Sunday, July 13, 2014

I'm already thinking about another car

I told you all that I sold the Falcon because we're moving. No set date yet but hopefully as soon as possible. The house here in Vegas will go on the market in about a week. We need to find a place to live back in the San Francisco Bay Area. It looks like we'll end up in an apartment, most likely in the East Bay, somewhere around San Ramon/Dublin/Pleasanton.

But I'm already scouting out Craigslist and Ebay for another car. Because I won't have a garage I need something that can be used as a daily driver until I find somewhere to work on it. I've narrowed my search to anything between 1960 and 1975 (the last year that doesn't require a smog inspection). I'm partial to Fords and for some unknown reason even to me I like Rancheros but any Ford works. I've had a variety of Fords including a '66 Galaxie 4-door with a four-barrel 352 that I bought from a tow yard.

I'm not choosy though. Anything that strikes my fancy. I'm not ready to buy yet, that has to wait until we get back. Cars I've thought about are things like a '74/'75 Mustang II but there seem to be few V8s available. I saw a V8 Chevy Monza and that might be fun. A Volvo 145 or 245 (wagon) offers something unique if unsual. I haven't ruled out a Mopar. A truck is not out of the question.

So if anyone has any leads, a lead that can wait a month or so, let me know. It should go without saying that I want something solid to build on - as little rust as possible.

After I get settled I'm going to need a place I can work on my car. Apartment complexes seem to frown on people doing repairs and/or modifications.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

One Door Closes, Another One Opens (hopefully)

Well the Falcon is gone. Yes I sold it. I was sad to see it go off but I made a choice. We have decided to move back to the Bay Area and the Falcon wasn't in that picture. There is no way I could have had it ready to drive the almost 600 miles back without dumping a ton of money into it all at once. And that was never my plan. So I sold it.

The upside is that for the first time in a long, long time I actually made money when selling a car. I don't know what it is with me but it seems that if I buy a car for $1,000, put another $1,000 into it I then end up selling it for $500. But not this time. I didn't make a ton of money but I had a little less than $2,000 into the Falcon and sold it for $3,000. I'm satisfied.

Once we get settled in the Bay Area and I have a place to work on a car I'll buy something else. I have a few ideas floating around in my brain.

I still haven't decided if I should keep my '87 Toyota pickup. It's got like 250,000 miles on it but it still runs well. I had trouble getting it to pass smog here this year and don't know if it will pass back in CA. There's also the problem of getting it there. It will make the trip, I'm sure of that, but that means two driving trips back; one in the Toyota and one in our 2002 Focus. Nadine will not drive that distance. So I'd have to drive to the Bay Area, fly back and drive there again. I haven't decided yet.

Some of my friends are wondering why we are moving back, the Bay Area being so expensive and all. Some think it's because of the heat. It isn't. It really is that we are just not happy here. Once you've lived in Eden it's hard to find happiness in Gomorrah. To be serious health care is the single biggest reason. The health care here in Las Vegas sucks. There aren't enough doctors and not one adheres to my insurer's fee schedule so no matter why I see a doctor there is always a fee over and above my co-pay and what the insurer pays. And I don't know what that amount will be for months after the visit. Add in that it takes forever to get an appointment (two years ago I came back from Monterey with an ear infection, the soonest I could see my doctor was a month out!).

So we're moving "home". We'll be close to family and friends. The weather is better. And the health care actually exists.

But I won't have my '65 Falcon Futura.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What cars are the most American (US) made? Too few.

Perhaps to prove that this really is a global economy, or to show the sad fact that we don't make it any more, compiled a list of the cars (and trucks) made here in the USA. It's a short list and getting shorter. Our once proud auto industry, although once more strong from a sales point of view, is shrinking.

