Frugal Friday, Idiosyncratic Edition

As I have written often, virtually nothing in life is all good or bad. Virtually everything is a trade-off. (By the way, this is going to be a very long post.)

Not being highly scrutinized by outsiders (a euphemism for not having thousands or tens of thousands of daily readers) means I have almost complete freedom to write what I want. In that way I can indulge my highly idiosyncratic nature.

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Many people, especially those of a certain ideological bent, are highly critical of publicly traded companies buying back their stock. They think it is a “waste” of resources, but also that it distorts the stock prices of those companies by artificially inflating their Earnings/Share ratio through decreasing the number of shares in the float, the total available pool of shares.

If that were the case, then one might conclude that the stock price of companies that buy back their stock would perform better than those that don’t engage in buybacks, ceterus paribus. From the insightful Mike Santoli of CNBC comes these facts:

In the last five years the S&P 500 has seen a 49.7% increase.

In the last five years the SPDR Buyback ETF (SPTB) has increased by…35.4%.

OK, maybe something idiosyncratic about SPTB, its sector-weighting perhaps, means it’s not fully representative of “buyback” stocks.

In the last five years the Invesco Buyback Acheivers ETF (PKW) has increased by…38.5%.

If a company’s float is reduced by 10% through buybacks, but the company’s earnings (profits) decrease by 20% what happens to the Earnings Per Share (EPS) ratio? A company’s stock price is, to a large extent, an estimate of the future value of its EPS adjusted somewhat for dividends.

Would I like to see companies spend more on capital investment and less on buybacks? Probably, but it’s not up to me. It’s also not clear that buying the stock of companies who buy back a lot of their stock is a good investment strategy, anyway. The reason for investing is to make money.

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Today’s selection of Frugal Friday cars started with an impossibly large search on Hemmings and then morphed into something idiosyncratic and personal. I began by looking at cars from model year 1956 through model year 2005! The only filtering was that I looked solely at US cars and cars with listed prices and photos. I then sorted by price from lowest to highest. This car caught my eye:

 

 

From this ad a picture of a 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix. This car is in Blue over Gray cloth and has about 82,000 miles. The seller is asking $2,750.

When I moved to California and was unable to buy a Buick Reatta I wandered the showroom of the Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealer until I saw a 1995 Grand Prix. I was really taken by the styling. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the car I owned the longest (at least as of now) and the first car I would own in two states as I took it to Texas when my wonderful wife and I moved there. When I bought the Grand Prix I had not even met my wife.

I also didn’t know at the time that I would soon be promoted to Director of Baseball Operations and be placed in charge of one of my pet projects, a department devoted solely to scouting the minor leagues. I won’t bore you with details, but I believe this has now become standard operating procedure for major league baseball organizations. I also had no inkling that as head of a department I would be able to receive a car allowance on top of my not-small salary.

The car I bought to replace the ’95 Grand Prix was this one:

 

 

This is a 2002 Corvette that I purchased used from Corvettes of Dallas in 2004. I think the business now operates under a different name. The ’02 was my first Vette and I had no idea at the time that I would become totally hooked on them and would, eventually, end up owning (at least) three Corvettes. From this Hemmings ad a picture of a 2004 Corvette coupe for sale:

 

 

Talk about an iconic car, it’s a little red Corvette. 2004 was the last model year of the C5 Corvette. This particular example is in Red (OK, Burgundy) over Black and has about 101,000 miles. The asking price? $10,900…it was not the least expensive car in the search, either.

C5 (and C4) Corvettes are incredibly affordable. Of course, the C5 almost didn’t happen…a long section from Steve Magnante’s 1001 Corvette Facts:

 

“Planning for the C5 began in 1988, a full nine years before the finished car hit dealerships…when planning began the goal was to unveil the new model for 1993, just in time for the Corvette’s 40th anniversary. However, in May 1989 a cut in the GM engineering budget delayed the release until 1994. Then in August 1989, General Motors pushed back the release date to the 1995 model year. In October 1990, the release was further rescheduled for 1996. Hiccups along the way included the fall 1992 retirements of chief engineer Dave McLellan and stylist Chuck Jordan…while General Motors posted a record $4.86 billion profit for 1988, four years later it lost a staggering $24.2 billion. Through it all, certain factions in GM management viewed the ultralow-volume Corvette as an unnecessary frill and lobbied for its termination.”

 

So, not only was the Corvette almost killed after the 1955 model year it was almost terminated in the 1990s. Who knows? After the 2008 recession calls for the end of the Vette may have grown quite loud at GM.

