In Or Out? 14

An eerie coincidence…almost as soon as I woke up today I began thinking about the subject of the next In Or Out? post. I decided to show/write about the Nash Airflyte. A few minutes later I checked my email and this link had been sent to me. It is an article on Macs Motor City Garage about…the 1949-51 Nash Airflyte. I guess I’m supposed to feature that car today.

Remembering that picture links from Macs Motor City Garage are not stable, I found a picture from somewhere else, David’s Classic Cars.

 

See the source image

 

From Macs:

 

“While the Motor CIty’s bathtub styling trend of the late ’40s was a brief one, it produced some truly memorable cars. Hudson and Packard, to name two, were leading proponents of the upside-down bathtub look, while Mercury and Lincoln, among others, also adopted some of its elements. But the queen of the bathtubs was the 1949-51 Nash Airflyte. As the often bombastic Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated wrote at the time,  ‘Nash, one of the oldest automakers in America, has gone overboard for the newest fad in automotive designs and come up with two hot candidates for Miss Upside-Down Bathtub of 1949.’ The new Nash 600 and Ambassador, he blasted,  ‘jumped into the latest fashion with both faucets wide open.'”

 

I think my inspiration for writing about a Nash today came from the most recent episode of Junkyard Gold. Steve Magnante went to Rambler Ranch in Elizabeth, Colorado. Their website reads, “Dedicated to the Preservation & Restoration of NASH, RAMBLER, & AMC Automotive History.” Magnante featured an Airflyte during the show.

The 1949 Nash line of cars were its first totally redesigned lineup after World War II. In that year they also became the first US manufacturer of mass-produced automobiles to totally commit to unitized single-unit construction as opposed to body-on-frame. From Connors Motor Car, another picture of a Nash Airflyte, this one a 1949 model.

 

See the source image

 

Calendar year 1949 sales for Nash increased by 20 percent compared to 1948, but the company’s market share actually declined slightly. 1949 saw an explosion in car sales/production as the end of post-war teething pains combined with many new styles by a slew of companies, including GM and Ford, led to an upsurge in interest by buyers and ability to meet that demand by sellers.

Nash’s good fortune continued, though, in 1950 as the company set its all-time record for single year production reaching almost 200,000 units. Included in those cars from 1950 was a new model, the compact Rambler, but that’s another story.

OK, 1949-51 Nash Airflyte…In Or Out?

 

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In Or Out? 13

Yes, I have used the number 13 in a post title. After reflecting on yesterday’s “anniversary” I have decided to make an effort not to be controlled by random variables, by certain numbers. We’ll see how long I can manage.

Oh, WordPress did not eliminate the Classic Editor, but a glitch meant I could not access it in the manner to which I had become accustomed. The day that this platform does remove the classic option is the day I stop blogging.

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This edition of In Or Out? is a hybrid. No, not a gas/electric hybrid, but a car in the original meaning of the word in an automotive context: a car with a European body and an American drivetrain. From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 1967 Monteverdi 375-S:

 

See the source image

 

When I was a teenager these may have been my absolute favorite cars. This 375 is from the first year of production with the body by Frua and not a later one with a body by Fissore.

Peter Monteverdi was a Swiss car builder, no doubt inspired by his father who repaired cars and trucks. He later became the top Swiss dealer of imported exotic cars like Ferrari and Rolls-Royce. Monteverdi was involved in Formula One racing, mainly as a builder in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but actually raced once although he retired after just a couple of laps.

The Monteverdi cars like the 375 were powered by a Chrysler drivetrain, a 440 cubic-inch V-8 producing 375 HP, but 480 LB-FT of torque and mated to a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission. The cars were actually called the High Speed 375.

In the picture it’s difficult to get a sense of the size and proportion of the car. The 375 was built on a truck-gauge steel frame with an aluminum body and had only a 98-inch wheelbase. That’s the same as the second-generation BMW Z4, which is not a big car. That wheelbase length is also the same as the second- and third-generation Corvettes.

Supposedly, the fit and finish of these cars was superb. Monteverdi’s experience in selling Rolls-Royce must have influenced such attention to detail.

OK, kind people…the Monteverdi High Speed 375, In Or Out?

 

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In Or Out? 12

First…my sympathies to Lou Brock’s family and to the St. Louis Cardinals. I tried to find a picture of Lou Brock’s 1974 APBA card. (That year he set a major league record, since broken, for the number of stolen bases in a season. Brock also used to hold the record for most stolen bases in a career and amassed more than 3,000 hits.) How many of you have heard of APBA or Strat-O-Matic? Here is a picture of an APBA card:

See the source image

This is the APBA representation of George Sisler’s 1922 season. He had a .420 batting average that season. Yes, .420. We have all learned that batting average is not the most important offensive statistic for a player, but that still sounds good to me. Yes, Sisler’s numbers were aided by playing in a home park very favorable for hitters. I believe his batting average at home that year was .473.

