Zora!

After the trip to Corvettes at Carlisle I have the car in my brain more deeply than ever. For example, I hope to visit a “local” restomod Corvette shop tomorrow (if I can stay out of doctors offices long enough) to have very preliminary discussions about what I want and what it might cost. How does this look?

See the source image

From corvetteforum.com a picture of a 1967 restomod. Hey, how does one add words to the WordPress dictionary? I am tired of restomod or resto-mod being underlined in red as being misspelled.

My restomod will preferably be a convertible, but with the auxiliary hardtop welded in place to create a one-off hardtop coupe. The person with whom I’ve been communicating has been very helpful and very thorough with his email replies. One “bright” spot is that to get good HP (550+) will not necessarily require supercharging or turbocharging. That fact will help keep the price manageable. Of course, in a dream world where money is no object I would get them to build a 1,000+ HP engine, maybe a twin-turbo stroker motor.

Of course, the big news in the Corvette world right now is the anticipation of the debut of the C8, the eighth-generation Corvette. It is widely expected that the C8 will finally bring Zora Arkus-Duntov’s dream of a mid-engine Corvette to life. Road and Track is keeping track (pun intended) of C8 rumors here. I would like to show you their photos of the camouflaged C8 prototypes, but their pictures are copyrighted and it is never my intent to violate copyright laws.

According to Road and Track Mark Reuss, head of Global Product development at GM, says that the C8 will be “revolutionary.” To some Corvette watchers, that can only mean one thing: a mid-engine Chevy supercar. While some had hoped the car would be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show this past January, the best guess now is that the car will be shown for the first time sometime in 2019, perhaps to go on sale later in the year as a 2020 model.

From Road and Track: “The only reason the Corvette would switch to a mid-engined layout is for performance. Engineers at GM understand that there is a limit to how much power a front-engine supercar can put down, and how much cornering grip it can achieve. Although the current Corvette is a fantastic sports car, it’s inherently held back by its front-mid-engine layout. With the engine in the middle, the car’s weight distribution can be optimized, with turn-in and corner holding capabilities benefitting as a result.”

Also from Road and Track: “A member of the mid-engine Corvette forum recently discovered that Chevrolet has begun to trademark the name ‘Zora’ in several different countries, including the US, the UK, China, Japan, and Australia. If you’re not familiar with the name, Zora Arkus-Duntov was the GM engineer responsible for much of the early Corvette’s development, engineering, and racing success. He worked on the Corvette program from 1953 up until his retirement in 1975 at the age of 81 years old. Though he didn’t create the car, he’s known throughout the car world as the ‘father of the Corvette.'”

For some Corvette aficionados it is a matter of “I’ll believe it when I see it” in terms of a mid-engined car. In my opinion, the Corvette is already the best performance car in the world, dollar for dollar. No, even the ZR-1 will not keep up with a Bugatti Chiron, but the Chiron costs millions and the ZR-1 is about $140,000. What would a $1 million Corvette be able to do? Of course, how many $1 million Corvettes could GM/Chevrolet sell? Who knows, maybe more than I think.

For those Corvette fans out there, I keep asking what do you think about the seeming inevitability of a mid-engined Vette? Will the almost guaranteed higher price change the makeup of the Corvette market? What do you think about the likelihood that two generations of Corvette will be offered simultaneously for the first time?

As always, I hope to read your thoughts. Also, if you were to build a restomod Corvette without an unlimited budget, what would you want?

 

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Underrated

Bill James (yes, his name is here again) once wrote about how he didn’t like the terms overrated and underrated. His point was that there really are no official ratings for most things in life and, therefore, how can anything be underrated or overrated? OK, good point, but this post from thrillist.com is about the ten most underrated American cars, at least according to the author. Some of these cars will be familiar to those of you who read this blog.

At #10 is one of my favorites, the Cadillac Allante. From the thrillist piece: “A spiritual predecessor to the Corvette-based XLR, the Allante was somewhat ill-received because it was front-wheel drive and thus didn’t have world-crushing handling. The rest of the car was an odd mix that involved Pininfarina (the same Italian design house that’s responsible for scores of your favorite Ferraris over the years) building the bodies in Italy, flying them to Detroit, and mating a decent chassis and V8 to the car. If you’re just cruising around, it’s hard to argue against its value.” It was also ill-received because it was under-powered at first (170 HP/235 LB-FT of torque for its first two model years, 1987 and 1988) and fraught with quality issues.

