A Break

I am not well. Divulging any more details would be a case of TMI. Until and unless my situation improves, blogging will have to take a back seat.

I may post sporadically, but barring a sudden and positive reversal of fortune, I cannot envision writing an average of more than six posts a week.

Wish me luck…

 

#ABreak

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

Corvette Saturday

One of the local Corvette clubs, of which there are many in the Phoenix area, held its monthly show today. Unlike Corvette clubs in the east, this show was for Corvettes only. My wonderful wife wanted to see this event so she didn’t have to twist my arm, obviously. Hope you enjoy the photos.

 

 

#CorvetteSaturday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Cars A To Z: F

I really couldn’t have chosen any other make for the “F” car than Ferrari. On a tangent…I have written about how much I like the show Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars that is shown on Motor Trend. The show is shot in the UK and hosted by Paul Cowland and Drew Pritchard.

Pritchard has almost a pathological dislike for Ferrari; at least that’s how his attitude is portrayed on the show. He thinks their styling is tasteless and the cars are unreliable. Cowland is a big fan of the make, or marque in UK parlance.

Different strokes for different folks or DSFDF…

 

Almost all of us are at least part shadow and shade and ALL of us are flawed. That includes Enzo Ferrari. He was called “Enzo The Butcher” by race car drivers for his apparent disregard for their safety. According to The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile:

 

“Ferrari ran his factory as a Medieval city-state. He set his lieutenants against each other–Ferrari described himself as an ‘agitator’ of men…Ferrari always lagged behind in terms of technology. He was conspicuously late to adopt disc brakes, for example, a mid-engined layout or, even, scientific aerodynamics. Many a Formula One designer looked at Ferrari’s resources and could not believe why the Scuderia did not win every race it entered.”

 

Of course, his last-minute exit from a potential deal to sell his company to Ford led to Henry Ford II vowing to beat Ferrari at LeMans regardless of cost and effort. His personal life cost the company the services of key executives in the early 1960s. After the death of his son Alfredino “Dino” in 1956, Ferrari wanted to recognize the son born to his mistress. Not surprisingly, Ferrari’s wife objected, began to meddle in company affairs and that led to the departure of eight senior principals. Yes, that would almost certainly not happen today.

Still, as Beaulieu sums up, “Other makers have been more competent, but none can match Ferrari for sheer charisma.” As I do not wish to break a butterfly upon a wheel (thanks, Alexander Pope), I will just show pictures of some of my favorite Ferraris, of which there are many.

 

 

This is, of course, the 1961 Pininfarina 250 GT coupe with which I became smitten at the Mecum auction in Monterey, California in August of this year. Here’s another picture of the same car:

 

 

This is a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC. This car was part of my Ultimate Garage 3.0 published four months ago.

 

 

This is a Ferrari Portofino, which was part of my Ultimate Garage 2.0 published in 2019. I still love the car, but a person can change their mind even if there’s nothing wrong with the one they have.

 

 

This is the Ferrari California my wonderful wife test drove earlier this year, but was sold when we returned to the dealer. Of course, we really had no intention of buying the car right now. Hey, we just have no room at the inn. The California was part of my Ultimate Garage published on my first blog, which was hosted by the Evil Empire, AKA Google.

 

 

This Ferrari 456 is an underappreciated car, in my opinion. About 3,300 456 and 456 M (for Modificata) cars were produced from 1992 to 2003.

No, I haven’t written about Ferrari’s racing history or more about Enzo Ferrari. The cars speak volumes.

 

Have a great weekend; it is Friday, right?

 

#CarsAToZ

#Ferrari

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Veterans Day 2021

I wish to extend a heartfelt thanks to the 19 million veterans in the US. I also want to thank the roughly 1.3 million currently on active duty in the US military. I think their service is grossly underappreciated by too much of the population.

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Today would/should have been Kevin Towers’ 60th birthday. I worked with Kevin for four years while with the San Diego Padres. As I have recounted, I was foisted on him at first as my first title was Assistant Director of Scouting for Professional Players. At the time, Kevin was the Director of Scouting.

Later, we were both promoted: Kevin to General Manager and me to Director of Baseball Operations. In the three full seasons we had those roles, the Padres won two NL West division titles and one National League championship. (I resigned during the season after the NL championship.) Here is a picture I have shown before:

 

 

Kevin is the one kneeling in front and I am one of the other three people. He always treated me as a friend and respected colleague and not as an interloper.

