majority of today’s American population.

A NYT columnist accuses extremists on both Left and Right of erasing women

Once again, I lament the loss of real debate in this country. People shout at others instead of talking to them. Both sides are guilty although partisans will either not acknowledge that reality or arrogantly and blindly claim that they are right and, therefore, shouting is appropriate. From the post:

 

“It’s heartening to see someone of [Pamela] Paul’s stature at a paper as influential as the NYT pushing back on irrational wokeness. [My note: I think virtually all wokeness is irrational.] Is this a trend now? Will it go away? I doubt it, but voices of dissent from Leftists themselves are beginning to be heard, and this article—I’ve quoted only a bit of it—is one. I’ll just add her ending:

‘Tolerance for one group need not mean intolerance for another. We can respect transgender women without castigating females who point out that biological women still constitute a category of their own — with their own specific needs and prerogatives.'”

 

For the nth to the n time, NO ONE has a monopoly on truth, wisdom and good judgment and neither does ANY ideology. I once opined that if the five most liberal and five most conservative US Senators were replaced with moderates, then the country would be on much sounder footing. I don’t believe that, anymore. The division is far beyond Congress and, once again, the scourge of social media bears much/most of the blame.

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Here is a link to a Hemmings piece from ten days ago about a car that may or may not be included in a Hall of Very Good Cars post: the Pontiac Fiero. A picture from the article:

 

 

While the exterior design is very much “of the period” I think the Fiero has a very sharp and clean look. I have never driven one or even sat in one. Despite the mid-engine layout, the Fiero was not designed as a performance car. Even the Formula/GT version was powered by an engine that produced just 135 HP/165 LB-FT of torque. However, if the car’s designers had tried to position the Fiero as a true sports car, it is likely that upper-level executives at General Motors would have never allowed the Fiero to be built as it would have been seen as potentially cannibalizing the Corvette market. How ironic is it that moving the Corvette to a mid-engine platform came to be adopted as the way to broaden the car’s worldwide appeal?

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Here is a link to another Hemmings piece from late May (I no longer subscribe to Hemmings, which is why this reference is “late”) about George Murphy, owner of the largest GM dealership in the world in the mid-1960s, and his efforts to save Studebaker. From the article:

 

“Murphy sensed an opportunity with Studebaker, so in February of 1966, after selling Honolulu Iron Works, he approached Studebaker chairman Randolph Guthrie with an offer to buy 500,000 shares of Studebaker stock—more than a sixth of the outstanding shares of common stock—at $30 per share, above market price. The offer came out of left field, according to a lawsuit between Studebaker and Allied Products, a Studebaker supplier that also entered in negotiations to buy the company immediately after Murphy’s offer. Studebaker’s board of directors appeared in favor of Murphy’s offer but ultimately left the decision up to the stockholders, who, by all indications, let the offer die on the vine. Guthrie, in turn, rejected Allied’s offer, and a month later Studebaker shut down the Hamilton assembly line, bringing an end to the company’s car making efforts.”

 

By the time Murphy made his offer, the cars shown below had already been discontinued. Still, who knows what might have happened. Many of those who know far more about Studebaker than I do think the board just wanted to leave the automobile business regardless.

 

See the source image

 

The top photo is a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, a member of my Ultimate Garage 3.0, and the bottom is a Studebaker Avanti, a member of my first Ultimate Garage.

Another idea often written here is that what actually happens/happened is virtually never the only thing that could have happened. If Murphy’s bid had been accepted or Studebaker had signed any of the three offers to import Volkswagens, then the company might still exist and might still be manufacturing and selling cars. I don’t know how I would feel about Studebaker under the latter scenario, but that’s another story.

 

#WanderingWednesday

#IdeologyIsAPathToRuin

#PontiacFiero

#TheEndOfStudebaker

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Threes And Sevens: 1977

An old adage states, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” Therefore, I will present this as a challenge instead of as a threat. When the next installment of Hall of Very Good Cars is posted (probably on Thursday the 7th), please do all you can to make sure it has more views than the first edition. The number I have in mind is that its views on the day of publication should be greater than or equal to the combined number of views the first post had on the day of publication and the day after. Thanks.

