Fractured Friday

In my opinion…unlimited freedom, especially in the context of a country or a society, is not freedom. It’s anarchy. You don’t have to like your neighbors; you don’t even have to care about your neighbors. However, you do NOT have the right to risk the health of others through what I can only describe as willful negligence. Yes, that phrase sounds like an oxymoron like “current American music.”

We are all suffering from coronavirus fatigue and we all want to be back to normal as soon as possible. However, the timetable is not up to us and it’s not up to government, either. The virus and the pharmaceutical companies will determine the course of events.

******************

Yesterday I had a long (two hours) and very enjoyable conversation with my long-time friend, Mel Kiper. Believe it or not, most of the conversation was not about football. He and I have known each other for almost 30 years, but I think we both learned things about each other that we did not know before yesterday.

I really do know a fair number of famous people. Fame has eluded me, not that I have been actively seeking it. From our “hometown” newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, a picture of Mel.

 

See the source image

******************

I have not really written about this car in about three months and seeing one yesterday (or was it the day before yesterday?, time compression secondary to aging is no fun ☹️), in addition to receiving a listing for one in my daily email from Classic Cars, were the impetus I needed to show this car again.

Originally shown as the EVOQ concept at the 1999 Detroit Auto Show, the Cadillac XLR was the make’s second unsuccessful attempt to sell a two-seat roadster to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL models. Success or not, I have thought these cars were simply stunning in design from the first time I saw one at an auto show. From the aforementioned Classic Cars a picture of a 2007 XLR-V (the “V” means the engine is supercharged):

 

See the source image

The XLR-V was powered by a supercharged 4.4 liter/267 cubic-inch V-8 that produced 443 HP/414 LB-FT of torque. The XLR was based on C6 Corvette architecture and was manufactured in the same Bowling Green, Kentucky factory that builds the Corvette.

Before I bought a used BMW Z4 in May of 2016 (was that really more than four years ago?!), I considered buying a used XLR. While at breakfast some time before I bought the Z4 I asked a friend, a “car guy,” if he knew anything about the XLR. I didn’t know he had owned two of them that he had purchased new and that BOTH of them were re-purchased by Cadillac under our state’s lemon law. One of his cars had been in the shop for 244 of 365 days. That was enough bad news for me. Of course, the Z4 hardly turned out to be a trouble-free car and I sold it after 29 months.

Maybe Cadillac thought it had to get the XLR to market as soon as possible although the car was not available for more than four years after the EVOQ was shown in Detroit. Just like with the Allanté, though, maybe just another year of refinement would have enabled the XLR to be released with far fewer issues. In all honesty, Cadillac overpriced the car and, in all honesty, the market for cars like this collapsed in the wake of the beginning of the “Great Recession” in 2008. The XLR was built from 2003 through 2009 although the first cars were sold as 2004 model year.

Initially projected to sell between 5,000 and 7,000 units per year only 15,460 were sold in total, including 200 leftover 2009 models sold new in 2010 and 2011. The most sold in a year was about 3,700 in 2005. Problems with the car became well known (welcome to the Internet age) and even though cars built from 2006 on are supposed to be quality vehicles, the damage was done and the “Financial Meltdown” was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I don’t think Cadillac will ever build another two-seat roadster, which is a shame in my opinion. I still think the make is the most logical builder of an American super-luxury car that I think could sell the number of units originally projected for the XLR. I don’t know how much it would cost to design and to tool for a new car. Maybe the car would have to be priced way too high to recoup those costs in a reasonable period of time. Then again, maybe such a car would be a “Giffen Good,” a product that contradicts the normal law of demand and is consumed more the more expensive it is. A really outstanding car could be such an exception.

For quite a long period of time, I really thought I would own an XLR someday. Who knows? Maybe I still will, warts and all. I’m talking about the car, I think.  🙂

 

#FracturedFriday

#MelKiper

#CadillacXLR

#GiffenGood

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Thursday Bonus Random

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m “hopped up” on my first dose of Dunkin’ coffee in weeks, because I’m a little excited about the NFL Draft, because I’m a little excited about returning to using/playing Action! PC Football for the first time in six years, or just because I’m OCD, but I felt like posting again today.

This Sports Illustrated article chronicles how the NFL Draft came to be televised for the first time in 1980, 40 years ago. My long-time friend, Mel Kiper, is prominently featured as he should be. From USA Today, a picture of Mel:

 

See the source image

******************

I grew up playing statistical sports table games like APBA and Strat-O-Matic. One can hardly say it was a waste of time as I wound up as a pioneer of sports analytics, a “father” of Moneyball, had a 20+ year career in major league baseball (during which I earned a pension and two championship rings) and wrote a football book that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written (a book, by the way, with a Forward by Mel Kiper).

