Friday, September 14, 2012

A 50-year comparison

An old friend of mine has bought a piece of property, including a couple of storage buildings, one containing a 1963 Ford Falcon 4-door sedan.  It has 1971 plates on it, so it has been sitting that long, and shows just under 33000 miles.  He has no idea why it was parked here, nor does the former owner, who inherited the property from his parents, and does not remember the Falcon.  Tom has done some basic examination of the thing, and considers it fixable with much elbow grease and minimum money, so he is going to take it on as a project next spring.  It is, of course, his now, as before 1974 Alabama had no title law.
This being the 2013 model year, I thought I would generate a comparison to today's vehicular standards.
First, the Falcon.  The original window sticker (what is left of it), was in an envelope in the glove box, and is mostly readable.  It is a local car, purchased from Adamson Ford in Birmingham.  The options listed on the sticker are heater/defroster (optional), AM radio (optional), front lap seat belts (optional), and outside rearview mirrors (optional).  In those days, A/C, power steering, and power brakes were not available on the base model Falcon.  The optional AM radio in Tom's car is tube-type, and still actually works, though poorly, through a single speaker in the top of the dash.  The optional outside mirrors are not remote-controlled, and are adjusted by grabbing them and moving them to where needed.  The floor is rubber mats, and the seats are vinyl - anyone old enough to have lived through a winter or summer with vinyl seats is cringing right now.  The transmission is a 3-on-the-tree manual, the engine a 144 ci inline six with a one-barrel carb.  The dashboard is all metal, and full of sharp pointy knobs and things.  The windows are not tinted, so it is hell in hot weather.  This car required a "tune-up" about every 10,000 miles, with replacement of points, condenser, distributor cap, and rotor, and adjusting of ignition timing and carb.  Aligning the front end was recommended at the same time.  Polishing and waxing were required to keep the paint shiny and protected from the sun.  There was no warranty for rust-through.
The sticker price for this high-maintenance roller was $2228, which is, in today's battered dollarettes, $16774.
So, in these modern times, what will this price buy?
Oddly enough, it will still buy you a small base-model 4-door Ford sedan, The Focus S.  So how does today's little roller compare to the Falcon, 50 years later?
You still get a small engine and manual transmission, but these days, you get carpet, fiber upholstery, tinted glass, heater/defroster and outside mirrors as standard equipment.  Standard equipment, on the Focus S, also includes: A/C, AM/FM stereo radio with four speakers, three-point seat belts, front and side air bags, crush zones, an engine that does not require tune-ups (although replacement of the timing belt is required at 60,000 miles), more power and much better mileage than the Falcon, speed-sensitive power steering, cruise control, stability and traction control, power brakes with 4-wheel ABS on its fade resistant disc brakes, longer-lasting radial tires, front power windows, rust-through warranty, and clear-coat paint that does not require waxing.
I'll stick with today's offering...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finally able to post...

As I get older, and my health slowly deteriorates, I find my outlook changing, and many things that I used to consider inconveniences are now starting to royally piss me off.
 I am typing this in a text editor on my computer, because my internet service (DSL) has folded up, and I no longer have service. It is not a matter of the system here in the house being overtaxed - we have DSL-only service; no TV, no landline phone, no anything else, just internet service. Not now, however. This pisses me off.
I am pissed off by a growing number of young people, who apparently think that piercings are attractive. They are not, kids. One of these was recently angry that he was unable to find a job. Considering the red and green reptile tatooed around his neck, and the nose ring, who besides him was surprised? Another had a 20-hour-a-week job in a taco joint, and was angry that he did not have health coverage. That is how entry-level jobs work, kids. These kids piss me off.
 The Zombie fad pisses me off. If you think that the dead walk among us eating the brains of the living, seek professional help, and stop pissing me off.
If you think that every happening of every day is an evil conspiracy of the government, the Klan, the Masonic order, the Central Bank, the Bilderburgers, or whoever, seek professional help. I have worked for government, been a union member, have long-time friends in banking, organized religion, and the Masonic orders, and I assure you that none of these entities, collectively, are competent enough to pull off a grand secret conspiracy. Stop pissing me off.
 No political party is your kindly daddy, and none of them cares about you in any constructive way. If you elect Democrats, the entire nation is not going to become a communist collective. If you elect Republicans, you are not going to become a poverty-level victim of rampant evil plantation owners. If you elect tea-partiers, probably nothing will happen, because the movement is not organized enough to print up decent leaflets. I have best heard Congress described by Lewis Black as a bowl of manure staring at itself in a mirror. So stop trying to tell me that your particular party is the end-all-be-all of political salvation, because you are wrong, and you are pissing me off.
 And get off my lawn!