National M&Ms Day

Yes, apparently today is National M&Ms Day. I have said many times to many people that whoever invented M&Ms was a genius. A fitting photo:

 

 

C’mon, I had to buy some today, right? Hemoglobin A1C be damned…

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Not only is today the day to celebrate a candy icon, but it was an amazing weather day here. I eschewed doing my Wednesday workout on the treadmill and walked outside for 40 minutes. When I returned at 10:35 AM the temperature gauge in the backyard read 64 degrees. We probably had a high temp of 71° or 72°.

Not only was the temperature wonderful, but there was not a cloud in the sky for almost all of the day and there was a light breeze. Can’t really convey the feeling with photographs, but I’ll try:

 

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OK, you still want to see at least one car photo…a double shot of Supra.

 

 

Be well and eat some M&Ms.

 

#NationalM&MsDay

#GreatWeather!

#ToyotaSupra

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Cars A To Z: B

Here is the beginning of the entry for this make in The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile:

 

“No make of car has earned such a charismatic reputation on such a small output (about 7,800) as ________. Noisy, firmly sprung, and challenging to drive, they have attracted a devoted following all over the world.”

 

OK…how about if I told you the company was founded in one country, saw its headquarters “move” to another country after World War I without actually moving and its founder wasn’t born in either country. Do you think you know the make? It’s Bugatti, but the original company and not the 1990s revival or the current entity that is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, although that status is about to change. Bugatti Automobiles and the sports car operations of Rimac Automobili, a Croatian company, are merging with the transaction set to be finalized later this year. In the interest of fairness, though, the current curator of the Bugatti name has allowed for much of the history of the founding company to be displayed on its website. What would Ettore Bugatti, born in Milan, Italy just 20 years after the formation of modern Italy, have thought about the Internet?

After building powered tricycles for a German company, Bugatti built his first car in 1900 (or 1901, reports vary), but the company that, in a way, still bears his name was founded in 1909. In that year, and wanting to build his own vehicles, he rented a building previously used for making dyes at Molsheim in Alsace. In 1909, this was German territory and had been since 1871. After World War I, the defeated Germans were forced to return Alsace to the French from whom they had “won” the province in the Franco-Prussian War.

I am out of my depth in trying to write about Bugatti’s early automotive history and incredible success in racing. (Oh, the reference to an output of 7,800 is about the original company as the Beaulieu Encyclopedia was last published in 2000, just two years after Volkswagen purchased the rights to the Bugatti name. Actual production did not begin until 2005.)

It is quite interesting to me that a Bugatti automobile that is so famous today is written about in Beaulieu under the heading, “La Royale, Ettore’s Greatest Folly.” Until researching the company I had no idea that only seven Royales were ever made (between 1927 and 1933) and, apparently, only three were sold. In the interest of accuracy, though, Ettore Bugatti only intended to build 25 Royales. From Motor Authority, a picture of a Bugatti Royale:

 

See the source image

 

Yes, this is a large car. Its wheelbase–169 inches–is slightly longer than the total length of the 2009 BMW Z4 I owned. The Royale was 21 feet long and weighed 7,000 pounds. Its engine was a 12.8 liter/779 cubic-inch straight-eight. Yes, 12.8 liters/779 cubic inches.

Bugatti is also famous for making the Type 57, the last true production Bugatti from the original company. The 57 was intended as more of a grand tourer than pure sports car, but it was this model that gave Bugatti its only Le Mans wins, in 1937 and the “terminal” year of 1939. The death of Ettore’s son Jean and the outbreak of World War II that year ended development of the Type 57 successor, the Type 64, and ended the company as well, for all intents and purposes. 684 Type 57s were built, with most of them being the longer wheelbase cars (130 inches), but 42 were Type 57S and 57SCs. These had a 117-inch wheelbase and were designed to be sportier than the “base” 57s. The Type 57C and 57SC were supercharged. From Supercars.net a picture of the famous, and very valuable, Bugatti Type 57SC:

 

See the source image

 

That’s a magnificent car and a prime example of why the company “has earned such a charismatic reputation on such a small output.”

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments. In addition, anyone with more knowledge of Bugatti than I have is welcome to chime in.

 

#CarsAToZ

#Bugatti

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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PS, one of the first views of the day was from Monaco. I wonder if it’s from someone who owns a classic Bugatti.

