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December 13, 2014


my current car, despite being a 2014 has none of that fun stuff. but my wife's Accord has all of it. the one that bugs me is the "YOU'RE GOING TO READ END THE CAR IN FRONT OF YOU" alarm, which seems to go off constantly. i think it's biased against Yankee drivers.

"Arod" or "A-Rod"? Pronunciation is everything.

Cleek: My assumption would be that this particular alarm is set for perpetual activation in North Carolina, where the majority of drivers - God bless 'em - although otherwise law-abiding and courteous seem to believe that driving in general is just NASCAR writ large, where "drafting" on the car in front of you is not only permissible, but a winning strategy.

One of the many ways to divide people into two distinct groups: some people routinely give names to their cars; other people just can't see why anyone would do that.

Cars we've owned/leased, by name, in chronological order:

The Beetle
The Bucket
The Zee
The Truck
The New Truck
The Jeep
Amber Fire
Little H
Little Go Peeps
Go Peeps

Forgot one -- also a Subaru -- El Feito. It goes right before LG.

The car's manual says my 2014 model has the alarm of which Cleek complains -- but I'll have to take the manual's word for it; I've never caused it to go off.

Pretty much everyone on my list is an adult.
Looking forward to giving:
Carr Valley (WI) blue cheese gift boxen
Olive Pit (CA) quart spiral-pack stuffed
Casa De Fruta (CA) dried fruit crate
Nueskes (WI) apple-smoked bacon
Miesfeld (WI) bratwurst

I'm spending the week between Christmas and New Year in northern Iowa, and I'm most looking forward to receiving a new pair of Sorel Caribou snow boots.

I'm currently driving an 8yo Dodge which is treating me well enough, though it's relatively technologically spare. I still regret not getting one with a manual transmission, though. And the one technical novelty it does have is not one aimed at benefiting the consumer, and makes my vision tint red just thinking about it - they stuck the battery in the wheel well, so while you can use the extended connection points to jump it or such, you pretty much need a mechanic to change it.

Not anticipating much in the way of gifts - I'll get what I get. The only thing I can predict with confidence is some indeterminate amount of tea, which will be well-intentioned but not up to my excruciating, rarefied tastes. Fortunately, I'm not picky about what tea I drink, just what I like. I'm actually more looking forward to the gifts to be given rather than gotten this year, but the one that I'm keenest on is also the one that concerns me most for delivery - it's an angora scarf for a close friend, and while there's still time to finish it, I'm neither a fast knitter nor one who's good at keeping focused, and I've barely started the thing...

I feel like a real stick-in-the-mud, reading Model62 and having only ever had 4 cars:
- Mazda RX-7
- Dodge Caravan
- Plymouth Voyager
- Honda CR-V (because Dodge/Plymouth revised their read door mechanism, so there was no longer adequate head room in the driver's seat)
Average life span: 10 years+

The latter has only 115,000 on it, so it should be good for a few more years.

Not for me but for the 3 and 5 year old boys.


Ok kinda sorta for me.

Gifts given (or on their way): brother - books; sister - book + CD; brother-in-law - book; son - books; daughter in law - books; grandchildren - books; daughter - CD; son-in-law - game (currently out of stock); various nephews & nieces - books; etc.

Are you sensing a theme here?

(Titles available on request.)

Ugh --

Those are a wonderful toy.

A year or two further along,
my kid had enormous fun with these:

Currently NOT driving the '98 Olds 88 I usually commute to work in, as the brakes went out Friday morning, thankfully in the driveway, not on the expressway. So it's in the garage.

Fortunately, my wife's 10 year old Trailblazer is in working order, and she's on Christmas break from college.

Owned a new car, a couple of times, once a Geo Storm, then a Tracker. Yes, that long period when the car is reliable is nice, and if we can just nurse the Olds along until the payments on the used Trailblazer are done, we might experience it again. But I'll keep the Olds to tinker with, it's got a nice engine.

I was thinking of becoming an Uber wage slave using this car, but they're hard to find.

Juche! And merry Christmas to all.

We have a 7-year-old Prius and an 11-year-old Honda Pilot. Thinking about getting a beater truck for hauling, but my wife wants one that she can drive. That probably eliminates the various column shift options.

I saw an old Ford with a 300 cid straight six in it, which is probably the most reliable and sturdy engine that Ford ever made, even if it doesn't deliver any surplusage of power. But it had a column shift, IIRC.

