Threes And Sevens: 1993

First, since most of you do not read the comments I am going to post this one from long-time regular reader and commenter, Dirty Dingus McGee. I am not showing it because it happened to be the 7,000th published comment on Disaffected Musings.

 

”this blog will have less automotive content”

I, DDM, also have less automotive content today, not by choice however. I’ll explain:

Friday I headed out to a race track with High Times, my gasser, for a bracket race. Not a huge one, probably 100 cars entered, $3,000 to win. Friday evening around 6.00pm I was lined up for time trials, in the left lane. Burnout was fine, launch was fine, shifted to second and at about 400 feet into the run all hell broke loose. Car made a HARD left turn and I hit the wall at a more than 45 degree angle (I’m told) at around 110 mph. From what I’m told, the car climbed the wall partially and went over on to the passenger side and rolled over twice, finally coming to a stop on the passenger side. I remember none of that as I apparently blacked out on the initial contact with the wall. Luckily there was a good safety team there and they were able to get me out of the car fairly quickly. As I did have some injuries they went straight to the hospital with me, one of my semi volunteer crew with me.I was released from the hospital Sunday morning. The injury count, while high, could have been far worse. I ended up with a mild concussion, a torn ACL in my left knee, broken left ankle, broken pinkie and ring finger on my left hand and a light bruise on my heart. From what I understand, and what little I saw, my car likely suffered fatal injuries. It’s currently at the home of a fellow racer from that area, who graciously brought it, and my trailer, to his home for storage until I can get it home.

The good: I’m alive, thanks to the safety equipment in the car and on me; over built cage, harness, HANS device and Snell approved helmet.

The bad: After visiting an orthopedic surgeon today, I will be having surgery in 2 weeks to repair the ACL, rest to let my heart and head heal and probably 2 months for everything else to heal.

The ugly: I hurt in places I wasn’t aware COULD hurt, including my “boy parts”. In addition to the 5 point harness, I had added “anti submarine” belts which come up between your legs. At the moment, I’m a giant bruise and even my toenails hurt.

The aftermath: Too soon to tell. As I said, I suspect the car suffered fatal injuries. Why did it make a hard left? I will guess either fluid under the left side of the car resulting in loss of traction (unlikely), or (more likely) a broken axle on the left side. When I get the car home and can look it over I will know what the future holds for it, but my impression is that it likely made its last pass under its own power.

The future: Unknown at this point. In the event the car is irreparable, I doubt I’ll build another like it. It would take too long and the cost would be high. I probably have over 6 figures invested in High Times over the years and will be able to sell off some parts and get back pennies on the dollar if I’m lucky. Will I continue to drag race once I’m healed? Yes, but in lower powered cars I suspect. (my magic 8 ball said “check back later”)

All in all, NOT how I planned on spending my weekend.

 

I wish DDM a quick and complete recovery.

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This is the penultimate post in the Threes And Sevens series. According to The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® in 1993, “…unemployment and the lingering recession hurt car sales.” However, according to Car Sales Base, total US sales of new vehicles increased 8.6% compared to 1992. Yes, that includes light trucks and imports.

Still, when comparing sales from the top 12 US makes in 1992 and 1993, the latter year saw an increase of 5.9%. Anyway, as in 1987, Ford and Chevrolet (technically, Chevrolet/Geo) were the only US makes to reach seven figures in production/sales. The Blue Oval’s number was 1.29 million and the Bow Tie’s was 1.05 million. Ford’s best-seller was also in the middle of a four-year run as America’s best-selling car. Do you remember the Taurus?

 

See the source image

 

Ford produced roughly 459,000 units of the Taurus in 1993. In those four model years (1992-95), Ford manufactured more than one and a half million Taurus. The least expensive one for 1993 was the GL sedan with an MSRP of $15,491. The limited production SHO was the most expensive at $24,859; about 22,000 of those were produced or only about 5 percent of total Taurus output.

For me, FoMoCo’s most interesting product in 1993 was the all-new Lincoln Mark VIII. Here is a photo:

 

See the source image

 

Not even thirty years later, Lincoln no longer manufactures cars of any kind, let alone a two-door model. Lincoln produced 32,370 Mark VIII models at an MSRP of $36,640. That represented about 18 percent of total Lincoln volume.

The engine for the Mark VIII was a 4.6 liter/281 cubic-inch, double-overhead cam (not a typo) V-8 that produced 280 HP/285 LB-FT of torque. The base Corvette engine, which displaced 350 cubic inches, had 300 HP/340 LB-FT.

Speaking of the Corvette, engine output for the limited production and very expensive ZR-1 model increased to 405 HP/385 LB-FT of torque. Only 448 were sold that year and with an MSRP of $66,278, almost twice the base price for a coupe, maybe that’s not a surprise. Of course, Chevrolet had sort of predetermined the number of ZR-1s to be sold.

For $50,000 one could buy one of these:

 

See the source image

 

That is, of course, a 1993 Dodge Viper with its awful fitting top. It looks to me like a very bad toupee. Dodge sold 1,043 Vipers in 1993 powered by an 8-liter/488 cubic-inch V-10 producing 400 HP/465 LB-FT of torque.