I still think the Allante is a beautiful car and if you can get a later one that’s been looked after, it’s a bargain and a great entry point into the world of car collecting. Here’s a picture from autoevolution.com:

See the source image

So, what was/is the #1 most underrated American car? Here’s a picture from the thrillist piece:

Corvair

This is the Chevrolet Corvair and this one is supposed to be in Monza trim. The Corvair, of course, is one of the most controversial cars in US history and the car that made Ralph Nader famous, for better or for worse. (It’s a little bit of both, in my opinion.) From thrillist: “Today, the Corvair is most known as the subject of Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed, wherein he argues that many people died as a result of GM cutting corners with the car’s suspension. In truth, however, the suspension setup was fundamentally the same as contemporary Porsches and Mercedes, and statistically, the car wasn’t any more dangerous than other vehicles. It had an advanced air-cooled flat six engine that was mounted in the rear. It was basically GM’s version of a Porsche for normal people, but thanks to Nader’s controversy, the car died, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was born.”

Many car “experts” argue with the claim that Nader’s book killed the Corvair. Those “experts” believe it was actually the Ford Mustang that killed the Corvair because the Mustang was more versatile. For example, the Mustang, which was released in April of 1964, was offered with many engine options, including various V-8s. It was impossible to put an 8-cylinder engine into the Corvair. (Nader’s book was published in 1965.) The story of the Corvair is quite interesting and I think the best history of the car is in Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars by Paul Ingrassia.

The Corvair is another way to get into the car hobby without taking out a second mortgage. I did a search on Hemmings of second generation Corvairs (1965-1969). I found two that look decent and were priced under $10,000. I think the second generation cars look much better than the first and had the “bugs” worked out.

What cars do you think are underrated? Do you think that the concepts of underrated and overrated are valid? By the way, I am still hoping for honest, constructive feedback about Disaffected Musings. I am very proud of this blog, but maybe I am missing something that can only be seen by someone with a different perspective.

 

Late Post For Labor Day

I hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day. The holiday exists to honor the contributions that workers have made to the country. For me, from the time I was 6 until I was 22 Labor Day was a horrible day signifying the end of summer and the return to school. Even though I was a very good student, I hated being in school. I felt like I was in a cage stripped of my freedom.

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OK, here is a photo from Corvettes at Carlisle 2018 showing the split window of the 1963 Vette I showed in an earlier post. Corvette fans know the story and the rest of you probably don’t care, but designer Bill Mitchell felt the Stingray coupe HAD to have a split window in order to be true to the “spine” theme of the car. Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov hated the split window because it obstructed rearward vision. For 1964 and afterward, Duntov won the battle and the split window was removed. Of course, that created a classic as the split window was only available in 1963 coupes, of which just 10,594 were produced. 1963 was the first model year in which a coupe body was available for the Corvette and now is the only year of the C2 generation (1963-1967) where coupes are more valuable than convertibles.

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They’re multiplying!

In this post I showed a similar picture except it only showed three signs. I purchased the Willys sign at Carlisle and it is the only porcelain sign of the bunch; the rest are made of tin. Fortunately or unfortunately—depends on the perspective—I don’t have room left for any more of these signs on this part of the garage wall.

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I am asking for honest, constructive feedback. What do you like about this blog and what don’t you like? Don’t be mean, but feel free to express your honest views. Thanks.

 

Late Post For Labor Day Weekend

I have been suffering from multiple maladies for many months. (I realize that my affinity for alliteration might lead some to think of this great line uttered by Albert Brooks in one of my favorite movies, Broadcast News, “A lot of alliteration for anxious anchors placed in powerful posts.”) One of those maladies really disrupts my sleep. I awoke this morning at 2 AM and left the bedroom, which has been about par for the course in the last week or so. However, my wonderful wife grabbed me at 8 AM and suggested I lie down next to her in the bedroom. Sure enough, I fell asleep for three more hours. A shout-out to my wonderful wife!