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For me, 1977 is the Seinfeld of years in the US automobile industry: nothing happened. Well, nothing exciting, anyway.

A tangent: I believe the whole “Seinfeld was the show about nothing” axiom arose from the Season 2 episode, The Chinese Restaurant. The episode takes place in only one locale, a Chinese restaurant (duh). I’m not sure if it was after he read the script or after he saw the produced but unaired episode, but then-NBC President Warren Littlefield commented, “Jerry, isn’t something supposed to happen on the show? Nothing happened.” Many upper-level NBC executives did not want the show produced after they had read the script and most of them did not wanted the show broadcast. Eventually, of course, the show aired and was one of the landmark episodes, one very different from standard sitcom fare at the time.

Back to 1977 in the US automobile industry: by this time, foreign manufacturers had made significant inroads in the US market. For example, in 1967 Toyota sold about 38,000 vehicles in the US. By 1977 that figure had grown to 439,000. Sales of imported cars in the US reached the two million mark for the first time. I guess that event was of some importance, but the foreign car “invasion” began long before 1977.

US manufacturers produced 9.1 million cars for the 1977 model year. That represented a healthy increase of about a million from 1976, but was not substantially higher than the 8.8 million for 1965.

Chevrolet led all domestic manufacturers with production of 2.54 million cars. Ford was second with 1.84 million and Oldsmobile–now defunct, sadly–finished third at 1.14 million. General Motors continued to dominate domestic car production/sales as Pontiac (also sadly defunct, of course) and Buick finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Perhaps the fact that GM beat its Big Three competitors to the market with downsizing of their full-sized models led to its market share exceeding 60 percent, excluding foreign makes. I would love to write a book on the history of the US automobile industry, but very little in the 21st century interests me and no one would buy it, anyway.

After a long run of dominance, the Impala was not Chevrolet’s best-selling model in 1977. Anyone want to guess what was? Here it is:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The Landau coupe is shown here even though the S coupe was more popular that year. I couldn’t find a good photo of an S spec.

Monte Carlo production reached 411,000 in 1977, of which the S spec was about 55 percent. Combined, the Monte Carlo, the Caprice and the Nova had production/sales of 1.12 million units.

What else happened in 1977? Do you care that American Motors introduced a Pacer wagon, which–not surprisingly–did not help Pacer sales? Neither do I. Do you care that Chevrolet added the Concours model as sort of an upscale Nova? Neither do I. Like I wrote, 1977 was basically a year when nothing of note happened in the US automobile industry.

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1977

#somanyCARSjustonelife

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Slow Progress Sunday

It’s been about two months since I published the 1,400th post on Disaffected Musings. Of course, I control the flow of writing, but am genuinely surprised that this is “only” post number 1,440. Just the like “1,000” logo supplied by WordPress when I published my 1,000th post, I think they will make a “1,500” logo available when (if?) I reach 1,500. It just seems to me, somehow, that I should be closer to that “milestone.”

Speaking of posts, the Hall of Very Good Cars series is hanging by a thread. The combined number of views for the first installment on its day of publication and the day after was more than 50 percent below the average of the last ten posts. The only reasons I haven’t already written the series off are: 1) it was not the only post among the last ten with that two-day view total, and 2) DDM’s observation about the July 4th weekend having a negative impact on readership.

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Slow progress is part of life and isn’t always a bad thing. In When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss’ excellent biography of Vince Lombardi, the author recounts how W.C. Heinz, who wrote the legendary Run To Daylight! with Coach Lombardi, struggled at first to crystallize an idea around which to write a book about Lombardi.

 

“On the night after his [Heinz’s] fourth halting interview session with Lombardi, he retired to the guest bedroom and struggled through a long bout of sleeplessness brought on by anxieties over the project. I’m getting out of this! he said to himself that night. This is impossible…”

 

Later the same night Heinz thought of a solution: a narrative about preparing for a specific game that would focus his effort (and Lombardi’s) and allow him to weave in background material. To say the book was successful is an understatement: Run to Daylight! has had at least 23 printings.

