Birthday Day

Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife! Happy Birthday to my sweet sister!

As my birthday was two days ago and it was a “milestone” birthday, and given the other family birthdays, today was supposed to be the day for a birthday bash with a few friends and family. My longtime friends Dr. Zal, Dr. Hoss and Cutch were all supposed to attend, all of whom also have March birthdays. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The exigencies of life intrude as they often do.

For someone with depression and OCD, this coronavirus situation is especially difficult. As someone who has almost always resisted doing what other people tell him he should do, I am chafing to the point of mental rash.


On this day in 1941 construction began on the Ford Motor Company’s Willow Run manufacturing plant. Make no mistake, the plant was built to help with the Allies’ World War II efforts by building aircraft, even though the beginning of construction was roughly eight months before Pearl Harbor.

Henry Ford, friend of the Nazis and so-called pacifist, was a reluctant conscript. Ford built the plant and then sold it to the government, leasing it back for the remainder of the war. When the war ended, Ford declined to purchase the plant and new carmaker Kaiser-Frazer took ownership. Ironically, General Motors purchased the plant in 1953 and operated it as Willow Run Transmission until 2010.

By the end of 1942, Willow Run had only produced 56 B-24 Liberator bombers and the plant had been saddled with the nickname “Willit Run?” However, by the middle of 1944 the plant was completing a plane every 63 minutes! In total, more than 18,000 B-24s were built. The B-24 was surpassed in capability by more modern bombers such as the B-29 Superfortress and was quickly phased out of service by the US.

I am citing this day as the beginning of construction based on two sources. The Wikipedia article about Willow Run names April 18, 1941 as the day ground was broken on construction. From that article a picture of a B-24:


Maxwell B-24.jpg


Here is a picture of Hemmings’ Find Of The Day from February 18, 2017, a 1947 Kaiser Special:


See the source image








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A Z06 Year

A light year, of course, is not really a unit of time, but instead is a unit of distance. (5.88 trillion miles, to be exact—the distance light travels in a year at its amazing, but finite, speed)

A Z06 year is a year spent with what I think is the most amazing car ever made, dollar for dollar. Today is, indeed, one year since I took delivery of my 2016 Corvette Z06. (That fact is absolutely mind-boggling to me!)

I do wonder, though, why I have not driven the car more. I have put about 2,750 miles on the car in a year, only about 230 miles a month. I drove my 2009 BMW Z4 about 295 miles a month and that car was in the shop a lot.

When I am driving the Z06 sometimes I say out loud to myself, “I love this car.” So, why aren’t I driving it more? My wonderful wife and I do travel some, but I still have plenty of days in which to drive the Z06. In all honesty, I don’t really know why I don’t drive the car more. Perhaps advancing age is playing a role.

I will try to enjoy the car more in the future, but as I have written here before I suspect it won’t be until the move to the desert that the Z06 will get a chance to stretch its legs. Of course, I have to show some pics of the car:







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Marcus Allen, Jennifer Grey And I

We all share the same birth day/year, today and 4 times 15 years ago. Many might say that’s where the similarities end.

Obviously, Marcus Allen and Jennifer Grey are orders of magnitude more famous. A high-ranking New York Yankees executive once told me that anonymity is underrated. Wait a minute…you don’t know who Marcus Allen or Jennifer Grey is?

Allen, a member of both the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame, is the only player to have won the Heisman Trophy, an NCAA national championship, the Super Bowl, and be named NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP. We actually have something else in common, sort of. He was born and raised in San Diego; I worked for the San Diego Padres and, obviously, lived in San Diego.

Jennifer Grey is probably best known for her role in the movie Dirty Dancing, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. I have never seen that movie, but I have seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in which she played Ferris’ sister. She is the daughter of Academy Award winner Joel Grey.

I have never seen the movie Almost Famous, but some have told me that phrase could describe me. I know or have known a fair number of famous people, but real fame has eluded me, not that I have made a strong effort to be famous. Here is a list of some of the attendees at my wedding: Lon Babby, the late Jerry Coleman, Theo Epstein, Calvin Hill, Mel Kiper, Gary Roenicke and the late Kevin Towers. My copy of Moneyball is signed by Michael Lewis with a personal “dedication.”  I have worked with Billy Beane and the late Frank Robinson.

