Frugal Friday: It’s March (!) Edition

First, before Frugal Friday (by the way, it’s snowing here on the first day of meteorological Spring)…

Something I like to say when I want to sound clever is to paraphrase/twist Shakespeare: There is nothing good or bad, but context makes it so. This relates to the fact that human beings seldom judge the world on the basis of objective reality, but based on expectations and the status quo.

Disaffected Musings views for February fell just a handful short of a nice round number, but exceeded those of January by 15% despite being, obviously, three days shorter. However, about ten percent of February views came in just one day (the 1st) AND January was a short month in terms of the number of posts.

Extending this pointless exercise even further, February views per day were about 4 percent below those for December and a whopping 45 percent below November. (Both of those months were “normal” in terms of the number of posts.) So, was February a good month for views? Like I keep saying, that depends on the context. I don’t know anything about seasonality in blog viewing on the WordPress platform, what the normal “uptake” or “stickiness” rates are for blogs, or any of a host of factors.

The current administration stated that if its fiscal policies were enacted that the annual growth rate for real GDP would be pushed to 3%+. Yesterday the Federal Government released its first estimate of 4th quarter GDP growth and, therefore, first estimate for overall growth for 2018. Did GDP growth reach 3%? Well, that depends on how you count.

For calendar year 2018, real GDP grew at 2.9% compared to calendar year 2017. So, it seems close, but not quite. However, some economists talk about year-over-year growth for the fourth quarter as a good measure. That figure was +3.1%. In any event, these numbers are usually revised.

As Bill James has written, statistics are not truth; they are an approximation of the truth. Even when we have computers implanted in our brains that can spit out the history of the universe at a billion words a second, there will be things about the world that matter but that cannot be measured precisely, if at all. Remember what Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.”

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

Today’s listings for Frugal Friday come from Autotrader. As such, those listings are their property.

The criteria for today were convertibles and coupes for sale at US dealers for between $9,000 and $10,000, that are between five and ten years old and have fewer than 60,000 miles. The search unearthed 170 vehicles matching those criteria. Despite that number, not a single car had an 8-cylinder engine.

A lot of these cars were either a Fiat 500, a Smart Car or a Kia Forte. One that was not was this car:

Used 2009 Pontiac Solstice Convertible Columbus, IN 47201 - 505578202 - 16

This is a 2009 Pontiac Solstice. I have written about this car and its cousin, the Saturn Sky, before as I am a fan of them. This car is not the GXP turbo version, but is powered by the normally aspirated 2.4 liter, inline 4-cylinder engine that was rated at 173 HP/167 LB-FT of torque. This car has a 5-speed manual transmission and has about 47,000 miles. The list price is $9,998. (Don’t you love those cute retail prices? Not…)

My wonderful wife and I test drove the Solstice and the Sky years ago. Of course both have been out of production a long time (since 2010). Even the naturally aspirated cars are quick and they handle well, but not exceptionally well. However, the interiors feel REALLY small and cheap, to be honest. As I have written before, I believe GM made a big mistake in not upgrading the Solstice/Sky and letting Buick sell it as a halo car.

 

Used 2009 Volvo C70 T5 Convertible Raleigh, NC 27604 - 508046007 - 9

This is a 2009 Volvo C70 T5 convertible (duh!). It has an automatic transmission (5-speed), is front-wheel drive and has the turbo 5-cylinder, 2.5-liter/154 cubic-inch (you’re welcome, Bill Stephens) engine. The engine is rated at 227 HP/236 LB-FT. This car has 53,000 miles and the seller is asking, wait for it, $9,995.

While I’ve always thought the name Volvo (Latin for “I roll” or “I rotate”) was a little weird for a car, Volvo began its life as a manufacturer of ball bearings so the name is probably only weird to me. The make has a reputation for quality and reliability.

Have a good weekend…

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Here is part of the GDP report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA):

2018 GDP Real GDP increased 2.9 percent in 2018 (from the 2017 annual level to the 2018 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2017 [emphasis mine]. The increase in real GDP in 2018 primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending that were slightly offset by a small negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased. The acceleration in real GDP from 2017 to 2018 primarily reflected accelerations in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, federal government spending, exports, and PCE, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a downturn in residential investment.