I believe Kevin’s widow lives in the Phoenix area. I wish I could find her just to say hello and to tell her how much I appreciated the way Kevin treated me. He died of anaplastic thyroid cancer in January of 2018.

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I wanted to add something about what happened on this day in automotive history. Unfortunately, I have learned that the 365 Days of Motoring website cannot be trusted (not to mention it’s not a secure site). I am seldom able to corroborate their “facts.”

A book I have called This Day In Automotive History has nothing for this day that interests me. Since it is likely that tomorrow will be the “F” car in Cars A To Z, I will report that on November 12, 1908 General Motors (which had been founded just two months earlier) acquired Oldsmobile.

Ransom Eli Olds founded Oldsmobile in 1897, sold the company to Samuel L. Smith in 1899 but stayed on as Vice-President and General Manager until the two men began to butt heads frequently. Olds left his namesake company in 1904 to start REO Motor Car Company.

In the first model year after GM’s acquisition (1909), Oldsmobile finished 7th in sales among American makes. Buick finished second and Cadillac, which GM acquired in 1909, finished 5th. Reo finished 6th. Unlike later when Ford completely dominated the US market with the Model T, it had less than a 10 percent share. I hope the photo below shows an actual 1909 Oldsmobile, but my knowledge of brass era cars is quite limited:

 

See the source image

 

In its long history Oldsmobile had quite a record as an innovator with its two most significant being the first make to offer a fully automatic transmission in the Hydra-Matic and, along with Cadillac, the first to offer a modern, overhead-valve and oversquare V-8 engine. I think the fact that these engines had a bore greater than stroke (that’s what oversquare means) is not mentioned enough in automotive histories. That design allows for higher RPM than the old-fashioned engines whose stroke always exceeded their bore.

For the nth time, I will offer lamentation over the demise of makes like Oldsmobile.

 

#VeteransDay

#KevinTowers

#Oldsmobile

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Farewell, Mike Pitts

Mike Pitts–former Alabama All-American football player, first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons and key member of the successful defenses of the Philadelphia Eagles under Buddy Ryan–died a few days ago. Why am I mentioning this? Pitts attended the same high school as David Banner (not his real name) and me and graduated the same year.

A Mike Pitts story…during our junior year my section and his section ate lunch during the same period and usually sat close to each other. I decided to arrange a betting pool for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. (This would have been in March, 1977.) Each participant would contribute two dollars to the pool and randomly select two teams out of a bag. (The tournament was 32 teams that year.) The person with the winning team would win $16, the person with the runner-up would get $8 and the two other Final Four teams would generate $4 each in winnings.

Mike Pitts wanted in on the action but said he didn’t have two dollars that day. Obviously, we weren’t going to say no so we let him pick two teams. Both of his teams lost in the first round. When we returned to school on Monday we were prepared to go with a $30 pool. “Who’s going to ask Pitts for his money?” That was a job no one wanted. Since I started the pool, I asked him for his two dollars. He wasn’t happy about it, but he paid. That always made an impression on me.

Our high school was a football powerhouse–with 2,000+ students in a school that was all-male until our freshman year, and no more than 100 girls our senior year, how could it not be?–so varsity players had quite a status. Mike Pitts could have refused to pay his money, knowing there was nothing I could really do about it, but he paid. From that point forward, we would nod to each other if we passed in the halls.

(Do you care about the results of the NCAA Tournament? Marquette gave head coach Al McGuire quite a retirement present by winning it all for his only title. My two teams were UNLV and UNC-Charlotte, both of whom made the Final Four. Both lost close games in the national semi-finals: UNLV lost 84-83 to North Carolina and UNC-Charlotte lost 51-49 to Marquette.)

Mike Pitts and I were not friends, really. I never saw him again after high school. His death doesn’t really affect me except it’s another stark reminder of the finite nature of life. In a purely selfish view, it’s also one fewer person alive with whom I had any interaction.

Farewell, Mike Pitts.

 

See the source image

******************

If I write two consecutive posts without any automotive content, readers might think I’ve lost my mind, if they don’t already. Actually, until I heard about Mike Pitts–via a text from David Banner (not his real name)–I might have posted the “F” car in the Cars A To Z series today. That will have to wait a day or two.

