Ultimate Garage 2.0: Car #2

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”

– Oscar Wilde

“Don’t forget to look out for Number 1, but make sure you don’t step in Number 2!”

– Rodney Dangerfield in Back To School, certainly uttered in earlier times by others

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The first of three “original hybrids” in Ultimate Garage 2.0, the 1959 Facel Vega HK500 is an amazing looking car to me and it was powered by a Chrysler V-8.

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

The top photo is from inspirationseek.com, the bottom from classicandsportscar.com.

Facel was a French construction company founded by Jean Daninos in 1938, rather unfortunate timing obviously. They initially manufactured machine tools for the aircraft industry. After World War II Facel began manufacturing office and home furniture as well as car bodies for makes like Panhard, Delahaye and Bentley. Daninos wanted to make cars of his own and first showed original designs at the 1950 Paris motor show. The Facel Vega was introduced in 1954.

This car was really designed for export as France had very high taxes on high-output automobiles. The first Facel Vegas were powered by the 276 cubic-inch/4.5 liter DeSoto (Yeah!) Hemi; subsequently the engine was either a 291 cubic-inch/4.8 liter DeSoto Hemi or a 330 cubic-inch/5.4 liter Chrysler Hemi with output of 250 HP/340 LB-Ft of torque. The transmission could be either the two-speed Powerflite automatic or a 4-speed Pont-a-Mousson manual. By 1959 the engine was the Chrysler wedge-head 383 cubic-inch/6.3 liter V8 that produced 360 HP/460 LB-FT. The automatic transmission had been upgraded to a three-speed Torqueflite, but the manual was the same. Disc brakes were an option on the 1959 model, but became standard in 1960.

Facel also produced other cars such as the Excellence (a four-door hardtop sedan with rear suicide doors) and the Facellia (a smaller two-door design that could be purchased in convertible form, it was doomed by its engine designed by Westlake in Britain but built by Pont-a-Mousson). Believe it or not there’s a Packard connection to Facel. Most Packard aficionados have heard about the proposal to re-badge the Facel Excellence as a Packard. While Jean Daninos said he was unaware of such a proposal (although he never said he would have been opposed to it), the rumor continued to surface in numerous places over the years and made it into print in some of the very few books printed on the Facel Vega. Supposedly, the end of the idea came from Mercedes-Benz whose cars were, at the time, being distributed in the US by Studebaker-Packard and M-B didn’t want the competition. Would Packard still be around if that idea had come to fruition? We will never know…

Famous auto journalist Tom McCahill wrote this about the HK500, “[It] is sexier than the Place Pigalle and throatier than a Russian basso…[it is] a remarkable and wonderfully satisfying road companion.” Motor Trend wrote this about the Facel Vega, “[it] has as much show-stopping quality as the Continental (and maybe more), is finished in the impressive Rolls-Royce style, performs with the agility of the hottest American cars and handles as well as an Austin-Healey.” Famous people like Tony Curtis and Ringo Starr owned the Facel Vega. Unfortunately, the cars didn’t sell well enough to keep Facel afloat. The last Facel Vega was manufactured in September, 1964 and the company was liquidated in 1965.

As I have written before in this blog I do not believe in the famous axiom that if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door. I certainly don’t believe that it’s always true. By the way, according to Hagerty the average value for a 1959 Facel Vega HK500 is $99,000. I have seen them sell for a lot more than that.

As always I welcome comments on the Facel Vega or on any other topic.

 

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Ultimate Garage 2.0: Honorable Mention & Car Number One

“Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.”

– Shakespeare

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

– Who Knows

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two “most important” cars in my life. First, this one:

 

See the source image

 

This picture of a 1956 Buick Century is obviously from Car-from-UK.com. A ’56 Century was the first car I ever drove, but just as important it was the first car I really remember. My father bought the car from the original owner in 1961, I believe. He owned the car for about 20 years so I grew up with it in a way, almost like a sibling. John Kraman (@CarKraman), this car did indeed start by turning the key to “On” and then fully depressing the gas pedal.

