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Author Topic: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1970s, 80s and 90s  (Read 80139 times)

tckma

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2016, 05:08:41 PM »

Sort of unrelated, but I remember watching a video in driver's ed (in 1995!) showing boxy early 80s/late 70s cars and discussing how "Airbags will be standard safety equipment on all vehicles by 1984."  That got a laugh out of all of us kids.  (But they actually showed such a car with driver and passenger airbags and how they deployed.  To which I say... why was that delayed by 10-15 years before they became standard equipment, if the technology was available way back then?)  Then again my driver's ed teacher was at least 500 years old, so that video likely seemed recent to him.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2016, 05:11:20 PM »


Those days were suck city.  It all was started in 1971 when compression started coming down because of low to no lead.  Then in 1973 the looks went away with the 5 mph bumper, then 1975 the catalytic converters started putting the nails in the coffin.  From there with only a few exceptions it was all down hill compounded by the oil embargo.  A lot of the cars then became performance cars by just adding some paint, letters, and/or numbers.  Almost all were dogs and fell apart. 

Talking about rebadged cars.  Remember Cadillac rebadged Chevys. 

My wife had a high end Plymouth Acclaim with the V-6.  It really was not a bad car.  For the day it handled pretty good, not too slow, and it was comfortable.  My wife and three daughters took a cross country trip in it.  We had to dump it at 200,000 + miles.  Transmission went out at 77,000 and replaced under partial warranty, we paid half. 

I had a 95 Dodge full size van it was good.  Had the 360 with the old 727 auto with OD, whatever they numbered it with OD.  I got over 200,000 mi out of it then my daughter drove the s*** out of it for another year, but hey, it was really a truck.  I now have a 1993 Dodge Dakota with the V-6 and 216,000 miles on it, the AC still works.  But once again, it is a truck.

Not only that there was a huge issue with California emissions regulations dictating a lot of lackluster low compression drive trains.  Some common examples you would see in California and in high elevations were the Chevy 262 small block V8 in favor of the 350 or 305 in addition to the Pontiac 400 being subbed out for Oldsmobile 403s.  Basically even today high end cars are designed to run on 91 octane as opposed to 93 like most the country simply due to the fact that it's more cost effective to build from the strictest emissions regulation.

Not to mention safety standards or lack thereof played a huge part as well.  You mentioned the 5 MPH bumpers and all the extra weight they caused.  But things like leaf springs, drum brakes on mid-size plus cars, lack of shoulder harness belts in each seat, lack of air bags and even incredibly thin crappy tires all made cars of the 60s or muscle car era incredibly dangerous by the standards we consider today.  There was a huge insurance company push in the late 60s to push the premiums of most muscle cars through the roof which led to a lot of buyers being discouraged.

Out of all the cars I've had (and don't presently own) only one of them I've driven less than 100,000 miles and that was a 2012 Camaro SS I sold when it was apparent the value would take with the 2016 model looked so much better from an engineering perspective when the ATS came out.  I had a Silverado that I bought all the way back in high school that had 9,000 miles on it and ran it into the ground at about 200,000 when it became my desert off-roader over the course of 15 something years.  I also had a 2011 Ford Focus that I put 150,000 miles on in 2.5 years on a job that had me on the road half the year.  Basically cars will last if you maintain them how it says to do so in the service manual but I'll save that rant for thread I already elaborated on in the Road Trip board.

I was commenting on the looks and performance, not safety, compared to later in the century.  There is no comparison between today's ride, handling, safety, and comfort to the years I mentioned.  Not long ago I was riding with my cousin in his totally original 67 Impala that has maybe 35,000 miles on it.  It was pretty much state of the are back when he and I were in HS.  We joke about ... remember when we went over 100 mph on bias tires, drum brakes, no seat belts being used, handling was not in the vocabulary ... but now we expect not only disc brakes and radial tires but anti lock brakes and we always use our seat belts, not to mention air bags.

Yep, the good ol' days.  At least the cars were easier to work on back then, but they had to be with points, leaded gasoline (hard on spark plugs), and carburetors, tires that might last 20,000 miles, oil change at about 2,000 miles, repack bearings at 10,000, and brakes might last a couple of years.  Oh, and after 50,000 (on some even less) on the engine you better carry a quart of oil with you.   

I have to say it was a lot of fun being young in those days.  I never had any money to really enjoy the high performance cars.  Probably that is why I am still alive.
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PHLBOS

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2016, 05:44:52 PM »

Sort of unrelated, but I remember watching a video in driver's ed (in 1995!) showing boxy early 80s/late 70s cars and discussing how "Airbags will be standard safety equipment on all vehicles by 1984."  That got a laugh out of all of us kids.  (But they actually showed such a car with driver and passenger airbags and how they deployed.  To which I say... why was that delayed by 10-15 years before they became standard equipment, if the technology was available way back then?)  Then again my driver's ed teacher was at least 500 years old, so that video likely seemed recent to him.
Actually, some of GM's large cars (back when they were really large) offered airbags as an option circa 1975-1976. 

1975 Buick Electra 225 with optional airbag


The reason(s) why the delay in equipping (i.e. mandating) other vehicles to have them were:

1.  Cost.  Given the tsunami of regulations and associated cost to implement them that seemed to be hitting the auto industry left and right at the time; airbags simply got put on the back burner.  Note: airbags were initially proposed prior to the oil price shock and related CAFE standards that followed.

2.  Related to #1; the recession that the country was going through, which triggered a slowdown in overall vehicle sales (Chrysler, at the time, had a near-death experience) , and, hence, contributed to the delay in equipping vehicles with airbags.

During the years that Ford offered the much-criticized and hated turn-signal stalk-mounted horn (1978-1984) on their cars & small trucks (Ranger); their supposed reason/excuse for not placing the horn controls on the steering wheel (where it belongs) was due to the eventual offering of an airbag (placed in the center hub).  Ironically, when Ford did start installing airbags in cars; they wound up changing/redoing (vs. retrofitting) their steering wheels anyway.

Incidentally, the above-2 reasons were probably why the auto industry, as a whole, was indeed at a low point during the late 70s/early 80s. 

Once gas prices started stabilizing (& even dropping), an improving economy, and (yes politics did play a role here) the anti-regulation tone that existed in Washington at the time (following the 1980 elections) allowed to auto industry time to both adapt and offer more exciting & performance-oriented cars (revival of the Mustang GT midway through 1982).  Production of traditional RWD full-sizes, which were originally planned to be dropped after 1985, wound up lasting into 1996 (for GM) and 2011 (for Ford).
« Last Edit: May 05, 2016, 05:57:09 PM by PHLBOS »
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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2016, 10:46:44 PM »

The Prelude might not have been a bargain but there sure was a lot of them during the era, it seemed like most people wanted to jump to trucks and boxed SUVs.

I remember hitting the junkyards in the mid-late '90s and seeing tons of rolled-over SUVs with like 4,000 miles on them as the general public who had driven Celicas, Accords, Camaros, Oldsmobiles etc. all their lives got talked into buying those things. Everybody there from the staff to muscle and sports car fans knew what was going on: people were trying to drive them like they were regular cars or even sports cars and got killed or severely injured. Nowadays, people who buy them don't expect them to handle well despite their improved performance and are more respectful of their limitations but there was a lot of death and sorrow associated with the switch. Somehow Ralph Nader didn't get involved with the car companies' push to upsell people a bunch of empty metal for $20,000 more than a regular car.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #29 on: May 05, 2016, 10:48:00 PM »


Those days were suck city.  It all was started in 1971 when compression started coming down because of low to no lead.  Then in 1973 the looks went away with the 5 mph bumper, then 1975 the catalytic converters started putting the nails in the coffin.  From there with only a few exceptions it was all down hill compounded by the oil embargo.  A lot of the cars then became performance cars by just adding some paint, letters, and/or numbers.  Almost all were dogs and fell apart. 

Talking about rebadged cars.  Remember Cadillac rebadged Chevys. 

My wife had a high end Plymouth Acclaim with the V-6.  It really was not a bad car.  For the day it handled pretty good, not too slow, and it was comfortable.  My wife and three daughters took a cross country trip in it.  We had to dump it at 200,000 + miles.  Transmission went out at 77,000 and replaced under partial warranty, we paid half. 

I had a 95 Dodge full size van it was good.  Had the 360 with the old 727 auto with OD, whatever they numbered it with OD.  I got over 200,000 mi out of it then my daughter drove the s*** out of it for another year, but hey, it was really a truck.  I now have a 1993 Dodge Dakota with the V-6 and 216,000 miles on it, the AC still works.  But once again, it is a truck.

Not only that there was a huge issue with California emissions regulations dictating a lot of lackluster low compression drive trains.  Some common examples you would see in California and in high elevations were the Chevy 262 small block V8 in favor of the 350 or 305 in addition to the Pontiac 400 being subbed out for Oldsmobile 403s.  Basically even today high end cars are designed to run on 91 octane as opposed to 93 like most the country simply due to the fact that it's more cost effective to build from the strictest emissions regulation.

Not to mention safety standards or lack thereof played a huge part as well.  You mentioned the 5 MPH bumpers and all the extra weight they caused.  But things like leaf springs, drum brakes on mid-size plus cars, lack of shoulder harness belts in each seat, lack of air bags and even incredibly thin crappy tires all made cars of the 60s or muscle car era incredibly dangerous by the standards we consider today.  There was a huge insurance company push in the late 60s to push the premiums of most muscle cars through the roof which led to a lot of buyers being discouraged.

Out of all the cars I've had (and don't presently own) only one of them I've driven less than 100,000 miles and that was a 2012 Camaro SS I sold when it was apparent the value would take with the 2016 model looked so much better from an engineering perspective when the ATS came out.  I had a Silverado that I bought all the way back in high school that had 9,000 miles on it and ran it into the ground at about 200,000 when it became my desert off-roader over the course of 15 something years.  I also had a 2011 Ford Focus that I put 150,000 miles on in 2.5 years on a job that had me on the road half the year.  Basically cars will last if you maintain them how it says to do so in the service manual but I'll save that rant for thread I already elaborated on in the Road Trip board.

I was commenting on the looks and performance, not safety, compared to later in the century.  There is no comparison between today's ride, handling, safety, and comfort to the years I mentioned.  Not long ago I was riding with my cousin in his totally original 67 Impala that has maybe 35,000 miles on it.  It was pretty much state of the are back when he and I were in HS.  We joke about ... remember when we went over 100 mph on bias tires, drum brakes, no seat belts being used, handling was not in the vocabulary ... but now we expect not only disc brakes and radial tires but anti lock brakes and we always use our seat belts, not to mention air bags.

Yep, the good ol' days.  At least the cars were easier to work on back then, but they had to be with points, leaded gasoline (hard on spark plugs), and carburetors, tires that might last 20,000 miles, oil change at about 2,000 miles, repack bearings at 10,000, and brakes might last a couple of years.  Oh, and after 50,000 (on some even less) on the engine you better carry a quart of oil with you.   

I have to say it was a lot of fun being young in those days.  I never had any money to really enjoy the high performance cars.  Probably that is why I am still alive.

