Remember The Day

Of course, this is the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the event that brought the United States into World War II. An almost unfathomable set of developments has happened in the world since then, much of which could not have been imagined at the time. Japan and the US are allies, for example. Still, we should remember this day to honor those who sacrificed so much that day and on subsequent days.

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As a consequence of the US entry into World War II, American production of automobiles for civilian use ended early in 1942. Production would not resume until the second half of 1945. When production did restart virtually all US car companies offered warmed-over pre-war models. To be fair, the time, money and effort needed to develop new models and retool for production of same precluded automobile manufacturers from “hitting the ground running.”

The only exception was a company that did not exist before the war, Kaiser-Frazer. Formed from the leftovers of Graham-Paige, Kaiser-Frazer offered a new car because that was the only car it could offer. The car it produced was actually less revolutionary than it might have been. At first, Kaiser-Frazer considered building a car based on the K-85 prototype, a front-wheel drive car featuring four-wheel independent suspension through the use of longitudinal torsion bars. It proved to be too impractical and too costly to build, especially given the technology of the time.

A tangent: Studebaker devotees will argue that the company produced a “new” car at about the same time, maybe even slightly before, the first Kaiser-Frazer automobiles were sold. However, Studebaker’s first post-war car, named the Skyway Champion, was just a slightly modified version of the 1942 Champion models sold before the war. The Skyway Champion gave way to a new car, also called Champion, in May, 1946 as a 1947 model year car. Studebaker also added a “higher class” model, the Commander—also a resurrected name, for model year 1947.

 

See the source image

 

From kfclub.com a picture of a 1947 Kaiser Special. The Kaiser and Frazer were the “…cars [that] had the first true postwar sheet metal with envelope bodies and fenderlines that ran from front to rear in an unbroken contour.” I am quoting standard catalog of® American Cars, 1946-1975 by John Gunnell.

Other than the styling, both the Kaiser and Frazer were conventional cars. The standard engine for both was a 226 cubic-inch, inline-six that produced 100 HP/180 LB-FT of torque. Both cars had three-speed manual transmissions with overdrive as an option.

At first, the cars were well-received reaching a combined sales mark of about 140,000 for both 1947 and 1948. As the Big Three introduced its all new postwar cars, that included innovations like an overhead-valve, oversquare, “high” compression V-8 engine in addition to more modern styling, Kaiser-Frazer (and all independents) struggled to maintain market share. Although a dramatic restyle for 1951 along with the dropping of the Frazer make led to a temporary boost in Kaiser sales for that year, sales plummeted thereafter and forced Kaiser to end US auto production and sales in 1955. As I have written before, although I’m not sure if it was company co-founder Henry or his son Edgar who said this, one of the Kaisers remarked, “Slap a Buick nameplate on it and it would have sold like hotcakes.” We’ll never know, of course.

 

#RememberTheDay

#1947Kaiser

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Frugal Friday, “Mutt and Jeff” Edition

Has it really been eight days since Thanksgiving?!

 

Examples of this car can actually be found for even less money, but those cars have many more miles and/or “extenuating” circumstances, such as being flood-damaged. From AutoTrader a picture of a 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T:

 

Used 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Parkersburg, WV 26101 - 535512308 - 5

 

As the name indicates, this car is powered by a 2-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine. That motor produces 210 HP/223 LB-FT of torque. New, the car was about $28,000; the seller is asking $9,992 for this example in Red over Black with just 32,315 miles. Examples with more miles were listed between $7,000 and $7,500.

Yes, the car bears a resemblance to the Infiniti G37 line. Yes, Hyundai is not a “sexy” name in automobiles. Still, this is a car with a little kick that has a decent look for less than ten grand. Anyway, this is the first Hyundai on Frugal Friday!

This next car is far removed from the Hyundai segment of the market and just looking at its price without any context, this would not seem like a Frugal Friday pick. A picture is worth a thousand words, or so “they” say:

 

Used 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Roadster CHARLOTTE, NC 28212 - 534217116 - 1

 

Also from AutoTrader a picture of a 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Roadster in Tungsten Silver over Bitter Chocolate with fewer than 31,000 miles. This car was about $130,000 new. The seller is asking $51,900. OK, so maybe the car is more than the $40,000 average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US. OK, so maybe other luxury cars seem to have depreciated more than 60 percent since 2012. Still, this is a drop-dead gorgeous Aston Martin convertible for far less than a new Chevrolet Suburban. Oh, it’s an Aston with 430 HP.