 

 

 

 

 

Change Is Constant

Yes, I write about this topic a lot…

 

For years I lived for sports, especially Baltimore sports. I did not watch last night’s Ravens game, preferring instead to do a little reading, watch some of the Mecum broadcast from Las Vegas I recorded and an episode of Transplant I’d already seen more than once. Apparently, though, I missed quite a game as the Ravens rallied from a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter to win the game in overtime. If I had been watching, I probably would have turned the game off late in the third quarter.

While watching the Mecum telecast I was suddenly reminded how much I enjoyed things when I was younger like a new toy or new record. I would sometimes play the same song 10 or 15 times in a row the day I bought it. (Yeah, yeah, OCD…) For the most part, I bought 45s not albums. If it was the school year, during the school day I would think about going home so I could play my new record some more.

Sorry to say that very little excites me like that anymore and certainly not sports. Change is constant.

I do very much enjoy spending time with my wonderful wife, but after 22 years of marriage the enjoyment is more comfort than anything else. I enjoy watching car auctions and some automotive programming, but I can’t say that a new episode of Flipping Bangers excites me to the same degree as a new 45 did when I was 12 years old.

I don’t think my experience is unique, but still illustrates the inevitability of change. Bad changes can’t be avoided by trying to avoid all change. Change is constant.

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While this is not the Cars A To Z “B” post, I can say that I will not use Bentley, BMW or Buick. I have to say that the “A” post, about British automaker Alvis, was not met with the level of interest I had hoped.

My goal is to focus on makes that are not well-known although not all 26 posts will feature obscure companies. Actually, if you lived in the UK then Alvis wouldn’t be obscure to you.

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In his most recent post, Mark featured this book:

 

 

Actually, the cover photo in his post was different as he used the edition published in 2010 and this version was published in 2015. I am especially fond of the car shown in the lower right. I wonder why? Yes, that was a joke…

While I can’t say that perusing this book “excites” me, I can say I enjoy quite a bit. It was this book that has the picture that was the inspiration for my writing about cars:

 

 

I don’t think this picture excites me as much as it satisfies and calms me, which is also a good state of mind.

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

#ChangeIsConstant

#CarsAToZ

#TheAmericanAuto

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Musings 83

The bottom has fallen out of the box of blog views. Seemingly every day with a post is garnering fewer and fewer views.

Maybe this blog has just run its course after 45 months and more than 1,200 posts. Once again, those who are no longer reading cannot tell me why they stopped. Of course, with many fewer readers maybe I’ll just remove any vestige of muzzle.

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See the source image

 

Interstate 83 only exists in two states: Maryland and Pennsylvania. Like many such roads, I-83 has become a commuter pathway, or at least it did before the damn virus. Since I don’t live there anymore I don’t really know for sure.

When I lived in northwest Baltimore, where I was born and raised and lived until I was 25, I-83 was my usual route to downtown Baltimore, which is its southern terminus. (Of course since I don’t own a bulletproof vest, I would never go to downtown Baltimore anymore, anyway, even if I still lived in the mid-Atlantic.) In my junior and senior years of high school, I would use I-83 as part of my route home from school so I could use more of the horsepower in my 1967 Pontiac GTO. In Baltimore, I-83 is called the Jones Falls Expressway. Originally, the plan was to have this road connect to an extension of Interstate 95 in south Baltimore, but between community opposition and funding issues, the plan never materialized.

It is a virtual certainty I will never drive on this road again. The number on today’s Monday Musings title led me to think of I-83 and all of the time I spent driving on it.

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How many of you have ever watched a show called Flipping Bangers on Motor Trend? The premise is that two motorheads have given up their regular jobs to attempt to make a living buying and flipping cars at the bottom of the market, which are called bangers in the UK. Supposedly, they give themselves only five workshop days to spruce up the cars, although in one episode they acknowledged they needed the morning of a sixth day in order to finish.

I really like this show, especially when the featured car is something interesting to me, like this:

 

See the source image

 

This is a second-generation Toyota MR2, also known as a Mk II. In general, my interest in automobile restoration shows is dependent on the featured car(s). As much as I like looking at Cristy Lee, if All Girls Garage or Garage Squad featured something like a pickup truck, then odds are I wouldn’t watch the episode.

Flipping Bangers is entertaining to me because the two presenters, Gus Gregory and Will Trickett, seem to be quite knowledgeable about cars, seem to be pleasant fellows and the show contains quite a bit of humor, most of which seems genuine. In that way, the show reminds me of another one of my favorites, Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars, which is also shot in the UK with two British hosts.

