Geely GE Concept: Phantom of the Off-Brand

NOTE: Another one from Tony LaHood! -TK

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that’s worked its way into the American vernacular. Simply put, it describes the gall it takes to do something unbelievably, jaw-droppingly arrogant and nervy. (The classic example involves a man who kills his parents and then asks the court for mercy because he is an orphan.)

Which brings us to the Geely GE concept. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? As they say, if you’re going to steal, then steal from the best. It is at once sad and infinitely amusing that the Chinese auto industry is notorious for, well, appropriating existing designs from other manufacturers, and to hell with international copyrights.

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Meet Your New Boss, Same As Your Old Boss

“It’s an audacious choice to pause in front of an Applebee’s restaurant on Flatbush Avenue and grant an impromptu interview to a video journalist shortly before you allegedly throw a Molotov cocktail into a police car.” Or so New York magazine would have you believe. Merrian-Webster offers a couple of synonyms for “audacious”: “daring”, and “rash”. Yet it seems obvious in retrospect that Urooj Rathman and her accomplice, Colinford Mattis, were neither daring nor rash in their choice to throw homemade bombs into police cars. The word we are looking for here? The more appropriate word? How about: Smart?

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Housekeeping: You’re Bloody Well Write

Based on comments to this blog and emails I’ve received under separate cover, I have at least two dozen people who are interested in writing something great. I’m going to ask that you give me to the end of this week to contact you and make some arrangements. If you don’t hear from me by Saturday, it’s inadvertent on my part, so please post or email again. Thank you!

1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight coupe – Gray Ghost of Broughams Past

EDIT: This is actually a base Ninety-Eight coupe, I checked my ’72 Olds brochure and this car has the base interior.

Here it is, another Saturday afternoon. Sunny, mid to high 80s. And here I am, out on the deck, intermittently reading a book, working on gin and tonic #2  (#3 will be on the way quite soon) and playing with my smart phone.

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Weekly Roundup: Why Can’t You Just Do It Right Edition

“Give you a hundred bucks if you can name the artist and the tune — or the artist and the album.” My dinner companion, Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine impresario Joe DeMatio, almost got it, but not quite. We were at Weber’s Inn, the old-standard restaurant in Ann Arbor that prior to the recent unpleasantness was known for featuring live music of some sort six nights a week. Now they’re spinning records instead of lighting up the bandstand, which is better than nothing. Joe knew it was a Miles Davis tune, but he didn’t know that it was “I Could Write A Book” from Relaxin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet. A product of two sessions at Rudy Van Gelder’s home studio, Relaxin’ and its three companion albums have become an indispensable part of the American jazz landscape over the past sixty years.

In the years to come, Miles would devote considerable time to using the studio as an instrument in and of itself, as seen in Bitches Brew — but these eight sides were quick and dirty efforts meant to fulfill his obligations to his old label (Prestige) so he could start working with his new label (Columbia, where he would record Kind Of Blue). Many of the tunes are first takes; there is no evidence for any of them being the product of more than three attempts. In the song above, “If I Were A Bell,” you can put on your headphones and hear John Coltrane rushing up to the microphone for his solo, realizing a bit too late that he was too far away for the sound he and the producer wanted. If that happened while my son and I were recording a fifty-nine-second song snippet for Instagram, we’d start over — but Miles went ahead and committed that take to vinyl, presumably so he could get the other three dozen tunes on his list done without having to stick around for a third day.

Relaxin’ isn’t perfect. Given the conditions — four men crowded into a home studio, playing single-take music into a single microphone, without a single Auto-Tune workstation in sight — it would be impossible for that to be the case. Yet it’s right. It’s just done right. All of the musicians turned in competent performances. Rudy Van Gelder recorded it with his usual fidelity and attention to detail. So even if you don’t like all the tunes, you cannot say that any of them represents a catastrophe along the lines of Courtney Love’s individual guitar and vocal mixes. There is a minimum standard of talent, due care, and professionalism being met here. This is an idea that has been very much on my mind as of late, for reasons I’ll explain.

