I often ask myself whatever happened to the Lincoln Town Car. It was doing so well before Dearborn got caught up in the SUV craze, followed by the combover, er I mean crossover, craze. It seemed the venerable TC became largely ignored by product planners in the Glass House, before finally disappearing after a small number of 2012 Town Cars were built in mid-2011. Perhaps Panther fans’ love of the 1990-97 model and subsequent watering-down of said top-dog Lincoln had something to do with it. Making essentially identical cars from 2003-2011 certainly didn’t help, but those final boxy 1995-1997 just seemed a little more distinguished. A little more special.
Sorry for the lack of updates around here. I spent two days last week on a backroads trip with a former R&T colleague and then headed immediately to Mid-Ohio where I had two wins in Honda Challenge and set a new track record. Honestly compels me to admit that I had no proper Honda-powered competition in class; the five cars that challenged me last month at NCM were apparently discouraged by my 27-second margin of victory. Which led to the situation you see here, where I was placed at the back of several different BMW race groups and had to work my way up to some clear air. It was really fun. I have no complaints.
Last week was pretty light in terms of contributions. Here they are…
Some of you might have noticed tbat the site was down today. Apparently it is possible to cut the connection to Riverside Green’s highly available and highly expensive colocation facility with one backhoe.
It took five hours to restore the clipped fiber. Needless to say, I’m not satisfied. When I was at Honda they walked people out the door for five MINUTES down. There may be changes ahead for how we host the site. Apologies for the inconvenience.
I am well known for my love of Ford Motor Company’s flagship, the Lincoln Continental. Very few people, at least those who appreciate classic cars, would argue that the 1961-69 Continental was anything but a classic design and a true American luxury car, but I also am rather fond of the 1970-73 version. Remember those? They’ve kind of faded from memory over the decades, with the ’60s Continentals on one side and the square-rigged, luxury railroad coaches that were the 1975-79 Continentals.
I certainly remember them. A big part of that is due to an old, forgotten triple black 1971 Lincoln Continental that was sitting in a 1920s-era one-car garage not far from my neighborhood. From the age of approximately five through the end of junior high, my beloved bicycles took me where I wanted to go. Heck, I still have my first bike sitting in my garage!
“Someone is here to see you,” the nurse said, in a voice that was more or less indistinguishable from the battle cry of a bull elephant. It was March 26, 1988, and I was lying in a hospital bed near the top of what was then Riverside Methodist Hospital’s only tower. Four days previously, I’d been smacked by a 10-wheel Mack lumber truck during a brief street ride on my Free Agent Limo. The right fender had broken my neck then I’d been tangled in the back wheels of the trailer before being gored in the back by the recurve of the rear bumper which then dragged me a hundred feet, face-down, along the gravel shoulder. No, that’s not the reason I’m ugly. I was born this way.
At some point my right femur had shattered into four pieces, allowing me to kick myself in the face with my blue-and-white “Big Nike” high-top during my merry trip. When I came to a halt, I had a brief chat with my pal Woody, who was riding with me, as to the state of my bike. After they loaded me in the ambulance I had the good luck to pass out and stay that way for a while.
It hadn’t been certain that I would survive the thing but I was helped both by my cockroach-like nature and the willingness of a hotshot 31-year-old orthopedic specialist to cut open my right leg, scoop out the garbage, and install a shiny new titanium femur nail in its place. Top billing, however, has to go to Dr. Janet Bay, who happened to be walking by as they were bringing me in, diagnosed the spinal injury from looking at my pupils, and immediately stabilized my neck. Otherwise I’d be a “quad” with a breathing machine today. Then, as now, Dr. Bay wore a crew cut; I repeatedly called her “sir” during our initial interactions, mostly because I’d had my head dragged along the road. What can I say. In her place I’d have let me die.