The second book I had published was written with a co-author, Rob. At one time we were very close, but have drifted apart. Anyway…our original idea was simply to write a series of articles and essays about baseball. We wanted to call the book A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Baseball or A Random Walk Through Baseball.

Without a clear direction we struggled to write the book. I don’t remember what the “light bulb” moment was, but we moved the book in another direction (a theme similar to the one I wrote that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written) and produced it in fairly short order (for a book, that is) after that. It sold fairly well, easily reaching five figures in sales.

I guess the lesson I am trying to convey is that instant clarity is not the norm and is certainly not as common as impatient people like me would prefer. Maybe I need to relearn that lesson.

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On this day in 1945, with World War II not yet over, Ford produced the first car since the government halted such production early in 1942. The War Production Board had announced on May 11, 1945 that it would permit automobile manufacturers to begin reconversion to civilian production on July 1. Obviously, Ford must have used leftover 1942 parts and tooling as it would have been impossible to convert its plants, primarily the River Rouge facility, in two days.

These were 1946 model year cars and Ford produced about 34,000 of them in calendar year 1945. I don’t remember where I saw this figure, and couldn’t seem to find it in my brief search, but the number that sticks in my head is that about 83,000 cars were produced by the US automobile industry in calendar year 1945. Most car companies were up and running by October, 1945 although Chrysler and Studebaker didn’t re-start production until December.

Ford’s early start helped it lead all makes in production/sales for model year 1946 at approximately 468,000 units. Overall industry production was 2.16 million or less than half the total from 1929.

 

See the source image

 

Obviously from RM Sotheby’s is a photo of a 1946 Ford Super DeLuxe convertible. Ford produced 16,359 Super DeLuxe convertibles that year, or just 3.5 percent of its total output.

In the present day, I think companies would be more compliant with government edicts and decrees than individuals. I wasn’t alive during World War II, but I simply cannot imagine the US population being united by anything these days to the degree it was during that war. Please feel free to disagree with that assertion.

 

#SlowProgressSunday

#ResumptionOfCarProduction

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Jose Can You See

Sorry, car fans, today’s post is not about automobiles.

Accomplished and controversial former major league baseball player Jose Canseco was born on this day in 1964. (As was his twin brother, Ozzie, who also played baseball although he was nowhere near as successful.)

Canseco was highly touted before he ever played in the major leagues. At the age of 20-21 he was chosen Minor League Player Of The Year by multiple baseball publications in 1985. The stat nerd in me must show his performance that season: .333 Batting Average (AVG)/.424 On-Base Percentage (OBP)/.649 Slugging Percentage (SLG), 36 HR, 127 RBI in 118 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

I actually witnessed his first major league plate appearance in September, 1985. I don’t know if this is still the case, but in my baseball days major league teams could add players to their active roster on September 1 as the roster limit was raised from 25 to 40. By the way, Canseco struck out on three pitches from Ken Dixon.

After predicting he would do it, in 1988 Canseco became the first major league player to hit 40+ homeruns and steal 40+ bases in the same season. Of course, stolen base totals are somewhat under the influence of the player. Canseco was unanimously named the American League Most Valuable Player and led the Oakland A’s to their first of three consecutive World Series appearances.

The rest of this paragraph is from Wikipedia, but since it’s (primarily) a recitation of facts I will not use quotes. On August 31, 1992, in the middle of a game and while Canseco was in the on-deck circle, the A’s traded him to the Texas Rangers for Rubén Sierra, Jeff Russell, Bobby Witt, and cash. At the moment of the trade, Canseco was batting .243 with 22 home runs and 72 RBIs in 97 games, and the A’s were leading the American League West Division by 6.5 games. The Oakland front office was looking to fortify their pitching down the stretch. A’s general manager Sandy Alderson announced the trade while the Athletics were still playing the Orioles that night. The trade caught Canseco, the fans, the media, and people throughout Major League Baseball all by surprise, as Canseco was considered at the time the best player in baseball, but was also the most scrutinized.

