Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Project Acquisition - 1990 Mazda Miata

I can honestly say that until a certain person bought a $500 MX-5 and whacked the front windscreen off, I hadn't thought twice about owning one. To me, they seemed common and kinda wheezy and I'm more used to rare and wheezy I guess. It wasn't until today during lunch at the local spring and frame shop where I actually saw myself getting into one of these neo-classics. The common aspect would make finding parts on craigslist a breeze and how can you pass up a 2,100lb roadster with the reliability of a Protege? It's also easy to argue that the Miata is the Austin-Healey Sprite or MGB of the younger generation; a rite of passage into the world of sports car enthusiasm. Maybe now was the time. How it all happened below.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'm Back! A Statement of Intent...

I'm a little intimidated at the moment. I haven't posted in over a year and a lot has gone on, beater-wise. I've bought and sold several cars, fixed up a Morris Minor, built a garage, shipped a container from Australia, had a vehicle stolen, drove across Tasmania in a Charger, embarked on a restoration of my father's F-250, and lord knows what else. I've got a lot of stories that need to be jotted down and so I intend to do so with some more dedication and regularity. We shall see!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Marketplace Feature: Ford Sierra Ranchero

German ebay offers up a rare chopped into a pick-up ford Sierra complete with flared fenders and a "Cosworth" inspired body kit. While the USA had to make due with only the hatch-back Merkur XR4Ti, europe enjoyed a sedan, wagon, and 3 or 5 door hatches. Missing from Ford's line up was a car based pick-up. Seeing this absence, someone took matter into their own hands and crafted this european Ranchero. The plywood bed cover, homemade hood, and wolfs head decals have all the hallmarks of body work fuel by Jagermeister. If this could ever be driven on German streets is doubtful as Tüv vehicle inspectors will fail a car for rust holes bigger than a pencil and even small modifications require paperwork to prove the vehicle still conforms to safety standards. Without the tyranny of the Tüv, a 5-door Sierra isn't a bad candidate for camino-ization but this hack job looks like one slow mess.

ebay.de Now ended at 798 euros.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Local paper features my kart team, expectations completely unobtainable

Myself and fellow Detroit ex-pats Brian Rutkowski, Dushyant Wadivkar, and Fabian Hartwich will represent the Motor City at the 6 Hours of Sonneberg kart race this Sunday. The town near Thüringen closes the streets and throngs of spectators show up for the spectacle.

A team of foreigners is apparently newsworthy for the local paper which is cool. However the attention is entirely undeserved. We've all turned fast laps in cars but none of us are serious kart racers. If you'd like to follow team Detroit Motorcity, there's a live timing link on the race website at http://www.6h-sonneberg.de

The Lemans style start is 2pm European time Sunday.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Veteran Gearhead, Rookie Blogger

20 years ago, I looked a lot like the guy driving this '64 Spyder convertible.  Actually, 20 years ago I *was* the guy driving this '64 Spyder convertible.  That's my "never shoulda sold it" car, but I was young and dumb, with visions of wheel-to-wheel competition in my head, so the Spyder had to go.
I sold it to fund the build of a '69 500 into an SCCA Improved Touring road racer, but the 500 was a survivor, way too nice for ITA, so it became a very clean and lightly modified street car.   Problem was, it never satisfied me as a street car the way the Spyder did.  So I sold the 500 and bought a '65 Monza coupe that became my first Grassroots Motorsports Magazine $20xx Challenge car, back in 2002.  Soon after the '02 Challenge, my automotive ADHD kicked in, and I sold the '65 to make room for a '66 Monza convertible with a Crown Manufacturing mid-engine small block Chevy V8 conversion.   Lather, rinse, repeat, for 15 cars over the last 12 years.

Hi, my name is PC, and I've got a problem.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Beat on die Strasse: Beater Golf MkII

I don't mean to generalize, but as a whole Germans don't really get beaters. Bi-annual vehicle inspections and accepted norms of vehicular upkeep are effective at sending eye sores to the scrap heap or Eastern Europe. Despite the TÜV, this Mark II Golf proves at least one German knows the importance of petina.

Don't Be Gentle, it’s a Renault Megane Rental

One perk of my day job is travelling to warm test tracks during the colder months of the year. A trip to a semi-exotic location driving a late model rental car is my best opportunity to sample Beaters-to-be before the original owners drive them into a lake. At the rental desk, I express no vehicular preference. My fate lies in the hands of a friendly middle-aged Spanish woman holding a square piece of plastic that apparently unlocks and starts an almost new Renault Megane (apparently pronounce MAY-ghan) hatch back. My first time behind the wheel of a French car is about to begin.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Project Acquisition - '96 BMW M3

In my mind, the E36 M3 is an automotive right of passage for the grassroots enthusiast, similar to how an Alfa GTV or bugeye Sprite might have been in decades past. Perhaps it was a crime of opportunity or maybe my soul was being sucked dry by driving something as slow as a Rabbit Diesel Caddy every day but I have been lured into BMW M-cardome. The point in time arrived where an E36 M3 came around that I could actually afford, on offer from my brother, so I jumped on it. In a few short weeks, I will have a new conduit for irresponsible driving.

There were a couple caveats though; it couldn't be driven home as the rear trailing arm bushings were so bad that it corded brand new tires in 400 miles, the front end shook like it had tremors, and the interior and paint were ragged and sun-faded.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cherokee Cylinder Head Failure/Replacement

The universe has an interesting way of self regulation. This is manifests itself whenever I seem to be coming out ahead in my automotive endeavors. Case in point, I get an E36 M3 for a song and I get rewarded with cylinder head failure in my '97 Cherokee.

What started as a nearly undetectable misfire morphed into a coolant drinking, combustion-stifling dropped valve and cracked head after dragging the E36 back from Raleigh. As it turned out, the misfire was due to an intermittently sticking valve at low loads. As soon as the load was high enough to overcome the loss of compression through the valve, all cylinders ignited properly. However, if you drive in that misfire load range for a long, long time you may start to notice some other problems pop up. The valve itself was good enough to go on the wall of offerings to the Gods of Speed. There was some galling so bad on the side of the valve stem that it looked like it was made from aluminum.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beat on the Street - Lifted Wonder Wedge

One of the great side effects of living in a place devoid of tyrannical organizations like VicRoads or TUV to mandate roadworthiness is seeing vehicles like this hot, sweet angular mess.

Comprised of a Subaru XT (maybe an XT-6 given the 5 lug pattern - help me out XT fans) and a scrapyard's worth of angle iron and rectangular stock, this wedge is doing its best AMC Eagle impession.