As always I welcome thoughtful comments about this or any other post or topic. Have a great weekend!

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Throwback Thursday

This day in 1969 was the last day that the Beatles’ two-sided hit “Come Together/Something” was Number One on the Billboard charts. It was their first two-sided number one single thanks to a change in Billboard policy. Beginning with the Hot 100 of November 29, 1969, Billboard changed its method of compiling the chart, ranking both titles of double-sided hits in the same position. Prior to that modification, Billboard ranked the A and B sides of the same single in different chart positions if both sides received meaningful airplay. (Otherwise, only one side—usually the A side—would be ranked if it earned enough airplay and sales.)

In all honesty, I am not a big Beatles fan although I like their music far more than the music of Elvis Presley. I don’t think I actually own any Beatles’ music nor would I likely stream any if I used such a service. I’m sure that makes me rare in my demographic. However, I fully appreciate the group’s significance and impact on music. From Billboard a picture of the Fab Four:

 

See the source image

 

Not that this has anything to do with anything, but I have a friend who bears an amazing and startling resemblance to John Lennon, especially Lennon without facial hair.

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On this day in 1941, the US aircraft carrier Lexington and five heavy cruisers left Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As a result, these ships were not damaged during the Japanese attack two days later.

The Lexington played a meaningful role in the Pacific early in World War II, but was—unfortunately—damaged off the coast of New Guinea in combat in May, 1942 and was scuttled by an American destroyer in order to prevent its capture. The wreck of Lexington was located in March, 2018 by an expedition led by the late Paul Allen (Microsoft’s co-founder and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers), who discovered the ship about 430 nautical miles off the northeastern coast of Australia in the Coral Sea.

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On this day in 1977, Chrysler Corporation began production of the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon. Why is this event significant? These were the first front-wheel drive economy cars built in the US and the first FWD vehicles produced in meaningful quantities by Chrysler.

These cars were produced until early 1990 and about 2.5 million of them were made. The Omni/Horizon helped to keep Chrysler afloat. Since the Horizon sold more units than the Omni and since Plymouth is no longer with us, a picture from CarGurus of a 1982 Plymouth Horizon:

 

https://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2010/06/11/18/42/1982_plymouth_horizon-pic-1378707370948953864-1600x1200.jpeg

 

I am always aware that a given car has different meanings for different people. While a car like this is pas pour moi I appreciate what it meant for Chrysler and for the millions who purchased them. Different strokes for different folks…

 

#TheBeatles

#Lexington

#PlymouthHorizon

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Specific Output of Crazy

 

A funny, IMO, little sign my wonderful wife and I recently purchased. It’s a good thing it’s not a competition because I might win…don’t think so, take a look at this:

 

 

As if I didn’t have enough books on Studebaker and Packard and AMC…I have just begun reading the Critchlow book (it arrived yesterday), which focuses more on how company decisions were made and the effect of company history on those decisions than on the details of what cars Studebaker was making during specific time periods.

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This post from carbonhans.blog about Hennessey offering performance upgrades for the C8 Corvette led me to think about specific output for automobile engines. Specific output means power per unit of volume or unit of displacement. The article about Hennessey claims the company will offer tunes of the LT2 engine that will produce as much as 1,200 horsepower. That is 193.5 HP/liter or 3.2 HP/cubic inch. Of course, that is an aftermarket value and not from the factory.

American car companies fell all over themselves in the 1950s claiming that one of their engines was the first to produce at least one HP/cubic inch. For the record—sorry, Corvette fans—the first engine available from a US manufacturer that generated at least one HP/cubic inch was the optional engine for the Chrysler 300B, meaning model year 1956, that made 355 HP from 354 cubic inches. (That’s 61.2 HP/liter for the metrically minded.)

 

See the source image

 

From journal.classiccars.com a picture of a 1956 Chrysler 300B.

Today, with turbocharged (and supercharged) engines specific outputs are much higher than anyone could have dreamed in the 1950s. Ford’s newest generation GT has an engine, a 6-cylinder engine no less, that produces 647 HP from 3.5 liters or 184.9 HP/liter. (That’s about three HP per cubic inch.)

