Throwback Thursday, Rowhouse Edition

See the source image

 

From the Maryland Historical Trust a blurry picture of a Baltimore rowhouse block. We didn’t call them townhouses in those days.

From the time I was 2 until I was 25 I lived in a Baltimore rowhouse. It is highly doubtful I will ever call another place my home for as long. Counting from the major road at the “head” of our street, our house was the 37th of 38 houses on our side of the block. The block was “split” in two with about 20 or so houses (24?) in one group and the rest, including our house, in the second group. (As a comparison, our current neighborhood only has 37 homes in total.)

Even now, sometimes when I dream of being home it is this house that appears. Rowhouses still exist in droves in Baltimore and in other eastern cities, but for me rowhouses are a throwback to a different and much simpler time. I suppose that someone in my family might be in possession of photos of our house and that neighborhood, but I don’t seem to have any, hence the appearance of the “borrowed” photo.

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Speaking of Maryland, on this day in 1952 the Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened. The original bridge, at 4.3 miles in length, was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. A parallel span opened in 1973. From Wikipedia a small picture of the two spans:

 

Chesapeake Bay Bridge viewed from Sandy Point State Park.jpg

 

From the Wikipedia article:

 

“The bridge is officially named the Gov. William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge after William Preston Lane Jr. who, as the 52nd Governor of Maryland, initiated its construction in the late 1940s finally after decades of political indecision and public controversy.”

 

Despite being born and raised in Maryland, I have not driven across the bridge that often. The bridge links the “eastern” and “western” shores of the Delmarva Peninsula, with the beach community of Ocean City, Maryland and the Delaware beach communities being on the eastern side. I am not a beach person; Baltimore is west of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is part of US Routes 50 and 301 and has led to the growth of towns on the eastern shore. Queen Anne’s County, Maryland is on the eastern shore (and at the eastern terminus of the bridge), but is now considered part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area by the Census Bureau. The county population increased from about 15,000 in 1950 to almost 34,000 in 1990 and nearly 48,000 in 2010.

Our future home will not be in a place in close proximity to large bodies of water that require enormous bridges. Maybe my wonderful wife and I should take a drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge before we move.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#BaltimoreRowhouse

#ChesapeakeBayBridge

#disaffectedmusings

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Random Wednesday

This article, titled “EVs consume more juice than gauges indicate, gas cars less: report” is interesting, in my opinion. ADAC, Europe’s largest motoring association, conducted tests that found, “…Pretty much every EV was underestimating how much charging it required, showing significant variation between the stated power consumption and actual amounts required to fully recharge the car.” Another result of the testing, “ADAC says most of the non-electric cars it also tested were actually more efficient than their load indicators claimed. In fact, the vast majority – 51 of 64 ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] cars tested – actually consumed less fuel than their onboard fuel economy meters were indicating…”

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photobyjohnbo has graciously allowed me to show one of his photos of Comet Neowise. Without further ado:

 

https://photobyjohnbo.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/neowise-2.jpg

 

I wonder if we will be able to enjoy more of the night sky after our move to the desert, whenever that happens.

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I sent a “hard copy” of this post to Cadillac. In Wave Goodbye To Half The Year I wrote about my belief that an American-made super-luxury car would be successful and that Cadillac was the make most likely to make it work. Here is a picture of the Cadillac concept car, the Elmiraj, that I offered as the basis for such an automobile:

 

See the source image

 

I actually received a reply from Cadillac. Here it is:

 

 

I realize, of course, that this is a form letter and that it is good PR for companies to respond. Of course, the first sentence of the last paragraph makes no sense (read it carefully), but nobody’s perfect.

Why did I send my post to Cadillac? Why not? Other than a few minutes, what did I have to lose? If I had listened to everyone who told me that I had no chance of working in baseball, my life almost certainly would have been far less rich. I met my wonderful wife because I took a baseball job on the other side of the country.

Don’t drown in your own life. Don’t succumb to the routine. Don’t be afraid to do something you’ve never done before, something that others might say is pointless. Live!

 

#RandomWednesday

#CometNeowise

#CadillacLetter

#Live!