I assume at least some of you watch automobile-related programming. What do you like?

 

#MondayMusings

#WhereAreTheReaders?

#Interstate83

#FlippingBangers

#ToyotaMR2MkII

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Ten Ten Two One

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS SH*T UP!

The Art Institute of Chicago has fired all of its docents, all 122 of them, because the group is not “diverse” enough! Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

Yes, let’s fire people who spent years in training, research and writing–and who work for free–and hire other people who are not qualified just because they are of a certain ethnic or racial background. That sure sounds like discrimination to me. Let’s hire atheists to be Catholic priests or people without any medical training to be neurosurgeons just because of their race or ethnicity.

A madness has surely descended upon the developed world.

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I really like this photograph I took and showed yesterday:

 

 

Yes, the perspective is a little crooked, but that adds to the photo in my opinion, even though the “slant” was unintentional.

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I sent this text to a friend of mine yesterday afternoon:

 

Alabama and Georgia are in different SEC divisions so, presumably, they will meet in the SEC Championship, which will determine the seeds they receive in the four-team playoff.

 

Not so fast…Alabama lost a thrilling game last night at Texas A&M, 41-38, in front of over 106,000 fans. The loss:

 

Ended Alabama’s winning streak at 19 games,

Ended Nick Saban’s winning streak against head coaches who used to be his assistants at 24 games,

Ended Alabama’s 100-game winning streak against unranked teams.

 

My wonderful wife and I watched the fourth quarter and enjoyed it. I think it has become more fun for me to watch a football game without a dog in the fight than with one. Also, even though there’s a lot about college football I don’t like–four-hour games, the STUPID overtime rules–I have enjoyed watching this season more than I have in a long time. I have still only watched one game from beginning to end, though.

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On this day in 1903 Packard ceased all operations at its original assembly plant in Warren, Ohio. Until July, 1956, Packards would be manufactured in Detroit, Michigan, including cars like this:

 

See the source image

 

From Classic.com a picture of a 1933 (or 1934) Packard 1108 Twelve Sport Phaeton. 1934 was the absolute nadir for Packard; well, until the end in the 1950s. Only 6,265 cars were produced. (1933 was no party, either, with fewer than 10,000 cars built.) According to the definitive work, Packard: A History Of The Motor Car And The Company, the 1108, the “11” standing for 11th Series, was actually built in 1933, but because Packard designated its cars by series and not model years, sometimes the year of production has to be researched very carefully. Incredibly, by 1937 Packard output increased to 109,518 units. Unfortunately, they would never reach that level again.

For the nth plus nth time, fewer companies building cars means fewer sources for innovation in engineering and styling. In addition, the move to mostly battery-powered cars will further reduce innovation. The Golden Age for automobiles is now.

 

#TenTenTwoOne

#ForcedDiversityIsDiscrimination

#OneNeverKnows

#Packard

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Pictures For A Saturday

A picture is (often) worth a thousand words. Leave it to me to attempt to modify such a famous statement.

 

 

This was the first car we saw this morning and it just took my breath away. As you can tell from the top and bottom photos, we parked next to this beautiful 1934 Cadillac.

 

 

It’s hard to believe, but as famous as the 1963 Corvette Split-Window coupe is, more convertibles were produced that year. The ratio was almost 50-50, though: 10,919 convertibles, 10,594 coupes.

 

 

I am a big fan of the Ferrari 456, which I consider to be sort of a forgotten Ferrari and is one that is not ridiculously expensive to buy. Maintenance is another issue, of course, but that’s true for all Ferraris.

 

 

The last photo just presented itself to me and I couldn’t resist.

Hope you have enjoyed the pics and (sparse) commentary.

 

#PicturesForASaturday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Cars A To Z: A

Thanks again to C/2 for suggesting this topic. I will not necessarily choose my favorite make for each letter, but make no mistake: these will be my choices. This is my blog, after all.

