Threes And Sevens: 1987

First, 1987 was one of the most important years in my life. On December 23rd of that year, my hometown Baltimore Orioles offered me a full-time job in Baseball Operations. I recounted the story in greater detail here, so you can read that post if you want to know more.

 

As it pertains to the US automobile industry, 1987 could be said to have been the year of three letters, as in AMC and GNX. American Motors Corporation (AMC), the last of the US independent automakers, ceased to be independent as on March 9, 1987 Chrysler Corporation agreed to buy out Renault’s stake in AMC (either 46% or 49%) in addition to all other outstanding shares for $1.5 billion. The takeover was finalized in August. Chrysler and AMC had entered into an agreement in 1985 where the latter would build rear wheel drive “large” cars for Chrysler through at least 1990.

Chrysler’s primary interest in acquiring AMC was Jeep, but the new manufacturing plant in Brampton, Ontario as well as AMC’s dealership network were also enticing. AMC was renamed the Jeep-Eagle division of Chrysler in 1988. Long-time auto executive Bob Lutz, one-time President of Chrysler, remarked:

 

“Chrysler’s acquisition of AMC was one of the all-time great moments in corporate serendipity that most definitely played a key role in demonstrating how to accomplish change.”

 

Lee Iacocca, Chrysler chairman, retained some AMC units, such as engineering, completely intact. AMC’s lead engineer, Francois Castaing, was made the head of Chrysler’s engineering. Under Castaing, Chrysler developed an all-new line of cars and trucks that led the company to real success in the 1990s. One of his projects that came to fruition was the Dodge Viper. An aside: my wonderful wife and I met Mr. Castaing while we were having breakfast in Scottsdale, Arizona in May of this year. He was with Marty Nelson, whose agricultural products company has made him wealthy enough to be a large buyer and consignor of cars at many Mecum auctions.

The last vehicles produced by AMC before the takeover were the Renault-derived Alliance and the Eagle. Chrysler continued to use the name Eagle as a separate make through the 1998 model year. Below is a picture of a 1987 AMC Eagle sedan, of which only 751 were produced.

 

See the source image

 

Of course, the Buick GNX has reached legendary status among US automobiles. 1987 was the last model year for the GM G-Body rear-wheel drive cars. Production of the Grand National–the GNX was a variant of that model, of course–was not halted until December, 1987. Buick manufactured 20,193 Grand Nationals, but just 547 GNXs. Without further ado:

 

1987 Buick GNX

 

This one is supposedly number 186 of the 547 GNXs produced. This was the fastest car produced in the US in 1987, even faster than the Corvette. It can be hard to get one’s head around that fact, especially since Buick doesn’t even manufacture cars, anymore, only SUVs. The GNX could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 5.4 seconds (that was Buick’s “official” time, I have also seen that time reported as 4.7 seconds) and do mid-13s in the standing quarter-mile. A 1987 Corvette could do 0-60 in 5.9 seconds with mid-14s in the standing quarter. The GNX was faster, 0-60, than a Ferrari 328.

ASC/McLaren actually built much of the GNX for Buick. The car’s turbocharged 231 cubic-inch V-6 was rated at 276 HP/360 LB-FT of torque. The standard turbo for the Regal line was rated 245 HP/355 LB-FT. Many car enthusiasts think Buick understated the engine output as well as the 0-60 time and that real output was closer to 300 HP/420 LB-FT. You will be seeing the GNX/Grand National featured in a Hall of Very Good Cars post.

 

Another one of my favorites, a different model year of which appeared in my Ultimate Garage 3.0 last July (!), debuted in 1987: the Cadillac Allante. Below is (hopefully) a picture of an ’87 Allante as I think they look best, with the auxiliary hardtop in place:

 

See the source image

 

Of course, the Allante was a failure for Cadillac and General Motors as only about 21,400 were built during seven model years of production through 1993.

 

1987 model-year US production declined 6.5 percent from 1986 to 7.4 million cars. Chevrolet and Ford were the only two makes to reach the one-million level: Chevy at 1.38 million and Ford at 1.18 million. What was the best-selling Chevrolet model in 1987? Do you remember the Celebrity?

 

 

Chevrolet produced 362,524 Celebrity vehicles in 1987, of which 273,864 were sedans like the one shown above. Yawn…

 

Imports grabbed a 31 percent share of new car sales in the US in 1987. No one could have predicted that in 1957.

Ford earned $4.6 billion in profits in 1987, at the time the highest nominal (not adjusted for inflation) profit for any US automaker. No one could have foreseen that about two decades later Ford would record a $12.7 billion loss. Of course, it was the only Big Three automaker not to file for bankruptcy during the Great Recession of 2008-09.

Would you believe that 54 percent of US cars were built with four-cylinder engines in 1987? Only 18 percent were built with V-8s.

 

Well, just two Threes And Sevens posts remaining, 1993 and 1997. I hope you have enjoyed this series.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1987

#AmericanMotorsCorporation

#BuickGNX

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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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.

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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.

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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!