Anyway. Four days later I was sitting in the hospital with a mind-numbing amount of pain but some not inconsiderable satisfaction from the brand-new Sony D-2 Discman sitting in my lap. My father had arrived with it shortly after the femur surgery. Something about his time in Vietnam must have told him that my biggest enemy in the weeks to come would be boredom. He’d also brought Eric B. and Rakin’s “Paid In Full” so I would have something to play in said Discman.
When the nurse announced that visitor in a voice to vibrate my deeply-injured head like a struck bell, I was surprised but not shocked to see my Honors English III teacher, Scott Weber. If any of my teachers would have bothered to see me, it would be him; after all, his class was the only one I didn’t spend either talking back or sleeping through. In truth, he was more than a little bit overqualified to be a high school teacher and he would go on to be a significant landholder and gun dealer in Cody, Wyoming, where he has made plenty of enemies. His debut novel, Plain People, is a joy to read.
But I digress. Mr. Weber brought me his condolences, and he also brought me two brand-new CDs. One of them was the fourth Led Zep album, the other was Now and Zen, Robert Plant’s oft-panned Eighties electronica record complete with a DJ merrily scratching his way through tracks like “Tall Cool One” and “Walking Towards Paradise”. It was a nontrivial gift, $32 spent on an injured kid in an era where a high school teacher was lucky to earn $300 a week after tax. Mr. Weber recently told me that he’d bought himself a loaded Audi A8 with the money he made selling guns; as far as I’m concerned he deserves a Phantom EWB.
Needless to say, both of those CDs are etched in my head from the hundreds of times I listened to them in the weeks that followed. About a decade ago, I “ripped” them into my iTunes; six years ago, I uploaded those MP3s to Amazon Music. It has been a long time since I actually played either disc. But I still own them, I have unlimited license to use them as I like, and at any time I like I can pull them out and listen to them, even though it has been thirty years since Mr. Weber bought them for me.
I’m telling this rather long story because of a notification that Amazon Music just served me regarding my Amazon Music Player and the “250,000 song service” for which I currently pay. There’s a difference between ownership of an item and the use of a service, and Amazon has decided to forcibly remind me of that difference.
If you’re tired of reading “ride-along” reviews of the 2019 ZR1 written by people who weren’t allowed to drive it, today is your lucky day. Last month, I spent two days driving the ZR1 around the NCM West circuit. Was it fast? Yes it was!
How fast was it?
Go look at last year’s Performance Car Of The Year testing. See how fast the AMG GT-R was? It was very fast. The ZR1 is faster. How much faster? I can’t say, at least not yet.
There are plenty of other things that I can tell you about the ZR1, however. They can be found on page 24 of the May 2018 Road&Track. Check it out, why dontcha.
All the guys
Who really have the money
Are too old
To have a good time with it
My local shop has two ZX-10RR Winter Livery Editions in stock. I’m now of an age where I could easily finance it — three hundred bucks a month would take it home. Another 125 a month to insure it on the months where it actually leaves the house. You could barely buy a Camry SE for that kind of money.
Alas, it’s painful for me to just sit on the bike in the dealership. The idea of a hundred-mile ride, or even a ten-mile commute? It doesn’t bear thinking about. The ZX-10RR is more uncomfortable than my BMX bikes, and by a long shot. Plus I have my ZX-14R which is faster, at least in a straight line.
Still. These things are cool. Or maybe they’re not cool to anybody who can actually ride one. Maybe those kids would rather take an Uber to a Tinder date than ride a ZX-10RR up a canyon road. Best not to think too much about it.
Say, remember the Mustang? Of course you do. Well…you remember the obvious ones, anyway. Shelby GT350. 1965 2+2 GT. Boss 302. Boss 429. All the usual suspects. But there are a lot of Mustangs out there that have been nearly elbowed off the stage, thanks to Resale Red, American Racing wheel-shod, phony-GT car show and cruise night impostors! In fact, should you mention certain Mustangs to those Foose-footed red Mustang owners, you may cause them to grow pale and run away: Mustang II! Mustang Grandé Mustang Ghia and Mustang L! Mustangs with six-cylinder engines and wheel covers! Augh! To those guys, it’s like throwing cloves of garlic at a vampire! No! No no no! All Mustangs were muscle cars dagnabit! And never mind that his ’67 Hardtop was originally Wimbledon White with dog-dish caps, green interior and six cylinder power! But let me tell you, I love the offbeat Mustangs, which were the majority of Mustangs back in the Sixties and Seventies. And the Broughamiest pony of them all is the subject of today’s post: the Grandé, available from 1969 to 1973.
