Tuesday Trip

Although I don’t really see well enough in low light conditions to drive, I like the thought of driving before sunrise, but with some light in the sky. Although I don’t like humid weather and allergy symptoms, it is only at this time of year that I could take such a drive well before 6 AM. Of course, because of the intake and exhaust mods on my Z06, I would probably wake half the neighborhood if I decided to take a 5 AM drive. Once again, everyone: everything is a trade-off.

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Speaking of trips…as much as this might sound like a “been there, done that” I would like to return to Luxembourg. My wonderful wife, her parents and I visited the magical Grand Duchy in August/September of 2014. Here are two pictures from the trip:

 

 

The top photo is from the country’s oldest town, Echternach. I just think the town square evokes a peaceful feeling not of the US. The bottom photo is from the Grund section of the capital, Luxembourg City, which is traversed by two rivers (the Alzette and Pétrusse) that have created valleys and a sense of cities within a city. By the way, Luxembourg is the only European country where I have seen a Corvette. Luxembourgers should not apologize for being hard-working and for being successful, neither should any Americans.

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Hey, it’s been more than two months since I have written about this car…although the book Cadillac at 100 : Legacy of Leadership claims it was the first car in the world with traction control while other sources claim it was the first front-wheel drive car with traction control, the Cadillac Allanté was a ground-breaking automobile, albeit ultimately unsuccessful. From the same book, former Cadillac General Manager John Grettenberger on why the car failed:

 

“We probably brought that car out a little quicker than we should have. The quality wasn’t at the level that Cadillac was historically known for. It was underpowered at the start…It wasn’t fast enough off the line and it didn’t have the top-end speed that we’d like. And it didn’t have an automatic top. Those that were designed by Pininfarina failed every durability test we put them through and it was too late in the program to bring that design responsibility back into Cadillac engineering. The car never did get an automatic top, which I think hurt it.”

 

I’m sorry, but if you know you’re bringing the car out too soon and you know the car needs an automatic top, then why don’t you wait a year and fix those issues? This is an example of how General Motors lost its way and, along the way, turned many car fans into anti-GM people. By the way, I have also long thought the car was underpowered at first, but it’s interesting to see the division GM at the time say the same thing. (Grettenberger died in March of this year.)

From this article about the Allanté by Eric Peters:

 

“Then came 1993 and the major updates which might have saved the car – had they been effected back in 1987 or ’88. Chief among these was the installation of an all-new powerplant that was, at last, up to the car’s potential and promise. This was Cadillac’s excellent 4.6 liter/279 cubic inch DOHC Northstar V-8, rated at 295 hp. The addition of nearly 100 hp transformed the Allante into the exotic GT it might have been at the get-go. Zero to 60 times dropped by more than two full seconds to just over six seconds – while top speed climbed to nearly 150 mph.  A revised suspension with speed sensitive steering, auto-adjusting road sensing ride control and upgraded brakes rounded out what had, at the 11th hour, finally become an impressive package. So impressive, in fact, that a mechanically stock 1993 Allante was able to serve as Pace Car for the Indy 500 race that year – with only the addition of track-required safety equipment differentiating it from a standard model. There was also a new power-assisted optional hardtop [my note: this somewhat contradicts Grettenberger], one-piece side windows and a new Delco-Bose premium audio system with high-frequency speakers. Most of the hideous quality control problems had been fixed, too.”

“But though it wasn’t too little – it was definitely too late. GM had already decided to euthanize the Allante. Even though sales of the ’93 model were by far the best to date – 4,670 were sold, despite a base price that had by then climbed to $61,675 – there would be no more Allantes after this final hurrah.”

 

Woulda, coulda, shoulda…as every regular reader knows I love the looks of the Allanté and as most readers know, if the car weren’t a “fail” as a grocery car it would be a very strong contender to be purchased after our move to the desert, whenever that might happen. Anyway…from the Peters article:

 

Allante lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although I personally prefer two-seat roadsters, I can understand why in today’s “automobile” market most big car companies don’t want to produce them. I still think an Allanté might be in my future, but who knows…

 

#TuesdayTrip

#Luxembourg

#CadillacAllante

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Dreams and Nightmares

I have written this line from Diner—if you don’t have dreams you have nightmares—many times, probably more often than regular readers have wanted. I have written less often that I have nightmares, anyway, so I might as well at least have good (day)dreams.

Last night I dreamt I was in a car with friends as we were on our way to an important event. The actual nature of that event is lost to dreamland. I distinctly remember saying to my friend who was driving that we needed to use a specific exit to get to the event. The road began a steep descent into an impressive valley that was the home of a small city. All of a sudden, we are no longer in the car but are scrambling on the roof of a large building. We begin moving frantically in our efforts to reach the event. As we approach a corner of the building I see that the ledge we need to traverse is exceedingly narrow and that we are many feet in the air. I decide it’s way too risky and I turn back…and realize that no way exists to get down from the roof and that my friends have gone on without me. Fortunately, that’s when I woke up.