Getting back to Frugal Friday…my search on Hemmings for 2000-2004 Corvettes (US only, only with photos and listed prices) yielded about 50 with an asking price of less than $20,000. When the average “transaction” price for a new US vehicle has reached nearly $40,000 don’t you think spending half of that on a Corvette is a great option if you don’t have kids?

As much as I have written today I want to continue, but I will stop here. Please feel free to post thoughtful comments. Thanks for reading.

 

#FrugalFriday

#IdiosyncraticTradeOff

#DontCommentWithoutCommandOfFacts

#1993PontiacGrandPrix

#2002ChevroletCorvette

#C5Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday Last Of July

First…I must really be messed up. Despite the fact that it’s been more than two months since the last Big Bang Theory episode aired I am still sad that the show will no longer be produced. Despite many attempts I cannot watch the series finale—either all or in part but always including the tag (the mini-scene at the end of a show)—without tearing up at the end.

I am trying to wrap my head around why this is so. Is it because I watched The Big Bang Theory for more seasons (all 12) than any other TV show? Is it because it is highly likely I will never watch a new sitcom ever again? (Sorry, but I have tried watching some current “sitcoms” and none of them are funny to me in any way, shape or form.) Is it just as simple as I liked the show far more than I realized and will miss not being able to watch new episodes? Of course, as I am writing this I hear the theme song in my head, but it’s the acoustic, solo version used only in the finale and the wrap-up show and not the main theme used in the 279 episodes. Farewell once more, Big Bang Theory.

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A recent episode of Wheeler Dealers featured a car like this:

 

Large Picture of '91 MR2 - OUER

 

From classiccars.com a picture of a second-generation/W20 Toyota MR2, in this case a 1991 model. I have written about this car before, but not specifically about the second generation.

Despite the wheels, they’re not appealing to me even if they’re stock, I think these cars look great. It was this version, a significant re-design from the first generation, that was dubbed “a baby Ferrari” or “a poor man’s Ferrari” as many styling cues were adopted from Ferrari and this car is mid-engined.

This one is offered for sale by a company in Virginia that apparently specializes in Japanese right-hand drive vehicles. The asking price is $16,900. The ad doesn’t indicate whether or not this is the turbo version, but I suspect it isn’t. I mean, if it were that fact would be prominent. I still think that’s a great price for a good-looking car that’s not a slug. By the way, the MR2 Turbo engine produced 200 HP/200 LB-FT of torque and the car would accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 6.1 seconds. It could run a sub-15 second standing quarter mile.

 

Sticking with mid-engined cars, I guess as a nod to the new mid-engined Corvette:

Large Picture of '88 Fiero - QI2E

This is a 1988 Pontiac Fiero. These cars were, unfortunately, a symbol of some dark days for General Motors, from an era when GM seemed to use its customers as beta testers. From Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, “As it had with the X-cars, GM shot itself in the foot by selling a car [the Fiero] before it was fully developed.” I’ll tell you what, though, I think these are great-looking cars. Like the Cadillac Allante and other cars, just as the Fiero seemed to be sorted out, GM pulled the plug. This was the last model year for the Fiero, which started successfully in 1984 with almost 137,000 sold, but after that sales declined dramatically as word spread of the issues with the car.

This Fiero was powered by the 2.8 liter/173 cubic-inch V6 that produced 135 HP/165 LB-FT of torque. Of the 23 Fieros that are listed for sale on classiccars.com, only five were listed for more than $10,000. This is not one of those five; the dealer is asking $8,900. The car does have a lot of miles, more than 143,000.

I still think in an effort to shed its “boring” image, GM should let Buick produce a halo car. I think a modern, slightly larger and roomier version of the Fiero could be a contender. Of course, it could be that GM/Chevrolet wouldn’t want to steal the thunder from the release of the mid-engined Corvette.

 

#FrugalFriday

#BigBangTheory

#SecondGenerationToyotaMR2

#PontiacFiero

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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C8 Reveal & Frugal Friday

Yes, I watched the C8 reveal presentation in its entirety on my phone. My so-called “smart” TV browser does not support HTML5 so it’s not really very smart. I’m sorry, but I do not understand how anyone can watch video for more than two minutes on their phone, even though I watched for an hour last night. (I paid for that with a nasty neck ache/headache this morning.)

I thought the production was overdone. GM/Chevrolet brought out two astronauts to talk about their lives and the importance of science and technology. Of course, this was done to tie the “launch” of the C8 Corvette to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. What it did, though, was to stretch what could have been a 30-minute event into a 60-minute one.