Yes, I will mention that 1993 was the last year for the Cadillac Allante. The ’93 Allante was part of my Ultimate Garage 3.0 published last July. (It’s still hard for me to believe that was a year ago.) I picked the ’93 model because it was the only one with the 295 HP/290 LB-FT Northstar V-8. The previous six models were beautiful, but underpowered.

 

See the source image

 

The Chevrolet Cavalier was General Motors’ best-seller for 1993. Anyone want to guess what was number two?

 

See the source image

 

Obviously from GTCarLot.com is a picture of a 1993 Pontiac Grand AM GT Coupe. Of course, the four-door sedan sold many more units, but with total production of more than 247,000 the Grand Am was GM’s second-best seller in 1993.

I almost bought one of these after I moved to California in 1995, but when I saw the Grand Prix I liked the looks much more so I bought that instead. This generation Grand Am was manufactured from 1991 to 1998 with a total output of 1.76 million units. Of course, I much prefer the 1973-75 Grand Am, a totally different kind of car.

 

Once again, I hope you have enjoyed the soon to be finished Threes And Sevens series.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#DirtyDingusMcGee

#1993

#LincolnMarkVIII

#PontiacGrandAm

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Threes And Sevens: 1987

First, 1987 was one of the most important years in my life. On December 23rd of that year, my hometown Baltimore Orioles offered me a full-time job in Baseball Operations. I recounted the story in greater detail here, so you can read that post if you want to know more.

 

As it pertains to the US automobile industry, 1987 could be said to have been the year of three letters, as in AMC and GNX. American Motors Corporation (AMC), the last of the US independent automakers, ceased to be independent as on March 9, 1987 Chrysler Corporation agreed to buy out Renault’s stake in AMC (either 46% or 49%) in addition to all other outstanding shares for $1.5 billion. The takeover was finalized in August. Chrysler and AMC had entered into an agreement in 1985 where the latter would build rear wheel drive “large” cars for Chrysler through at least 1990.

Chrysler’s primary interest in acquiring AMC was Jeep, but the new manufacturing plant in Brampton, Ontario as well as AMC’s dealership network were also enticing. AMC was renamed the Jeep-Eagle division of Chrysler in 1988. Long-time auto executive Bob Lutz, one-time President of Chrysler, remarked:

 

“Chrysler’s acquisition of AMC was one of the all-time great moments in corporate serendipity that most definitely played a key role in demonstrating how to accomplish change.”

 

Lee Iacocca, Chrysler chairman, retained some AMC units, such as engineering, completely intact. AMC’s lead engineer, Francois Castaing, was made the head of Chrysler’s engineering. Under Castaing, Chrysler developed an all-new line of cars and trucks that led the company to real success in the 1990s. One of his projects that came to fruition was the Dodge Viper. An aside: my wonderful wife and I met Mr. Castaing while we were having breakfast in Scottsdale, Arizona in May of this year. He was with Marty Nelson, whose agricultural products company has made him wealthy enough to be a large buyer and consignor of cars at many Mecum auctions.

The last vehicles produced by AMC before the takeover were the Renault-derived Alliance and the Eagle. Chrysler continued to use the name Eagle as a separate make through the 1998 model year. Below is a picture of a 1987 AMC Eagle sedan, of which only 751 were produced.

 

See the source image

 

Of course, the Buick GNX has reached legendary status among US automobiles. 1987 was the last model year for the GM G-Body rear-wheel drive cars. Production of the Grand National–the GNX was a variant of that model, of course–was not halted until December, 1987. Buick manufactured 20,193 Grand Nationals, but just 547 GNXs. Without further ado:

 

1987 Buick GNX

 

This one is supposedly number 186 of the 547 GNXs produced. This was the fastest car produced in the US in 1987, even faster than the Corvette. It can be hard to get one’s head around that fact, especially since Buick doesn’t even manufacture cars, anymore, only SUVs. The GNX could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 5.4 seconds (that was Buick’s “official” time, I have also seen that time reported as 4.7 seconds) and do mid-13s in the standing quarter-mile. A 1987 Corvette could do 0-60 in 5.9 seconds with mid-14s in the standing quarter. The GNX was faster, 0-60, than a Ferrari 328.

ASC/McLaren actually built much of the GNX for Buick. The car’s turbocharged 231 cubic-inch V-6 was rated at 276 HP/360 LB-FT of torque. The standard turbo for the Regal line was rated 245 HP/355 LB-FT. Many car enthusiasts think Buick understated the engine output as well as the 0-60 time and that real output was closer to 300 HP/420 LB-FT. You will be seeing the GNX/Grand National featured in a Hall of Very Good Cars post.

 

Another one of my favorites, a different model year of which appeared in my Ultimate Garage 3.0 last July (!), debuted in 1987: the Cadillac Allante. Below is (hopefully) a picture of an ’87 Allante as I think they look best, with the auxiliary hardtop in place:

 

See the source image

 

Of course, the Allante was a failure for Cadillac and General Motors as only about 21,400 were built during seven model years of production through 1993.

 

1987 model-year US production declined 6.5 percent from 1986 to 7.4 million cars. Chevrolet and Ford were the only two makes to reach the one-million level: Chevy at 1.38 million and Ford at 1.18 million. What was the best-selling Chevrolet model in 1987? Do you remember the Celebrity?

