Up And Down

I think that for most people life is up and down. They have good days and bad days and that ratio usually varies through time.

Some people don’t, or can’t, appreciate the good ones and others fail to acknowledge the bad ones, maybe because they think such days are a reflection on them. Some, of course, dwell on the bad days. Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about.

In the up and down sub-category of “things only important to me” is blog readership. In general, the number of blog views has declined significantly in the last month or so. However, in the last 2-3 weeks that number has developed a strange pattern: three or four days of somewhat disappointing, but decent, readership and then one day the number of views declines by a quarter or a third only to rebound to the previous level the next day.

Yes, I have too much time on my hands and that fact combined with being an OCD-afflicted math nerd often does not lead to healthy behavior. Still, the fact that yesterday was another one of those “down” days in terms of readership led me to want to write about that today.


This CNBC article is about nearly every state’s attorney general suing a company called Avid Telecom for allegedly violating consumer protection and telemarketing laws. According to the complaint, Avid Telecom facilitated more than 7.5 billion calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry by selling phone numbers, data and dialing software that enabled some “customers” to make mass robocalls.

Although, at present, I am having a bigger problem with junk/spam email than with phone calls, I also receive robocalls. Getting rid of our VOIP service has reduced the number of such calls, but even with “anti-spam” software on my phone, I still receive these calls virtually every day.

I wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would think about all of this.


Rick Rieder is a Senior Managing Director for Blackrock, a large investment company. Actually, it’s the world’s largest as measured by Assets Under Management (AUM). Rieder is also BlackRock’s Chief Investment Officer of Global Fixed Income, Head of the Fundamental Fixed Income business and Head of the Global Allocation Investment Team.

In this CNBC piece from yesterday, Rieder is quoted as saying, “I think the U.S. economy’s in much better shape than people give it credit for…I’ve never seen so much money sitting in cash” with Rieder tying that to much of that cash being deployed when (if?) the debt ceiling situation is resolved. Rieder also said, “There’s this thesis that you will have a dramatic slowdown. When you break down the numbers, it’s just not apparent.”

I am among those who believes that an economic slowdown is just over the horizon. As the Federal Reserve continues its policy of higher interest rates to subdue inflation and as the level of fiscal stimulus is reduced, I just don’t see how such a scenario can be avoided. However, and it’s a strong “However,” Rieder knows much more about the world economy and US economy than I do. I hope he’s right, of course, and that I am wrong. Economic activity is another unavoidable up and down.


A link to this Classic Cars Journal piece arrived in my inbox yesterday. It was the Pick of the Day and it happened to be one of my favorite cars of all time.



This is a 1957 Continental Mark II, listed for sale on the Classic Cars website at an asking price of $49,500. Only 3,000 of these cars were built in model years 1956 and 1957 and even at the then-outrageous price of $10,000 (base prices for 1956-57 Corvettes were under $3,500) Ford Motor Company lost money on every one.

I think that while the Mark II is obviously a creation of its day, by not having the garish fin/chrome treatment of many cars of the late 1950s, its look is timeless. Given their rarity and classic design, they are not outrageously priced, as far as I am concerned. I can’t imagine they’re easy to get serviced, especially since they were essentially hand-built.

I am still toying with the idea of Ultimate Garage 4.0 (despite not receiving any feedback, positive or negative, when I have mentioned this in the past). If I do create 4.0, it would not be until 2024 and would not have as many cars as Ultimate Garage 3.o, which had 14. The Continental Mark II (don’t call it a Lincoln) is a contender for 4.0.









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What Does This Mean?


This car, my 2002 Corvette, figured prominently in a dream I had last night. I dreamt that my car was in the shop, but the car was not my Mustang, it was the ’02 Vette instead.

When I went to pick up the car after repairs were allegedly complete, no one in the shop seemed to know where my car was. I followed an employee from building to building looking for my car. While this was going on I was on the phone with my wonderful wife keeping her informed. We were both frustrated beyond words that my car could not be located.

I must have awakened before the car was found. Again, what kind of brain produces such dreams of anxiety? Speaking of the Mustang:



Notice the “AZ” sticker at the top of the windshield. Like I wrote, I just could not stand the Ford logo. Sorry, C Squared.



I might not like the Ford logo, but I really like this FoMoCo product, the 1956-57 Continental Mark II. I have become obsessed with this car in recent weeks although I’ll be damned if I can tell you why.

In general, my interest in 1950s American cars (don’t be afraid to click the hyperlink!) has become more acute recently. I don’t know how much of a maintenance nightmare one of those might be, and some of the ones I desire are getting expensive, but the thought of owning a car of this vintage makes me smile. By the way, the Mark II–despite its elegance and rarity (only 3,000 were produced in 1956-57)–very seldom sells for six figures. Hemmings currently has one listed for sale that is not an auction car. The private seller is asking $49,900.

Of course, at 218.5 inches in length the car would not fit in many Arizona garages. In addition, while $50k is not a lot to spend for such a classic car, in my opinion, it’s still a big price tag for a car that would not be driven more than 1,000-1,500 miles a year, not to mention the potential for maintenance nightmares. This is where my inability to work on cars becomes a thorn in my side.


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Slapdash Saturday

Who says Arizona has no bodies of water?!



This is a picture of Lake Pleasant (appropriately named, I think) where my wonderful wife, her parents and I spent part of New Years Day. I mean, c’mon, a lake surrounded by mountains on a cloudless, dry New Years Day with high temperatures in the low 60s. How can it get any better?

The dew point is about 20° here right now; in parts of south Florida the dew point is still in the 60s! No thanks, I’ll stay here. Yes, it will be very hot in the summer, but I don’t think a dry 105°-110° is any worse than a humid 90°.