The college football season starts in earnest today. Although I worked in major league baseball in one capacity or another for 20+ years, the team for whom I have rooted the longest is the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. I have been a fan since 1970, before many of you were born. Yes, the fact they won the “national title” that year played a role in my becoming a fan, but something about the name “Nebraska” just seems magical to me and always has. Go Big Red!

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This is the car that will dominate the view from my office desk for the month of September. I admit I know nothing about the Vision SZR except that which I could find with an Internet search. I am not a big fan of what I call the “pod cars” like Pagani or Koenigsegg. I like a more traditional look with a long hood and short deck, but different strokes for different folks.

Although I am a LONG way from reaching the amount I will probably need, I have begun to save for my resto-mod C2 Corvette. No time like the present.

C2 Corvette

This picture from corvetteforum.com is of a 1965 resto-mod that looks stock, but that has modern mechanicals underneath. I might want to alter the looks slightly—I might have to depending on the size of wheels and tires—but this is a very good example of my dream car. This car is powered by a 480 HP LS3 fuel-injected engine with a 4L65E automatic transmission. It has power disc brakes by Wilwood and modern suspension. I love the period wheels and the side exhaust. I might want a stinger hood, which was only available on the 1967 Corvette and then, supposedly, only on big block cars. For the nth time from the movie Diner, if you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.

 

Happy Birthday, #20!

Today is Frank Robinson’s birthday. When I was growing up in Baltimore he was my favorite player on the Orioles, by far. Brooks Robinson was the favorite of all of my friends, but not me. (No offense intended to Brooks Robinson and please don’t tell me I have to elaborate on the accomplishments of either person.)

Incredibly, I later had the good fortune to work with Frank Robinson during my time with the Orioles. He and I had a very good relationship and he told me on more than one occasion that if he were to ever become a General Manager he would give me a very high position in his “administration,” perhaps even Assistant GM. A story along those lines: one day I was walking past his office and stuck my head in to say hello. I noticed a baseball cap on his desk I had never seen before with the letters “CR” on it. I asked Frank, “Cedar Rapids?” He said, “No, Colorado Rockies.” I asked, “Are you going somewhere?” Frank replied, “No, but if I do I’m taking you with me.” You have no idea how amazing I felt after he said that. Sadly, my life seems incapable of generating that kind of “magic” any more. Unfortunately for Frank (and for me) he was never named General Manager for any organization.

I haven’t spoken to Frank since he was “relieved” of his position as Manager of the Nationals. I don’t really know how to reach him and I am 100% sure he will never see this, but: Happy Birthday, Frank Robinson!

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From “Ask The Man Who Owns One (a book about the history of Packard advertising): in 1910, the electric self-starter for automobiles had not been invented; by 1916, 98% of the cars sold in the US had an electric self-starter. By the way, over 1.5 million cars were produced in the US in 1916, so that 98% is not a small number.

One day I will write a (long) post about Charles Kettering and the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, better known as DELCO. If you couldn’t put two and two together, Kettering invented the modern electric self-starting and charging system for automobiles. For that invention he received one of his 186 US patents. The “Kettering” in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is in honor of Charles Kettering.

See the source image

From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 1912 Cadillac, the first car in the world to offer an electric self-starter.

Tomorrow is September 1st?!

Throwback Thursday

It is Thursday, isn’t it?

First, a question: what do Lon Babby, the late Jerry Coleman, Theo Epstein, Calvin Hill, Mel Kiper and Gary Roenicke have in common? They all attended my wedding.

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See the source image

From fastlanecars.com, a picture of this week’s throwback car: the beautiful 1956 Continental Mark II. During the two model years in which this car was produced, Continental was a make separate from Lincoln.

Given the time period, the Mark II was relatively unadorned with chrome and fins, but blessed with splendid dimensions and a classic look. From this Hemmings article comes this information:

“Lincoln dealerships had been inquiring about a replacement for the Continental from the time production stopped [in 1948], so in 1952, the Ford Motor Company conducted research to determine whether a market for such a premium car existed; they decided that although they would probably lose money on such a project, the gains in prestige and publicity from a halo car would more than make up for it. A design contest among Ford stylists and outside contractors resulted in a two-door coupe, designed by staffer John Reinhart, that was both traditional and classic, yet incorporated what he termed Modern Formal design-this was the Mark II.

