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.


Mike Pitts Football Trading Card Topps by FloridaFindersSports, $2.00 | Pitt football, Football ...



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!






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Sunday Pontiac: July, 2019

Pontiac was established by General Motors as a companion make to Oakland in 1926. Unlike the other such makes created at that time (Marquette for Buick, Viking for Oldsmobile and LaSalle for Cadillac) Pontiac was so successful that it “killed” its parent as Oakland production ceased with the 1931 model year.

My first car was a 1967 Pontiac GTO, shown here. The car I’ve owned the longest, at least as of now, was a 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix that I purchased new upon moving to California and that I owned for nine years. I am a big fan of many Pontiac models up to and including the Solstice. Given my personal connection I probably lament the loss of Pontiac more than that of any other defunct American make.

From Mecum Auctions a picture of a 1962 Pontiac Catalina convertible offered for sale at their Kissimmee auction in 2016:


See the source image

See the source image


The second picture is also from Mecum and is of a ’62 Catalina convertible offered at their Indianapolis auction in 2015. Note the famous Pontiac eight-lug wheels on the second car.

Pontiac produced 16,877 Catalina convertibles in 1962. They also offered a convertible in the Tempest (20,635 produced) and the Bonneville (21,582). The famous Pontiac 389 cubic-inch V8 with the Tri-Power setup, three Rochester two-barrel carburetors, was offered on the Catalina. It was rated at 318 HP/430 LB-FT of torque. Buick had a reputation for making motors with lots of torque, but Pontiac engines did as well. Some sources list the Super Duty 421 cubic-inch engine with dual four-barrel carburetors as being available on the Catalina. According to this article, most of the 180 or so Super Duty engines made in 1962 were installed in Catalinas. This engine was conservatively rated at 405 HP, but was probably closer to 450. The actual torque output was almost certainly at least 500 LB-FT.

I acknowledge that some/most of my interest in this car stems from the fact it’s a Pontiac. If you’re a Pontiac fan I would very much like to hear from you and/or post your thoughtful comments.








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Saturday Salute

Many thanks, again, to 56packardman and to the readers of the Packard and Studebaker forums who clicked on links to Disaffected Musings. Although yesterday’s view total did not set a “record” as I had hoped in my request, yesterday did have the third highest number of views and visitors only behind the two days of views/visitors generated by Bill James’ tweet of the main blog link back in April. I salute you.


OK, which feature do you prefer?

Throwback Thursday


Frugal Friday

Let me know, please. This request is more out of curiosity than of any desire on my part to cease either feature.


At the Barrett-Jackson auction currently taking place at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the last C7 Corvette to be manufactured was auctioned for charity. What was the hammer price? $2.7 million, a new record for a charity car at Barrett-Jackson…Actually, the car shown on the block was an exact replica as the actual last car has not yet been built. The charity was the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s Smart Home program, which builds smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members returning home. I salute those who have made such a sacrifice for their country.

Hey, it’s for charity; I hope Barrett-Jackson doesn’t mind my showing this photo:


last-built C7 Corvette


Speaking of the Barrett-Jackson auction:


These photos got yours truly a brief mention during the broadcast on Thursday. Every day of the telecast is “given” a hashtag for viewers to submit photos. Thursday was #Throwback Thursday. I submitted these photos along with this tweet:

My first car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO, photographed outside of one of my college dorms a LONG time ago…

Well, wouldn’t you know the photos were shown on air and it was quite a thrill to hear Cristy Lee read the tweet. She even mentioned the 1967 Grand Prix she has that belonged to her grandparents. I salute the gracious and gorgeous Cristy Lee. From showbizpost.com a picture of her:

See the source image









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Apparently the picture of Cristy Lee will not display on some mobile devices. Hopefully, this one will:






Monday Musings, Post Super Bowl Edition

Congratulations to the Patriots, I guess. I suspect most people watching the game, especially outside of New England, were rooting for the Rams and I was as well. However, I was not particularly vested in the outcome.

As much of a Packers fan as I am and as much as I admire Vince Lombardi, grudgingly I must acknowledge that Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. Nine Super Bowl appearances (and six wins) in 18 seasons is just amazing.

I had the good fortune to attend one Super Bowl in person. As Director of Baseball Operations for the team whose stadium in which the Super Bowl was played one season I had the opportunity to watch the game from a “privileged” venue. Unlike yesterday’s game I was very much vested in the outcome because it pitted one of my two favorite teams against one of my least favorite teams at that time.

Nervously pacing in the box for the entire game I finally said out loud and to no one in particular, “How do NFL head coaches do this every week?” The President and CEO of the baseball team for which I worked answered, “Because they don’t care as much as you do.” That remark caused many people in the box to erupt in laughter. Even I had to laugh.



