Friday, October 21, 2011

US Supercar Provenance - or - UK "CAR" magazine's Supercar canard

To name something is to know it, at least ‘nominally’ so. To know it and to limit it is also to take a wild territory and turn it into domestic property. These concepts of ownership and property come into sharp relief in my pursuit of a motivating passion for me: The ‘Supercar.’

What is a supercar you ask? We can start off with a visit to our favorite arbiter of conventional wisdom, Wikipedia. Aaah! But what to my wondering eyes should appear but none other than KingElvis’ real world avatar, Robert Harless! He is footnoted a number of times in the Wikipedia definition of the word. His notes 9 and 10 show that the word 'Supercar' predated 'Musclecar.' There might not even be a “dispute”* had the book “Horespower War: Our Way of Life” not been offered up for free web perusal by the gracious Mr. Harless.  Good. This gives us a chance to settle accounts.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Supercar is a term used most often to describe an expensive high end car. It has been defined specifically as "a very expensive, fast or powerful car".[1] Stated in more general terms: "it must be very fast, with sporting handling to match", "it should be sleek and eye-catching" and its price should be "one in a rarefied atmosphere of its own".[2]
However, the proper application of the term is subjective and disputed*, especially among enthusiasts. So-called vehicles are typically out of the ordinary and are marketed by automakers to be perceived by the public as unusual. The supercar can take many forms including limited production specials from an "elite" automaker, standard looking cars made by mainstream companies that hide massive power and performance, (Italics and bold from KINGELVIS) as well as models that appeal to "hardcore enthusiasts" from "manufacturers on the fringe of the car industry".[3]

An advertisement for the Ensign Six, a 6.7 L (410 cu in) high-performance car similar to the Bentley Speed Six, appeared in The Times for 11 November 1920 with the phrase "If you are interested in a supercar, you cannot afford to ignore the claims of the Ensign 6."[4] The Oxford English Dictionary also cites the use of the word in an advertisement for an unnamed car in The Motor dated 3 November 1920, "The Supreme development of the British super-car."[5] and defines the phrase as suggesting "a car superior to all others". A book published by the Research Institute of America in 1944, that previewed the economic and industrial changes to occur after World War II,[6] used the term "supercar" (author's emphasis) to describe future automobiles incorporating advances in design and technology such as flat floorpans and automatic transmissions.[7]

The phrase supercar is said to have had (KINGELVIS bold) its revival originated with British motor journalist L. J. K. Setright writing about the Lamborghini Miura in CAR in the mid-1960s.  (KINGELVIS BOLD. One wonders why the exact date of the magazine issue can’t simply be listed here, since this claim is so pervasive in web searches. The previous sentence had achieved the status of an urban myth, or more appropriately ‘conventional wisdom’ – largely because of Wikipedia role as a de-facto authority) The magazine was originally launched in 1962 as Small Car and Mini Owner, and claims to have "coined the phrase".[8]  (KINGELVIS BOLD The CAR website page of footnote #8 only states that the magazine coined the term. Again, why not name the famous issue?)

In the United States, the term "supercar" predates the classification of muscle car[9][10] (KINGELVIS: You can trust that guy[9][10]  to keep it real.) to describe the "dragstrip bred" affordable mid-size cars of the 1960s and early 1970s that were equipped with large, powerful V8 engines and rear wheel drive.[11]
The combination of a potent engine in a lightweight car began with the 1957 Rambler Rebel that was described as a "veritable supercar".[12] "In 1966 the sixties supercar became an official industry trend"[13] (KINGELVIS: Thanks, trusted expert) as the four domestic automakers "needed to cash in on the supercar market" with eye-catching, heart-stopping cars.[14] Among the numerous examples of the use of the supercar description include the May 1965 issue of the American magazine Car Life, in a road test of the Pontiac GTO. (KINGELVIS' 'smoking gun' scan of that very issue...
(KINGELVIS: The word Supercar actually doesn’t occur within the text of the GTO road test in The May 1965 Car Life issue, but a systematic definition is spelled out on this page. This piece of evidence – the scan above – is a ‘smoking gun’ because it clearly settles the ‘dispute,’ perhaps not about which cars are indeed super, but about which magazine gets to claim the coinage for the word “Supercar.” This article clearly, yet subtly defines the word Supercar for the first time.((According to Joe Oldham, writing in the May '74 issue of the American magazine CARS - not to be confused with the UK's CAR - this is the first time the word was used and defined as such)).