That's why my Dad kept the 69 Camaro around so long, it was something he could work on and enjoy in his spare time.  The only problem was once he got married, had kids and got an ever increasingly higher stature job it wasn't really realistic to try to maintain a car like that.  Granted back in the mid-80s we're talking about what was considered an old used up muscle car..more akin to a floor rusted clunker and not the vacuum sealed restorations you see today at Barret Jackson.  Truth be told I think he was always much more happen with the 280ZX more than anything else, that was the one that upset him to get rid of.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2016, 10:54:00 PM »

The Prelude might not have been a bargain but there sure was a lot of them during the era, it seemed like most people wanted to jump to trucks and boxed SUVs.

I remember hitting the junkyards in the mid-late '90s and seeing tons of rolled-over SUVs with like 4,000 miles on them as the general public who had driven Celicas, Accords, Camaros, Oldsmobiles etc. all their lives got talked into buying those things. Everybody there from the staff to muscle and sports car fans knew what was going on: people were trying to drive them like they were regular cars or even sports cars and got killed or severely injured. Nowadays, people who buy them don't expect them to handle well despite their improved performance and are more respectful of their limitations but there was a lot of death and sorrow associated with the switch. Somehow Ralph Nader didn't get involved with the car companies' push to upsell people a bunch of empty metal for $20,000 more than a regular car.

Hence the birth of the crossover an the demise of both the station wagon and mini-van.  It seems like the good old truck and boxed SUVs have largely gone back to their previous niche while the crossovers filled the void of people wanted an SUV...but wanted it to act like a car at the same time.  Couple that up with the actual return of RWD performance cars and I don't think we'll see something like the SUV mega tank era ever again.

I found two reviews that kind of fit the tone and history of the mainstream SUV and crossover segments:



It's almost funny to hear how semi-sarcastic some of the comments on the CUV segment being the future are in the Vibe review.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #31 on: May 05, 2016, 10:58:59 PM »

Sort of unrelated, but I remember watching a video in driver's ed (in 1995!) showing boxy early 80s/late 70s cars and discussing how "Airbags will be standard safety equipment on all vehicles by 1984."  That got a laugh out of all of us kids.  (But they actually showed such a car with driver and passenger airbags and how they deployed.  To which I say... why was that delayed by 10-15 years before they became standard equipment, if the technology was available way back then?)  Then again my driver's ed teacher was at least 500 years old, so that video likely seemed recent to him.
Actually, some of GM's large cars (back when they were really large) offered airbags as an option circa 1975-1976. 

1975 Buick Electra 225 with optional airbag


The reason(s) why the delay in equipping (i.e. mandating) other vehicles to have them were:

1.  Cost.  Given the tsunami of regulations and associated cost to implement them that seemed to be hitting the auto industry left and right at the time; airbags simply got put on the back burner.  Note: airbags were initially proposed prior to the oil price shock and related CAFE standards that followed.

2.  Related to #1; the recession that the country was going through, which triggered a slowdown in overall vehicle sales (Chrysler, at the time, had a near-death experience) , and, hence, contributed to the delay in equipping vehicles with airbags.

During the years that Ford offered the much-criticized and hated turn-signal stalk-mounted horn (1978-1984) on their cars & small trucks (Ranger); their supposed reason/excuse for not placing the horn controls on the steering wheel (where it belongs) was due to the eventual offering of an airbag (placed in the center hub).  Ironically, when Ford did start installing airbags in cars; they wound up changing/redoing (vs. retrofitting) their steering wheels anyway.

Incidentally, the above-2 reasons were probably why the auto industry, as a whole, was indeed at a low point during the late 70s/early 80s. 

Once gas prices started stabilizing (& even dropping), an improving economy, and (yes politics did play a role here) the anti-regulation tone that existed in Washington at the time (following the 1980 elections) allowed to auto industry time to both adapt and offer more exciting & performance-oriented cars (revival of the Mustang GT midway through 1982).  Production of traditional RWD full-sizes, which were originally planned to be dropped after 1985, wound up lasting into 1996 (for GM) and 2011 (for Ford).

Speaking of gas pricing lowering coupled up with the slow clamber of performance and safety increasing....


It's amazing to see how close the EV1 really came out compared to something like the Nissan Leaf.  It's even more amazing considering that the EV1 had lead-acid batteries as opposed to the much more efficient lithium-ion.  The thing even had the charger plug for home and the power station all ready to go like the modern electrics.  Basically it was the price of the technology and super low gas prices hitting together which really conspired to kill off the need for the EV1.  I remember gas being $0.79 for regular somewhere between 1997-1999, hard to believe they even made it out of the factory at all competing with that.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2016, 09:15:43 AM »

It's amazing to see how close the EV1 really came out compared to something like the Nissan Leaf.  It's even more amazing considering that the EV1 had lead-acid batteries as opposed to the much more efficient lithium-ion.  The thing even had the charger plug for home and the power station all ready to go like the modern electrics.  Basically it was the price of the technology and super low gas prices hitting together which really conspired to kill off the need for the EV1.  I remember gas being $0.79 for regular somewhere between 1997-1999, hard to believe they even made it out of the factory at all competing with that.
Even if gas was $4/gallon; the EV1 was a 2-seater and 2-seaters, in general, do not sell in large numbers.  Part of the reason being is that many insurance companies treat nearly every 2-seater as if it's an exotic sports car and charge accordingly.

That's one reason why many cars that, in the real world, are considered 2-seaters have an extra pair of seats (though small) in the rear.
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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2016, 10:55:27 AM »

I had a 1981 Ford pickup truck with the 300 CID (4.9L)  straight six with carburetor.

I also had a 1990 Ford Bronco, same motor, with fuel injection.

The difference between a carburetor and fuel injection was dramatic - the injection provided more power and better fuel economy.