During 2018 (measured from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018), real GDP increased 3.1 percent, [emphasis mine] compared with an increase of 2.5 percent during 2017. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.1 percent during 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent during 2017.”

Both GDP growth measures I cited were on the same page in the same report.

 

 

Frugal Friday

At today’s end an eighth of 2019 will already be gone. Carpe Diem!

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

From today’s Friday Funnies by 56packardman:

gas $1.39

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

Reader “David Banner” suggested writing about collector cars for “the average Joe/Jill.” I think that’s a good idea although defining “average” and “collector car” is subjective.

Today’s selections are from Hemmings and, as such, the listings belong to them. As today’s Frugal Friday is the first I am kind of winging it. If I continue the feature I will probably not rely solely on Hemmings.

For today I chose cars listed at between $9,000 and $10,000, inclusive, and cars that were made between 1989 and 2004. The criteria are arbitrary, I admit. That reminds of me what I used to say about salary arbitration in baseball. Salary arbitration is well-named because the results are completely arbitrary. I also only included cars sold at US dealers and not by individuals as well as including only those ads with photos. I will try to avoid cars about which I have written before, but it is inevitable that some of them will be included. Without further ado:

Here is a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro RS:

It’s in Red Metallic over Gray and has only 56,000-ish miles. It’s not an overly powerful car; the engine is a 305 cubic-inch V-8 rated at 170 HP/255 LB-FT of torque, which is not a high output for a 3,300 pound car. It has a 4-speed automatic transmission. The asking price is $9,500.

About 101,000 Camaros were produced for the 1991 model year. I think if you want a nice driver with a little flair for not a lot of money you could do a lot worse than this car. ALL used cars come with risk.

 

A Jaguar for under $10,000?! Yep…

This gorgeous burgundy over beige 2001 Jaguar XK-8 coupe with about 56,000 miles is listed for $9,900. My wonderful wife had an XK-8 convertible and it was not without its issues, but they are beautiful cars and are nice GT cruisers. Bill Stephens, one of the hosts of Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN, has an XK-8 about which he speaks very highly.

This car has a 4-liter (244 cubic inches for the aforementioned Bill Stephens) V-8 engine rated at 290 HP/290 LB-FT of torque. The XK-8 has a five-speed automatic transmission. Even if you had to put $2,000-$4,000 into the car after purchase, you would still have a Jaguar that cost you less than $15,000.

Please let me know what you thought of the first Frugal Friday post.

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

Had to include a link to this CNBC article about Charlie Munger, Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. The title is, “Charlie Munger says California, Connecticut have been ‘stupid’ for driving rich people away.”

 

#frugalfriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

 

Wednesday Respite

Hurrah! The incessant airing of mean-spirited “political ads” that are almost without exception nothing but character assassinations will now cease! For the hundredth time, no one has a monopoly on truth and wisdom and neither does any ideology.

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

Have you ever heard of Galloping Gertie? On this day in 1940 the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed during high winds. The footage (this is supposed to be in the public domain) is still quite fascinating to me. The bridge had only opened in July of 1940. At its opening it was the third longest longest suspension bridge in the world.

The oscillations during windy conditions were apparent even during construction. All efforts to mitigate the unwanted motion were, obviously, unsuccessful. All endeavors of people have the potential to be flawed, and most of them are, because all people are flawed.

From the Wikipedia article: “The bridge’s collapse had a lasting effect on science and engineering. In many physics textbooks, the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance; the bridge collapsed because normal speed winds produced aeroelastic flutter that matched the bridge’s natural frequency. The collapse boosted research into bridge aerodynamics-aeroelastics, which has influenced the designs of all later long-span bridges.”

Image-Tacoma Narrows Bridge1.gif

From the Wikipedia article a picture of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

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

If money were no object I don’t really think I would have a 1,000+ HP engine built for my C2 restomod. However, I might use this drivetrain:

https://dealeraccelerate-all.s3.amazonaws.com/fastlane/images/1/6/6/1/1661/52252_901632b60d5bx120ogrs11.jpg

From fastlanecars.com a picture of a 2015 Corvette Z06. This car is powered by a 6.2 liter (376 cubic inches in Bill Stephens-ese) supercharged V-8 that produces a peak of 650 HP and 650 LB-FT of torque. The engine designation for this beast is the LT4.

