Frunkified

In the interest of fairness I must write about the following…

The new C8 Corvette is, of course, the first mid-engine Vette. As such, the space in front of the passenger compartment is a trunk of sorts, or a frunk as it’s been dubbed. NHTSA has received complaints that the frunk lid can just open on its own while driving.

The number of complaints received so far is only in single digits, I believe, but I think Chevrolet/GM need to be proactive. Still, maybe my wonderful wife will wait on that C8 convertible.

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This Hemmings article is titled, “Mid-life Crisis Motoring: What sporty car would you pick at $5K, $10K, $20K, or $40K?” Of course, the idea is similar to Frugal Friday in this blog and, no doubt, to dozens of other features across the Internet.

Is my obsession with cars–more specifically, with buying cars–a mid-life crisis? I think I am actually way past mid-life and I have almost always been interested in cars far more than the typical American male. Still, I remember when I bought my first Corvette 16 years ago (!) one of my clients asked me if I was having a mid-life crisis.

One of the $5,000 cars is very familiar to readers of this blog:

 

Post Image

 

From Hemmings:

 

“The Reatta has always been a polarizing car, seemingly out of step for Buick in the late 1980s as a racy-looking, sports-tuned two-seater that was sold alongside the traditionally styled Riviera luxury coupe. But this front-wheel-drive GT had a different mission than its larger, four-seat sibling, being intended to draw in younger, more technologically savvy buyers. Not many visited Buick showrooms though, and fewer than 22,000 Reatta coupes and convertibles were sold between 1988 and 1991. At least this Arctic White ’89’s tried-and-true mechanicals, including the 3800 V-6 and four-speed automatic, are durable and easy to repair, and its sleek body still turns heads. [emphasis mine]”

 

Perhaps the Reatta would have been more successful if Buick had positioned it as the replacement for the performance-oriented Regal Grand National and put a turbocharger on the V-6, at least as an option. Perhaps the car was just too odd for its market.

From the same article a picture of one of the $20,000 cars, a 1990-96 Nissan 300ZX (represented by a 1994 model):

 

Post Image

 

The last sentence of the write-up about this car reads, “In the future, this one will undoubtedly appreciate.” Most people who follow the car market would agree and think that Japanese cars will increase in value.

How much one pays is usually at least as important as what one buys, unless your last name is Bezos, Gates or Buffett, I guess. I will never succumb to the SUV/pickup truck paradigm and will always want to own and to drive an interesting car as long as I’m able. Without a nine- or ten-figure net worth, though, acquisition cost will always matter.

Keep Driving!

 

#Frunkified

#C8Corvette

#MidLifeCrisisMotoring

#BuickReatta

#Nissan300ZX

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Dreams…

Dr. Zal, my best friend, and his family (Dr. Zal and the Zalettes?) are about to move to a new city. It is just an hour from where they currently live, but it is a move all the same.

Whether it is because of the impending move or some other reason I had a dream last night/this morning that Dr. Zal visited me and that I was extraordinarily happy to see him. I am always happy to see him, of course, but in this dream that feeling was unusual, almost as if something very good or very bad had just happened.

How many of you remember your dreams? I don’t know if it is a blessing or a curse, probably a bit of both, but as regular readers know I seem to be able to recall many dreams, at least long enough to be able to write about them here the next day.

When I was in college I had a recurring dream, probably shared by more than a few college students, that I was late for class, but that the faster I tried to get there, the slower I moved. I would always wind up on all fours trying to crawl to class. The tone of that dream, one of desperation and panic, is common in my dreams.

I am sure that is one reason why I enjoy immersing myself in automobiles because that immersion is an escape. My obsessive hunt for a Corvette companion and my obsessive writing about that hunt are just a manifestation of same. I suspect for some people their dreams are an escape from their real lives, but in some ways choices I make in real life are an attempt to escape from my dreams.  Hey, I’ve always known I’m an oddball.

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Speaking of dreams…it’s been almost a year since I showed my Ultimate Garage 2.0. I do not plan to show Version 3.0 anytime soon, if at all, but in (what’s left of) my brain I am reviewing possible changes to the garage. Why? Hello! Have we met?! Obsessing about cars is what I do.

