Thursday Thoughts

The Cold War has returned and it’s not so cold. Historians and other academics who think one person cannot, by themselves, influence world events could not be more wrong.

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This beautiful picture, perhaps my favorite of all the photos I have taken since the move to Arizona, was taken yesterday and not last year.

 

 

Last year’s winter snow lasted an hour here, yesterday’s lasted a minute. Obviously though, the nearby mountains received more than a minute’s worth.

By the time I was realized it was snowing at our house and tried to find my phone to take a video, the snow had changed back to rain. It was this view a few hours later that led me to the picture shown above.

 

 

When I saw this view to the north I realized the mountains to the northeast might be covered in snow. Maybe this pales in significance to world events, but it sure is beautiful to me.

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This post from 3 1/2 years ago is like the little engine that could in that it continues to receive views every month, slowly making its way up the list of all-time views by individual post. I could have taken a photo like this many times, but never did.

 

See the source image

 

The post to which I refer is about Evans’ invention of the Oruktor Amphibolos, which was America’s first self-propelled vehicle and the world’s first amphibious vehicle. On July 13, 1805 the Oruktor Amphibolos (Amphibious Digger) ran under its own power for the first time. That machine was built by Evans for the Philadelphia Board of Health as a solution to the Board’s concerns about dredging and cleaning the city’s dockyard and removing sandbars.

Note the plaque about Evans refers to the “first American land vehicle to move under steam power.” I guess some debate exists as to whether or not another American inventor built a self-propelled vehicle that was powered by some other means before Evans, but I don’t think electric vehicles were possible prior to 1805 and neither were internal combustion engines.

Evans designed and built the first fully automated industrial process (a system for milling and sifting flour) and the first high-pressure steam engine. In 1790, he received the third US patent ever granted for his milling/sifting process.

Oliver Evans was a man ahead of his time. He was the first to describe vapor-compression refrigeration and proposed a design for the first refrigerator in 1805, but it would be three decades until his colleague Jacob Perkins would be able to construct a working example. Similarly, he drew up designs for a solar boiler, machine gun, steam-carriage gearshift, dough-kneading machine, perpetual baking oven, marine salvage process, and a scheme for urban gas lighting. These ideas and designs would not be made reality until some time after his death in 1819.

I don’t know how or why people keep reading that post from 2018 (written on July 13 of that year), but I am grateful that they do. Here are some other posts near the top in all-time views:

 

A Tough Day For Cars

Good Old Days

Ultimate Garage 2.0: Honorable Mention & Car Number One

Sunday Studebaker

Barrett-Jackson Or Mecum?

 

Please feel free to click on any or all of those links. I am virtually certain that no one reading remembers all of those posts. I mean, I wrote them and I don’t remember.

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What do you think of the looks of this car?

 

RML Short Wheelbase

 

This piece at Classic Cars reports that RML, a British industrial company, has revealed the first photos of the prototype for its Short Wheelbase automobile. The car is heavily based on the Ferrari 550 Maranello. It will be powered by a Ferrari V-12 producing 479 HP/419 LB-FT of torque and will be mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

This will be RML’s first passenger car and will be limited to 30 units priced at $2 million each. I don’t know why company management has decided to take the plunge into the limited production of a very expensive car powered by an Internal Combustion Engine, but I hope they sell out within an hour of initial offering.

 

#ThursdayThoughts

#ColdWarReturns

#DesertSnow

#OruktorAmphibolos

#RMLShortWheelbase

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Thursday Thoughts

David Banner (not his real name; glad you’re feeling better, Doc) sent me this link to an Esquire piece called, “Crypto Bros Spent $3 Million Thinking They Bought The Rights To Dune.” The subhead reads, “They Thought Wrong.”

OK, maybe I’m just an old fogy. Still, to me the whole Crypto/NFT space is the 21st century version of tulip bulb mania. Of course, if enough people continue to believe in the value of cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens and the like, then their value will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Most, if not all, “stores of value” only have value because people believe they’re valuable. Apart from a few industrial applications, what can gold really do? While it’s true that sovereign fiat currency is “backed” by a government’s ability to tax and to borrow, if some severe economic/monetary crisis struck a given country you can be sure its currency could be rendered worthless.

