Threes And Sevens: 1937

Yesterday I was looking forward to writing this post. Today, not so much. Still, I will try to write at least one of these every week.

Oh…I want to acknowledge the readers from the following countries (in alphabetical order): Brazil, Canada, India, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Nigeria. Of course, Canada has accounted for 4 percent of all views–and about 5 percent so far in 2022–since I started writing Disaffected Musings in January, 2018. The other countries have accounted for about 5 percent of all views this year.

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On February 11, 1937 a 44-day sit-down strike against the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan ended. GM agreed to recognize the United Auto Workers (UAW) as the bargaining agent for workers.

Ford, specifically Henry Ford, would not recognize the UAW. On May 26, 1937, at The Battle Of The Overpass, men from Ford’s “Service Department” attacked several union organizers. After images of the incident were released to the public, support for Henry Ford and his company greatly decreased. Ford did not sign a contract with the UAW until 1941.

While the recent plague of corruption among UAW leadership weakens support for unions (and is just more evidence that most people who seek power are corrupt and that acquiring power further feeds that corruption), I think there is little doubt they were needed in the 1930s.  Whether they are needed today is an open question, in my opinion, but the fact is that unions are of very little consequence in the US.

In 2021, only 6 percent of private-sector employees belonged to a union. Contrast that to 34 percent of public-sector workers. The total unionization rate was about 10 percent. For the first year that comparable data is available, 1983, that rate was 20 percent.

I think the significant amount of coverage of recent attempts to unionize Amazon warehouses exists because of the decline in union influence. How that will all shake out is anyone’s guess.

 

Elsewhere in the US auto industry in 1937:

While the output of 3.9 million cars represented a 6.7% increase from 1936 (and a 160% increase compared to 1933), sales declined sharply late in the year as a very serious recession hit the US economy. Unemployment remained high at 14.3% in May, 1937, but by June of 1938 had increased to 19.0%. The data strongly suggests that World War II, and not the New Deal, ended the Great Depression.

Ford re-took the lead in model year sales over Chevrolet. Just as in 1933, Plymouth finished a strong third. Those three makes accounted for almost 60 percent of sales/production. The Standard Tudor 5-passenger sedan was Ford’s best-seller in 1937 accounting for a third of the company’s output at about 308,000 units. Below, a photo of “the big dog” for 1937:

 

See the source image

 

At 300,000 units, Chevrolet’s best-seller for 1937, the Master DeLuxe Town sedan, sold almost the same number of units as Ford’s best-seller. The Master DeLuxe Town sedan accounted for 37 percent of Chevrolet sales/production.

E.L. Cord’s automotive enterprise ended in 1937 as he sold what remained of the company to The Aviation Corporation in August. While it’s not clear if any Duesenbergs were actually produced that year, Cord’s namesake car was:

 

See the source image

 

From RM Sotheby’s a picture of a 1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Phaeton. As best as anyone can calculate, 1,278 Cords were produced in 1937 with 688 (54 percent) of those being supercharged models.

While these cars are revered today by many automotive enthusiasts, the dirty little secret is that they were not reliable. They were plagued with balky transmissions and with overheating. However, all of the cars of Cord’s empire–Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg–are highly prized today as a reminder of when some American car companies aimed very high.

Packard produced the most cars of any year in its history–109,518–in 1937. The new 115C, introduced in September of 1936, was very popular. That model actually competed against 6-cylinder Dodges, Pontiacs and Studebakers as it could be purchased for as little as $795. Compare that to the top of the line Packard Twelve which started at $5,900.

The moving downmarket saved Packard in the short run, but many, if not most, automotive historians think it played a significant role in the eventual demise of the company as it was not able (or not willing) to re-focus on higher-margin luxury makes after World War II. The past cannot be altered, but playing “What If?” is part of human nature.

 

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments and feedback. Thanks.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1937

#Cord

#Packard

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Ten Ten Two One

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS SH*T UP!

