Posts from ‘random’
My first car was a late 70s BMW 5 series. It had been a top-of the line luxury car years prior, but by the time I bought it for $1200 it was a rusty old hooptie, with cracked blue leather seats and faded cracking wood paneled interior (they used real wood back then). The Broken down old seats had that unique BMW smell caused by the seats being stuffed with horsehair. Every non-essential electrical system had failed — the power windows didn’t open, the power locks had long since quit, and there was no AC or heat. But, it started every time without fail, had ample room for a big posse of friends, had a stickshift and went pretty darn fast. What more could a 17 year old want? Besides, the sunroof had a manual crank, so it still worked. . . and I have many fond memories of hot young things standing up and flashing oncoming traffic through that sunroof. Ah to be young and stupid again. . .
Later, with the proceeds of my first “real job” after college, I located an ’81 320is and bought it with cash. That’s right a 320is — it was an illegal grey market import that an airline pilot had smuggled into the US from Germany, with fantastic hard sport suspension, a spoiler, Recaro seats, factory mag wheels, and Autobahn gearing. It got great gas milage, handled like a dream, and accelerated like, well, a sporty small-displacement four-cylinder car, which is to say: meh. I ran it for years, and still regret selling it. I’ll never find another one that nice. . .
Than came the Saabs. The turbo systems were really nice, and they were classy, and comfortable, fuel efficient and fast, but. . . while, they never failed me, I could never convince myself to love them. Or like them. Or even to wash them. . . I pretty much hated them. Oh well.
Then I traded sportiness, handing, and fun factor for reliability, and hauling capacity in the form of a Volvo 240d Wagon. The ugly old beast took me through the cities, deserts and the mountains. It was big enough to camp out of (barely), reliable enough to drive through Death Valley (twice), and ugly enough to park in bad neighborhoods with no worries.
I experimented with Japanese vehicles here and there, mostly Toyotas. I bought an early 80s Celica for $600 in the late 90s for the exclusive purpose of parking on the streets in my bad Seattle neighborhood after my beautiful Beemer had been vandalized one to many times. The wretched thing had almost no paint left, and burned about a quart of oil for every tank of gas, but it ran with no maintenance as a backup car for 2 years before it finally died. Later I owned a couple of the Toyota “space shuttle” vans, including a rare factory 4×4 version. But, all in all my various Japanese vehicles seemed somehow cheap and flimsy after the Euro marques, and I never owned any of them for very long.
So, how then have I become a convert to American vehicles? Why after growing up immersed in the world of refined and balanced Euro marques, am I running bowties and blue ovals?
(to be continued. . .)
I grew up in a household which ran exclusively European vehicles.
My earliest automotive memories include riding in the back of my dad’s black BMW 2002tii (my mom had a matching one in white, but it wasn’t a tii). Later when the 3 series came out there were a couple of those. Then there were the Carman Ghia’s — the green stocker, and the red one with the porsche engine and running gear — I remember when that one came home. I was in kindergarden, and I thought it sounded like a helicopter had landed in the garage. . . The green Ghia was given to my paternal grandfather, who continued to drive (it in ever-increasing states of dilapidation and deferred maintenance) until his vision failed completely in his late-80s. By the time it was finally sold off in the late 90s, it was half rust (due to the lovely salted midwestern roads), with a tattered seats, and exceptionally bad paint, but the old VW still started every time.
My mothers side of the family had money, and flaunted it with a long succession of Jaguars and Mercedes Benzes, and an old Lincoln the size of a river barge. My Maternal Grandfather claimed to have one owned the first Jags imported into his region. To hear him tell it, he and his friends used to sit around at their exclusive country club telling stories about whose Jaguar had broken down at the most inconvenient time — I guess the point of owning a Jag in the 50s and 60s was to demonstrate that you could afford the inconvenience , a mechanic on staff, and a couple back-up rides. I remember being a new 16 year old driver handed the keys to late model v12 XJ — a long, low, white and chrome luxu-rocket complete with a chrome Leaper — it reeked money. I was terrified. The engine was so smooth and so powerful I felt totally out of control (I was used to German cars where you could hear and feel the power-plant). Tthere was no resistance on the gas pedal, at the slightest touch I was going 80. Inevitably, and no doubt partially due to nerves, I miscalculated and creased the entire side — both doors and both quarters — doing in a few seconds damage worth more than years of working at the shitty jobs I had back then. But my Grandfather didn’t seem to think it was a big deal — apparently, 16 year olds were expected to damage fancy cars. . . part of growing up in his world, I guess.
By the time I was a bit older, my parents had switched to Swedish cars, and a long string of indestructible Volvos, and less reliable high-performance Saabs followed. I came to appreciate the bulletproof Volvo 240 engine, and grew to love the Saab Aeros, SPGs and even a gray-market Griffin. Then, one day I was driving my mother’s Volvo 240d Wagon and was involved in a three car accident at high speed on the freeway — hit hard enough from behind that the cigarette lighter landed in my lap. The Japanese car that hit me was crushed like a tin can, and got towed away quirting green arterial fluid on the road. It’s driver went to the hospital. But the Volvo was barely scratched, and I was unhurt. And, the big American truck which hit it, was similarly undamaged. Then, my little brother fell asleep at the wheel wrapped a Saab 9000 around a tree, hit it so hard that the trunk was nearly up to the windshield. But, crumple-zones work, and he walked away without a scratch. I became a believer in big safe Swedish vehicles.
So, inevitably, My first cars were Bimmers, Saabs and Volvos: an indestructible Volvo 240, a BWM 5 series, and two 3 series, a couple Saabs and even some Japanese cars when I was a poor student (I’m still terrified of Jags. . .).
(To be continued. . .)
So, I fell in love with another Mustang.
Meanwhile, my partner in crime on the ’65 was falling in love with it. . . which makes for an easy resolution – the ’65 will become Tom’s, and I can focus my efforts on the new pony in the stable: a BUILT ’69 Mustang Grande. . . details forthcoming!
The Hotrod shop has finished the shell — it is 100% rust free, laser straight and hotrod black with all unnecessary emblems and trim shaved off.
The engine is fully assembled, and the other various drive train parts have been sourced — next step is putting the pieces together!
Should have the ’65 stang back from the hotrod shop PDQ — just waiting for a few final trim parts to show up. Then it is on to asembly. I have decided to leave it in black primer, and spend the paint money on a good pair of disk brakes to replace the front drums.
Scored some rare antique body-panels for the ’65 Stang (after a harrowing 3 hour drive in the rain) as well as a couple vintage slotted front mags to mach the monster rears. . . Just a few more parts to source, then as soon as the hotrod shop is done perfecting the bodyshell, assembly!
Hoping to be streetable in 2-3 weeks, and be a fire-breathing murdered-out 12-sec-1/4-mile hotrod by the spring.
Here are some pics of hosing 43 years of filth off the 351w engine block and valves. Yay for coveralls! As of now the pieces of the engine have been scrubbed down and it is ready for re-assembly with fresh seals, timing chain/gears, lifters, etc.
Next week a body/hotrod shop will begin prep of the body to repair all the various body issues and put her into the flat primer black that is the platonic form of hotrod.