So, do you care what I think? Hey, this is my blog. For a mid-engine car, the C8 Corvette exterior is good. It has enough Corvette styling cues so that the car shouldn’t be mistaken for anything else, although the car does resemble, in some respects, a Ferrari 488 in my opinion. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. However, I have—and will probably always have—an innate preference for a long hood/short deck design. I was hoping to show some photos of the C8 from Chevrolet’s website. I mean, now that the car has been revealed no need to keep the photos a secret, right? Well, capturing any of the “gallery” of photos does not seem possible, so let me do the best I can:

 

EMBARGOED: H/O: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 1

EMBARGOED: H/O: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 2

EMBARGOED: H/O: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3

 

From cnbc.com and General Motors, two exterior pictures and one interior photo of the new C8 Corvette. I think it was Mark Reuss, President of GM, who “directly” addressed the issue of the rationale behind making the major change to a mid-engine design. Here are some of his points as well as I can remember them:

First, as has been expressed elsewhere, Reuss (I think) said that Chevrolet/GM had concluded that it had taken the front-engine architecture as far as it could go in terms of performance, especially handling and visibility. He made sure everyone realized that the driver would be sitting much closer to the front of the car, which should give him/her a better view of the road.

Second, the new layout puts the car’s center of gravity almost directly beneath the driver.

Third, Reuss specifically mentioned broadening the Corvette’s appeal in right-hand drive markets. [emphasis mine] He could really only be talking about Japan and the UK. Maybe he thinks Great Britain will leave the EU and its restrictive emissions standards. I and others have speculated that part of the push to switch to a mid-engine layout was to broaden the international appeal of the Corvette. Along those lines here is something pertinent from Steve Magnante’s 1001 Corvette Facts:

 

“…The assertion was that most buyers of cutting-edge supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, McLaren, etc., simply wouldn’t consider Corvettes despite the fact that the supercharged ZR1 and Z06 outperformed some of them. Put bluntly, the traditional Corvette lacked snob appeal. A mid-engine alternate remedied the situation.”

 

The US is not the only car market in the world, nor is it the largest. General Motors is a business, not a hobby. Businesses have to make profits in order to survive.

At first, the C8 will be available in a base configuration as well as with a Z51 performance package. The Z51, as it does/did in the C7, will feature upgraded brakes and suspension as well as more aggressive differential and transmission gearing. Reuss claimed that the C8 Z51 can produce sub 3-second 0-60 times. He didn’t come right out and say that Chevrolet will call the Z51 a sub 3-second car. Pricing for a base Corvette will start at less than $60,000 although $59,995 is less than $60,000, too. I’m guessing that a well-equipped Z51 will cost in the low $70,000s. Still, for a car with that performance that price is amazing.

The engine, designated LT2, will produce 495 HP/470 LB-FT of torque. The transmission will be a dual-clutch, 8-speed automatic.

The C8 will be offered in 12 exterior colors, the most ever in a Corvette, and with six interior color schemes. As for when the car will actually be available, Reuss said to watch developments in “the coming months.”

I would like to read your comments. The only constant in the world is change.

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I am throwing everyone a curveball and not featuring a Corvette in this week’s Frugal Friday. Also, since this post is already long I am only going to show one car.

 

Used 2013 MINI Cooper Coupe S Saint George, UT 84770 - 520930192 - 2

 

From this Autotrader listing a picture of a 2013 MINI Cooper Coupe S in Red over Black with a little less than 42,000 miles. The seller, a dealer, is asking $10,050. This car has an automatic transmission and is powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The output? Well, I have seen conflicting data so I will report the most conservative numbers: 184 HP/177 LB-FT of torque.

The car looks like fun and for ten grand-ish it’s not a lot of risk for many people.

 

#C8CorvetteReveal

#FrugalFriday

#2013MINICooper

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday/Happy Birthday

With all my love, Happy Birthday to my (i)ncomparable niece! Ach and HVU to you, too!

In honor of her the first Frugal Friday listing this week is a car near and dear to her:

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1988 Toyota MR2 in Red over Gray/Charcoal. This is a supercharged version whose engine is rated at 145 HP/137 LB-FT of torque. Even with the weight of a supercharger and modified transmission, this type of MR2 only weighed about 2,500 pounds. About 8,000 MR2s were sold in the US in 1988 and probably just 10 percent of them were supercharged. Given those numbers, the asking price of $13,500 seems like a lot of bang for the buck.

