A Free Man and Boring Pigs

First a note: Tommy Robinson is out on bail, to be retried at a later date. It’s a victory worth celebrating, but not a complete one. The court said this:

In the ruling, the lord chief justice quashed the Leeds finding of contempt. That court hearing should not have proceeded immediately but waited to hear the case on a “fully informed basis”, he said.

The judgment added: “It was unclear what conduct was said to comprise a breach of that order and the appellant was sentenced on the basis of conduct which fell outside the scope of that order.

“… The decision at Leeds crown court to proceed to committal to prison so promptly and without due regard for [part] of the rules gave rise to unfairness.

“… The judge might have referred the matter to the attorney general to consider whether to institute proceedings. That course would have avoided the risk of sacrificing fairness on the altar of celerity.”

Gee! Ya think? Still, a win is a win is a win.

Boring Pigs

This caught my attention at The American Spectator yesterday.

But how do you deal with cars that are pigs?

Which is all new cars.

Even hybrid cars.

The 2018 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid I just finished reviewing (here) averaged just over 42 MPG… right there with a 1984 Chrysler K-car. Which didn’t need an electric motor and batteries to achieve 40-plus MPG.

The K-car also cost about half what the Niro costs, in inflation-adjusted dollars — but that’s another rant.

The 2019 Subaru Ascent I test drove the week prior averaged a truly dismal 22.4 MPG — despite being powered by the very latest in fuel-saving high-tech: a 2.4 liter direct-injected/turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the works bolted to a fuel-saving continuously variable (CVT) automatic and geared for maximum MPGs.

All that… and 22.4 MPG.

My ancient (1976) Pontiac Trans-Am, a muscle car with an engine more than three times as large (7.5 liter V8) as the Soobie’s and which doesn’t have a computer, direct injection, or a turbocharger but does have a big four-barrel carburetor and burnout-enhancing 3:90 gears is only slightly less thirsty.

It is capable of averaging in the high teens.

The question arises — in view of all the “efficient” and “fuel saving” technologies new cars boast: Why are they so fuel-inefficient?

It is because they are grotesque fatties.

The average 2018 model car is on the order of 500-800 pounds heavier than its 1990 equivalent.

Here are some for-instances:

  • 1990 Ford Escort, curb weight 2,242 lbs. vs. 2018 Ford Focus (the current Escort equivalent) which weighs 2,974 lbs. — a gain of 732 lbs.
  • 1990 Toyota Camry, curb weight 2,811 lbs. vs. 2018 Camry, 3,340 lbs. — a gain of 529 lbs.
  • 1990 Dodge Caravan, curb weight 2,910 lbs. vs. 2018 Caravan, 4,510 lbs. — a gain of 1,600 lbs.!
  • The 2018 Kia Niro hybrid I test drove — ostensibly an “economy” car and a “compact” by modern car standards — weighs almost 3,400 pounds. Which is just a couple of hundred pounds less than my 1976 Trans-Am — which has a heavy steel frame and a massively heavy cast-iron V8 engine.

And the Subaru Ascent weighs several hundred pounds more than my 42-year-old muscle car, despite the Pontiac’s huge cast-iron V8, cast iron rear axle and a bolt-on steel subframe just like a truck’s.

So why is the Trans-Am so relatively svelte?

It is because the Trans-Am’s designers didn’t have to cope with the numerous weight-adding saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafetyfatwas which have made new cars so obese.

I never heard anyone call a Trans Am svelte before, it was one of the most space inefficient cars ever designed. But he’s right, it was fairly light, especially if you ordered it without all the “comfort and convenience” junk that ate fuel and made it heavier.

When I was in high school, my dad after he retired, drove a 63 Chevy Bel Air, with a 230 ci 6, Powerglide transmission, with ps and brakes. 0-60 was about a day and a half, and it got around 20 mpg. By today’s standards, it was a huge car, six passengers, and luggage for six weeks. He used it like a pickup, and it did its role well. By the way, he paid $500 for it, because it was in excellent, clean condition, book was about $300. Those really were the days. 🙂

Mom had a 68 Fleetwood Brougham, with every bell and whistle that Cadillac could dream up, and they were good dreamers, including the 472 ci V8. I found out one night, in a mile it could keep up with a 427 Vette. If one drove reasonably, it got 18 mpg on the highway. Yeah, it was even bigger than the Chevy, the footrests in the backseat actually were useful, as were the four power vent windows. Nobody ever made a better car for driving 12 hours a day on the Interstate. It was, indeed, a great date car.

Me? I had a 64 Riviera with the old 401 Nailhead engine, the very first (in 63) personal luxury car. It didn’t have all the toys of the Caddy, but it moved pretty good. It could even corner, although it was rather dramatic about it. How fast? I don’t know, it was still accelerating fine when the rear end started lifting at 110. A friend of mine had the one with the big engine, including the dual quads, and a rear spoiler, he said he had buried the 140 mph speedometer and I believed him. It too could be nursed to about 18 (on premium fuel), I usually got around 15. Hey, I was young and invincible in those days. Still the best vehicle I ever owned.

All of those cars were built with good solid American steel, they were downright sturdy as a Mack truck, not the beer cans you find now, and like the author’s Trans Am you were expected to pay attention and not hit things – if you don’t hit nothing, all that safety junk is just that – junk. And you know, for the most part, we didn’t. Maybe because we weren’t texting and putting on our makeup while we drove, cause driving was fun, not the chore it is today. Chicago to Philadelphia in one day – sure why not? Did it many times. Chicago to LA to Seattle visit relatives in Minnesota and home in two weeks, with a camper – been there done that, but dad drove, I was in Junior high. Easy peasy.

