Archive for July, 2009

Hey! This is serious. (1st-Person Shooter Disease)

I feel for these guys.  I really do 😦

My Vehicle History… a visual walkthrough

For whatever reason, I began thinking about all the vehicles I’ve owned since learning to drive almost 20 years ago… and there have been plenty!  Two wheelers, four wheelers, awesome ones, lame ones, and most everything in-between.

Wanna see the progression?  Feel free to scroll down and follow along…

HONDA ELITE 150 DELUXE (Nickname: The Foxmobile)

HondaElite My very first ride was a hand-me down Honda scooter.  It wasn’t just any scooter, mind you, it was the ‘Honda Elite 150 Deluxe’!  This sucker was so futuristic looking in its day, and really still does.  “Spacey” – like something out of a bad sci-fi film.  The “150”, of course, denoted the displacement of the sweet, 1-cylinder engine.  What a powerhouse!  The “deluxe” was in reference to the awesome pop-up headlight (where have all those gone?!), the digital speedometer, and, uhhh… that’s about it.

Sporting a top speed of just about 63mph (tail wind, downhill), it wasn’t really enough to get me into trouble – especially since I was a brand-new, 16-year-old driver.  I did take it on the freeway a few times, which proved to be both dumb and extremely frightening.  I could take a passenger with me, but at the expense of about 10mph top speed.  It was pretty hilarious to honk at ‘the ladies’ when I would have a passenger with me.  How enticing is it to see two big guys crammed onto a tiny scooter?

Notable Memory: While giving the ol’ ride a good scrub down, I decided to Armor All the seat and make it look supremely-awesome.  Guess how the first corner felt when I took it for a spin?  Wheeee!  Sliding around on the seat of a two-wheeled vehicle isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.  It also dawned on me that I had Armor All’ed the tires.  So dumb… 😦

Eventually, I got into a small fender-bender, broke the grill, and sold it off to a friend of a friend for a few hundred bucks.

YAMAHA MAXIM 550 (Nickname: The Village Cruiser)

My second vehicle was a Yamaha Maxim 550.  A sleek, black machine that was miles ahead of the Honda scooter I’d been used to.  My brother was driving a Yamaha 650 Special at the time, so I wanted a black Yamaha motorcycle as well – and I got one.  In fact, a lot of my vehicle purchases over the years really paralleled what my brother was driving.  I guess it’s the “look up to your brother” syndrome that so many kids face.  It’s funny, actually, because the Maxim didn’t really look a whole lot like my brother’s bike, but “close enough for government work”, as they say!  (I love that phrase.)  It needed a little bit of love and elbow grease to begin with, but otherwise shined up well and impressed my friends.  I had a real-deal motorcycle!  Man… I was cool.

maximSide note… I come from a motorcycling family.  My great-grandfather rode, my grandpa rode, and my dad handed down the “disease” as well.  I remember him having a Suzuki GS750 for years!  Nasty lookin’ bike, but whatever it takes to get out on the road, ya know?  Both my brothers had motorcycles as their “first vehicle”, so it wasn’t strange for me to follow suit.  The scooter hardly counted, so the Yamaha Maxim finally brought me ‘into the club’.

I’m guessing that I didn’t have this bike for that long, because my memories of it are fairly limited.  We had a nickname, I’m sure, but I can’t remember it.  What I do remember is that this baby could haul butt, if you wanted it too, and passengers were no longer a problem.  The rear seat was stepped up a tad, which can be unnerving for inexperienced passengers, but otherwise pretty comfy.

The name?  Well… my buddies and I used to frequent the Value Village quite often, so this motorcycle was thusly dubbed “The Village Cruiser” 🙂

Notable Memory:  Since I passed my first motorcycle test on a Honda 150, I was only endorsed to ride bikes with smaller engines.  That’s how it works.  When I got the Yamaha 550, then, I had to retake the driving test to get my endorsement for higher displacement engines.  Truth be told, I failed my first attempt (downed it!), but vowed to take it again a week later!  I drove myself (on my motorcycle… I know, I know) to the testing place every day and practiced with pop cans as cones.  Needless to say, I passed that sucker with flying colors the following Saturday!  Awesome.

If my memory serves, I ended up selling that bike to my friend, Jon.  It was a good machine and served me well.