See the source image

From ClassicCars.com a picture of a 1967 Pontiac GTO.

As regular readers know my first car was a ’67 Goat. As they should also know I am not exactly blessed with good dreams. Last night I dreamt that I had found and restored my first car. However, something went amiss and I was unable to open either door. In disgust I left the garage. Some time later I returned and noticing a small reddish-brown stain on the driver side front window I decided to see if the door would open. To my amazement, it did and so did the passenger side door. I was also able to remove the stain with my thumbnail. That type of happy twist is rare in my dreams.


I try to learn something new every day. To me, learning is entertainment and most of what passes for entertainment these days is not remotely entertaining to me.

My wonderful wife and I were out looking at cars yesterday—a not infrequent pastime of ours—and decided to drive to the nearest CarMax to see if we could find anything interesting on the lot. To our surprise it was open on a Sunday. In fact, it’s open every Sunday. I have been told on more than one occasion that in the state in which I live it is illegal to actually buy a car on Sunday, which is why the car dealers here are closed. I asked a salesman how CarMax was open every Sunday given what I thought to be true about a Sunday prohibition and he informed me that wasn’t the case. He said other dealers are closed on Sunday just to give their employees a day off. He did elaborate that in some counties in a neighboring state car dealers were basically forbidden to be open on Sunday. Well, I did it…a paragraph with seven Sundays: a week of Sundays.




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Mecum Auctions

Scott Hoke is the “lead” host on the Mecum Auctions broadcasts on NBCSN. (When this was written the broadcasts were on now-defunct NBCSN. They are now on Motor Trend.) He and his co-host, John “The Professor” Kraman, both follow Disaffected Musings on Twitter, for which I am very grateful. (By the way, if you are on Twitter Scott’s handle is @ScottHoke1 and John’s is @CarKraman. Mecum’s handle is simply @mecum.)

In response to this post about the most significant years in US automobile history, Scott sent this via Twitter message:

“Morning! To your question of most significant years in US automotive history: tough question, with many possible answers. ’67 was big as you point out. 1955 as well. Maybe 1964? Unveiling of the Mustang, Barracuda and, oh yeah, the GTO! I think other than possibly Henry Ford putting America on wheels, 1955-70 may be the most important era. But that’s a large can of worms!”

Of course, 1964 was a big year especially given the introduction of the Mustang, which is still being produced despite Ford turning into a non-car company. As for the GTO, regular readers of this blog know my first car was a ’67 Goat as (fuzzily) pictured here:


If I had the money and the room for multiple car acquisitions then I might buy a GTO of this vintage. Despite being only two letters in length “if” is a very big word.

If you are a car person, and since you’re reading this blog you probably are, then you should watch the Mecum broadcasts on Motor Trend. As I have written here before, I very much enjoy the telecasts. Every on-air person (Bill Stephens, Stephen Cox, Katie Osborne in addition to Scott and John) makes a meaningful contribution to the effort, but an element of levity exists that is missing from other similar broadcast efforts. The Mecum crew love cars and love the auctions, but they don’t always take themselves quite so seriously and that adds to the show in my opinion.






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Pictures From The Past

Two very faded and somewhat blurry photos of my first car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO. These were taken outside my college dorm in my second year.

As was the style for many muscle cars of the era, my GTO was set up with a “California Rake” where the rear was higher than the front. My father and I achieved that look with the use of very stiff rear springs that were taller than stock.

I didn’t know that I still had these photos although I certainly remember taking them. During one of the occasional attempts to “trim our holdings” by my wonderful wife and me, I unearthed these pictures. Many of the other 20 or so photos have almost completely faded even though they were in an envelope that was inside another envelope. (A shout-out to my wonderful wife who helped me scan these on my new printer.)

OK, now it’s time for a less than interesting story of the “pat yourself on the back” variety. The reason I wrote “in my second year” and not “my sophomore year” is that I entered college as, basically, a sophomore. If I had written “junior year” then the inference would have been it was my third year.

At that time the senior year of the high school curriculum from which I graduated was considered the equivalent of a freshman year in college by many universities within about a 100 mile radius from the high school ONLY if the student had graduated with very good grades. I graduated very high in my large class (~530) and was able to acquire an entire year of college credits without having to take any AP exams. (Maybe some other time I’ll write about the interesting meeting with the (inexperienced) transcript evaluator who had never heard of my high school or its special curriculum.)

While, of course, I am hardly an objective observer I still think the 1967 GTO is a beautiful car. Does anyone think I can find out what happened to the car by using the license plate?


