Amusing Dealer Names, Part One

Last night my friend Dave Smith posted this vintage ad on his FB group, the American Brougham Society. It was apparently a one-of-one 1980 Olds Ninety-Eight convertible. Pretty cool. And it made me think of the possibilities if GM had made ’80 Electra and Coupe de Ville convertibles back then.

But that was all later. My juvenile brain picked out the name of the dealer before processing anything else.

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I Regret To Inform You That The Drive Is At It Again

Earlier this month, there was an “amazing article” at The Drive about the current semiconductor shortage, written by some “tech-writer” chump who’s never set foot inside a dealership. I know it was amazing because all of the usual suspect idiots on Twitter told me so. It’s a wonderful example of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect, except in this case I absolutely remember that everything else written at The Drive is also complete and utter garbage, not just this particular piece of writing that falls within my expertise.

Outside of the technical content that anybody with an internet connection could verify, all of the conclusions that this author drew are completely false, some of them harmfully so. I really don’t want to do this, as my heart rate doesn’t need the additional stress, but I feel an obligation to you to point out how incredibly stupid everything in this article was.

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Made In Detroit: Shinola and how you can support Riverside Green

Over the years, we’ve been reluctant to take any money from you, our readers, despite your many generous requests to offer it. This website has never been anything but a vanity project. It doesn’t serve as a portfolio, nor does it help us curry any favor with OEMs—quite the opposite, as the virtual army of people who comb every word of this blog for ammo to use against us with our employers, family, and friends continually demonstrates.

We tried Google ads for a while. They didn’t even cover our hosting costs, and they were distasteful. So no more of that.

Some of you have suggested Patreon. That feels even dirtier than Google Ads to me. Transparently, both Jack and I earn well above the national median income, and there’s no reason why anybody should pay us money directly in these times when so many people are unemployed and in greater need than we are.

However, I was recently offered the opportunity to help promote one of the brands that both Jack and I have written about at length, and a brand that I have personally spent more money supporting than any other (with the exception of Ford and Genesis) in the last 8 years. That brand is Shinola.

We’ve talked about Shinola here, here, and here. I bought my first Shinola watch, a blue 41mm Runwell, in January of 2016 and I bought my most recent one a few weeks ago. In between those purchases, I have bought 14 other watches, multiple wallets, business card holders, belts, and even hats. I constantly scan eBay for deals. I have my own personal contact at the Grand Rapids store who shoots me off any photos of interesting models. When Shinola launched their first automatic version of the Runwell watch, I immediately ordered serial number 5, in honor of my father’s number at Notre Dame, my number in high school sports, and my son’s number on his club soccer team, and it has become my everyday watch. I have everything from that top of the line $1100 automatic Runwell to a $395 resin body Detrola, as well as a Guardian, a Bedrock, a Canfield, 2 Canfield Bolts, a Black Blizzard, 2 Brakeman, and 6 Runwells. You can see much of my personal collection in the very poor photo at the top of the page.

So, yeah, I believe in the brand. Which is why I am completely comfortable offering my endorsement of it to you, our readers.

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Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter: Motel Mascot

Back in the late summer of 2015, I had agreed to trade in my 2006 Volvo V50 wagon for a 53,000 mile 2004 Town Car Ultimate at Strieter Lincoln. As they were holding the car for me, I still was driving the V50 for a few more days. So I decided to go up to the lake, go to the Mt. Carroll downtown car cruise that Saturday, maybe do some swimming, and then head north into Wisconsin to see House on the Rock.

All in all, it was a nice weekend and cool to see House on the Rock since the last time I’d been there was on a family vacation in 1990. But on the way home I passed this motel and had to stop and check out this plane, sitting out front of the Don Q Inn, a themed motel in nearby Dodgeville, WI. You couldn’t miss it.

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Bark Buys: How I learned to stop worrying and love CarMax, or my 2017 Genesis G80 purchase story

I’ve been writing car buying advice columns for years, and for good reason—most people have absolutely zero idea about how to buy a car. When I say that, I mean that they are completely uninformed about the entire process, starting with the selection of the car, whether to buy new or used, how to negotiate, whether or not to get an extended warranty, etc. Sure, your Uncle Bark can help, and I’m always happy to do so, but more often than not, even people who reach out to me for advice end up missing out on one key piece of the journey, and that one piece can often cause serious financial and time-oriented headaches.

This is why CarMax is so incredibly successful. For reasons that we will absolutely address later in this blog post, CarMax appears to be the only dealership chain in the country that truly understands how much most people loathe everything about buying a car.

Pricing transparency? Got it. Everybody pays the same price. Financing transparency? Also got it. Not sure what car you want? No worries—they’ll find it for you. Worried that your car will break? They’ll give you a free limited warranty and sell you one that covers anything else.

So, yes, CarMax is successful, but if you are one of the few automotive consumers who really does know what he’s doing, dealing with them comes at a somewhat terrible price—namely, you’ll likely pay too much for your car. After all, the reason we do all of that silly negotiating and backslashinforth in the first place is because we want to save money, not because we particularly enjoy it. Having a fixed price relieves the anxiety for most customers because everybody walks away feeling like they got the same deal anybody else in their shoes would have gotten.