In case you don’t know, or even if you do, these cars were mid-engined. My niece said hers was just an amazing amount of fun to drive and was the car that rekindled her interest in automobiles.

The MR2 was made from 1984 to 2007 in three generations. It was the first mid-engine car made by a Japanese manufacturer. The second generation (1990-1999) offered a turbocharged engine as an option that produced 200 HP/200 LB-FT, but for the third generation the emphasis was less on power and more on handling. From en.toyota-club.eu a picture of a third generation (W30) MR2:

 

See the source image

 

I think that is a good-looking car. Except for a couple of damaged W30s on Hemmings I could not find one for sale anywhere in the US. Only about 28,000 of the third-generation MR2 were sold in the US; perhaps the lack of an automatic transmission, available in the first and second generations, hurt sales.

 

Used 2007 BMW M6 Convertible Salt Lake City, UT 84115 - 521327628 - 2

 

From this Autotrader listing a picture of a 2007 BMW M6 convertible in Silver over Black with a Black top. It is powered by a 5-liter V-10 engine that, when new, produced 500 HP/383 LB-FT of torque. It is mated to a 7-speed “automated manual” transmission. I think that designation is used so that manual transmission “devotees” (I might call them something else) won’t lose interest in the car. Oh, the seller—a dealer in Salt Lake City (a beautiful place, by the way)—is asking $14,936. The car has about 65,000 miles.

C’mon! About 15 grand for a good-looking V-10 convertible…even if it is German. Sorry, to me SUVs are necessary evils and I don’t care for pickup trucks at all. I want my car to be fun. A V-10 convertible sounds like fun.

What do you think? What kind of vehicle is fun for you?

 

#FrugalFriday

#1988ToyotaMR2

#2007BMWM6Convertible

#SaltLakeCity

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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(Sort Of) Frugal Friday or A Lunatic’s Guide To Cars, Part One

Maybe I should change the name of the blog to “A Lunatic’s Guide To Cars.”

My brain possesses a disparate, even dissonant, set of assets and liabilities. As someone who was a high achiever for many years I can’t seem to come to grips with a new reality where that is not the case. This blog is an effort to achieve something of high quality.

An example…oh, a self back patting alert is necessary: while I was Director of Baseball Operations for a major league team the President/CEO walked into my office one day and told me that the Commissioner’s office was having difficulty with an issue regarding interleague play. He said that they had two or three people who had been working on this issue for weeks and that he informed the Commissioner’s office he would bring this topic to my attention. I figured out a solution in about an hour. My neurons may not function quite as well now as they did then, but I can still out-think the vast majority of the population. The fact that I don’t have the “credentials” to prove that to people I don’t know doesn’t change the truth. (The fact that I am way over 40 doesn’t help, either.) False modesty is also supposed to be a sin or if I have to choose between modesty and honesty I’m picking honesty every day.

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Creating/writing a post, even about an idea with a known theme, can be very difficult for someone like me who can struggle focusing on one idea. Such is the case with today’s Frugal Friday. So, with no pre-determined path or destination here goes:

This car has been featured in multiple posts and was named to Ultimate Garage 2.0. It is also a very affordable car: the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado.

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado offered by a private seller for $20,000. Remember from the Ultimate Garage 2.0 post about this car that Hagerty says the average value of one of these is $15,000. Also remember that the average “transaction” price for a new vehicle in the US is almost $40,000. What can I say? I just love these cars. If we had more garage space I might have one and not to replace my 2016 Corvette Z06. In the last two/three years I have REALLY come to understand how so many people own multiple cars.

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1963 Studebaker Lark offered at $9,650. Yes, it’s far from stock (besides the wheels it has modifications like a Holley carburetor), but that’s what keeps the asking price down. How could you go wrong paying less than ten grand?

From Hemmings again comes this beauty:

 

 

From the ad: “…original 389 engine and Tri-color Red interior. Stored in a Missouri garage for 45 years. In 2016, the fuel tank was removed and cleaned, new fuel pump and carburetor installed and transmission serviced. New BFG Red-Line Tires. It’s a solid car with only minor rust spots.” The seller, not a dealer, is asking $12,900 firm. If he really won’t negotiate then this is probably not a car for me, but even at that price I think the fun/price ratio is very high.

One could buy all three of these for their asking price and only pay approximately what one new vehicle costs today in the US.

I welcome your thoughts on these cars or on your own ideas for Frugal Friday. Hopefully those ideas won’t be as much in disarray as mine.