Unfortunately, Ford stopped building that 4.9L motor, which was stout in terms of torque and bulletproof in terms of reliability.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2016, 09:52:01 PM »

It's amazing to see how close the EV1 really came out compared to something like the Nissan Leaf.  It's even more amazing considering that the EV1 had lead-acid batteries as opposed to the much more efficient lithium-ion.  The thing even had the charger plug for home and the power station all ready to go like the modern electrics.  Basically it was the price of the technology and super low gas prices hitting together which really conspired to kill off the need for the EV1.  I remember gas being $0.79 for regular somewhere between 1997-1999, hard to believe they even made it out of the factory at all competing with that.
Even if gas was $4/gallon; the EV1 was a 2-seater and 2-seaters, in general, do not sell in large numbers.  Part of the reason being is that many insurance companies treat nearly every 2-seater as if it's an exotic sports car and charge accordingly.

That's one reason why many cars that, in the real world, are considered 2-seaters have an extra pair of seats (though small) in the rear.

With those lead-acids anything beyond a two-seater was going to weigh way too much.  It was just amazing that a company like GM which had fallen so far behind the rest of the industry would really go out of their way to do all that R&D then bring something like that to production...even on that small of scale.  Really when you look at the lease terms on those EV1s and high of a price they were the last thing those people were worried about was what the insurance company was going to say on the premium.  Oddly it sort of all came full circle to extent just a couple years back with the Volt.  That was a flawed and way over priced car too but it had a market for which people were willing to pay...and it's finally starting to drive the price down of (granted I know the Volt is more hybrid than electric) of electrics alone with the Telsa brand in addition to the Leaf.  It's just interesting to wonder how much further along the segment would be and how much of it GM would control if they didn't throw in the towel so early.

I had a 1981 Ford pickup truck with the 300 CID (4.9L)  straight six with carburetor.

I also had a 1990 Ford Bronco, same motor, with fuel injection.

The difference between a carburetor and fuel injection was dramatic - the injection provided more power and better fuel economy.

Unfortunately, Ford stopped building that 4.9L motor, which was stout in terms of torque and bulletproof in terms of reliability.

Speaking of hybrids...I saw a 4.9L Bronco the other day with a bumper sticker that said something along of the lines of "my hybrid burns gas and oil."  Got a good laugh out of it.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2016, 09:54:15 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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Stratuscaster

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2016, 10:27:36 PM »

When the new Dodge Challenger debuted, they noted that it was also a hybrid - it burned gas and rubber.

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Max Rockatansky

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2016, 10:52:31 PM »

When the new Dodge Challenger debuted, they noted that it was also a hybrid - it burned gas and rubber.

Yes....yes it does....apparently 2mm off the rear tires trying to crank out best 0-60 times with 485hp.  :-D

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2016, 01:04:36 AM »

I remember wanting a Monte Carlo SS so badly in high school but never being able to find one. 


\\

But geeze....that Grand National was really about the only glimmer of hope for performance outside Corvette or an exotic back in the late 80s, no wonder they are so collectable.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2016, 10:25:36 AM »

I remember wanting a Monte Carlo SS so badly in high school but never being able to find one. 


\\

But geeze....that Grand National was really about the only glimmer of hope for performance outside Corvette or an exotic back in the late 80s, no wonder they are so collectable.

I had a friend with the 3.8 Turbo in a 1987 Regal.  He added all sorts of performance items to it.  When done, the 231 cubic inches performed like a 455 from the premium leaded days.  Boy did that engine scream!

The bad news?  The engine was still in a Buick Regal...LOL!  That car was not built for great handling.  Today a CTS-V outclasses anything from those times across the board.  Imagine that, Cadillac went from a boat to a performance car.  Somehow it worked!

Rick
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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2016, 11:26:15 PM »

I remember wanting a Monte Carlo SS so badly in high school but never being able to find one. 


\\

But geeze....that Grand National was really about the only glimmer of hope for performance outside Corvette or an exotic back in the late 80s, no wonder they are so collectable.

I had a friend with the 3.8 Turbo in a 1987 Regal.  He added all sorts of performance items to it.  When done, the 231 cubic inches performed like a 455 from the premium leaded days.  Boy did that engine scream!

The bad news?  The engine was still in a Buick Regal...LOL!  That car was not built for great handling.  Today a CTS-V outclasses anything from those times across the board.  Imagine that, Cadillac went from a boat to a performance car.  Somehow it worked!

Rick

Yeah and it all started with the CTS-V...go figure.  Cadillac was basically Buick plus back in those days, the turn around has actually been pretty impressive with cars like the ATS, CTS, CT6 and XTS all having a pretty damn good level of performance in them.  I don't think with the way things stand that Buick will get a real chance at a performance car in the near future, the brand seems to be doing well enough coming back from the brink with all the entry level luxury cars they are cranking out.

Incidentally most dyno pulls I've seen on stock GNs show it having much closer to 300hp and 350ftlb of torque.  GM was full of crap saying that turbo 3.8 had only 245hp.  Basically they did the same thing with the LS1 F-bodies all the way into the early 2000s for some reason.  The dyno figures on the LS engines showed they had just as much power as they did in the Corvette.  The best I could figure is that GM was hanging onto the Corvette had to have the most power for some reason all the way back in the 80s. 

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #40 on: May 08, 2016, 08:55:44 AM »

Here's something totally different.  I imagine they were going after the same market that would eventually gravitate towards Hummers...but geeze an emergency hand crank?


And begs for this....

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #41 on: May 09, 2016, 07:35:06 AM »

I had a 1981 Ford pickup truck with the 300 CID (4.9L)  straight six with carburetor.

I also had a 1990 Ford Bronco, same motor, with fuel injection.

The difference between a carburetor and fuel injection was dramatic - the injection provided more power and better fuel economy.

Unfortunately, Ford stopped building that 4.9L motor, which was stout in terms of torque and bulletproof in terms of reliability.

That was one tough, reliable engine.  I think they ran forever.  Probably emissions killed it along with weight. 