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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In Or Out? 10

First…I had another dream in which I began a journey in a car, but did not finish it in one. I dreamt I was on a frantic trip to get from Point A to Point B, for reasons lost forever to dreamland. The road had many steep hills and sharp drops. At one point, the car warned me not to travel on a certain road, not because of road or weather conditions, but because of “political” reasons! I had intended to ignore the warning, but before I ever reached that road I found myself making the journey on foot as my car had just disappeared. I wasn’t even particularly surprised by the disappearance, just determined to reach my destination. However, I woke up before I finished my journey or reached the road I was supposed to avoid. WTF?!

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For this edition of In Or Out? I am waiving the five-vote minimum. The car shown and discussed today is one that is not likely to be familiar to most of you.

This car was featured on an Edd China episode of Wheeler Dealers as well as the newer, but less than scintillating spinoff, Wheeler Dealers: Dream Car. Beginning next year, it will be legal to import the first model year of this car into the US as production began in 1996. I present the TVR Cerbera:

 

See the source image

 

From Parkers of the UK a picture of the TVR Cerbera. TVR was founded in 1947 by Trevor Wilkinson (whose name was used to name the company) and Jack Pickard. Yes, it is a British car.

The company history is littered with liquidations and ownership changes. If you want to know more, you can read this. The Cerbera was significant in TVR history since it was the first car made by the company that:

1) Was not a convertible

2) Had four seats, all previous TVR models were two-seaters

3) Had an engine developed and manufactured by TVR

The Cerbera did not have traction control or ABS. It was also an extremely light car, especially given the power of the engine. The Wikipedia article about the Cerbera states that at some point in production the cars were available with an inline six-cylinder engine, but I had always heard that the cars were only available with TVR’s own flat-plane crank V-8. The final iteration of that V-8 (not including the “special” Speed Eight Red Rose) displaced 4.5 liters/273 cubic inches and produced 420 HP/380 LB-FT of torque without forced induction. The Cerbera only weighed about 2,600 pounds and with the most powerful engine could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in well under 4 seconds and, supposedly, be capable of speeds approaching 190 MPH.

I really like the “wild” styling of these cars. They have a chopped look about them that is not excessive, in my opinion. Like virtually everything else, I think balance is the essence of successful automotive styling.

The Cerbera was manufactured from 1996 to 2003. Foreign cars can be imported into the US without having to meet DOT or EPA regulations as long as it has been at least 25 years since they were built. The actual number of Cerberas produced is unclear, but is not likely to have exceeded 2,000 and may be as few as 1,100.

OK, good people…the TVR Cerbera, In Or Out? Oh, the name Cerbera was derived from Cerberus, the three-headed monster of Greek mythology that guarded the entrance to Hades.

 

#InOrOut?

#StrangeDreamsFromStrangeMinds

#TVRCerbera

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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The Narcissistic States Of America

These are the events which led me to write this post:

 

We have had about ten showings of our house. On all but two of them the realtor and their clients have been more than 15 minutes late and with no notification of their tardiness, which I believe is “required” in such a situation. Oh, due to COVID-19 all showing windows have been limited to 45 minutes in this state. The straw that broke the camel’s back happened last Thursday. With barely an hour’s notice we received word that someone wanted to see the house at 10:30 AM. My wonderful wife works at home, but she dutifully re-arranged her work schedule to accommodate.

We left the house at 10:25 AM. As of 11:00 AM no one had showed. How did we know? We have cameras everywhere around our house that we can monitor from almost anywhere. I called the company that arranges the showings and explained the situation. The rep was very sympathetic and offered to call the agent. When she returned to the line she said the agent would not arrive until 11:40, 70 minutes late and 25 minutes after the end of the showing window. She confirmed that the agent is supposed to call when they are going to be late. We cancelled the showing.

YOUR life is not the only one that matters. What YOU’RE doing is not the most important thing in the world. The time and feelings of OTHERS matter. You don’t have to like your neighbors, but your behavior CANNOT fail to acknowledge their presence. COVID-19 has left many people more unhinged than normal and exacerbated the epidemic, the plague of narcissism, but that affliction is far more common than any pathogen.