The steering box had a lot of play and in my first attempt to drive it I could not keep the car straight. My father ended that session quite quickly. However, I eventually got the hang of it and enjoyed driving it even after I acquired this car:

 

Two faded pictures I have shown before of my 1967 Pontiac GTO. This was MY first car and at first I didn’t really appreciate what my father had done for me. My friend and neighbor, Larry, made me aware of how special this car was. I have already told the sad story of this car’s end; anyway, I am here to celebrate this car and my entry into car ownership.

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I will reveal the cars for Ultimate Garage 2.0 one at a time in chronological order. Sometimes the year will not really be important.

No doubt existed that the 1956 Packard Caribbean would be on this list. The only question was whether it would be the convertible or the hardtop. I decided on the convertible. I mean, how could I leave a car off the list that literally made me cry at a car show?! (Actually that Caribbean was a ’55, but it was a convertible.)

 

See the source image

See the source image

 

The top photo is from Mecum (the lot was offered at Chicago in 2014); the bottom photo is from supercars.net.

The ’56 model was the last of the Caribbeans and, of course, one of the last “real” Packards as for 1957-58 the cars were badge-engineered Studebakers built in South Bend. Total Caribbean output for model year 1956 was 539 with 276 of those being convertibles. The Caribbean was powered by Packard’s own 374 cubic-inch V8; the Caribbean spec had two four-barrel carburetors, a 10-to-1 compression ratio and was rated at 310 HP/405 LB-FT of torque. That HP rating probably was not an accident as it was five more than Cadillac’s most powerful engine for 1956. Here is something unusual offered in the Caribbean:

 

 

Yes, reversible seat cushions! These pictures appear in Packard: A History Of The Motor Car And The Company edited by the late Beverly Rae Kimes.

I think the 1956 Packard Caribbean is the epitome of 1950s American car style. Of course, the fact that it was manufactured by a defunct American make tugs on my heart strings a little more. Subjectively, they make an impression on me like no other car. I think they are magnificent.

One feature I’m going to try for Ultimate Garage 2.0 is to show the value of each car. Hagerty gives an “average” value for a 1956 Packard Caribbean convertible of about $67,000. I have seldom seen one listed that low on Hemmings. However, I expect that these cars will no longer appreciate as their market is disappearing. Price is usually determined by supply and demand.

Any thoughts on this selection? I’m sure 56packardman will like it. 🙂

 

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Ultimate Garage 2.0: The Cars That Missed The Cut, Part Two

“The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.”

– George Will

Similarly, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

-Voltaire

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Let’s start:

 

1968 AMC Javelin

See the source image

From classiccars.com a picture of a 1968 AMC Javelin. Sorry, V Squared, this just missed the cut for me. I think this is an exceptionally clean and sharp body style. According to Encyclopedia of American Cars by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® the 390 cubic-inch V-8 that was rated 315 HP/425 LB-FT of torque was available in the Javelin although, of course, this car would be a restomod candidate for me, anyway.

 

(2014) Aston Martin DB9

 

See the source image

 

From greencarreports.com a picture of a 2014 Aston Martin DB9. I don’t think the cars changed much between model years; this just seemed like the best non-copyrighted photo to me. Another internal Supreme Court 5-4 decision as I could have just as easily put the car in Ultimate Garage 2.0 as not. If I were to pick an Ultimate Garage by history of makes then Aston would certainly be in.

The last four cars all have something in common that I will reveal.

 

1958 BMW 507

 

 

I took this picture at a local car show in 2017, I believe. On looks alone the 507 is in my all-time top five or six cars.

 

Jaguar E-Type Series 1

 

See the source image

 

 

Picture from car-from-uk.com (where else?!). How else should one show the E-Type except in British Racing Green?

 

Ferrari 365 GTB “Daytona”

 

See the source image

 

“Daytona” picture from autoevolution.com

 

(2000) Honda S2000

 

See the source image

 

This picture is from cool-carwallpapers.blogspot.com. (When you need the thief you take him down from the gallows.) Any first-series S2000 would do; I chose one from model year 2000 for symmetry.

 

OK, the BMW 507 would be excluded on the basis of HP/Torque in addition to another characteristic. Ultimately (see what I did there), I decided to exclude cars for which automatic transmissions were not (readily) available, like the 507, E-Type, 365 GTB “Daytona” and the S2000. I have not driven a vehicle with a manual transmission for 40+ years and just didn’t think including such cars would be true to my vision of my Ultimate Garage.

