Flags Across the Harvest #21October 15, 2020
By nature, I ponder many aspects of life, farming, and automobiles. I take objects for face value but eventually ask myself why things are the way they are.
For me, this has become an excellent learning tool since you force yourself to dig deeper and go beyond your comfort level of knowledge or understanding.
For others, my seemingly endless quest to understand why has led them to shun and, in some instances, physically run away from my stream of questions.
The constant query often makes them realize they may not be an expert on the subject as they want you to believe.
Please do not let this preamble draw a mental image of a pompous Ray — it is instead the contrary. I just need to understand things (especially those of a mechanical or agricultural nature) to a finite level. It is more an acknowledgment of my shortcomings than my pride.
As an aside to this, when you dig deeper, you come to see that most things that are proclaimed to be new really are not. If you go back far enough, everything was new at one time.
The label improved is probably more accurate in a mature society than new.
For example, a friend recently gifted me with the November 1958 issue of the long-defunct Mechanix Illustrated magazine. The literary home of a forgotten hero, Tom McCahill (that is a story for another day).
The issue is in excellent condition, except the cover is a little loose. As I gently turned the pages, I once again confirmed what I had known for years. There is not much new, and often, the old stuff was much more ingenious than what we are bombarded with today.
Solar energy is a hot topic now. There is even a solar-powered emergency radio on the market in case the electric goes out.
Incredible new technology, right? In that issue of the 1958 MI, a new product release for a solar-powered transistor radio had a small and discreet photovoltaic cell that charged a 4-volt mercury battery. It was to be offered in better department stores the following year.
The collector car and tractor market would be well served if they could still buy the advertised 6/12-volt battery.
It proudly proclaimed the engine automatically cranked on 12 volts but ran on 6 volts from the same battery with no driver involvement.
To accomplish that today we would need a cadre of microchips, advanced algorithms, and a $1,000.00 Windows-based control unit along with a band of lawyers.
The same holds true for women’s fashion. The politically incorrect for 2020 (but not for 1958) and scantily clad model MIMI, showed off a tool kit while wearing a pair of clear Lucite high heel sandals. Just like the ones my wife bought last spring. But when Charlotte showed me her find, she proclaimed that it was a hot, new style.
I will keep this information from her to maintain marital bliss.
A neighbor down the road recently purchased an old disc harrow and two bottom plow from me that I was never going to use. He has a small farm and raises meat rabbits. In friendship, he offered some rabbit meat, which I respectfully declined. I told him I never tasted rabbit, and he was quick to chime, “It tastes like chicken.” I do not know if that is true, but if it is, why not just eat chicken?
This mindset has pondered why car companies work so hard to reinvent a storied and respected nameplate such as Camaro, Mustang, Challenger, Charger, and brag about styling cues. Still, you often need to look deep to find them.
My question to Detroit Inc. is: Why not just take a 1967 Camaro or anything else and fit it with the modern safety equipment and build that instead of convincing the public that the new version has the “look” of the old car?
In every instance, I believe the original was much better looking, more purist in its size, and vastly more functional than the modern-day counterpart.
I know the excuse that it would be impossible to package all the electronics and safety equipment in a car the old pony entries’ size.
Then how does a Fiat 500 or a Smart ForTwo exist?
Another apology is that the modern engine will not fit, but that is pure bologna.
You would not have to go to many cruise nights to find an original pony car with the latest EFI engine transplanted under the hood along with the new style transmission.
Aerodynamics is the stumbling block, they then shout! Oh, an older Mustang is less aerodynamic than a modern F-150? I do not think so.
Just imagine the rush of customers to the showroom with checkbook in hand if Detroit turned out a true-to-form 1964 Mustang, 1967 Camaro, or a 1970 Challenger.
They can update the interior to integrate the airbags and side-impact requirements. Still, the body would be a carbon copy of the real McCoy. If the aftermarket can make a completely new body for these cars, why can’t the original manufacturer do the same?
The sad part is that hundreds of enthusiasts have integrated modern drivelines, and even ABS breaks into an older muscle car with exemplary results.
It would seem an easy task for a carmaker with the almost unlimited engineering prowess they have. It is hard to believe that a kid working in a barn can outdo a degreed engineering team.
By the time you read this, my Ford Fiesta will be a few rides away from hitting the 200,000-mile mark.
The reality is that I will need to replace it one day. I would love for it to be with a quintessential American pony car. Not the bloated, too big, and overweight versions that are currently on the market.
What do I know? I am only a poor dryland farmer from Catswamp Road!