The person with whom I’ve been talking about doing my build hasn’t specifically said that the LT4 is available. He has mentioned the LS9 engine that was used in the ZR1 version of the C6 Corvette. The LS9 is also supercharged and also produces in excess of 600 HP and 600 LB-FT of torque. Still, with unlimited funds (that is the scenario I’m writing about here) I think an LT4 would be possible. The LT4 is listed as an available crate engine on Chevrolet’s website.

I don’t know if I could live with supercharger “whine” every time I drove the car. A supercharger also adds to the complexity of the car. I am a big believer in KISS (not the rock band).

This drivetrain is much more expensive than the one I am likely to use if I build the car from scratch, but I am writing about not having any budgetary constraints. Not only is the LT4 engine more expensive than an LS3 or LS7, but an 8L90E (eight-speed) automatic transmission is more expensive than any four-speed automatic. Still, imagine a reliable and drivable car weighing barely 3,000 pounds with 650 HP/650 LB-FT. Sounds like fun to me.

Have any of you built a car or had one built for you? If so, what was the car? What was your experience? I think about this build every day. I hope the reality can at least come close to the idea. Steve Dallas, feel free to chime in.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

If you’re here after clicking on a link in the Corvette Forum, welcome. Please bookmark the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com) and return often. Thanks.

Almost six percent of the views this month are from Canada. That number is WAY up from before. I would love to hear from Canadian readers. Thanks.

I want to sincerely thank all of the Hemmings readers who have visited Disaffected Musings. (I am also grateful to Hemmings for posting my comments that include links to this blog.) Almost 10 percent of views have been referred from Hemmings. Please keep reading. 🙂

 

 

Nissan GT-R

https://www.thetorquereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2018-Nissan-GT_R-0008.jpg

From thetorquereport.com a picture of a 2018 Nissan GT-R. I confess it’s impossible for me to ascertain the model year of a GT-R.

Eleven years ago today at the Tokyo Motor Show the current rendition of the Nissan GT-R was unveiled. Given that time frame and the relative lack of updating, many car enthusiasts think this GT-R is long in the tooth. Of course, this current iteration is not the first car with the name GT-R. The first such cars were called the Skyline GT-R and they have quite a following; one could almost call it a cult.

 

https://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/NISSAN-Skyline-GT-R-V-Spec--R34--4041_9.jpg

From autoevolution.com a picture of a Nissan Skyline GT-R from the 1990s. The first car with the GT-R name was actually produced from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. JDM Legends, a show on Velocity, seems to show almost nothing except Japanese cars from that time period. (JDM stands for Japanese Domestic Market.) Here is a photo of a 1970 Skyline GT-R from coches.com.

 

https://www.coches.com/fotos_historicas/nissan/Skyline-2000-GT-R-KPGC10-1970/nissan_skyline-2000-gt-r-kpgc10-1970_r1.jpg

 

Back to the present…I have shared these thoughts before, but I think the GT-R is an amazing vehicle even though I think that its relatively “low” price for the performance is somewhat misleading because the car’s maintenance costs are apparently excessive. A story from The Bristol Post in the UK says that a GT-R was pulled over by the police earlier this year after it was clocked at 167 MPH, which was the fastest speed recorded by any street car in the entire country from January, 2017 to May, 2018.

The GT-R is powered by a 3.8 liter (232 cubic inches for Bill Stephens) twin-turbo V-6 that produces a peak of 565 HP and 467 LB-FT of torque. (OK, who is this Bill Stephens I keep mentioning? He is a long-time automotive journalist and one of the hosts of Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN. He often protests when an engine displacement (size) is described in liters instead of cubic inches. Mr. Stephens, like the entire NBCSN crew that covers the auctions, is knowledgeable and entertaining.) The GT-R is an AWD car and, nominally, has four seats although I don’t know how comfortable it would be to ride in the back for a long trip. The base MSRP is just over $100,000, which is really not expensive for a car with this kind of performance. It will accelerate from 0-60 MPH in about 3 seconds, which is very quick, too quick for most drivers.

