Throwback Thursday/Happy Birthday, Mel Kiper/Hodgepodge


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


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


Image result for mel kiper


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


Jim Inhofe

Michael Enzi

Tom Cotton

Mike Rounds

John Cornyn

Kamala Harris

Bernie Sanders

Jeff Merkley

Kirsten Gillibrand

Elizabeth Warren


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


See the source image


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

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


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

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

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

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


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








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Throwback Thursday Returns

First, on this cool and very rainy morning in the mid-Atlantic a bit of a personal throwback from not very long ago although my time in baseball seems like a long time ago. In this post I wrote, “As has been our experience, people at this car event were, almost without exception, friendly and polite. I find more camaraderie among strangers at car events than among co-workers at every place I’ve worked and that includes major league baseball teams with the exception of one of my consulting clients.” I decided to send a link to the post to the President of Baseball Operations and the General Manager of the team that was the exception; I worked with both of them for 10+ years. Of course, both responded quickly. One response was very nice, and yet, very sad to me.


“That is very kind of you.  I hope you’re doing well.  I was recently reminiscing with one of the now 35 people that work in our front office that we used to have 8 of us in the front office, and you consulting with us as our analytics “department”!  Baseball has changed a ton over the past 10-15 years.  You were at the forefront of that change, and helped to get us thinking about the right things in the right way.

Best to you, and thanks for the email.”


I am not so full of myself that after not having worked in baseball for almost a decade and not having followed the game for almost a decade that I think I could still contribute to a major league organization. However, I firmly believe that if I had stayed in the game I would have continued to be an asset and no one will EVER be able to convince me otherwise. The fact that I am a “father” of Moneyball, but that no one seems to know or to care will always be a source of anger and frustration. Sorry, I’m only human.


Another voice in the “Automatic vs Manual” debate…Steve Strope is the founder and owner of Pure Vision, one of the most respected and most decorated custom car shops in the country. During an episode of Hand Built Hot Rods when a client brings his custom Firebird in because he can’t really drive the 6-speed manual in the traffic and hills of southern California Strope remarks, “So having a high-performance car with a stick and a heavy clutch. I’m sorry, we’ll just blow the whole romance out of the water. It sucks.” An automatic 4L80 is installed in the car and the client enjoys driving it much more than before.

A note: this episode makes me even more suspicious about all of these car “makeover” shows. I remember the person and his Firebird from an episode of Overhaulin’. One would think that would have been mentioned.

Speaking of first-generation Pontiac Firebirds:



From this listing on Hemmings a picture of a 1969 Firebird for sale. It no longer has the original engine, but supposedly has new paint, a new interior and a new stereo system. No mention of anything else about the mechanicals other than the non-original engine.









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Throwback Thursday, “Unhappy” Anniversary Edition

Eight years ago today (!) I began working at a very large financial services company. I lasted nine months before I resigned. The only reason I lasted more than nine weeks is that my wonderful wife also worked there and it was great commuting and having lunch with her.

Although it is a very successful company I am mystified as to how that can occur given what I saw. My immediate supervisor was a…well he was…he was an a**h*le. If he is an example of middle management then I can understand how only 30% of Americans like their job.

The company “culture” was such that if anyone didn’t drink the company “Kool-Aid” then they would suffer no matter how proficient they actually were at their job. Creativity and individualism were not encouraged. Moving people to their highest-valued role as quickly as was practical was not a consideration.

People in my position underwent a six-week training course. Our job obviously involved using a computer, but the IM infrastructure there was surprisingly antiquated in my opinion. Multiple systems had to be used to execute job tasks. The company was trying to move all functions to one or two systems, but during training the instructors would still instruct on the older systems even acknowledging the company efforts to modernize.

When I resigned after nine months, only 5 of 12 people in my training class were still with the company. More than 50% turnover in less than a year! People vote with their feet when they can.

The silver lining in the cloud is that my frustration with work led me to start blogging. Of course the Evil Empire (aka Google) deleted my first blog after SIX years because, well because they’re evil. I have been blogging with WordPress for 15 months and they, so far, have treated me well.


This CNBC article is titled, “Higher minimum wage means restaurants raise prices and fewer employee hours, survey finds.” EVERY policy has real costs. Blind adherence to ideology is dangerous, very dangerous. Here is the beginning of the article:


“For restaurants, minimum wage hikes usually mean higher menu prices and fewer employee hours, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Harri, a workplace management software company that works with restaurants, surveyed 173 restaurants between Feb. 28 and March 15 about the impact of raising the minimum wage. The respondents represent more than 4,000 restaurant locations ranging from fine dining to fast food.”


Companies don’t possess infinite resources and cannot raise wages without consequences. By the way, governments don’t possess infinite resources, either.


While I wish 56packardman all the best with his new restaurant endeavor, I miss new posts on his blog (especially Gear Head Tuesday) and I miss his comments on this blog. In his honor, here is today’s Throwback Thursday car:


From a picture of a 1956 Packard Clipper Super. I believe that by this time, and although it came too late to save the company, Clipper was technically a make separate from Packard. Notice the name on the front of the car says “Clipper” and not “Packard.”