The old Chrysler slant 6 paired with the 727 transmission was another tough combination.  Back then we used to always say Chrysler had 200,000 mile power trains in 50,000 mile bodies.   
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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #42 on: May 09, 2016, 10:15:12 AM »

To clarify, my earlier comment regarding insurance companies profiling 2-seaters wasn't exclusively directed towards GM's EV1; but all 2-seaters in general regardless of how it was powered.  You're right that the EV1 had issues of its own; but there was already proven evidence that so-called 2-seat commuter cars never caught on saleswise prior to the EV1 and lower gas prices. 

Before the Pontiac Fiero which launched in 1984, Ford & Mercury had their own versions of the 2-seat commuter car (the Escort/Lynx based EXP & LN7) in early 1982 when gas prices were still high.  Sales of those didn't do as hot as their 4-seater brethren and both were dropped after 1985.  Ford did briefly revived its EXP (then called Escort EXP) in 1987 with a new nose but sales were still flat and the EXP was gone for good after 1988 (supposedly to make room for the 4-seater 1989 Probe, a car that almost replaced the Fox-bodied Mustang).
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #43 on: May 09, 2016, 09:25:48 PM »

To clarify, my earlier comment regarding insurance companies profiling 2-seaters wasn't exclusively directed towards GM's EV1; but all 2-seaters in general regardless of how it was powered.  You're right that the EV1 had issues of its own; but there was already proven evidence that so-called 2-seat commuter cars never caught on saleswise prior to the EV1 and lower gas prices. 

Before the Pontiac Fiero which launched in 1984, Ford & Mercury had their own versions of the 2-seat commuter car (the Escort/Lynx based EXP & LN7) in early 1982 when gas prices were still high.  Sales of those didn't do as hot as their 4-seater brethren and both were dropped after 1985.  Ford did briefly revived its EXP (then called Escort EXP) in 1987 with a new nose but sales were still flat and the EXP was gone for good after 1988 (supposedly to make room for the 4-seater 1989 Probe, a car that almost replaced the Fox-bodied Mustang).

The biggest issue with the Fiero was that the 2.5L I4 Iron Duke was the base engine when the 2.8L V6 should have been.  Funny thing about that car is that it really sold well for the first model year with 136,000 something units but that tailed off quick 26,000 by the last model year.  But then again...those numbers could be chalked up to the American Automakers holding much more of the market back in those days. 

The main difference between two seat conventional combustion engine vehicles and something electric like the EV1 was that there a market that would buy them regardless because they were considered "green."  Granted that part of the car buying community was MUCH smaller back in the 1990s and didn't really exist at all in the early to mid-80s.  Even the Volt and Leaf...hell even the entire Tesla brand as over priced as they are have a market because they are simply what certain people want in a car from an environmental standpoint.  I don't think GM was willing to take that bet back in the 1990s, entering new markets was a huge struggle for any of the big three Post OPEC embargo and really took GM in addition to Chrysler going bankrupt to change it.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2016, 10:35:09 PM »

I had a 1981 Ford pickup truck with the 300 CID (4.9L)  straight six with carburetor.

I also had a 1990 Ford Bronco, same motor, with fuel injection.

The difference between a carburetor and fuel injection was dramatic - the injection provided more power and better fuel economy.

Unfortunately, Ford stopped building that 4.9L motor, which was stout in terms of torque and bulletproof in terms of reliability.

That was one tough, reliable engine.  I think they ran forever.  Probably emissions killed it along with weight. 

The old Chrysler slant 6 paired with the 727 transmission was another tough combination.  Back then we used to always say Chrysler had 200,000 mile power trains in 50,000 mile bodies.   

The main problem I think with the inline-6s is packaging concerns. I really like inline-6s, but they force a "long hood" vehicle. These days the car companies want to be able to put the same engines in both cars and trucks. With a 6 they want to be able to put it in smaller cars and crossovers. Look at how short and high the hoods on today's cars are. I've always drove "long hood" vehicles, but a lot of people today are scared to pull out into city traffic with a long hood.

Car companies are having a hard enough time selling cars to urban Millennials, and a long hood can be a dealbreaker when having to pull out past cars parked on the street. Today's vehicles are so incredibly tall and parking restrictions near street corners haven't moved farther down the streets since everybody stopped driving low Citations, Camaros, Pulsars, Sentras and Impalas with clear windows. SUVs and crossovers have those dark tinted rear windows that you can't see through.
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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #45 on: May 09, 2016, 11:10:23 PM »

I had a 1981 Ford pickup truck with the 300 CID (4.9L)  straight six with carburetor.

I also had a 1990 Ford Bronco, same motor, with fuel injection.

The difference between a carburetor and fuel injection was dramatic - the injection provided more power and better fuel economy.

Unfortunately, Ford stopped building that 4.9L motor, which was stout in terms of torque and bulletproof in terms of reliability.

That was one tough, reliable engine.  I think they ran forever.  Probably emissions killed it along with weight. 

The old Chrysler slant 6 paired with the 727 transmission was another tough combination.  Back then we used to always say Chrysler had 200,000 mile power trains in 50,000 mile bodies.   

The main problem I think with the inline-6s is packaging concerns. I really like inline-6s, but they force a "long hood" vehicle. These days the car companies want to be able to put the same engines in both cars and trucks. With a 6 they want to be able to put it in smaller cars and crossovers. Look at how short and high the hoods on today's cars are. I've always drove "long hood" vehicles, but a lot of people today are scared to pull out into city traffic with a long hood.

Car companies are having a hard enough time selling cars to urban Millennials, and a long hood can be a dealbreaker when having to pull out past cars parked on the street. Today's vehicles are so incredibly tall and parking restrictions near street corners haven't moved farther down the streets since everybody stopped driving low Citations, Camaros, Pulsars, Sentras and Impalas with clear windows. SUVs and crossovers have those dark tinted rear windows that you can't see through.