Although I have not decided on anything I have toyed with the idea of removing the unofficial minimums on horsepower and torque. Now I can reveal that if a car did not have at least 200 HP/225 LB-FT of torque available from the factory, then I excluded the car from consideration. Of course, that would exclude all of the amazing pre-war cars except for the Duesenberg Model J. I’m not saying I would necessarily include any cars from this era, but in any future Ultimate Garage they would at least be eligible.

To me, the first thing I notice about a car is its styling. I suspect that is true of many, if not most, car fanatics. Survey after survey reveal that exterior styling is the most frequently cited reason why a new car was purchased. Therefore, while I obviously have a strong preference for performance cars, I should bow to the reality of the primacy of styling and consider it above all else.

Full circle, this brings me back to the car I wanted to buy when I moved to California in the mid-1990s, but which was no longer in production:

 

See the source image

 

From this Wired gallery of Buicks a picture of a Buick Reatta. OK, the standard wheels aren’t great, but that’s an easy fix. It’s like house hunting and finding a house slathered in poor paint choices, but with great bones. You can always re-paint the walls.

I just love the way this car looks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Reatta never had more than 170 HP/220 LB-FT of torque, but not every car has to be a performance monster, at least not for me, I guess. Oh, I much prefer the coupe to the convertible. The angle of the rear pillar just adds a great touch to the car, in my opinion.

The Reatta is, however, not in contention to be the Corvette companion because it is a fail as a grocery car. With just two seats and trunk of only ten cubic feet in volume, it’s not even as useful in grocery shopping as my Z06.

I wonder how many times I have shown and written about the Reatta? Does it matter?

Please feel free to offer the cars that tug at your heart without necessarily appealing to your brain.

 

#Dreams

#Dr.Zal

#BuickReatta

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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The Only Constant

In The World Is Change…

From 1996 through 1999 at this time of year I was at spring training with the Padres in Peoria, Arizona. Because I found spring training to be boring for the most part, especially before the games started, I would not stay in Arizona for the entire six weeks. I would go out there just before pitchers and catchers reported, making the drive with my long-time friend Fred who was the Assistant General Manager, stay for about ten days and then fly back to San Diego. Sometime in March I would fly back to Arizona and stay for another ten days.

When I was young I would have done anything to be with a major league team in spring training. However, during my last spring training visit in 1999 I was so miserable I knew I had to leave the Padres, which I did later that year.

One amusing phenomenon happened when I would return to the complex in Peoria in February. I would gaze in amazement at all of the new development: residential, retail, and road. I would inevitably say to someone, “Where the hell did all of this come from in a year?!”

When my wonderful wife, her parents and I went to Scottsdale, Arizona last year to attend the Barrett-Jackson auction, my wife’s parents were bewildered by the size and scope of the Phoenix metro area, their former place of residence. Given that they left Phoenix in the 1960s and given the population growth, it’s no wonder they didn’t really recognize much of the area with which they used to be familiar. Here is a table comparing the 1970 and 2010 populations of a few western suburbs of Phoenix, where many of the spring training baseball complexes have been built, and the city of Phoenix itself:

 

CITY 1970 2010
Peoria 4,792 154,065
Glendale 36,228 226,721
Goodyear 2,140 65,275
Surprise 2,427 117,517
     
Phoenix 581,572 1,445,632

 

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

– Aldous Huxley

Those population figures might be hard to believe, but they are true. The population of the entire Phoenix metropolitan area grew from just under one million in 1970 to more than four million in 2010. Hopefully sometime in 2021, the population will add a couple from the mid-Atlantic. The only constant in the world is change.

 

 

See the source image

 

From Visit Phoenix a map of “The Valley Of The Sun.”

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How sick are you of reading about the Cadillac Allante? Today’s post was almost about the three GM cars of the 1980s that were “mold-busters” but which were failures: the Buick Reatta, the Cadillac Allante and the Pontiac Fiero. Only the latter had any success, with sales of almost 137,000 in its debut year of 1984, before succumbing to a reputation “fail.”