YAMAHA 750 SPECIAL (Nickname: Reggie)

So… my third vehicle came onto the scene as I entered my college years.  After selling the Yamaha 550, I was on the hunt for an even more awesome riding machine.  An ad in the local paper brought my friend and me down to a public storage facility where some guy had been housing his red Yamaha 750 Special.  Remember how my brother was driving a Yamaha 650 Special?  Well, I wanted something similar… and here it was.  In retrospect, I never should have purchased this bike.  It had a hole in the left-hand exhaust pipe, the electric starter didn’t work, and it was generally a basket case.  Still, I tossed my inhibitions aside and purchased it.

2 The initial impressions weren’t very positive.  It stalled several times on the return trip, and I was fuming with anger by the time I arrived home.  I wanted to sue that guy for everything!  (Ahh, youth.)  After calming down, the guy gave me some pointers and I resigned myself to “just deal with it”.  Eventually I had a shop weld a metal patch over the tail pipe hole, I slapped some ‘non-ape hanger’ handle bars on there, and lived life.  In the back of my mind, though, was an insatiable desire to be rid of this motorcycle.  I loved the look of it, but not the “issues”.  I sold if off after a few months.

Notable Memory: One guy (with his brother in tow) came to look the bike over while I was trying to sell it.  I thought for sure that the “knowledgeable brother” would dismiss this lemon outright, but instead he gave it a thumbs up.  After a quick cash payment, the new owner (who didn’t ride, by the way) was ready to leave for home on his new, two-wheeled monster.  As he was heading from the curb, he dumped the bike on it’s side.  Gas began pouring from the air box, which was an issue I had failed to mention.  I made up some excuse and sent him on his way… just happy to be rid of the thing.

Not one of my shining moments. 😦

DODGE DART SWINGER (Nickname: The Gobstopper)

After the debacle with the Yamaha 750 Special, I decided to head toward the 4-wheeled vehicle route.  You know… doors, steering wheel, etc..  Once again, the local paper led me to a seller promising fame and fortune with my new dream ride.  This time, I was sitting in the seat of a bright blue ‘73 Dodge Dart Swinger.  The test drive went well, and my brother and mother (who tagged along) both gave me a thumbs up, so I went for it.  Thankfully, I jammed the key in the ignition before heading off to grab the cash.  My brother had to fix that while I was gone (thanks, bro!).

big_1973 Dodge Dart Swinger01 The Swinger received the name “The Gobstopper” pretty early on.  As you can see in the picture (not actually mine, but just like it), the color was a bright blue – very much like the blue Gobstopper candies.  The name was good, and it stuck.  It wasn’t just the color, though – everything about this car screamed for your attention:  white wall tires, idiot lights, bright white top vinyl, 30’ long hood, and a weight that was just shy of 18 tons.  Not quite, but it seemed that way.

Notable Memory: My friend and I were out cruising with my brother and his roommate.  Sunny day, nothing much to worry about, and it was time to get some chow.  We pull into the local drive-in burger joint and prepare to feast.  Upon backing into the parking spot (evidently that was really important to me), I heard a loud scrape that was obviously me hitting the curb.  Oops!  I pulled forward slightly and turned the car off.  As our lunch winded down, I started the Gob up once again. But what’s that LOUD noise?  Who is that?  Oh, dang… it’s me… with a newly formed hole in the muffler.  Dang.  It wasn’t a “cool, gruff, manly sound” like you might hope.  It sounded broken, which it was.  Getting home was a bit embarrassing.

Anyhow, this car had it all — including a now new muffler.  Power steering that was like UberEasy(TM) and could be driven with your pinky, if you wanted.  The stereo was sweet, mono AM-radio goodness.  The vinyl bench seats – front and back – let you cozy up right nice like.  The slant 6 engine had a good amount of power, and didn’t gulp gas like similar cars of that era.  It was the Swinger, man, and it was good.

Until the wife-to-be came in to the picture.

My wife and I still go ‘round about this conversation, but here’s how I remember it.  We’re talking about our future life together, where we’ll live, working conditions, etc., and I make some comment about the Gobstopper.  “I’m not driving that thing”, she says.  My heart drops.  Whatever the rest of the conversation was, one thing was clear: the Gob was gonna have to go.  A sad day indeed.  I sold it off to a pimply-faced teen co-worker who couldn’t have appreciated the real gem he was getting.