Anyway, back to Lou Brock…I remember that his was the first 1974 APBA card I looked at after receiving the set in the mail. Receiving the APBA cards, and later the Strat-O-Matic cards, was one of the highlights of the year for me. I even used to dream of the UPS truck driving down my street to deliver the Strat-O-Matic set.

In college I met another APBA fanatic, Art. One year we didn’t want to wait to receive the cards in the mail so we drove to the APBA headquarters to pick up the cards.

From Sports Illustrated a picture of Lou Brock:

See the source image

“And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

– John Donne

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I thought I would go back in time for the latest edition of In Or Out?

See the source image

From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria bodied by Dietrich. As I have written more than once before, ten years ago I had little or no interest in cars of this vintage. I am now very fond of many of these “prewar” cars.

The 1934 Packard Twelve was Model 1108 in the company nomenclature. Despite offering dozens of different model variants that year, total Packard production was just 8,000 units, of which only 960 were Model 1108. Of course, 1934 was in the middle of the Great Depression. In December of that year the unemployment rate was still almost 22 percent.

The Packard V-12 was an “old-fashioned” undersquare (bore < stroke) engine of 445 cubic inches in displacement and producing 160 HP. Despite looking in several sources I could not find a torque rating.

All right, folks…1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria bodied by Dietrich. In Or Out?

#InOrOut?

#LouBrock

#APBA

#1934PackardTwelveConvertible

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In Or Out? 11

First…the site of yesterday’s major explosion in Baltimore is a five-minute walk from the house in which I lived from the ages of 2 to 25. As the actual cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, and may not be determined for years, I will refrain from editorializing…well, at least too much.

In my opinion, this country has allowed its infrastructure to decay. In my opinion, the federal government’s obligation under the first clause of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to “provide…for the general Welfare of the United States” does not mean that it spend the excessively large (again, IMO) amount of $1.9 billion A DAY on defense and spend little on infrastructure. Remember that the federal government paid 90% of the cost of building the Interstate Highway System.

I think the “Left” is misguided and naive in calling for a massive reduction in defense spending–it’s a dangerous world–but even a 10% reduction would free up significant funds to be used for other worthy purposes and without raising taxes. I think the “Right” is hypocritical in calling for small government, but for huge defense expenditures. The United States spends more on defense than the amount spent by the next 7-9 countries COMBINED. The actual number of countries depends on the exact definition one uses for defense spending.

Even if the Baltimore explosion was caused by negligence of the property owner and/or the residents (I think the property was a rental), about one-third of the gas distribution mains for Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) and half of its transmission mains are more than 50 years old. You can’t just build it and forget about it.

Well, I guess I editorialized too much…if you can’t tell by now, I am not a political ideologue. I think both political parties in the US have lost the plot and that both of their policy platforms are rife with dangerous inconsistencies. I will once again offer the opinion that the US is headed for dissolution and maybe that won’t be a bad thing.

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Talk about switching gears…of the first ten In Or Out? cars, six were manufactured by non-US companies. I have to admit that I struggled to find a US car about which a consensus doesn’t already exist. From an MSN article about the most surprising cars ever sold in the US, a picture of today’s In Or Out? car, the Pontiac Fiero:

 

Slide 9 of 21: Pontiac developed the first mass-produced mid-engined car ever made by an American company. Called Fiero, it was envisioned as a smaller, cheaper and more efficient alternative to the Chevrolet Corvette and launched in 1983 as a 1984 model. Early examples weren’t as quick or as fun as they looked, and various problems made them prone to overheating and catching fire, but Pontiac fixed most of the Fiero’s issues for the 1988 model year.Sales unfortunately ended after 1988 and GM didn’t dare venture into mid-engined territory until Chevrolet unveiled the eighth-generation Corvette in 2019.

 

For many, the Fiero is a prime example of where General Motors lost its way in the 1970s and 1980s; some say it has never recovered. The Fiero, introduced for model year 1984, was the first US mid-engine production car and the first new US-built two-seater since the original Ford Thunderbird of 1955-57.

