The Sharecropper State

…in which the vast majority of serfs people never actually own anything, but rent everything.  We’ve seen this trend in innocuous stuff, of course, such as in the online music business where the foul recording industry can take (i.e. repossess) music away from purchasers simply by removing it from “The Cloud” and similarly in TV shows and movies, where the equally-foul studios can do likewise.  (Consumers owning the physical media of CDs and DVDs has always been the bane of the respective industries’ profit plans, both because they can’t control “unlicensed” third-party distribution and because once the sale is made, they can’t claw it back.)

According to Big Business, therefore, property is theft (of the products they consider their own, and not the purchasers’), a sentiment which would have made that foul mountebank Proudhon rub his hands with glee — except of course that he wanted “the people” (i.e. the State) to own everything rather than giant corporations (in his time, the Church).

So what’s brought this rant on?  The Germans — or, to be more specific, the German auto industry.  Try this little scenario on for size (courtesy of Insty):

Volkswagen recently announced that it plans on making massive amounts of money by introducing more vehicles with over-the-air updates (OTAs), many of which will be able to store and transfer personal profiles so that users can effectively just rent their vehicles for eternity. Additionally, VW has suggested future models will have ability to lock features (that have already been physically installed) behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.
“In the future, our customers will buy, lease, share or rent cars just for a weekend, and we can use software to provide them with whatever they need over the air,” VW brand’s sales chief Klaus Zellmer said during an online presentation held on Tuesday. “The ID family has been designed for further development, with OTA updates to improve the software’s performance and tailor it to our customers’ needs.”
Other German automakers have pitched (or introduced) similar concepts over the last few years and it smacks of the terror that is the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” — a plan which envisions a near future were the general populace owns nothing and giant multinational corporations (and their heirs) effectively hold all the cards. It’s the kind of thing one might call you an unhinged conspiracy theorist for believing, until you head over to the WEC’s website to read a dozen or so articles explaining exactly how it’s to be implemented or notice that most Western governments seem to be pushing some variant of the “Build Back Better” campaign. The plot is often the same and hinges upon prioritizing stringent social controls, increased government spending, collaborating with large businesses/banks, and enhanced surveillance in exchange for some vague promises about public safety and environmental reform.

Not content with adding a whole slew of “conveniences” (unnecessary geegaws like remote starting, keyless- and stop-start ignition, “memory” seat adjustment and such) to their cars, said conveniences which simply drive up the cost (and profits) of cars into the fucking stratosphere, these bastards now think they can sell the cows and charge the owners for the milk they draw, ad infinitum.

Yeah, well, maybe not.  I’ve been a lifelong fan of Volkswagen, having owned seven of their various models over the past forty years, but I have to tell you right now:  when it comes time to replace the Tiguan — and it’s going to happen soon — it’s not to a VW dealer I’ll be going.  No way am I going to give them any of my hard-earned dollars to support their evil machinations.  Ditto Mercedes (I’ve been looking at their GLA 250 mini-SUV), or any other car company which wants to initiate a similar program to Volkswagen’s.

Given my age, this will most likely be my last-ever purchase of a new car;  and I was planning on driving it for at least the next decade, or until my brain turns to rice pudding and, not needing a car anymore, I would have to be installed in some care facility which would feed me, wipe my decrepit ass and put up with my incoherent ranting and raving.

But that’s a topic for another time.

In the meantime, I’m going to shop for a new / low-mileage secondhand vehicle, just not of the VW / Mercedes persuasion.

Does anyone know which auto companies don’t plan on this thievery?

Gadzooks!

Here’s something you don’t see every day (link in headline):

The Plus Four gets a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo good for 255 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque between 1000 and 5000 revs. You can choose between a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Get the automatic, since it gets to 62 mph quickest, in 4.8 seconds*.
The Plus Six gets a BMW B58 TwinPower Turbo inline-six making 335 hp at 6500 rpm and 369 pound-feet, with 62 mph coming up in a brisk 4.2 seconds.

Those horsepower numbers are relatively tame by modern standards, until you remember that Morgans are made with a wooden (ash) frame which makes the average Morgan body weigh considerably less than, say, Lizzo after a chicken dinner, so the Beemer engines make the cars go like hell… that is, until you get to the corners, whereupon the Morgans corner about as well as the Morgans of, say, 1930.

But anyway, those aren’t the changes;  these are.