In a four-day stretch in May of 1993, Canseco’s reputation was damaged by two events. The first, on May 26, was when Canseco lost track of a ball hit by the Indians’ Carlos Martinez. The ball bounced off Canseco’s head and over the wall for a homerun. On May 29, after pestering his manager to let him do so, Canseco was allowed to pitch in a game, a blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox. The result was an injury to his throwing elbow that required Tommy John surgery and cost him most of the rest of that season.

Of course, today Canseco’s name is inextricably linked to the use of steroids. In his book, Juiced, published in 2005, Canseco admitted to using anabolic steroids for most of his career. He also claimed that most baseball players, at the time, were using steroids. Perhaps hypocritically, in 2010 Canseco made the following remarks to children in an event covered by ESPN:

 

“These kids don’t need steroids to become players… we overemphasize the steroids and not the athletic ability and skills of these people. We’re taking away the hard work the athlete puts in and saying he became great just because of steroids. Let me give you a perfect example. I have an identical twin brother, Ozzie. He is the closest thing to me genetically. And in my prime I was a super athlete. My twin brother used the same chemicals, same workouts, the same nutrition. Why didn’t he make it in the big leagues? That is the perfect example that we are giving steroids way too much credit. If steroids are that great it would have made him a superstar.”

 

OK, an athlete–or anyone wishing to add significant muscle mass–still needs to participate in weight training. Just taking steroids will not have the same effect as steroids plus weights. Obviously, though, Canseco was trying counter his image as being solely a creation of chemicals.

An aside: only using statistics to evaluate players can, sometimes, result in being misled about a player. I won’t mention this player by name, but I recommended a player to my clients after he had a “breakout” year at the Triple-A level while still being young enough for that to be meaningful. As it turned out he started using anabolic steroids before that season and was later given a long suspension by the powers that be. From my perspective, I had no way of knowing about the steroids, but a scout who had seen him play over multiple seasons might have. Such breakout years, while not common, were also not unheard of. Also, a player can add muscle mass without the use of steroids, but it’s more difficult.

Back to Canseco, he has been involved in numerous legal issues and other controversies. If you really want to read about them, the Wikipedia article about him is a good place to start.

OK, the word counter in the lower left is at 850+. Time to stop here. Below is a picture of Canseco while playing for the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas?) A’s. Hope you enjoyed this post.

 

See the source image

 

#JoseCanYouSee

#JoseCanseco

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Hall of Very Good Cars

Welcome to the second half of 2022. Technically, though, that doesn’t really happen until noon tomorrow.

 

Not all value systems are equally valid. The Nazis had a “value system.” Do I really have to tolerate or respect that paradigm? Too many people think that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences.

In a marginally related vein, here is a passage from David Maraniss’ wonderful biography of Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered, that I am reading for the 10th or 12th time:

 

“WITH EVERY [sic] national scandal comes shock, surprise and lamentation on the fall of man. The event is seen by some as substantiation of decline, as though human imperfection were a modern-day phenomenon. Along with diatribes come complaints of public apathy; the righteous express bewilderment that no one seems to care.”

 

Maybe I’m projecting my own views onto Maraniss’ words, but when he writes “the righteous” I think he means self-righteous. Thomas Sowell–noted economist, historian, social theorist and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution–uses the word “anointed” as in self-anointed. From his book The Vision Of The Anointed:

 

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce and canonized those who complain.”

 

We have lost our way and I don’t think we will ever find the way back. That’s my lamentation. NO ONE has all the answers no matter how much they think they do. EVERY endeavor of human beings is flawed because EVERY human being is flawed. By the way, that is not an indication of any religious belief of mine.

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This Hall of Very Good Cars post is the ultimate anti-climax, but I figured I better Shit Or Get Off The Pot.

