Am I the last man to discover the excellent War Factories series on the Eeeewww Choob?

If you haven’t watched it, kiss your weekend goodbye, as I did last weekend.

You can thank me later.

There’s also the sulky-looking and acerbic Alexandra Churchill to be seen occasionally.  She really, really hates the Nazis from the 1940s — and who can blame her?

Oh, and she’s definitely not related to WSC:


If this is the New Breed of Lady Historians, bring it on.

Historical Voice Stilled Forever

I see with extreme regret that historian Paul Johnson has died.  Shit.

There is a very good case that Johnson’s History Of The American People should be required source material for high school U.S. History classes.

And his History Of The Jews and History Of Christianity (along with Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn To Decadence) should be part of World History classes in both high school and university curricula.

Oh, for heaven’s sake:  if you read all of Paul Johnson’s history books and absorb just a third of the material, you’ll still be one of the most educated people on the planet.

He will most definitely be missed.

The Right Stuff

For my long-suffering Brit Readers, who often have to deal with my barbs and jibes:

For my Murkin and Non-Colonial Readers, here’s a brief explanation if this heroic man is unknown to you.  We have no such role model, try as the DemSocs may to create one:

Our guy [sic]  definitely had the more striking outfit, although it’s probably not the best choice to adopt if one is trying to sneak into a government building.

Contemporaneous Pricing

From Younger Reader Daniel D:

As I have watched your frequent auto posts I notice that higher end cars, Farraris and the like, from your youth appear frequently. Many seem in immaculate condition, as I suppose anything of that value is, but it seems the same tier of cars are fairly often seen for those who travel in those circles. These are not mass-market cars like the classic Mustangs of the same era, so their continued existence despite I assume the same level of gleeful driving seems somewhat remarkable. I wonder if you have any perspective on the price at these times as it relates to spending power, as I have not seen anything other than which reflects their value as collectibles. I wonder if this tier of automobile was slightly more accessible as a doctor’s life goal type purchase as opposed to buying a house’s worth that someone else could T-bone. Were higher tier cars at a more accessible price point in the past for the merely well-to-do as opposed to only being a plaything of the rich?

It’s a really good question, with a couple of answers necessary.

Firstly, the issue of price vs. wage level, at various points in history.  I often use the comparison of my own situation in the mid- to late 1970s as an example (using the SA Rand as equal to the US$ in terms of its local buying power, which it was for almost everything except gasoline/petrol).  So:

  • Salary at the Great Big Research Company:  $400 per month
  • Rent for my 1BR 1BA apartment in the heart of the city:  $90 per month
  • Price of a new VW Golf:  $1,200
  • Rickenbacker bass guitar:  $1,100.

Now, the approximate sticker costs during the same time period (and in today’s dollars):

  • Rolls Royce Phantom: $26,000 ($159,700)
  • Dino 246 GT:  $13,900 ($85,375)
  • Porsche 911 S:   $8,675 ($53,280)
  • E-type Jag:  $5,725 ($35,165)
  • Chev Corvette:  $5,192 ($31, 890).

I should point out that the official increase (or decrease, if you will) of the dollar’s value from say 1976 till today is about 5.21, but for automobiles, it’s about a 6.14 – 6.15 multiple.

In actual fact, given that today a Corvette actually costs about $65,000 (double the “official”) and any Ferrari or Rolls is north of a million shows you how unaffordable the upper-end cars have become.

(I remember talking to a doctor friend back in the day, and he commented that buying a Rolls in 1965 and keeping it for 20 years would actually have saved him money, compared with buying a new Merc every five years, even with the maintenance costs included.)

But let’s just stay in the 1970s for a moment, and consider my annual salary as a humble assistant statistician back then was $4,800.  (It was NOT a bad clerical salary at the time.)  If we take that Porsche 911 S as an example, it would have cost me about 1.8x my annual salary.

That same position’s salary in today’s dollars is probably $55,000 per annum, and a “base” 2022 Porsche 911 with only a few options will set you back about $115,000 — or about 2x the annual salary.  Not too far off.

However:  my rent back then constituted about 22% of my monthly salary, whereas rent for the same type of apartment today would account for almost 90% (or more, depending on the city) of my monthly salary — and assuming I moved out to the ‘burbs, it would still account for close to 50% of my nut.

So the takeaway from all this is that a “reasonable” sports car was more within the average Joe’s reach back in the 1970s, whereas those same cars are completely out of reach today.

And yes:  even back then, the truly high-end cars were pretty much accessible only to the very well-to-do, as they are today.  My father was an established civil engineer in the early 1970s, and the Dino would have represented 1.3x of his annual salary — and there was NO WAY he would have considered it.  He chose instead a Mercedes 350SL, at 0.6x, and who would blame him?

By the way, an immaculately-restored Dino 246 GT — Ferrari’s attempt at an “entry-level” car — will now cost you from $350,000 to $stupid.

Same Ol’, Same Ol’

I see that the Russians are reverting to type:

RUSSIAN soldiers are reportedly using rape as an “instrument of war” in Ukraine, a prosecutor has warned.

Putin’s savages are also believed to be executing civilians in cold blood amid the evil invasion which entered its 28th day today.

Shades of Berlin 1945, for us students of history.