Pretty much all the emissions regs coming almost all at once was a complete disaster for the auto industry.  Catalytic converters, lack of leaded gas and California emissions regulations pretty much sealed the coffin on performance even after gas prices rebounded.

But they can be packed much more efficiently, just look at the the history of the BMW 3 series with I6 engines. 

The problem is that there is a huge disconnect between what even people my age (Gen Xers) and what all these kids growing like.  I've met a lot of people in college who don't even have a driver's license and have zero desire to travel anywhere in a car.  There has been a gradual downhill slide in the popularity of cars with young folks ever since the baby boomer generation.  For me, I just don't plain get it.  I've lived in and worked in six of the ten largest cities in the country and I consider them all urbanized versions of hell.  I'd much rather travel to work and travel out of town...it's completely different for people growing up today.  Kids today by and large...granted I know there are exceptions...are much more connected socially because of technology and in turn largely remain near home.  For people like me when we were growing up we kept few friends, wanted to move from home and see the country...culture among youth has done a complete 180.  For the most part the income levels of young people today will likely progress slower since they are staying home longer which begs the question....is designing city cars with low profit margins really worth the investment to cater to a group that has little interest and little money.  For the kids growing up today that seem to like cars they seem to like the ones everyone else does; muscle cars, trucks and affordable sports compacts. 

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #46 on: May 10, 2016, 07:11:14 AM »

Max, you are right on. 
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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #47 on: May 10, 2016, 08:18:00 AM »


But they can be packed much more efficiently, just look at the the history of the BMW 3 series with I6 engines. 

The problem is that there is a huge disconnect between what even people my age (Gen Xers) and what all these kids growing like.  I've met a lot of people in college who don't even have a driver's license and have zero desire to travel anywhere in a car.  There has been a gradual downhill slide in the popularity of cars with young folks ever since the baby boomer generation.  For me, I just don't plain get it.  I've lived in and worked in six of the ten largest cities in the country and I consider them all urbanized versions of hell.  I'd much rather travel to work and travel out of town...it's completely different for people growing up today.  Kids today by and large...granted I know there are exceptions...are much more connected socially because of technology and in turn largely remain near home.  For people like me when we were growing up we kept few friends, wanted to move from home and see the country...culture among youth has done a complete 180.  For the most part the income levels of young people today will likely progress slower since they are staying home longer which begs the question....is designing city cars with low profit margins really worth the investment to cater to a group that has little interest and little money.  For the kids growing up today that seem to like cars they seem to like the ones everyone else does; muscle cars, trucks and affordable sports compacts. 

Besides straight 6 aka Inline 6, there was a time where straight 8 aka inline 8 was also available but after WWII, the V8 replaced the I8, Pontiac and Packard was the last ones who used a I8 althought Chrysler did made a concept car, the 1995 Atlantic who showed a I8 formed with 2 I4 engines from the Neon.

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #48 on: May 10, 2016, 10:21:02 AM »

The biggest issue with the Fiero was that the 2.5L I4 Iron Duke was the base engine when the 2.8L V6 should have been.
Agree regarding the Iron Duke; but, again, the Fiero's original mission was to be an economical 2-seat commuter car with sporty styling.  With such in mind, coupled with the CAFE figure increasing from 22 mpg in 1981 (when the Fiero was initially being designed & planned) to 27.5 mpg for 1985; 4-cylinder engines as either the sole or base engine was the obvious choice... at least on paper.

The performance renaissance along with lower gas prices (which nobody predicted would happen back then, most predicted $3-$5/gallon gasoline by 1985-1990) that started during the 80s caused Pontiac to reconsider offer the V6 engine as an option.

Funny thing about that car is that it really sold well for the first model year with 136,000 something units but that tailed off quick 26,000 by the last model year.  But then again...those numbers could be chalked up to the American Automakers holding much more of the market back in those days.
Another reason why 1st-year sales of the Fiero were high was likely due to it being a bit different (it was also mid-engined) to whatever else was available.  Once the newness novelty wore off along with some competition (IIRC, Toyota's MR2 (one direct rival to the Fiero) first rolled for 1986); sales started dropping.     

The main difference between two seat conventional combustion engine vehicles and something electric like the EV1 was that there a market that would buy them regardless because they were considered "green."  Granted that part of the car buying community was MUCH smaller back in the 1990s and didn't really exist at all in the early to mid-80s.  Even the Volt and Leaf...hell even the entire Tesla brand as over priced as they are have a market because they are simply what certain people want in a car from an environmental standpoint.  I don't think GM was willing to take that bet back in the 1990s, entering new markets was a huge struggle for any of the big three Post OPEC embargo and really took GM in addition to Chrysler going bankrupt to change it.
As mentioned earlier, while people back then would try 2-seaters; many wouldn't stay with them long-term... especially if a 4-seat compact or subcompact got similar fuel economy.  Not to mention insurance companies equated any 2-seater as if it were a Corvette and charged higher rates than they would for a conventional 4-seat econobox probably caused some cost-conscious would-be buyers to pause.

Long story short, 2-seaters have always a very limited market, regardless of their mission (sports car or economy/commuter car).  GM's EV1 and the original Honda Insight (also a 2-seater) that rolled out around the same time as the EV1 were no exceptions to such market trends.

The issues with electrics back then were/are actually the same as they are now; in addition to initial costs, range and recharge times are still an issue with these vehicles.  Adding insult to injury, most economy cars back then had less power equipment than they do today.  Such vehicles of the era had no A/C (floor vents were used instead), no power windows, no power seats, no fancy entertainment systems beyond a radio; all of which rely on the car's battery power.  An electric vehicle version of an economy car today would require much more battery power in order to operate both equipment & propulsion than one would a generation ago (minor makes of electrics did indeed exist during the late 70s and 1980s but such was a very limited market).

