My wonderful wife and I received our second shots against the damn virus yesterday. Other than arms more sore than after the first shot, we are experiencing no side effects.
The fact that so many people are refusing to get vaccinated is quite frightening. The virus will continue to have hosts, to replicate, to mutate and, eventually, to become less affected by vaccines.
Five minutes on the Internet does not give anyone the knowledge of a bright person who has spent decades in medicine. Why people believe politicians before scientists is beyond me. I go back to Henry Kissinger’s famous remark, “Ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name.” How about, “Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.”
Still, given the CDC guidance from yesterday that fully vaccinated people can resume travel with “low risk” I am hopeful of soon returning to some activities that we have avoided for more than a year. Maybe we’ll get out of the Arizona heat for a few days in August and head to Monterey, California for the Mecum auction.
Don’t ask me why the 1940 model year is today’s automotive topic. The idea came to me while I was perusing The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® and this picture “spoke” to me:
Given my inspiration for writing about cars began with a picture from the same book, I decided that ignoring such “motivation” would be foolish. Graham had introduced America’s first moderately priced supercharged car in 1934 and then America’s first supercharged six-cylinder car in 1936.
Graham partnered with Norman De Vaux, General Manager of Huppmobile, who had purchased the tooling for the 1936-38 Cord 810/812 Westchester sedan, to bring out the supercharged Hollywood, but with rear-wheel drive instead of the Cord front-wheel drive. Hupp also sold a similar car, the Hupp Skylark.
1940 was the last year Cadillac sold automobiles equipped with a V-16 engine. All V-16 Cadillacs had a price of over $5,000 in 1940 while no other Cadillac cost even $4,000.
Even though Cadillac showed a concept car with a V-16 motor in 2003, the beautiful if prosaically named Sixteen, we will almost certainly never again see a production 16-cylinder automobile engine. Not that many years ago, when I still had daydreams about starting a car company, I thought about a hypercar powered by a 2,500 HP V-16 engine. Ah yes, what is life without dreams?
Of course, the 1940 model year saw the introduction of one of the most significant innovations in automotive history, the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Jointly developed by Oldsmobile and Cadillac, the Hydra-Matic was first available in Oldsmobiles in May, 1939 as a 1940 model year car.
I have not been able to find out what percentage of 1940 Oldsmobiles were equipped with Hydra-Matic, but I can tell you that 30 percent of Cadillacs had it in 1941, the first model year it was available in the Caddy. I can also tell you that in the truncated 1942 model year, almost half of all Oldsmobiles had Hydra-Matic.
I will once again offer my opinion that in the US the traditional manual transmission is already dead on its feet, but no one has had the decency to knock it over and to give it a proper burial. More new electric vehicles are sold here than vehicles with standard manuals, and the share of electrics has plateaued, at least for now.
Yes, Cadillac is offering a manual in its Blackwing cars, but in my opinion that’s strictly to appeal to those who buy German cars, a segment of the market that still has a double-digit percentage of drivers who want a manual. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Of course, the clouds of war were already visible in the US by 1940. It was in that year that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed General Motors President William Knudsen as Chairman of the Office of Production Management and member of the National Defense Advisory Commission. Knudsen, who was born in Denmark, served with distinction for the whopping salary of $1 a year.
In January 1942, Knudsen received a commission as a lieutenant general in the US Army, the only civilian ever to join the army at such a high initial rank, and appointed as Director of Production, Office of the Under Secretary of War. In that capacity, he worked as a consultant and a troubleshooter for the War Department.
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