The “A” automobile is actually one with which I am not that familiar. Even given its recent “rebirth” it’s sort of a forgotten British make: Alvis. A picture from the linked piece, which itself was the final push I needed to pick this company:

 

Alvis Graber Super Coupe

 

T.G. John founded the company in 1919 in Coventry, England. At first, Alvis only manufactured engines under license from other companies, but by 1920 was producing cars. The company would also manufacture race cars, aircraft engines, armored cars and other armored fighting vehicles. Alvis were/was (UK/US conjugation) a pioneer of front-wheel drive, they built the first all-synchromesh transmission (gearbox in UK parlance), they used servo-assisted brakes, independent suspension, overhead cams, and aluminum pistons, all before World War II. They built successful sports cars and won races.

The derivation of the company name has been a source of debate. Some believe that Geoffrey de Freville, who designed the first actual Alvis engine, proposed the name Alvis as a compound of the words “aluminium” (remember, that’s how “aluminum” is spelled and pronounced in the UK) and “vis” (meaning “strength” in Latin), or perhaps it may have been derived from the Norse mythological weapon maker, Alvíss. De Freville however forcefully rejected all of these theories. In 1921 he specifically stated that the name had no meaning whatsoever, and was chosen simply because it could be easily pronounced in any language. He reaffirmed this position in the early 1960s, stating that any other explanations for the source of the name were purely coincidental.

John ran the company until 1944. Sadly, his retirement was short as he died in 1946. Alvis lost its way after the war, in part because its main factory had been severely damaged by bombing. The lack of vested leadership also contributed to its decline, no doubt. This was true even though famed designer Alec Issigonis–designer of the Mini–joined the company. Alvis management sold controlling interest in the company to Rover in 1965. When Rover became part of British Leyland in 1967 that marked the end of the low-volume Alvis passenger car although production of military vehicles continued.

In 2009, however, a company called Red Triangle bought the rights to Alvis’ car trademarks in addition to all of the relevant drafts and data sheets. Much like the late Glenn Pray and his son Doug build (built) NOS versions of Auburns and Cords, Red Triangle has recently completed its first continuation Alvis using NOS parts and tweaked to meet modern emissions standards. Here is an homage to Alvis:

 

 

I believe the car in the advertisement is a TA-21 from the 1950s. I am still nowhere near as familiar with Alvis as I am with other makes, even other British companies, but I think it’s a name worth remembering, especially since it appears to have risen from the dead.

Have a great weekend…

 

#CarsAToZ

#Alvis

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Throwback Thursday: When Anything Was Possible

I have shown this picture before; it is my “section” my senior year of high school:

 

 

These 30+ high school students were an extraordinary group. David Banner (not his real name) and Dr. Mavro became physicians. One classmate became the CFO of a large energy company before moving to the same role at a large and well-known charity. At least three earned their Ph.D. and that number could be higher as I have lost touch with virtually everyone in the class. I believe that at least two became attorneys; oh well, no group is perfect.

In the second row, third from the right, is someone who stood out even among this august company. He graduated from high school at age 16. He finished the first semester senior year Calculus curriculum by October; the teacher was wise enough to create a new curriculum only for him.

The best math students were given a chance to take part in the US Mathematical Olympiad. Just to be asked to take the test was an honor (I was); the person to whom I have just referred made the second highest score in the US. That feat earned him an invitation to the World Olympiad; he made the second highest score in the world.

When it came to Physics, though, I could hang right with him, although that class was not in our senior year. I had more than a 100 average in the class as I could, and would, do test problems in more than one way for extra credit. In our school, grades were your numerical average and not a letter. However, the teacher was not allowed to actually give me a grade of 105 or whatever, so my Physics grade for the semester was a 100.

I hate to admit that I have forgotten the names of at least ten of my classmates. Nothing like that seemed possible then. Everything great seemed possible. I could start my own car company or get involved with professional sports, the only two interests I really had. Of course, I did forge a 20+ year career in major league baseball and wrote a football book that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written. None of that seems to matter anymore, though.

I have written many times about the dissonance in my life comparing earlier days when anything was possible to now when almost nothing seems possible. I don’t think I will ever fully accept that change.

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I graduated from high school in 1978. That year marked the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Corvette. (By my senior year, I was not a big Vette fan although when I was in elementary school I loved the C3 as well as the C2.) Chevrolet/GM made significant changes to the car. From The Genuine Corvette Black Book (I decided to photograph the relevant page instead of try to transcribe it. Work smart, not hard):

 

 

Here is a picture of a 1978 Corvette, but without the pace car decals:

 

See the source image

 

I remember that I liked the change to the fastback rear window; I guess I still had remnants of my obsession with fastbacks from my even younger days.