The car was actually conceived in 1978 in large part as a way to help GM meet CAFE standards, but without making something boring. The car was popular at first with sales of about 137,000 units in its first model year. From one of my favorite and most valuable books, Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®:

 

“…But Fiero was flawed–heavy and sluggish with the standard 92 HP, 151 cubic-inch Iron Duke four, little faster with the optional 173 cubic-inch V-6; low, cramped, noisy and hard to see out of; hard to shift, stiff-riding, indifferently put together. As it had with the X-cars, GM shot itself in the foot by selling a car before it was fully developed.”

Those facts, combined with a recall having to do with engine fires and insurance companies greatly increasing premiums on two-seaters (that difference still exists today), meant that the Fiero was doomed and ultimately discontinued after the 1988 model year in which only about 26,000 Fieros were built. Of course, Pontiac had just spent a fortune for an all-new suspension that significantly improved handling on the ’88 Fieros. Exciting plans for a new engine and new lighter frame were left unused.

I fully understand why many GM bashers exist among car enthusiasts and the Fiero is one of the cars why the bashing exists. For an “agnostic” car person like me, the Fiero is a very frustrating car. I think it looks fantastic and with a mid-engine setup it could have been successful like the Toyota MR-2, which sold more than 300,000 units in 20+ years of production with the largest market being North America.

OK, kind folks…the Pontiac Fiero, In Or Out?

 

#InOrOut?

#SayNoToBlindAdherenceToIdeology

#PontiacFiero

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In Or Out? 10

First…I had another dream in which I began a journey in a car, but did not finish it in one. I dreamt I was on a frantic trip to get from Point A to Point B, for reasons lost forever to dreamland. The road had many steep hills and sharp drops. At one point, the car warned me not to travel on a certain road, not because of road or weather conditions, but because of “political” reasons! I had intended to ignore the warning, but before I ever reached that road I found myself making the journey on foot as my car had just disappeared. I wasn’t even particularly surprised by the disappearance, just determined to reach my destination. However, I woke up before I finished my journey or reached the road I was supposed to avoid. WTF?!

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For this edition of In Or Out? I am waiving the five-vote minimum. The car shown and discussed today is one that is not likely to be familiar to most of you.

This car was featured on an Edd China episode of Wheeler Dealers as well as the newer, but less than scintillating spinoff, Wheeler Dealers: Dream Car. Beginning next year, it will be legal to import the first model year of this car into the US as production began in 1996. I present the TVR Cerbera:

 

See the source image

 

From Parkers of the UK a picture of the TVR Cerbera. TVR was founded in 1947 by Trevor Wilkinson (whose name was used to name the company) and Jack Pickard. Yes, it is a British car.

The company history is littered with liquidations and ownership changes. If you want to know more, you can read this. The Cerbera was significant in TVR history since it was the first car made by the company that:

1) Was not a convertible

2) Had four seats, all previous TVR models were two-seaters

3) Had an engine developed and manufactured by TVR

The Cerbera did not have traction control or ABS. It was also an extremely light car, especially given the power of the engine. The Wikipedia article about the Cerbera states that at some point in production the cars were available with an inline six-cylinder engine, but I had always heard that the cars were only available with TVR’s own flat-plane crank V-8. The final iteration of that V-8 (not including the “special” Speed Eight Red Rose) displaced 4.5 liters/273 cubic inches and produced 420 HP/380 LB-FT of torque without forced induction. The Cerbera only weighed about 2,600 pounds and with the most powerful engine could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in well under 4 seconds and, supposedly, be capable of speeds approaching 190 MPH.

I really like the “wild” styling of these cars. They have a chopped look about them that is not excessive, in my opinion. Like virtually everything else, I think balance is the essence of successful automotive styling.

The Cerbera was manufactured from 1996 to 2003. Foreign cars can be imported into the US without having to meet DOT regulations as long as it has been at least 25 years since they were built. The actual number of Cerberas produced is unclear, but is not likely to have exceeded 2,000 and may be as few as 1,100.

OK, good people…the TVR Cerbera, In Or Out? Oh, the name Cerbera was derived from Cerberus, the three-headed monster of Greek mythology that guarded the entrance to Hades.

 

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In Or Out? 9

More prompted than inspired by this Hemmings article and more a function of my own idiosyncratic view of the world than for any other reason comes the next installment of In Or Out? From Wikipedia comes the picture:

 

See the source image

 

This is the Nissan Figaro. I don’t have to include the model year because the car was only sold in 1991. As such, it is now legal to import into the US without worrying about DOT or EPA regulations. I must confess that I really have a yen for these cars (see what I did there).