 

 

Chevrolet produced 362,524 Celebrity vehicles in 1987, of which 273,864 were sedans like the one shown above. Yawn…

 

Imports grabbed a 31 percent share of new car sales in the US in 1987. No one could have predicted that in 1957.

Ford earned $4.6 billion in profits in 1987, at the time the highest nominal (not adjusted for inflation) profit for any US automaker. No one could have foreseen that about two decades later Ford would record a $12.7 billion loss. Of course, it was the only Big Three automaker not to file for bankruptcy during the Great Recession of 2008-09.

Would you believe that 54 percent of US cars were built with four-cylinder engines in 1987? Only 18 percent were built with V-8s.

 

Well, just two Threes And Sevens posts remaining, 1993 and 1997. I hope you have enjoyed this series.

 

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#1987

#AmericanMotorsCorporation

#BuickGNX

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Threes And Sevens: 1983

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my (i)ncomparable niece! For the next year her age will be the square of an integer.

Second, despite not really being forecast we did receive a light rain yesterday for 5-10 minutes. As I have written before, living in the desert has made me a rain watcher and rain fan. Late afternoon the skies to our north and northeast turned quite dark and the weather radar did indicate heavy rain in those areas. As most of the precipitation here is not the product of a front creating lift, the movement of rain, or lack thereof, can be difficult to predict. The movement of this precipitation did seem to be headed our way and, lo and behold, we had rain.

We also had quite a lot of wind, which opened the lid of the recycle bin in the backyard and blew my wonderful wife’s pool floatee quite a distance. Anyway, below are three pictures. One that is supposed to show raindrops on the window in the second floor bonus room and two that show the aftermath of the rain.

 

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So, what was significant about 1983 in the US automobile industry? Well, the convertible returned to the marketplace. The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado had been the “last” American ragtop, but once again history is replete with examples of the folly of human beings trying to predict the future. Ford offered a convertible Mustang and sold about 23,000 of them. However, the ragtop I want to show is not a favorite of mine, per se, but has significance to me, anyway. From The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®:

 

 

Yes, production was a “scant” 1,750 units, but at $24,960 this model was $9,000 more than Buick’s next most expensive offering. It was also more expensive than any non-limousine Cadillac or Lincoln. I don’t have the patience to calculate a production/sales weighted average price for 1983 Buicks, but most of the Skyhawk and Skylark models could be purchased in the $7,500 neighborhood.

The base engine for the Riviera ragtop produced 125 HP/205 LB-FT of torque and the car weighed about 3,900 pounds. Obviously, my association with Buick, a major factor in the recent purchase of my Buick Cascada convertible, led me to show this car in this post. A note: the Cascada has been criticized for being underpowered, but has 75 more horsepower than the ’83 Riviera and similar torque at a similar weight. Besides, these automobiles are cruisers, not sports cars.

 

About 9.2 million cars were sold in the US in 1983 and 6.8 million of those were built in North America, some by foreign manufacturers. Speaking of foreign automakers, those from Japan agreed to a fourth consecutive year of import restrictions.

General Motors took the top three spots among domestic car companies in production/sales in 1983. Chevrolet was first and the only make to surpass one million (1.175 million). Oldsmobile was second at about 917,000 units and Buick was third with 808,000. What was the best-selling Chevy model that year?

 

See the source image

 

Keeping with the theme of the re-entry of ragtops in the US auto market, here is a picture of a 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier CS convertible. Chevrolet produced approximately 218,500 Cavaliers, of which only 627 were convertibles. These cars had an MSRP of $10,990; the rest of the Cavalier line sold for between $5,900 and $6,600. As far as I can tell, this model was available with only one engine: a 121 cubic-inch inline-4 cylinder that produced 88 HP/110 LB-FT of torque. They’re not ugly cars to me, but I have no desire to run out and to buy an ’83 Cavalier ragtop.

For the first time, the average price of a new car sold in the US reached five figures at $10,700. JD Power reported that buyers of new domestic cars had a median age of 49.5 and an annual income of $34,790. Perhaps not surprisingly, buyers of imports were younger, but somewhat surprisingly had a higher average income. Age and income are positively correlated, at least until people reach their 60s. A sign of the inflation rampant in the US economy then (sound familiar?), the 1983 average price was 54 percent higher than the price from just four years earlier.

Chrysler Corporation paid off its $1.2 billion in federally guaranteed loans–seven years early. The K-Car platform, while reviled today, saved the company, at least until the first decade of the 21st century.

 

Of course, there were no 1983 model year Corvettes although Vettes were built in calendar year 1983. Mercedes-Benz used this technicality to claim that its SL models were the longest-running car line built in the world, until it stopped making that model after the 2020 model year. Ironically, M-B has brought back the car after a one-year hiatus as a limited-production automobile all with the AMG designation. From the Corvette Black Book:

 

“The 1984 Corvette was introduced in March 1983. Because of its late introduction and since it met all 1984 federal requirements, Chevrolet General Manager Robert Stemple decided to skip the 1983 model year.”

 

The 1984 Corvette would be the first of the fourth generation Vette or C4. That generation was produced through the 1996 model year.