The Art Institute of Chicago has fired all of its docents, all 122 of them, because the group is not “diverse” enough! Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

Yes, let’s fire people who spent years in training, research and writing–and who work for free–and hire other people who are not qualified just because they are of a certain ethnic or racial background. That sure sounds like discrimination to me. Let’s hire atheists to be Catholic priests or people without any medical training to be neurosurgeons just because of their race or ethnicity.

A madness has surely descended upon the developed world.

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I really like this photograph I took and showed yesterday:

 

 

Yes, the perspective is a little crooked, but that adds to the photo in my opinion, even though the “slant” was unintentional.

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I sent this text to a friend of mine yesterday afternoon:

 

Alabama and Georgia are in different SEC divisions so, presumably, they will meet in the SEC Championship, which will determine the seeds they receive in the four-team playoff.

 

Not so fast…Alabama lost a thrilling game last night at Texas A&M, 41-38, in front of over 106,000 fans. The loss:

 

Ended Alabama’s winning streak at 19 games,

Ended Nick Saban’s winning streak against head coaches who used to be his assistants at 24 games,

Ended Alabama’s 100-game winning streak against unranked teams.

 

My wonderful wife and I watched the fourth quarter and enjoyed it. I think it has become more fun for me to watch a football game without a dog in the fight than with one. Also, even though there’s a lot about college football I don’t like–four-hour games, the STUPID overtime rules–I have enjoyed watching this season more than I have in a long time. I have still only watched one game from beginning to end, though.

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On this day in 1903 Packard ceased all operations at its original assembly plant in Warren, Ohio. Until July, 1956, Packards would be manufactured in Detroit, Michigan, including cars like this:

 

See the source image

 

From Classic.com a picture of a 1933 (or 1934) Packard 1108 Twelve Sport Phaeton. 1934 was the absolute nadir for Packard; well, until the end in the 1950s. Only 6,265 cars were produced. (1933 was no party, either, with fewer than 10,000 cars built.) According to the definitive work, Packard: A History Of The Motor Car And The Company, the 1108, the “11” standing for 11th Series, was actually built in 1933, but because Packard designated its cars by series and not model years, sometimes the year of production has to be researched very carefully. Incredibly, by 1937 Packard output increased to 109,518 units. Unfortunately, they would never reach that level again.

For the nth plus nth time, fewer companies building cars means fewer sources for innovation in engineering and styling. In addition, the move to mostly battery-powered cars will further reduce innovation. The Golden Age for automobiles is now.

 

#TenTenTwoOne

#ForcedDiversityIsDiscrimination

#OneNeverKnows

#Packard

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Monday Musings 73

“Ask The Man Who Owns One”

That was Packard’s famous advertising slogan, which was used for decades. I don’t know why this Hagerty article from December showed up in my email last week, but it’s titled, “If you want to buy Packard, ask the man who owns it.” The piece is about Roy Gullickson, who purchased the rights to the Packard name in 1992 and then spent many years trying to revive the brand, but only succeeded in building one prototype. Here is a picture of said prototype:

 

 

It’s difficult to show a flattering perspective of this car, in my opinion. From the Hagerty article,

 

“…[A]s impressive as the Packard Twelve prototype is from an engineering standpoint (certainly up to historic Packard standards) it could not be considered widely attractive. Trying to evoke the 1940s Clipper makes it look a bit dumpy awkward. To be frank, Dick Teague did a much better job evoking the traditional Packard grille in the Predictor than Gullickson’s team did with the Twelve.”

 

I don’t know if a sale has happened since December, but Gullickson put the “assets” of the company on sale asking $1.5 million. As much as I have lamented the demise of many American automobile makes in this blog, especially the independent ones, I don’t think any of them could be successfully revived. Very few people under the age of 40 have heard of Packard or Studebaker or probably even Oldsmobile, for that matter. The names simply do not resonate, anymore.

What do you think?

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Kerbeck Corvette near Atlantic City, New Jersey has been the largest Corvette dealer in the country for years. (No, the picture wasn’t taken at Kerbeck.) Therefore, it came as quite a shock to read that Kerbeck has agreed to sell three of its dealerships, including its Corvette store, to Ciocca Dealerships.

