Monday Musings 77

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Jim Parker was a Hall of Fame (both Pro and College Football Halls of Fame) offensive lineman who played for the Baltimore Colts from 1957 to 1967. As you can see, he wore number 77.

He was the first “pure” offensive lineman inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. By “pure” I mean he did not play defensive line as well.

Even though unlimited substitution became a permanent part of the NFL in 1950, rosters were so small that many players had to play on offense and defense. In today’s world of “package” football–different combinations of personnel for offense and defense depending on down and distance–that can be hard for younger fans to understand.

Parker was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He was named to the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams. In 1999, he was ranked number 24 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, second among guards behind John Hannah, and third among offensive linemen behind Hannah and Anthony Muñoz, both of whom began their careers well after Parker retired. To be clear, Parker was an All-Pro player at both offensive tackle and guard, the NFL’s designation of him as a Guard in the photo notwithstanding. No offense to Hannah or Muñoz, but they didn’t excel at both positions.

I have a vague recollection that one of Parker’s children attended the same elementary school as I did during much of the time I was there. I wish I had more information. I also seem to recall that even though Parker’s last year was 1967, his PR picture was among those included in a set of 1968 Colts players pictures my father acquired for me. That set has long been out of my possession.

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On this day in 1966 Saab introduced a V-4 engine–licensed from Ford–for its production models, most notably the 96. Here is a picture (from jamesedition.com) of a 1967 model Saab 96:

 

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Although the internal combustion engine is in the late stages of its life cycle, I have long thought that a V-4 engine configuration had some design advantages, despite the added cost of two cylinder heads compared to one in the infinitely more popular inline four. Most notably, the short length of the V-4 allowed it to, potentially, be mounted almost anywhere in the chassis. Here is a picture of one of my idiosyncratic favorites, which happened to be powered by a V-4 engine, the Saab Sonett III:

 

 

I wonder if there are any V-4 gurus in the US. As #somanycarsjustonelife implies, I am almost always thinking about cars.

 

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Small Car Saturday

First…except for the two-day surge in views that occurred in April, 2019 when Bill James tweeted the main link to this blog, yesterday had the highest number of views and visitors for a single day. Thanks, please keep reading and please tell your friends. Speaking of friends: Bill, you are always welcome to tweet the main link to this blog or to any post. 🙂

 

Not sure why this topic came to me, it certainly didn’t appear in a dream, but I have always had a thing for small, “cute” cars. If I continue this as a feature, the parade of such vehicles will not be in any order and some of those cars have already appeared in this blog. From Saab Planet, a picture of a 1974 Saab Sonett III:

 

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The Sonett I (One, not “eye”) was basically a prototype built between 1955 and 1957 with a grand total of six cars produced. In 1966, Saab introduced the Sonett II and then the next year began fitting these cars with a V-4 engine built by Ford.

V-4 engines have been used in motorcycles, but have rarely been used in cars. The most notable exception was Lancia’s use of a V-4 engine in various iterations from 1922 to 1976. I think these very small engines, while being less practical in terms of casting and head design, have advantages in deployment. Their small blocks can be deployed in either a front mid-engine design, leaving the possibility of the desirable long hood, short deck design or they could be deployed behind the driver or even over the rear wheels.

Saab used these engines to replace the two-stroke motors it had been using. Two-stroke motors need to have oil mixed with the fuel and don’t offer much low-end torque.

The Sonett III was introduced in 1970. The car sat on a tiny 85-inch wheelbase. For reference, the shortest wheelbase for any Corvette, which is not a big car, was 96 inches for the C4 (1984-1996). The Sonett III was just 150 inches, 12 1/2 feet, in length. The sleek body was aerodynamically efficient with a drag coefficient of just .31. About 8,400 of the Sonett III were produced through 1974. The 1.7 liter/104 cubic-inch V-4 produced 75 HP/93 LB-FT of torque. Of course, these cars only weighed 1,800 pounds.

I think these cars look fantastic. Without modern safety systems I don’t know how safe I would feel driving one, though.

What do you think of the Sonett III? What are some of your favorite small cars, if any?

 

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