Monday, October 21, 2019

Catching Up

It was a long weekend in Lakeland.  The fuel system on the Pontiac had some issues to the point that we got about 85 miles from Miami and had to turn around and come home.  We left the Pontiac at Bob’s house and took his car.  Tropical Storm Nestor moved across Florida and brought heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning so the show was moved lock, stock, and barrel into three covered public garages.  By 11:00 a.m. the weather cleared and the rest of the day was beautiful.  The photo was from later in the day when the clouds had cleared to the east but some more rain showers were moving in.

We left early Sunday morning (and a shorting-out fire alarm system at 4:30 a.m. didn’t help with a good night’s sleep, neither did walking down nine flights of stairs carrying our luggage because the elevators were locked out) and got home around 11:00 a.m.

I’m taking the Pontiac into the shop this morning, then catching up on some work once I get to school.  So I’ll be back a little later to catch up on what’s been going on.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Random Youtubery

I vividly remember Ford’s hardtop convertible, and I have a friend who has a 1959 model.  Despite the upbeat predictions, Ford only made them for three model years – 1957, 1958, and 1959 – but the mechanism to hide the top was used on later models of soft-top convertibles in the Thunderbirds and Lincolns.  Hardtop convertibles have made somewhat of a comeback in some other models (i.e. VW and Mercedes-Benz), but not to the degree that Ford airily predicted.

By the way, a lot of naysayers said that the Ford version would be a mechanical nightmare with all those solenoids and motors.  But my friend says that his has never had a problem, and since Ford kept making the machinery for the next ten years, parts are out there if needed.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Foreign Cars

Sixty years ago imported (or “foreign”) cars were an interesting if not important part of the U.S. auto market.  If you wanted to go exotic you could get a Mercedes-Benz through the local Studebaker dealer, and of course everybody thought the VW Beetle was cute but not what you’d call a family car if you were used to driving a Ford Country Squire with room for nine passengers and a dog.  Japanese cars?  Are you kidding?

Well, that was then, and so was Ike and the Edsel.  Today the American car market is dominated by vehicles whose headquarters may be in Tokyo or Seoul but who build them here to the point that they’re exporting cars built in Ohio back to Japan.  Not only that, they have taught the American manufacturers how they did it, and now if you buy a Ford or Buick chances are it has parts brought in from their factories overseas (my 2007 Mustang’s engine is from Germany) and even certain models are badge-engineered to look and sound like American cars.

But apparently this represents a national security threat to some dipshit in the White House.

A US Commerce Department report has concluded that American auto imports threaten national security, setting the stage for possible tariffs by the White House, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The investigation, ordered by President Donald Trump in May, is “positive” with respect to the central question of whether the imports “impair” US national security, said a European auto industry source.

“It’s going to say that auto imports are a threat to national security,” said an official with another auto company.

The report, which is expected to be delivered to the White House by a Sunday deadline, has been seen as a major risk for foreign automakers.

Trump has threatened to slap 25 percent duties on European autos, especially targeting Germany, which he says has harmed the American car industry.

Toyota is neither amused or impressed.

“Today’s proclamation sends a message to Toyota that our investments are not welcomed, and the contributions from each of our employees across America are not valued,” the company said.

The statement says Toyota has 10 manufacturing plants in the United States, some 1,500 dealerships, an extensive supply chain and directly and indirectly employs 475,000 US workers.

“Most every American has a Toyota story and we are very proud of the fact that over 36 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles are still on U.S. roads today. Our operations and employees contribute significantly to the American way of life, the U.S. economy and are not a national security threat.”

But Trump promised those workers at the Studebaker plant he’d save their jobs, and by golly he’s gonna do it.

PS: The last Studebaker plant to build cars for the U.S. market was in Canada.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Me And My Mustangs: Fifty Years And More

Fifty years ago this weekend — April 1969 — my parents and I went over to Brondes Ford in Toledo and found a gray 1965 Mustang 2+2 with a black interior, an AM radio, and a heater.  It had the 289 V-8 with a three-speed manual transmission, no power steering, and no power brakes.  They paid $1,500 for it.  Somewhere in my box of pictures I have one of me standing next to it, but for now this stock photo of one will have to do.

