What To Say On Tuesday

Sorry to keep writing about having nothing to write about, but it is what it is.


I would ask of what significance is this car, but the answer is in the photo.



On this day in 1977 this Ford Fairmont was the 100,000,000th FoMoCo vehicle built in the US. Of course, being November of 1977 this was a 1978 model year car. About 460,000 Fairmonts were built that model year making it the most popular Ford for 1978.

A junior high/high school friend of mine, Steve B, drove one of these, his mother’s, once he acquired a drivers license. I remember his driving it to my house in the aftermath of a heavy snowfall and one of the tire chains snapping and flying off the car as he began his trip home.


On this day in 1971 Intel first advertised its new microprocessor, the 4004. It was the first commercially produced microprocessor.


Intel C4004.jpg


From Wikipedia a picture of a white ceramic 4004 with grey traces. Without question, the microprocessor is one of the five most important inventions in human history. The phone you carry in your pocket has more computing power than all of the computers used in the Apollo space missions. Continued increases in microprocessor capacity have since rendered other forms of computers almost completely obsolete, with one or more microprocessors used in everything from the smallest embedded systems and handheld devices to the largest mainframes and supercomputers.


My wonderful wife sent me the link to an article about this car:




This is a 1930 Duesenberg Model J limousine, coachwork by Willoughby. Fewer than 500 Model Js of all types were built: 445 Js and 36 SJs. The SJ was a supercharged Model J.

Of course, Duesenberg supplied a powered chassis and radiator grille and the owner would hire a company to design and to build the body. In 1930 it was not unusual for one of these to end up costing $20,000, which is equivalent to about $360,000 today. While it was just bad luck, to introduce a car like this just before the stock market crash and Great Depression was bad timing for the Model J.

E.L. Cord’s automotive empire, of which Duesenberg was a part, collapsed in 1937. In my opinion, the void left by the end of Duesenberg has never been filled by an American company. Probably too late–in my opinion–Cadillac is attempting to enter the ultra-luxury market with its announced $300,000 Celestiq. We’ll see how that goes.







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Cars A To Z: D

Life goes on; sometimes it doesn’t.


An example of how much my life has changed: my wonderful wife and I watched most of the first half of last night’s Packers-Cardinals game. (Go Pack Go!) At halftime, I changed the channel and then started streaming an episode of The Incredible Dr. Pol. I forgot all about the game and we both fell asleep somewhere near the end of the episode. I didn’t learn until this morning that Green Bay hung on to win its seventh straight game and hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season.

If you had told the 30-year old me that I had forgotten to watch the second half of a football game involving one of my “favorite” teams and, instead, streamed a show about a veterinarian, I would have coughed up a lung laughing. (Never mind, of course, that streaming TV didn’t exist when I was 30.)

Of course, if you had told the 30-year old me that I would be diagnosed with bone spurs in addition to the bunions on both feet I might have used some choice language to convey that you’re crazy. Nevertheless, that is the diagnosis I received yesterday from the podiatrist.


In response to the news about Mecum Auctions’ broadcasts moving to Motor Trend starting in January, I texted Scott Hoke and John Kraman and cautiously asked them if that was welcome news. Hey, I didn’t know if all of the crew would be making the move.

Both responded enthusiastically, which was great to read. They both also offered condolences, which was appreciated, on the death of my wonderful wife’s mother.

I’m just happy I will be able to continue watching the auctions. If Scott is reading this, maybe he can chime in on whether or not the telecasts started in 2008 on what was then called HD Theater, which is now–in a roundabout way–Motor Trend. For Mark in Canada, if Discovery Velocity is still being shown you may now be able to watch the Mecum Auctions.


As many of you may know, Fack Fucebook has changed the name of its parent company to Meta Networks. Noted tech investor/commentator Roger McNamee composed this limerick “in honor” of the occasion:


“There was once a hacker named Zuck

Who screwed half the world for a buck

People hoped he’d do betta

So the name changed to Meta

But the name and the product still suck.”


Once again, a turd by any other name still stinks.


OK, to the “D” car in Cars A To Z. By the way, I think that most of my first posts after any kind of break, even just one day, are longer than average.

I could have written about the beautiful French makes Delage or Delahaye. I could have written about two of my personal favorites, DeSoto or De Tomaso. The 100+ year old American company, Dodge, could have been the topic. In the end, though, one “D” car stood out: Duesenberg.