Oh, well.  I *did* get the girl 🙂

YAMAHA 750 STANDARD (Nickname: Glenn)

If anything good came from selling off the Gobstopper (ok… aside from the “wife” thing), it was that I found and purchased what would long be my favorite motorcycle.

After the Gobstopper found a new home, I was on the hunt for a new two-wheeled machine.  My wife-to-be already had a car, so a motorcycle was a welcome fit once again.  I found another Yamaha (see a trend?) east of the Seattle area, and it had a lot of what I was looking for: decent engine displacement, a rare “3 cylinder layout”,  low miles, good condition, and best of all… it was available!  I drove it home that afternoon.  In fact, I ended up taking that sucker to 105mph on the way home, which wasn’t in any way, shape or form very smart.

Actual Photo! “Glenn” (source of this nickname is thus far unknown), as it would later be named, cleaned up well.  Once again, the ape-hanger handlebars had to go.  The new, straighter bars worked great with bar-end mirrors – a very Brit look, which I loved.  It came with a nasty touring seat, which I promptly replaced.  Most notably, the stock 3-into-2 exhaust had been replaced with a (more sensible) 3-into-1 pipe that had been custom modded with a glass pack.  I kid you not.  The weld job was good enough that I really didn’t even notice it for quite some time, but it gave the bike a gutteral sound that most Japanese street bikes didn’t have at the time.  The pipes had a bit of surface rust, so I removed them and brought them to a local shop to be “aluminized”.  Essentially, the pipes were power-coated with aluminum, which, of course, doesn’t rust.  The downside?  Those suckers ended up a bright white color, which I didn’t expect.  I eventually used flat-black, high-temp barbecue paint to make them less noticeable, and it (mostly) did the trick.  It sounds ghetto, but looked pretty good, if you ask me.

Notable Memory: Shortly after getting the pipes back to a normal color, two of my good friends and I decided to take a road trip down the Washington coast.  I was riding the Yamaha 750, of course, and my buddies were riding a BMW 650 and Honda 400, respectively.  Somewhere along the way, we pulled off the road to get a bite to eat.  Whatever small town we were in had something going on, so we cut across a parking lot to beat the traffic.  As we pulled back out into the street, we noticed that everyone is driving pretty slowly – including the ice cream truck, fire engine, etc..  Not only that, but a bunch of people were waving from the curb!  Oh, man… we had popped ourselves smack dab into the middle of a parade!!  Rather than panic, we just played it up.  We stood on our foot pegs, waved to the crowd, and tried to act innocent.  We only stayed in the parade for a few blocks, but the memory lives on.  Classic stuff!

“Glenn” continued on as part of the family for nearly 11 years.  During that time, I put less than 10k on the odometer, and rarely had to do anything to keep it running – save for an occasional new battery, oil change, and tires.  It was a good machine.  When it came down to it, though, I was riding less and less.  My wife wasn’t very comfortable with the thought of me on a motorcycle any longer, and I had become the quintessential “fair-weather rider”.  I put him up for sale, and he sold very quickly.  Sadly, just a couple of months later, I noticed a very similar bike on Craigslist that “wasn’t running and needed major valve work”.  Could this be Glenn?  Indeed it was.  Made me kinda angry, to be honest – like I let a good friend down.

HONDA ACCORD

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Also shortly before getting married, my wife-to-be got into a little “fender bender” and we had to purchase her a new car.  Honda Accords were known to be reliable, so we purchased one.

Uhh.  Wow?

First of all, never shop for cars at night.  We went to check this car out one evening, and thoroughly missed a lot of the “finer” points of the vehicle – like the faded paint on the top, general lackluster exterior, and really how boring this vehicle was.  We more or less agreed to purchase the vehicle that evening (secured by a small down deposit), with a strong case of buyer’s remorse when we came to pick it up the next day.  Oh, well.  Live and learn.

Secondly, there really wasn’t anything wrong with the car, but there wasn’t anything to write home about either.  Burgundy, 4-doors, very little power, and nothing to distinguish it from a million other Accords on the road.