 

See the source image

 

The pictured car is, of course, a 1958 Chevrolet Impala. That was the first year the Impala was produced. Despite the protestations of many, reliable sources indicate that for its first year of existence the Impala was a variant of the Bel Air and not a model unto itself. The Impala became a separate model in 1959.

I don’t know if it’s the wrap-around rear window, the noticeable but not excessive canted rear fins, the triple rear taillights, or all of the above, but I just love the looks of this car. Apparently, so do many collectors as good examples of this car are hard to find at (much) less than $60,000.

Why this car doesn’t rise to the level of an Ultimate Garage is difficult for me to articulate, but that it doesn’t is clear to me, nevertheless. I am loathe to stoop to “I know it when I see it.” However, that’s the difference in a nutshell. (Yes, I hear you; nutcase is more like it.)

It can be said that the Hall of Very Good Cars posts will be a long presentation of automobiles that “Just Missed The Cut” like those I posted in the first two versions of my Ultimate Garage. Maybe it’s just an excuse to write about cars I find appealing. I am far from perfect and would love to have more reasons to keep writing, even if I have to invent those reasons. By the way, through yesterday I had written about 738,000 words in this blog. An educated guess (am I capable of such a thing?!) would be that I have written about 940,000 words in total in my two blogs.

As always I welcome thoughtful comments. Of course, if any of you want to offer a list similar to the “Hall of Very Good Cars” we would like to see it.

 

#HallofVeryGoodCars

#NotAllValueSystemsAreEquallyValid

#1958ChevroletImpala

#somanyCARSjustonelife

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Thought Provoking Thursday

It should be obvious that I hope my blog is thought provoking almost every day. A quasi-plea: while I do not and will not have a Fack Fucebook account, I would not object if those of you who do would post the main link to the blog (https://disaffectedmusings.com) or links to specific posts on the “platform.” As I have recounted, my mother used to recite a Polish saying, which when translated into English was, “If you need the thief, you take him down from the gallows.” I am just asking; if you feel this “request” is hypocritical, then feel free to ignore and/or let me know you feel that way.

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I was going to call today’s post “Fish Or Cut Bait.” I would have then written that I really wanted to call the post “Shit Or Get Off The Pot,” but that I did not want to use “profanity” in a post title.

Without getting into specifics or naming names, I know people who engage in Analysis To Paralysis. EVERYTHING has diminishing marginal utility, though, often to the point of having zero or even negative marginal benefit.

One can never really have all of the facts. One criticism of the classical economic model is that agents (people, firms, etc.) can never really optimize behavior because they can’t know everything. Famous economist Herbert Simon introduced the idea of “Satisficing.” He applied it to the behavior of firms, but it also–obviously–applies to individual behavior. After all, businesses are just collections of individuals.

Classical economic theory assumes that firms attempt to maximize profits, but the ideas associated with satisficing question this assumption. A satisficing firm is not attempting to maximize anything, but it is trying to achieve an acceptable level of a single objective or an acceptable mix of other objectives, of which profit is only one. It represents a solution to the problem of not being able to establish an optimal decision regarding business decision-making since an “optimal” decision cannot be determined.

As I have written, I firmly believe that time is more valuable than money, especially when one reaches my age. My time is finite, but I can almost always figure out a way to acquire more money. For example, not that I anticipate this scenario will occur (and certainly hope that it doesn’t), but I could decide to collect my Social Security retirement benefits if I found myself in a financial bind. I am 62, the minimum age for collecting those payments.

All this being said, I am not advocating acting impulsively and without thought as one’s primary decision-making paradigm. All I am saying is that EVERYTHING has limits, including analysis and thought. At some point you have to Fish Or Cut Bait, Shit Or Get Off The Pot.

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“Fish Or Cut Bait” would also have applied to getting the Hall of Very Good Cars series started. I am 99% sure that I will publish that series concurrently with Threes And Sevens, which has only five posts remaining, anyway.

I am not saying this car will be included in the Hall of Very Good Cars, but I have been fascinated by it ever since seeing the episode of Wheeler Dealers where the car was featured.