I can’t tell you how many times I see people plow through stop signs without so much as slowing down, but I can tell you that it is happening much more often than ever before. I can’t tell you how many times I see people looking at their phone and not the road while driving. Those are symptoms of narcissism.

People who believe that they and their ideology can’t possibly ever be wrong are narcissists. We are peons or as Jerry Seinfeld said, nothing but raindrops on a windshield. Oh, no one really gives a sh*t what you ate for lunch so don’t post any photos of it on “social media,” which is a primary factor in the narcissism explosion. I am DISGUSTED by the behavior I see in this country and no side is innocent. Liberals are no less guilty than conservatives and vice versa. A plague on both their houses…

I don’t know if people behave the same all over the developed world, but I can’t imagine it’s worse anywhere else.

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I am beginning to see 2020 Corvettes “in the wild.” Here is another example:

 

 

Given its shape and its color, this car really stood out from the rest of the traffic, even the Bentley driving in the next lane. Do I think the C8 looks as good as a C2 or a C7? No, but I like the way it looks. Remember that a large engine mounted mid-ship dictates many of the design elements of the automobile.

How many of you have seen a C8 Corvette “in the wild?” What do you think of the looks of the car?

 

#NarcissismIsAPlague

#C8Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Empty Thursday

I realize today’s post title will cost me 30% of my readers…

 

For the last several days I have had much difficulty finding a topic about which to write. Even trying to compose a “Throwback Thursday” post for today proved impossible.

The seemingly interminable state of limbo in which I find myself has simply taken away my ability to create. I am just as tired of writing about the Corvette Companion/Grocery Car as you are of reading about it.

So, what am I saying? The sad thing is I really don’t know. Maybe I just have “blog burnout.” Anyway, even though this action will cost me readers I simply can no longer commit to writing every day.

 

#EmptyThursday

#BlogBurnout

#disaffectedmusings

 

Wandering Wednesday

First, an apology to WordPress, the platform that hosts this blog. In yesterday’s post, Strange Minds, I asked why the word “dreamt” was underlined in red while composing a post since it is a real word. Well, I asked one of the WordPress engineers that question and they replied that WordPress does not have an active dictionary monitoring posts. The engineer suggested it could be my browser or even operating system.

Second, while I am always grateful for views/comments by markcars2014 and other Canadian readers, I want to note that Disaffected Musings has, seemingly, developed regular readers in Italy, Norway and my ancestral home of Poland. I hope they will continue reading and, hopefully, spread the word.

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How many of you have heard of the site postsecret? It was created by Frank Warren in 2004. People anonymously send in their secrets on postcards, which are often homemade, and some are shown on the site.

It is a relic, for lack of a better word, of the days on the Internet before Fack Fucebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. The site has always been ad-free. For a time, so many secrets were sent in that Warren was able to publish several books containing them.

Some of the secrets are shocking and/or sad. I have always suspected that some proportion, say 20%, are not real. I don’t mean that Warren sends them in himself or via proxies, but that the “secrets” on some postcards are simply made up, perhaps as some sort of wish fulfillment.

Anyway…the picture above is captured from postsecret. I love Fack Fucebook being on the list of apps that don’t bring joy to the user. Here are two results from a study by Stanford University:

 

Facebook deactivation reduced political polarization

One of the biggest issues supposedly affecting the US voting base at the moment is political polarization — this is the idea that Democrats and Republicans are unwilling to compromise on issues that affect the entire country.

The study found that deactivating Facebook pulls former users more into line with the average position in their respective political parties. Essentially, this means that Facebook deactivation brings users closer to the political center. But, has social media actively led to the increase in polarization, or have the parties and voters drifted further apart of their own volition? According to the study:

“The figure shows that deactivation moves both Democrats and Republicans visibly towards the center. In the control group, the issue opinions of the average Democrat and the average Republican differ by 1.47 standard deviations. In the treatment group, this difference is 1.35 standard deviations — about eight percent less.