Notable Memory: Nothing.  Na-da.  Zip.

We sold that sucker.

DATSUN B210 WAGON

My brother and I have worked together at four different jobs thus far.  Seriously.  We’re 4 1/2 years apart in age, but we’ve always gotten along very well.  So far, that is 🙂

In one particular instance, I helped him get a job at the place where I was working.  Since we lived not too far from one another and were going to the same destination, it made sense to commute together.  Enter the faded-yellowNot my car.  Mine was a lot worse looking. Datsun B210 wagon, that I (somehow) procured for a paltry $50.  Oh, yeah.  Fifty.

While my wife was driving the (aforementioned) Honda Accord, my brother and I would cruise with real style in the B210 Wagon.  The picture I have here makes it look pretty sweet, in a retro sort of way, but that’s not an actual photo of the vehicle I owned.  Ours was a $50 piece of junk that was worth every penny.  Getting the vehicle started was a crap shoot, and keeping it running was even more so.

Notable Memory: We paid about $350 for a carb-rebuild service on that sucker.  Not only did the service not help whatsoever, it actually made the vehicle worse.  I protested, contested the charge (via our credit card company), and eventually they “fixed” their repair job.  Still, you can at best shine a pile of crap to a dull luster.

I think we sold it back to the original owner after a few months.  Pretty sad saga.

TOYOTA CAMRY

There’s nothing quite so classic as the hand-me down family car.  In this case, we ditched the Honda Accord and landed the light blue, 1985 Toyota Camry that my wife’s grandparents had just upgraded from.

camryThat’s right, we got their hand-me-down car.

What can be said about the ‘85 Camry that isn’t readily apparent by looking at the photo?  It was squarish, fairly small, ugly, and generally did what it was supposed to do.  It had some very strange things, too.  The gas gauge was… wacky.  It worked fine, mind you, but looked odd.  The ‘85 Camry also featured the straight-cut rear wheel wells, which are so popular with, err… ugly cars.

Notable Memory:  More of a quirk with this car, to be honest, but the Camry had a nasty habit of stalling on steep hills.  It stalled often, but not always.  We would get going on a hill and begin moving our heads back and forth (like a pigeon) as if we could give it the momentum it needed to keep going and get us up the hill.  Ahh, the memories.

To be fair, I can’t ding the Camry for too much.  It helped us bring home our first born child, and served us well during it’s tour of duty.  Eventually, though, we found something newer and better to take its place…

DODGE NEON

For some reason, we got a wild hare one Saturday and decided to go “car shopping”.  It was ‘used car shopping’, to be perfectly honest, and we weren’t even looking for something bigger, faster, or (particularly) more reliable.  The Toyota Camry did have the “stall” issue, so maybe we were making that into our “molehill” that needed to be conquered.  I don’t know.

So we end up at this Enterprise used car sale.  That’s right, not just a “used car”, but a “used rental car”.  In our minds, that meant ‘probably mostly freeway miles’ and, thus, a better vehicle.  Folks can reason away any decision they want to make.

98_dodge_neon One of the cars that hit our fancy (my fancy, actually… I don’t know why) was a 1998 Dodge Neon – in white.  They were relatively new at the time, and I liked the “cute” look of them.  Now that I type this out, it’s really a bit embarrassing.  What’s done is done, though.  We bought the car for too much money and drove it home.

In all fairness, I’m not sure that the Neon ever really had any issues that we had to repair.  Sure it was gutless, but it got us from A to B with relative ease.  It was the newest vehicle we had ever owned, so it felt pretty fancy to us.

That said, I doubt I’ll ever want to own a “white” car again.  It gets dirty and stays dirty.  Also, I’ve come to find out after the fact that the early Dodge Neons faired very poorly in crash tests.  That’s not cool.

No notable memories to speak of.  It served us well for a few years, and eventually made room for our first mini van.

CHEVY CITATION

Another family hand-me-down vehicle?  You betcha.  Coming from my wife’s other grandparents this time, the ‘82 Chevy Citation came into our family to be my day-to-day vehicle, and the story is pretty awesome.