Action! PC Football is not a video arcade game. It is a game based on a realistic game engine in which the actual strengths and weaknesses of actual NFL players play a huge role in the outcome of games. I played this game from 2011 to 2014, after which I thought I was too old to indulge myself in such things. Even before the coronavirus rolled over the world I was considering getting back to it. This game is NOTHING like fantasy football. As I have written before and firmly believe, fantasy football is well-named because it bears little or no resemblance to the real thing.

I do not replay seasons that have already occurred. I have always drafted my own leagues from scratch and almost always at random. I must confess, though, that in the last such league I played in 2014, based on 2013 NFL season players and modeled after the 1968 NFL structure, I made sure that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns were horrible. What about Satan’s Minions, aka the Dallas Cowboys? They have never appeared in any of my Action! PC Football leagues. This league, using 2019 NFL players and the 1970 NFL structure, will be the Cowboys’ first and you can be sure they will not be good.

From the Action! PC Football site a picture of a game screen:

 

https://www.dksports.com/images/fb2020-gamescreen.jpg

 

Here is what I wore today to Dunkin’ in honor of Johnny Unitas, the NFL draft and Action! PC Football:

 

 

Thanks to my wonderful wife for taking the pictures. Thanks to Dr. Zal for giving me the jersey as a gift.

******************

I guess one should be thankful for small favors. While rummaging through the master bathroom looking for something else, I stumbled upon two bottles of this:

 

 

Between that discovery and the generosity of my good friend Bob, who sent me disinfectant tablets gratis that just need to be dissolved in water so they can be used in a spray bottle, I feel a little better about our disinfectant situation.

Normally, I make sure we have 6 or 7 cans of Lysol® spray in reserve at home, but–for some reason–in January and February I let the reserve run low. By the time we returned from Arizona the third week of March, Lysol® spray had seemingly disappeared from the world.

Hope you didn’t mind reading a second dose of Disaffected Musings today, especially since it had nothing to do with cars.

 

#ThursdayBonusRandom

#NFLDraft

#MelKiper

#Action!PCFootball

#SmallDoseOfSerendipity

#Lysol®

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Throwback Thursday/Happy Birthday, Mel Kiper/Hodgepodge

 

This picture is full of throwbacks. Although the instruments have been acquired in the last five years they really speak to a time long ago when I had musical aspirations. The Flying A gasoline sign is a throwback to when my father ran a Flying A station in the early 1960s. The painting of the car that is obviously a C2 Corvette (with a 1967 big block stinger hood), even though the word Corvette doesn’t appear anywhere, is just as obviously a throwback to that car and to that era.

******************

Happy Birthday to my friend, Mel Kiper! He has appeared on ESPN’s NFL draft coverage since 1984. As I have written before, the first round of the NFL Draft has better TV ratings than most MLB and NBA playoff games. From ftw.usatoday.com a picture of Mel:

 

Image result for mel kiper

******************

I believe that if these ten Senators were replaced by people with more moderate views, then the Federal government would function more smoothly almost regardless of what is going on in the House:

 

Jim Inhofe

Michael Enzi

Tom Cotton

Mike Rounds

John Cornyn

Kamala Harris

Bernie Sanders

Jeff Merkley

Kirsten Gillibrand

Elizabeth Warren

 

I shouldn’t have to write this, but these are the five most conservative and five most liberal members of the US Senate based on Govtrack.us. Note that four of the five most liberal Senators are running for President. BOTH parties have moved away from the traditional majority in American politics, the center. Whether they are in tune with what is happening in the American populace or just pandering for campaign contributions, I can’t say.

******************

See the source image

 

From corvetteforum.com a picture of GM President Mark Reuss and, of course, the new C8 Corvette. I had read in multiple places that, eventually, the C8 would offer a manual transmission. However, just like the reports were wrong that the C7 and C8 would be produced simultaneously for awhile, so were the reports about a manual transmission. When Corvette lead engineer Tadge Juechter was recently asked if there is any chance the manual will come back, he replied simply: “No.”