I can’t tell you how many “dreams” I’ve had similar to that one. For years I had a recurring dream that I was driving and then, in a flash, I was sitting on the road as my car has just disappeared. Could the fact that my parents were Holocaust survivors be playing a role in these “dreams?”

My intense interest in automobiles is an important escape from my nightmares. Daydreaming about having my Z06 souped-up or buying an older companion to it is a necessary, happy contrast to the dark world of my inner mind.

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One wonderful dream to be realized would be the end of all cancer. This recent article is titled, “Immune discovery ‘may treat all cancer’” A team in Cardiff, Wales discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells. In addition, it left healthy cells untouched. However, how this particular cell and receptor work is still not understood. From the article:

 

“This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body.”

“It is thought [emphasis mine] MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system.”

“‘We are the first to describe a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells – that hasn’t been done before, this is the first of its kind,’ research fellow Garry Dolton told the BBC.”

 

As an Ashkenazi Jew, my genome predisposes me to many ailments including pancreatic cancer, which is basically a death sentence. Leukemia used to be a death sentence, but many types are now eminently treatable.

One of my annual donations is to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancan.org. I can only hope that science wins and pancreatic cancer loses before my seemingly inevitable bout occurs.

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A much less important dream involves my search for a companion car to my 2016 Corvette Z06. As I have freed myself from the “obligation” to buy something built before I was born and/or built by a defunct American make, the automotive world is my oyster, so to speak. Actually, I can’t stand oysters, but you get my point.

This car, a frequent flyer on Disaffected Musings, appears to me over and over again:

 

See the source image

 

From cars.com a picture of a 1993 Cadillac Allante. The 1993 model is the only year with the 295 HP/290 LB-FT of torque NorthStar V-8. This, theoretically, makes it the most fun to drive of the Allantes. However, the NorthStar engine was prone to issues such as the cracking of head bolts and the optional hardtop was not available in 1993.

In general, this car might flunk out because it would probably fail as a grocery car. When we move to the desert before the end of next year (hopefully, much sooner than that), we will jettison our wonderful little Kia Sportage as we will no longer need AWD capability. However, neither of our Corvettes is really suited for grocery shopping on a regular basis. Ah, the clash of dreams vs. reality…

Still, I think these cars are gorgeous and I wouldn’t mind having a convertible to drive in the desert. Also, Allantes are affordable. A 1991 model sold, all in, at the recent Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale for $7,150. They almost always sell at auction for less than $10,000. Don’t forget, too, that it is easier to get these serviced than a 1963 Gran Turismo Hawk or even a 1963 Riviera.

Once again, and I cannot swear it’s for the last time, if you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.

 

#DreamsAndNightmares

#CancerSucks

#CadillacAllante

#somanycarsjustonelife

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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

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#disaffectedmusings

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Mega Millions Fever

As many/most of you reading know no winning ticket was sold for the most recent Mega Millions drawing. As of this writing, the annuity value of the jackpot is $1.6 billion and the cash value is over $900 million. Given the enormous number of tickets that will be sold before the next drawing those values will increase. I believe this is already the largest jackpot in US lottery history.

I would rather have a 1-in-300 million chance of winning than a 0-in-300 million chance, which is why my wonderful wife and I buy lottery tickets most weeks of the year. Once again, I ponder which cars I might buy if we somehow won this extraordinary amount of money.

Yes, my wonderful wife and I would make sure our family and close friends never had to worry about money again. Yes, we would donate lots of money to charity. Still, for me an unimaginable windfall means CARS!

I haven’t driven a vehicle with a manual transmission in 40 years and reject the “knee-jerk macho” attitude that no one can really enjoy driving a car with an automatic transmission. All that being said, one of these might find its way into my possession after a lottery win:

See the source image

From rarecarsforsaleblog.com a picture of one of my all-time favorites, a Honda S2000 in Imola Orange. I wrote about this car in this post in which I revealed the inside joke about the S2000 that my wonderful wife and I share. Although they are not a common sight 66,000 S2000s were sold in the US and we occasionally see one. When we do I always say, “Did you know that I love these cars?” and she answers, “Really? I had no idea.”