 

See the source image

 

From newcarreleasepreview.com a picture of the current generation Ford GT. The picture below from motorauthority.com is a car shown and discussed here before, a car with a 4-cylinder engine of fewer than 100 cubic inches displacement that produced 270 HP, the now-discontinued Peugeot RCZ R:

 

See the source image

 

In case you’re wondering, or even if you’re not, the RCZ R engine had a specific output of 168.8 HP/liter or 2.8 HP/cubic inch. Both the RCZ R and Ford GT engines are turbocharged. As I have written before I believe it wouldn’t be the worst thing if all internal-combustion engines were turbocharged. The engines could have smaller displacement, meaning better fuel economy, without giving up performance. These engines are also more thermally efficient than their naturally-aspirated brethren and have lower emissions.

 

#CrazyCompetition

#SpecificOutput

#somanycarsjustonelife

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The Purity Of Cars

To me, of course, cars are more than just transportation. Many of them are rolling sculptures and/or masterpieces of engineering.

To restomod or not to restomod has always been the subject of quite a debate in the car world. The difference between restoring and restomodding is well described by this excerpt from this webpage:

 

“Restoration essentially refers to taking a great classic car and bringing it back to life with all (or most) of the original factory parts. The process involves repair of the visible parts (e.g., body trim, interior, etc.), as well as the parts not easily seen (e.g., electrical, suspension, brakes, etc.). The result is a beautifully preserved automobile in factory-new condition with authentic parts – just like it came off the showroom floor decades ago.”

“Restomod (restoration + modern parts/technology) draws from all the amazing advancements in automobile technology over the past 40+ years to enhance the performance, comfort and safety of the classic car. A restomod car has the timeless appearance of the original, but the outdated guts of the car have been replaced with the more modern, high-performance parts of today. You achieve the same great look, but your vintage car will be revved up with all the latest bells and whistles to create a much better ride for the owner.”

 

Not surprisingly, since these definitions come from a website called restomodstore.com it’s no shock that they prefer restomods. I am thinking about this topic because I am still thinking about buying a car like this, although 2-3 years in the future (if I live that long):

 

See the source image

 

From allcollectorcars.com a picture of a 1963 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk. Once again, the intent is not for this car to replace my 2016 Corvette Z06, but to be a “companion” to it.

Part of me would prefer to keep the car stock, if possible. I mean, if the car’s original drivetrain is shot I probably wouldn’t buy it, anyway, because of the cost of replacement. However, and as I have stated in the past, I believe that since this is the 21st century, why wouldn’t I want to drive a car with more modern components?

At the heart of this debate for me would be whether or not to do an EFI conversion for an original Studebaker engine, if such a thing is even possible. Oh…EFI stands for Electronic Fuel Injection. In that way, the car retains its original engine, but an engine that will run more reliably with more power and better fuel economy.

Obviously, the cost of such a project would play a role in whether or not I would do it. All other things being equal, though, I must report that at this time and place far removed from my acquisition of such a car, I am leaning towards doing the EFI conversion. Who knows? Maybe it would be something that I might try to do myself with the help of a friend.

I would very much like to read your thoughts on this debate, on the subject of the purity of cars.

 

#PurityOfCars

#StudebakerGranTurismoHawk

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Miscellany

Thanks to 56packardman for sending the link to this Motor Trend article about GM subsidizing the Corvette, at least at first. The sub-head states that Chevrolet will lose money on every C8 sold below $80,000. [However, amortization of new C8 systems will lower the per unit production cost of the car over time.—my note] The article also states, not surprisingly, the demand for Corvettes drops off dramatically once the price sails past $100,000.

Of course, that’s for previous Corvettes. I have no inside information, but I would not be surprised if Chevrolet/GM hope some Ferrari and Lamborghini buyers will consider buying the C8—now that the car is mid-engine—and if the higher-performance versions cost north of 100 grand, those buyers won’t balk at the price, especially since any Z06 or ZR1 will still cost much less than a new Ferrari or Lamborghini.

This post from carbonhans.blog reveals that one can spend about $114,000 for a C8 convertible, but that’s the MSRP for a car fully loaded. I am going to wade into it now. Too many Americans don’t understand that a big world exists outside the US. Cars costing millions when new are produced by companies in other countries, particularly in Europe. How much do you think the Swedish-built Koenigsegg costs? The Jesko model is $3 million and all 125 examples will be gobbled up quickly. Even if a high-performance C8 is $150,000, that’s a tiny 5 percent of the price of a Jesko and the C8 is probably no more than 5 percent below the Jesko in performance.