Later Car Life articles make direct reference to the issue when discussing subsequent Supercars and whether they deserved to be listed in that exclusive club. 

In case you just can't read the text in the above scan from May ’65 Car Life.

Quote: “The ultimate expression of this trend toward the personally specified vehicle is what we call the “Supercar.” It has a big engine with great gobs of horsepower and torque. It has a modest sized chassis of reasonably light weight. It has an axle ratio that lets the engine perform and it has a transmission (in most cases) that can provide optimum engine operating conditions. Many of the Supercars are options atop options; they are packages of options which supplant and complement the original options.”  

So the supercar is defined here mostly in terms of it being a 'special car' - one with very rare factory options like sintered metallic brake linings or a hard riding suspension that 99 out of 100 cars don't have.

You can hopefully make out the list of 'Supercars' which includes the 327cid/350hp Chevelle, 427 Ford and 396 Chevrolet. None of these three cars had a 'package' option (GTO, GTX, GTA, R/T or the like) at the time. In fact the whole idea as
Car Life has it, is that you would have to special order all the stuff you want anyway. The idea of the supercar is not to have a 'compromise' that will fly off dealer lots but something that only one out of 100 people want. The article says that since the US car market is so big and expansive, it still makes sense for makers to appeal to this rare one percent of buyers. You can also see the oft repeated assertion of 1960's US car magazines: That a buyer could conceivably special order a car with a combination of obscure options so that no other car is exactly like his.

Now, we return to our regularly scheduled Wikipedia entry…
The word supercar later became to mean a "GT" or grand touring type of car.[21] (If KingElvis’ avatar in the real world, Harless, said this, does that mean KingElvis can take it back? We’ll come back to this question in a later post) By the 1970s and 1980s the phrase was in regular use, if not precisely defined.[22][23] (KINGELVIS: The NYT article of note 23 was about the Mercedes 690 SEL a large sedan with a 420 cubic inch or 6.9 liter engine. Its engine and body are much more like a Car Life supercar than any Lamborghini – particularly a mid engine one as in the next note, #24)
During the late 20th century, the term supercar was used to describe "a very expensive, fast or powerful car with a centrally located engine,"[24] and stated in more general terms: "it must be very fast, with sporting handling to match", "it should be sleek and eye-catching" and its price should be "one in a rarefied atmosphere of its own".[25]

