Cars A To Z: C

First…last night must have been the first airing of the first episode of Garage Squad on the Motor Trend channel since Cristy Lee’s departure from the show. The number of blog views and visitors skyrocketed and finished in the top five in daily readers in the 45+ month history of the blog. Where Is Cristy Lee? continues to be The Gift That Keeps On Giving. OK, you say you “have” to see a picture today:

 

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I couldn’t pick any make other than Chevrolet for the “C” post for Cars A To Z. Chevrolet was founded (in 1911) because William Durant, who had created General Motors, had been kicked out of GM just two years after its formation. He figured his only way back to the top at GM was to create another car company. That company was the Little Motor Car Company of Flint, Michigan and Chevrolet was the name Durant chose for his larger car, which became the name of the company in 1914. Louis Chevrolet, the race car driver for whom the company is named, was actually well-known to the American public.

Durant’s plan succeeded, then failed. Using Chevrolet stock as a way to acquire General Motors stock, Durant regained control of GM in 1916, only to be kicked out for the second and final time in 1920. He was a visionary in terms of seeing the overall automobile market, but organization was not his strength nor was prudence when it came to spending money.

Chevrolet was the top dog among American car makes for many years. It and Ford dominated the US automobile market. For example, for the 50 years after World War II (1946-1995), they finished in the top two positions in sales 48 times. Ford dropped to fourth in 1983 and third in 1985, which means, of course, that Chevrolet finished either first or second in all 50 years.

Chevrolet sold almost 78 million cars from 1946-1995, finishing ahead of Ford’s nearly 69 million and outselling Ford in 36 of those 50 years. Chevrolet was the first US car company to reach the two million level in a single year (in 1962) and surpassed that mark a total of 15 times with the last year being 1980.

Some production trivia and lamentation: Oldsmobile finished third to Chevrolet and Ford for three years from 1977 to 1979, inclusive, with annual sales exceeding one million each year. The company reached the one million level in sales as late as 1986, but of course, was defunct less than two decades later.

Pontiac squeezed into the number two position in US sales as late as 1996, edging out Chevrolet. Fifteen years later, Pontiac was no more.

Anyway…before I show my current Chevrolet connection, I want to show a car of note: the 1965 Chevrolet Impala. Including 243,114 SS models, Chevrolet sold 1,046,514 Impalas that year, the only US model to reach a million in annual sales since the end of World War II. (c.f. Mustang sales for its elongated debut year of 1965 were 680,989.) From Vintage Car Brochures, a page in the 1965 Chevrolet sales brochure:

 

See the source image

 

In my opinion, like the Mustang the Impala was a success because it was a stylish car–especially in coupe form–that was versatile. I wish I had a picture of the 1961 Impala that got me back and forth between home and college in my first semester. My first car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO, had been wrecked in an accident two weeks before I started college and it took months to fix.

Now, to my current Chevrolet connection:

 

 

In case you don’t know, [everyone join in] or even if you do, these are the three Corvettes I have owned. At the top is my 2002 Corvette in Electron Blue Metallic I bought used in 2004. The middle picture is my 2007 Corvette in Machine Silver that I purchased new in 2007. Of course, the bottom is my 2016 Z06 in Long Beach Red Metallic with its recently purchased ZR1 wheels. I bought the Z06 used in 2019.

I doubt many readers are surprised by my choice of Chevrolet as the “C” car for Cars A To Z. I ask for your indulgence.

 

#CarsAToZ

#Chevrolet

#ChevroletCorvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Cars A To Z: B

Here is the beginning of the entry for this make in The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile:

 

“No make of car has earned such a charismatic reputation on such a small output (about 7,800) as ________. Noisy, firmly sprung, and challenging to drive, they have attracted a devoted following all over the world.”

 

OK…how about if I told you the company was founded in one country, saw its headquarters “move” to another country after World War I without actually moving and its founder wasn’t born in either country. Do you think you know the make? It’s Bugatti, but the original company and not the 1990s revival or the current entity that is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, although that status is about to change. Bugatti Automobiles and the sports car operations of Rimac Automobili, a Croatian company, are merging with the transaction set to be finalized later this year. In the interest of fairness, though, the current curator of the Bugatti name has allowed for much of the history of the founding company to be displayed on its website. What would Ettore Bugatti, born in Milan, Italy just 20 years after the formation of modern Italy, have thought about the Internet?