1965 Ford Mustang 2+2

Thus began my fifty-year love affair with the Mustang. In truth, though, I was smitten five years before when they were introduced with great fanfare at the New York Worlds Fair on April 15, 1964.  They took the world by storm, selling over 600,000 in their first model year, and when they introduced the 2+2 in September 1964 to go with the coupe and convertible, they made an impression on this twelve-year-old car-crazy kid: I wanted one.

By April 1969 I’d had my license for all of six months and drove either my mom’s 1967 Ford Country Squire (the seed of my affection for wood-grain-sided wagons) or my dad’s 1965 Ford LTD.  But I’d been bugging my parents for my own car and by April I’d worn them down to the point that even Mom liked the idea of me with a Mustang (although I can’t remember if she ever drove it).  Ostensibly the car was to be shared with my older brother and sister, but they were away at school, so for the first few months it was my car, and when I went off to college in Miami in 1971 (and thanks to an inattentive clerk at registration who didn’t notice that as a freshman I wasn’t supposed to have a car on campus), I took it with me to Miami.

In August 1973, in a fit of stupidity, I sold the Mustang to some kid for $300 and bought an F-150 pick-up.  Meanwhile, Ford kept making changes to the Mustang, including making it bigger and, to me, less attractive, and when they brought out the Pinto-based 1974 Mustang II, the love affair, as they often do, turned to indifference and even derision.  For the next thirty years I stayed away, dallying, as it were, with other cars including a Ford Granada, a Jeep Wagoneer, a Subaru wagon, and finally settling down with the Pontiac in 1989.  But the siren call of the Mustang was still in the back of my mind.  In 2003, when my mom, who had traded her 1979 Volvo for a 1995 Mustang GT convertible, V-8 5-liter Laser Red with white leather interior, sold it to me so she could acquire a Mini Cooper (which she still drives), all was forgiven and I was back in a Mustang.  The Pontiac went into the garage for a well-earned rest after 250,000 miles.

1995 Mustang GT — August 2003 – March 2008

I happily drove it from August 2003 until one fateful afternoon in March 2008 when another driver in Coral Gables tried to test the theory that two molecules can occupy the same space at the same time by making a left turn in front of me. His theory was disproved, and the Mustang was totaled.  I drove the Pontiac for a year, and then in March 2009 I took the insurance payout and, utilizing the internet, found a 2007 Mustang convertible, Wind Veil blue with gray interior and a black top and a V-6 at Maroone Ford in Fort Lauderdale. It had 34,000 miles and a full warranty.

2007 Mustang — March 2009 – present

Ten years later, it’s still with me, 100,000 more miles on the odometer, and likely to be with me for a while.

Like all love affairs, it’s not easy to explain.  After all, it’s just a car; a machine that takes you from one place to another.  But there’s always been a connection between me and this particular brand, and even though there was a long hiatus, I still get that feeling I had fifty years ago on the cold gray April afternoon when I drove my first Mustang off the lot in Toledo and learned, on the way home, how to drive a stick.  What can I say? Love is like that.

By the way, the Pontiac doesn’t mind.  It’s the one that wins the trophies at the car shows.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friends And Family Weekend Among The Rich

I’m heading out this weekend for the gilded shores and resorts of Boca Raton, home of the 13th annual Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance (and, by the way, some of the finest, if not most expensive, drug and alcohol rehab “spas” in the country.  Coincidence?).

A lot of my friends from here in Miami will be attending to judge these cars; this will be my thirteenth show as a judge and third as as “distinguished guest judge,” which means they put me up for the whole weekend at the very nice Boca Raton Resort and Club.  It is all for a great cause: the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County.

And I will be meeting up with my brother who flies in every year to join in the fun of looking over these amazing automobiles. So this is it for this morning, but I’ll have some pictures and stories to tell between now and Sunday, so check in as I infiltrate the upper crust.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Picture Of The Day

This photograph was taken last Sunday on Ocean Drive on Miami Beach as we were setting up for the second day of the car show as part of Art Deco Weekend.  A cool front was coming through — the same one that brought all that cold and snow up north — and with it came a band of heavy rain just as we got there around 8 a.m.


I’m not much of an art historian, but I know what I like, and to me this evokes the work of Edward Hopper: the grey skies, the damp and empty street, the wind pushing the flag to full extension, and the composition of the lines and colors.  It’s now one of my favorite photos.

It was taken by one of our club members who showed up to volunteer to help with the show.  I’ll respect his privacy so I’ll thank him in person.