1.       ^ Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers. 2003. ISBN 0007109830.
2.       ^ Ward, Ian (1985). "Secondhand Supercars". London's Motor Show Motorfair 85 Official Catalogue.
3.       ^ Cheetham, Craig (2006). Supercars. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 9780760325650.
4.       ^ "British Ensign Motors". The Times. 11 November 1920. p. 6.
5.       ^ "super-, prefix 6.c". Oxford English Dictionary. 1989. Retrieved 2007-12-27.
6.       ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (1989-09-04). "Carl Hovgard, Tax Adviser, 83; Founder of the Research Institute". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
7.       ^ Cherne, Leo (1944). The Rest of Your Life. Doubleday, Doran and Co.. pp. 216–217. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
8.       ^ "About CAR magazine". CAR Magazine Online. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
9.       ^ Harless, Robert (2004). Horsepower War: Our Way of Life. iUniverse. p. 1. ISBN 9780595302963. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
10.   ^ Gunnell, John (2001). Standard Guide to American Muscle Cars: A Supercar Source Book, 1960–2000. Krause Publications. ISBN 9780873492621.
11.   ^ Norbye, Jan P.; Dunne, Jim (October 1966). "The Hot Ones: Supercars of medium size flaunt tough suspensions, great brakes, most powerful engines in existence". Popular Science 189 (4): 83–85. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
12.   ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (2007-08-22). "1957-1960 Rambler Rebel". Retrieved 2010-08-23.
13.   ^ Harless, p. 8.
14.   ^ Campisano, Jim (1995). American Muscle Cars. MetroBooks. p. 91. ISBN 9781567991642.
15.   ^ "Rambler Scrambler". Car Life 16: 33–36. 1969. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
16.   ^ "Rambler Scrambler". Car and Driver 14: 84. 1968.
17.   ^ Lyons, Dan; Scott, Jason (2004). Muscle Car Milestones. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing. p. 89. ISBN 9780760306154. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
18.   ^ Bonsall, Thomas E. (1985). Muscle Plymouths: The Story of a Supercar. Bookman Publishing. ISBN 9780934780711.
19.   ^ Primedia (2004). Hot Rod Magazine: Muscle Car Files. MotorBooks International. p. 112. ISBN 9780760316474. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
20.   ^ Carner, Colin (February 1999). "1967 Chevrolet Stage III Nickey Camaro". Sports Car Market. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
22.   ^ Stuart Marshall (September 4, 1975). "Rewards and frustrations of the supercars". The Times (London): p. 23.
23.   ^ "Business Roundup; From the Land of the VW, a $35,000 Supercar". The New York Times: p. F15. September 21, 1975.
24.   ^ Eds. Jeremy Butterfield ... (2003). Collins English Dictionary. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0007109830.
25.   ^ Ward, Ian (1985). "Secondhand Supercars". London Motor Show "Motorfair 1985" Official Catalogue.
26.   ^ McCosh, Dan (June 1994). "Emerging Technologies for the Supercar". Popular Science 244 (6): 95–100. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
27.   ^ a b Eisenstien, Paul (June 2000). "80 mpg". Popular Mechanics 177 (6): 88–91.
28.   ^ Fuhs, Allen E. (2008). Hybrid vehicles and the future of personal transportation. CRC Press. p. 10. ISBN 9781420075342. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
(END WIKIPEDIA – note that some specific references – namely to US Supercars like the American Motors SC Rambler, and a 1990's US government program called PNGV that developed super efficient cars - have been removed for the sake of relevance and brevity)  

So now let's brush up our Shakespeare and throw down the gauntlet to the effete snobs across the pond at CAR magazine.Here is my email to Great Britain’s CAR magazine...

Hello Ms. Harrison,
Thanks for responding. Let me clarify a few facts in hopes that we can find the issue of CAR wherein the term ‘super car’ is coined. The subject line of my email was taken from a Wikipedia definition of super car. Since we know anyone can tinker around with Wikipedia, here’s the part of the Wiki definition I’m talking about (in bold):

The phrase supercar did not become popular until much later and is said to have had its revival originated with British motor journalist L. J. K. Setright writing about the Lamborghini Miura in CAR in the mid-1960s. The magazine was originally launched in 1962 as Small Car and Mini Owner, and claims to have "coined the phrase".[8]
(End of Wiki quote)

I see in the CAR web page which is footnote (8) in the Wikipedia article, no mention is made specifically of LJK Setright actually ‘coining’ the word supercar. Instead the magazine itself is given credit. Here it is cut and pasted in bold:

The magazine has a history of innovation. We invented the group test, pioneered the drive story and coined the phrase 'supercar' – and all three remain staples of CAR. The magazine is also renowned for its photography, writing and design: in 2007, CAR won two top design awards and one of our writers recently won the UK's Journalist of the Year gong from the Guild of Motoring Writers. From LJK Setright to Gavin Green and Georg Kacher, ours are some of the world's most respected automotive journalists.

So the Wikipedia ‘assumption’ seems to be: Setright saw/drove/reported upon the Lamborghini Miura, and called it a ‘supercar’ at that time. 
As you can see, this is not specifically what the CAR website claims. In any case I ordered a Brooklands Books reprint of Lamborghini Miura road tests and this is what I found.

In the January 1967 CAR article “Riding the Wild One,” LJK Setright’s name doesn’t appear, but it could have been written by him, judging by the style. This article is actually not a road test, but a ‘ride along’ with New Zealand born Lamborghini tech Bob Wallace. No where does the word or phrase ‘super car’ appear. Also noteworthy with respect to Wikipedia, this first ride along story was published not in the ‘mid sixties’ but at the beginning at least of the ‘late sixties.’ Not a surprise considering that the Miura only debuted in March ’66 and the 1966 total production amounted to just two cars.