It’s a well known fact in the car biz that the customers who get the best deals walk away the angriest. It’s the customers who get absolutely cracked who write great Google reviews and refer all of their friends from church. So it’s no wonder that people love CarMax—everybody gets cracked.

Or do they? I was determined to find out. Why, you may ask?

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Remembering Kevin A. Campbell

I was saddened to learn this past Monday that a friend of mine, Kevin Campbell, passed away last week. He was one of my online Brougham compadres. We could comment or message back and forth about Cadillacs, Lincolns and Buicks easily-and frequently.

Kevin was someone I met through Facebook, on the various Cadillac and Lincoln groups, like the American Brougham Society headed by Dave Smith, and the 1970’s Great American Land Yacht group. Over the years he’d owned many different U.S. luxury cars. But he was a major Buick fan, and daily drove a 1995 Buick Roadmaster.

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Guest Post: While We’re On a Renaming Kick, Let’s Get Rid of Wilson, Yale, and Stanford

Sengbe Pieh

The names of those American military bases memorializing Confederate generals, like Fort Bragg in North Carolina or Fort Hood in Texas, have become fodder for the culture war. Despite the fact that some were capable commanders (many of those, it should be noted, were graduates of the Union’s military academy at West Point), the simultaneous fact that they fought for a cause now thought odious is considered by many to be grounds for erasing their names from those installations. I can personally think of valid arguments on both sides of the issue.

When it comes to renaming things, particularly with a political motivation, I’m reminded of something an Indian fellow who worked for an automotive vendor told me during the big Detroit auto show. Continue Reading →

A Bit Of Family History, Found

I was probably one of the last people in my city to join Facebook, approximately five years ago. I soon found there was a lot of what Hunter S. Thompson would have called fear and loathing on the site, but I refined my friends list and groups to focus primarily on actual people I knew, people I didn’t know but who were gearheads, Italian restaurants, and various and sundry Cadillac, Lincoln and Broughamesque car groups. As a result I avoid about 98.3% of the typical FB angst, and it has worked pretty well.

At any rate, sometimes things come out of left field. Early this year I was contacted by a lady in Arkansas, Lisa Harding Jepko. What she had to say was pretty interesting:

Hi, this sounds crazy, but as a hobby, I buy old pictures from auctions and estates. Then I try research the families in the pictures. I believe I have one of your great great grandfather…”

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Jakub Józef Orliński: “Vedro con mio diletto” from Il Giustino (Antonio Vivaldi)

There are times when I think that a music-business story is “too good to fact-check,” and this is one of them. Young counter-tenor Jakub Józef Orliński agreed to substitute for an ensemble that could not appear for what Orliński believed would be the radio-only live broadcast of an outdoor afternoon concert in the south of France. The New Yorker picks up the story (after mentioning that Orliński was, on the day of the concert, nursing a mild hangover):

Orliński put on baggy shorts and beat-up sneakers, and rolled up the sleeves of a crumpled tattersall shirt: this was radio, after all, and it was ninety degrees outside. Only when he and his pianist, Alphonse Cémin, who was in shorts and flip-flops, arrived at the recording venue—a courtyard with a small audience—did they learn that the performance was also to be streamed on Facebook Live. It was too late for Orliński to change clothes, and so he sang just as he was—unshaved, and dressed as if ready for a day of sleeping it off under the Provençal plane trees.

This is obviously a superb job of singing; the YouTube view count of 4.7 million views is something I find very heartening. That’s in part because counter-tenors are in a way like harpsichords. In both cases, at times there seems to be a parity between the numbers of people who can enjoy the sound, and those who feel compelled to flee from it. And in that regard, I would have preferred a Baroque continuo rather than a Steinway grand (Vivaldi’s opera dates from 1724), but the piano accompaniment is very sensitive. And one must keep in mind that Orliński was substituting on less than 24 hours’ notice. (I do crack up every time I see the “page turner” reach up and touch the iPad.) Also, for an outdoor concert, what a lovely recording job! More, after the jump.
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If I Am Not For Myself, Who Will Be For Me?

Hebrew MAGA מאגא Donald Trump Yarmulke Kippah Red Leather image 0

מאַכן אַמעריקע גרויס אביסל Machen America Grois Abissel

For the past three years some of my fellow Jews have been telling me that I’m not a very good Jew because I happened to vote for the presidential candidate of a major American political party. Putting aside the possible naivete in my beliefs that we live in a good country filled with mostly decent people, regardless of their political ideologies, and that it’s virtually impossible for a truly monstrous person to get through the years-long vetting process of getting nominated, let alone elected, I’m a bit perplexed. The last time I looked, not one of the 613 commandments (yeah, there are way more than the big ten) that God gave the Jews in the Torah obligates me to vote for a particular person or party.

Even more perplexing is the fact that the Jews telling me that I’m not a good Jew hold mutually contradicting beliefs about Jewish identity and for the most part are nearly complete ignoramuses about Judaism, Jewish culture and Jewish history.
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