Here is more of what Juechter said, courtesy of this article:

 

Juechter said a manual-equipped Corvette wouldn’t sell well enough to make it worth a supplier’s effort to develop. ‘We couldn’t find anybody honestly who’d be willing to do it.’ Just like the dual-clutch automatic transmission that will be in the car, a manual for the C8 would have had to be a bespoke production. ‘It’s low volume, very expensive,’ Juechter said. ‘The reason is it’s a low-volume industry. That industry is dying — building manual transmissions. [emphasis mine]

Even for the Corvette, the take rate for manual transmissions has dropped to 15 percent. ‘Every year it goes down, down, down, down,’ Juechter added. Porsche experimented with dropping the manual from its track-focused 911 GT3 but found that upset buyers, who have since bought the manual in that car in large volumes. In fact, according to Porsche North America chief executive Klaus Zellmer, two-thirds of GT3 buyers opt for the manual. Juechter said the same wouldn’t hold for the Corvette. ‘It’s 15 percent on cars like the Z06, which historically have been only a manual. And as soon as we offer the automatic, everybody buys the automatic,’ Juechter said.

The future doesn’t look bright for the manual in the ‘Vette or the industry, Juechter said. ‘It’s a dying business. The people who make a living building manual transmissions, they see that it’s not a bright future for them,’ he explained.

Juechter also said (in another interview, I believe), “DCT [Dual-Clutch Transmission] shifts faster and better than any human can.”

 

People can lament change, but change always happens; it’s the only constant in the world. Besides, tradition aside and as Juechter said, no human being can shift as quickly or as optimally as a modern automatic. That’s not just a technicality as those transmissions help cars get better gas mileage in EPA testing. Why do you think Ford and Lexus offer a 10-speed automatic? It’s primarily for EPA testing.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#MelKiper

#BlindAdherenceToIdeologyIsDangerous

#NoManualForTheC8

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Saturday Sampler

If Mel Kiper and I weren’t friends I probably would not watch the NFL Draft. He and I have known each other for more than 25 years. Mel graciously wrote the forward to my book that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written.

Would you believe that the first round of the NFL Draft has more viewers than virtually all MLB and NBA playoff games? This year, when combining the coverage on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network the number of viewers for the first round was almost the same as the number (on the same night) for The Big Bang Theory, which is only the longest-running multi-camera sitcom in TV history. By the way, people must like to watch Mel because more people watched the draft on ESPN than on ABC.

 

Image result for mel kiper

 

From ftw.usatoday.com a picture of Mel Kiper.

******************

From The Muscleheaded Blog an Ultimate Garage submission, for which I am grateful:

 

Let me see……
I think a vintage Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, or a 1958 Austin Healey 100-6. But, I wouldn’t kick a 1957 Thunderbird out of my garage, either. 🙂

 

From supercars.net a picture of the aforementioned Ferrari:

 

See the source image

 

These cars were powered by a 3-liter/180 cubic-inch V-12—very small displacement for 12 cylinders—that produced 240 HP. How small of a displacement is that? The engine in the 2009 BMW Z4 I owned was almost the exactly the same size with just 6 cylinders.

******************

On this day in 2009 General Motors announced that Pontiac would be dropped and that production would be phased out by the end of 2010. As I have written before I have quite an affinity for the make. My first car was a 1967 GTO; the car I owned the longest was a 1995 Grand Prix. My wonderful wife owned a 1979 Trans Am although this was before I knew her.

In doing a little research to confirm the date I stumbled across this Jalopnik article. In it Bob Lutz, long-time automobile executive who was at GM when the Pontiac decision was made, is quoted as saying:

 

“The Feds basically wanted to get GM down to Cadillac and Chevrolet. They said, ‘You don’t need all these brands. You need one prestige brand, and one mass-market brand.’ And we said ‘well we can’t get rid of Buick because Buick is important in China, and if Buick becomes an orphan in the United States then the Chinese are no longer gonna be interested in it.’ And the Feds said ‘Fair enough, but everything else goes.’ We said we’d also like to keep GMC. They said ‘Well, GMC is basically just like Chevrolet,’ and we said ‘that may be true, there may be a lot of shared components, but GMC has an entirely different image, a different customer base, and people are willing to pay different prices for a GMC, and here’s the profitability,’ and the Feds said ‘whoops, okay, keep GMC.’

So now we had Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet, and then, I wanted, badly wanted, to keep Pontiac, because Pontiac was on its way back, and it had been mismanaged for a number of years, you know, with ‘rebuild excitement,’ and the excitement was only in the plastic body cladding, mechanically there was nothing about Pontiac in the 90s that would make your heart beat faster. And with the Solstice and Solstice coupe, and with the Pontiac G8, which was a great car we were embarked on a strategy of making Pontiac different from the rest of GM in that Pontiac wouldn’t get any front wheel drive cars, they would all be rear-wheel drive, and the next G6 was going to use the architecture of the Cadillac ATS, it was going to be a 3-series sized rear-wheel Pontiac, with basically the Cadillac ATS ‘de-premiumized,’ obviously, a lot of the cost taken out, but still fundamentally that architecture.

