Foggy Friday

 

It’s not just this morning’s weather that led me to call the post “Foggy Friday.” I am foggy. (Yeah, Yeah; How can I tell?)

The last 9-10 days have been a whirlwind with a cross-country round trip to find/buy a house, an invasive diagnostic procedure that also requires one day of prep that’s not fun, and word that the repairs we need to complete on our current house before closing on the sale will be more extensive, meaning more expensive, than we had originally thought. I am physically and mentally exhausted. Exhaustion impairs mental function. Still, I am trying to keep my eyes on the prize.

 

 

Palm trees and mountains without having to live in the People’s Republic of Calizuela sounds good to me. When my wonderful wife and I moved from California 20 years ago (!) a representative of the moving company told us that the three most popular destinations for people leaving “The Golden State” were Denver, Dallas and Phoenix. Our move then was to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Many people currently living in the Phoenix area complain about the influx of people from California. Hey, people vote with their feet when they can. Another picture of the prize:

 

 

I can say unequivocally that if we had remained in “The Golden State” we would not be in the state of relatively good financial health in which we find ourselves at present. Although we did not leave California specifically because of high taxes and the high cost of living, it has been to our great benefit to live in two low tax/low cost of living states since then. Money talks, bullsh*t walks…maybe that saying doesn’t really apply in this context, but while money isn’t everything it is important. Reducing expenses by living in areas with lower overhead is usually a good thing.

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Analysis to Paralysis…

With the move to the desert imminent and the fact that we will have one empty garage space when we arrive, thoughts of the Grocery Car/Taxi/Corvette Companion have returned with a vengeance. As regular readers know, this search began with a strong desire to buy a car like a 1963 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk or ’63 Buick Riviera. Then, after speaking with John Kraman at the Mecum auction in Arizona in March, the search moved to a more modern car because of concerns about “iterations of repairs” needed to make an older car reliable.

The next phase was trying to find a stylish and “modern” two-door car with a decent sized trunk that was not a slug. The 2000-02 Cadillac Eldorado became the leading contender. However, as my wonderful wife has pointed out, this car will be used to transport other people from time to time and not just groceries. (Hence, the addition of “Taxi” in the description.) It is much easier for people to use doors to enter/exit a vehicle than to climb through a small opening behind the front seats.

So, I decided that if the car had four doors it had to be something exotic like a Maserati Quattroporte. Then, I saw this article about Maserati recalls. The fact that kind of defect could slip through development and testing in addition to the very high maintenance costs has moved me away from an exotic make like Maserati. The leading contender now?

 

See the source image

 

From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan. This one might be the V-spec with high performance, but we don’t really need that. The base engine is a 2-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 272 HP/295 LB-FT of torque. Those numbers are very similar to the output for the Northstar V-8 found in the 1993 Allanté. The available six-cylinder motor has more horsepower, but actually less torque.

Neither my wonderful wife nor I has ever owned a Cadillac, although each of us has/had a parent who did. (My father, her mother.) Yes, this is a long way from an early 60s Studebaker or Buick Riviera. Flexibility and adaptability usually correlate with success better than stubbornness. Besides, the money that would have had to go into “iterations of repairs” for an older car can be used to modify the Z06 instead. Oh, race gas (101 Octane) is readily available where we’re going. It’s not cheap, but it’s a 3%-5% boost in HP/Torque. That would probably push my Z06 to about 730 HP/740 LB-FT.

I would very much like to read your thoughts on this odyssey. Foggy Friday, indeed.

 

#FoggyFriday

#VotingWithYourFeet

#AnalysisToParalysis

#GroceryCar/Taxi/CorvetteCompanion

#JohnKraman

#CadillacCTSSedan

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Weary Wednesday

I am suffering from coronavirus fatigue, like I suspect millions or tens of millions of other people are. I am not trying to minimize the significance of what has happened, the millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide. Remember, though, that unless the situation takes a horrendous turn for the worse, the vast majority of the world’s population will not become infected and the vast majority of those who do become infected will recover.