This piece from Classic Cars is one in a series of looks at 2020. This article chronicles the rapid growth of online automobile auctions in response to the damn virus. I enjoyed this sentence: “But in the middle of March, everything came to a stop faster than an F1 car heading into a hairpin turn.” I’m not even a big fan of auto racing.

I think the rapid move to online auctions speaks to the advantage of an economy where the private sector makes most of the decisions in terms of allocating resources. Can you imagine government being able to pivot so quickly? I maintain that’s not possible.


“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

– Winston Churchill


I know Dirty Dingus McGee has bought cars via an online auction; has anyone else? I have made some half-hearted bids on Bring a Trailer, but knew that little to no chance existed that I would wind up owning the cars. BaT listings show scores of photos and the seller is almost always available to answer questions.

I think online auctions will be the dominant form in the future as the low overhead and low commissions will be a competitive advantage. Even if you have not done so already, would any of you consider buying a car in an online auction?


Some more blog stats…

The number of views that were referred by search engines in 2020 was seven times higher than the number for 2019 and 85 times higher than the number for 2018. I have no idea how “sticky” that referral pipeline is. Of course, I wish that the total number of views for 2020 had been seven times higher than 2019 or 85 times higher than 2018.

From my perspective, I think it’s unfortunate that 86 percent of those referrals from search engines in 2020 were from the Evil Empire, aka Google. I didn’t think that their share of the search market was that high, but maybe this blog is not a representative sample. I haven’t used any Google product for three years. The fact that I still have to delete Google cookies from my computer every week is just more evidence of their criminality.


I am just beginning to formulate ideas for Ultimate Garage 3.0. It seems like I wrote about version 2.0 just a few months ago, but May of 2021 will be two years.

I am struggling to make these choices organic. I do not want to simply repeat the same 11 cars that I listed in 2.0, but don’t want to change just for the sake of change. In addition, my feelings about various cars are difficult to compare to each other.

I think at least five cars will stay the same; you can guess as to their identity. Why not limit 3.0 to just the “core” cars? What fun would that be?! 🙂

I don’t think I will write posts on the cars that just missed the cut as I have done in the past. However, I will begin to show cars that are under consideration, but not locks, such as this one:


See the source image


From Classic Nation a picture of a 1956 Continental (don’t call it a Lincoln) Mark II. In conversations with friends who are car people, some of them have “complained” about lack of representation of Ford and Mopar vehicles in Ultimate Garage 2.0. I am NOT a proponent of quotas in any aspect of life and that applies to this exercise. I think decisions about inclusion/exclusion should be made solely on the basis of merit, whenever possible, and it’s possible far more often than the SJWs will admit.

However, I also don’t want to exclude cars just because they were made by companies of whom I am not the biggest fan. For me, FoMoCo will always have the shadow of its disgusting founder hanging over it. Will that affect my decision to ultimately include or exclude the Mark II? I’m only human, but I will try to be as objective as possible about something that is subjective in nature, as paradoxical as that sounds.










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The Fabulous Fifties

Of course, on this day in 1953 the first Chevrolet Corvette was produced in Flint, Michigan. The “assembly facility” was actually the back of a customer delivery garage. From reddit a picture of the car and the people who built it.


See the source image


The Corvette was first shown to the public at the General Motors Motorama exhibit in January of 1953. The 1950s was the height of show/concept cars, in my opinion. In addition, some of these cars were put into production.

The GM Motorama shows were either cause or effect (or both) of the “Dreamcar Fever” that grew rampant in the early 1950s. I am quoting A Century Of Automotive Style by noted automotive author Michael Lamm and the late Dave Holls, former GM Director of Design. The article from which I quoted the phrase “Dreamcar Fever” offered the opinion that Ford concept cars of the period “often went overboard, beyond reason and credibility,” that Chrysler cars mainly conceived by Virgil Exner “tended to be too Italianate for American tastes” and that left Harley Earl as “the guiding apostle of dreamcars.”

Long way ’round, today’s post was actually inspired by a recent telecast of a Bitchin’ Rides re-run where Dave Kindig and Kevin “Kev Dogg” Schiele attend the Woodward Avenue cruise in Detroit. (Sadly, the cruise will not happen this year. Damn virus…) While Ford’s dreamcars may have gone “overboard,” one of their production cars, a car shown on that Bitchin’ Rides episode, is the height of taste to me. From Classic Cars a picture of a 1956 Continental Mark II:


See the source image

For a car from that era, this Continental is relatively devoid of chrome and stainless steel trim and only has a hint of tail fins. To me, the proportions of this car are almost perfect.

The design was actually the result of a competition. William Clay Ford was in charge of the Continental project, which was spurred on in large part by Lincoln dealers who wanted something to fill the void created when production of the earlier Continental ceased after 1948. He had five designers draw ideas for the car and after the first design was rejected by Henry Ford II in December, 1952, the second iteration of design was turned into a competition between Ford staff and outside designers. The Ford group, led by former Packard design head John Reinhart, won the competition in April 1953. (“Political” note: competition is not inherently evil.)

These cars were sold for $10,000 in 1956-57, an extraordinary amount when the most expensive Buick was $3,700 and even no Cadillac sold for more than $6,800 in 1956. Today, non-concours examples of this car are not as expensive as one might think despite a two-year production total of only 3,000 cars. Alas, maintenance is simply too expensive and too difficult for one of these to be considered for purchase by my wonderful wife and me.

The 1956-57 Mark II has been the subject of previous posts, but I simply had to write about the car again after seeing it on TV. I guess TV can be useful sometimes.







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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, Gary Roenicke and the late Kevin Towers have in common? They all attended my wedding.


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.