And the thing about those cars, there was almost nothing on them that I (or dad) couldn’t fix in the driveway, sure sometimes we needed a machine shop, but other than that we could do anything.

The safety idiots and the emission idiots ruined the American car with their various mandates. Americans did what Americans always do – Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. That’s why we drive SUVs and pickups now, but they are going the same way.

Let’s give Eric the last word (and you should read all of his link).

If they lacked the power to issue (and enforce) such fatwas, we’d have lighter and more economical cars that would almost certainly be quicker and cheaper, too.

It might be worth looking into.

OF MG, and Lotus, and Jaguar, and Chevy and Dodge

1953_mg_td-pic-7992610729001336577I don’t know how many of you became fans of Top Gear, the UK version, I never really got into the US version. The UK version could perhaps be best described as ‘quirky’. In truth, it was a good bit like a bunch of drunken teenagers playing with their dad’s quarter of a million dollar cars on TV.

Yes, there was some real information conveyed but mostly it was about how fast you can wear out a set of tires. That’s fine, I remember those days fondly, myself, and in many ways that’s what it was about.

The lead presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, whom I gather had much to do with reinventing the show as a ‘bloke show’ as I described above, actually is a fairly intelligent guys, and a British patriot as well. He has a show out about what happened to the British car industry and it’s pretty good.

Like most guys my age, I grew up loving cars, especially those ones with names like Charger, GTO, Cutlass, Camaro, or pretty much anything with a bowtie combined with the letters SS. It was a good world, cars were reasonably priced, and gasoline was about a quarter a gallon. Then the EPA and Arabs showed up and the party ended, and much else besides. When the exhaust recommendation made almost all cars pretty much into boxes as exciting as mom’s washing machine, most of us went to trucks, and that is about the only reason that the US makers survived. Nobody else in the world seems to be able to make a proper pick-up, only Toyota even came close.

But Britain was different. My first encounter with a British car was an MG TC (or maybe TD) when I was in college. It was slow, rough riding, ridiculously small, colder than a witch’s body part encased in brass, completely unreliable, and leaked like a sieve. You know, something else, I loved that fool thing, if dad would have let me, I’d have bought one myself. The thing is, the one I drove, it belonged to a friend, was about a 1960 model, of a pre-war car, and very few changes had been made. It got its start here when some of them came home with our soldiers, next best thing to a British bride, I think. 🙂

Then somebody showed up with a Lotus, it was all of the above, except slow. My biggest trouble with it was, in fact, that at 20 years old or so, I could just about, almost, get into the fool thing. The one that was around was bright yellow. We called it ‘arrest me yellow’, in fact, and the car was nicknamed the Screaming Yellow Zonker, and it was very apt.

Then like us all, I went to work and mostly drove Chevys and Dodges, and maybe an occasional Buick. They weren’t bad, really, for appliances, but nobody ever called a LeSabre a screaming yellow zonker.

Our nanny state pretty much made it too expensive for almost any interesting car to be sold here, and if it was, it was so compromised by regulation, that it wasn’t worth it anyway, that’s why we got aberrations like Mustang IIs, there wasn’t anything even close to reasonable.

Apparently Britain was a bit smarter, which wouldn’t have been hard, because all those interesting cars kept getting built and sold. Not all were British; Renault, Fiat, Ferrari and such kept on, you just hardly ever saw them in the US. We got what GM wanted, and we the customers were increasingly irrelevant.

In any case, the Brits had/have trouble with the auto industry as well, and Clarkson does, I think a fair job at describing what its problems were that pretty much killed it. It’s still unfolding here, but our auto industry (and many others as well) are following the same path, so this is kind of a prophecy of what the future will bring here as well, if we don’t change our ways.

Enjoy the video, in any case.

50 Years Ago This Week

Fifty years ago this week, Ford Motor Company, including a guy in marketing by the name of Lee Iacocca, brought to market a car that sold reasonably well, and still does: The Mustang.

In those halcyon days of proper American companies, I was a Dodge truck guy and a Buick (I still love the 63-65 Rivieras) and Chevy car guy but, it was a pretty cute car. My buddies tended to refer to it as a “Muskrat” in derision as we really prefered things like Impala SS’s and such but it wasn’t a bad car, by any means.



Although they expected it to sell about 125,000 units, Ford’s bean counting types weren’t very excited, they thought it would pull sales from their other lines, and probably it did. It pulled sales from nearly everywhere else as well, it sold 418,812 units in the first year, for a profit of over $1 billion dollars (yes, with a ‘B’).

The 1969 Mach 1 may have been the best of the early models it was sure a looker at any rate, and it moved along, if not quite Mach 1, still it was pretty quick.

 It would pass most things, other than a gas station of course.


1969 Mach 1

And that brings up an interesting point, that ’69 above put more pollution into the air, sitting in the driveway turned off, than this one does at 60 miles per hour.

2015 Mustang

2015 Mustang

One of the neat things is that for 50 years, the Mustang has stayed pretty much true to its original vision, and not turned into something else. And you know, the last 6 years or so has turned me into a Ford guy, simply because they’re still an American company, not owned by the government or the Italians or something.

Happy Birthday Mustang!

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OK, Here’s the New Chevy Volt Ad

With hatips to 12iggymom’s Blog and American Freedom.

The very best car you could expect from corporatism.


Yeah I know it’s a parody, except it’s not, really.

You know, back in the late sixties, Popular Mechanics, had a contest for the best plans to convert a VW Kombi to electric power, I didn’t build it but some did and never heard of it burning or burning down the garage it was in either. So much for progress.

I’m getting migraines from shaking my head at the stupidity of these people, is it 20 January 2013 yet? Please?

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