My wonderful wife bought her first Corvette from Kerbeck in 2015. The salesman could not have been more pleasant, nor less pushy. Supposedly, virtually the entire staff of Kerbeck Corvette will stay under the new ownership. I probably will always think of that dealer as Kerbeck Corvette, not that we are ever going to buy a car from them again.

Perhaps in a sign of the times, the last three Corvettes we have purchased were not from dealers in the state in which we were living. I never saw my Z06 in person before I bought it. Welcome to the 21st century, I guess.

 

#MondayMusings

#AskTheManWhoOwnsOne

#Packard

#KerbeckSale

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Goodbye, Wegmans

I love shopping at Wegmans supermarket. Well, I guess I should write that I loved shopping there. Wegmans does not have stores in the desert being solely Northeast/Mid-Atlantic in location.

Yesterday I went shopping there for the last time. How much do/did I love that place? For the last five years, the closest one to us has been about 18 miles away–one way–and yet it has been our main supermarket as well as our primary pharmacy. Before November of 2015, the closest one was about an hour’s drive–one way–and yet we still went shopping there on occasion.

Since 1998, Wegmans’ employees have put the company on the FORTUNE magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For®. The list began in 1998. Wegmans has always ranked at or near the top among supermarkets in the American Customer Satisfaction Index® and has had at least one year as the top retailer in America regardless of sector. I miss 56PackardMan’s contributions to the blog, but especially miss him here as he spent much of his career in the grocery business. Anyway…the selection of items was fantastic (it should be in a 110,000 square foot store), the prices were very good and the service was amazing. When I asked an employee where an item was instead of being told “Aisle 8A” they would walk me over to the right location and make sure I found the item.

Before I finished loading the groceries in the Z06 (which was another reminder of our impending change as I almost always went shopping at Wegmans in our Kia Sportage, which we sold on Thursday), I took some photos of the exterior of the store.

 

 

Goodbye, Wegmans… 😦

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Thanks to all of the people who read this blog yesterday, which had the second highest number of views in a day in the history of Disaffected Musings as well as one of the top five in the number of unique visitors. Once again, people trying to find out why Cristy Lee is not on the Barrett-Jackson telecast were a large percentage of those views. I finally added a timely update to Where Is Cristy Lee? that answers why she is no longer a part of those broadcasts, at least my best guess. From showbizpost.com a picture of Cristy Lee that has been shown on this blog before.

 

See the source image

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Events like selling the Kia Sportage and the last trip to Wegmans are making the move more real, but for part of me all of this is surreal and won’t believe we’re moving until we’ve actually done so. My mood has been more erratic than usual and it’s intrinsically erratic. My sleep has been even more disturbed than normal, which is both cause and effect for my mood. Unfortunately, I think the hardest part is yet to come.

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On this day in 1900 the first meeting of stockholders and directors of the Ohio Automobile Company was held. You know the company better by the name it adopted on October 13, 1902: the Packard Motor Car Company.

I haven’t written as much about Packard (and Studebaker, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, etc.) lately as I used to. Part of that is explained by the departure of 56PackardMan from the blogosphere, part by the shift in the search for a Grocery Car/Taxi/Corvette Companion to something more modern and not from a defunct American car company. I still admire the cars, though, and still wish some or all of the Independent car companies had survived along with makes like Pontiac and Mercury.

Given that Barrett-Jackson has resumed live auctions, here is a picture of one of my favorite Packards, a 1956 400 model, that was sold at their Scottsdale auction in 2010.

 

See the source image

 

At the current Scottsdale auction, a 1955 Mercury Montclair convertible sold for a strong $75,900 all in. I am mentioning the car because it bears more than a passing resemblance to Packards of the same time frame. Let’s see if I can paste in a photo of that car:

 

1955 MERCURY MONTCLAIR CONVERTIBLE - Misc 1 - 242749

 

I will continue to dream about owning a car like either of these two although I know it’s likely to remain a dream unfulfilled. Once again, what is life without dreams?