One of my very smart friends who has been mentioned in the blog before and who has made oodles of money in the stock market also lost money “investing” in cryptocurrencies. (That reference is not about “David Banner.”) In the last year, Bitcoin has traded as low as $30,000 and as high as $67,500. How can something that volatile be used as a medium of exchange?

By contrast, in the last year the US Dollar Index (DXY) has traded between 89 and 97, give or take. That’s the trading range a currency, a medium of exchange, should have.

I don’t care how prevalent they become, but I will never invest in cryptocurrency, NFTs or anything else like them. My wonderful wife and I are doing quite well with our traditional investments.

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Given how much I write about Mecum Auctions some of you might think I work for them. Well, no matter how much I want to, I don’t.

Still, take a look at this:

 

 

That’s what appears on the main page of Mecum’s website. The company was rightfully proud of the fact that in 2021 it had two events that each grossed in excess of $100 million in sales, which was the first time that happened. As you can read in the picture, its first auction in 2022 (Kissimmee, Florida) exceeded $200 million and set a record for the highest amount ever at a single collector car auction.

Before 2021, Mecum auctions usually had a sell-through rate in the 60%-65% range. Remember that most of their lots are offered with a reserve. At Kissimmee, the sell-through rate was about 90%, continuing the trend started in 2021 when those rates were usually 80% or higher.

Of course, some view collector cars as a financial investment. Right now is a great time to own and to sell these “assets” if that’s your mindset. How long will the sellers market last? If I could ascertain the answers to questions like that, then our net worth would be orders of magnitude higher than it is and we would live in a giant house with a giant garage filled with a lot of cars.

As I have written many times, I believe cars are an investment in the enjoyment of life. I don’t want to own a de facto museum exhibit. Cars should be driven, even if it’s just 1,000-2,000 miles a year, which is how most collector cars are used.

As this topic has been discussed before I know that many of you feel the same way. Do any of you invest in collector cars for financial reasons? I don’t mean buying, fixing and flipping cars, but buying “investment grade” cars (however that’s defined) with the expectation of significant appreciation that will be realized sometime in the future.

 

#ThursdayThoughts

#MecumWorldRecord

#CollectorCarMarketBoom

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Thursday Thoughts

From William Wordsworth via The Muscleheaded Blog:

 

“The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants, and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.”

 

Sadly, about 7.5% of all Americans aged 18 and older, or almost 19 million people, have a substance abuse problem. Even more sad is that almost a million Americans under the age of 18 have a substance abuse problem. Maybe I shouldn’t reveal this about a person with whom I no longer associate, but the sibling from whom I have been estranged for years has substance abuse issues. These exacerbate this person’s innate anti-social, even sociopathic, tendencies.

Legalizing marijuana is not going to decrease the number of people with problems. Contrary to the delusions of drug “advocates” most people do not use marijuana, cocaine, etc. because they are illegal. The best available evidence indicates that after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the “Prohibition” Amendment, consumption of alcohol initially decreased by two-thirds. Even though alcohol consumption then increased until the Amendment was repealed, it was still about a third below pre-Prohibition levels at the time of repeal. Most people don’t want to risk legal punishment, period.

According to a study cited here, the total annual economic cost of substance abuse in the US, including alcohol, is $1.45 TRILLION. We ALL suffer from the effects of substance abuse. As a point of reference, that estimated loss is more than the annual GDP of Australia, which is hardly a poor nation.

By the way, many of those 19 million adults have children. A large number of the “kids who go hungry” are hungry because their parents are abusing drugs, including alcohol.

Thanks to Chris, author of The Muscleheaded Blog, for bringing Wordsworth’s remark to our attention.

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Reader David Banner (not his real name) texted me this URL of a review of the C8 Corvette from someone who is most decidedly NOT a fan of General Motors. (I apologize for linking to YouTube, part of the Evil Empire.) SavageScotty could not have been more effusive in his praise for the car. He was particularly impressed by the car’s handling and ride and by the automatic transmission.