You see, my wife’s grandmother had purchased this car brand-new in 1982.  When we bought it from her 19 years later, it had only 24,000 miles on the odometer.  I kid you not.  Just over 1,000 miles each year for its 19 year lifespan, thus far.  Although I was not too enthused with the “ghetto” factor of this car, I couldn’t deny the charm of such a low-mileage, unique, and well taken care of vehicle.  Plus, it was helping her grandmother out, since she needed the money.

Driving the Citation had a certain allure to it.  I both loved and loathed that car.  I always wanted to get it painted, add some fancy wheels, or do ANYTHING to make me not quite so embarrassed to be seen in it.  On the other hand, many of my friends thought it was awesome, and in those (rare) occasions, I felt pretty good.

Do not covet. The car itself held up quite well.  Based upon the “X-body platform” from GM, it actually had a number of siblings that looked/performed similarly, for whatever that’s worth.  Its “Iron Duke” 4 cylinder engine got pretty good gas mileage and was rock solid.  The car featured a state-of-the-art, 1982, vertically-mounted AM/FM radio, and could hold quite a bit of luggage, if you needed.  It was also quite unique, if that’s worth anything.

Notable Memory: Shortly after moving into our first house, I drove to downtown Seattle to retrieve my car.  On the way home, it stalled and began to run strangely for the remainder of the trip.  I took it to a repair shop which quoted my $700 for a carb rebuild.  Funny thing is… the Citation had a throttle-body setup, not a carb.  That’s one reason I hate most repair shops.  Anyhow, I struggled with that silly car for over a year in that condition – using two feet to drive at slow speeds, adding octane boosters (I thought it would help), and other voodoo-like rituals that ultimately did nothing.  When I finally wised-up and brought it to my mechanic friend, he replaced a $75 part that fixed it for good.  Geez… 😦

At around the 40,000 mile mark, we finally sold the car off to my co-worker’s son-in-law.  He also took my awesome sound system upgrade which featured a cigarette lighter power inverter, computer speakers (sub-woofer included), and a mini-jack plug for your favorite MP3 player.  It was totally ghetto, but actually sounded pretty good.  I think I won him over when I played Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” on the hi-fi system.  Who could resist that?

FORD AEROSTAR

Yet another hand-me-down car, but this time from my parents.  We scored the sweet-as-nectar ‘97 Ford Aerostar shortly after we moved into our first house.  They no longer needed the van, and we were quickly approaching the time for our third child to be born.  You can hate mini-vans all you like, but there just aren’t that many options for a family of five – especially if kid’s car seats are involved.

1FMCA11UXPZC14965-1 For those of you who aren’t “in the know”, the Aerostar van is based upon the Ford F-series truck chassis.  What does that mean?  It means that this van drives more like a truck than it does a car – complete with rear-wheel drive and spartan interiors.  Ugly as it was, the Aerostar was a welcome addition to our driveway – primarily because you could get kids (and groceries!) in and out without breaking your back.  It had truck-like gas mileage, which wasn’t great, and wasn’t nearly as schwanky as the competition.  Bucket seats?  Nah.  Fancy stereo?  Hardly.  Tinted windows?  Not on this baby.  It got us where we needed to go, though, and for that we’re thankful.  Besides, the price was right: free.

Notable Memory: On the way home from the hospital – shortly after our third child was born — our daughter decided to throw up.  Not “spit up”, mind you, but the real deal spew.  It went everywhere, and it was nasty.  It took months to get that smell out of the car.

So… we finally sold the Aerostar off to our friends.  They needed a car, and we were moving on to better pastures.

JEEP CHEROKEE CHIEF (Nickname: The Chief)

Hold the phone!  After we sold the Citation, but before we sold the Aerostar, the Cherokee Chief did reigneth in our driveway.  It was a very sweet ride, and one of the few vehicles I truly miss.

Sweet Chief!

Let’s back up, though.

I used to take morning walks around my neighborhood.  Fresh air, prayer time, exercise, and so on.  For months I passed this awesome Jeep Cherokee that was a lot like the one my folks had growing up – but more awesome.  Strangely, I never saw that thing move.  One day I mustered up the courage to leave a note on their door.  “Wanna sell you Jeep?  Call me.”  You get the picture.  A week later or so, the owner contacted me and we had a chit-chat.  As it turns out, this 1978 Jeep Cherokee Chief was all that and more.  Just shy of 80k on the odometer, two owners, burly tires, awesome grill, and about as manly of a car I could ever dream of owning.  I had to drive it.