I’m sure fame, like virtually everything else in life, is neither all good nor all bad. Sometimes, though, I would like to experience it for myself.


In 1960, its eighth model year, Corvette sales finally cracked the 10,000 mark. (10,261 to be exact.) 1960 was the last year with the older rear deck and the chrome “teeth” on the front grill. From Silodrome a picture of a 1960 Corvette with the auxiliary hardtop in place, which is the way I think these cars look best:


See the source image


Half of these cars were ordered with the auxiliary hardtop (5,147 of 10,261). A little more than seven percent were ordered with the highest output engine, the 290 HP fuel injected 283 cubic-inch V-8. The base price of the car was $3,872. The hardtop option cost $236.75; the highest output engine $484.20.

As I have written before I am not a huge fan of the C1 Corvette. If my wonderful wife and I won $100,000,000+ in a lottery I don’t think we would buy a bunch of older Corvettes. Still, as a Corvette fan I appreciate the significance of the first-generation Vette as it was the one that paved the way.








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All Over The Place Wednesday

I wrote that between the UAW strike and the coronavirus 2020 C8 Corvette production would be around 5,000 instead of the original estimate of 40,000. That might not be correct. It is possible, maybe even likely, that people who ordered a 2020 model before the end of 2020 ordering in mid-March will still receive a 2020 model Corvette. While in Arizona for the recent Mecum auction John Kraman told me that 2020 production would be reduced to 30,000, but that was before the coronavirus led to GM closing its plants. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.


Most of you have heard the expression, “He who hesitates is lost.” From Mae West via The Muscleheaded Blog, “He who hesitates is a damned fool.”


A few of the many funny lines from this post:

I threw a boomerang a few years ago….
….Now I live in constant fear

I couldn’t believe that the Highway Department called my Dad a thief….
….but when I got home, all the signs were there.

Coles’ Law….
….thinly sliced cabbage

My wife accused me of being immature….
….I told her to get out of my fort

Parallel lines have so much in common….
….It’s a shame they’ll never meet

I have the memory of a woolly mammoth….
….It’s like an elephant’s, but a little fuzzy.


Some more cars from the Mecum Glendale 2020 auction:



From the staging area a picture of a 1960 Studebaker Regal Lark VIII convertible. Studebaker produced about 8,600 convertibles in 1960 and about 58,000 Lark VIIIs, but how many convertibles had the V-8 and not the six-cylinder engine is not easy to unearth. Extrapolation yields an estimate of about 3,900 1960 Lark VIII convertibles. This car went unsold at a high bid of $17,000.



This is a beautiful 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC. Only 600 were produced and it is a Ferrari so I guess it should be no surprise the car didn’t sell despite a high bid of $500,000. This car has its original engine which was rebuilt in 2013 and has about 1,000 miles since the rebuild. I don’t think many auction houses have the diversity of lots like Mecum. It’s not too often one will see a 1960 Studebaker and a 1967 Ferrari in the same auction.



A picture of the car with maybe the most famous face of all American cars. This is a 1936 Cord 810 convertible. The auction copy reads, though: “Meticulously restored to 1937 812 SC specs” and that the car was re-bodied at the time of restoration. Many of you know that Gordon Buehrig designed this car as a protest of Harley Earl’s maxim that the face made the car. Buehrig tried to design a car with no face, but wound up with this most famous of car faces. This car hammered sold at $190,000 meaning it was $209,000 all in to the buyer.



My wonderful wife and I really liked this sign. I’m not sure we were present when it was auctioned, but at $354 all in it certainly wouldn’t have broken the bank. My car is probably capable of 200 MPH, not that I would ever drive it that fast. He who hesitates—or is absent in mind or body—is lost.


Although the last few days have seen a flurry of comments, for which I am very grateful, in general 2020 has not been a robust year for them. Please don’t hesitate to submit thoughtful comments, the more the merrier. Thanks.







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A View To In-N-Out

This was the view from our hotel room in Glendale, Arizona.



What you can’t see are even more parking spaces to the left of the view of this photo. I suspect all of this parking is to accommodate those attending the NFL Arizona Cardinals games and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the NHL Phoenix Coyotes games. The Coyotes play in an arena close by.