Then in the December 1967 issue of CAR, LJK Setright’s name appears prominently on the first page of a two part saga called “1000 miles in the Miura.” “LJK Setright gets to grips with the most exotic of ‘em all.” The story recounts a trip from the Lamborghini factory back to the UK where Setright shares the chore of driving a Miura (that had been purchased by a Briton) with a Lamborghini sales representative. The events unfold in September of ’67, again very much in the ‘late sixties.’ There are plenty of words in this two part story, the second of which is printed in the January 1968 issue of CAR, but the words ‘super car’ aren’t among them.

It’s clear that the Wikipedia article on the word supercar is in error. The CAR website does not make the same specific claim as Wikipedia, though it does insist that CAR magazine ‘coined the term.’
So I’m now even more curious. If supercar was not coined by LJK Setright, and perhaps not even to describe the Lamborghini Miura, then when and where did CAR magazine ‘coin’ the term super car?

Robert Harless
Some final points for part one of this multi part blog on the Supercar kerfluffle:
I read the rest of the articles sourced from CAR magazine in the Brooklands road test reprint series “Lamborghini 1964-1970” and never saw the word “Supercar” mentioned once, by anyone from CAR. Even as late as November ’70, in a road test contrasting the Miura with a Ferrari Dino, the Miura is referred to as a “GT car” or “sports car” but never "Supercar."

That’s not to say the word “Supercar” can’t be found in the Brooklands Lamborghini road tests. The word appears in a Car and Driver March 1966 review of the first Lamborghini, the conventional front engine 350GT. C&D said “It (350GT) runs the quarter (mile) like one of our (my bold) Super Cars…” 

In this case the meaning of “Super Cars” (C&D tended to turn Car Life’s coinage of the word Supercar into a phrase “Super Car”) is easy to discern, since in the very same issue of Car and Driver there was special report called “6 Super Cars!” all of which were in the Car Life mold: Pontiac GTO, Buick Skylark GS, Oldsmobile 442, Chevelle SS396, Ford Fairlane GTA and Mercury Cyclone GT. 

“Bu…bu…but what about ‘muscle cars!’ ‘Everybody knows’ (the naïve might say) that the Pontiac GTO and its many imitators were ‘muscle cars!’”
Patience is a virtue! We will plumb the depths of this vitally important question in the next edition of “Elvisceral Appeal.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wishful Retrodiction



noun: Using present information to make an assertion about the past; an instance of such an assertion.

From Latin retro- (back) + dicere (to say). Ultimately from the Indo-European root deik- (to show, to pronounce solemnly), which is also the source of judge, verdict, vendetta, revenge, indicate, dictate, and paradigm. Earliest documented use: 1895.

"Dan Gardner, for all his concern about prediction, has no qualms about retrodiction, even of the distant, unknowable past."
Kathryn Schulz; What Lies Ahead?; The New York Times; Mar 27, 2011.

Thanks to Anu Garg at Word-a-day for this little gem.

As a lover of ‘supercars’* of the sixties and seventies, I have spent nearly twenty years thumbing through old magazines, working my way through microfiche (remember that? Hint: it’s at the library…remember those?) and tracking down every scan of a supercar road test some charitable soul has posted on the web. I don’t have a PhD in historiography, but one can’t help absorbing, just by osmosis, the zeitgeist of the late sixties and seventies era, and also to make some conclusions about the more vexing and specious tropes employed to describe the past.  Before I get into my problems with current ‘retrodiction’ of this era, let me list some general pet peeves.

“Ahhh, the past – it was a more innocent era.”

Really? I suppose this is an instance of a person projecting onto history the learning curve of his own personal development. It’s as if to say “I was just a small boy in 1972, and that year happened to reflect my innocence at the time.” This is particularly laughable when speaking about the late 1960’s, which by any measure were exceedingly tumultuous. Yet I think there is an even greater gulf between reality and perception with respect to the 1950’s. Gary Powers is the perfect example of the moral ambiguity, perhaps even amorality of the era. He was flying a CIA U-2 spy plane over the USSR and got shot down in 1960 by a Soviet missile expressly designed to target the high flying (70,000 ft) U-2. The US had denied it was even flying over Soviet airspace because it was essentially an act of war, so the U-2 pilots were given cyanide pills and told to take them if they were ever in danger of imminent capture. Powers not only failed to set the U-2’s self destruct sequence, allowing the ‘weather plane’ (as the Eisenhower administration cover story had it) to fall into enemy hands in relatively complete form, but Powers also failed to take the cyanide, which resulted in a drawn out show trial and allowed Soviet officials to humiliate Eisenhower for having lied about the plane and its purpose. What about this story sounds ‘innocent’ to you? Oh, and one more thing: Joseph McCarthy.