The main problem I think with the inline-6s is packaging concerns. I really like inline-6s, but they force a "long hood" vehicle. These days the car companies want to be able to put the same engines in both cars and trucks. With a 6 they want to be able to put it in smaller cars and crossovers. Look at how short and high the hoods on today's cars are. I've always drove "long hood" vehicles, but a lot of people today are scared to pull out into city traffic with a long hood.
Most cars today are FWD with transverse-mounted engines (engine block is mounted cross-wise rather than longitudinal), so a transverse-mounted inline-6 in a car would actually create more of a width issue rather than hood length.  Such an application (transverse-mounted I-6) would only be practical for larger cars, CUVs, SUVs.

Car companies are having a hard enough time selling cars to urban Millennials, and a long hood can be a dealbreaker when having to pull out past cars parked on the street. Today's vehicles are so incredibly tall and parking restrictions near street corners haven't moved farther down the streets since everybody stopped driving low Citations, Camaros, Pulsars, Sentras and Impalas with clear windows. SUVs and crossovers have those dark tinted rear windows that you can't see through.
IIRC, dark-tinted windows still allow those inside to see out the windows.  The visibility issue w/many of today's vehicles is due to higher beltlines, smaller rear-side windows and oversized head restraints (that can't be folded down when not in use). 

In contrast, I recently drove an old 1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria sedan and (after driving newer cars for nearly a generation) I was completely blown away by the high level of visibility one had with that car (i.e. one can actually see out of it).  Sure the car had a long (by today's standards) hood but it's boxy shape and creased corners allowed the driver to actually see and judge the corners of the car.

The problem is that there is a huge disconnect between what even people my age (Gen Xers) and what all these kids growing like.  I've met a lot of people in college who don't even have a driver's license and have zero desire to travel anywhere in a car.  There has been a gradual downhill slide in the popularity of cars with young folks ever since the baby boomer generation.  For me, I just don't plain get it.  I've lived in and worked in six of the ten largest cities in the country and I consider them all urbanized versions of hell.  I'd much rather travel to work and travel out of town...it's completely different for people growing up today.  Kids today by and large...granted I know there are exceptions...are much more connected socially because of technology and in turn largely remain near home.  For people like me when we were growing up we kept few friends, wanted to move from home and see the country...culture among youth has done a complete 180.  For the most part the income levels of young people today will likely progress slower since they are staying home longer which begs the question....is designing city cars with low profit margins really worth the investment to cater to a group that has little interest and little money.
Not to get political but what you described can be largely blamed on roughly 20 years of ideological brainwashing (i.e. the car is evil mantra) that's permeated throughout the (mostly public) educational system.  Such is now coming to roost.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2016, 10:25:31 AM by PHLBOS »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: The Sorry State of Affairs in Automobilia in the 1980s and 90s
« Reply #49 on: May 10, 2016, 11:06:36 AM »

The biggest issue with the Fiero was that the 2.5L I4 Iron Duke was the base engine when the 2.8L V6 should have been.
Agree regarding the Iron Duke; but, again, the Fiero's original mission was to be an economical 2-seat commuter car with sporty styling.  With such in mind, coupled with the CAFE figure increasing from 22 mpg in 1981 (when the Fiero was initially being designed & planned) to 27.5 mpg for 1985; 4-cylinder engines as either the sole or base engine was the obvious choice... at least on paper.

The performance renaissance along with lower gas prices (which nobody predicted would happen back then, most predicted $3-$5/gallon gasoline by 1985-1990) that started during the 80s caused Pontiac to reconsider offer the V6 engine as an option.

Funny thing about that car is that it really sold well for the first model year with 136,000 something units but that tailed off quick 26,000 by the last model year.  But then again...those numbers could be chalked up to the American Automakers holding much more of the market back in those days.
Another reason why 1st-year sales of the Fiero were high was likely due to it being a bit different (it was also mid-engined) to whatever else was available.  Once the newness novelty wore off along with some competition (IIRC, Toyota's MR2 (one direct rival to the Fiero) first rolled for 1986); sales started dropping.     

The main difference between two seat conventional combustion engine vehicles and something electric like the EV1 was that there a market that would buy them regardless because they were considered "green."  Granted that part of the car buying community was MUCH smaller back in the 1990s and didn't really exist at all in the early to mid-80s.  Even the Volt and Leaf...hell even the entire Tesla brand as over priced as they are have a market because they are simply what certain people want in a car from an environmental standpoint.  I don't think GM was willing to take that bet back in the 1990s, entering new markets was a huge struggle for any of the big three Post OPEC embargo and really took GM in addition to Chrysler going bankrupt to change it.
As mentioned earlier, while people back then would try 2-seaters; many wouldn't stay with them long-term... especially if a 4-seat compact or subcompact got similar fuel economy.  Not to mention insurance companies equated any 2-seater as if it were a Corvette and charged higher rates than they would for a conventional 4-seat econobox probably caused some cost-conscious would-be buyers to pause.

Long story short, 2-seaters have always a very limited market, regardless of their mission (sports car or economy/commuter car).  GM's EV1 and the original Honda Insight (also a 2-seater) that rolled out around the same time as the EV1 were no exceptions to such market trends.

The issues with electrics back then were/are actually the same as they are now; in addition to initial costs, range and recharge times are still an issue with these vehicles.  Adding insult to injury, most economy cars back then had less power equipment than they do today.  Such vehicles of the era had no A/C (floor vents were used instead), no power windows, no power seats, no fancy entertainment systems beyond a radio; all of which rely on the car's battery power.  An electric vehicle version of an economy car today would require much more battery power in order to operate both equipment & propulsion than one would a generation ago (minor makes of electrics did indeed exist during the late 70s and 1980s but such was a very limited market).