Unfortunately, what has happened is that people come to this area at night with their cars for the purpose of drag racing, doing burnouts, etc. Apparently, the Glendale police have little to no interest in stopping these activities.

In all honesty, Glendale—despite its huge population growth—seems like a depressed area. The Westgate Entertainment District adjacent to State Farm Stadium is an attempt at economic development although the majority of its establishments are restaurants.

In general it is the eastern side of the Phoenix metropolitan area that is more vibrant. Glendale is on the west side. Scottsdale is on the east side. Both sides are home to my favorite fast food burger place, In-N-Out. How much do I love In-N-Out? The night before I married, but after the rehearsal dinner, I went to an In-N-Out with the two best men and another friend. I think I even ate my “normal” order, a 4-by-3 with fries and a drink. A 4-by-3 is four hamburger patties and three slices of cheese. Once I learned not to order the spread, a Big Mac-like sauce, I really came to appreciate how good In-N-Out burgers are. Anyway, here is a picture from inside the In-N-Out we visited in Scottsdale on Tuesday the 10th.



It was not really lunch hour as we stopped here well after 1 PM, but the place was mobbed. I don’t know if Arizona has shut down dining in restaurants, but In-N-Out has a drive-thru so they can keep serving the amazing burgers. We currently live well outside the home area of In-N-Out, but hopefully that will change in the near future. Note the simple menu and note that a “4-by-3” isn’t shown anywhere. In the 70-plus years they have been in business, a “secret” menu has developed which regulars soon learn. The menu is not secret, anymore; here is a link to it on In-N-Out’s website.

Another example of how much I love In-N-Out: when my wonderful wife and I returned from our honeymoon we just threw the suitcases in the house, got in the car and drove to the nearest In-N-Out. That was the first time I ever used the phrase “my wife.” When I asked an employee for ketchup I said, “My wife likes ketchup.” We still talk about that to this day.

I would very much like to read if any of you has an affinity for In-N-Out.





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J’ai Fait Une Faux Pas

I am a very happily married man and am also about to “celebrate” a birthday that, for me, marks the passage into old age. Still, I notice women. One of those women is Laura Landis, a bidders assistant for Mecum and daughter of Mecum auctioneer Jimmy Landis. As I told Scott Hoke, I think she is adorable.

The first day of the auction I did something that I thought was “cute” at the time, but quickly realized it was a mistake, a misstep, a faux pas. As my wonderful wife and I walked to our seats we passed Laura Landis. I said, “Good morning, Laura” and kept walking without stopping to introduce myself. For the rest of the auction I tried not to make eye contact with her, but when I did I felt most uncomfortable. Oh well…


Here’s a photo having nothing to do with the auction:



It does rain in the desert, but that can also mean a double rainbow.

Here are some auction photos:



Most of you probably know the identity of these cars, but from top to bottom: a (1968) Dodge Charger, an AMC AMX (1969), a (2013) Ferrari 458 and a (2004) Cadillac XLR. With the possible exception of the 458 all of the other cars have been shown in this blog before. Hey, I like what I like and I know what I like. Of the 1,200 or 1,400 or whatever the number was of vehicles that crossed the block during the auction I probably only have photos of 40 or 50.

Here is another non-auction photo. I don’t think the picture really conveys the breathtaking nature of this view from Camelback Mountain, but here goes:



If you haven’t figured it out by now I think Arizona is beautiful and I am chomping at the bit to move there. I hope this coronavirus situation passes quickly and without doing lasting damage to the country and to the economy. Selfishly, anything that threatens to delay or to derail the move is most unwelcome.







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A Look Back

I’m not sure I have expressed just how much fun my wonderful wife and I had attending the Mecum auction in Glendale, Arizona. Scott Hoke and John Kraman, the two hosts of the broadcasts on NBCSN, were most gracious with their time. Scott even arranged for us to take a tour of the TV production truck. Here are a couple of photos:



From the outside one would never know how many people are inside the truck and just how much goes into producing the broadcast. Thanks again to Scott and to Aaron, a member of the TV crew.