 

See the source image

 

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Yes, this car–a Rover P5B–has four doors. Interestingly though (OK, maybe it’s only interesting to me), the car is called a Coupé. I believe the original distinction between a coupe and a sedan had to do with interior volume and not the number of doors.

The stock engine for this car was a small displacement, 3.5 liter/215 cubic-inch, aluminum V-8. Maybe I should have written aluminium. This was the Buick engine used in the “Senior Compact” line for Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac from 1961 through 1963. Rover acquired the tooling to the engine in 1965 (General Motors discontinued production after the 1963 model year) and used it in at least one of their vehicles until 2006. Rover also sold the engine to companies like Morgan, TVR and Triumph.

Something about the lines of the P5B is just mesmerizing to me. The example in the Wheeler Dealers episode also had a similar paint scheme to the one shown, a light color roof over a darker body.

Anyway, as the list of Hall of Very Good Cars continues to grow, at some point I will also have to Fish Or Cut Bait, Shit Or Get Off The Pot. As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

#ThoughtProvokingThursday

#FishOrCutBait

#RoverP5B

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Another Wednesday In The Desert

Philip Maynard will know and perhaps JS, but does anyone else know what an anode rod is? My wonderful wife and I had no idea until we started experiencing an awful odor in the part of the house where the laundry room is. The smell was sulfur-ish in nature, like very rotten eggs.

An anode rod is, basically, a sacrificial shaft used mainly in water heaters. It helps protect the lining of the water heater and generally lengthens its life. In our house the laundry room shares a wall with our garage, which–not surprisingly–is where our water heater is.

When the anode rod inevitably gives up the ghost (that’s its job), which happens quite quickly here with the high mineral content of the water and the necessary water softening apparatus because of that content, the result is often a very foul smell. We are lucky to use a good plumbing company and they replaced the anode rod yesterday. So far, so good as we have no awful smell near the laundry room.

I had never known anyone who had a water softener in their house or who had to replace the anode rod in their water heater prior to moving to Arizona. I’ll take that as a small cost to live here.

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Two photographs of the same view, basically. In the top pic, taken recently, it’s not easy to ascertain that the sky behind the distant mountains is actually dark indicative of rain. The mountains themselves are in sunlight.

The bottom photo was taken earlier this year (in February) and shows snow in the same mountains. As I have often written, this view is from the second-floor deck on the north side of our house.

Here is another recently taken photograph.

 

 

I have seen more of what I call “rain tendrils” here in 20 months than I had seen in all of my life prior to moving to Arizona. Yes, it’s hot here for four months, but the scenery and the weather the rest of the year are more than enough compensation. Actually, the heat doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Maybe my old bones like warmth. Oh, you can also see that not all of the desert is brown.

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As regular readers know, I am a fan of Everyday Driver. Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker have been producing automotive content under that banner since 2007.

Their TV shows are broadcast on Motor Trend and all ten seasons are supposed to be available on Amazon Prime. However, I have been unable to watch any shows from the first two seasons for months. That’s another story…

The car shown below is one of their current favorites. No, I am not interested in buying one, but I do have an academic interest in it.

 

See the source image

 

This is a Hyundai Veloster N. It is certainly an idiosyncratic car with its three doors. Deeken and Schmucker both love the car and call it the best “hot hatch” currently available anywhere in the world. Of course, Europe has the obsession with hot hatches. The US automobile market is obsessed with CUVs, SUVs and pickup trucks, a situation the two hosts–especially Deeken–rail against with some frequency.

The N version of the Veloster was tuned and tested at the famous Nurburgring in Germany, which is what the “N” stands for. This spec is powered by a turbocharged 2-liter, inline 4-cylinder engine generating 275 HP/260 LB-FT of torque. The car weighs 3,100 pounds with the six-speed manual or 3,200 pounds with the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. It is a front-wheel drive car.