Since my high school days are featured, here is the car I drove in high school after I earned my drivers license:

 

Somewhat ironically, these pictures of my 1967 Pontiac GTO were actually taken while I was in college. In high school, the car was light blue with a black top and had standard Pontiac wheels and hubcaps. In a story I have told before, the car was seriously damaged in an accident two weeks before I left for college. Nothing in life is all good or all bad…the accident gave me the excuse to get my father to have the car repainted in a color I liked better, to get mag wheels, and to get headers since the right exhaust manifold was cracked beyond repair.

Unless my wonderful wife and I win millions in a lottery, I will never again own a GTO of this vintage. However, I will always look fondly on my first car, in part because it was such an identity piece for me in high school and college.

Carpe Diem!

 

#FarewellMikePitts

#1967PontiacGTO

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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One Year In

On this day in 2020 my wonderful wife and I moved into our Arizona home. In some ways, it’s difficult to comprehend it’s been an entire year, but in other ways it actually seems longer.

To be honest, this has not been a good year in many respects, both globally and “locally.” (Where would I be if I didn’t use quotation marks?!)

I have often written my wishes for a better year ahead; I guess I’m still wishing. However, the current weather and these views are hard to beat.

 

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These are also a welcome sight:

 

 

Utz makes the best potato chips anywhere, period. In 2001, Consumer Reports conducted a nationwide taste test of potato chips and Utz was named the winner.

I grew up eating these and was quite sad I could no longer partake when I moved to California. Utz were not available in Texas, either, especially not where we lived in Plano as that is the world headquarters of Frito-Lay. In my opinion, said giant company didn’t want the competition in their backyard and figured out a way to keep Utz out of the local market. Anyway…we now have the Internet and in the year we’ve been here we’ve ordered Utz two or three times online.

Imagine my glee, then, when my wonderful wife returned yesterday with the bag of Sour Cream & Onion chips pictured above as well as the picture below from the nearest Bashas grocery store. Of course–and as my wife has pointed out–we no doubt have many transplants from the East Coast living here and we want our Utz. Oh, that is a replica Café Nervosa mug in the top chip photo. Café Nervosa was the name of the fictional coffee shop in which much of the activity occurred in my favorite sitcom ever, Frasier.

 

Sorry, no cars today.

 

#OneYearIn

#UTZ!

#disaffectedmusings

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Pictures For A Saturday

Apparently, Aaron Rodgers has no clue when to just shut up. Hope the Broncos’ fans, or wherever he is playing next year, don’t get tired of his shtick. This Packers fan is definitely sick of his act.

 

For your review or not, some posts from Why Evolution Is True:

 

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

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My wonderful wife could not wake up in time for us to realistically attend the local “Scuderia” car show, which has resumed being held the first Saturday of the month after a damn virus hiatus. Instead, we went to the Penske complex after breakfast. I have written about this “venue” many times; virtually every luxury make of car is sold there and it is the home of the Penske racing museum.

Today, the Lamborghini club of America was holding an event there. Incredibly, I neglected to take any pictures of any Lamborghinis. Here are some I did take:

 

 

This 2018 Jaguar F-Type convertible was the only one in stock, new or used, at the Jaguar/Land Rover dealer. This dealership has a grand total of three new cars in inventory at present! The damn virus is real, but so are lazy people.

Going on a tangent…former FDA commissioner and current Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb (“Love of God” in German?) believes the damn virus pandemic could be over in the US by January. The same company announced its damn virus pill, used in conjunction with an HIV drug, cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by 89%. Therapeutics must be part of the arsenal along with vaccines.

Back to the car pics:

 

 

This 2019 Ford GT has 42 miles on it; yep, 4-2. I think these cars were around a half million when new; the dealer is asking $1.4 million.

 

 

I assume this is a real BMW M1 and, if so, is the first one I’ve ever seen in person. Only about 450 were produced from 1978 to 1981.

 

Hope you enjoyed the show…

 

#PicturesForASaturday

#WokeIsACult

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Friday Flash

The fact that many people are so critical of what James Carville said here shows me that wokeness is a cult. These critics refuse to acknowledge even one iota of validity in what he said. The only solution is dissolution.