Although I like the C3 design, I don’t love it and think it is a little dated. Maybe if we win a nine-figure sum in a lottery I’ll buy a Corvette from each generation, except a C7, of course, as I already have one.

Were you interested in cars in high school or earlier? How have you managed the transition from youth to not youth?

Youth is wasted on the young…

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#YouthIsWastedOnTheYoung

#LifeDissonance

#1978ChevroletCorvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Wandering Wednesday

What do you get when you mix someone who wants to write with someone who has nothing about which to write? Today’s post…

 

I am having the strongest reaction to any of the three vaccine shots I have received against the damn virus. The injection arm is VERY sore and I even feel a little cruddy. None of that happened with the first two shots.

The good news is that my wonderful wife was able to get an appointment for today to receive her booster. Too many people don’t understand that everything is a trade-off and that compounds that can treat or prevent illness can also have side effects.

My reaction to the Shingrix vaccine was orders of magnitude worse than what I am feeling today AND lasted for two weeks after the first dose. I am still glad I received that vaccine.

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The number of blog views/visitors continues to fall short of previous levels. Maybe my complaining doesn’t help the situation, but it is my blog.

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This Hotcars article from this year is about 10 Underrated American cars. Six of the ten were from Ford Motor Company so I suspect a little bias by the author, but it’s an interesting read. Here is a picture of car number four:

 

 

This is a Pontiac Catalina 2+2. Bill Stephens is a big fan of cars like this and this car in particular. According to the article, the 2+2 trim level was introduced in 1964, the same year as the GTO. Note the famous Pontiac eight-lug wheels on the pictured car.

Pontiac produced 257,768 Catalinas in the 1964 model year, of which 74,793 were the Sport Coupe hardtop. The legendary 421 cubic-inch engine was an option in all full-size Pontiacs, meaning–I think–every model except the Tempest.

Bill James has written that there is really no such thing as “underrated” or “overrated” since no “official” rating exists of almost anything. I have to admit that I don’t see many cars like this even in the amazing car scene here, so one could argue these are underrated, at least in this area.

In an earlier post that I have been unable to find (hey, I’ve written more than 1,200 posts for this blog and even with a search widget I can’t find everything), I wrote of my affinity for American automobiles of the early to mid 1960s. I have also written of my affection for Pontiac on more than one occasion. While a car like this was not included in Ultimate Garage 3.0, a very large financial windfall might encourage me to find a good example.

 

#WanderingWednesday

#LifeIsATrade-Off

#UnderratedAmericanCars

#PontiacCatalina

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Facebook Is Evil!

How many of you are aware of the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen? Although I don’t think her revelations will materially affect the company or its stock price, I think these are simply more proof of what I and many others have been saying: Facebook Is Evil! I don’t think usage will be affected because I think most people who use the “platform” are addicted and addiction beats morality almost every time. An excerpt from this CNBC article:

 

“The former Facebook product manager for civic misinformation told lawmakers that Facebook consistently puts its own profits over users’ health and safety, which is largely a result of its algorithms’ design that steers users toward high-engagement posts that in some cases can be more harmful. Though she stopped short of accusing top executives of intentionally creating harmful products, she said that ultimately, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to be responsible for the impact of his business. Haugen also said that Facebook’s algorithm could steer young users from something relatively innocuous like healthy recipes to content promoting anorexia in a short period of time…the problems she saw at Facebook were worse than anywhere else she’d worked, which includes Google, Yelp and Pinterest.”

 

If Congress had any guts it would push the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice to break up Facebook. If my aunt had had balls, she would have been my uncle. I HATE FACEBOOK!!!

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Today’s post is “late” for good reasons. First, my wonderful wife and I had to take our 2015 Cadillac ATS into the bodyshop for the repairs caused by the accident in August. After that we decided to stop and have a nice breakfast.

Second and more important, I was able to receive my booster vaccine shot against the damn virus this morning. However, as I didn’t make an appointment I had to wait about an hour from the time I signed in until I received the shot.

Hopefully, my wonderful wife will make the time to get the booster later this week. Since she’s a “lame duck” at her job, one would think she could take a work break to get the shot.

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I am not looking that far down the alphabet in the Cars A To Z feature, but this could be the “S” car:

 

 

This is a beautiful Sunbeam Tiger in a green that is not quite British Racing Green. As regular readers know, I really like these cars.

 

#FacebookIsEvil!

#SunbeamTiger

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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