Here's the list:

U.S. Assembly Location(s)
Rank in 2013
Ford F-150
Dearborn, Mich.; Claycomo, Mo.
Toyota Camry
Georgetown, Ky.; Lafayette, Ind.
Honda Odyssey
Lincoln, Ala.
Toyota Sienna
Princeton, Ind.
Toyota Tundra
San Antonio, Texas
Toyota Avalon
Georgetown, Ky.
Chevrolet Corvette
General Motors
Bowling Green, Ky.
Honda Ridgeline
Lincoln, Ala.
Honda Crosstour
East Liberty, Ohio
Dodge SRT Viper
Detroit, Mich.

No offense to Honda or Toyota but the "Big 3" have only one vehicle each on the list. The Japanese auto makers put more models in the top 10 than the "domestic" auto makers. Detroit and environs, the very image of US auto making, only scores two vehicles on the list; first place and tenth. 

It is a sad commentary on our nation that we don't make it here anymore. Every time I see something about the shrinking manufacturing section in our nation I hear "We Can't Make It Here Anymore" by James McMurty (son of Larry "Lonesome Dove" McMurtry). The last verse says it all:
"In Dayton, Ohio
Or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it anymore"

I hope that next year the list is longer.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rick Cole Auctions Return to Monterey

Way back, before I ever attended my first Monterey Historics, before I bought my first ticket to The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, before I ever attended an upscale auto auction, there was only one auction during what has become The Monterey Car Week – Rick Cole Auctions.

Rick Cole’s first Monterey Auction was in 1986. In 1997 he sold his auction to RM Auctions. Cole’s auction spawned many auctions during The Monterey Car Week. What began as a one day event – The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and then grew into a weekend affair with the Monterey Historics has now become a week-long (plus) extravaganza of historic cars, races, shows, auctions, galas and gatherings to rival anything on this planet.

Now Rick Cole is back in Monterey. Rick Cole Monterey Auction will be at the Monterey Marriott Hotel at 350 Calle Principal, Monterey.  The auction begins on Thursday, August 14, 2014 and ends at 12 p.m. Sunday, August 17, 2014.

A first for Monterey bidders participating in the Rick Cole Monterey Auction will have the option to place their bids in person or by Smartphone. With so many auctions going on at the same time a bidder who is interested in cars at more than one site will be able to not only follow the action at Rick Cole’s but to actively participate regardless of where they are located.

Center piece of the auction will be a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Competitizone Clienti built as a special order for American Ferrari patron Alfred Ducato. This fantastic Ferrari has been in a private collection for 25-years and has been unseen by the public. It is in complete and original condition.

Rick Cole Monterey Auctions is a welcome addition to a busy, and wonderful week. For more information go to

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No Monterey This Year?

I've gone to the Monterey Car Week every year for what seems like forever. This year I may not make it. I've just got too much going on right now.

We are planning on moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area soon, hopefully before October. Right now still trying to get my '65 Falcon out of the garage (a subject for another post). There are other more personal issues in my life right now that are eating up time too.

I work part-time for O'Reilly Auto Parts and I really don't want to take too much time off. Add in that I seem to get away by myself every year to Monterey while Nadine gets stuck home alone you can see why maybe I should skip Monterey.

Of course not having the Pacifica Tribune as an outlet anymore leaves a question mark about just who I'd be covering the event for as well. I am working on some other outlets but that's on the back burner until we're settled wherever we may end up.

Update! Can Mary Barra Change the Culture at General Motors?

This just in from Reuters via Automotive News. It appears that GM's Board knew of the safety issues as early as 2002. Read it all here

If you've been following the ignition switch debacle at General Motors you may wonder how it ever got so bad. For me that isn't the question; the question is can it be fixed.

A series of articles in Automotive News posed that question and also theorized that GM CEO Mary Barra has a unique opportunity to reshape General Motors. I am hopeful but at the same time doubtful.

The cartoon above echoes my sentiment. Although GM has fired what they say are the worst offenders - those who ignored all the warning signs - they have basically absolved the hierarchy of any blame.

I give General Motors and Barra credit for going outside for an investigator. The Valukas Report was very damning. But will the General really change course. I remember years ago reading that GM was like a huge ocean going tanker, almost impossible to change its course.