I think the S2000 is almost a perfect blend of styling, performance and aura. I have a soft spot for two-seat roadsters, anyway. All 110,000 of these cars were made with a manual transmission. I guess I would have to reacquaint myself with manuals if we were to win the Mega Millions and I decided to buy an S2000. Oh darn…

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While I am not certain if the actual date was today (October 20th) or October 17th, it was around this time in 1902 that the first Cadillac was built. I wrote about Cadillac in this post in which I detailed how they, in 1908, became the first American company to win the prestigious Dewar Trophy and that it was awarded its second Dewar Trophy just four years later.

At least three Cadillacs would be serious contenders for Ultimate Garage 2.0. I have shown pictures of them before, but what the hell…

See the source image

From momentcar.com a picture of a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado. I would be happy with a 1967 model, also. I think these cars look magnificent and had amazing performance for their size. I might, emphasize might, prefer the ’68 because the engine was larger and had more power.

 

See the source image

From classiccars.com a picture of a Cadillac Allante that I am almost certain I have shown before. I really like the wire wheels and the green exterior of this particular car. These cars are much maligned and much of that sentiment was “earned.” However, I think they are beautiful cars. How could they not be as the bodies were designed and built by Pininfarina? A later model with a more powerful engine or maybe even a more modern engine would make for a very nice car, in my opinion.

 

See the source image

From bestride.com a picture of a Cadillac XLR; this is another picture I have shown before. If I didn’t have a friend who had bad experiences with these cars, I probably would have purchased one instead of the Z4. (The Z4 may be an “ex car” by this time next week.) Again, like the Allante the XLR had major quality issues at first. By the time these were fixed the car’s reputation was permanently ruined and then the “Great Recession” was the last straw. I think the XLR has extraordinary looks and more than enough performance for the vast majority of drivers, especially in XLR-V trim.

Cadillac is experiencing an existential crisis. In 2005 Cadillac sales totaled about 235,000 and 1.4% of the US market. By 2015 those numbers had declined to 175,000 and 1.0%. In 2017 sales slumped further to 156,000 and 0.9%. The make is considered passé by younger consumers and the average age of a Cadillac buyer is almost 60. (Hey, I’m almost 60. Yeah, that’s the point.)

Maybe I’m way off base and out of touch with today’s automobile market, but just like I think Buick needs a halo car (I have suggested an improved version of the Solstice/Sky) I think Cadillac also needs a halo car, a vehicle to generate excitement and to help Cadillac stand apart. The company has shown some amazing concept cars and before the departure of Johan de Nysschen Cadillac announced it would be bringing the Escala to market as a production vehicle. Now, I don’t know.

What do you think? As always I eagerly await your comments. Once again I would very much like to “hear” from those north of the border in Canada.

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

Underrated

Bill James (yes, his name is here again) once wrote about how he didn’t like the terms overrated and underrated. His point was that there really are no official ratings for most things in life and, therefore, how can anything be underrated or overrated? OK, good point, but this post from thrillist.com is about the ten most underrated American cars, at least according to the author. Some of these cars will be familiar to those of you who read this blog.

At #10 is one of my favorites, the Cadillac Allante. From the thrillist piece: “A spiritual predecessor to the Corvette-based XLR, the Allante was somewhat ill-received because it was front-wheel drive and thus didn’t have world-crushing handling. The rest of the car was an odd mix that involved Pininfarina (the same Italian design house that’s responsible for scores of your favorite Ferraris over the years) building the bodies in Italy, flying them to Detroit, and mating a decent chassis and V8 to the car. If you’re just cruising around, it’s hard to argue against its value.” It was also ill-received because it was under-powered at first (170 HP/235 LB-FT of torque for its first two model years, 1987 and 1988) and fraught with quality issues.

I still think the Allante is a beautiful car and if you can get a later one that’s been looked after, it’s a bargain and a great entry point into the world of car collecting. Here’s a picture from autoevolution.com:

 

See the source image

 

So, what was/is the #1 most underrated American car? Here’s a picture from Daily Turismo:

 

 

See the source image

 

This is the Chevrolet Corvair and this one is supposed to be in Monza trim. The Corvair, of course, is one of the most controversial cars in US history and the car that made Ralph Nader famous, for better or for worse. (It’s a little bit of both, in my opinion.) From thrillist: “Today, the Corvair is most known as the subject of Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed, wherein he argues that many people died as a result of GM cutting corners with the car’s suspension. In truth, however, the suspension setup was fundamentally the same as contemporary Porsches and Mercedes, and statistically, the car wasn’t any more dangerous than other vehicles. It had an advanced air-cooled flat six engine that was mounted in the rear. It was basically GM’s version of a Porsche for normal people, but thanks to Nader’s controversy, the car died, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was born.”