After building powered tricycles for a German company, Bugatti built his first car in 1900 (or 1901, reports vary), but the company that, in a way, still bears his name was founded in 1909. In that year, and wanting to build his own vehicles, he rented a building previously used for making dyes at Molsheim in Alsace. In 1909, this was German territory and had been since 1871. After World War I, the defeated Germans were forced to return Alsace to the French from whom they had “won” the province in the Franco-Prussian War.

I am out of my depth in trying to write about Bugatti’s early automotive history and incredible success in racing. (Oh, the reference to an output of 7,800 is about the original company as the Beaulieu Encyclopedia was last published in 2000, just two years after Volkswagen purchased the rights to the Bugatti name. Actual production did not begin until 2005.)

It is quite interesting to me that a Bugatti automobile that is so famous today is written about in Beaulieu under the heading, “La Royale, Ettore’s Greatest Folly.” Until researching the company I had no idea that only seven Royales were ever made (between 1927 and 1933) and, apparently, only three were sold. In the interest of accuracy, though, Ettore Bugatti only intended to build 25 Royales. From Motor Authority, a picture of a Bugatti Royale:

 

See the source image

 

Yes, this is a large car. Its wheelbase–169 inches–is slightly longer than the total length of the 2009 BMW Z4 I owned. The Royale was 21 feet long and weighed 7,000 pounds. Its engine was a 12.8 liter/779 cubic-inch straight-eight. Yes, 12.8 liters/779 cubic inches.

Bugatti is also famous for making the Type 57, the last true production Bugatti from the original company. The 57 was intended as more of a grand tourer than pure sports car, but it was this model that gave Bugatti its only Le Mans wins, in 1937 and the “terminal” year of 1939. The death of Ettore’s son Jean and the outbreak of World War II that year ended development of the Type 57 successor, the Type 64, and ended the company as well, for all intents and purposes. 684 Type 57s were built, with most of them being the longer wheelbase cars (130 inches), but 42 were Type 57S and 57SCs. These had a 117-inch wheelbase and were designed to be sportier than the “base” 57s. The Type 57C and 57SC were supercharged. From Supercars.net a picture of the famous, and very valuable, Bugatti Type 57SC:

 

See the source image

 

That’s a magnificent car and a prime example of why the company “has earned such a charismatic reputation on such a small output.”

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments. In addition, anyone with more knowledge of Bugatti than I have is welcome to chime in.

 

#CarsAToZ

#Bugatti

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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PS, one of the first views of the day was from Monaco. I wonder if it’s from someone who owns a classic Bugatti.

 

 

 

 

 

Change Is Constant

Yes, I write about this topic a lot…

 

For years I lived for sports, especially Baltimore sports. I did not watch last night’s Ravens game, preferring instead to do a little reading, watch some of the Mecum broadcast from Las Vegas I recorded and an episode of Transplant I’d already seen more than once. Apparently, though, I missed quite a game as the Ravens rallied from a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter to win the game in overtime. If I had been watching, I probably would have turned the game off late in the third quarter.

While watching the Mecum telecast I was suddenly reminded how much I enjoyed things when I was younger like a new toy or new record. I would sometimes play the same song 10 or 15 times in a row the day I bought it. (Yeah, yeah, OCD…) For the most part, I bought 45s not albums. If it was the school year, during the school day I would think about going home so I could play my new record some more.

Sorry to say that very little excites me like that anymore and certainly not sports. Change is constant.

I do very much enjoy spending time with my wonderful wife, but after 22 years of marriage the enjoyment is more comfort than anything else. I enjoy watching car auctions and some automotive programming, but I can’t say that a new episode of Flipping Bangers excites me to the same degree as a new 45 did when I was 12 years old.

I don’t think my experience is unique, but still illustrates the inevitability of change. Bad changes can’t be avoided by trying to avoid all change. Change is constant.

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While this is not the Cars A To Z “B” post, I can say that I will not use Bentley, BMW or Buick. I have to say that the “A” post, about British automaker Alvis, was not met with the level of interest I had hoped.

My goal is to focus on makes that are not well-known although not all 26 posts will feature obscure companies. Actually, if you lived in the UK then Alvis wouldn’t be obscure to you.

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In his most recent post, Mark featured this book:

 

 

Actually, the cover photo in his post was different as he used the edition published in 2010 and this version was published in 2015. I am especially fond of the car shown in the lower right. I wonder why? Yes, that was a joke…

While I can’t say that perusing this book “excites” me, I can say I enjoy quite a bit. It was this book that has the picture that was the inspiration for my writing about cars:

 

 

I don’t think this picture excites me as much as it satisfies and calms me, which is also a good state of mind.