 

That’s all for today, folks. Just three more posts remain in the Threes And Sevens series.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1983

#somanyCARSjustonelife

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Threes And Sevens: 1977

An old adage states, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” Therefore, I will present this as a challenge instead of as a threat. When the next installment of Hall of Very Good Cars is posted (probably on Thursday the 7th), please do all you can to make sure it has more views than the first edition. The number I have in mind is that its views on the day of publication should be greater than or equal to the combined number of views the first post had on the day of publication and the day after. Thanks.

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For me, 1977 is the Seinfeld of years in the US automobile industry: nothing happened. Well, nothing exciting, anyway.

A tangent: I believe the whole “Seinfeld was the show about nothing” axiom arose from the Season 2 episode, The Chinese Restaurant. The episode takes place in only one locale, a Chinese restaurant (duh). I’m not sure if it was after he read the script or after he saw the produced but unaired episode, but then-NBC President Warren Littlefield commented, “Jerry, isn’t something supposed to happen on the show? Nothing happened.” Many upper-level NBC executives did not want the show produced after they had read the script and most of them did not wanted the show broadcast. Eventually, of course, the show aired and was one of the landmark episodes, one very different from standard sitcom fare at the time.

Back to 1977 in the US automobile industry: by this time, foreign manufacturers had made significant inroads in the US market. For example, in 1967 Toyota sold about 38,000 vehicles in the US. By 1977 that figure had grown to 439,000. Sales of imported cars in the US reached the two million mark for the first time. I guess that event was of some importance, but the foreign car “invasion” began long before 1977.

US manufacturers produced 9.1 million cars for the 1977 model year. That represented a healthy increase of about a million from 1976, but was not substantially higher than the 8.8 million for 1965.

Chevrolet led all domestic manufacturers with production of 2.54 million cars. Ford was second with 1.84 million and Oldsmobile–now defunct, sadly–finished third at 1.14 million. General Motors continued to dominate domestic car production/sales as Pontiac (also sadly defunct, of course) and Buick finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Perhaps the fact that GM beat its Big Three competitors to the market with downsizing of their full-sized models led to its market share exceeding 60 percent, excluding foreign makes. I would love to write a book on the history of the US automobile industry, but very little in the 21st century interests me and no one would buy it, anyway.

After a long run of dominance, the Impala was not Chevrolet’s best-selling model in 1977. Anyone want to guess what was? Here it is:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The Landau coupe is shown here even though the S coupe was more popular that year. I couldn’t find a good photo of an S spec.

Monte Carlo production reached 411,000 in 1977, of which the S spec was about 55 percent. Combined, the Monte Carlo, the Caprice and the Nova had production/sales of 1.12 million units.

What else happened in 1977? Do you care that American Motors introduced a Pacer wagon, which–not surprisingly–did not help Pacer sales? Neither do I. Do you care that Chevrolet added the Concours model as sort of an upscale Nova? Neither do I. Like I wrote, 1977 was basically a year when nothing of note happened in the US automobile industry.

As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

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#1977

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Threes And Sevens: 1973

Yesterday’s post wasn’t exactly read by a lot of people. Basically, Monday had the same number of views as Sunday, a day without a post. That’s quite discouraging to me.

On another personal note, 1973 was the year I was bar-mitzvahed. Do I have to explain what that is? When a Jewish boy turns 13 he assumes all the rights and obligations of a Jewish adult. A ceremony is usually held, in a synagogue, to celebrate that event. Two of my best friends, Dr. Zal and Dr. Hoss, were also bar-mitzvahed in 1973. In fact, our three ceremonies were held eight days apart.

My bar-mitzvah (meaning “son of the commandment”) was, in one way, a horror show. My parents were on the road to divorce, with my father driving the car, and did not sit at the same table during the reception. One can imagine the tension that created for me.

On the other hand, 1973 was the year my (i)ncomparable niece was born. Her presence has been a supreme blessing for all of us.

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What American car from 1973 was named to Edmunds’ list of the 100 most beautiful cars of all time in 2012? It wasn’t the Corvette, the Camaro or the Challenger. It was this car:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am. From Edmunds: “The most daring nose ever put on a GM product. Clean elegance for the everyman, but still masculine. Looks best with honeycomb wheels and the optional Ram Air hood with two NACA ducts.” Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but my eyes also see a great exterior design. Here is another picture, this one from The American Car by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®.

 

 

Of course, the most significant development for the US auto industry in 1973 was the OPEC oil embargo that began in October. As “punishment” for its continued support of Israel (including during the Yom Kippur War that occurred that month), OPEC–dominated by Arab nations–stopped directly exporting oil to the US. The embargo led to gasoline shortages, long lines and large price increases. (The embargo was lifted in March of 1974.)

The price of a barrel of oil increased four-fold during the embargo. While it ultimately led to more enlightened policy to make the US more energy independent, in the short-term the embargo and its effects greatly contributed to a long-lived recession that lasted through 1975. While this post is about 1973, it is worth noting that US car output declined from more than eight million units in ’73 to just 6.5 million in 1975. All of the figures from 1973-75 were still below 1965’s mark of 8.8 million cars produced.

 

Other 1973 developments:

All US-made 1973 model year cars had to be equipped with front bumpers that protected the car from a 5-MPH crash as well as 2.5-MPH rear bumpers. Cars built after January 1, 1973 had to have protective beams in the doors.

Exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) valves were mandated for 1973 to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

A new Federal law required dealers to formally disclose mileage on used cars and banned tampering with the odometer.

In order to meet ever increasing emissions standards, in addition to responding to insurance practices that made owning performance cars quite expensive for many, US cars lost much performance. Take the Corvette, for example. The last Threes And Sevens post was about 1967. The base engine for the Corvette that year had 300 horsepower; the highest-rated engine was 435 HP, but the L88 option probably had at least 100 more HP than that even though it was rated at 430.

Granting that some of the decline was due to a change in how engine output was measured, but in 1973 the base Corvette engine had 190 HP–a 37 percent decline from 1967. The highest rated Vette engine in ’73 was the 454 big-block rated at 275 HP, also a 37 percent decline from 1967’s highest official rating and about a 50 percent decline from the likely output of the L88.

As I have written before, and as most car aficionados know, in time automobile engineers would outsmart the government and the insurance companies. In 1973, though, no one knew that would happen. In some ways, the period from 1972-73 through the early 80s could be seen as the Dark Ages of the US automobile industry, a time when things moved backwards from a performance standpoint.

As for how the makes ranked in production/sales, Chevrolet led with 2.58 million cars compared to Ford’s 2.35 million. Oldsmobile was third at about 923,000. Once again, the Impala was the Bow Tie’s best seller at nearly 550,000 units. The four-door sedan variant, shown below, just edged out the Custom Coupe as the top-selling Impala.

 

See the source image

 

These Threes And Sevens posts could all easily be 1,500+ words, but I think people’s eyes glaze over at anything more than about a thousand. I’ll stop here. If you like this blog, please let your friends know about it. Many thanks.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1973

#PontiacGrandAm

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Threes And Sevens: 1967

Once again, age-related memory issues have cost me the non-automotive content with which I had intended to begin this post. I KNEW I should have written it down, but did not.

 

1967 will be the last Threes And Sevens post before the US automobile industry entered the Dark Ages. I am, of course, referring to the government regulations and insurance practices that ended the first muscle car era in the early 1970s.

For me, 1967 will always be a special year because my first car was a 1967 Pontiac GTO.

 

This is not the first time these photos have been shown in Disaffected Musings. I have been asked quite often if I want to own another one of these cars. Too many people, frankly, assume the answer is “yes.”

My affinity for Corvettes has manifest itself in the fact that I have owned three, one from each of three different generations. In general, I am not a fan of buying a “been there, done that” car. Buying a stock first-gen GTO would be doing just that. Given my recent experience with my Z06–which is still not 100% and will not be until a stock exhaust is installed–I don’t think I would want to restomod a ’67 (or ’65) GTO and I wouldn’t want to own/drive a stock example. The only way I might buy one of these cars is if my wonderful wife and I won A LOT of money in the lottery. That’s about a one in three hundred million chance.

Still, I will always think fondly about my ’67 Goat. I am sure that if my first car had been something more pedestrian I would not be the car aficionado I am today, even though my interest in cars predates the GTO.

 

For the second consecutive year, US car production declined after 1965’s then record output of 8.8 million cars. The figure for 1967 was 7.6 million. Chevrolet topped Ford, building about 1.9 million cars for model year 1967 to Ford’s 1.7 million. For calendar year 1967, Chevrolet produced about 2 million to Ford’s 1.7 million. Once again, the Impala was Chevy’s best-seller at about 650,000 units, including 74,000 SS models. Below, hopefully, is a picture of a ’67 Impala SS:

 

See the source image

 

1967 was, of course, the first model year for another celebrated Chevrolet, the Camaro. Pontiac joined the ponycar market with its own F-body model, the Firebird. Mercury introduced the Cougar and Plymouth the GTX although the latter was not its own model in 1967, but a Belvedere variant. What the hell, here are pics of all of these cars.

 

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

The standard GTX engine had the largest displacement of any “performance” engine at 440 cubic inches. (The Lincoln Continental motor displaced 462 cubic inches.) The Chrysler/Plymouth Magnum V-8 was rated at 375 HP/480 LB-FT of torque. The 426 Hemi was available as well.

One of my all-time favorite cars, an entry in my Ultimate Garage 2.0, was introduced for the 1967 model year, the striking Cadillac Eldorado.

 

 

A dual-circuit braking system was made standard on all US model year 1967 automobiles. That’s one change I would make to any car no matter that it wasn’t stock.

38 percent of US cars were equipped with air conditioning. I was not able to ascertain the percentage of cars sold with an automatic transmission. Given that percentage was about 75 percent in 1963 and the trend has been upward since then I think it’s safe to conclude the number approached 80 percent.

General Motors, Ford and American Motors adopted a 5-year/50,000 mile, whichever comes first, powertrain warranty. With a minor change to 60,000 miles that is still the standard powertrain warranty for US vehicles today.

 

Once again, I very much welcome thoughtful comments. Thanks.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1967

#somanyCARSjustonelife

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Threes And Sevens: 1963

Thanks to Philip Maynard, JS and Josh for sending thoughtful comments and for encouraging me to continue writing the blog. Your kind words have more impact than you can know.