The Mustang: the Falcon that went to finishing school and came back better than ever, and nearly unrecognizable. Designed from the start to be eminently configurable, it could be equipped as anything from a basic inline-six, zero-option runabout to a thoroughbred V8 sprinter, and the available extras, colors and trim levels only expanded as the decade wore on. The 1967-68s got a bigger engine bay to accommodate big-block power, thanks to Bunkie Knudsen.
About a decade or so back, give or take, I wrote and recorded a song for a woman I particularly liked at the time. She was not what you would call music-savvy, but when I explained that I played all of the instruments on the song myself she promptly responded with, “Like Prince does.”
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m pretty much just like Prince.” Here’s the funny part, though: I am just like Prince. Not in the sense of being an inhumanly talented and accomplished musical prodigy, of course. Rather, we have both demonstrated an ability to make enemies and foul our own nest for reasons ranging from a manic belief in our artistic integrity to simple mean-spiritedness.
A few weeks ago, for example, I was sent the final PDF of something I’d written for a major print publication — not R&T, I hasten to add. The article had been given to an editor who proceeded to shit all over the thing, introducing borderline obscenity and broken-glass sentence structure even as he tirelessly removed anything that looked like literature from the text. As fate would have it, the writer’s fee for that piece almost perfectly matched up with the overall cost for my Honda Challenge race weekend last month. So I took the money, because I’d be a fool not to, and because there was a certain satisfaction in having my trophies paid for even if I didn’t like the work. Yet you won’t be hearing about this piece on this site, and when I get my copy of the magazine I’ll be throwing it in the trash. It’s not difficult for me to understand why Prince effectively destroyed his career so he could have control of his own music. He didn’t want to see his own name on something that he despised.
Yet just like Prince, there have been times when I would be better off with a little bit of oversight.
Diamonds are for suckers. They always were. Thirty-five years ago, you could buy two books that explained, without the slightest bit of hyperbole or misdirection, how an absurdly secretive cartel and a cooperative mass media turned an easily-duplicated stone with primarily industrial worth into an indispensable signifier of middle-class success.
As fate would have it, I read one of those books right before getting engaged, and I took absolutely seriously. As a consequence, my first wife’s engagement ring was a quarter-carat pawn-shop special, just a bit under $250 after tax. To her credit, my bride didn’t complain too much, even as our friends and acquaintances went to the altar with a full carat or even the two-carat honker that a friend’s sister received from a construction worker in the midst of a boomtown year.
“The bigger the ring, the shorter the marriage,” I laughed, and I wasn’t wrong. I was also correct about just how worthless a used diamond ring is. By the time we officially divorced fifteen years later, some of our friends had already managed to buy, and sell, a second set of rings.
Right around then, my girlfriend of the time suggested out of nowhere that $15,000 would be a nice number for the engagement ring she expected me to put on her finger. “You have to be kidding,” I replied.
“But I’ve seen you spend that much on a guitar,” she snapped.
“Yeah, and I could sell that guitar for something more than a nickel on the dollar.” Alas, the engagement never came to pass. The current Mrs. Baruth wears an heirloom from a deceased relative on her left hand, while I rotate through an ad hoc collection of titanium and silicone rings designed to be lost in a set of gloves or at a skatepark without sorrow. I feel good about this. Diamond engagement rings are a scam.
Yet most Americans, if pressed, will admit that they believe at least somewhat in the value of a “natural” diamond. That belief is on the way to being utterly shattered.