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Let Gordon Murray Help You Do The Math On Affordable Sports Cars You Won’t Buy Anyway

Just a quarter-billion dollars! The automotive world is abuzz with news of the Gordon Murray T.50, and rightfully so — this is a racer’s idea of a supercar/hypercar/whatevercar, and certain to thrill the microscopic Euler overlap of “can afford it” and “can drive it” in a way no other street-legal automobile can match. (The Radical RXC can no doubt match whatever numbers the T.50 will post, particularly when turbocharged, but it won’t have the GMA car’s luggage or passenger space.) Yet when I read the press release, all I could think of was,

“It’s only going to cost a quarter-billion dollars to design, engineer, and build all 106 of them!” Just to put this in perspective, it cost $1.2B just to develop the first-generation Chevy Volt, which wasn’t a clean-sheet vehicle aside from the powertrain, and $6B (that’s the number six) to create the Ford Contour and its Zetec four-cylinder engine. It cost more money to create the C5 Corvette than it’s taken to create the T.50, and GM already had the engine paid for out of another account.

Keep in mind there are significant costs involved with the building of each T.50 — maybe $100k for the engine/transmission combo, that much again or more for the rest of the car — so in reality this was probably a $200M project or less. There were no corners cut in the design of the T.50, except for the most important corner of all, to which we’ll return shortly. Regardless, we now have possession of a remarkably interesting data point, courtesy of Gordon Murray: what it costs to design a proper sports car.

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1979 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham Landau: Original Owner, Original Car!

Given the number of times I have referenced the 1979 Bonneville sedan my dad had when I was about three years old, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I am a big fan of the full-size 1977-79 Pontiacs. While they were not nearly as popular as their Caprice, Delta 88 and LeSabre brethren, when fitted with Brougham trim and ordered with an indulgent eye on the option list, these cars could do almost everything a Coupe de Ville or Sedan de Ville could, save snob appeal.

Pontiac’s full-size cars sort of floundered during the ’70s. They were perfectly serviceable as daily drivers, but had lost the ’60s style, flash and appeal for which they’d been renowned. Exactly what was a big Pontiac supposed to be now? A cut-rate Electra 225? A slightly more deluxe Caprice? A plus-sized Grand Prix? Even Pontiac didn’t seem sure, and suffered for it. But things started to pick up with the downsized full-size ’77 cars.

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Weekly Roundup: The Weighting Is The Hardest Part

The USAC banner was flying over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jim Cornelison sang “Back Home Again In Indiana”. The winner chugged milk and took home a brick. But this wasn’t the Indy 500 — it was the USAC “Battle At The Brickyard”, and your humble author was in the pack that rushed past the sportcoat-clad starter in search of a win at America’s most venerable racetrack.

It should be noted that this was my first kart race. Like, first kart race ever. I had an outstanding ride — a brand-new Ignite K3, prepared by Margay and maintained on-site by a dedicated mechanic. I had two great teammates — Larry Webster and Hagerty’s only former WKA competitor, young photographer and autowriter Cameron Neveu. Most of all, I had the ironclad and completely ignorant belief that I could parachute in and race head-to-head with people who weren’t just famous as kart racers but well-known in other motorsports as well, like multiple SCCA Runoffs and pro series winner Keith Scharf.

Naturally, I won it all. Okay, that’s a lie. I didn’t even finish in the top half. In the fourteen-lap main event I took a 23rd place out of 33 non-disqualified karts in the final, ahead of just four other karts that were still running at the end of the thing. Not exactly Days Of Thunder material here, boys.

Now here’s the thing. I didn’t get passed in corners. I defended my positions pretty well. After lap one of the final, I was somewhere between 10th and 15th place, having started in 29th. I even made a couple serious and successful moves on highly experienced competitors, some of whom took podium positions in the various heats and pre-finals. Why’d I get stomped so bad? Let me, ahem, push myself away from the buffet table and explain.

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1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV: It Has The Blues

Another Mark? Well, yes. In my defense, I really liked this particular example, especially the metallic blue paint with matching top and interior. So many of these were in the typical early ’70s colors like that light metallic yellow-green, tobacco brown and gold, that one in a non-sepia tone caught my attention, when I was perusing the Finding Future Classic Cars group on fb a couple of weeks ago.

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