General Motors developed its own reputation “fail” during this time. In today’s parlance, the company would be accused of using its customers as beta testers. In other words, GM would release a new model before it had been thoroughly tested and then use the real-world experience of owners to improve the car. GM spent about $100 million developing a new suspension that would be used in the Fiero (and other cars) in 1988, but that was the last year the car was offered. The Allante finally received a powerful engine in 1993 and would sell more units that year than any other in the model’s history, but the car was discontinued after that year. The dislike of General Motors by many car enthusiasts does not come out of thin air.

My opinion: I am not a big fan of Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. She seems hell-bent on taking the company to a place that the American car-buying public isn’t. It seems inevitable that electric cars will be the dominant paradigm in the future, but highly unlikely that will occur by 2030, the year by which Barra wants GM to have an all-electric fleet. Currently, electric cars have a market share in the US of under two percent.

Anyway, from Wikipedia a picture of the model of car I tried to buy when I moved to California in the mid-1990s, a Buick Reatta:

 

See the source image

 

Boo me, sue me, but I think these cars look magnificent. They would not make the cut for my Ultimate Garage because they are short of horsepower and torque minimums, but they are among the best-looking cars ever, in my opinion.

I await the onslaught of dissent…

 

#TheConstancyOfChange

#BuickReatta

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Not Yours To Take

Wealthy people who “complain” that they are not taxed enough are just engaging in virtue signaling. If they really think they don’t pay enough in taxes then they can voluntarily give more money to government. They should keep their hands out of other people’s pockets because other people’s money doesn’t belong to them. “Fair” is subjective, but property rights are not supposed to be.

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This article from Hagerty is titled, “The 25 cars buyers are forgetting about.” Below is the picture at the top of the article:

 

1988 Buick Reatta

 

Here is a picture of the same make/model I took this past Sunday:

 

 

In case you don’t know, or even if you do, those are two pictures of the Buick Reatta. The Reatta was a failure; it cannot be described in any other way. Buick’s minimum yearly sales goal for the car was 10,000 units, but in four model years (1988-91) only about 22,000 were built in total. From Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, “Reatta was a sad loss for those who appreciate interesting cars…”

It is not a performance car in any way, shape or form, but I think it is a stunning looking car. When I moved to California in the mid-1990s I needed to buy a car and went to a Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealer specifically to buy a Reatta. The salesman informed me the car was no longer in production (I wasn’t following cars much at that point having been turned off by the nadir of US autos in the late 70s) and he didn’t offer to find me a used one. Frankly, he wasn’t the friendliest salesman I ever met.

In the Hagerty article mentioned above the Reatta is shown as having the lowest Hagerty Vehicle Rating (HVR). I’ll let Hagerty explain the HVR:

 

“The Hagerty Vehicle Rating takes into consideration auction and private sales results, insurance quoting activity, and the number of new policies purchased to sort through hundreds of car models and compare them to the collector car market as a whole. Our valuation team then assigns each car a score from 1 to 100, with a score of 50 denoting a car that’s perfectly following the overall market trend. Popular cars that are gaining interest and value will score higher, while those with flagging interest or sale prices score lower. A vehicle’s position on the list isn’t a sign of future collectability—it’s more of a pulse marker on the current market.”

 

Some subjectivity seems to be a part of Hagerty’s rating, which is okay, but I always wonder about personal bias in such an endeavor. Anyway, here are the bottom 15 cars in the latest HVR (I know the article is about the bottom 25, but that seemed excessive to me):

 

Vehicle HVR
1988-1991 Buick Reatta 9
1967-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 10
1963-1971 Mercedes-Benz 230SL 15
1968-1971 Lincoln Continental Mk III 15
1975-1980 MG MGB 15
1976-1989 Porsche 911 Carrera (Turbo 930) 15
1958-1959 Ford Fairlane 17
1968-1982 Chevrolet Corvette 17
1997-2005 Acura NSX 17
1965-1970 Cadillac DeVille 18
1946-1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster 19
1946-1951 Mercury 19
1958-1961 Austin-Healey Sprite 19
1977-1988 Porsche 924 19
1987-1993 Cadillac Allante 20