Once again, if you enjoy reading Disaffected Musings, then PLEASE let as many friends know as you can and encourage them to sign up to follow the blog. Not only has readership declined by more than 30%, but no one has signed up to follow the blog in months. The blog used to add 5-15 new followers a month.

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Conflict is an inevitable part of life. By the way, I am not talking about armed or violent conflict (although, sadly, that also seems to be inevitable), but about when people “butt heads.” Although I think some/many people seek conflict, by extension some/many avoid it at all costs, even when that path is not optimal.

I have written that some people try to avoid bad change by avoiding all change; the latter is impossible as change is a constant. By the same token, sometimes a person has to stand up for themselves even if that act is uncomfortable.

Believe it or not, my innate nature–no doubt inherited from my marvelous mom–is to avoid conflict. However, I have learned that, at times, diving into the fray is a more optimal path.

For example and this might not be totally applicable, after my first year working full-time for the Baltimore Orioles (1988), my net worth–such as it was–declined compared to before I began working there. I decided that was unacceptable. I calculated how much more I needed to earn and also figured my worth to the team given my positive impact on player salary negotiations, both in terms of outcome and how much I had saved the team in legal fees.

Remember that my first year as a full-time baseball operations employee the Orioles lost their first 21 games, a dubious record, and finished with the worst record in baseball. (Attendance was surprisingly good in spite of the poor performance, though.) In addition, owner Edward Bennett Williams died during the season after a long bout with cancer, but not before committing the team to Baltimore by signing a lease that paved the way for the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He knew he would not live to see the new ballpark.

Anyway…I asked for a big raise, about 25 percent. After some initial push-back I stood my ground and received the raise I had asked for. It would have been easier if I had modified my original request, but I knew my value to the team. Of course, some might say I had undersold myself since the team ultimately agreed to my request, but I had never earned as much before as I earned in 1989.

I don’t know why I am compelled to write about this today, and as “part” of a Threes And Sevens post, no less. I guess it’s another way of expressing my strong belief that no behavioral paradigm is always appropriate. That is one of the toughest parts about being human, knowing when to deviate from one’s usual, and hopefully at least semi-considerate, MO.

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1963 might be my favorite of all US automotive years. In this post, written almost two years ago (!), I recounted how during a Mecum Auction broadcast Stephen Cox asked the crew if they could have any three cars given to them for free, but they all had to be from the same model year, what cars and what year would they choose.

For me, 1963 was the obvious choice and here are the three cars:

 

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

 

1963 was, of course, the first model year for the celebrated C2, or mid-year, Corvette and was the only year for the legendary Split-Window coupe. It was also the first model year for two of my all-time favorites, the Buick Riviera and the Studebaker Avanti.

I have to admit that I could not have conceived of the Threes And Sevens series if it weren’t for my affinity for the 1963 model year. By the way, as this is the 8th of what should be 15 posts in the series this could be considered the “hump” post like Wednesday is hump day.

Other events from 1963:

Industry output increased about 10 percent compared to 1962 and 1955’s record was finally broken as 1963 saw production of about 7.3 million cars.

It might be hard to fathom today, but General Motors management worried about anti-trust action as it had a 54 percent market share in the 1963 model year. Chevrolet easily led all makes at 2.24 million units. That accounted for 57 percent of GM’s output (and a 31 percent overall market share), but Pontiac was third with about 8 percent of total industry production and Oldsmobile was fifth at about 6.5%. Rumors abounded that GM would be forced to spin off Chevrolet as a separate company. The most popular Chevrolet model was one of the most successful cars in US history, the Impala, with production of almost 833,000 units. By itself, the Impala outsold every make except Chevrolet and Ford. Below, hopefully, is a picture of a 1963 Impala SS coupe:

 

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Studebaker became the first US company to offer front disc brakes, which were standard on the Avanti but available on all models. That didn’t stop Studebaker sales from plummeting by 22 percent compared to 1962 and in an up year for the industry as a whole. Studebaker ceased production at its long-time facility in South Bend, Indiana in December, 1963.

Half of all US model year 1963 cars had power steering, three-quarters had automatic transmissions, two-thirds had V-8 engines and about one-seventh had air conditioning.

Positive crankcase ventilation–PCV–systems were installed on all cars in 1963 to reduce pollution. However, trucks escaped this mandate, at least for awhile.

In 1963 almost nine million US households had more than one car, more than double the number from just nine years prior. In case you’re interested, or even if you’re not, that meant that about one-sixth of US households had more than one car in 1963, compared to about nine percent in 1954.

 

I see by the little word counter that I am approaching my unofficial limit of 1,000 words. I will stop here. Once again, I appreciate my loyal readers, but ask that you spread the word about this blog. Thanks.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1963

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Infinity Upright

What does this represent?

 

 

This is the symbol for infinity. If the symbol is rotated 90° either left or right it becomes the number 8, which I call Infinity Upright. In my OCD, math-addled brain that gives the number 8 a special status. How does that manifest itself for me? If you must know, one manifestation is that when I am drinking G Zero (Gatorade’s zero sugar product) I much prefer to take eight sips instead of seven or nine. I have written many times that it is hell to live with my brain, or what’s left of it.