 

#FrugalFriday

#ALunaticsGuideToCars

#Icantdownshiftfromhighachiever

#1967CadillacEldorado

#1963StudebakerLark

#1962PontiacBonneville

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday, Entropy Edition

 

No amount of planning could get me to that exact number of steps. Does it matter, anyway?

 

Entropy (noun): in Physics, a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. Alternatively, a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

All systems are supposed to have an increase in entropy over time, which is why nothing lasts forever. The innate human trait to find a cause for every effect often leads to excessive extrapolation and ignores entropy.

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Explain again why I cannot find an interesting and fulfilling work situation:

Thirty years of experience in research, evaluation, and management within high-visibility business environments, including professional sports organizations. Analytics-based contributions have impacted decisions affecting millions of dollars in contract negotiations, laid the foundation for highly successful business operations, and provided the type and quality of analysis that gave a third dimension to traditional management thinking. Applied proven statistical concepts to improve management decisions. I am looking for a part-time or consulting role where a company can use my combination of analytical and communication skills for our mutual benefit.

 

“[     ]’s analytical skills are surely in the top one percent of the population.”

  • Bill James, noted author and “Father” of modern baseball analysis

“[      ] was one of the leaders of the movement that I described in Moneyball. He was an original thinker before original thinking became fashionable.”

  • Michael Lewis, author of “Moneyball,” “The Blind Side,” “Liar’s Poker”

 

That’s the summary section of my resume with my name omitted. How many people do you know who have recommendations from Bill James and Michael Lewis on their resume?

Poor Bill James…I sort of unloaded on him yesterday in an email (sorry once again, Bill). I did apologize in the email, but what’s done is done. Anyway, here is some of that email, which was to thank Bill for giving me a shout-out in a tweet long before I established a Twitter account:

 

Yes, no one seems to remember anything I’ve done. I’m reasonably sure that after I die everything I’ve done will be attributed to baseball’s golden boy. I wrote a book that the Wall Street Journal called, “Without a doubt the best book on pro football analysis ever written.” Yes, that was a long time ago, but that review is what it is. In the third edition of Total Baseball I was described as the analyst who “has risen the highest and had the most influence.” That was before I was named Director of Baseball Operations for the Padres. Speaking of baseball’s golden boy, when he was first named as GM of a major league team (which was only because Billy Beane changed his mind) he gave an interview in which he named Kevin Towers (RIP, KT) and me as the two people who had most influenced the way he thought about baseball.

I think I come by my bitterness honestly. In the blink of an eye I went from being an integral part in the decision-making process of multiple teams to being cast aside as obsolete.

Of course, you have zero culpability in any of this and without your work and guidance I would have had no career in baseball. As you know, though, people don’t judge events by objective reality, but by expectations and against the status quo.

Sorry for the rant; I don’t think time heals all wounds.

 

I’m only human. From Shakespeare, “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”

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From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1964 AMC Rambler American:

 

 

I don’t think it was actually an AMC because I don’t think they put that make on cars until 1966, but it was manufactured by American Motors Corporation. It’s not a performance car as it’s powered by a 6-cylinder engine (the ad doesn’t say which engine). I think it’s a fetching design and would be proud to drive it. The dealer is asking $6,500. Yes, my insane obsession with defunct American makes plays a role in my interest in this car. I believe this is the 440 and not the 440H, which means AMC made 19,495 of them in 1964.

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1963 Chrysler Newport convertible offered at $9,850. Yes, the wheels are not stock and I’m sure the paint isn’t, either, although you know I really like orange cars. The standard engine on this car was a 361 cubic-inch V8 rated at 265 HP/380 LB-FT of torque. Only 2,176 were made in 1963.

Both of these cars are listed at less than $10,000. C’mon, do you want to spend $30,000 for a Toyota RAV4 or do you want to have some fun for a lot less money?

I’ve rambled (see what I did there) on long enough. Have a great weekend.

 

#FrugalFriday

#Entropy

#HonestBitterness

#BillJames

#MichaelLewis

#HemmingsMotorNews

#1964AMCRamblerAmerican

#1963ChryslerNewportConvertible

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday, 1956 Edition

Not 1956 again! Hey, my brain has a mind of its own. 🙂

This week’s Frugal Friday will feature four cars not all of which will be bargain basement. Trying to clear the deck of this idea in one post, I will show a 1956 model Oldsmobile, Packard, Pontiac and Studebaker, each of which is still less than the current average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US. I can’t believe I have to write this, but those four makes are all defunct American car companies. I will use Hemmings and AutoTrader.