“Are these polarization effects large or small? As one benchmark, we can compare these effects to the increase in political polarization in the US since 1996, well before the advent of social media. Using data from the American National Election Studies… [another academic] calculates that the change in a different index of polarization… increased by 0.38 standard deviations between 1996 and 2016. The 0.16 standard deviation effect of Facebook deactivation on political polarization in our sample is about 42 percent as large as this increase.”

 

Facebook deactivation marginally improves subjective wellbeing

Perhaps the most interesting revelation from the study is that Facebook “does indeed have adverse effects on subjective well being.”

 

I know that my anti-Facebook rantings will not get anyone to stop using it. I suspect a larger proportion of readers of this blog don’t use Fack Fucebook than the proportion of the general public. I will make a strong statement: I think Mark Zuckerberg is the chief criminal of his criminal company and I think that Facebook should be forced to divest itself of Instagram and What’s App. The possibility that such a divestiture may raise the unit cost of digital advertising is a very small price to pay for stripping Fack Fucebook of its de facto monopoly of social media and for reducing the dangerous amount of power it has. Oh, here’s a remark made by Zuckerberg:

 

“You can be unethical and still be legal; that’s the way I live my life.”

 

For me, someone who admits to unethical behavior has no real constraints against using illegal behavior. That’s a trade-off almost no one can negotiate successfully. Fack Fucebook! Delete Facebook!

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Given the dramatic slowdown in the number of showings we’ve had for our house between weeks one and two on the market, I must admit to having some doubt that the move to the desert will take place as quickly as I would like. Of course, that means that the quest for a Corvette Companion/Grocery Car has been pushed to the back burner.

Still, I look on car sales websites almost every day although the “journeys” are much shorter than before. I have to admit that despite the change to looking for more modern cars, every now and then I look at something like this:

 

 

From this Hemmings ad a picture of a 1963 Buick Wildcat with an admittedly less than desirable 87,000+ miles on the clock and an asking price of $19,900. Throw in the black interior, a no-go in the desert, and this becomes an impractical purchase. Nevertheless, I am really drawn to this car. The heart wants what it wants.

 

#WanderingWednesday

#Postsecret

#FackFucebook

#CorvetteCompanion/GroceryCar

#1963BuickWildcat

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Strange Minds

Yes, I am talking about myself. Yesterday, a much needed afternoon nap was cut very short by a disturbing dream. (I woke up yesterday at 3 AM, so I don’t think an afternoon nap is a sign of sloth.) A large dog, probably a German Shepherd, was standing on our screened-in porch just outside the glass sliding doors to the kitchen. This dog either had a broken leg, a missing leg or maybe even a damaged prosthetic leg. I was heartbroken at the sight, so much so that I woke up.

One Sunday night when I was 10 years old, our beloved German Shepherd came to the door between the back porch and the kitchen whimpering and holding one of its front legs off the ground. That is still one of the saddest memories of my life. Despite setting the leg in a cast, eventually he had to be put down. Of course, we were told he was going to a farm, but I knew better.

Despite my sadness from the dream, part of me was relieved because the fact that I had dreamt meant that I had slept. Sleep has been a precious commodity for me for many years and has been much more rare these days in the stressful times in which we live.

So, why was I dreaming about this dog so many years later and why was part of me happy just to have dreamt? (Oh, WordPress…dreamt is a real word, why is it underlined in red while I am composing a post?) Like I wrote, strange minds.

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Taking advantage of my early rise yesterday I went for a drive before 6 AM. I have long wanted to take a picture of this railroad car that is sitting in someone’s yard not far from where we live. I got a two-fer, the railroad car and the sunrise. A woman came out of the house while I was parked across the street taking the pictures and seemed quite displeased by my presence.

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This Hemmings piece is the reason I am writing about and showing this car that has appeared before on Disaffected Musings. The title of the article is, “Still Stag-gering: Triumph’s star-crossed flagship turns 50.” Here are some photos from Hemmings:

 

Still Stag-gering: Triumph's star-crossed flagship turns 50

 

Post Image

 

This car was featured in an episode of For The Love Of Cars, a series hosted by Ant Anstead–before Wheeler Dealers–and Philip Glenister. I very much enjoyed most of the episodes of the series, frankly more than I enjoy most new episodes of Wheeler Dealers.