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Is it really National Doughnut/Donut Day today? Oh, I miss eating donuts on a regular basis. A Dunkin’ chocolate frosted (yeast) donut has 31 grams of carbohydrates including 13 grams of sugar. That’s probably among the least detrimental items in their donut/fritter arsenal. The double chocolate donut, that I will allow myself to eat 2-3 times a year, has 39 grams of carbs including 18 grams of sugar. Their apple fritter has 58 grams of carbs including 24 grams of sugar.

I eat a lot of regular Cheerios. According to the box, a serving has 20 grams of carbs and only one gram of sugar. Of course, my servings are bigger than “standard.” As I wrote here, I am tired of being a slave to my Hemoglobin A1C tests. My next one is about two weeks away. In the month after that, I may have a donut or two.

 

See the source image

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A friend of mine who is a former major league baseball player (and currently a long-time sports columnist–sorry, didn’t know how else to write that) and who reads the blog on a regular basis texted me that he loved my comment on unremarkable baseball players. He also wrote that he concurred.

As I have written before, I abhor cults of personality, whether they are for athletes, entertainers, politicians or whomever. We are ALL flawed.

******************

This article from Inside Hook is their list of the 50 most underappreciated cars of all-time. The introduction before the list is shown is very well-written and well worth a read.

Many of the cars listed are among my favorites: Studebaker Avanti, first-generation Mercury Cougar, first-generation Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Alfa Romeo Montreal. Oh, what the hell, I’ll show them all:

 

studebaker avanti

1967 mercury cougar

chevrolet monte carlo

alfa romeo montreal

 

Generational shift is real. Tastes and attitudes move over time. Because we are all flawed, new things are not necessarily “better” than old things. Besides, taste is subjective.

 

Have a great weekend…

 

#FridayFlash

#F*ckTheWokeMob

#NationalDoughnutDay

#UnderappreciatedCars

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Threadless Thursday

I was originally going to write about the latest chapter in the dysfunctional Aaron Rodgers story. Other than to say he has made it impossible to root for his success, I will refrain.

The Henry Ruggs story makes me speak. Ruggs was a player for the Las Vegas Raiders who was drafted in the first round in 2020. Very early on Tuesday morning, with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit, Ruggs crashed his C8 Corvette into the rear of a Toyota RAV4 causing that vehicle to burst into flames that killed its driver. Right before the crash Ruggs’ car was traveling at 156 MPH. Oh, he illegally had a loaded gun in the car. The Raiders released Ruggs on Wednesday.

I have always been disgusted by the fact that it is legal to drive with any alcohol in one’s system. Many, if not most, countries have a “legal” limit below the .08% that is the standard in most, if not all, US states. According to NHTSA estimates, more than 10,000 people died in the US in 2018 in vehicle crashes where at least one driver was under the influence of alcohol.

We have mandatory back-up cameras because 100 people are killed every year when a vehicle backs up into them; WHY don’t we have mandatory interlock systems that keep a driver from starting a car when under the influence?! Our de facto tolerance of drunk drivers is appalling.

As for professional athletes…I worked in major league baseball for 20+ years. When I met someone and told them what I did for a living the response would often be, “Wow, it must be so cool to talk to [fill in player name].” Sometimes, but not often, my response was that except for their ability to play baseball–which almost always included a hyper-competitive nature that most non-athletes cannot comprehend–most baseball players are entirely unremarkable people.

Like the rest of the population, professional athletes can be depressed, can be *ssholes (and often are due to how they’ve been coddled for most of their lives) and can have substance abuse issues. They are usually very far from being “supermen.”

Sadly, stories like Henry Ruggs’ will happen many, many times every year in this country–almost always without any “celebrity” connection–and nothing will be done.

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According to 365 Days Of Motoring, it was on this day in 1939 that Packard showed the first air-conditioned car at the fortieth Automobile Show in Chicago. Once again, I could not corroborate that specific date/event anywhere else, but it is true that Packard made the first air-conditioned automobile, although that apparatus bore little resemblance to the modern system pioneered by Nash in 1954, which is still the basis for current HVAC systems in vehicles–at least I think so.