Many car “experts” argue with the claim that Nader’s book killed the Corvair. Those “experts” believe it was actually the Ford Mustang that killed the Corvair because the Mustang was more versatile. For example, the Mustang, which was released in April of 1964, was offered with many engine options, including various V-8s. It was impossible to put an 8-cylinder engine into the Corvair. (Nader’s book was published in 1965.) The story of the Corvair is quite interesting and I think the best history of the car is in Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars by Paul Ingrassia.

The Corvair is another way to get into the car hobby without taking out a second mortgage. I did a search on Hemmings of second generation Corvairs (1965-1969). I found two that look decent and were priced under $10,000. I think the second generation cars look much better than the first and had the “bugs” worked out.

What cars do you think are underrated? Do you think that the concepts of underrated and overrated are valid? By the way, I am still hoping for honest, constructive feedback about Disaffected Musings. I am very proud of this blog, but maybe I am missing something that can only be seen by someone with a different perspective.

 

If you’re here after clicking on a link from Hemmings, welcome. Please feel free to bookmark the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com) and to visit often. Thanks.

 

 

“Cheap” Cars At Auctions Do Exist!

At the recently concluded Mecum auction in Denver, a car like this was offered for sale:

See the source image

From consumerguide.com a picture of a 1990 Cadillac Allante. Once again, Mecum does not allow online photos of its lots to be captured or I would have shown a picture of the actual car.

I realize that my affinity for these cars is WAY higher than 99.9% of the car fanatic population. Still, want to guess what the hammer price was? $1,500! Even Kelley Blue Book puts a higher value on these cars than that price. OK, with the premium the buyer actually paid $1,650.

Auctions are not venues of complete integrity. The auction companies make absolutely no guarantees as to the quality of the cars. It is the definition of caveat emptor, buyer beware. In fine print, the auction houses reserve the right to “bid up” cars sold with a reserve, a minimum price that must be met before the consignor will agree to sell. (The Allante in question was obviously sold at no reserve.) Also, don’t forget that two or three determined and well-heeled bidders can force the price of any given car way beyond its “market” value.

Still, on occasion a car can be purchased at auction “below the market.” That probably doesn’t happen often, but it does happen as this Allante sale proves. Remember that one sale doesn’t make a market, so the fact that this particular car sold for such a low price doesn’t mean the next five will.

For $1,650 plus whatever it would have cost for shipping I would have found a place to park this car. One of the allures of automobile auctions for me is the hope that, one day, I will buy a car because the price is just too tempting. My wonderful wife and I currently plan on attending the big Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona next January with her parents. I think the probability that her father buys a car, while not high, is also not zero. That’s OK because life should be enjoyed.

I would very much like to read about your experiences with car auctions. Thanks.

Electric Turbos

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/electrification-might-be-the-answer-to-the-turbochargers-biggest-problem

I’ve often wondered why turbochargers didn’t have some type of electric assist at low end to get rid of turbo lag. Well, now some turbos will. Of course, I’ve often wondered why we don’t have thermo-chromic roof shingles that turn a lighter color at higher temperatures to reflect heat and turn a darker color at lower temperatures to absorb heat. Actually, I think some company has developed such a product, but as I understand it, stupid, arbitrary HOA covenants are a big obstacle. Don’t get me started…

A friend once said to me that I should stop coming up with ideas and start developing them. Well, I’m not an engineer and I am not well connected. In general, no man is an island. I cannot develop an ecosystem out of thin air that would allow me to actually develop these ideas on my own or even let me do what I want to do for a living (assuming I knew what that was) and earn reasonable compensation. Almost all of us need some help on occasion. No one who can help has been willing to help me for a long time.

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See the source image

From autoevolution.com a picture of a Cadillac Allante convertible with the optional hardtop in place. In my previous blog I often wrote of my interest in these cars. In fact, even though I am not a member I receive emails from the national Cadillac Allante/XLR club.

The Allante was a failure; no other way exists to describe it. It was underpowered at first, very expensive and fraught with reliability issues. In its seven year run, only about 21,000 were produced. Many car enthusiasts have put the Allante in the same category as cars like the Pontiac Fiero in that as the Allante was finally developed into a good car, General Motors pulled the plug.

I think the exterior design is breathtaking and I don’t mean that in a Seinfeld kind of way. Of course, the body was by the legendary Italian company Pininfarina, so the looks should be no surprise. Here’s another one in a different/better color and better wheels:

See the source image

From classiccars.com a picture of a 1993 Allante in green and with wire wheels. In my opinion these wheels really suit the car. I have no room in my garage for another car and, to be honest, as a retired person on a pension I should not be dabbling in automobiles just as a hobby. If I were still earning a good living, though, I would probably buy a “toy” car every now and then, drive it for awhile and then sell it to buy something else. Oh well, as the line from Diner says, “If you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.”