The 1995 Explorer gave me a real taste of what it must be like to be an “order-taker” at a Honda or Toyota dealership. Customers drove up, took whatever we had on the lot, and paid sticker without complaining. We were perennially short on inventory, which of course didn’t keep my flamboyant General Manager from reserving one for his personal use.
Glenn, the GM in question, liked to have things just so. Once every two or three months, he ordered a white Explorer XLT 945A with a few extra options. As soon as his new one showed up, we had to sell his old one. It was a system that worked very well; since Glenn’s demo was the only Explorer on which we offered any real discount, it was a quick sale.
Several Explorers back, Glenn’s personal whip had been involved in a mild fender-bender and had been shuttled off to the body shop. It was placed on the back burner because it was an “in-house” deal, but when it returned, we all marveled at how perfectly it had been repaired. It looked like a brand-new 1994 Explorer.
Which it was.
And it returned to us in January of 1995, in the middle of a monster snowstorm.
Did I mention it was two-wheel-drive?
The 1962-64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk is my favorite Studebaker. It was the last of a line of Studebaker Hawks that began in 1956. But thanks to the deft hand of Milwaukee’s famous industrial designer, Brooks Stevens, it was remarkably refreshed in Autumn of ’61 for one last hurrah.
But its structural origins went back to the early Fifties. And while it wasn’t much of a secret to anyone who had an interest in Studebakers, the improved 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk somehow managed to be newer, fresher and more interesting than the sum of its parts.
When I was a child, I read Harrison Bergeron and took it for what it was meant to be: a fable, an allegory, a warning. Never, not for a solitary moment, did I think that it was an instruction manual.
“Coraline Ada Ehmke”, a scripting-language “programmer” who spends most of xir time trying to promote “social justice” instead of, say, learning to program in an actual programming langugage, is in the news lately for basically hounding Linus Torvalds out of Linux. This is the equivalent of running Steve Harris out of Iron Maiden, or getting everybody but Ringo to quit the Beatles.
But wait, there’s more. “Coraline” has also come up with an absolutely fabulous idea, one that would have shocked Kurt Vonnegut at his most cynical and disaffected: the end of meritocracy.
There it was, right in the lobby of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Sweetwater Sound. (Non-affiliate, non-compensated commercial message: for the absolute best deal on a GOOD example of a musical instrument, as opposed to a Guitar Denter special, call Matt Emick at (800) 222-4700 x1249, tell him I sent you.) ZZ Top’s “Eliminator” coupe. (Strictly speaking, I believe it’s a Tudor, and some of you will know better than I do.) Hard to believe it was just forty-two years old when Billy Gibbons bought it as an unmodified ex-daily driver, and hard to believe it’s been driven across the country without incident.
Three of the video singles from ZZ Top’s “Eliminator” album featured the car as a central character; I vaguely remembered them from my youth, with the one that stuck out being “Legs”. On a whim, I decided to watch it again. Having done so, I asked my Instagram followers if there was any way that the “Legs” video would be considered acceptable for release were ZZ Top to make it again today. The answer is obviously “Hell no,” but it’s not for the reasons you might think. Turns out that “Legs”, for all its flash and sex appeal, is primarily objectionable in the modern context because it is, at its heart, a story of Christian morality.
A while back on the 1978 Caprice Classic post, one of our commenters asked about deciphering the various General Motors platforms. My friend Carmine explained it all in a subsequent comment. There were a few even I hadn’t heard of (the Corvair was a Z-body?!). At the time, I intended to do a little post on it, and add pictures of the appropriate cars under his text. Of course, as often happens with me, it got put on the back burner, then was conveniently forgotten.
Now it can be told, more than twenty years after the fact. This recent kid-smashing-up-press-car incident has caused me to think about my own misspent youth and the potential parallels between it and that of Little Lord Cheney. My father was a decorated war hero rather than a demoted war reporter, and when I crunched the nose of my first car my dad responded by taking away my license for an entire year and forcing me to ride a bicycle to my job washing dishes from 8pm to 2am at the local pizza-delivery place. He also made me learn how to drive on his stick-shift BMW 733i, so I never had the chance to drive a car through a garage door.
Still, I can point to a few incidents of damn-the-torpedos bad judgment in my teen years, and perhaps my favorite one was the day I found myself behind the wheel of a brand-new BMW 750il and decided to take a shot at one hundred and fifty-five miles per hour.
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Oh, for pity’s sake.
We are now rapidly approaching the end of summer. You know what that means: car shows are dwindling. And soon, will be gone altogether-until next April. And so it was that I attended the cruise night yesterday evening with a friend of mine. Sadly, no Broughams were in evidence. In fact, the show itself was kind of small.
Part of it was the heat-it was about 88 degrees out-but as we heard from fellow attendees, there had been a big show at Green Chevrolet that morning. Apparently most of the usual suspects went to that show instead, leaving North Park Mall in Davenport with relatively slim pickings, car-wise
(Originally published on June 10, 2010 — jb)
I do not know precisely when I became an itinerant. For a long time, I traveled the Midwest racing bicycles. When I was too crippled to race a bike I changed to cars. Some years I am gone from home more than half the weekends of the year, racing cars and teaching at various trackday events. I am on the road four days a week at a minimum in my day job anyway.
Constant motion distorts time, preventing one from seeing the growth of flowers or children. It distorts perspective, focusing attention on the next event and blurring what comes after or came before. It distorts relationships. Friends exist on the phone and the Web. We never touch or meet, comets locked on disparate orbits. A contrail of romantic episodes crystallizes to angry ice in the sky behind me. “I should have known,” an e-mail in my inbox reads, “that nothing you ever told me was real, or true.”
This is what is real and true: the next racetrack and the road to get there.