I am tired of washing my hands 20 or 30 times a day (or more) and since I have OCD, that behavior will probably continue for the rest of my life. I am tired of disinfecting the groceries and letting them sit on the kitchen island for two days before I will put them away, not including perishables, of course. I am very tired of having to wear a mask in public, although I always do it. (Has anyone invented a clear face mask, yet?)

I am not a young man with the promise of a long future. I hear the clock ticking and just want to go back to as normal a life as I can have while I can still enjoy it. Of course, my wishing will not change the situation one iota.

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Does anyone else besides me loathe “Auto-Correct?” Before I disabled it on my iPhone years ago, the damn thing would drive me crazy, granting that’s a short drive. NOT ONCE did the system ever actually give me the right word for my text or email. I would like to read your thoughts on the scourge of Auto-Correct.

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On the most recent Corvette Today podcast hosted by Steve Garrett (wish I could find the specific link and show it here, this is the link for the Corvette Today podcast in general), John Kraman of Mecum Auctions and the NBCSN telecasts of those auctions was the guest. As always, John was entertaining and displayed his immense knowledge of automobiles. I do have one bone to pick, though.

At one point John talked about the increasing percentage of Corvettes sold with automatic transmissions as the reason the new C8 is only available with an automatic, although it’s really a dual-clutch automated manual. He said that in the first model year of the C7, 2014, about half of the cars were equipped with a manual. According to The Genuine Corvette Black Book, only about 35% of 2014 Corvettes were equipped with a manual transmission. More Corvettes have been sold with an automatic than a manual every model year since 1972 although the split was close to 50-50 in 2009: 50.5% automatic, 49.5% manual.

Chevrolet/General Motors wasted an opportunity for revenue, in my opinion, by not recognizing the trend sooner. They did not charge extra for an automatic transmission until 2006, the second year of the C6 and the first year for the new 6-speed automatic that was available through the first year of the C7 in 2014. I haven’t shown any charts for awhile. Anyone miss them? <end sarcasm>

 

YEAR TOTAL W/AUTO PCT ADD REV
2006          34,021          19,094 56.1%  $           23,867,500
2007          40,561          22,422 55.3%  $           28,027,500
2008          35,310          19,136 54.2%  $           23,920,000
2009          16,956            8,560 50.5%  $           10,700,000
2010          12,194            6,913 56.7%  $              8,641,250
2011          13,596            8,516 62.6%  $           10,645,000
2012          11,647            7,586 65.1%  $              9,482,500
2013          13,466            7,229 53.7%  $              9,036,250
2014          37,288          24,088 64.6%  $           30,110,000
2015          34,240          23,232 67.9%  $           40,075,200
TOTALS       249,279       146,776 58.9%  $         194,505,200

 

Note that the cost of the “optional” automatic transmission increased from $1,250 to $1,725 with the introduction of the 8L90E eight-speed in 2015. The sales figures for Corvettes were depressed beginning in 2009 because of the “Great Recession.” The C7 introduction in 2014 boosted sales, which reached 40,000 in 2016. I just wanted to show the first ten years that the automatic transmission was an “extra,” how much revenue that brought to Chevrolet/GM, and how charging for the automatic didn’t seem to affect the percentage of people who ordered them.

From 2011 through 2015, 64% of Corvette customers ordered their cars with automatics. In 2016, the model year for my Z06, that number jumped to 77% AND 76% for the Z06. I have an older copy of the “Black Book” so I don’t have any more recent data. Based on what Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer, said during the C8 reveal last July, that number reached 85% by the end of the C7 in 2019.

Of course, since the only available transmission for the C8 is an automatic, Chevrolet/GM can’t earn additional revenue by charging for one. Note that the automatic brought almost $200 million in additional revenue from 2006-2015.