 

#GoodbyeWegmans

#CristyLee

#MovingStress

#Packard

#1956Packard400

#1955MercuryMontclair

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Tropical Storm Tuesday

As I write this (at about 5:45 AM), the area where I live is under a Tropical Storm Warning. It is currently raining here although the winds have not yet increased. We are supposed to have seven or eight hours of winds with at least tropical storm force (>39 MPH) gusts.

As I have written before, we live in a neighborhood with many tall trees, including such trees on our lot, that make weather like this most nerve-wracking. I am imagining a worst-case scenario in which we suffer damage that forces us to put the attempt to sell our house on hold. Hey, I am a child of Holocaust survivors and I expect the worst to happen.

“Mother Nature” seems most cruel at present. “The virus” seems unstoppable and although most people who become infected survive, as age increases so does the mortality rate from it. I am not a young person. I believe that until safe and effective vaccines are widely available, we are all going to have to stay in “virus mode.” People who want to go back to normal now are simply clueless.

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Today is Roger Clemens’ birthday. If you don’t know–or even if you do–he is one of the most accomplished players in major league baseball history. Clemens won the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in his league seven times, more than any other pitcher in history.

He was credited with 354 wins in his career; any number 300 or higher is rare and significant. He is the only pitcher in history with 350+ wins and 4,500+ strikeouts. What is also significant is that Clemens is the only pitcher with 300+ career wins who is not a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Clemens has been dogged by accusations that he used steroids during his career. He was also indicted on charges, including perjury and contempt of Congress, stemming from testimony he gave to Congress about his use of such substances. His first trial ended in a mistrial and he was acquitted on all charges in his second trial.

The principle that people are innocent until proven guilty does not apply in the court of public opinion. To the extent that I have an opinion, I think it’s absurd that Clemens is not in the Hall of Fame. Even if he used steroids, those substances cannot turn an ordinary player into a Hall of Fame player.

I don’t know anything about the Basketball or Hockey Halls of Fame, but I think both the Baseball and Football Halls are tainted, primarily by the inclusion of players who don’t belong. However, I think the Baseball Hall of Fame is also tainted by the sanctimonious behavior of many of its voters.

From a Pinterest page, a picture of Roger Clemens:

 

See the source image

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I am currently re-reading Packard: A History of the Motor Car and the Company edited by the late, great Beverly Rae Kimes. She was known as the “First Lady of Automotive History.” The book was awarded the prestigious Cugnot prize for automotive writing.

The book is quite thorough and for someone like me with ADD tendencies it is virtually impossible for me to completely read it word for word. (The book is 828 pages long.) I am also overwhelmed by the desire to re-write history, for Packard to have merged with Nash (or maybe with Nash and Hudson) instead of with Studebaker and at least surviving until Chrysler’s purchase of American Motors in 1987.

I think it is human nature to form an alternate history scenario that ends much more pleasantly than real life. “What If?” is a common question. From the Packard forum (Hey, site moderators. Why doesn’t the Packard forum have a secure URL beginning with https?) a picture of a 1933 Dietrich-bodied V-12 convertible:

 

See the source image

 

From Streetside Classics a picture of a 1956 Packard Executive:

 

See the source image

 

Maybe some day…

 

#TropicalStormTuesday

#RogerClemens

#Packard

#BeverlyRaeKimes

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Update: I’m posting from my phone at 1:10 PM Eastern Time. We lost power at 12:30. In anticipation of such an event I surrounded the milk in the fridge with ice packs. Modern refrigerators are not designed to keep food cold very long without power.

I hope power outages are far less common in the desert. In any event we are going to have some type of backup power system.

 

 

 

Compulsion

I wasn’t going to post today, but here I am. As I awoke before 5 AM for the second consecutive day and since I cannot use the treadmill because my wonderful wife is still asleep, here I am. Once again, OCD is a bitch even if it’s OCD-lite.

 

I have been reading Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company edited by Beverly Rae Kimes. She was, perhaps, the finest chronicler of American automotive history. The book is enormous at 800 pages and with my other wonderful trait, ADD, sometimes I just can’t wade through all of the details about the engineering, the interiors, etc. However, I am enjoying the book.

