Monday Musings 48

Best wishes to Dr. Zal. Unexpectedly, he is returning to the working world after a brief retirement. People with Ph.D. STEM degrees will remain in demand for the foreseeable future.


I don’t know why I am compelled to repeat this message, but it is OCD. So-called reality TV is NOTHING of the sort. The camera is not an unobtrusive observer of real life, of something that existed before the cameras and would exist without them. In addition, the participants are very aware that they are being filmed and the producers edit the footage to create maximum tension and drama.

Why do so many of these shows exist? The reason is that it is show business. These shows, without highly-paid writers or actors, are very inexpensive to produce.


I almost called today’s post Monday Muntz. How many of you have heard of an automobile called the Muntz Jet? The first-generation Ford Thunderbird is sometimes credited as America’s first personal luxury car. However, the Jet was of a similar idiom and predated the Baby Bird by years. Without further ado a picture from Wikimedia:


See the source image


This is a Muntz Jet. Earl “Madman” Muntz had made a fortune selling TV sets and other consumer electronics. In 1949, he bought all of the manufacturing rights to the Kurtis Sports Car, designed by Frank Kurtis. Muntz had also worked as a car salesman before getting into the automobile production business.

These cars, derived from Kurtis’ car, were powered at first by Cadillac’s modern overhead-valve, 331 cubic-inch V-8 that produced 160 HP/312 LB-FT of torque. For some reason, the engine was later changed to Lincoln’s older 337 cubic-inch flathead V-8 that produced 154 HP/275 LB-FT of torque. For all Jets the standard transmission was GM’s Hydra-Matic automatic although a Borg-Warner manual with overdrive was available.

Typical of the “shoestring” cars that sprang up in the late 1940s and early 1950s, production of the Muntz Jet was inefficient and was actually moved from California to Illinois during the brief production run from about 1950 to 1954. Total production numbers are a matter of debate as are the exact start and end dates. The figure that used to be accepted was a total of 394, but many automobile historians think that was an exaggeration by Muntz himself and that the actual number is closer to half that many, maybe 198.

Despite their looks and performance, the removable hardtop and a myriad of luxury options (like an available liquor cabinet and ice chest placed under the rear armrests), at a price of $5,500–equaling the cost of the most expensive Cadillacs of the day–demand wasn’t strong and Muntz lost money on each one even at the hefty price.

I think these are fabulous cars and I long for a 21st-century version. My desire is almost certainly a pipedream, but the coronavirus will not be with us forever and this is still a country with many wealthy people who no longer have children living with them (or never did).

Hail to the Muntz Jet!






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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.


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.







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Sunday Supplement

From Webster’s Dictionary, “the section of a Sunday newspaper consisting of material other than news and usually including pictures, comic strips, and light often sensational reading matter.”

A shout-out to my best friend, Dr. Zal, who graced us with his presence this weekend. His being here made the Ravens’ win over the Chargers even more enjoyable.


On this day in 1987, I was formally offered my first full-time job in baseball. The offer was delivered via telephone by the Assistant General Manager, who began to tell me where he could be reached over the holiday so I could give him my response. I cut him off with, “Are you kidding? I accept the offer right now.”

I was in employment limbo having lost a job in July, 1987 and I had no idea what I was going to do next. I had been working for this team as a consultant since October of 1986 and actually gave them an ultimatum telling them that if they didn’t offer me a full-time job by the end of the year (1987) then I would no longer work for them in any capacity. Of course it was a giant bluff, but it worked. What would I have done if they had called my bluff? I guess we’ll never know.

The best part of the day was calling my marvelous mom to give her the news. When I told her I heard the phone drop and I heard her crying with joy. She was the only other person in the world who believed I could get a job in baseball and with the hometown team, no less. It is a GREAT feeling to be right when virtually the rest of the world is wrong.

While I lament my current state of affairs, I will have the memory of that day for the rest of my life.


From more news about the (alleged) C8 Corvette. Supposedly pictures of a couple of prototypes that don’t look the same as those “seen” earlier this year were posted on Instagram. More from the article: “Powertrain specs remain unclear at this point, but we’ve heard it could offer 4.2-liter and 5.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V-8 engines. Forced induction could also be in the cards. Citing unnamed sources, GM Authority reports that the mid-engine Corvette will likely debut this coming summer. The new report also claims Chevy will unveil the car at a standalone event rather than a major auto show. Reportedly, electrical issues have delayed the car’s debut.”

Despite my occasional protestations to the contrary, as a car nut and a Corvette nut I do care a lot about the C8. (Of course I am probably just a nut and cars and Corvettes have nothing to do with it.) I think GM/Chevrolet have A LOT riding on this car.


From a picture of what I think is the best-looking C1 Corvette, the 1961 model. I like the more modern rear deck of the ’61 and ’62; I also like the cleaner grille. I like the ’61 better than the ’62 because I like the chrome around the cove and the potential for a two-tone paint job. In general, though, I am not a big fan of C1 Corvettes. To each his own…





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