We may have to go 4WD because of where we live.

from the "cars are too smart for their own good nowadays" file:

just had to charge my wife's Honda Insight.

for some reason, you cannot put the car in neutral if the battery is dead.

whiskey tango foxtrot.

where "drafting" on the car in front of you is not only permissible, but a winning strategy

i can honestly say i don't do that. and it annoys me when people do it to me.

it goes off for me because i, apparently, don't slow down fast enough when the driver in front of me slows.

Of course not, russell. The shift, like everything else, is controlled by a computer chip. Which doesn't work without power. It's a feature! ;-)

Granted, they ought to provide a way to slot in a little dry cell or something, just for the shift, in case of need. Not doubt they can fix that in the next version.

I drive a Buick Century. 9 years old this year. I have had a Century for almost 20 years. I am actually looking for a lower mileage one in case mine breaks down. no name, no Christmas presents

I drive a Buick Century.

old school!

I was thinking about this while driving my wife's car around to recharge the battery.

My favorite cars that I have owned:

'73 BMW 2002
'82 BMW 320i, and yeah I know it's the crappy BMW but it was still a really fun car

But the all time favorite:

'94 Honda Civic DX with an Integra motor and drive train dropped in. It was fun to smoke 4 liter Mustangs at red lights and still get 30 mpg.

Plus I could fit my whole drum kit in the hatch.

No AC, no power anything. If you wanted to unlock the car, you put a key in the lock and turned it. If you wanted the windows down, you turned the crank.


Sold that car to a Brazilian kid who wanted to build it up for racing. Wish I still had it.

Drafting behind a car is rude and not very effective, however drafting 20 feet behind a Greyhound Express will double your MPG on the freeway, so says my on-board fuel-economy meter.
Now that is one gizmo that I have found handy.
Not being able to just push start a car when needed sound nuts to me.

"but my wife wants one that she can drive. That probably eliminates the various column shift options."

Yeah, my wife's aversion to stick shifts really narrowed our options for good affordable used cars. That 2006 Sebring touring convertible I had to pass up would have been sweet, especially with the Blueridge Parkway not far away.

My father, and I as a young adult, bought Buicks. As a teenager, I put a lot of miles on a 1953 Buick Century straight eight. The engine was sufficiently low compression that you could get away with driving it without mufflers.

I think we owe Dr S a big vote of thanks.

We've spent almost two days discussing a subject where we clearly all have very strong opinions. Yet politics has never raised its nasty head once, and everybody has remained entirely civil. It has been a nice change of pace.

'73 BMW 2002

More than ever, I want to be russell. I love those cars.

Speaking of surprise cars, I have a friend who owns a Mini Cooper with a fairly high-output VTEC engine shoehorned in the engine bay. I have another friend that built himself a circa-1995 Lexus sedan that has very little in the way of external clues that he has 750hp (on street gas, no less) of twin-turbocharged 3-liter engine under the hood. On slicks and racing fuel he can do right around 10 seconds flat in the quarter mile; probably could do better with some practice.

I have never owned a really fast car, but my high school '70 Skylark had surprising get up and go.

Cars I miss for no good reason: my slightly enhanced 1973 Volvo 142, which tended to surprise BMW 3-series drivers, and my also slightly enhanced 1980 RX7, which was just a fun ride.

1982 RX-7 was the most fun I ever had in a vehicle. The car would absolutely go where you pointed the wheels, but sometimes it went there sideways.

Owned it for 13 years, put almost two hundred thousand miles on it. Would still own it today if those damned rotor tip seals weren't so expensive to replace.

Usually the tip seals take the coating off the rotor housings when they go out, so: it's basically new engine time. The rotor housings are aluminum alloy with a coating of something hard (chrome?) that peels off with disturbing ease. Once that happens, the aluminum abrades rather quickly out of tolerance.

I thought for a long time that rotaries should be sealed engines, because they hardly ever went bad internally, other than catastrophically.

It's easy to bore a new, slightly larger cylindrical hole in a cast-iron block. It's much harder to machine a slightly larger epitrochoid shape than the housing came with from the factory.

Considering how rare they were, is it not a bit surprising that we have such a big fraction of the folks here who had RX-7s? That must mean something....

I think it means that several of us were young with a bit of disposable income at a time when the RX/7 was a reasonably-priced ravishingly-styled car tht was tremendous fun to drive.

I still miss it.
I could get on an entrance ramp in the bottom of second gear and tromp it and do the entering-hyperspace thing as the rotary wound up to five thousand RPM.