Originally slated for a production run of 8,000, the Figaro proved to be so popular that more than 20,000 were built. The car was “powered” by an inline 4-cylinder turbocharged engine of about 1 liter in displacement (987 cc/60 cubic inches, to be exact) that produced 75 HP/78 LB-FT of torque. Supposedly, the car could reach a top speed of about 105 MPH, not that I would ever drive a car like this that fast. In fact, no matter how adorable I find the car, I would be afraid to drive it in real life given its weight (1,800 pounds), size (91-inch wheelbase, 147 inches in length) and the fact it does not have airbags. The transmission was a 3-speed automatic.

I have been in one of these and it was not difficult for me to get in and out of the car. Once again, though, the small size and lack of modern safety systems make it something I will only admire from afar.

OK, good people…the Nissan Figaro, In Or Out?

 

#InOrOut?

#NissanFigaro

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In Or Out? 8

First…our kitchen has not looked this in a long time. Why does it look this way now?

 

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I struggled to pick a car for this In Or Out? post. My own preferences seem to be interfering with the selections. For better or for worse, here is the newest member of the In Or Out? club.

 

See the source image

 

From My Classic Garage a picture of a 1974 AMC Matador X coupe. The Matador coupe was dramatically restyled for the 1974 model year.

The restyling must have been well received as sales of Matador 2-door coupes increased significantly from about 7,000 in 1973 to about 62,000 in 1974, including approximately 10,000 of the Matador X. (That figure for the X spec comes from standard catalog of® of Independents edited by Ron Kowalke. Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® gives that number as 1,500. If anyone knows which figure is correct or if the two books are not measuring the same thing, please let me know. Thanks.) As far as I can tell, the “X” package was more about looks than about performance. Speaking of performance, the most powerful AMC engine available in 1974 was a 401 cubic-inch V-8 rated at 235 HP, but 335 LB-FT of torque. For a 1974 American car, that was good power.

AMC ran a long ad campaign where the tagline was “What’s A Matador?” Reluctantly using the minion of the Evil Empire (aka Google) known as YouTube, here is a link to a TV commercial for the 1975 Matador using that tag.

OK, kind people…1974 AMC Matador, In Or Out?

 

#Kitchen

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#1974AMCMatadorX

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In Or Out? Lambo!

On those few days when I have written more than one post, like yesterday, I have not noticed an increase in blog views. Still, I reserve the right to continue the practice when so moved.

 

With new TV production having been halted, more or less, due to the coronavirus, providers of content are just showing reruns. However, some of the non Big-Four “networks” (to me, the non Big-Four networks are just channels) are giving people an opportunity to binge-watch shows as many seem to do who use a streaming TV service.

Motor Trend showed a Chasing Classic Cars “marathon” yesterday and one of the cars featured in one of the episodes is the subject of today’s installment of In Or Out? For many, the Miura is the first Lamborghini of which they were/are aware. The Miura, the first modern mid-engine performance car, was quite a sensation when the P400 prototype was introduced at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show.

However, today’s In Or Out? car is not the Miura, but a Lamborghini that followed the idiom of its first road car, the 350 GT. From uncrate a picture of a Lamborghini 400 GT:

 

See the source image

 

I really like the looks of this car and its predecessor. I’m pretty sure this car is from the “first-generation” of the 400 GT although I can’t see the rear of the car to be sure. This generation 400 GT was basically the 350 GT with a bigger engine, a 3.9 liter/240 cubic-inch V-12 producing 315 HP/276 LB-FT of torque. Later, the 400 GT received different body work that allowed rear seating and these are often called the 400 GT 2+2. In all, only 247 400 GTs were produced from 1966 to 1968, 23 of the first generation and 224 of the GT 2+2. Lamborghini introduced the Islero in 1968, which replaced the 400 GT.

OK, kind people…Lamborghini 400 GT, In Or Out? Once again, if this car fails to receive at least five votes, then the feature will be discontinued.

 

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#Lamborghini400GT

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Throwback Thursday 40

While it is true that on this day in 1895 Charles Duryea was issued the first US patent for a gasoline-powered automobile, I wanted to write something more personal for this edition of Throwback Thursday.

At this time 50 years ago, I was in the last days as a fourth-grade student at Public School #241 in Baltimore. Our teacher was Mrs. S and both Dr. Zal and I had a crush on her. She lived in the same apartment complex as Dr. Zal and one day during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, after screwing up our courage, we decided to pay her a visit. She could not have been more gracious and friendly. I think we spent a half hour in her apartment talking about school.

Could something like that even happen today? (I’m not talking about the virus restrictions getting in the way.) One reason I remember that afternoon fondly is that it seems like a relic from a simpler time. As I have written before, I often pine for my childhood because it was a time when almost anything seemed possible. It also seems, from this distance, as if those were much simpler and more pleasant days.

