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Posts Tagged ‘Tariffs’

1984 Honda Magna (VF700C or V42)

It’s a play on George Orwell’s dystopian 1949 novel 1984 — where the world in 1984 is under control of Big Brother and the Thought Police who enforced the rules against individuality and original thinking — essentially praising society’s achievement on the “Unification of Thoughts.

Taking a page from Apple’s Super Bowl ad, my “1984 wasn’t like 1984,” — thumbing my nose at the roots of America, I purchased a little slice of freedom and original thinking in the form of a Honda VF700C or V42 Magna.

That shiny jet black Honda Magna (V42) had a liquid-cooled, double-overhead cam 90° V4 engine (displacement is 699cc or 42.7 ci) with four valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 10.5:1.  Honda claimed it’s output was 82 crankshaft HP at 9,500 RPM.  The motorcycle had a smooth shifting 6-speed transmission, a wet multi-plate clutch that was hydraulically activated and shaft final drive with helical gearing in the rear-drive unit.  The motorcycle featured twin horns, coil rear springs, hydraulic clutch, air preload front fork with anti-dive valving, and an engine temperature gauge.

1984 Honda Magna (VF700C)Specs

Braking was delivered via a hydraulic activated double twin-piston disc brakes up front and a traditional non-ABS mechanical internal expanding drum brake in the rear. Great for leaving skid marks, but not so much for stopping!

The instrumentation was housed in chrome and included an analog speedometer, tachometer and engine coolant temperature gauge, along with lights for oil pressure, neutral, turn signals, tail light burn-out and a light that illuminated “OD” which let the rider know the transmission was in 6th gear.

As I reminisce on riding the Magna, I recall it having good power and a broad torque band.  Given its light weight and low center of gravity, the motorcycle was easy to ride in the city or a twisty two-lane country road. The Magna’s features were truly pushing the state-of-the-art for a production cruiser in its day.

From a historical viewpoint, only a few years had past since Harley-Davidson executed the epic buy back from AMF.  Their sales hadn’t reached the levels they envisioned, in part, because the AMF era was famous for shoddy quality, bikes requiring a lot of maintenance and the Milwaukee motor company was getting knocked down publicly and in need of some sunshine.

The poor quality and hi-maintenance requirements on Harley motorcycles was a key factor in my decision to purchase Honda.  In fact, a member of our posse also purchased a Honda, a V65 Magna (VF1100C) the same year.  Man, those V65 Magna’s (1,098 cc) were fast.  It was Honda’s initial entry in the “1/4 mile wars” between all the Japan manufacturers during the ’80s.

As Harley skidded toward bankruptcy, you might recall they petitioned and lobbied the Reagan administration in 1982 to raise tariffs on Japanese manufacturers because of “Dumping.”

“Dumping” in this context refers to exporting a product at a lower price than is charged in the home market, or selling at a price that is lower than the cost to produce it.  In April 1983, President Reagan signed into law an act that imposed draconian import tariffs for a five-year period on Japanese motorcycles with a displacement of greater than 700 cc.  This would give the sole American motorcycle maker some breathing room from intense competition to retool, get its act together and turn profitable.

However, Honda quickly responded to the retaliatory import duties and retooled the engines (what had been the 750cc class, VF750C V45 Magna) to displace just under 700cc; making them immune to the financial impact of the tariff.  One of the bikes that debuted as a “tariff buster” in 1984 was the V42 Magna.  Ironically and in a show of engineering superiority, it had three additional horsepower compared to the 750cc!

Harley was eventually able to turn a corner and the motor company ultimately requested that the tariff protection end early — essentially stating, they were now strong enough to take on the best competition in the world!

While the act was supposed to last for five years, then CEO Vaughn Beals asked that it be lifted a year early in 1987.  The 5-year tariff officially expired in 1988. That same year the Honda Magna reverted back to its original size of 748 cc.

Photos courtesy of Honda and Harley-Davidson Museum.

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Money Vault

Money Vault

I’m not an advocate for bailouts.  I think it means responsible people (like me!) will L-O-S-E and end up giving my hard earned money to gamblers, cheats and liars.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been paying your mortgage….it’s now YOUR job to pay for others lack of responsibility. 

It’s reckless and we need to shout out the windows that we’re “mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore“. 

I’m not a cynically deranged “motorcycle enthusiast” ranting revelations or some guy discussing male menopause on The View with Barbara Walters…but folks the BS resonates louder and sounds truer today than ever.  It’s really become crazy!

Can I now expect the federal government to bail me out of my poor stock investments, my poor choices in 401K mutual funds…it’s only fair

Harley-Davidson Ad

Harley-Davidson Ad

And I’d like a little more “chrome” money for the Harley so, how about bailing me out of my “cage” loan?  While you’re throwing around a few billion here and there, my school district wants to put a bond on my home (via property taxes) to help balance the bloated operating budget…could you bail them out too?  Better yet, can you bail me out of my job so that I can shine the chrome and just blog?

Somewhere today a child was born who will spend an academic career figuring out what the effects of the this bail-out week are and what in hind sight should have been done.

And speaking of stock.  A $100 investment in Harley-Davidson at the end of 1986 was worth $15,687 at the end of 2007.  For you mathematicians that means a $10k investment would have grown to be worth $1.569 million in twenty-one years!  Who would have predicted that in 1981 when execs at Harley HYPEN Davidson purchased the company from AMF it would be around for the 105th anniversary?

And did you see Harley-Davidson ask the government for a bailout?  No!  It’s true that in 1983 they requested and received additional tariffs on all Japanese motorcycles when it was determined they were “dumping” to buy market segment share.  President Reagan imposed the tariffs on motorcycles 700 cc or larger.  But, Harley petitioned the ITC for early termination of the five year tariff in 1987.  They succeeded as a private company with improved manufacturing and quality as a new image was formed.  Independent of any government bailout.

Instead of all this talk of tighter regulations by the sleazy politicians, which is clearly pissing in the wind, I say piss on the financial institution graves when they go under for their self-imposed mess.   While we’re at it let’s have a public hanging for the obscene payment of CEO’s who wrecked the companies they worked:

Washington Mutual – CEO Killinger exits package worth $23.5 million

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac – CEO’s Mudd and Syron combined exit packages worth $24 million

Merril Lynch – CEO O’Neal exit package worth $160 million

Countrywide Financial Corp – CEO Mozilo took home $120 million

Citigroup – CEO Prince got $39.5 million in stock, options, bonus and perks.

And if that doesn’t make you angry note that at:

Fannie Mae – CEO Mudd’s predecessor, Franklin Raines, received an annual pension of $1.37 million when he retired from Fannie in late 2004. Raines was also in line to receive $5.8 million in stock options and $8.7 million in deferred compensation to be paid through 2020, according to a U.S. regulatory filing.

Freddie Mac – Former CEO Chief Executive Leland Brendsel received a pay package of more than $50 million.

And both of these CEOs left their companies during a massive accounting scandal.  Yeah, we should all be happy about bail-outs.

It seems to me that most of these greedy, corrupt people don’t know the difference of oversees from oversights!

I need to ride…

Photos taken at and courtesy of HD Museum.

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