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.

1966_red_Ford_Mustang_convertible_front_side

1966

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.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

Enhanced by Zemanta

So God Made A Farmer – What About the Modern Farm? | chrischinn

Like so many others I was moved by Dodge Truck (Ram) tribute to the American Farmer during the Super Bowl. Part of it is that I was raised listening to Paul Harvey, nearly every morning and noon, with “The Rest of the Story” in the afternoon. In the Midwest of my youth if you were within earshot of a radio, the world stopped for those five minutes. Still another thing I miss, that decent man telling us what was going on, sometimes from his farm.

I’m not a big football fan but I do love spending time with my husband.  My husband watches one football game a year on TV, and that’s the Super Bowl.  Many of my friends tell me how lucky I am that Kevin doesn’t watch more sports on TV.  I think I’m lucky because my sweet farmer fell in love with me!  I am like a lot of other people, I watch the Super Bowl for the half time show and the commercials.  This year though, I wanted to watch the game because the Ravens had Michael Oher playing for them.  The movie the ‘Blind Side’ was based on his life.  Michael was adopted by the Tuohy family in Tennessee and they helped Michael grow in many ways, mostly just by loving him and giving him a place to call home.  (I love that movie because it reminds me there is still a lot of good in the world today!)  I wanted to watch the game last night so I could see Michael achieve something many men only dream about, playing in the Super Bowl.

Imagine my surprise though when during the fourth quarter of the game, a commercial came on with Paul Harvey’s voice reciting part of a speech he made to the FFA called ‘So God Made a Farmer.”  Ram Trucks (Dodge) was paying tribute to the farmers in our country.  I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears.  I have seen a similar tribute and it always brings tears to my eyes.  Last night was no exception.   I had poor cell phone reception last night so I couldn’t access my internet but I saw this morning that Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with positive comments about the commercial.  I wasn’t the only one who liked the commercial!  THANK YOU Ram trucks for the great tribute to farmers!

Continue reading So God Made A Farmer – What About the Modern Farm? | chrischinn.

This is from one of our UNL extension agents, with some information I didn’t know about the video. Here is her blog as well.

Great comments from Chris Chinn regarding the Paul Harvey Poem “So God Made A Farmer” and how it applies to the Modern Farm!!!  I am a football fan, though, and can relate to everyone who got a little tear in their eye after watching this commercial.  Please share the YouTube video as for every view, Dodge will make a donation, up to $1 million, for the Future Farmers of America (FFA)!

%d bloggers like this: