Saturday Summation

The mid-term elections? The only political axiom to which I subscribe is that no matter where one stands on the political spectrum, much of the truth is usually somewhere else. I think both parties have lost the plot and are only concerned with elections and not with governance.

I think too many Americans have succumbed to what I call the bulls**t binary political paradigm, that you have to be an adherent of one major party or the other. Too many Americans don’t understand that many ways exist to define the role and scope of government and its relationship with the population.

For me, the right to vote means the right not to vote. I don’t think anyone should brag about voting for the lesser of two evils. If I don’t vote it is not a vote for the person you oppose, it is a vote for no one.

My 2¢.

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On this day in 1900, the first modern, major automobile show began in New York City. This article from the American Oil and Gas Historical Society provides excellent information on the show. From that article comes this photo:

first auto show

More from the article:

“An innovative assortment of electric, steam, and ‘internal explosion’ engines powered these horseless carriages. New manufactures like Olds Motor Works of Lansing, Michigan, built models of each kind to compete in the developing market.

The manufacturers presented 160 different vehicles at the first national automobile show. Future leaders of the the nation’s greatest transportation industry gave driving and maneuverability demonstrations on a 20-foot-wide track that surrounded the exhibits. A wooden 200-foot ramp tested hill-climbing power.

About 48,000 show visitors paid 50¢ each to see the latest automotive technology. The most popular models proved to be electric, steam and gasoline…in that order. New Yorkers welcomed electric models as a way to reduce the estimated 450,000 tons of horse manure, 21 million gallons of urine, and 15,000 horse carcasses removed from the city’s streets each year.”

Everything old is new again. At the beginning of the 20th century it was not clear how popular the automobile would be nor was it clear which power source would “win” the battle. Electric cars were quite popular as were steam-powered cars. The only constant in the world is change. I have read that none of the automobile manufacturers that participated in the 1900 show are still in business and yet the automobile industry continues to thrive even with occasional bumps in the road.

According to one of my favorite books, History of the American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®, for 1899-1900 the most popular car in America was made by Columbia with Locomobile in second. Columbia was the brand name used by the Pope Manufacturing Company that was far more famous for its bicycles, most of which also used the Columbia brand name.

From classicarweekly.net a photo of an 1899 Columbia automobile:

https://i0.wp.com/www.classiccarweekly.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/1899-Columbia-Highwheeler.jpg

Except in appreciation for their role in establishing the automobile I don’t have interest in these ancient cars. I would never own one no matter what my net worth. The oldest cars that interest me, and this has changed in the past five years or so, are cars from the 1930s.

Do you have interest in “brass era” cars? What are the oldest cars that interest you?

 

What If?!

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

John Greenleaf Whittier’s famous line resonates all over human history. Being a car nut I think of this line often in the context of great automobile designs never produced or produced but not successful because of exogenous circumstances.

No, this is not a picture of a first-generation Mercury Cougar:

As the caption reads this is actually a picture of the AMX II with more “traditional” styling than the AMX that was produced. (The resemblance to the first generation Cougar is striking, in my opinion.) Potential buyers may have claimed they liked the styling of the production car better, but only about 19,000 of the first generation AMX (1968-1970) were produced. In 1968 alone Chevrolet produced 235,000 Camaros and Pontiac produced 107,000 Firebirds. Yes, it is somewhat of a specious comparison given the relative sizes of GM and AMC, but it is what it is.

This picture and the ones that follow are shown here thanks to the gracious courtesy of Patrick Foster and the Patrick Foster Historical Collection. (Please do not use these photos without first obtaining permission.) The pictures are from Mr. Foster’s terrific book, American Motors Corporation – The Rise and Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker. This book and others by Patrick Foster can be purchased here.

The red car was the AMX/2 and the yellow car was the AMX/3 that actually saw very limited production. The AMX/3 looks Italian to me, perhaps a little bit like the Lamborghini Miura. The Italian look is honestly derived as the exterior was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini.

Believe it or not USA Today ran a story about the AMX/3 in December, 2016 titled Just Cool Cars: AMX/3 could have saved American Motors. The text in the story actually contradicts the title, however.

OK, regular Disaffected Musings readers, you all know where this is going. For literally the n-hundredth time fewer automobile manufacturers means fewer sources of innovation for styling and for engineering. The consolidation of car companies also means fewer choices for the consumer and has led, with a big nudge from government regulation, to the homogenized group of automobiles sold today. (No, not all regulation is bad, but ALL regulation comes with a cost just like everything else in life. One definition of an ideologue is someone who refuses to acknowledge that the positions they advocate come with costs.)

AMC was late to the pony car market with the Javelin (one of my favorites) not being introduced until the 1968 model year. The AMX was a derivative of the Javelin. The Mustang was introduced in April, 1964 as a 1964 1/2 (1965) model year car. The Camaro and Firebird were introduced in the 1967 model year. That delay in entering a popular segment hurt American Motors. Still, perhaps it was inevitable that AMC would succumb to the Big Three. Remember, however, that I do NOT believe that what happened was the only thing that COULD have happened. All we can do at this point is simply to ponder what might have been.

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Another ho-hum game for Patrick Mahomes in a 45-10 Chiefs’ blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals. He threw for 358 yards in 39 attempts with 4 touchdowns. Mahomes also set a record by throwing 22 touchdown passes in his first eight career games. The NFL has changed the rules many times in the last 40 years; almost all of those changes favor offense and the passing game. Still, Mahomes’ accomplishments so far are noteworthy.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

 

Here We Go

The Khashoggi incident shows that the Saudi leadership is hardly an enlightened group and still believes in medieval methods. I would love it if the US never bought another drop of oil from Saudi Arabia. Before one compares what happened to Khashoggi to US interrogation of terrorists, Khashoggi was no terrorist.

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My love of cars with internal combustion engines may seem very inconsistent with my desire to stop buying oil from the Saudis. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” I believe that the phrase “a foolish consistency” applies to those who blindly follow a particular ideology. Repeat after me: NO ONE has a monopoly on truth and wisdom and neither does ANY ideology.

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An interesting set of comments from BMW’s head of research and development, Klaus Fröhlich, as quoted here in Automobile Magazine: “If you assume that, from this 30 percent [pure electric cars and hybrids], half of them are plug-in hybrids—I have 85 percent in my portfolio in 2030 with a combustion engine.” Fröhlich also remarked, “But the world—Russia, Australia, a large portion of the world—they will have combustion engines for a very long time.”

More than 1.2 billion cars and trucks are owned by citizens all over the world and almost all of those vehicles run on gasoline or diesel. Every year, more than 70 million new cars and trucks are purchased by people all over the world and most of those run on gasoline or diesel. Even forgetting that the manufacture of plastics is based on petroleum, the sheer number of vehicles in the world using internal combustion engines means that the oil infrastructure is not going away any time soon. Countries that seek to ban all internal combustion engine vehicles from operating within their borders in the intermediate future are seeking a pipe dream and/or a harmful disruption to their economies. “Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.”

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Does that last statement apply to winning the lottery? The level of Mega Millions ticket sales has boosted the annuity value of the jackpot to $970 million and the cash value to $548 million. I believe this is the second highest jackpot in US lottery history. I can’t find rock-solid research on this topic, but I have read in multiple places that about two-thirds of lottery winners are bankrupt within five years of their win. I have my theories as to why that might happen, if true, but those theories are extremely politically incorrect and I am not interested in starting a flame war. I will simply repeat something I have written here: Ignorance is NOT bliss.

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If my wonderful wife and I were to win the Mega Millions lottery, what other cars might I buy besides a C2 Corvette and a De Tomaso Longchamp? Earlier this week I showed the 1987 Buick GNX as a possible purchase. How about this?

See the source image

From hotrod.com a picture of a 1967 Mercury Cougar with what I think are non-standard wheels. While every regular Disaffected Musings reader knows I am not a big FoMoCo fan because of its founder, I like to think I am an agnostic when it comes to cars. That is, with the exception of Volkswagen and Porsche, I try to judge the car apart from its manufacturer.

While the Cougar was basically a Ford Mustang with a different body I think the Cougar is a great example of crisp American styling. I didn’t show the front end, but I am a big fan of hidden headlights, which is one of the very few topics about which I can be accused of preferring form over function.

Six 1967 Cougars are currently listed for sale on Hemmings, not counting auction vehicles. The asking prices range from $8,000 to $29,900 with four of the six listed at less than $20,000. I didn’t grow up with money so maybe that’s a partial explanation as to why I like so many cars that are not expensive.

OK, folks…what cars would you buy if you won an unimaginable amount of money?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Not so fast…

https://carbuzz.com/news/mazda-conducts-study-to-prove-not-everyone-loves-hybrids

I’m not sure I like the title because it implies Mazda was not objective (maybe they weren’t), but this conclusion from the study is very telling, to me: “consumers don’t necessarily share the view of many organizations that the internal combustion engine has no role to play in the future of cars.” (I will also add that if anyone thinks autonomous cars are the only way to travel in the future, just read about Air France flight 447 and get back to me.)

In the classic movie Animal House, Dean Wormer tells Flounder, “fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.” I would paraphrase that and tell all of those political ideologues who are so sure they have the right to tell everyone else how to behave, “smug, self-righteous and arrogant is no way to go through life.”

See the source image

From amcarguide.com a picture of a 1967 Corvette. I will always defend the right of a person to drive one of these.