Possible. Although I was guessing that it meant that a lot of us were engineers. It seems like the idea of the rotary engine would appeal. (And engineers were more likely to be getting a station wagon. As opposed to one of the other rotary-engine cars that Mazda was selling at the time, which were more sporty.) But perhaps not.

I bought an RX-7 because it was fairly cheap.

I think it had been whacked, at some point. Fresh paint, some poorly-fitting parts, and a few other clues. But it drove straight, and the engine was good. I had to do a few things to it to get it running right, but some new shocks and bushings, plus a replacement of the exhaust afterburner with a heavy-gauge steel exhaust system, including a couple of mufflers, resulted in a car that handled a LOT better than stock, and had about 20% more horsepower.

I had intended to modify it to over 200hp, naturally aspirated, but the ex got that car in the divorce.

Shortly after, the old oil-injection lines cracked and broke, and so the oil-injection failed and the engine (which is essentially a 2-cycle) failed catastrophically in a manner I described upthread: the rotor tip seals tore off the hard coating on the rotor housings, and it subsequently failed to keep compression and therefore run.

Racing Beat, where I used to get my parts and such, sells a 1000hp 3-rotor 13G engine, turbocharged, that puts out something like 1000hp, at a cost of more than I spent on my first house. But it's a race engine, and probably not your best choice for a sleeper/daily driver.

My 2010 Honda Fit was my first new car. It's remarkable how trouble-free it's been; it's on its second set of brakes, and at some point one of the fog lights got busted out (the daytime running lights make fog lights superfluous anyway), but it otherwise drives like new, and it's just a great car. Turns on a dime, and my daughter insists it is bigger on the inside like a TARDIS. I intend to drive it until it won't run any more.

It was also my first car ever to have ABS brakes, which are a remarkable and possibly lifesaving thing. The old Nissan Sentra I'd been driving before would lock its brakes and go sliding in anything other than perfect road conditions unless you used them really carefully.

My first car was a '63 Rambler Classic 550 with 3 on the column.
I purchased it for $200 when I was 17. Still the best car I have owned.
It was comfortable, very reliable and the front bench seat folded back to meet the back seat turning it into a queen sized bed on wheels.
What more could a 17 year old boy need?
I thank Mitt's Dad for the design of that car.

I almost bought an RX-7, and the rotary engine was definitely part of the appeal. I, too, am an engineer.

I ended up with what was, at the time, a very minty, 6-year-old 1988 300ZX. I likeded it muchly.

Does anyone here literally dream of their old cars? It occasionally drive the 1980 280ZX I had in college in my dreams. It's been 20 years since I owned that car.

It or I, whichever...

My first car, 1960 Ford Falcon. $50. I carried a long screwdriver for when then linkages got crossed. It slowly lost gears also. It was great to work on, the straight six left almost enough room on either side to stand in. After driving it for two years, the last few months I had to make sure I parked it right since reverse was gone, I sold it to my cousin, $50.

I too wanted an RX-7 and the Wankel engine was a part of the appeal (I was thinking of becoming an engineer). The best I could afford at that time was a junked '62 MGA purchased for $150 plus a Rolex watch a friend thew to close the deal. As to the fun of driving that was the best car I have ever owned.

I really owned only one fancy car, I leased it for two years, an 85? 190E, the first year they put in ABS, we would race I195, onto 140, and off our exit, standing on the abs to make the curve on the exit. It was terrifying and the most fun I ever had driving a car. Including when we raced the farm roads in Texas. The first repair I had to pay for was a new catalytic converter. It was $6000, I traded it in for a Sentra instead of fixing it. The Sentra was $7000.

Does anyone here literally dream of their old cars?

The Beetle I mentioned, yeah. In my dreams it always devolves into a bicycle-pedal-powered-VW, and I'm in it trying to climb up the east side of the Sierras.

The Liquid Piston rotary engine is somewhat of a design inverse of a Wankel engine.

I owned a Saab Sonett (spelling is correct) for a few years in the 70's. Weird car. Two-seater, neon red, fberglass body, V-4 engine, front-wheel drive. I once had what should have been a minor fender-bender and the body just broke. It didn't dent, it broke and had to be replaced.

The car could be set to "free-wheel," which means go into neutral when you take your foot off the gas. I once averaged about 50 mpg on a road trip (not through the mountains). Aside from the obvious risks of driving around in an eggshell, neither the horn nor the speedometer worked reliably. Still, it was fun.

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