The test drive itself didn’t go very well, but despite that we agreed upon a price and it was mine.  I guess I felt like I could handle whatever issue(s) it had, and there were several.  First of all, not all of the spark plug wires were connected, which (after reconnecting) helped it run considerably better, and it needed some basic maintenance.  Also, I was under the impression that the engine was significantly smaller than what it was.  I ended up with a (much sought after) 401-CID V8 engine that used about a gallon of gas just to roll the windows down!  I don’t think that Jeep ever got more than 12mpg, and that was freeway miles.  Yeah.  Seriously.

I have a lot to be thankful for with the ol’ Jeep, though.  Not only did it look really awesome, but I learned a whole lot about cars with this sucker.  You could park a VW Bug in the engine bay, which meant there was plenty of room to work and get your hands dirty.  I (helped) install a 4-barrel carb on there, dropped the transmission pan, upgraded the ignition setup, installed an entirely new audio system, fixed the cruise control, and a whole lot more.  I took pride in that vehicle, and I loved working on it.

Notable Memory: I was driving home one day and noticed that the Jeep wasn’t slowing quite as abruptly as I would’ve liked.  In fact, it wasn’t slowing much at all.  I jammed the car into neutral and the engine screamed like a banshee!  I limped home, and discovered that the throttle cable would get stuck “on”.  How NOT awesome is that?  It had an involuntary cruise control where you could move along at about 20mph without having your foot on the gas.  Pretty scary stuff, actually, and was the driving force behind sourcing a new-to-me carburetor.  It didn’t happen again after that, but the memory (read: fear) lingers on.

When it all comes down to it, the Jeep would still be in my driveway if it hadn’t been for the extremely poor gas mileage.  Toward the end of our ownership, gas prices were creeping toward $4/gallon.  A commute to work and back cost me nearly $12 in that car.  I kid you not.  It was a bit much to stomach, so the car had to go, but not before breaking my heart.  My whole family has fond memories of that baby, but eventually the budget (and common sense) win out.  Thankfully, I sold it off to a fellow Jeep enthusiast who I knew would treat ‘er well.

TOYOTA SIENNA

During the Jeep-era, we came into some inheritance money that enabled us to buy a better mini-van.  Less “trucky” and more “nice” was the goal, I believe.  We kicked around what model to purchase, but eventually settled upon a very decisive bit of criteria: could the van hold our youngest son’s wheelchair?  Surprisingly, several mini-vans could not, thus whittling down the ‘possibles’ to just a few.  Among them, of course, the Toyota Sienna.

2002-toyota-sienna1 Never one of our favorite looking mini-vans, we eventually settled on a used 2002 model in “silver” that seemed to look less bad than the rest.  Over time the styling has grown on us.  In most other ways, though, the Sienna has been a welcome upgrade from the Aerostar days.  Tinted windows, decent stereo, plush seating, and a nice ride.  True to the Toyota nameplate, we haven’t had to do anything with this van – save for new tires, oil changes, and the like.  It starts, it goes, it turns off – and usually does all of those things when you expect it to.  It also rattles a bit – especially in the dash – and the front doors make a horrific squeak when you open and close them.  WD40 didn’t fix it, so we just deal with it.  Although I’m willing to dig in and fix my own car, I’m less willing to do so with my wife’s vehicles.  Just the way it is.

Notable Memory: Oh, man.  So we somehow managed to spill an entire half-gallon of milk just behind the front passenger seat.  You can only move so fast, so a bunch of it soaked into the carpet and padding.  Rotten milk smell, anyone?  We had it professionally cleaned a couple of times, but we still smell it when the weather is “just right”.  Usually on colder days, strangely enough.

So… the Sienna is still in our driveway.  It’s certainly a bit more worn, but has a lot of life still left in ‘er.  We’ll certainly have to look for a better solution if/when our son’s wheelchair gets any bigger, but until then it’s quite sufficient to cart us, our kids, one wheelchair, and the (occasional) golden retriever around.