P.S. Almost every day at least one person in the US is reading this blog very early in the morning, before 6 AM Eastern/3 AM Pacific. I would very much appreciate if that person(s) would tell others about the blog and pass on the URL. (https://disaffectedmusings.com) In general, I would be grateful if everyone who reads this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis, even if they know me personally, would spread the word and the blog URL. Thanks. It would also be great if you would sign up to follow the blog; you don’t even have to have a WordPress account. You can sign up with your email address.


(4/2/2020): Thanks to all of the Hemmings readers who are reading this today. Please feel free to visit this blog early and often! 🙂  https://disaffectedmusings.com



The Ones That Got Away

In my previous blog I posted about the cars that had gotten away. That post was inspired by a similar one in Automobile Magazine.


See the source image


From Hot Rod a picture of a 1967 Pontiac GTO. My first car was a 1967 GTO, purchased for me by my father for the very large sum of $300. Granted, this was more than 40 years ago, but that wasn’t a lot of money even then.

My GTO had the standard engine, a 400 cubic-inch V-8 rated at 335 HP and 441 LB-FT of torque. It had a Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 automatic transmission with the Hurst “His and Hers” shift on the floor. We fitted the car with large radials (so large, in fact, that the front tires scraped the wheel wells on sharp turns) and stiffer springs in order to improve the handling, but it was never going to be a great-handling car.

My car was originally light blue with a black top, but after an accident two weeks before I was supposed to leave for college, the car was re-painted (in a repair bay in my father’s gas station) dark blue all over. As part of the restoration we purchased “mag” wheels that looked like Cragars, but didn’t cost as much.

The right exhaust manifold had been broken in the accident so we decided to add exhaust headers. I loved that car; in an incident emblematic of the many “unfortunate” things that have happened to me, the car was rear-ended one night while I was returning home from my summer job. The woman who hit me claimed that her brakes failed, but I am 100% positive she just wasn’t paying attention. (Another time the GTO was hit while parked near my house, just sayin’.)

After fighting with the insurance company over the settlement, they gave us a decent amount of money and they let us keep the car, which we then sold as is. Many people miss their first car, but I really miss my first car.


2007 Vette


This is a picture of my 2007 Corvette. I bought it new to “replace” the 2002 Corvette I had purchased used in 2004. When I decided to take the Corvette plunge, I thought I would buy a used one in the event I didn’t like it I wouldn’t have spent the money for a new one. The fact that I purchased a new one should tell you what I thought of the 2002.

In cold black and white, no comparison exists between the 2007 Corvette and the 1967 GTO. The Corvette was powered by a 364 cubic-inch V-8 that produced 400 HP and 400 LB-FT of torque. It weighed about 3,200 pounds compared to the GTO weight of about 3,600 pounds.

The Corvette had power disc brakes with ABS; the GTO had undersized drum brakes without ABS, of course. The Vette had navigation, modern suspension, modern steering and a modern automatic transmission. I managed about 20 MPG with the Corvette and about 12 MPG with the GTO, although I almost never paid for gas with the Goat as, once again, my father ran a gas station.

Not to brag, but the 2007 Corvette was not a financial stretch at all. I traded in my 2002 Vette and simply paid cash for the difference. My baseball business was doing very well at the time. A little more than three years later I lost my business and sold the car in a panic as I thought I needed to raise cash.

Although I have a nice car now and my wonderful wife has a 2015 Corvette that I can drive when I want, I miss my 2007 Corvette. I think I miss what it represents, a time when I was very satisfied with my career, as much as I miss the actual car.

Don’t take anything (or anyone) for granted as fate can often be a cruel mistress.






My first car

I don’t know what possessed me to write about this today, but below is a picture that represents my first car. I think I have some actual pictures somewhere and maybe someday I’ll find them and post them.

See the source image

From cargurus.com a picture of a 1967 Pontiac GTO. My car didn’t have the stock Pontiac wheels, but it had “mag” wheels with raised-letter tires and it was painted blue. My father paid $300 for the car and then proceeded to rebuild the top end of the engine: new valves, rocker arms, lifters, timing gear and chain. It had the “base” 400 cubic inch V8 rated at 335 HP. We put 60-series radial tires in the back and 70-series in the front. The change to radial tires helped the handling significantly, as did putting on more rigid springs, but it was a 1960’s muscle car and handling was never going to be its forte.

After a serious accident, the car was out of commission for five months being rebuilt and repainted and since the accident had broken the right exhaust manifold we decided to put exhaust headers on the engine. A year and a half later someone smashed into the back of the car as I was sitting a red light while driving home from my summer job. That, basically, was the end of the car.

I think many people miss their first car and, as you can imagine, I REALLY miss mine.