When it debuted as a 1956 model in October of 1955, the $9,966 Mark II was one of the heaviest American cars extant at 4,825 pounds without air conditioning, 5,190 pounds so equipped. Riding on a 126-inch wheelbase, it stretched 218.4 inches long and sported a low 56.25-inch roofline. The original Lincoln-Continental’s proportions remained, with the Mark II’s hood stretching a massive 70 inches. Under that hood was a standard Lincoln engine and drivetrain; the 368-cu.in. V-8 was overmatched by the car’s weight, offering a 0-60 mph time of just under 16 seconds and an indicated top speed of 118 mph.”

Even though the car was very expensive for its day (almost $10,000, according to smartasset.com that is equivalent to over $92,000 today; of course, many cars today cost substantially more than $92,000), as expected Ford Motor Company lost money on every one produced. According to many sources, exactly 3,000 Mark IIs were produced in total for the 1956 and 1957 model years.

Any regular reader knows I am not a FoMoCo fan, but I like to give credit where credit is due. The Continental Mark II is simply a stunning example of the best of American car design.

Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing

In previous posts I have mentioned a Wall Street Journal review of one of my books that called it the best book [of its kind] ever written. Well, knowing this may enable those so inclined to unearth my identity, here is the actual excerpt from the review as seen on the back of the paperback edition of the book:

 

The Wall Street Journal review of the book did little to increase sales and the book only sold about 5,000 copies, if I recall correctly. Of course, part of the reason is that unless the topic is “Fantasy Football” football fans don’t read.

Here is a photo of the Alumni Award of Excellence bestowed upon me by my alma mater, the University of Delaware. This award and $5 will buy me breakfast at McDonald’s. This award was not enough for my alma mater to allow me to teach 1 or 2 classes a semester because, hey, I don’t have a Ph.D., even though the two classes I did teach there received excellent reviews from my students.

As I keep writing, I believe I have good reason to be a disaffected man. Staying on the topic of the bulls**t that is the modern US university, I taught a class at another local “institution of higher learning.” In their evaluations, the students gave the course an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 and gave me a 5.0; I was not asked back to teach the same course the next semester. In fact, I have been removed from the adjunct faculty roster.

I am not making up any of this. People who believe that everyone gets what they deserve are either blind or stupid. In any event, no one can really know what anyone “deserves.”

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OK, enough complaining…here is another picture from this year’s Corvettes at Carlisle, a beautiful 1965 convertible with the auxiliary hardtop in place in what I assume is the original Goldwood Yellow color. I’m actually a little colorblind, so what do I know?

I think I actually like the looks of the C2 convertible with the hardtop in place more than the coupe or the convertible with either the soft top or the top down. When I dream about my resto-mod C2, I think about such a configuration with the hardtop reinforced with carbon fiber both inside and out and then welded to the clips where the hardtop is connected. I also want side exhaust like this car. Once again from the movie Diner, if you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.

Tuesday Notes

Belated condolences to the family of John McCain. Regardless of one’s political inclinations (or lack thereof), I think McCain’s service to his country should be appreciated.

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In this post I mentioned a book called “Ask The Man Who Owns One,” which was a famous ad slogan for Packard. Well, you didn’t think I would discover the book’s existence and not buy it, do you? Remember, I have an unhealthy obsession with defunct American makes.

In this blog I have argued that the famous saying, “If you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door” is often incorrect. Apparently, Henry Joy—longtime Packard president in addition to having a large ownership stake—agreed. Joy once wrote to James Packard (co-founder of the company), “We cannot make a success of this business by hiding our light under a bushel. It seems to me that anybody in this business has to make a demand for his goods by making a constant noise about them. In addition, of course, the goods must have merit, but no matter how meritorious, they will disappear from the ring unless pushed before the public with the greatest possible vigor.”

In the classical economics model, information is free and its transmission is frictionless. In the real world, people won’t buy something, regardless of quality, if they are unaware of its existence. People are also not omniscient, regardless of what those blinded by ideology think.

In honor of Packard a photo of a 1955 Caribbean convertible I took at a local auto show. Sorry, 56packardman that it’s not a 1956 model.