SAAB 900 TURBO

Finally we arrive at my “current ride” – the 1992 Saab 900 Turbo.  After selling the Jeep (sniff!), I really flip-flopped and purchased a vehicle that was about as different as you could get.  14 years newer, ABS, airbag, fast, sporty, good gas mileage, and somewhat unmanly, if you will.

cleanSaab1I found the Saab on Craigslist, and really didn’t know much about these cars before going to take a look at it.  I consider myself to be very fortunate, since I found a late-model (classic) Saab with low miles, few issues, and got it at a good price.  It had some issues that needed dealing with, but the previous owner had also paid for over $6k in repairs on this baby – in just under 3 years!  He was a single guy with a good job, what did he care?  I liked the fully-upgraded stereo system, new headliner (a common issue on these), newer tires + shocks, and the fact that he wouldn’t even change a wiper blade without taking it to a local Saab shop.  His expense, my gain!

Notable Memory: The previous owner, albeit a bit “naive”, was really a nice guy.  My wife and I dropped by to take it for a test drive, and he suggested that we just take it overnight.  “You can’t really get to know a car in 10 minutes.  Why don’t you just keep it overnight and bring it back tomorrow?”, he said.  In retrospect, it was pretty dumb of us to do that.  Did he have drugs in the car?  Was it stolen?  Was it safe?  Caution to the wind, we took the bait and drove it home.  It was fun, quirky, fast, and I liked it.  I bought it a day or two later.

cleanSaab4 I don’t see myself getting rid of the Saab anytime soon.  It runs very well (just over 130k on the odo), gets good gas mileage, and is relatively light on repairs.  I’ve really enjoyed working on it (plugs, wires, oil changes, and so on), and parts are still quite readily available for it.  It’s also built like a friggin’ tank, which is nice for the “safety factor”.  Lastly, the ‘turbo’ is nothing short of amazing – especially when it spools up and lets loose.  This 17-year-old car can really scoot, when it comes down to it. 🙂

Best of all, I suppose, is the Saab community that I’ve found.  Friendly guys that are willing to help you diagnose, install, soup-up, or whatever else you need.  Saab owners have a camaraderie that I’ve not seen since my motorcycle days, and that’s pretty cool.  I dig it.

Long live the Saab!

IN CLOSING

There you have it, folks – my “vehicles over the years” tour.

What really stuck out to me while writing this is how very fortunate we’ve been to have our family bless us with cars.  They’ve rarely been “incredible”, but always timely and a huge help to us – both physically and financially.  Perhaps my brother-in-law would like to “gift” us their Mini Cooper? 😉

Hope you enjoyed it.

Now Playing: July 2009

(Yeah… I missed June.  So sorry!)

  • mewithoutYou, “It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright
    • One album that I’ve been anticipating for some time now.  mwY’s fourth release is an even further departure from their ‘expected sound’, and will certainly polarize some of their fans as it has with me.  To be fair, every album they’ve released has (thus far) been a challenge for me upon the first few listens, but they’ve always won me over in the long run.  I’m expecting this album to do the same, but it might take a bit longer :)  Some standout tracks: ‘Every Thought A Thought Of You’, ‘The Fox, The Crow, and the Cookie’ (check out the video) and ‘Goodbye, I!’
  • The Dear Hunter, “Act III: Life and Death
    • I had literally never heard of this band until my wife and I saw them open for mewithoutYou a few weeks back.  I was impressed, so I sought the album out.  “Progressive” is a fitting, but overused description.  Very good stuff, though.
  • Manchester Orchestra, “Mean Everything To Nothing
    • I found this band via the ‘related artists’ links in the Zune software, and I was instantly impressed.  This is very raw, unproduced kind of music, but really well done.  Although I have trouble endorsing this band lyrically, the songwriting/vocals are great.
  • Mates of State, “Re-Arrange Us
    • My email buddy, Alan, turned me on to this band, and I’m quite enjoying it.  Upbeat, folk-rock duo with catchy tunes.   Dig it!
  • Radiohead, “The Bends
    • Old school, I know, but it wasn’t really until ‘In Rainbows’ that I became a Radiohead fan.  Mock me all you like, that’s exactly how it went down.  Anyhow, while revisiting their library, ‘The Bends’ really sticks out as an incredible piece of work.  Really great.

Catfight! (hee hee)

I know I’m childish, but this picture just makes me giggle. 🙂

catfight