The Hemmings article is long, but worth reading, in my opinion. From the first paragraph:

 

“…With glamorous Italian styling, a luxurious interior, four-wheel independent suspension, a removable hard top, an overhead-cam V-8 engine, and a stirring exhaust note, it was conceived to surpass the Mercedes-Benz SL series. Unfortunately, though brilliant in conception, its execution fell short of expectations. With a half-century of experience behind us, we can now see where Triumph succeeded, why it failed…”

 

The Stag developed a bad reputation for overheating and for other mechanical failings. Given the large number of people that belong to the UK Stag Club and the relatively high number of comments for this article, some people love the car despite the reputation. I am not going to feature this car in an In Or Out? post, but for me it’s an In. Hey, In Or Out? is somewhat of a dream exercise so if I can acquire In cars then I’m going to assume I have the means to do whatever is necessary for the cars to be reliable. Maybe my affinity for this car is just another manifestation of my strange mind.

 

#StrangeMinds

#SunriseOverRailroadCar

#TriumphStag

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Moonday

Of course, on this day in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon. I think the need to explore is part of being human and I think a society that spends its time gazing at its collective navel instead of at the stars is a society destined for mediocrity.

 

“The day we stop exploring is the day we commit ourselves to live in a stagnant world, devoid of curiosity, empty of dreams.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

 

According to Wikipedia, the English name for this day of the week is derived from Old English Mōnandæg and Middle English Monenday, originally a translation of Latin dies lunae “day of the Moon”.

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The Earth’s moon is the fifth-largest among the hundreds in the solar system and is easily the largest relative to the planet it orbits. (Charon is larger relative to Pluto, but the latter is no longer classified as a planet.) The moon currently orbits at an average distance of about 239,000 miles from Earth, but the distance is increasing.

The most “accepted” theory of the Moon’s formation is that it formed after a large body the size of Mars crashed into Earth early in its existence. The impact caused a large volume of material to be ejected into Earth’s orbit and then that material coalesced and formed the Moon.

From the Wikipedia article about the Moon, an amazing picture by Jessie Eastland of a full moon appearing as a half moon during the January, 2018 lunar eclipse, which occurred during the Moon Triple Crown or Trifecta: a full moon, a “Supermoon” and a lunar eclipse.

 

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I think it will be difficult to segue from that picture to almost anything else, but I’ll try…

 

 

I can’t stop thinking about this car, the Rondine concept car from 1963 drawn by American Tom Tjaarda under the auspices of Pininfarina. How much do you think it would cost to have a company fabricate a replica of the body and then install it on an existing Corvette chassis?

Not that I am likely to ever have the means to have this done, but I am already thinking about the complications of installing this on a C7 chassis given the large number of functional vents on a C7 body that, if duplicated here, would probably ruin the looks of this car. Maybe this would have to be installed on a C5 or C6 chassis or if the rear transaxle is incompatible with the body, then a C4. “If you don’t have dreams you have nightmares” is not exactly compatible with “I have dreams, but I live in the real world,” but a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. How did Casey Kasem end each American Top 40 broadcast? I think it was, “Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars.”

 

#MondayMoonday

#NeildeGrasseTyson

#RondineConceptCar

#CaseyKasem

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Sunday Choice

It’s about 6:45 AM as I write this. I couldn’t decide if I should write a post or take a drive in my Z06 and, eventually, stop at a gas station. For the first 35 years I drove I never let my gas tank get below half full. I was always told it was unsafe to let the gas level fall below half.

Now, while I try to fill the tank before it gets below half, I often do not. Is that simply a manifestation of the “speeding up” of time that occurs as one grows older? Anyway, the Z06 fuel level is only about a quarter full.

If it had been 6:00 or 6:15, I probably would have gone for the drive. The result of my choice is what you are reading.

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On this day in 2006 Tesla Motors unveiled its Roadster prototype to 350 invited guests at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California. The Roadster wouldn’t be put into production until February, 2008; Tesla co-founder and chairman Elon Musk (I think you’ve heard of him) received the first vehicle. This car was Tesla’s first production automobile.