Anyway…waxing nostalgic here is a picture of my 2007 Corvette for which I gladly paid the additional $1,250 for an automatic:

 

 

#CoronavirusFatigue

#SayNoToAutoCorrect

#JohnKraman

#CorvetteAutomaticTransmission

#2007Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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1999 Monday Musings

Wouldn’t that be something if this post contained 1,999 thoughts? (You’re probably thinking, “No!”) However, note the lack of a comma in the number in the post title.

1999 was, of course, the year I married my wonderful wife. That was also the last year I worked for a major league baseball team in a full-time position. To this day, many people can’t understand how I gave up a high-paying, high-ranking job in professional sports (Director of Baseball Operations). In retrospect, my only mistake was not having a landing spot secured before I jumped off the sports job. I had become absolutely miserable working in that role for that team. My path for advancement in baseball, in or out of that organization, seemed blocked as long as I remained there. I also was dismayed at what I perceived to be a lack of morality among many of those working in that organization. Let me leave that thought there.

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1999 was the model year for a significant redesign of the Ford Mustang. The exterior had crisper lines, structural stiffness was increased and the output of all engines was raised. Not being a Mustang “guy” I don’t know this for sure, but I believe the 1999 redesign was not a new generation, but a significant update.

 

See the source image

 

From elviscadillac.com (!) a picture of a 1999 Mustang. The 4.6 liter/280 cubic-inch V8 for the GT was boosted by 35 HP for 1999 to 260 and produced 302 LB-FT of torque. Motor Trend said the 1999 GT was “as good or better than any stock Mustang we’ve ever tested, Cobra or not.”

 

1999 was the last year for the Buick Riviera. Only 2,154 were produced; the last 200 were designated as Silver Arrows with silver paint and special trim. The Silver Arrow was the concept car that was the basis for the original 1963 Riviera. The front-wheel drive 1999 Riviera was powered by the well-known Buick V6 of 231 cubic-inch displacement, but with a supercharger instead of the turbo-charged variety made famous in the Grand National/GNX of the 1980s. The supercharged type produced 240 HP/280 LB-FT.

 

See the source image

 

In a still from a YouTube video this is a 1999 Riviera, supposedly a Silver Arrow. I don’t like every iteration of the Riviera, unlike John Kraman (@CarKraman on Twitter), but I like most of them including the last generation. Every photo generated in an Internet search shows a ’99 Riv in gray/silver, white or black. To me this body screams for red or green.

 

1999 was the 50th and last “birthday” for the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. Of course the entire Oldsmobile make would be kaput five years later as the last Olds car rolled off the assembly line on April 29, 2004.

 

See the source image

 

From cardomain.com a picture of a 1999 Oldsmobile 88. For calendar year 1999 Oldsmobile finished 7th in sales among American car companies and saw an almost 8 percent increase compared to 1998. However, Olds sales slumped by 23 percent in 2000, which played a large role in GM’s announcing in December of that year that Olds production would be phased-out. Once again, Oldsmobile has the distinction of being the only American car company to produce cars in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

According to History of the American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, 85.6 percent of the cars and light trucks sold in the US in 1999 were assembled in North America, 9 percent were imported from Japan, 3.8 percent came from Europe and 1.6 percent from South Korea. According to the Kogod School of Business, 65 percent of cars and light trucks sold in the US in 2016 were assembled in North America. Of course, foreign car makers have many plants and facilities in North America.

A world without tariffs and trade disputes would be a wonderful thing, but so would a world in which I could eat ice cream every day. The exigencies of the real world make for difficult choices.

 

#ByeByeBaseball

#1999FordMustang

#1999BuickRiviera

#JohnKraman

#1999Oldsmobile88

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Mecum Auctions

Scott Hoke is the “lead” host on the Mecum Auctions broadcasts on NBCSN. He and his co-host, John “The Professor” Kraman, both follow Disaffected Musings on Twitter, for which I am very grateful. (Gentlemen, is it too much to ask for a mention of this blog during a broadcast? Hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. By the way, if you are on Twitter Scott’s handle is @ScottHoke1 and John’s is @CarKraman. Mecum’s handle is simply @mecum.)