 

Remember Hagerty’s disclaimer that the HVR is not, necessarily, a sign of future collectability, but an indication of where a car currently stands in the market in terms of collector demand. Some of the cars on this list are a surprise to me, but I am not a devoted student of the overall collector car market. I am also quite sure that cars with very few transactions don’t appear in the Hagerty evaluation at all. Remember, too, that this is just Hagerty’s assessment. No one metric or system can fully describe this market.

Do any of you see cars on this list in which you have interest? I would very much like to read your thoughts.

 

#KeepYourHandsOutOfOtherPeoplesPockets

#BuickReatta

#HagertyVehicleRating

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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9 and 14

 

 

 

 

C8! & Frugal Friday, Self-Indulgent/Failure Edition

I was going to begin today’s post being very critical of people who don’t seem to understand, and who should understand, that the United States is a FEDERAL republic and NOT a unitary one. Corvette and car nut that I am I’ll just include this:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

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So what does the Corvette have to do with any of this? Chevrolet has OFFICIALLY announced that the next generation of Corvette will be unveiled on July 18 and, indeed, the car will be mid-engined! This article from Car and Driver is probably as good a recap as any. Here is a photo from the article and from Chevrolet:

 

2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8

 

Notice the car is still camouflaged and notice the “8” is in red signifying, of course, the next car will be the eighth-generation Corvette or C8.

I am excited enough today not to be too concerned with copyrights so here is a good chunk of the Car and Driver article:

 

“This first Corvette C8 model we will see in July is the base Corvette Stingray, which will kick off the lineup. Initially, the C8 will use an upgraded version of the current car’s pushrod 6.2-liter V-8, which we suspect will be upgraded to produce somewhere around 500 horsepower. The engine will also be renamed LT2 to reflect its new location in the car. A dual-clutch seven-speed automatic gearbox supplied from Tremec is slated to be the only transmission choice—unfortunate news for #savethemanuals diehards like us. [my note: get over yourself, manual diehards, the manual is dying all over the world]

Multiple high-performance variants are set to follow in quick succession, including Z06, ZR1, and a range-topping hybrid that may use the Zora name. The current thinking is that the Z06 will have a a DOHC 5.5-liter V-8 with a flat-plane crankshaft, while the ZR1 will add twin turbochargers to that engine, and the Zora will get the twin-turbo V-8 and an electric motor in the front axle to cement its place as the most powerful Corvette, with a combined power rating that could approach 1000 horsepower.”

 

Just like many people refuse to acknowledge the structure of the US republic many people refused to believe the C8 would be mid-engined. For example, someone with the Corvette Museum told me in January that not all C8s would be mid-engined. When I tried to explain otherwise, he wouldn’t listen.

No, I am not sorry I recently purchased a used C7 Z06. I am, however, very excited to see the new C8. According to some sources the C8 “Z06” may have 650-700 HP, the “ZR1” may have 800-850 HP and as noted in the article the “Zora” may exceed 1,000 HP. The amazing thing is that the base C8 Corvette will not be as expensive as many had feared with prices starting only about $5,000 more than a base C7.

(By the way, it appears as though the C7 and C8 will NOT be produced simultaneously as had been previously reported. The last C7, a Z06, will be auctioned in June.)

FINALLY!

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I am very, very idiosyncratic. I like many things most people don’t like and/or have never heard of.

This trait applies to cars. While I like C2 Corvettes and second-generation Chargers I also like cars like the Buick Reatta and Cadillac Allante. I guess in one way that affinity is not so weird in that I am drawn to the looks of both cars. Who doesn’t like a pretty face?