The Roadster was based on the Lotus Elise chassis and looked very much like an Elise. The Tesla Roadster was the first production electric car that claimed more than 200 miles of range per charge.

I have no doubt that electric cars will become the dominant paradigm in personal transportation. I also have little doubt that will not happen as quickly as the zealots think or want. In the US, the share of the new car market for electrics has seemingly plateaued at 2%, although hybrid sales continue to increase.

Remember that something like 1.3 billion cars and light trucks are owned by people all over the world, almost all of which run on gasoline or diesel. Remember that another 60 or 70 million new vehicles are sold every year around the world and most of them run on gasoline or diesel.

In my opinion, some segment of the car buying public will prefer an internal combustion engine powered vehicle for years to come. From carsauto.com a picture of a 2008 Tesla Roadster.

 

See the source image

 

I must admit it’s not a bad-looking car; most Lotus models look good. The only exception for me is the Europa.

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My wonderful wife and I are both struggling under the weight of the stress related to our efforts to sell our house and to move to the desert. Both of us are suffering from diminished sleep. It seems as though no matter how much we’ve done, and we have been busy for weeks, a seemingly infinite number of tasks remain.

I would write “this, too, shall pass,” but I have the nagging feeling that something very bad is going to happen before, during, or just after the move, if we are able to move. Remember that I am neither a glass half-full nor glass half-empty person, but am someone who doesn’t even see the glass.

 

#SundayChoice

#TeslaRoadster

#MovingStress

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Saturday Admission

I have to admit that on some days I turn on my computer, sit in my office chair and have no idea what I am going to write for my post. Today is one of those days. Why am I writing then? First of all, this blog is very important to me. Even if I had fewer readers, I think I would still write as often because writing is a catharsis for me. In other words, blogging is cheaper than therapy and almost as effective.

In addition, one of the “rules of blogging” is to be consistent. As I have written a blog post almost every day for more than four years–the last two in my previous blog and two and a half years for Disaffected Musings–I think the readers have come to expect almost daily output. Supposedly, more blog posts also mean stronger results in search engines. So far this year, referrals from search engines account for 18% of all blog views; that number was just 6% in 2019. For 2020, even though the year is barely into its second half, the number of referrals from search engines is basically three times the number for all of 2019. Those of you who are mathematically inclined can deduce that, given these facts, the number of views for 2020 has basically matched the number for all of 2019.

Long way ’round, if any of my regular readers want to write a guest post (photobyjohnbo has already graciously contributed one), please feel free to let me know.

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Speaking of regular readers, this is a picture of Dirty Dingus McGee’s 1960 Studebaker Lark. Whether or not much of the appeal stems from the fact that these are a product of a defunct American make, I have always liked the look of the two-door Larks.

Even though I am not a fan of many cars considered classics by the majority of American automobile enthusiasts (GM A-Body cars from 1968 to 1972, for example), the universe of cars that appeals to me is still quite large. When I dream of having a four-car or five-car garage I think of what I could buy. I also think of cars that are not so rare as to be imprudent to be modified. These Larks fit that bill; from 1959 through 1961 a total of 26,001 Lark two-door hardtops were built. (Data courtesy of Studebaker 1946-1966, The Classic Postwar Years by Richard M. Langworth.) In addition, 81,090 two-door sedans were built.

56PackardMan was (is) very opposed to restomodding a car, as are many other enthusiasts. While I understand the sentiment, for me that restriction only applies to rare and historically significant automobiles, like a Duesenberg Model J, not that I will ever be able to afford one of those. While I never have had an automobile “collection” I can’t conceive of myself buying cars that are de facto museum exhibits. As I have written before, if I buy a car it is for the purpose of driving it, even if that’s just 1,200-1,500 miles a year.

While this topic has been discussed here before, I would still like to read your thoughts on when, if ever, restomodding is appropriate.

 

#SaturdayAdmission

#DirtyDingusMcGee

#1960StudebakerLark

#Restomods

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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