“People were, like, totally clueless in the past.”

The innocence becomes a kind of credulousness. Whenever we say that past eras were innocent or stupid, you can pretty much rack that up to projection. Anyone who has ever read Vance Packard’s “Hidden Persauders” (emblematic of the generalized hostility and paranoia to ‘big business’ in the 1950’s) would only have to conclude that it’s actually OUR age that is clueless, credulous and naïve about corporate power.  (Apple computers are sooooo cooool!) And the irony of ironies is that we have much more to be worried about, particularly post ‘Citizens United’ than our cynical and suspicious grandparents did fifty years ago.

“We discovered a lot of secrets that people in the past were too ‘uptight’ and repressed to know about.”  

This applies to boomers and Gen Xers in particular. Since I’ve delved more deeply into pre-WWII music, it just grates on my nerves. It applies to music and sex, namely that baby boomers somehow discovered the existence of both. Authors like Greil Marcus have helped propagate this myth of a ‘crossroads’ with Robert Johnson selling his soul to The Devil in return for the mythical R&B. The only problem was that the crossroads was crossed by Scott Joplin in the 1890’s. To those who believe ‘parking’ or riding in cars with boys was a boomer phenomenon, well, here’s a little ditty from 1905, called “Merry Oldsmobile.”

They love to "spark" in the dark old park As they go flying along She says she knows why the motor goes The "sparker" is awfully strong…  
You get the idea.

And to boomers who think they discovered black people and their sexy, sexy music, there’s this…

Ragtime might have been percolating throughout the black ghettos since the mid-1890s, but the style's first million-seller was achieved by Irving Berlin, with his 1911 hit 'Alexander's Ragtime Band.' It took a white man to really sell black music, as previously subterranean styles hit the mainstream as exploitable crazes. That was the deal: the new method of exchange.

"Ragtime's crossover success excited unfavorable comment, not the least because of its appeal to youth. The Musical American thought that ragtime was like an addictive drug. In 1913, the Musical Courier stated that America was 'falling prey to the collective soul of the Negro through the influence of what is popularly known as 'rag time' music.' This was nothing less than 'a national disaster,' as ragtime was 'symbolic of the primitive morality and perceptible moral limitations of the Negro type. With the latter sexual restraint is almost unknown, and the wildest latitude of moral uncertainty is conceded.'
"But it was too late as, in defiance of the reformers and the legislators, thousands of American youths continued to throng the dance halls every night of the week."

Author: Jon Savage   
Title: Teenage
Publisher: Viking
Date: Copyright 2007 by Jon Savage

Now let’s begin to unpack the “retrodiction” trope.

This goes by another name, I’ll call “Journalism Shorthand.” This one is harder to criticize as a vice. After all it’s a news brief. Not every story about the Gaza Strip can start out “In the late 19th century, a nationalist segment of European Jewry became enthralled to a movement called ‘Zionism.’”But clichés are currency when you only get 800 words and, to be fair, people think in clichés that are really canards (“The sun rises” is ultimately false – it’s the earth that turns). Specious automotive clichés abound in the press, partly because cars are complicated subject with endless arcane details.

A favorite, which has reached the ‘urban myth’ level, is the story of the Chevrolet “Nova” failing in Latin America because “No va” means “No go.” First of all, the car in question was actually simply called “Chevy” (as the American version first offered in 1962 was originally called “Chevy II”) - Nova was, at first, just a trim package – and besides it was a sales success, not a failure. The analogy in English could be a dinette set called “Notables” failing to sell since after all, it could mean “No tables.”  

But a more insidious journalism cliché and example of retrodiction in the automotive arena goes something like this…

“In the 1970’s, domestic car makers failed to meet the demand for smaller cars in response to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. As a result, Japanese cars started becoming more and more popular and American cars lost market share.”