In response to this post about the most significant years in US automobile history, Scott sent this via Twitter message:

“Morning! To your question of most significant years in US automotive history: tough question, with many possible answers. ’67 was big as you point out. 1955 as well. Maybe 1964? Unveiling of the Mustang, Barracuda and, oh yeah, the GTO! I think other than possibly Henry Ford putting America on wheels, 1955-70 may be the most important era. But that’s a large can of worms!”

Of course, 1964 was a big year especially given the introduction of the Mustang, which is still being produced despite Ford turning into a non-car company. As for the GTO, regular readers of this blog know my first car was a ’67 Goat as (fuzzily) pictured here:

If I had the money and the room for multiple car acquisitions then I might buy a GTO of this vintage. Despite being only two letters in length “if” is a very big word.

If you are a car person, and since you’re reading this blog you probably are, then you should watch the Mecum broadcasts on NBCSN. As I have written here before, I very much enjoy the telecasts. Every on-air person (Bill Stephens, Stephen Cox, Katie Osborne in addition to Scott and John) makes a meaningful contribution to the effort, but an element of levity exists that is missing from other similar broadcast efforts. The Mecum crew love cars and love the auctions, but they don’t always take themselves quite so seriously and that adds to the show in my opinion.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

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Saturday Seconds

I guess I’m posting again to distract me from the fact that my wonderful wife will be out of town for a week…

Many thanks to the very entertaining and VERY knowledgeable (remember that for me learning IS entertainment) John Kraman (@CarKraman on Twitter), one of the hosts of Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCSN, for following Disaffected Musings. My handle is @RulesofLogic1 and I have tried to start the hashtags #somanycarsjustonelife and #disaffectedmusings. I have no idea if I have successfully done so, however.

All first-run episodes of the Mecum auctions are set to record on my DVR and I think have ten episodes residing there at present. As I have written before, I enjoy watching the Mecum auctions more than I enjoy watching the Barrett-Jackson auctions although as a genuine car lunatic I watch them all.

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Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 20% of Italian citizens owned 80% of the land. The 20/80 (80/20, what’s the difference?) rule has come to be known as the Pareto Principle. This rule has been found to apply to many phenomena, both of human design and not.

For example, the rule has many applications for business, such as:

Many project managers will state that 20 percent of the work consumes 80 percent of time and resources. Other examples of the principle include:

80 percent of a company’s revenues are generated by 20 percent of its customers

80 percent of complaints come from 20 percent of customers

80 percent of quality issues impact 20 percent of a company’s products

Flipping the 20 and the 80:

20 percent of investors provide 80 percent of funding

20 percent of employees use 80 percent of all sick days

20 percent of a blog’s posts generate 80 percent of its traffic

 

In the US, 20% of patients consume 80% of health care resources, which is a reason why some advocate taking the sickest people out of the main healthcare insurance pool. According to a widely reported study in New Zealand (the Dunedin Study), 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals. In computer science, Microsoft noted that fixing the top 20% of the most reported bugs, 80% of the related errors and crashes in a given system would be eliminated.

Pareto is also well known for his principles of efficiency/optimality, but that theory is not the topic today. On the 1-in-1,000,000 chance that someone in the auto industry is reading, what applications of the 20/80 rule apply there? Could it be that 20% of vehicles have 80% of the defects?

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What do you think about the Jaguar XJS?

See the source image

From odicis.org or Car-from-UK.com is a picture of a Jaguar XJS convertible. Bringing this back to Mecum, three XJS cars were offered for sale at the most recent auction in Dallas. Only one sold ($6,600 all in, which means it hammered for $6,000), but all three cars were convertibles.

The XJS had the “misfortune” to follow the legendary E-Type as the Jaguar mainstay. The XJS is not a high-performance car to threaten road course records, but I think it has a great look and it’s not a slug. It was a wonderful GT car and very successful for Jaguar as about 115,000 were produced during its 21-year run. I think the XJS is one of the least respected successful cars in history.