David Banner also texted his opinion that if the C8 Corvette had a Ferrari or Lamborghini badge it would be sold out at three times the Corvette MSRP. I have long thought that the Corvette is the best performance car in the world, dollar for dollar, and has been for a long time. Many American cars are and have been meh, but tarring the Corvette with the narrow-minded self-hating American brush is inappropriate, like virtually all manifestations of blind adherence to any ideology.

When I first started working in baseball, most of my supervisors thought I “put” bad numbers on players I inherently disliked for some reason. They didn’t understand that my “opinion” of a player’s ability was based on the best and most objective assessment of his performance that I could muster. I am not calling the Corvette a great car because I own one, I own Corvettes because the evidence that they are great cars, and great bargains for what they do, is overwhelming. Yes, another C8 photo to follow:

 

See the source image

 

From Automobile Magazine

 

#ThursdayThoughts

#ScourgeOfSubstanceAbuse

#C8Corvette

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Thursday Thoughts

It’s twenty days until 2020. I wish I could find some solace in that symmetry of numbers. My mood is usually more depressed than usual at this time of year and I believe it’s because I see the end of a year that will never return, one fewer opportunity to achieve something of note or of real and lasting satisfaction.

 

 

That is an admittedly less than sharp picture of the full moon taken early this morning. (I will never have skills like photobyjohnbo. Besides, I was really cold and didn’t want to stay outside any longer than necessary, even to take this picture.) Like many people I used to stay up late and sleep late. Now, I don’t sleep as many hours per day and enjoy waking up before sunrise.

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I wish I could believe this Hagerty article titled, “Don’t believe the hype, car enthusiasm is safe with the next generation.” Here is the first paragraph:

 

“It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are? Most likely, they’re right upstairs, awake to the cool blue glow of a screen. They could be keeping up with an Instagram celebrity you’ve never heard of, or they might be texting with a friend about a text from another friend (multiple studies confirm kids prefer messaging to actual conversation). The Economist, among others, reports today’s kids are remarkably socially conservative, so perhaps they’re just doing homework.”

 

Here is another paragraph later in the piece:

 

“These days, we typically talk about the Woodward Avenues of America in the context of our automotive past. Young people, the popular thinking goes, can’t be bothered with cars. They’re too obsessed with their phones, their Instagram feeds, and their avocado toast. But it seems no one’s told the skinny kid in a hopped-up Neon SRT4, the sound of its overboost ricocheting off the concrete overpass at the Woodward and Eight Mile intersection, that he’s supposed to be inside staring at his iPhone. Or the guy in his Pontiac G8 with a ‘not stock, not stock’ idle.”

 

So, what do you think? I suspect the demographic of Disaffected Musings readers skews older than the nationwide median. Do you care what happens to the car hobby in the next 10-20 years? Do you sense genuine interest in automobiles among younger people?

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A car like the one shown below has appeared in at least two episodes of Iron Resurrection on Motor Trend. My understanding is that the show will return for its fourth season beginning in January. When they are working on cars in which I have interest I usually enjoy watching. When they are working on pickup trucks or motorcycles, I don’t watch.

For the most part the crew seems likeable although to me, and I know this aspect could be a creation of the show’s producer(s), Shorty doesn’t really seem like a nice person. Of course, Amanda Martin is very easy on the eyes. Anyway…

 

See the source image

 

From Barrett-Jackson a picture of a 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS. I think the ’66-’67 Nova is a smart, handsome design. About 36,000 Novas with V-8 engines were produced in 1966 with about 16,000 of those being SS models.

This car, which weighed only about 2,900 pounds with a V-8, could be purchased with a 327 cubic-inch engine that produced 350 HP/360 LB-FT of torque. That wouldn’t be a bad power-to-weight ratio even today. I don’t think the 327/350 HP engine was available with an automatic transmission.

If I had a nine-figure net worth I might buy a car like this. Even at two letters, “if” might be the biggest word in the English language.

 

#ThursdayThoughts

#1966ChevroletNovaSS

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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