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

By the end of the day the insurance company that royally screwed up by informing Arizona MVD that we had cancelled our auto insurance policy–we didn’t–which led to our registrations being suspended will be our former insurance company. We already have policies with another company that became effective yesterday, but I wanted to wait at least a day to cancel the other policies.

That last over-the-top screw-up was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, although in this case it was also the heaviest straw. Ever since the outbreak of the damn virus our very soon-to-be former insurance company’s customer service has just been awful. Our only recourse as a consumer was to change vendors.

When people are incentivized not to work and when people are hired and promoted for reasons other than merit, the results are awful. I know I am preaching to the choir for some and that my words would reach blind eyes for others, but I am sure I am right; well, as sure as a human being can be about anything.

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

Obviously, the 1953 installment of Threes And Sevens received enough views so the 1957 post was published. The latter also received a fair number of views.

I know the posts are longer than most, but I enjoy the research and the writing. I also became aware yesterday that Threes And Sevens is the name of a song recorded by Queens Of The Stone Age, a group that had previously been unknown to me.

Back to 1957…I realized that I did not show Ford’s best-selling car for that model year. (Ford led all American makes in sales in 1957.) By a very slim margin, the Custom 300 4-door sedan led the way for the Blue Oval. Hopefully, below is a picture of that car.

Ford produced 194,877 of these compared to 193,162 Fairlane 500 4-door Town Sedans. I also didn’t mention that, of course, 1957 was the last year for the first-generation Thunderbird, the “Baby Bird.” I didn’t want the post to exceed 1,000 words, which I think is the upper limit for readability and a threshold I have crossed just a handful of times.

 

#InfinityUpright

#ChangeVendors

#ThreesAndSevens

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Threes And Sevens: 1957

First…I actually had a dream that was neither disturbing nor frightening. My wonderful wife and I were in a giant antiques store, but warehouse is probably a more appropriate description. Along with the furniture, coins, clothes, knickknacks and old advertising this establishment also sold older cars. Some of the cars were sitting on huge shelves many feet off the ground. (Shades of Carvana towers?)

I noticed one such vehicle and was immediately in the company of a store employee who proceeded to tell me all about the car, called the Comet. I don’t think it was a Mercury Comet, though, as my recollection was that the name was a make unto itself. The employee somehow knew of my preference for an automatic transmission and tried to sell me on the favorable power-to-weight ratio. Oddly, I could not see all of the car from my vantage point, only the front two-thirds as the car was on a shelf. I didn’t buy the car and then I woke up.

I have always been able to remember some of my dreams, but writing them down in the blog has increased my retention. Perhaps, my brain knows I use dreams as content so it somehow stores them for me. Maybe that’s a crock.

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1957 was, in many ways, two years in one for the US automobile industry. It was a year of innovation and sales that increased–albeit slightly–from 1956, but it was also a year when a sharp recession that hit in late summer devastated the industry. Sales declined by a third from 1957 to 1958. This recession played a major role in the demise of makes like DeSoto and Edsel and led to the increase in imports of cars like Volkswagen.

Sales reached 6.4 million cars in 1957. Ford, with new models and new styling, beat Chevrolet selling 1.67 million cars to the Bow Tie’s 1.5 million. Note that the two big dogs had about a 50% market share combined. One Ford model was quite the innovation: the Skyliner retractable hardtop:

 

See the source image

 

Obviously from RM Sotheby’s is a picture of the Ford Fairline Skyliner. The car was introduced very late in model year 1957, April of ’57. In its advertising Ford claimed, “Ford’s sensational “Hide-Away” (Retractable) Hardtop is the most revolutionary idea in automotive design since the development of the closed car 40 years ago!”

The Skyliner was produced for three model years becoming part of the Galaxie line in 1959. The car was not a huge hit with total sales of 48,394 during its run. It was the first American car with a retractable hardtop (the Peugeot 402 was introduced in 1938) and first in the world to reach 10,000 in total production/sales.

General Motors also introduced an innovation for 1957, mechanical fuel injection. While this system is best known for its use in Corvettes, it was also used in this car:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1957 Pontiac Bonneville. All 630 of these were powered by a fuel-injected 347 cubic-inch V8 that produced 310 HP/375 LB-FT of torque. (Some sources state that the Bonneville was available with a Tri-Power setup, but most claim the car was only available with a fuel-injected engine.) These cars were not cheap with a list price of $5,782, $2,000+ more than Pontiac’s next most expensive model, the Star Chief Custom Safari wagon. While I don’t know who would service such a vehicle, the ’57 Bonneville is a car I would very much like to own.

Speaking of expensive cars, 1957 was the second and last year for the beautiful Continental Mark II, priced at $10,000, but the 1957 model year saw the introduction of an American car even more expensive:

 

See the source image

 

This is a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. This is another car I would love to own, but these are not cheap just like they weren’t cheap when they were introduced. Their price when new was $13,074. Two Cadillac models were available for less than $5,000 that year. The average price of a 1957 Cadillac, not counting bare chassis and weighted for number of sales by model (yes, I have OCD), was about $5,200. Not surprisingly, even Cadillac buyers consider(ed) price; the two models priced under $5,000 were the two best sellers accounting for 40 percent of the make’s sales.