That was going to be the next G6, and I think we could’ve moved Pontiac away from every other American volume brand and really started positioning it as an attractive US alternative to some of the, and obviously at much lower prices than the European rear-wheel drive cars, but the Feds said ‘yeah, let’s just, how much money have you made on Pontiac in the last 10 years?’ and the answer was ‘nothing.’ So, it goes. And, when the guy who is handing you the check for 53 billion dollars says I don’t want Pontiac, drop Pontiac or you don’t get the money, it doesn’t take you very long to make up your mind. [emphasis mine]

But I think it is a shame, Pontiac was on its way back, and it was killed before it, before the plant could really sprout blossoms, you know, it was well on its way. So, I agree with you, I think Pontiac was a great, wonderful history, mismanaged for a number of years in the 80s and 90s and it was clearly on its way back, and we were starting to see a very good customer base in Solstices and especially in the G8, which was favorably compared in a lot of road tests to the BMW 5-series, people would say dynamically the car is as good and it’s more powerful and way cheaper, but that was too bad. But you can’t go through Chapter 11 without some really harmful effects.”

 

This statement is more evidence that Buick’s popularity in China saved it from the chopping block.

General Motors seems to be doing well these days. For example, for its fiscal year 2018 it reported profits of about $8 billion. Of course the automobile industry is difficult to predict and very large companies can’t change directions quickly.

A short pictorial homage to Pontiac:

 

See the source image

 

From cardomain.com a picture of a 1967 Pontiac GTO.

From hotrod.com a picture of a 1969 Pontiac Trans Am; in fact, this is supposed to be the first Trans Am built:

 

See the source image

 

From supercars.net a picture of a 2006 Pontiac Solstice GXP. The GXP variant was powered by a turbocharged 2-liter/122 cubic-inch 4-cylinder engine that produced 260 HP/260 LB-FT of torque, which was the highest specific output in GM history.

 

See the source image

 

See the source image

 

From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 1957 Pontiac Bonneville convertible with a fuel-injected engine. The fuelie wasn’t solely reserved for Corvettes.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Wednesday Words Of Wisdom

I wasn’t going to post today as I still feel like crap and I just am blank mentally (yes, even more so than usual). In my Twitter feed, though, I saw this:

“The problem with today’s left-wing and right-wing ideas is that they are both based on the fantasy that the other half of America can be conquered, and when it disappears we can get everything we want.”

From @nytdavidbrooks…

If he really believes both halves of that statement, then he is on the ball in my opinion. NO ONE has a monopoly on truth and wisdom and neither does ANY ideology.

******************

While I’m here, anyway…

The NFL Scouting Combine starts later this week. Surprisingly, Mel Kiper, Jr. will be attending it for the first time. I have mentioned that he attended my wedding. Mel and I have been friends for more than 25 years. He wrote the forward to my book that the Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written.

Mel has great demands on his time and sometimes it is months between conversations, but we then pick up as if we had just spoken last week. He is a great example of Hegel’s famous remark: “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” You can say that the NFL Draft is unimportant, but Mel’s passion for it has ignited the entire cottage industry in covering the draft, in my opinion.

******************

From this article in a British edition of GQ Magazine comes this picture:

This is an Aston Martin DB7. The article title is, “Why the DB7 is the only Aston Martin you should buy.” Several articles like this about the DB7 have appeared on the Internet recently. More from the GQ piece:

“First seen in showrooms some 25 years ago, the DB7 has never been a more appealing package as now. Beautiful body? Check. Supercharged yelp? Check. Impeccable handling, ride and balance? Check, check and check. And all with that fabled badge at the front.

That it was derived from an abandoned Jaguar concept, funded by Ford and refined by Tom Walkinshaw Racing? Irrelevant. Unlike the cynical Cygnet, the DB7 was engineered as an Aston Martin – and the British marque’s blood runs thick in its veins. It was, after all, the car that saved the company.”

Today’s not Frugal Friday, of course, and these cars aren’t cheap, but I looked on AutoTrader and found 7 DB7s listed at $30,000 or less. Remember that the average price of an average new vehicle in the US is approaching $40,000. NOTHING about an Aston Martin is average.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.