Yes, a $150,000 Corvette will not be within the means of many current Corvette owners, but it will seem like a bargain to those in the supercar/hypercar market. A 900+ HP, all-wheel drive ZR1 C8 Corvette will be able to accelerate from 0-60 MPH in less than 2.5 seconds, have a top speed in excess of 200 MPH and be able to pull well over 1g on a skidpad test for a fraction of the price of high-performance cars made abroad. I find it almost impossible to believe that some people in those markets will not be attracted to a C8 Corvette. In fact, this will be the first Corvette available with right-hand drive, so Chevrolet/GM is anticipating sales in markets like the UK, Japan and Australia.

The US is not the only car market in the world, nor is it the largest market. While Chevrolet/GM cannot ignore US consumers, in order to thrive in the future it must have products that have appeal outside the US. From the carbonhans.blog article a picture of a C8 convertible:

 

 

A McLaren 720S Spider costs more than $300,000 and a Ferrari F8 Spider is at least $300,000; a C8 convertible at $114,000 is not expensive in that context. I think Chevrolet/GM are aiming for that market.

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Thirty days from today will be January 1, 2020! That fact is frightening and amazing at the same time. Remember that you are older now than you’ve ever been before and younger than you will ever be again.

The RAND Corporation, a well-known “think tank,” predicted in 1994 that by 2020 apes could and would be bred such that they could perform manual labor like cleaning your house. Never forget that history is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future. Of course, robots may very well be performing such tasks in the not too distant future.

Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich gained much fame with his book, The Population Bomb, which was published in 1968. Of course, most of his predictions were totally wrong such as, “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

In the developed world what is happening instead is that it is likely that populations will begin to decrease as the birthrate in places like Japan and the US have declined to at or below the “replacement rate.” EVERYONE has an agenda so what EVERYONE says has to be taken with a grain of salt, including me.

 

#C8Corvette

#RelentlessTime

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Most Valuable Oldsmobile

Oldsmobile has/had a long history as an innovator. It introduced “Knee-Action” independent front suspension in 1934, the legendary and revolutionary Hydra-Matic automatic transmission for model year 1940, along with Cadillac the first modern overhead-valve engine in 1949, the first production turbocharged V-8 in 1962 and the first US front-wheel drive vehicle in almost 30 years for model year 1966. Oldsmobile is the only American company that produced automobiles in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. In all, over 35 million Oldsmobile vehicles were produced.

So, which of these cars is the most valuable? According to 2019 Collector Car Price Guide by Krause Publications this gorgeous car holds that honor:

 

See the source image

 

From supercars.net a picture of a 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta convertible, technically part of the 98 series for that year. Only 458 Fiesta convertibles were produced. This car was one of three limited-edition General Motors convertibles built for model year 1953; the Buick Skylark (1,690 produced) and the Cadillac Eldorado (532 made) were the other two. This list does not include the Corvette, of course.

According to the 2019 Krause book a Grade 1, concours-quality example is worth $200,000. The collector car market is softening, though.

Is the softening of the collector car market a portend of bad economic times ahead? While, technically, economics is the study of the allocation of resources, it is also about human behavior. Self-fulfilling prophecies are hardly unknown. If enough people think an economic downturn is ahead, they could change their behavior in such a way that could create the downturn. Government fiscal and monetary policy can only do so much.

 

#MostValuableOldsmobile

#1953OldsmobileFiesta

#somanycarsjustonelife

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A Story and a Studebaker

On this date in 1975 the Baltimore Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 28-14. Why am I mentioning this? I had access to Colts season tickets in 1974 and 1975. My father bought them from one of his customers who, after 15 seasons of excellence from 1957-1971, had grown disgusted with the Colts after Bob The Red-Faced Owner purchased them in 1972 and the team had poor seasons in 1972 and 1973. Technically, though, the tickets were still his.

The Colts had another poor season in 1974 and began the 1975 season with a 1-4 record. That one win, by the way, was in the first week of the season against the Chicago Bears. Making his NFL debut for the Bears that day was someone you might have heard of: Walter Payton. How’d he do? He carried the ball eight times for zero yards.

Anyway…by this point in the season the Colts had jelled into a good team. They had won five consecutive games going into the Kansas City contest. As I always did, I attended the game with my friend Jeff. By this time, he was old enough to drive (I wasn’t) and he drove us to the game in exchange for a ticket, technically. His father, who owned and ran a deli, provided lunch as always. According to Pro Football Reference the game-time temperature was 49°. I forgot my coat…I do remember being very cold and I remember the excitement when the Colts’ fine running back Lydell Mitchell broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown run. He was a very good player, but was not the fastest back in the NFL.