The main problem I think with the inline-6s is packaging concerns. I really like inline-6s, but they force a "long hood" vehicle. These days the car companies want to be able to put the same engines in both cars and trucks. With a 6 they want to be able to put it in smaller cars and crossovers. Look at how short and high the hoods on today's cars are. I've always drove "long hood" vehicles, but a lot of people today are scared to pull out into city traffic with a long hood.
Most cars today are FWD with transverse-mounted engines (engine block is mounted cross-wise rather than longitudinal), so a transverse-mounted inline-6 in a car would actually create more of a width issue rather than hood length.  Such an application (transverse-mounted I-6) would only be practical for larger cars, CUVs, SUVs.

Car companies are having a hard enough time selling cars to urban Millennials, and a long hood can be a dealbreaker when having to pull out past cars parked on the street. Today's vehicles are so incredibly tall and parking restrictions near street corners haven't moved farther down the streets since everybody stopped driving low Citations, Camaros, Pulsars, Sentras and Impalas with clear windows. SUVs and crossovers have those dark tinted rear windows that you can't see through.
IIRC, dark-tinted windows still allow those inside to see out the windows.  The visibility issue w/many of today's vehicles is due to higher beltlines, smaller rear-side windows and oversized head restraints (that can't be folded down when not in use). 

In contrast, I recently drove an old 1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria sedan and (after driving newer cars for nearly a generation) I was completely blown away by the high level of visibility one had with that car (i.e. one can actually see out of it).  Sure the car had a long (by today's standards) hood but it's boxy shape and creased corners allowed the driver to actually see and judge the corners of the car.

The problem is that there is a huge disconnect between what even people my age (Gen Xers) and what all these kids growing like.  I've met a lot of people in college who don't even have a driver's license and have zero desire to travel anywhere in a car.  There has been a gradual downhill slide in the popularity of cars with young folks ever since the baby boomer generation.  For me, I just don't plain get it.  I've lived in and worked in six of the ten largest cities in the country and I consider them all urbanized versions of hell.  I'd much rather travel to work and travel out of town...it's completely different for people growing up today.  Kids today by and large...granted I know there are exceptions...are much more connected socially because of technology and in turn largely remain near home.  For people like me when we were growing up we kept few friends, wanted to move from home and see the country...culture among youth has done a complete 180.  For the most part the income levels of young people today will likely progress slower since they are staying home longer which begs the question....is designing city cars with low profit margins really worth the investment to cater to a group that has little interest and little money.
Not to get political but what you described can be largely blamed on roughly 20 years of ideological brainwashing (i.e. the car is evil mantra) that's permeated throughout the (mostly public) educational system.  Such is now coming to roost.

The real travesty with the 2.5L Iron Duke was when it found it's way into the initial run of 3rd generation F-Bodies.  I remember those cars being despised with a passion and some of the most hated Camaros/Firebirds ever built.  The Fiero was a really strange car with a very mixed message; sporty and economical don't usually go hand in hand.  For what it's worth I always felt like GM got it much more right with the Kappa platform Solstice and Sky.  They had a base four cylinder that would offer Miata level performance with the Turbo Eco-Tech as an option.  But to your point the Solstice never sold more than 20,000 units a year and had a low profit margin due to how the body was built.  But at the very least the Kappa cars were clearly meant from the get-go to be a performance model which made them much better for what they were.  Damn shame too, almost bought a GXP Solstice back in 2007 but I got stupid and bought a house instead.  Worse financial decision of my life considering what happened to the housing market a couple years later.....let my wife talk me into it.  :-/

True but it's interesting to see GM waste so much money on the EV1 only to bring into production as a lease only car.  The social movement on "green" anything wasn't in full swing and it probably would have been a total disaster...but then again the program turned out to be one anyways in the end.  I don't think a four seater was realistic given the weight limitations imposed by the heavy lead-acid batteries of the time.  The funny thing that I don't understand about modern electrics and hybrids is how much money people are really willing to waste on them vs a conventional combustion engine car.  I actually broke down the math on a Yaris vs a Prius with annual mileage at something like 10,500 a year and it showed a base ROI of 15 years for the Prius to pay you back for the money you could have saved on the Yaris.  The funny thing is that you mention politically ingrained culture....holy crap is that beaten into some people, especially people who tend to buy hybrids or electrics.  I've heard so much environmental misinformation from buyers of those vehicles to make your head spin....one thing is clear though, they buy them because they like them.  Now....I'm reminded of the Smug Emissions episode from South Park.  :-D

Funny how gas always seems to come and go as a problem.  I remember there was a broken pipeline in Arizona I want to see back in 2002.  It basically led to gas prices escalating to $2 dollars a gallon for a weekend while the pipeline was repaired.  People lost their frigging minds and were lining up at gas stations just like they were in the 1970s.  There were even some people going around and puncturing fuel tanks for the gas inside.  Now people readily accept and expect $3-$4 a gallon gas but complain about it readily all the time.  I just tell people gas was $1.50 on average on 1980...when they tell me that's good I point out the fact that that roughly translates into $4.50 factoring inflation.  I guess as they would say, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Well except for kids driving cars.  I honestly don't get it, I don't know if it's a forced political message or something that social scientists would have to break down to explain.  I have a bunch of younger cousins in their early 20s and they seems like they are socially under-developed.  They all still live at home, have near minimum wage jobs and spend all their time on the computer talking to friends or with a smart phone.  I don't really see much drive or ambition out of any of them which is really strange considering I saved up a bunch of money in high school so I could bail out of the house for warmer climates the week I graduated high school.  As people are approaching their late 20s I'm tending to notice things are normalizing....or what I would consider normal including an interest in cars.  Maybe 25 is the new 18 for kids growing up today?  Hell at least it's not 14 or 16 and you're the man of the house like my grandpa had to be back in his time.

 


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