A new hood keeps the water out of the engine compartment and eliminates the need for those hood rail fasteners
“Vastly improved” seals around the windows and doors, again to keep the rain out, along with some noise
A new Morgan “wings” badge, the first new badge in 10 years
Active sport exhaust lets you set the sound level of your four- or six-cylinder
New seats offer more comfort and better bolstering
Lockable storage
More lights inside
USB ports!

In other words, Morgans are being brought into the 20th [sic]  century.  Other than that revolting “active” (i.e. “fake”) sport exhaust system, all the other mods have been in practically every other production car since about 1966.

All that said, however:

 

Yeah, like I wouldn’t take one if offered…


*No, don’t “get the automatic, since it gets to 62 mph quickest, in 4.8 seconds”, because the joy of working the Morgan’s gears is far greater than getting to 62mph in seven-hundredths of a second quicker.  If the goal is to get to 62mph quickly, don’t get a Morgan;  get a Honda Civic Type R (for two-thirds the price).  The only difference is that you won’t swoon with joy every time you walk into your garage.  You moron.

Style Change

Over the weekend, I was watching Jay Leno drive Joe Rogan’s resto-modded ’67 Corvette Stingray, and Jay made the comment that this model (’63-’67) was his favorite Corvette body style.

Look, it’s lovely:

I have no issue with the car (and for the purposes of this discussion, I’m not interested in the engine or the performance of the different models).  It’s one of the great classic shapes.

But (and you knew this was coming), for my taste it’s not sexy enough — and unlike my usual preference for an older design, I actually prefer the shape of the post-67 Corvette:

As with the 246 Dino, this model looks like a woman lying on her side:  shoulders over the front wheel, slim waist in the middle, and voluptuous hip in the back.  Here’s a profile of each (67 and 70 respectively):

I like both, but I prefer the ’70 shape.

As always with discussions of this nature, there’s no right or wrong — it’s all about taste.  However, I do prefer both the above to the modern (2021 C8) Corvette:

…which looks like any other modern sports / supercar shape.

And none of the above holds a candle to this:

Historic

Here’s a biennial pleasure:  the Historic Grand Prix Race of Monaco, which took place last Sunday.

(It’s an 8-hour video, watch it in segments or by race.)  The only thing which spoiled it for me was the ubiquitous appearance of facemasks — okay, also the lack of crowds, because only Monegasques (citizens of Monaco) were allowed to watch because of you-know-what.

Anyway.

The cars and races are grouped by era, and the first race (post-WWI to1961 F1 cars only) made parts of me tingle that haven’t tingled in years (Maserati 250F, oh yeah baby):

One of the most beautiful race cars ever made.

The second race featured pre-WWII cars (1928-1938), a.k.a.  the “supercharged” models:  Frazer-Nash, Talbot-Lago, Bugatti 35, Mercedes SSK, Riley, Maserati 6CM, Delage… be still, my beating heart.  Here’s the Bugatti 35B:

Supercharged… woof woof.

The next race was for the teeny 1961-1965 F1 era cars… the era of Lotus, a.k.a. the era of Jim Clark and Graham Hill, driving 1500cc engines.

…all following the Colin Chapman maxim:  “Make it faster.  Add less.”

Race 4 (1966-1972 era) was the time when aerofoils made their first appearance in F1 — and turned the cars from tubular shapes (like the Lotus above) into space-age machines, with wider tires as well.  Also, the engines grew from four-cylinder 1500cc into flat-12 three-liter monsters, and (other than Ferrari) the marque names changed a little, too:  McLaren, Surtees, Brabham…  and here’s the Matra 120C:

The cars are getting wider, here:  in earlier eras, the cars could fit three across the track, comfortably.  No more.

Anyway:  let me not go on and on — watch the whole thing for yourselves.  And enjoy… I certainly did.  And from a later race, here’s an Aston Martin DB3S:

…also, the peerless Maserati 300S:

And if that doesn’t make your bits tingle, I don’t wanna talk to you no more.

Car Nut

Tim Allen (the man, not the TV caricature he plays) is one of the people I’d want on my Dinner Guest Bucket List.   Not only is he as funny as hell, he’s also a gearhead and gun guy (in part 1 below, when Tim gets to talking about his GT40, look over the car into his gun room).

Here he is walking us through his car collection, a trip which takes under an hour:  Part 1 and Part 2.  My favorite parts?  He has models of a Spitfire, Me109 and P52 P-51 Mustang hanging from the ceiling.  I just wish he’d taken us on a tour of his gun room.

And for those classic Camaro fans, here’s Jay Leno driving Tim’s 427 COPO.  (Best line:  Leno:  “There’s nothing in this car that doesn’t belong.”  Allen:  “Except maybe us.”)