For many this model year represented the last “real” Packards as beginning in model year 1957 all Packards were based on Studebakers and built at the Studebaker factory in South Bend, Indiana. Remember that the two companies had merged in 1954 with Packard, technically, as the acquiring company. Packard production ceased after the 1958 model year.

Clipper production for model year 1956 was about 18,000, which represented the majority of Packard’s total production of approximately 29,000. This Clipper probably had the Packard designed 352 cubic-inch V-8 with an output of 240 HP/350 LB-FT of torque.

To me the car looks like a Packard despite the badging. I think it is a gorgeous car and a great example of a 1950s American automobile.





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Throwback Thursday

I can do almost anything except create the opportunity to do almost anything. Virtually all successful people have had help in becoming successful. Let me quickly add that 99.9% of “work situations” do not appeal to me. However, that still leaves a lot of potentially fulfilling opportunities.

Almost two years ago I sent a letter to every member of the board of trustees of the local museum that presents the marvelous annual auto show that my wonderful wife and I attend. I mentioned this state’s long history in automobile manufacturing and the tremendous turnout at local car events. I asked why this state doesn’t have an automobile museum and offered my help in getting such a project started. I included my resume. I never received a single response from any trustee, not even a form letter acknowledging receipt of my letter. People are incredulous when I tell them that story, but it’s the truth.

While I am very proud of this blog and post almost every day, it doesn’t pay the bills. Most people want to feel as though they have some value and that value is usually expressed monetarily. America is drowning in credential-ism and age discrimination.


OK, today’s Throwback Thursday is also sort of a What Car Is This? post.

From a picture of the car in question. Do you know what this is?

Only six of these were built in 1971-72. The engine is a good old Chevy 350 cubic-inch V8. If I tell you the names of the two people responsible for building this car then the name of the car will be revealed.

From the article about this car: “The ambitious project was the result of the dream of two men; Alfredo —- and Peter S. Kalikow. The former was Briggs Cunningham’s old team manager and Jaguar’s representative in New York, while the latter was a young real-estate developer with a strong passion for sports cars.” An American named Gene Garfinkle who was working for Pietro Frua in Italy designed the body; Vittorio Stanguellini built the chassis designed by Giulio Alfieri, formerly with Maserati. You can see where I am going with this…it’s another “original hybrid.”

I think that like many of these hybrids, this car just looks amazing. I think the blend of an American V-8 in an Italian body with the technology of other countries (the front suspension of this car was from Jaguar) is just phenomenal. What is it? It is a Momo Mirage; the Alfredo who co-fathered the car was Alfredo Momo.

I will almost certainly never see one of these in person. For many of “today’s generation” virtual “experiences” are enough to satisfy. That belief is one reason that many museums are struggling to stay open. However, I like to experience the world in three dimensions that are real.

What do you think of this car? What exotic automobiles excite you? As always, I would very much like to read your opinions.






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Throwback Thursday

Although not an original phrase, my wonderful wife suggested “Throwback Thursday” as a topic and given my affinity for alliteration I thought, why not?

On this day in 2006, Tesla Motors revealed its first roadster prototype in Santa Monica, California.

See the source image

From a picture of the first Tesla Roadster. The first such cars were actually not produced for the general public for almost two more years. It was the first electric car to be able to drive 200+ miles on a single charge and, given the fact that electric motors produce all of their torque immediately, the Tesla Roadster could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds. (Yes, I am aware that Tesla has announced plans to produce an all-new roadster, but this is Throwback Thursday.)

This car was “based” on the Lotus Elise. Elon Musk took an active role in Tesla Motors in 2004 and the next year Tesla and Lotus entered into a development agreement. (Tesla Motors, now known simply as Tesla, was incorporated in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.)

Tesla is a very controversial company. Some people worship Musk and the company as the way to the future of the automobile. Others think the company, which is publicly traded (as of 2010) and has never earned a profit, is not on sound footing as the company often borrows money in order to keep operating. Others think that the traditional automakers, with their vast resources, will surpass Tesla in EV technology and production. Of course, no one really knows what will happen with Tesla and electric vehicles. Without question, whether or not Tesla still exists in five years, Elon Musk and the company with which he is so closely associated have left a mark on the automobile industry.


OK, more of a throwback:

See the source image

From a picture of a 1935 Duesenberg LaGrande dual-cowl phaeton. To me, Duesenberg is a prime example that the phrase, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” is often incorrect. Duesenbergs are worshiped as perhaps the ultimate in American cars and, today, can sell for millions. No expense was spared in their production and their technology and performance were way ahead of anything else on the road. However, due to the Great Depression and to mismanagement, the company folded in 1937.

Despite my lifelong love of automobiles, cars like this didn’t really interest me until recently. My auto universe has expanded and, hopefully, will continue to do so.

What would you like to see in future editions of Throwback Thursday? Hey, where else on the Internet are you going to see a Tesla and a Duesenberg in the same post?!