Thursday, February 9, 2012

LIVE from Kissimmee: Thursday, 11:16 pm

We had a pretty full night at the Mecum Auto Auction with 400 cars crossing the block along with bad sausage and ripped jeans.

The morning started with our usual production meeting, after which we had a catered breakfast. Our meals are usually pretty decent, but today's chicken sausage was questionable at best. When I asked if he thought any actual chicken was in these sausage links, Bill Stephens responded, "I'm sure that no animals were harmed during the production of this meat." We laughed and ate it anyway.

They also served cheese omelets, but neither the eggs nor the cheese were real. They actually tasted pretty good, but I'm a stickler for real cheese made from raw milk and actual eggs. You know... the kind that come in a round, white shell. However, I must confess that their potato patties were righteous. So much for breakfast.

We had some killer deals cross the block on today's show. The buy of the night was a 1970 Mustang Mach I 351 that went for $27,500. It was in grabber blue with less than 30,000 miles on the clock, and was truly one of the finest restorations we've seen so far. It had a 4-speed Toploader and a huge Hurst shifter. Someone walked away with a great deal on that Mustang.

We had an interesting conversation on the air yesterday about the potential for 1,000 horsepower cars that get 60 miles per gallon. Does that sound impossible? It's probably not, but then again, we'll never know.

In the 1960's the horsepower ratings jumped from an average of less than 250 hp for the average coupe to a high of 450 hp. The horsepower jump was so extreme that manufacturers had to lie about the ratings in order to fend off bureaucratic regulators and insurance companies... the sworn enemies of the automobiles that we love.

Thanks to overzealous government regulators, horsepower had crashed to 1940's levels by the mid-70s and would not recover for 20 years. What could auto designers have achieved had they been left alone?

Mileage is even worse. As journalist Eric Peters has pointed out, in 1980 you could get a VW Rabbit diesel to produce over 55 mpg on the highway. And that was with 1980's technology and no overdrive.

Today, after tidal waves of government regulation, we can barely squeeze 43 mpg out of a puny hybrid whose batteries rely on much of the same technology that dates to the early 20th century. So much for progress.

The simple fact is that government interference in the industry has set back automotive progress by at least 30 years. If it weren't for the constantly increasing burden of regulations on car makers, we could very possibly be choosing which 1,000 horsepower car we wanted... the one that gets 57 mpg or the GT version that only gets 48.

And America would have more car makers than it has fast food chains. But that's another story.

On to auto racing. Got an email from my car owner tonight. We're working on having the car wrapped, and I missed a team meeting in Virginia this week that I have to catch up on. The Super Cup Stock Car Series season starts in Columbus, Ohio on April 28th and I'm looking forward to it. I'll blog on each race throughout the year.

My final adventure of the night came when I returned to the dressing room after the show to find a rip in my Old Navy bluejeans.


Bill was kind enough to drop me off at a Kissimmee Target store at 10 pm, where a limited inventory compelled me to settle for a pair of relaxed fit Wranglers.

Have a great night. See you live on Velocity at 2 pm eastern on Friday.

Stephen Cox
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auction, Velocity channel
#21 Packs Racing/Boschett/McGunegill Engines Chevy 

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