Although the car is not large (104-inch wheelbase, 168 inches in length), Deeken and Schmucker swear that the car is quite roomy. Its rear leg room of 34 inches is more than adequate and it has 20 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up and 44 cubic feet with the rear seats down. Some CUVs and SUVs don’t have that much interior space. None of those vehicles, except for the exotic ones from Lamborghini and Maserati, can drive like the Veloster N, which has a “starting” MSRP of $32,500. How much is an Urus?

In a world where my net worth is at least ten times more than it is and we have a house to match with lots of garage space, I would consider buying one of these. If my aunt had had balls, she would have been my uncle. (No disrespect intended to the memory of my aunt and uncle who were Holocaust survivors.)

Do any of you have any opinions about the Veloster N? Are any of you fans of hot hatches?

 

#AnotherWednesdayInTheDesert

#DesertScenery

#EverydayDriver

#HyundaiVelosterN

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Threes And Sevens: 1973

Yesterday’s post wasn’t exactly read by a lot of people. Basically, Monday had the same number of views as Sunday, a day without a post. That’s quite discouraging to me.

On another personal note, 1973 was the year I was bar-mitzvahed. Do I have to explain what that is? When a Jewish boy turns 13 he assumes all the rights and obligations of a Jewish adult. A ceremony is usually held, in a synagogue, to celebrate that event. Two of my best friends, Dr. Zal and Dr. Hoss, were also bar-mitzvahed in 1973. In fact, our three ceremonies were held eight days apart.

My bar-mitzvah (meaning “son of the commandment”) was, in one way, a horror show. My parents were on the road to divorce, with my father driving the car, and did not sit at the same table during the reception. One can imagine the tension that created for me.

On the other hand, 1973 was the year my (i)ncomparable niece was born. Her presence has been a supreme blessing for all of us.

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What American car from 1973 was named to Edmunds’ list of the 100 most beautiful cars of all time in 2012? It wasn’t the Corvette, the Camaro or the Challenger. It was this car:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am. From Edmunds: “The most daring nose ever put on a GM product. Clean elegance for the everyman, but still masculine. Looks best with honeycomb wheels and the optional Ram Air hood with two NACA ducts.” Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but my eyes also see a great exterior design. Here is another picture, this one from The American Car by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®.

 

 

Of course, the most significant development for the US auto industry in 1973 was the OPEC oil embargo that began in October. As “punishment” for its continued support of Israel (including during the Yom Kippur War that occurred that month), OPEC–dominated by Arab nations–stopped directly exporting oil to the US. The embargo led to gasoline shortages, long lines and large price increases. (The embargo was lifted in March of 1974.)

The price of a barrel of oil increased four-fold during the embargo. While it ultimately led to more enlightened policy to make the US more energy independent, in the short-term the embargo and its effects greatly contributed to a long-lived recession that lasted through 1975. While this post is about 1973, it is worth noting that US car output declined from more than eight million units in ’73 to just 6.5 million in 1975. All of the figures from 1973-75 were still below 1965’s mark of 8.8 million cars produced.

 

Other 1973 developments:

All US-made 1973 model year cars had to be equipped with front bumpers that protected the car from a 5-MPH crash as well as 2.5-MPH rear bumpers. Cars built after January 1, 1973 had to have protective beams in the doors.

Exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) valves were mandated for 1973 to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

A new Federal law required dealers to formally disclose mileage on used cars and banned tampering with the odometer.

In order to meet ever increasing emissions standards, in addition to responding to insurance practices that made owning performance cars quite expensive for many, US cars lost much performance. Take the Corvette, for example. The last Threes And Sevens post was about 1967. The base engine for the Corvette that year had 300 horsepower; the highest-rated engine was 435 HP, but the L88 option probably had at least 100 more HP than that even though it was rated at 430.

Granting that some of the decline was due to a change in how engine output was measured, but in 1973 the base Corvette engine had 190 HP–a 37 percent decline from 1967. The highest rated Vette engine in ’73 was the 454 big-block rated at 275 HP, also a 37 percent decline from 1967’s highest official rating and about a 50 percent decline from the likely output of the L88.