It seems as though a replacement for the current GT-R, if one will be produced at all, is at least three years away. The current Z car, the 370 Z, is also not new anymore. One wonders if Nissan plans to abandon performance cars completely.

 

Welcome to the first Disaffected Musings reader from the Czech Republic! Actually, that welcome may be too late. Oh well…

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Wednesday Wackadoodle

It’s Wednesday and some people who know me think I’m a wackadoodle.

I am very proud of yesterday’s post. So much so that I sent the link via email to a few people who are not signed up as followers. I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing this, but one of those people was Michael Lewis. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind telling me his reaction to the post. What did he write? “Main reaction is it’s a pity you aren’t working in sports.”

In a reply to another friend to whom I sent the link I wrote this: EVERYONE thinks “it’s a pity” that I’m out of sports and yet, here I am. Of course in reality it’s not EVERYONE or I would have never left. It’s too bad so many people are arrogant ingrates. I’ll leave it to you to conjure up the names of the people to whom I am referring.

While I really have little interest in sports, and none in baseball, I still think it was a “miscarriage of justice” that someone with my skills and experience, someone who is a pioneer in analytics and pro scouting was simply tossed aside by the entire industry. Are you tired of reading my “whining?” Tough…I am on a campaign against those who think that everyone gets what they deserve and/or that everything is a matter of destiny.

I believe that life is a Monte Carlo simulation. I think that if it were somehow possible to run the same person’s life 100 times the same life would not occur all 100 times and that numerous different lives, maybe even as many as 100, would occur. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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

OK…the annuity value of the Mega Millions jackpot has reached $868 million and since the prize is so large the number of tickets sold will drive the jackpot even higher. By the way, the cash value of the Mega Millions prize is $494 million. One side effect of higher interest rates is that the cash value has decreased relative to the annuity value of the Mega Millions and the Powerball. For any given annuity value it takes less cash to generate the returns needed to fund the annuity. In the state in which my wonderful wife and I live we would probably net about 52 percent of the cash prize after taxes, or about $257 million.

In this post from July called Mega, I asked how many cars could a person buy if they won $154 million, which was the amount we would net after taxes if we had the only winning ticket for the next drawing. What would you do if you netted roughly a quarter of a billion dollars?

Once again, I do not expect to win the lottery. On the other hand, if I don’t play then my chances of winning are zero. If I do play then my chances asymptotically approach zero.

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

My taste in cars does not run to the ultra-expensive. Although I would like to be able to afford one, I really would not want a Koenigsegg and certainly not a Bugatti given its membership in the Volkswagen Group. I also would not want to own what is, essentially, a museum exhibit that cannot be driven. I often say to my wonderful wife about the clutter in our home that we live in a house, not a museum.

Everyone who reads Disaffected Musings on a regular basis knows about my affinity for C2 Corvettes and the De Tomaso Longchamp. If the roughly 1-in-300 million odds are overcome and we won the Mega Millions, what might I buy besides those two cars?

Without revealing Ultimate Garage 2.0, here is one car that might end up in my possession:

See the source image

This is a photo from Hemmings of one of the 547 1987 Buick GNXs. Car and Driver just ran this story on the evolution of the car and maybe that’s why I am thinking about it.

I can bore you with the details of how the car evolved, of McLaren’s intimate involvement with the car, of how Buick almost certainly understated the output of the turbocharged 3.8 liter (231 cubic inches for Bill Stephens) V-6 engine. What I want to say is this: it was this car, a Buick, that was without a doubt the fastest production car sold in the US in 1987. It is this car that, in my opinion, SCREAMS to General Motors to let Buick have an improved version of the Solstice/Sky as a halo car. It is also my opinion that the styling of the GNX is still fresh more than 30 years later.

Given the rarity, the GNX is not a cheap car. Hemmings currently has two listed for sale with asking prices of $105,000 and $125,000. At the Mecum auction in Kissimmee in January of 2018 a GNX hammered for $90,000, which means the buyer actually paid $99,000 with commission. Still, for a car with its rarity and history the GNX is not really expensive, especially if you just won $257 million!

Good luck to all of the lottery players out there, but not too much. WE want to win it all!