The Brougham was also a car of innovation. It had self-leveling air suspension; however, this system didn’t really work and many owners replaced the system with coil springs. It also had the first automatic two-position “memory” power seats in addition to low-profile tires, automatic trunk opener, cruise control, high-pressure cooling system, electric antenna, automatic-release parking brake, electric door locks and a dual heating system.

Only 704 of these were produced during its run in model years 1957 and 1958. Perhaps these cars were also a victim of the 1957-58 recession.

Other notable events for 1957:

Both Nash (founded in 1916) and Hudson (1909) were discontinued after the 1957 model year. American Motors, the product of the merger between Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson in 1954, decided to cast its lot with the Rambler, a strategy that ultimately proved successful.

The Automobile Manufacturers Association formally banned factory-sponsored racing. Of course, that didn’t stop “wildcat” racers with surreptitious help from car companies from racing.

Chrysler Corporation introduced torsion-bar suspension in its models. Of course, Packard had introduced its Torsion-Level suspension system in 1955, but that was far too late to save the company. Chrysler used its system until 1992.

Speaking of Packard, while the name survived, the 1957 model year was the first of two in which the cars were just badge-engineered Studebakers. Only 4,497 “57th Series” Packards were produced.

 

I could write much more, but will stop here. As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1957

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Threes And Sevens: 1953

No doubt, this will seem like a manifestation of petulance, but if today’s installment of Threes And Sevens fails to reach a certain number of views, then I will not finish the series. These posts require a lot of research and I will not write to a vacuum.

 

1953 was, in many ways, a watershed year in US automotive history. So much of significance occurred that it is difficult to pick a starting point.

Automobile production controls were lifted in February, 1953 by new President Dwight Eisenhower. The Korean War was the reason for those regulations and, of course, that war ended in July, 1953.

With controls lifted and with the Korean War not needing the type of domestic rationing seen in World War II, making “post-war” adjustment easier, calendar year production soared by 42 percent compared to 1952 reaching 6.1 million cars. For model year 1953, Chevrolet just topped Ford with production reaching 1.35 million cars while Ford produced 1.25 million. Chevrolet 1953 calendar year sales were 1.48 million. Sorry, but this is one of the rare times that the standard catalog of® American Cars 1946-1975 has let me down; it doesn’t show 1953 calendar year data for Ford and I couldn’t find that figure anywhere else.

This was not just a continuation of the decades-old rivalry between the Bow Tie and the Blue Oval. From 1938 to 1952, inclusive (and granting that no cars were produced from February, 1942 to July, 1945), Ford beat Chevrolet in sales just twice. Henry Ford II was determined to get Ford back to the top. The company launched an all-out production “blitz” in 1953 as the auto industry shifted back into high gear with the end of the Korean War. Forced to sell cars they hadn’t ordered, Ford dealers resorted to heavy discounting. Chevrolet had no choice but to follow, the race was on and the rest of the auto industry suffered.

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to state that this battle between Ford and Chevrolet is, ultimately, what doomed the Independents like Studebaker and Packard. Chrysler also suffered, but had the resources to survive and to adjust.

In 1950, the Independents had a market share of more than 10 percent. By the time the “blitz” ended in 1954, their share had been cut almost in half. Of course, it’s no coincidence that 1954 saw Hudson and Nash merge to form American Motors and saw Studebaker and Packard merge. The most significant catalyst for those mergers was the Ford-Chevrolet battle that began in 1953.

Backtracking a bit, below is a photo of Chevrolet’s most popular car for the 1953 model year, the 210/DeLuxe 4-door sedan:

 

See the source image

 

Chevrolet produced 332,497 of these that year. Of course, 1953 marked the introduction of another Chevrolet model, one with which you’re familiar:

 

See the source image

 

The Corvette was first publicly displayed at the General Motors Motorama event at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York in January, 1953. Production began on June 30. Of course, the Corvette has become an iconic car and brand and is now in its eighth generation with total sales not far from two million. In 1953, Chevrolet sold 300 Corvettes.

The 1953 Motorama also featured other concept cars, called dream vehicles. These were the Pontiac Parisienne, the Olds Starfire, the Buick XP-300 and LeSabre, and the Cadillac LeMans. The Motorama “toured” for six months drawing 1.7 million visitors. Once again, it is sad to me that Buick had two concept cars at the ’53 Motorama and now no longer manufactures cars of any kind, only SUVs. Here is a picture of the Pontiac Parisienne concept car.

 

See the source image

 

1953 was the first year that at least half of all new US cars were equipped with automatic transmissions. In that vein, Chrysler began installing its first fully automatic transmission, the PowerFlite, in June. Remember that just 15 calendar years prior, and fewer than 15 production years with the World War II halt to car production, fully automatic transmissions did not exist.

American cars began to adopt 12-volt electrical systems, replacing six-volt systems, in 1953. 12-volt remains the standard to this day although the conversion to electric vehicles will change this paradigm, of course.

Model year 1953 saw the introduction of the “Loewy” coupes by Studebaker. I wrote about these cars in depth almost three years ago. Suffice to say that they were a styling tour de force, but were not enough to save Studebaker.

 

See the source image

 

I hope I have been able to convey the significance of 1953 as it relates to the US automobile industry. As always, I welcome thoughtful comments.

 

#ThreesAndSevens

#1953

#GMMotorama

#ChevroletCorvette

#somanyCARSjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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