OK, the Oldsmobile…

 

 

From this classics.autotrader.com listing a picture of a stunning 1956 Oldsmobile 98. Yes, the dealer is in Canada—the Toronto area, to be exact. While the ad states that the car has about 100,000 miles, the copy also states that the engine has been rebuilt (although it doesn’t say when) and that it is a “show and go car, spend no money, just enjoy.” What’s the asking price? $23,500. Surprisingly (or maybe not), Oldsmobiles of this vintage in decent condition are not super cheap.

The 98 was Olds’ top of the line model. This is a Holiday hardtop coupe of which 19,433 were produced in 1956 at an asking price of $3,480, actually a tad less than the hardtop sedan. The engine for the 98 was, of course, a V8. 1956 was the last of three model years in which the Olds engine displaced 324 cubic inches, but HP/Torque were increased each year reaching 240 HP/350 LB-FT for 1956. Given Oldsmobile was the company that introduced the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission it should be no surprise that this car was equipped with a 4-speed Hydra-Matic.

 

 

Also from classics.autotrader.com a picture of a 1956 Packard Executive, but not the one I showed a while ago. The ad copy is skimpy; the list price is $16,000. The ad does read “Complete, running. Will need some restoration.” The Executive model, of which only 2,815 were produced (1,031 were hardtop coupes like this one), was a very late entry into the 1956 American market not being introduced until April of 1956. It was a cross between the “entry-level” Clipper and the “senior” Packards. The drivetrain was the Packard 352 cubic-inch V8 (senior cars had the 374 cubic-inch engine) with either a 3-speed manual or Packard’s own Ultramatic transmission. Engine output was 275 HP/380 LB-FT.

I would consider purchasing a car like this in the future, especially for $16,000 or less, but I am wary of parts scarcity as well as the lack of mechanics who could service it.

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1956 Pontiac Star Chief. I am smitten with the two-tone paint. Unfortunately, in the ad it is spelled “tu-tone” and not just once, but three times. (56packardman subsequently informed me that, in the manner of the “Tudor” spelling for two-door Fords, “tu-tone” is not necessarily a mistake.) The seller is asking $19,500 and claims the car is in “excellent” condition. Pontiac made 43,392 of the Star Chief hardtop coupe in 1956 with an “MSRP” of $2,665; the Safari wagon was $3,129. Only for 1956 the Pontiac V8 had a displacement of 317 cubic inches; output was 227 HP/312 LB-FT. This car has an automatic transmission, but the ad doesn’t state whether it’s the original Hydra-Matic.

The car below is listed on Hemmings and AutoTrader and has been shown before on a Frugal Friday. While I would prefer a pillar-less hardtop coupe (Golden Hawk or Sky Hawk) one in decent condition doesn’t seem to be available right now so I will show this pillared Power Hawk.

 

 

Country Classic Cars in Staunton, Illinois has had this car listed for awhile, but the asking price remains $12,750. The Power Hawk used Studebaker’s 259 cubic-inch V8 engine that produced 170 HP/260 LB-FT with a two-barrel carburetor and 185 HP with a four-barrel. The top of the line Golden Hawk actually used Packard’s 352 cubic-inch engine that was in the Clipper and Executive. Remember that Studebaker and Packard were one company in 1956. This car has an automatic of unknown origin, but the base transmission was a 3-speed manual. Studebaker produced 7,095 Power Hawks in 1956—the only year for this model and the year before the Hawk series was “adorned” with tail fins—with an asking price of $2,101.

So we have four classic 1956 American cars made by defunct companies, three of which can certainly be purchased for less than $20,000 and who knows about the fourth. Do any of you have even a tiny fraction of my interest in defunct American makes?

 

#FrugalFriday

#1956Oldsmobile98

#1956PackardExecutive

#1956PontiacStarChief

#1956StudebakerPowerHawk

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday, Solstice/Sky Edition

Since last night’s Big Bang Theory series finale I cannot get the show’s theme song or “Soft Kitty” out of my head. I thought it was a good, not great, end to the show. I know it’s TV and I have to “suspend my disbelief,” but Sheldon’s reverting to his obnoxious and self-centered personality after winning the Nobel Prize in Physics only to have an epiphany of selflessness while accepting the prize seemed somewhat forced and inorganic to me. Yes, it’s America and people want a happy ending. That was delivered, for sure. Once again, while no one connected with the show will ever read this I offer my thanks to the cast and crew. I am sad that The Big Bang Theory will no longer be produced.