The Packard unit had no thermostat and no way to shut the system off except to go into the trunk, where the unit took up half the available space, and to disconnect the drive belt. At $275–the frequently published option price of $1,000 is simply wrong–the system was not outrageously priced, but only about 2,000 Packards were so equipped through the 1942 model year. After the war, Packard dropped the option and didn’t offer air conditioning again until 1953. Below is a picture of a 1941 Packard 120 sedan, which could have been equipped with air conditioning:

 

See the source image

 

In terms of passenger comfort in an automobile, Nash and Packard were two pioneers. It’s not necessary–that won’t stop me, though–to point this out, but neither company exists today.

 

#ThreadlessThursday

#F*ckDrunkDrivers

#PackardAirConditioning

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Cars A To Z: E

First, a link to this piece titled “The hypocrisy of the AMA…

 

“E/e” is the most commonly used letter in the English alphabet. (The rest of the top five, in order: A, R, I, O.) My first and last name have a total of four of them.

That being said, surprisingly few car makes have begun with the letter “E.” That is true even given the 12 different car companies that have been named Eagle.

The scarcity of candidates made this a tough pick. Actually, as I am writing this I am still not quite 100% sure what make will be featured. In the end, though, I think Edsel is the right pick.

Despite being “[t]he butt of countless jokes and the origin of a new word for failure” (The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile), the failure of the Edsel makes it one of the most significant cars of the 20th century, in my opinion. Ford Motor Company spent many millions of dollars and years of effort in conceiving and marketing the car–in an attempt to fill a perceived gap in the Ford product line relative to General Motors–and yet it failed utterly. The idea for the Edsel actually began in 1948 (although the name for the make wasn’t picked until 1956), but the Korean War ended planning for its duration. In late 1954, planning resumed and the car was introduced in September of 1957 and billed as “The Newest Thing On Wheels.”

Once again, from Beaulieu:

 

“At first the new car was to be all new, with its own engines and body shells, but Ford engineers soon found that this would be too expensive, so existing body shells were used: Ford in the lower-priced Ranger and Pacer models, Mercury [remember them?–my note] for the more expensive Corsair and Citation.”

 

The engines were not quite new in that they were of similar design to those used in Ford and Mercury cars, but at first Edsel engines had displacements that were unique to the make. (Actually, in the well-known FE engine line “FE” originally stood for Ford-Edsel.) As Beaulieu notes, given the bodies and engines were similar to Ford/Mercury, management felt Edsels needed something distinctive. Of course, this is what the cars were given:

 

See the source image

 

The “Horse Collar” grille, shown here on this 1958 Citation, was certainly distinctive. Not to be off-color, but many have suggested that this ornamentation is too reminiscent of the most intimate part of a woman’s anatomy, which certainly was a non-starter in the 1950s.

In addition, all Edsels were squeezed into production at Ford and Mercury plants. From Wikipedia:

“Workers assembling Fords and Mercurys often found the task of assembling the occasional Edsel that moved down the line burdensome, because it required them to change tools and parts bins, then switch back to resume assembling Fords or Mercurys after completing assembly on Edsels. The workers were also expected to accommodate Edsel assembly with no adjustment in their hourly quota of Ford and Mercury production. Consequently, the desired quality control of the different Edsel models proved difficult to achieve, even when the Fords and Mercurys were satisfactorily assembled on the same lines. Many Edsels actually left the assembly lines unfinished.”

Between the grille, quality issues and the sharp recession of 1957-58, the Edsel was doomed and was discontinued after just three model years. Well, actually two and change as the 1960 Edsels were announced in October, 1959 only to have Ford announce the end of the Edsel a month later.

R.E. Krafve, first General Manager of the Edsel Division of Ford Motor Company, predicted sales of 200,000 for the first model year, 1958. Actual sales were only about 63,000 and subsequent re-styling to “tone down” the car proved ineffective in stimulating interest in the Edsel. Model year 1959 sales were only 45,000. Fewer than 3,000 Edsels were built for 1960, leaving total Edsel production at about 111,000.

I know the make has a following today although some might describe it as a cult following. The figure often cited is that Ford Motor Company lost $250 million on the Edsel, which is roughly $2.4 billion in 2021 dollars. Leaving the last word to Beaulieu, “…some say that it was the right car at the wrong time, others that it was the wrong car for any time. A more charitable summing up was that its aim was right but the target moved.”

 

See the source image

 

Well, one more thought:

“The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry.”

– Robert Burns

 

#CarsAToZ

#AMAHypocrisy

#Edsel

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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