Would you buy a car without a working master cylinder?

 

 

From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1956 Packard Executive without a functioning master cylinder. No, I am not going to buy this or any other car anytime soon, but as I have written before my brain is pestering me with the idea of buying a car that was built before I was born and is not too expensive. The seller is asking $8,000.

This was the last model year for the “real” Packard manufactured in Detroit. It was also the only year such cars featured a negative ground, 12-volt electrical system, the standard for cars built in the last 60 years. Of course, that is changing as some manufacturers have moved to a 48-volt system.

While this car will not end up in my Ultimate Garage 2.0 another Packard might. Speaking of Ultimate Garages I am still hoping more of you will send me yours. Not that I can’t post yours after I reveal mine, of course, but some of you might not want to wait until then. I will probably start before Memorial Day.

 

#compulsion

#Packard

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Tuesday Notes

Belated condolences to the family of John McCain. Regardless of one’s political inclinations (or lack thereof), I think McCain’s service to his country should be appreciated.

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In this post I mentioned a book called “Ask The Man Who Owns One,” which was a famous ad slogan for Packard. Well, you didn’t think I would discover the book’s existence and not buy it, do you? Remember, I have an unhealthy obsession with defunct American makes.

In this blog I have argued that the famous saying, “If you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door” is often incorrect. Apparently, Henry Joy—longtime Packard president in addition to having a large ownership stake—agreed. Joy once wrote to James Packard (co-founder of the company), “We cannot make a success of this business by hiding our light under a bushel. It seems to me that anybody in this business has to make a demand for his goods by making a constant noise about them. In addition, of course, the goods must have merit, but no matter how meritorious, they will disappear from the ring unless pushed before the public with the greatest possible vigor.”

In the classical economics model, information is free and its transmission is frictionless. In the real world, people won’t buy something, regardless of quality, if they are unaware of its existence. People are also not omniscient, regardless of what those blinded by ideology think.

In honor of Packard a photo of a 1955 Caribbean convertible I took at a local auto show. Sorry, 56packardman that it’s not a 1956 model.

Another Packard picture:

See the source image

From momentcar.com a picture of a 1931 Packard 840.

See the source image

From hobbydb.com a photo of a Packard ad with the famous slogan. Note the year.

While Packard was never a high-volume manufacturer, it did produce over 1.6 million vehicles in its history. For a long time, Packard was revered as a standard of luxury and excellence. Hopefully, the latter quality will never go out of style or out of fashion.

For those interested in reading more about Packard, I highly recommend The Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company by James A. Ward.

 

If you’re reading this after clicking on a link from the Studebaker Drivers Club or Packard Info, welcome. Please feel free to bookmark the blog URL, https://disaffectedmusings.com, and return often.

 

 

Obsession

I am obsessed with defunct American car makes, such as Packard, Studebaker and Pontiac. Why? What shapes our interest in anything? I believe it is a combination of genetics and environment.

A picture like this (from Hemmings and, obviously, Volocars.com; https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/desoto/firedome/2016958.html) makes my day. This is a 1956 DeSoto Firedome. I have developed a real affinity for 1950s American cars, but the fact that this is a DeSoto makes it even more appealing to me.

I own and have intently read books on Packard and Studebaker. I will probably buy books on American Motors and fervently wish a complete history of Pontiac were available. In general, why am I so interested in cars? Is (was) it an attempt to bond with my father, even though he has been dead for 25 years? My father was an auto mechanic who owned and operated a service station in the days when those businesses sold gas and fixed cars, not gas, snacks and lottery tickets. No inanimate object captures my attention as much as cars. Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to know why that is so. What difference does it make, anyway?

See the source image

From conceptcarz.com a picture of a 1930 Packard 745 Deluxe Eight. I don’t know why, but a picture of a similar car built by Cadillac would not be as interesting to me.

Besides automobiles (I assume you’re interested if you’re reading this), in what other subjects do you have interest? Why do you think you’re interested or do you even care? I would very much like to read your opinions.