Now, I am really going to wade in it…I know that many enthusiasts who prefer a manual do so for genuine reasons. They like the feeling of control by manually going through the gears, of testing their skills or they grew up driving a manual and that’s what they know and like. However, I also know that many people who look down with disdain on cars with automatics are doing nothing but signaling that “I’m a real man” or “I’m a real automotive purist.” How do I know? From the reaction I receive when I indicate I prefer automatics. For example, on another automotive website I posted that I prefer automatics and haven’t driven a manual in 40+ years. One poster replied, “Well, I haven’t taken a shower in 40+ years.” That’s just one example of many.

The only constant in the world is change. Early automatic transmissions, while being marvels of engineering, were often “slushboxes.” However, that is no longer the case and hasn’t been for quite some time. No human being can shift as optimally or as quickly as an 8L90E. Also, if someone wants to shift gears manually modern automatics have that option. If you want to drive a manual more power to you, just don’t assume that your way is the only way. It might be the only way for you, but you don’t speak for everyone.

The 11 cars that missed the cut have now been presented. Beginning tomorrow Ultimate Garage 2.0 will be revealed one car at a time. I welcome comments on these choices or on any other topic.

 

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Ultimate Garage 2.0: The Cars That Missed The Cut, Part One

“There are more things in heaven and Earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

– Shakespeare

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Welcome to the beginning of the reveal of my highly idiosyncratic Ultimate Garage 2.0. In some instances I cannot really articulate why I included or excluded a particular car. As this Ultimate Garage is larger than the first (which was seven cars), the number of cars that missed the cut is also larger so I decided to show those cars in two posts. OK, without further ado and in no particular order:

 

1968 Dodge Charger

To borrow a phrase/concept from March Madness/Bracketology this car was the last one out of the Ultimate Garage. Until very recently I was sure this car would be included, but my internal Supreme Court voted 5-4, at least for now, to exclude this car in favor of another.

 

See the source image

 

From eBay a picture of a 1968 Charger R/T. I am a big fan of the styling and performance of the second-generation Charger and the ’68 is my favorite of that generation. The main reason I like the ’68 the best is the grill, which is clean and unadorned compared to ’69 and ’70. If you asked me again in a month this car might be in instead of out.

 

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk

This car also just missed the cut for my first Ultimate Garage. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

 

See the source image

 

From Bring a Trailer a picture of a slightly modified 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk.

 

1956 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman

 

https://i2.wp.com/i.wheelsage.org/pictures/desoto/fireflite/autowp.ru_desoto_fireflite_sportsman_2-door_hardtop_2.jpg

 

From en.wheelsage.org a picture of the ’56 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman; this picture has been shown multiple times before in Disaffected Musings. Why is this car out instead of in? Not sure I can articulate the reason(s).

 

The next two cars were excluded because familiarity breeds contempt; I’ll explain later.

 

2006 Cadillac XLR-V

 

See the source image

 

In what I assume is a still from a YouTube video this is a picture of a 2006 Cadillac XLR-V (duh). The “V” designation means the car had a supercharged engine.

 

2007 Saturn Sky Red Line

 

See the source image

 

From cargurus.com a picture of a 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line. OK, what did I mean by familiarity breeds contempt? The reason I didn’t include the XLR-V—the same reason I didn’t buy a used one in 2016—is that a friend of mine told me he had purchased two XLRs and that both had to be repurchased by Cadillac under our state’s lemon law. As for the Sky, my wonderful wife and I both test-drove one (not a Red Line, though) and the interior of the car just felt cheaply made. I love the looks of both cars and they have enough performance to have made Ultimate Garage 2.0 (in my head I had an informal minimum for HP and torque), but getting a close look revealed some warts.

I heartily welcome comments and it’s not too late to submit your Ultimate Garage if you haven’t done so. Barring unforeseen circumstances tomorrow I will post the second and final list of the cars that missed the cut.