As I have written before, and as most car aficionados know, in time automobile engineers would outsmart the government and the insurance companies. In 1973, though, no one knew that would happen. In some ways, the period from 1972-73 through the early 80s could be seen as the Dark Ages of the US automobile industry, a time when things moved backwards from a performance standpoint.

As for how the makes ranked in production/sales, Chevrolet led with 2.58 million cars compared to Ford’s 2.35 million. Oldsmobile was third at about 923,000. Once again, the Impala was the Bow Tie’s best seller at nearly 550,000 units. The four-door sedan variant, shown below, just edged out the Custom Coupe as the top-selling Impala.

 

See the source image

 

These Threes And Sevens posts could all easily be 1,500+ words, but I think people’s eyes glaze over at anything more than about a thousand. I’ll stop here. If you like this blog, please let your friends know about it. Many thanks.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1973

#PontiacGrandAm

#somanyCARSjustonelife

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It’s Monday

Vindication of sorts…our power went out on Saturday. Our generator did exactly what it was supposed to do: it kicked in quickly and then shut down when power was restored.

One detail: we weren’t home when this happened. Our friend and neighbor, Emily, texted my wonderful wife asking if the generator was running (it’s not quiet). When my wonderful wife replied that we weren’t home she also asked if the power was out at Emily’s house; it was.

As it turned out, the power was only out for a few minutes. Of course, I still had to reset some clocks at home. Also, when I did my laundry yesterday both the washer and dryer displayed a message about the power having failed.

The population of metro Phoenix has increased five-fold since 1970. The electrical infrastructure is not five times as robust. My wonderful wife did not really want to install a whole-home backup generator, but kept her word after we had a long power outage (five hours) last monsoon season. I expect power outages to be more frequent in the future and am VERY glad we have the generator. Maybe, maybe, some decisions I’ve made post-career apocalypse have worked out.

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The list of Hall of Very Good Cars I am scribbling in the notebook on my office desk has already reached 17 cars. I am not putting a limit on the list. As of now, all of the cars have been mentioned in this blog. I am trying to include some automobiles that have not been shown previously, but after 1,400+ posts I have written about a lot of cars.

Speaking of this list, it was on this day in 1957 that General Motors applied for a trademark for the name “Impala.” Are you tired of looking at the 1958 Chevrolet Impala? Too bad, it’s my blog.

 

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

The rest of this post is being written about an hour after the previous material. I was so hungry that I could literally not concentrate enough to keep writing. I woke up my wonderful wife and we went to breakfast.

Why was I so hungry? I am really pushing myself on the treadmill. I worked out Monday, Wednesday, Friday and yesterday averaging about an hour per session. That’s almost 16 miles walking at close to 4 miles per hour uphill all the way. Combine that with the fact that I can’t/don’t eat dinner and maybe you can imagine how hungry I was this morning.

While at breakfast we ran into our neighbor, Bill. He owns a 2022 C8 Corvette convertible. Bill graciously offered us the opportunity to ride in/drive his car. I passed, but my wonderful wife drove his car and came away quite impressed. Impressed enough to trade in her 2018 Corvette for a C8? I don’t know.

Oh, while the three of us were talking I noticed at least three people take a long look at my Cascada as they walked past it in the parking lot. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder–I really do believe that, by the way–but I think if circumstances had been different the Cascada would have sold many more units. In addition, for American drivers, many of whom are obsessed with power figures (guilty as charged, at least some of the time), 200 HP/207 LB-FT of torque in a 3,900 pound automobile probably left many cold who may have been considering the car.

Even though my Z06 has spent most of the last ten weeks in the shop, I am still glad to own it. The car also satisfies my “need for speed” so the Cascada is a nice change of pace that satisfies other needs. No, I won’t show another photo of either car here.

 

The Threes And Sevens series will continue. I am debating whether or not to wait posting Hall of Very Good Cars until after Threes And Sevens is finished. I’m sure some of you would be fine if I posted both series simultaneously, but I think I need to “conserve” ideas. Maybe I’m wrong.

 

#It’sMonday

#HallofVeryGoodCars

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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