 

See the source image

 

From lifeandstylemag.com a picture of the cast of The Big Bang Theory.

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A recent photo by yours truly of a Pontiac Solstice Coupe. I don’t think I had ever seen one in person until this. While a Solstice has been featured in a previous Frugal Friday, and I have written about it and its close cousin—the Saturn Sky, I have not featured both of them in a Frugal Friday post.

Obviously I am a big fan of these cars. While they shared the same platform they did not share any sheet metal. I like the looks of the Sky more than the Solstice, but I think both cars are quite handsome.

My wonderful wife and I have both test driven a Sky, although not in Red Line spec. The Sky Red Line and Solstice GXP had a 2-liter/122 cubic-inch, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 260 HP/260 LB-FT of torque, which still might be the highest specific output of any GM engine ever. An available dealer installed option was a modified computer tune and two new sensors that resulted in an increased output to 290 HP/340 LB-FT.

Today’s Frugal Friday, therefore, is the “best” deals on a GXP and Red Line. Much subjectivity is involved as it’s not necessarily the least expensive car offered for sale in the US, but a combination of price and perceived quality. The Solstice first:

 

Used 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP Convertible APALACHIN, NY 13732 - 515556646 - 1

 

Picture via Autotrader; it is a 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP in Yellow over Black with a manual transmission and just 37,000 miles. I limited my search to cars with fewer than 60,000 miles. The seller is asking $14,490.

 

Used 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line Fredericksburg, VA 22408 - 504746622 - 3

 

Also from Autotrader and, obviously, offered by Lucky Line Motors (in Fredericksburg, VA) is a 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line in Black over Red. This Red Line has 51,000 miles and has an automatic transmission. The dealer is asking just $10,990.

It’s hard for me to imagine two more interesting cars that are so affordable. For the nth time the average “transaction price” of a new vehicle in the US is approaching $40,000. The list price of both of these cars combined is only about $25,000. A shout-out to David Banner who suggested a feature like this.

Since it is likely I will begin revealing my Ultimate Garage 2.0 tomorrow and since that reveal, along with the cars that just missed the cut, will take about two weeks, Throwback Thursday and Frugal Friday will not appear until after Ultimate Garage 2.0 is finished.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back doesn’t even have to be as heavy as the other straws…

 

#BigBangTheory

#FrugalFriday

#SaturnSky

#PontiacSolstice

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Frugal Friday, Pony Car Edition

Allergies have much the best of me today. Hope that doesn’t show in this post. I think with the recent increase in dewpoint comes an increase in mold to which I am quite allergic. Add that to abundant pollen and I’m struggling. Do drier climates have less mold? If so, another argument for moving to such a climate.

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I asked this of WordPress and only received a “partial” answer. Do any of you bloggers out there know if an increase in referrals from search engines is significant? For April, the number of such referrals was greater than the total for January through March combined. The percentage of total views for April that were referred from search engines was more than twice that of January-March.

I am hoping such an increase is a harbinger of a gain in viewers. Of course, if any of you Grade A “social media influencers” are reading a recommendation would be much appreciated. 🙂

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As the post title suggests today’s Frugal Friday is about pony cars. (Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? Yes, a Seinfeld reference. Sue me…)

The current US pony car market consists of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. Camaro sales have slumped to the point where it is now last in this segment. In 2017, the Camaro outsold the Challenger 67,940 to 64,537, but for 2018 through the first quarter of 2019 the Challenger outsold the Camaro 80,147 to 63,046. For the same period Ford sold 92,759 Mustangs. Note that for the last five quarters almost a quarter-million pony cars were sold. I think some segment of the car-buying market still wants a good-looking performance car.

Using autotrader.com I searched for these three cars for model years 2010-2012 with V-8 engines and fewer than 60,000 miles. I also used a 200-mile search radius from my house as I suspect a nationwide search would yield too many vehicles. I like the fact that Autotrader lets you search for multiple makes/models simultaneously. I exercised some discretion in terms of cars that seemed acceptable based on the photos and the ad copy.

When sorting the results by price from lowest to highest it seems as though the Mustang dominates the lower priced segment of this market. Not many Challengers were found near the bottom of the price sort. Of course, I don’t really know how much these cars cost when new.

 

Used 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe w/ 2SS Thurmont, MD 21788 - 509296719 - 4

 

A picture of a 2010 Camaro SS Coupe with the 2SS trim package in Red Jewel Tincoat over Beige. This car has about 51,000 miles and the seller, a Chevrolet dealer, is asking $16,888. I think these cars look good and pay homage to the first-generation styling. Having driven both a fifth-generation and sixth-generation Camaro I can say that the cars have large blind spots to the rear. This car has a 6-speed automatic.