Another Packard picture:

See the source image

From momentcar.com a picture of a 1931 Packard 840.

See the source image

From hobbydb.com a photo of a Packard ad with the famous slogan. Note the year.

While Packard was never a high-volume manufacturer, it did produce over 1.6 million vehicles in its history. For a long time, Packard was revered as a standard of luxury and excellence. Hopefully, the latter quality will never go out of style or out of fashion.

For those interested in reading more about Packard, I highly recommend The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company by James A. Ward.

 

If you’re reading this after clicking on a link from the Studebaker Drivers Club or Packard Info, welcome. Please feel free to bookmark the blog URL, https://disaffectedmusings.com, and return often.

 

 

Beware of Bitcoin, Part 2

This article from CNBC is entitled, “‘Wolf of Wall Street’ warns investors of the next big trap: Bitcoin.” From the article:

“In the internet age, that manipulation tactic has become easier. Cryptocurrency fundraising known as initial coin offerings [ICOs] in many cases turned out to be frauds and have become the target of Securities and Exchange Commission investigations. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have outlawed advertising of ICOs on their platforms.

‘This thing is going to evaporate like a mirage,’ [Jordan] Belfort said. ‘There’s a lot of really honest people who are going to get slaughtered.’ He predicted that it could go bust within the year, and when it does, it will be ‘the bust heard around the world.’ Belfort also challenged bitcoin’s security, the idea that it could dissolve a need for central banks, and the argument that governments would allow an anonymous currency without regulation.”

If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. If you don’t understand something, don’t invest in it.

 

 

Corvettes!

As I have written many times, nothing in life is all good or all bad. Everything is a trade-off.

Even finally making it to the mecca of Corvette shows, Corvettes at Carlisle, was not all good or all bad. My wonderful wife and I attended Corvettes at Carlisle 2018 last week. OK, so what was the bad?

First, I am now more obsessed than ever with building my resto-mod C2 Corvette AND I have come to the realization that I will not be able to have EVERYTHING I want because that will make the project unaffordable. Second, as much as I love Corvettes seeing approximately 3,000 Corvettes was overkill.

Third, the event was much more static than I had imagined. The same cars are parked in the same spots for the entire event. The same vendors are selling the same things in the same spaces. Perhaps I am a victim of a misunderstanding, of incorrect preconceptions.

Don’t get me wrong; we enjoyed the event. It’s just that we’re not going to be rushing back there next year.

Without further ado, here are some photos I took during Corvettes at Carlisle 2018:

This photo shows just a small fraction of the cars at the event. Note the mountains in the background. Carlisle, Pennsylvania is in a lovely part of the state.

This is a 2019 Corvette ZR-1. I am growing quite fond of orange cars, perhaps inspired by the Imola Orange Honda S2000. Another “complaint” about the event is that people were less friendly than I thought they would be. My wonderful wife and I tried to say hello to everyone, but received no response or minimal response from most people. Many of those attending were there as part of various Corvette clubs and tended to stick to the people in those clubs. I would have imagined more camaraderie among Corvette owners.

Sorry about chopping off part of the car. This is a beautiful 1961 resto-mod. I think it’s almost a perfect blend of old and new. I don’t recall a resto-mod display out on the show fields; this car and a few other resto-mods were in a building. Many Corvette fans are “purists.” They want an original car and if it has to be restored then they want it restored to original.

My views on this subject are well-known if you read this blog. I own a car for the purpose of driving it, even if it’s just 3,000-ish miles a year. This is 2018 (almost 2019!). I don’t want to drive a car with a carburetor, drum brakes, bias-ply tires or points-based ignition. Do you want to go back to hand cranking a car to start it? Do you want to have to advance or retard the spark while driving by using a lever on the steering wheel?

This may have been my favorite car from the event. If you can’t tell, it’s a 1967 convertible. While I prefer side exhaust and a little more aggressive look, this car looked just right.

I had to show a picture of the iconic 1963 split-window coupe although, of course, I didn’t photograph the rear window. Another excellent Corvette, in my opinion.

I titled this picture “Wall of Cars.” It is impossible, I think, to get a sense of the size of the event or of the Carlisle Fairgrounds from these photos. If you are a Corvette fan then I think you should attend Corvettes at Carlisle at least once.