Of course, my memory could be faulty. In his great book about Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss writes about “the fallacy of the innocent past.” I simply could have been unaware of life’s travails at that age.

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As I have previously revealed my birthday is in late March. While my annual physical was originally scheduled for early April, in deference to current circumstances I pushed it out until June 12, which is tomorrow, of course. Yesterday, I received a call from my doctor’s office basically begging me not to have the physical as scheduled, but to reschedule or to have a phone visit, instead. When I reminded the representative that I needed blood work, she said if I had signed up for the “Patient Portal” the doctor could have given me a slip to get the lab work done somewhere else. When I replied that still would require a visit to a lab outside my house and that I might as well see the doctor, after confirming I had a mask and gloves, she relented and confirmed my appointment.

I have to say that, while I realize her intentions were honorable, the call was most disturbing. Yes, the doctor’s office is in a building attached to this area’s primary hospital, but haven’t they established procedures to mitigate risk by now? Her call has also made me question whether or not I want to have the physical exam tomorrow.

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All of the In Or Out? cars have been voted In except for the first one, the Maserati 3200 GT. I have tried to choose cars that are not obviously In or Out for you, the readers. I have also tried to choose cars that are not obviously In or Out for me, but think that almost all of the cars have been candidates, at least, to make my vaguely defined Automobile Top 100.

While this is not an In Or Out? post, I want to show a car that might be a subject for the series at some later date. From Classic Cars, a picture of a 1958 Chevrolet Impala:

 

See the source image

 

I am 95% certain that for this first year, the Impala was actually a sub-model of the Bel Air. In standard catalog of® American Cars, 1946-1975 by John Gunnell the Impala is listed under the Bel Air series for 1958, but then listed separately from 1959 on.

This was a one-year only body style. It’s hard to imagine something like that happening today, even though modern design systems actually make it easier to make changes.

Although now discontinued for the third and almost certainly final time, the Impala is one of the most significant models in US automotive history. At its introduction, one of its most distinctive features was the symmetrical triple taillights. From Fine Art America, a picture showing those lights:

 

See the source image

 

I have seen this taillight treatment on several modified Corvettes, especially C2 models (1963-1967). The 1958 model year was also significant as it marked the introduction of the first version of the Chevrolet big-block engine, the W-Series. Originally displacing “just” 348 cubic inches, this engine family would be produced until 2009. (Please see the comments for clarification. Technically, the W-Block was not the same as the famous 396/427 big block of the 1960s. Still, this began Chevrolet’s production of big-block V8s that continued until 2009.) My sources are not in agreement on the highest output for this engine in its intro year. Using the more conservative source, for 1958 the 348 cubic-inch engine maxed out at 280 HP/355 LB-FT of torque.

Any thoughts on the 1958 Impala?

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#TheFallacyOfTheInnocentPast

#InOrOut?

#1958ChevroletImpala

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In Or Out? Etc.

First…thanks again to photobyjohnbo for his wonderful post here yesterday. If you can stand another post from me today, then click on this link so you can read the post he graciously allowed me to do for his blog. (His blog is actually titled “Journeys with Johnbo.”) By the way, you can click on the hyperlinks in a post; they won’t hurt you.

Second…speaking of clicks, while I am very appreciative of my readers I would really appreciate your reading this blog by clicking on a post link (like this) or the main link to the blog. In that way, when you scroll through the blog you are shown ads, which you are free to click on if you have genuine interest, but which “earn” me money even if you don’t click. While I don’t write this blog for the money (what money?), I wouldn’t mind receiving some every now and then.

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This In Or Out? car was suggested by Dirty Dingus McGee. I took a little artistic license, though. From Barrett-Jackson a picture of a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S fastback:

 

See the source image

 

This car hammered for $25,300 all in at their Reno auction in 2014. That venue is no longer used as they moved the June auction to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut in 2016.

I am a fan of the looks of the second generation Barracuda although I prefer the notchback coupe best among the three available body styles. This Barrett-Jackson car was equipped with the 340 cubic-inch V-8 and a Torqueflite automatic transmission. The 340 was rated 275 HP and 340 LB-FT of torque. The Formula S package included, besides the Commando engine, heavy-duty suspension and wheels, firm-ride shocks, E70-14 Red Streak tires, low-restriction dual-exhaust, front fender badges and special hood inserts.

OK, kind people…second-generation Barracuda Formula S, In Or Out? Once again, if this car fails to receive at least five votes, then In Or Out? will be discontinued. Thanks.

 

#photobyjohnbo

#InOrOut?

#1968PlymouthBarracudaFormulaS

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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