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

#ChangeIsConstant

#CarsAToZ

#TheAmericanAuto

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Cars A To Z: A

Thanks again to C/2 for suggesting this topic. I will not necessarily choose my favorite make for each letter, but make no mistake: these will be my choices. This is my blog, after all.

The “A” automobile is actually one with which I am not that familiar. Even given its recent “rebirth” it’s sort of a forgotten British make: Alvis. A picture from the linked piece, which itself was the final push I needed to pick this company:

 

Alvis Graber Super Coupe

 

T.G. John founded the company in 1919 in Coventry, England. At first, Alvis only manufactured engines under license from other companies, but by 1920 was producing cars. The company would also manufacture race cars, aircraft engines, armored cars and other armored fighting vehicles. Alvis were/was (UK/US conjugation) a pioneer of front-wheel drive, they built the first all-synchromesh transmission (gearbox in UK parlance), they used servo-assisted brakes, independent suspension, overhead cams, and aluminum pistons, all before World War II. They built successful sports cars and won races.

The derivation of the company name has been a source of debate. Some believe that Geoffrey de Freville, who designed the first actual Alvis engine, proposed the name Alvis as a compound of the words “aluminium” (remember, that’s how “aluminum” is spelled and pronounced in the UK) and “vis” (meaning “strength” in Latin), or perhaps it may have been derived from the Norse mythological weapon maker, Alvíss. De Freville however forcefully rejected all of these theories. In 1921 he specifically stated that the name had no meaning whatsoever, and was chosen simply because it could be easily pronounced in any language. He reaffirmed this position in the early 1960s, stating that any other explanations for the source of the name were purely coincidental.

John ran the company until 1944. Sadly, his retirement was short as he died in 1946. Alvis lost its way after the war, in part because its main factory had been severely damaged by bombing. The lack of vested leadership also contributed to its decline, no doubt. This was true even though famed designer Alec Issigonis–designer of the Mini–joined the company. Alvis management sold controlling interest in the company to Rover in 1965. When Rover became part of British Leyland in 1967 that marked the end of the low-volume Alvis passenger car although production of military vehicles continued.

In 2009, however, a company called Red Triangle bought the rights to Alvis’ car trademarks in addition to all of the relevant drafts and data sheets. Much like the late Glenn Pray and his son Doug build (built) NOS versions of Auburns and Cords, Red Triangle has recently completed its first continuation Alvis using NOS parts and tweaked to meet modern emissions standards. Here is an homage to Alvis:

 

 

I believe the car in the advertisement is a TA-21 from the 1950s. I am still nowhere near as familiar with Alvis as I am with other makes, even other British companies, but I think it’s a name worth remembering, especially since it appears to have risen from the dead.

Have a great weekend…

 

#CarsAToZ

#Alvis

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Madness

“Statements” that are too easy to find on the Internet and elsewhere:

 

“Charity is anti-democratic and should be banned. All decisions about the allocation of money should be made by government.”

“12,000-15,000 homicides by firearm and 20,000+ suicides by firearm annually are just collateral damage in the war to protect gun rights.”

“Bill Gates has made sure that the COVID vaccine has a microchip so he can track you.”

“Making decisions based on merit is the definition of racism.”

 

I have written this before and will probably write it again, but a madness has descended upon the developed world. I think this madness is growing, fueled by the scourge of social media. (Yes, I am aware of the irony of a blog creator calling social media a scourge.) I just didn’t think it was possible for so many people to need operations to have their heads removed from their rectums.

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C/2–or as I call him, C Squared–has made a great suggestion for blog posts: Cars A To Z. As I envision this feature I will probably post two of these a week and use makes and not models to satisfy the alphabetical requirement.

Of course, I could use almost anything automotive to write about for a given letter. I just will enjoy it more if I focus on makes. The great thing about this idea is that it’s defined and freeform at the same time.

I am not ready to start today as I want to do at least a little research first. I am grateful to C Squared for his suggestion and to the fact that the number of automotive books in my possession is in triple digits. 😉

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In case you don’t know, or even if you do, no one has matched all of the winning numbers in the Powerball lottery for something like the last 40 drawings. As such, the annuity value of the big jackpot has reached $670 million; the cash value is $475 million.

Powerball is now drawn three days a week with a Monday drawing having been added in August. Yes, my wonderful wife and I have a ticket for tonight’s drawing. If we were the only winner, I could spend an average of $100,000 per car for each letter of the alphabet and still only spend about one percent of the after-tax cash winnings. Of course, something like this would cost way more than 100 grand:

 

 

If you don’t have dreams, you have nightmares.

 

#MondayMadness

#CarsAToZ

#Powerball

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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