This is a popular theory - really an article of faith - among left leaning, green oriented writers and publications because the underlying ‘natural’ forces prove larger points about the US car buying populace: these virtuous Yankees were demanding small cheap and thrifty cars and foolish, US carmakers with their feet of clay kept foisting decadent luxury barges on basically good people. The second case of wishful thinking is that government Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, established in 1975, actually helped the hapless Detroit three by forcing them to "make the cars people actually wanted."

Many people, not just the left leaning, have come to accept this as a cornerstone of the US auto story, but literally all of the elements of the story are false. Firstly, the US makers began offering ‘compact’ cars in the early sixties and these were overtly in response to the German made Volkswagen Beetle. The first and most radical attempt, the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair, was blatantly modeled on the Volkswagen, even down to the air cooled rear mounted engine. Of course this was the car attacked by Ralph Nader in “Unsafe at Any Speed.” But then the aforementioned Chevy II, a more conventional design, arrived soon after. Besides, the Corvair actually was popular and sold quite well. Ironically sales fell off after 1965, when Chevrolet fixed the rear axle camber issue. All of the big three got in on the ‘compact’ car act. Ford had its popular Falcon and Plymouth had its Valiant. In fact, these compact cars became very popular and later sporting models, the Plymouth Barracuda and Ford Mustang were simply more stylish, coupe versions of the Valiant and Falcon.

By 1971 new “subcompact” models were offered in response to Japanese cars, namely the Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega. These models sold quite well, despite their ignominious reputations today. Chrysler’s bailout notwithstanding, the big three Detroit makers actually held on to market share in the '70s. By 1980 GM still had a whopping 46% of market share – nearly one out of every two cars sold was a GM – basically the same share GM enjoyed from the post war years hitherto. In fact, GM had to restrain its own sales to maintain a market share just below 50% all through the 1960s, fearing that the Justice Department would slice top selling Chevrolet away from GM as a result of anti-trust action.

NHTSA’s CAFE didn’t really have teeth until 1978, when it started handing out fines to car makers who didn’t make the average. So it was actually in the 1980's, as CAFE standards forced large Detroit cars to get smaller, that Detroit’s share of the market gradually dwindled. Ironically, in this same period Japanese cars became gradually larger and more powerful as they gained market share. So much so that by 1990, Toyota and Nissan offered their new luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti, both of which featured new ‘flagship’ - wait for it…V8 engine luxury cars.

So the real story about Detroit’s downfall in market share is precisely the opposite of the ‘virtuous consumer’ story favored by the likes of Tom Friedman and the New York Times. As Detroit cars got smaller and thriftier, they lost market share, and that market share was taken by Japanese cars which were getting larger and larger – so much so that the one-time ‘compact’ Honda Accord grew literally into today's ‘full size car’ according to the US EPA passenger volume index.

Yet looking back from the 21st Century in the spirit of retrodiction, liberals see a contemporary US auto industry that’s not doing very well, and a Japanese auto industry that seems to have thrived, and they picture a diminutive 1976 Toyota Corolla being embraced and a voluptuous Chevrolet Monte Carlo kicked to the curb by John Q. Virtuous Consumer. Add in a good natured NHSTA CAFE regime that really just wanted to help Detroit kick its bad habits, and you’ve got a perfectly specious, remarkably robust narrative of ‘redemption’ that does a lot of heavy lifting in a lot of newspaper articles.

I don’t mean to inveigh against government regulation, Japanese cars or Tom Friedman for that matter. All three have their virtues. I consider myself one of those ‘left of center’ writers in fact. The point is, to paraphrase Henry Ford, newspaper articles are mostly bunk. An interesting lie ("No Va… stupid GM! haha!") can race around the world in minutes while a boring truth (big, fuel guzzling cars are more profitable for Japan and Detroit alike) is still struggling out of the gate. 

This is simply a matter of intellectual hygiene for anyone in the ‘reality based community’ to which liberals believe they belong. If we are bound by the world as it is and not the world as we wish it to be, we are obliged to look at things in the harsh sunlight without donning rose colored sunglasses.

*For the next example of automobile history retrodiction, and the next blog entry, I will be addressing the story of how the word “Super Car” was coined to name what we now, I would argue pejoratively, call the ‘musclecar.’ The picture here is a taste of the evidence.