How many of you know that a Duesenberg was the winning car in the Indianapolis 500 four times in the 1920s? How many of you know that a Duesenberg finished first in the French Grand Prix in 1921?

Frederick and August Duesenberg (Fred and Augie) could build some cars. (I listed Fred first because he was the older brother.) What they couldn’t do well was to run a business. Perhaps it was an inevitable manifestation of the rapid growth of the automobile industry at that time that their road cars ceased to be innovative by the mid-1920s.

Errett Lobban Cord, successful businessman and President/CEO of the Auburn Automobile Company, bought Duesenberg. Most sources say the deal happened in 1925, but The Beaulieu Encyclopedia Of The Automobile cites the year as 1926.

Anyway…inspired by Ettore Bugatti, Cord wanted to design and to build a new car that would outclass and outperform any other car made anywhere in the world and felt the Duesenberg brothers were the people to do it. In 1928, the Duesenberg Model J, designed primarily by Fred, debuted. While the company had been producing road cars, primarily the Model A, since 1921, it was the Model J for which the company is most remembered. A couple of relevant photos, OK the bottom photo is an SSJ, so sue me:


See the source image


Whether or not the 420 cubic-inch straight-eight engine could really produce 265 HP is a matter of some debate, but not completely relevant, in my opinion. The highest output for a 1929 Cadillac was 90 HP and for the same year Packard’s highest output was 130. If the Duesenberg motor really produced 225 or 240 HP, it was still way ahead of everyone else at the time.

Between EL Cord’s stock “machinations” and the Great Depression, his automobile empire, including Duesenberg, collapsed in 1937 and he sold the company to the Aviation Corporation. Don’t feel bad for EL Cord; he later made millions in real estate and was an early Radio/TV “magnate.”

Of course, Duesenberg is a legendary make today. Although no US company builds a no-holds-barred luxury car at present, that hasn’t always been the case. A fully completed Model J, including coachwork which came from an outside coachbuilder and not Duesenberg–they only built a drivable chassis, could cost as much as $20,000-$25,000. The most expensive Cadillac in 1930 was less than $10,000 and an eight-cylinder Caddy could be purchased for under $4,000. In 1931, it was possible to buy a Chevrolet for $445.

I will opine for the nth plus nth time that I think an American-made super-luxury car would be successful today. I wish I were in a position to make that happen.









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Throwback Thursday

Although not an original phrase, my wonderful wife suggested “Throwback Thursday” as a topic and given my affinity for alliteration I thought, why not?

On this day in 2006, Tesla Motors revealed its first roadster prototype in Santa Monica, California.

See the source image

From zombdrive.com a picture of the first Tesla Roadster. The first such cars were actually not produced for the general public for almost two more years. It was the first electric car to be able to drive 200+ miles on a single charge and, given the fact that electric motors produce all of their torque immediately, the Tesla Roadster could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds. (Yes, I am aware that Tesla has announced plans to produce an all-new roadster, but this is Throwback Thursday.)

This car was “based” on the Lotus Elise. Elon Musk took an active role in Tesla Motors in 2004 and the next year Tesla and Lotus entered into a development agreement. (Tesla Motors, now known simply as Tesla, was incorporated in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.)

Tesla is a very controversial company. Some people worship Musk and the company as the way to the future of the automobile. Others think the company, which is publicly traded (as of 2010) and has never earned a profit, is not on sound footing as the company often borrows money in order to keep operating. Others think that the traditional automakers, with their vast resources, will surpass Tesla in EV technology and production. Of course, no one really knows what will happen with Tesla and electric vehicles. Without question, whether or not Tesla still exists in five years, Elon Musk and the company with which he is so closely associated have left a mark on the automobile industry.


OK, more of a throwback:

See the source image

From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 1935 Duesenberg LaGrande dual-cowl phaeton. To me, Duesenberg is a prime example that the phrase, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” is often incorrect. Duesenbergs are worshiped as perhaps the ultimate in American cars and, today, can sell for millions. No expense was spared in their production and their technology and performance were way ahead of anything else on the road. However, due to the Great Depression and to mismanagement, the company folded in 1937.

Despite my lifelong love of automobiles, cars like this didn’t really interest me until recently. My auto universe has expanded and, hopefully, will continue to do so.

What would you like to see in future editions of Throwback Thursday? Hey, where else on the Internet are you going to see a Tesla and a Duesenberg in the same post?!