Of course, the stars of the auction are the cars. I haven’t posted too many Studebaker or Packard photos recently, so here’s one:



This is a 1932 Packard 902 Coupe Roadster. The car crossed the block on Friday the 13th and hammered sold at $57,000 or $62,700 all in. The 902 Eight was available in 12 different body styles in 1932 (!) and a total of 3,737 were built.


Oh…Mecum also auctions motorcycles and guitars. Given I used to play the guitar I have some interest in those auctions. Take a look at this photo of the main screen in auction arena:



That guitar did sell at $51,920 all in. Guitars and road art have a higher buyers commission than the 10% charged for automobiles. Still, if I could spend that kind of money I would rather buy a 1965 Buick Riviera GS.

The auction was held in the home of the NFL Arizona Cardinals, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Glendale, of course, is a suburb of Phoenix and like many Phoenix suburbs it has experienced enormous population growth in the last few decades. In 1970 its population was about 36,000; the 2018 Census Bureau population estimate was approximately 250,000. This next photo is probably a little disorienting, but here’s a shot of the stadium floor. The building is not small…



This car really caught my eye:



This is a picture of a 2005 Maserati Cambiocorsa Spyder 90th Anniversary Edition. In person, the lines appear perfect, in my opinion. The Mecum listing incorrectly showed the engine displacement at 2.4 liters; the actual displacement is 4.2 liters or 258 cubic inches for Bill Stephens. An aside: we did not meet Bill during the auction. Maybe next time…back to the Maserati, when new the Ferrari-built engine produced 390 HP/333 LB-FT of torque.

Speaking of Maserati, I was overwhelmed by the looks of this car almost to the point of tears. This is a 1959 Maserati 3500 GT Coupe:



This is yet another car whose lines appear perfect to me. The car was offered on Friday, but did not sell at a high bid of $80,000. Depending on condition these cars can be worth multiples of the high bid.

Please let me know if you want to see more auction photos.








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Another Saturday Sampler

On this day in 1925 Tennessee Governor Austin Peay signed the Butler Act into law. The bill was introduced by Tennessee House of Representatives member John Washington Butler prohibiting public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of mankind’s origin. The law also prevented the teaching of the evolution of man from what it referred to as lower orders of animals in place of the Biblical account.

The law was challenged later that year in a famous trial in Dayton, Tennessee called the Scopes Trial that included a raucous, and now famous, confrontation between prosecution attorney and fundamentalist religious leader, William Jennings Bryan, and noted defense attorney and religious agnostic, Clarence Darrow.

Incredibly, the Butler Act wasn’t repealed until 1967. Maybe that’s not so incredible…a sizable minority of Americans (usually polling at about 40%) do not believe in evolution. As Satchel Paige is supposed to have remarked, “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.”


On this day in 1996 General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a settlement in a 17-day brake factory strike that idled more than 177,000 employees and brought what was then the world’s top automaker to a virtual standstill. Only about 3,000 workers actually struck, but the de facto closure of the GM Delphi Chassis Systems brake plants in Dayton, Ohio forced GM to close 26 of its 29 assembly plants and cut back work at 90 parts factories. Independent suppliers also laid off tens of thousands of workers.

While the Dayton strike was over local issues, including safety, excess overtime and other contract disputes, its focal point became GM’s desire to award in-house work to outside suppliers, a.k.a. outsourcing.

The most recent UAW strike in combination with the coronavirus led to a reduction in 2020 C8 production from the original goal of 40,000 to probably just 5,000. In fact, as of March 18 it was no longer possible to order a 2020 Corvette. When orders resume in May, customers will be ordering model year 2021 Corvettes. I suspect most of the customers who ordered 2020 models will be receiving 2021 models instead and will have to wait even longer to receive their car, maybe a car like this:


See the source image


From Motor1 a picture of a 2020 Corvette.


On this day a year ago I—with the help of my wonderful wife—wired the money to pay for my 2016 Corvette Z06. It’s almost incomprehensible that acquiring that car is already a year in the past. I didn’t receive the car until the 27th; I have only driven it about 2,670 miles. Since I am “retired” I do not drive that much, but that’s still a shame in my eyes. Let’s say I’m at an even 2,700 miles on the 27th, that would still be just 225 miles a month. I drove my Z4 almost 300 miles a month in the 29 months I owned it. Maybe the Z06 will get to stretch its legs more after the move to the desert.