The next morning as I woke for school I didn’t feel right. I was light-headed, had little appetite and even felt a little dizzy. Nevertheless, I attended school on that Monday. However, between the next-to-last and last class periods of the day I became violently ill including spiking a fever. I must have been some sight as I walked into 7th-period Spanish class because the teacher said to me that I looked awful and she offered me the chance to go home. I replied that since it was already the last period I would just wait until the end of the day. I didn’t attend school the rest of the week as I was quite sick.

I am no doctor—I don’t even play one on TV—but I have read in multiple places that if the human body has to work harder than usual to maintain normal body temperature (the curse of being a warm-blooded animal), then the immune system is compromised. I guess I didn’t necessarily catch whatever made me sick at the game, but I have no doubt that being outside without a coat for three-plus hours was the catalyst for my becoming ill.

Postscript: the Colts won their final nine games of the 1975 season to finish at 10-4 and claim their first of three consecutive AFC East titles. After those three seasons the team was never good again for the rest of their tenure in Baltimore. QB Bert Jones’ injuries and diminished effectiveness (he was NFL MVP in 1976 before the injuries) as well as the trading of star players who held out because Bob The Red-Faced Owner refused to pay them market salaries contributed to six consecutive losing seasons including a 2-22-1 record in 1981 and 1982 combined.

My father’s customer refused to sell him his season tickets after 1975 because the Colts were, once again, a good team. By the time the team faltered I was in college and attending the games would not have been convenient.

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The post title is not “A Story About A Studebaker”…As is my wont I have been thinking about the debate as to whether or not the 1950 Studebakers sold well because of the Bullet Nose design or in spite of the design. Those who think the latter claim that Studebaker sales reached their all-time high in 1950 because of the postwar sellers market. Well, here is a chart that I believe answers the question:

 

YEAR STUDEBAKER TOTAL US PROD STUDEBAKER PCT
1947 161,498 3,363,234 4.8%
1948 186,526 3,414,745 5.5%
1949 129,303 5,243,764 2.5%
1950 344,164 6,526,809 5.3%
1951 268,559 5,652,414 4.8%
1952 186,219 4,652,275 4.0%
1953 169,599 6,523,270 2.6%
1954 81,939 5,815,945 1.4%
1955 133,827 8,338,302 1.6%
1956 85,401 6,203,027 1.4%
1957 74,738 6,483,339 1.2%
1958 53,830 4,567,518 1.2%
1959 138,866 5,929,252 2.3%
1960 132,220 7,055,293 1.9%
1961 70,560 5,249,449 1.3%
1962 102,387 6,677,870 1.5%
1963 83,846 7,395,631 1.1%

 

As Studebaker’s market share more than doubled from 1949 to 1950 and remained at four percent or better through 1952 I would have to conclude that, as idiosyncratic as the design was, the Bullet Nose helped Studebaker sell more cars apart from any change in market conditions. One can also see that despite the “Lark respite” of 1959, once Studebaker share fell below two percent it almost certainly could have never recovered. The Studebaker production figures are for model year and are from Studebaker 1946-1966, The Classic Postwar Years by Richard Langworth compiled by Fred Fox, among others. The industry figures are from the Wikipedia article on annual US auto production. It really doesn’t matter if Studebaker’s market share was 5.3% or 5.5% in 1950, the point is that 1950 market share was much higher than for 1949 and that coincides with the introduction of the Bullet Nose.

 

See the source image

 

From Fine Art America is what I guess is a rendering of a 1950 Studebaker Champion Regal DeLuxe coupe. Frankly, I am not really a fan of this design, but I understand the significance of it.

 

#1975BaltimoreColts

#BulletNoseStudebaker

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Anniversary

I wish everyone (well, maybe not everyone) a Happy Thanksgiving. Tomorrow will also be a day for which I am especially thankful as it will be the 22nd anniversary of the day I met the wonderful woman who has been my wonderful wife for more than 20 years. V Squared, I LOVE YOU!!!

Here is a picture that brings a smile to my face and, hopefully, to yours:

 

 

Of course, this is a picture of my 2016 Corvette Z06. Today is eight months (!) that the car was delivered. I wish I had driven it more than the 2,200-ish miles it has accumulated under my right foot. Oh well, there’s always next spring…

I probably will not post again until Saturday. Please have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

 

#HappyThanksgiving

#ILoveMyWonderfulWife

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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