 

Used 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T Fredericksburg, VA 22408 - 502646122 - 3

 

This is a 2010 Dodge Challenger in Silver over Black. Like the Camaro I think these cars are well-styled and are a good updating of the original design. This car has a manual transmission and has about 56,000 miles. The seller is asking $16,990.

 

Used 2011 Ford Mustang GT Premium PASADENA, MD 21122 - 506686307 - 1

 

This is a 2011 Ford Mustang GT in Grey over Cream. I don’t dislike Mustangs, but I am not a huge fan of them, either. Still, I appreciate the significance of the model and understand the rabid fandom it generates in many people. This ’11 has an automatic transmission, has about 57,000 miles and the seller is asking $17,866.

 

Here are three good-looking pony cars with V-8s, each at far less than $20,000. Remember that the average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US is approaching $40,000. Life is far too short; have some fun!

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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I was negligent, to say the least, in failing to mention Yom HaShoah yesterday. Never Forget! Never Again!

 

 

 

Frugal Friday, EGD Edition

Not that anyone asked, but the EGD (upper GI endoscopy) went well yesterday. Other than a little redness/inflammation in a couple of areas in my stomach lining my excellent GI doc, Dr. M, found nothing out of the ordinary. He did not have to dilate my esophagus as there were no strictures from scar tissue. I was going to post photos of my GI tract, but my name appears on every picture and this is still an anonymous blog. Dr. M did take a couple of tissue samples for biopsies, but seemed totally sure that the pathology would show nothing wrong.

For people with GERD two items that are supposed to be avoided are alcohol and spicy foods. I don’t consume alcohol (unless I take a nighttime cold medicine, which happens maybe a couple of times a year) and I don’t eat spicy foods because I dislike them intensely. Oh well…

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For this Frugal Friday I went to autotrader.com and performed the following search: convertibles and coupes nationwide being sold by a dealer, from model years 2000 to 2004 (the first five model years of this century), with V-8, V-10 or V-12 engines and with fewer than 75,000 miles. I then simply sorted by price from lowest to highest.

Many of the cars at the very low end of the price spectrum were damaged and that was clearly shown in the photographs; many of those were going to be auctioned in the near future. So, for my first selection for this Frugal Friday how about this?

 

Used 2002 Cadillac Eldorado ESC Tucker, GA 30084 - 505506785 - 1

 

This is a 2002 Cadillac Eldorado ESC. ESC stands for Eldorado Sports Coupe. Why Cadillac developed this affinity for three-character model names is beyond me; I think it’s dumb.

This car is silver over tan and has about 72,000 miles; that’s barely 4,000 miles a year. These cars were front-wheel drive and were powered by a 4.6 liter/279 cubic-inch V-8 rated at 300 HP/295 LB-FT of torque. Cadillac abandoned manual transmissions for a long time and this Eldo is no exception.

The ad copy is sparse, which is suspicious, but the dealer is only asking $5,490. I like the way these cars look and it’s a Cadillac, which means it certainly has many creature comforts.

 

Car #2 for today:

 

Used 2000 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Coupe Ansonia, CT 06401 - 486230280 - 7

 

This is a 2000 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe with about 64,000 miles. It’s red over gray. This car has an automatic transmission and is powered by a 5.7 liter/346 cubic-inch engine producing 305 HP/335 LB-FT of torque. My first Corvette (a 2002 model) had this engine, basically, but that was rated 350 HP/375 LB-FT. The dealer is asking $7,500. Once again, the average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US is approaching $40,000.

 

OK, a bonus car today as I wanted to include one car with a V-10 or V-12:

 

Used 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL 600 Glendale Heights, IL 60139 - 491174922 - 2

 

Obviously from Greater Chicago Motors comes this 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600. The “600” designation means the car has a V-12 engine. The color combo is not listed in the ad, but from the pictures it’s a dark blue over gray.

This car has about 71,000 miles and the copy is sparse, but the dealer is asking $21,995 for a V-12 powered Mercedes-Benz. Let’s see, for that price you could buy a new Honda Civic. Hmm…no guessing as to which car I would prefer, German or not. Did I mention this car’s engine is a twin-turbo? The engine output is 493 HP/590 LB-FT of torque from 5.5 liters/337 cubic inches. It has a 5-speed automatic transmission.

I welcome comments about these cars or any other topic.

 

#FrugalFriday

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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