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Frugal Friday, Mecum Glendale 2020 Edition

First…in Where Is Cristy Lee? I noted her absence from the telecast of the Barrett-Jackson auction from Scottsdale, Arizona in January. Well, as some of you may know that was Motor Trend’s last broadcast of a Barrett-Jackson auction, at least for the foreseeable future. When those auctions resume they will be shown on the A&E networks (e.g. History, fyi). As Cristy Lee is under contract to Motor Trend, I assume, given that Motor Trend is part of the Discovery “empire” and that A&E is jointly owned by Hearst and Disney, I don’t think the gorgeous Ms. Lee will be on the broadcasts, anymore.

Of all of the on-air talent only Steve Magnante actually works for Barrett-Jackson. It could be almost an entirely new cast of characters the next time a Barrett-Jackson auction is held and broadcast.


Some automotive “experts” advise not to buy a car for less than $15,000 or so at any auction as that is strong evidence, they believe, of a sub-standard car. Well, I think that all depends. Some cars can be purchased for so little money that even if they need work the total cost will still be low. Example #1 from the recently concluded Mecum auction in Glendale, Arizona is a car like this:


See the source image


From autoblog a picture of a 1999 Cadillac Eldorado. The actual Mecum car was White over Tan with a faux convertible roof. Mecum’s own estimate for the price was $5,000-$10,000, granting that they have incentive to overstate the value. Anyway, the car sold all in for $3,850, which is even slightly less than Hagerty’s estimated value of about $4,500. OK, maybe this is not the best example of a frugal buy, but I think being able to buy a good-looking (IMO) Cadillac for under $4,000 is a good buy.

How many of you know what this is?


See the source image


From a picture of a 1986 Mercury Capri ASC McLaren convertible. Only 245 of these were made. They were powered by a 5-liter/302 cubic-inch, fuel-injected V-8. The Mecum example, also in Red, had just 28,000 miles. It sold, all in, for $5,775. That’s a rare, good-looking (IMO) convertible that is not a slug for less than six grand! I’m sorry, but that screams “Buy The Car!” to me.

If we weren’t about a year away from moving, which means we would have to store a new car outside and then move it across the country, we might have purchased a car like this.






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Throwback Thursday 37

In my second year in college two of my dorm mates were Whale and Cutch. (Why I called it my second year and not my sophomore year is explained here.) We got along very well, one reason being we were all rabid sports fans.

Fast forward to today where Cutch and I have lunch once a month and have been doing so for years. Unfortunately, Whale passed away in his sleep last week. When Cutch told me the news I was shocked even though Whale had suffered from numerous health issues, many of which were the result of his weight. Why do you think his nickname was Whale?

Please take care of yourself and Carpe Diem!


Remember this?


See the source image


From Etsy a picture of Spirograph. From the Wikipedia article:


Spirograph is a geometric drawing device that produces mathematical roulette curves of the variety technically known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids. The well known toy version was developed by British engineer Denys Fisher and first sold in 1965. The name has been a registered trademark of Hasbro Inc. since 1998 following purchase of the company that had acquired the Denys Fisher company.”


I really enjoyed using this when I was in elementary school. Innately I possess no artistic talent, but with Spirograph I could create interesting drawings. How many of you used Spirograph?


In 1965, the year Spirograph was introduced, the US auto industry set a new production record at 8.8 million units. Ironically, that was also the year that Ralph Nader’s Unsafe At Any Speed was published.

Chrysler produced the last “letter series” car with the 300-L. The first, the C-300, was built in 1955 and is considered by some automotive historians to be an ancestor to the muscle car. From a picture of a 1965 300-L convertible:


See the source image

For 1965 these cars were powered by a 413 cubic-inch V-8 engine that produced 360 HP/470 LB-FT of torque. The legendary Torqueflite automatic was the transmission.

Chrysler produced 2,405 300-L hardtops and just 440 convertibles. The hardtop sold for $4,153 and the convertible, as one would expect, stickered for more at $4,618. The total of 2,845 cars was the second highest among letter series cars; 1964 production (the 300-K) was 3,647. In the 11 years the cars were sold, total production was 16,981 units.


What do you remember about 1965? I remember that was the year I very reluctantly started kindergarten, but that’s another story for another day.







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