 

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Monday Musings

Something in my Twitter feed:

“A rock guitarist plays 3 chords in front of 10,000 people. A jazz guitarist plays 10,000 chords in front of 3 people.”

I dedicate that comment to the memory of the late, great Allan Holdsworth who died two years ago this month. Holdsworth’s music defied categorization. From the Wikipedia article about him, “[Holdsworth] is best known for his work in jazz fusion. [He] was known for his advanced knowledge of music, through which he incorporated a vast array of complex chord progressions and intricate solos; the latter comprising myriad scale forms often derived from those such as the diminished, augmented, whole tone, chromatic and altered scales, among others, resulting in an unpredictable and ‘outside’ sound.”

I became aware of his work through his association with Jean-Luc Ponty. A couple of Holdsworth’s solos on Ponty’s epic Enigmatic Ocean are among the best I’ve ever heard.

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My wonderful wife and I attended our first car gathering of 2019 yesterday, a noble effort by a prestigious private school to raise money for Scleroderma research. This is a poor picture of my favorite car at the show, a 1955 Buick Roadmaster. I literally choked up when I saw this car for the first time yesterday. I think part of my reaction can be explained by the fact that the first car I ever drove was a 1956 Buick Century. Here is a picture of the Roadmaster interior:

 

 

I am becoming more obsessed with American cars from the 1950s every day. (OCD is a bitch, even if it’s OCD-lite.) Some day, hopefully in the not too distant future, I will be able to add one of these to the garage, which will have to be bigger than our current garage.

I know I am not the only person obsessed with automobiles. What causes such a strong connection to an inanimate object for so many people?

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I am almost ready to unveil Ultimate Garage 2.0. First, I will write one post about the cars that just missed the cut. After that I will reveal the cars, one at a time, and that will preempt Throwback Thursday and Frugal Friday. I will probably show the cars in chronological order; that is, the first car to be shown will be the oldest car and each successive car will get closer to the present. Right now, I think Ultimate Garage 2.0 will have 12 cars. It was a struggle for me to get the list down to 12.

I may first unveil my wonderful wife’s Ultimate Garage. David Banner and The Muscleheaded Blog have already submitted theirs. I would still very much like to read and to share your Ultimate Garage with Disaffected Musings readers.

 

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Frugal Friday

I firmly believe the “common wisdom” that most machines are not designed to last as long as in the past. Our Korean-made refrigerator, company name rhymes with Ram Dung, has basically died in less than five years. Two of our TV sets, made by the same company, have been in need of being replaced for years, but we just haven’t purchased new ones. The first washing machine (don’t remember what company “built” that) we bought when we moved into our current house gave up the ghost after five years.

Ironically, automobiles seem to be an exception to that rule. According to Ratchet+Wrench the average age of a “light vehicle” in the US is about 12 years. Wish I could give you more info, but that site has a paywall. An inflection point in the average age occurred during the “Great Recession” but as the economy has recovered the trend hasn’t really reversed. Of course, part of the explanation is that people are simply not buying cars as often as they did previously and doing whatever maintenance is necessary to keep their current car running. The cars are probably more reliable, but people’s automobile buying habits have changed as well.

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As for Frugal Friday, my initial idea for this week was simply to piggyback on this article by Hagerty about 10 “contemporary classics” under $45,000 that will soon appreciate rapidly. Upon further reflection I felt the article was too speculative to be useful and that $45,000 wasn’t frugal under almost any circumstances.

I decided, instead, to focus on cars that are contenders—but not locks—for my Ultimate Garage 2.0. First, from this Autotrader listing:

 

 

This is a 1970 Avanti II with about 73,000 miles and is listed at $14,995. The Avanti was part of my first Ultimate Garage, but might not make 2.0 simply because the design is beginning to look dated to me. However, I could always put the last iteration of the car in 2.0:

 

See the source image

 

From canacopegdl.com a picture of a 2006 Avanti. This one is not for sale, as far as I know, but I just wanted to show it in the context of being a contender for Ultimate Garage 2.0.