Over the years we have heard platitude after platitude heaped on the GM CEO du jour. I've met a few of them and although they were nice guys (and until Barra they were all guys) who had "gasoline in their veins" they all simply stayed the course. Even as they lost market share and shed divisions they professed that GM was the greatest. I remember one executive telling a group of auto writers that the only thing wrong with their cars was that buyers didn't truly understand how good they were.

Think of every single General Motors failure. The Chevette? It was going to turn back the tide of Japanese imports. The Cadillac Allante? The best combination of Italian design and American technology. Misstep after misstep that had many asking, "what were they thinking."

General Motors has a long, long history of arogance. I wish Barra all the best and hope she can change the culture but I'm not betting it will happen.

Monday, June 9, 2014

All Good Things Must Come to an End?

Last week I received news that the Pacifica Tribune was cancelling all special sections except Seniors including the Cars section where my column appears. I've been writing for the Trib for a long time, since 1997, and it's been a good ride. Much longer and better than I ever envisioned.

I wasn't overjoyed with the way I found out. A couple of months ago the Trib said that from now on they would like to receive my articles a week in advance instead of the past "as long as it's in before the end of business on the Friday before it's published." Not a big deal. Last month (May) the Trib requested I write a story about local businessman (and friend) Jeff Lee. I was happy to do so. This month (June) I, like usual, fell behind and sent them an article a couple of days late with my apologies. This is the response I got: "That's fine. We've eliminated all the special sections except Seniors. You are still welcome to contribute about topics of interest, but you don't have to have a piece ready every month. There's no more cars section. I loved what you did about Jeffrey and the motorcycle racing. Anything like that would be great." To be fair they did leave the door open to other articles, just not reviews. 

When I moved to the Las Vegas area and I found that I could not get press cars here I thought that was the end of the line for the Trib. In fact the Trib said they had someone local who was interested in writing; I tried to hook the guy up with my connections but he flaked. The Trib graciously said that whatever or whenever I could write an article would be fine. When we traveled and I was able to get a press car I wrote a review; when there were no cars available I wrote on car shows or whatever I could. Sometimes it was hard to come up with a subject but somehow I was usually able (with a few exceptions) to find something that I hope my readers found interesting. 

It's ironic that my column has come to an end as Nadine and I are planning to move back to the Bay Area. I had hoped to get back into some press cars. It is doubtful that we would have ended up in Pacifica; it's a little to expensive (yes) for us retirees. But we miss the Bay Area terribly and we are in a position where we can afford something in one of the less expensive areas.

I am not pleased that no auto company will send press cars to Las Vegas (either from L.A. or Phoenix). They say it's too expensive, which on the face of it it is for many of the companies. But there are car companies, mostly upscale companies, that provide cars to a writer in Boise, Idaho. But you can't argue with the folks that own the cars.

I don't intend this to be the end of the line. I like to write about cars. I think I'm good at it (I know I'm not one of the greats and I'll never win any awards). As soon as we get back to the Bay Area I'm going to be beating on the door of every paper out there, big or small. To all those in Pacifica who have put up with my columns all these years, thank you. To paraphrase Richard Nixon, "you haven't seen the last of Bruce Hotchkiss."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mustang 50th Anniversary at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Shelby American.

2015 Mustang
2015 Mustang
Ford Display

I just liked these emblems.
Mustang I - I, like so many kids, fell in love with this car. Who cares that it was powered by an underpowered 1.5-liter V4? Not me.
Just a nice, clean '67 Fastback
Nope not enough power yet.
But we're getting close.

Shelby Daytona Coupe
There may be nothing more beautiful than a small-block Ford done up ala Shelby.
Unless of course it's an aluminum 427 FE.

How'd these get in here? Oh yeah they're Shelbys.

My friend Steve trying on a Ford Flex
Slightly used but still exciting.
Very used '67 Shelby GT 500 428 with dual quads.
Unrestored and so rough. 
'69 or '70 with some monster Baer brakes.

Not my favorite year, too big, but still it is a Boss 351.

2015 Mustang 5.0