Of course both the Reatta and the Allante were major failures for General Motors. Only 21,751 Reattas were produced for its four-year model run (1988-1991) and only 21,430 Allantes were produced for its seven-year model run (1987-1993). I still wouldn’t mind owning either car. In that vein:

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1990 Buick Reatta. Many of those who have any positive feelings about the car at all prefer the convertible, but I prefer the coupe, of course. By 1990 Buick had gone back to a conventional analog dashboard and controls as opposed to the troublesome digital ones. This car has 91,000 miles and the dealer is asking $4,900. I think it’s a beautiful car and yes I know it’s not a sports car or high-performer.

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1993 Cadillac Allante in Verde Flax (Green) over Black. Only for 1993 the Allante was powered by a Northstar V-8 (which initially had problems with head bolts and overheating) of 4.6 liters/279 cubic inches displacement that produced 295 HP/290 LB-FT of torque. The dealer is asking $9,595.

C’mon, people! The Allante body was designed and built by Pininfarina! It’s a beautiful car, but was fraught with quality issues during almost the entire run and was underpowered at first. The engine for 1987-88 had only 170 HP/235 LB-FT.

Two beautiful cars (at least to me) that can be purchased for under $10,000. That’s Frugal Friday in a nutshell. (Maybe “case” is more like it.)

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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100,000 Words

I guess people don’t read blogs on Thanksgiving. I also have never really paid that much attention to daily views before.

Despite a dramatic decline in views/visitors since about the 10th of November, this month has seen a new high for both metrics. Thanks, but I wish all of the readers who were visiting in late October/early November would come back.

People don’t really judge events by objective reality, but against expectations and compared to the status quo. Before the increase in views/visitors in late October I wouldn’t have been affected by the number since November 10, but now those metrics are a disappointment. If the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers both finish with 8-8 records in 2019, for one team it would represent a great year while for the other a great disappointment even though it’s the same record.

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Somewhere in this post will be the 100,000th word I have written on Disaffected Musings. I have had three books published and if my memory serves me correctly the last two were each about 100,000 words in length.

Not to make too fine a point, but in the 10 1/2 months I have been posting to this blog I have written enough for a book. Probably not coincidentally, that’s about how long it took (perhaps a little longer) to write each of my last two books.

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Another picture from the Classic Auto Mall in Morgantown, PA. (No, I do not work there. It would be an awfully long commute.) This is a Buick Reatta and I confess I don’t know the year.

I have always been enamored of the looks of this car, but like the Cadillac Allante of the same period the Reatta was a GM two-seat car that was a failure. The Reatta was never marketed as a sports car or high-performance car, a fact that would exclude it from my Ultimate Garage. However, I think it would make a great “wolf in sheep’s clothing” restomod although the FWD layout might be an insurmountable obstacle.

Any thoughts from any of you on the Reatta, the Allante or any other topic? Why were both cars such failures?

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

Remembering

My marvelous mom was born on this day in 1922. She has been gone a long time, but I think about her every day. She had a rough life as a Holocaust survivor and displaced person (recall from this post that my parents married in a Displaced Persons camp and that my older sister was born there), but she carried on as a loving mother and grandmother.

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I am thinking of dancing with the devil. I have been considering establishing a Facebook account in order to promote this blog. I have severe misgivings, but Facebook is the platform and if I want more people to read, to comment, etc. then I am beginning to think I have to use them, as much as I despise them. What do you think?

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What do you think of this car?

See the source image

From cargurus.com a picture of a Buick Reatta, another General Motors failure of the 1980s/1990s. I know the Reatta is not a performance car, but I love the way it looks. I figure I could improve the performance somehow if I were to acquire one. Innovative Performance Chips is a company that sells engine tuning chips and even, supposedly, offers such a product for the 3.8 liter V-6 Reatta engine. They claim up to 35 additional HP (no mention of increased torque) AND up to five more MPG with their product. I am skeptical, but +15-20 HP and +2-3 MPG would be fine.

When I moved to California in the mid-1990s, I purchased a car from a Buick/GMC/Pontiac dealer. I really wanted to buy a Reatta, but they were no longer being manufactured and the salesman did not want to find me a used one. Fewer than 22,000 Reattas were produced during the four model years it was offered, 1988-1991.

I hope to read comments from you on these or any other topics discussed in this blog.