 

 

From this Autotrader listing a picture of a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado. The mileage is shown at just 41,443; the list price is $9,900. One might have to put that much or more into a good paint job as the paint looks every bit of 50+ years old. As I have written ad nauseam I am a big fan of these cars. I am enamored with the technology, the luxury, the power and the looks. This iteration of the Eldorado used the same front-wheel drive platform introduced in the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, which was the first real front-wheel drive car produced in the US since the Cord 810/812 of 1936-37.

I wouldn’t have to have a ’67 in Ultimate Garage 2.0, a ’68 would be acceptable. Maybe that’s how I would list it, as a 1967-68 Eldorado. I would want a car with hidden headlights. However, the engine was changed between those two model years. 1967 was the last year for the 429 cubic-inch engine rated at 340 HP/480 LB-FT of torque. For 1968 the engine was enlarged to 472 cubic inches with output of 375 HP/525 LB-FT. The 1968 engine was designed to meet the new government emissions standards that took effect that year.

Two contenders for my Ultimate Garage 2.0 could each be purchased for less than $15,000. I don’t really have champagne and caviar tastes.

 

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Melancholy Monday Musings

I am sad today as my wonderful wife is leaving town on a business trip. Each successive trip makes me more sad and I am especially worried because her drive today will be quite long. Be careful, V Squared! I LOVE YOU!!!

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So far, one vote has been cast for 5-7 cars for (my) Ultimate Garage 2.0, one for 8-10 cars and one for how ever many my budget and criteria will generate. I don’t really have a budget because this is supposed to be an “Ultimate” Garage, but growing up in the lower middle class part of the socio-economic spectrum I don’t have an out-sized desire for expensive cars. Even though Frugal Friday wasn’t my idea, it fits me well.

Ultimate Garage 2.0, like the first one, will be idiosyncratic like I am. It won’t have any Mustangs or a 1970 LS6 Chevelle, but it might have a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk. Let me add that I don’t think I am a knee-jerk contrarian. I don’t think I automatically reject things that are popular or mainstream. I have known people like that and, as my armchair psychologist alter ego must postulate, I believe that many people who engage in such behavior are doing so because they think that will make them smarter than others or better than others. I think that they fail at those goals because being a knee-jerk contrarian is really no more profound or insightful than being a knee-jerk conformist. I strongly believe that almost any cognitive behavioral pattern constrained by rote is very seldom optimal.

OK, wake up! Maybe this will help:

 

https://cdn.silodrome.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Ferrari-365-GTB-10_Fotor.jpg

 

From silodrome.com a picture of a Ferrari 365 GTB “Daytona.” I mean, Wow! Of course this was another Pininfarina-designed car. I mean, Wow!

I remember an episode of the “original” Top Gear where Richard Hammond and James May race each other along the Italian Riviera, Hammond in a Ferrari 365 GTB and May as a passenger in a speedboat. Although May “won” the race in terms of arriving at his destination first, Hammond really won because he so enjoyed the drive while May was abused by the rough ride of the speedboat.

Do you really care about the specs and production figures? OK…about 1,400 of these were made in total from 1968 to 1973. This car replaced the 275 GTB/4 in the Ferrari lineup. The 365 GTB was powered by a 4.4 liter/268 cubic-inch V-12, really a small displacement for 12 cylinders, that generated 347 HP/318 LB-FT of torque. The car had a 5-speed manual transmission.

One of the possible constraints for my Ultimate Garage 2.0 is my long period without having driven a vehicle with a manual transmission, 40+ years. I don’t know that if I really had the opportunity and the means to indulge my automotive fantasies whether I would acquire cars that would take some effort to learn to drive. Of course, if I exclude manuals then no Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona and no Honda S2000. On the other hand, if my Ultimate Garage ends up at 20 cars then it would really be just an exercise in excess.

I’m still hoping to read some of your Ultimate Garages! Please feel free to send them to me and to comment, in general.

 

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Saturday Sojourn

When you read one or two posts on Disaffected Musings that could be considered a sojourn, which is a temporary stay. Each post should take about 3-7 minutes to read. A day consists of 1,440 minutes. I’m not asking for a big chunk of your day.

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Following up the beginning of yesterday’s post…I am not a big fan of people who project their lives onto everyone else and who assume that they know what’s best for everyone else, or at least everyone else they know. Many people don’t even seem to know what’s best for themselves. No one has a monopoly on truth and wisdom; no one has a monopoly on good taste or good judgment. Sorry, but time for the Waylon Jennings story again…

 

I accompanied my wonderful wife to her company Christmas party more than once. One time I was introduced to someone whom I think was the spouse of one of my wife’s co-workers. Here is the conversation (I apologize to those who have read/heard this story before):

Me: Hello.

Person: Do you like country music?

Me: No (in a very flat, non-confrontational tone).

Person: But you like Waylon Jennings, right?

Me: No.

The person turned around and walked away. I’m sorry, but how clueless must a person be to assume that everyone shares an affinity for a particular musician. Once again, a person assumed that their opinion was absolute truth. Why are so many people like that?

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Don’t the stoners know that 4/20, the day to “celebrate” smoking pot, was Adolf Hitler’s birthday?! Talk about clueless…

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OK, still can’t seem to get a poll to work here through PollDaddy. What I want to know from you is how many cars should be in my Ultimate Garage?

 

Fewer than 5

5-7

8-10

More than 10

 

I am still hoping that more of you will submit yours. I mean this is still basically a car blog and what’s better for a car blog than for people to write about their dream cars. Dream cars, you say?

 

See the source image

 

From honestjohn.co.uk a picture of a Jaguar F-Type convertible. At this point I no longer remember if I included one of these in my original Ultimate Garage for the blog hosted by the Evil Empire. Of course, I can no longer access that blog. WordPress allows a blogger to download their blog; I don’t recall a similar feature from Blogger/Google.

As I have written before I have somewhat of a heretical view in that I prefer the looks of the F-Type to those of the E-Type. Don’t get me wrong: I think the E-Type is gorgeous. It’s just that on most days I prefer the F-Type. What sayeth thee?

Hope you have enjoyed today’s sojourn at Disaffected Musings. Please come back and bring some friends.

 

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Tuesday Trip

For me the best news of Super Bowl weekend was the election of Ed Reed to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Nobody besides me knew this before now, but Reed is my favorite Raven ever. I had the good fortune to watch almost every game he played in a Ravens uniform.

On the wristband that he wore in the 2011 AFC Championship game, Patriots’ QB Tom Brady had this written: “Find 20 [Ed Reed’s number] on every play.”

Here is praise from Bill Belichick as quoted in this article:

“One of the greatest plays I ever saw him make was against [Peyton] Manning,” Belichick says. “He lined up on the weak side of the formation, and on the snap of the ball, he turned and ran to the middle of the field like he was going to play in the middle of the field.”

“Reed knew that when he went to the middle of the field, Peyton would come back to the X [split end or weak-side wide receiver], so he ran to the middle of the field, and without even looking at the quarterback, turned and ran back over to the sideline and intercepted it.”

While Ray Lewis was a great player, his antics turned me off at times. I also disliked his incessant Bible quoting. In the same way I don’t like the mixing of politics and sports, I don’t like the mixing of religion and sports. Reed spoke much less and let his play speak for him.

Reed will never see this, but Congratulations! We will not see the likes of you again.

See the source image

From bleacherreport.com a picture of Reed holding the Lombardi Trophy after the Ravens defeated the 49ers in Super Bowl 47. (Sorry, I think the Roman Numeral thing is dumb.)

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Have you heard about this? Jerry Seinfeld is being sued because a Porsche sold out of his collection at an auction is alleged to be fake. The lawsuit alleges that Seinfeld apologized and promised a full refund in a voicemail message, but the refund has never been made, which is why the suit was filed.

I don’t really believe in karma, but maybe a Jew shouldn’t be collecting Porsches no matter how rich and famous he is.

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I haven’t forgotten about Ultimate Garage 2.0. As this blog is now in its second year of existence, the time for the reveal grows closer. I will not divulge the number, but if/when Disaffected Musings reaches a certain, consistent level of daily views I will probably begin the reveal.

In the meantime, please start thinking about your Ultimate Garage and feel free to send it to me in a comment. As for me, here’s a contender I have mentioned before:

A picture by yours truly of a Lexus LC. I think it is an amazingly beautiful car and I have had the good fortune of driving it.

 

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