General Commentary (May be military related) email: Kudzuacres1@juno.com
Thursday, May 15, 2003
A new record. I managed to out smart the squirrel for a whole month. Exceeds my previous 3 weeks by a big margin. I was beginning to think that I had beat the little guy but he figured it out. His tactic is too run full speed up the metal pole and jump for the birdfeeder. He just goes around the squirrel barrier.
I raised the feeder by a foot to see if I can get it outside his jumping range.
Hey, I have to do something to entertain myself or I would go crazy doing government contract work.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Vehicololic is a good term for the more advanced forms of carnutitis. Nate Mc Cord listed all the cars and trucks he has owned. In a gesture of solidarity with a fellow car nut, here is my list:
1966 First car: 1960 Ford Falcon 4 door. A perfectly marvelous car that I bought because my Dad refused to agree to the Triumph TR4. In one year, it ate two engines, a drive shaft and the rear door fell off from vibration induced metal fatigue. Got more trade in than I paid for it.
1963 Ford Fairlane 500 two door hardtop, 289. Wasn’t supposed to exist since 289’s weren’t put in 63 Fairlanes. This was a seriously fast car but it had no brakes.
1960 Falcon: Some people never learn. I paid my way through college doing odd jobs and one of my oddest was delivering newspapers. I paid $75 for the Falcon. It lasted a month before getting stuck in two gears at once. Gave it to my younger brother who then didn’t speak to me for years.
New 1968 Opal Station wagon. 1100 charging cc’s and maybe 30 horsepower but it got 40 mpg and I was still delivering newspapers. Went through brake shoes every 6000 miles and clutches every 12000. Sold the car in 1970 (100,000 miles) when I shipped out to Germany. The buyer was the guy who took my newspaper route and he was still driving the little beast when I returned in 1974. This is the car that taught my wife that the oil light means STOP!
1957 Chevy four door, 283, four barrel, slushbox, AC, no radio. Bought in 1968 as a backup the Opal. I was the third owner and the car had 23,000 actual miles. It was nearly as good as the Falcons, but not as cheap to repair. One year, one engine, one exhaust system, one transmission. Fortunately, my Dad was running a service station/garage at the time. My wife sold it to the next-door neighbor who never had a minute of trouble with it.
November 1970: Germany, 1963 Fiat 1500 four door. A really good car, but I could never get the heater to work. Sold it to the Sergeant I worked with for a small profit in March 1971. He never had any problems and the heater worked for him. I think a pattern is developing.
1971 Opal 1900 Coupe March 1971. My second new car. . An absolutely glorious car. I drove it for three years in Germany usually flat out. I once did a 640 mile trip in 8 hours on public roads. For a 1900 cc passenger car, that is racing speed. Even more amazing, the car would only do about 110. I entered autocrosses and slamons and beat 2002 BMW’s, Alfa GTV and anything else in its class. I once ran off and left a Ford Capri RS 2600 on a winding two-lane highway. I loved that car. After our son was born my wife said we needed a four door. I Sold it to a co-worker in New Jersey in 1976. He drove it three weeks and the transmission fell out.
1957 BMW Isetta. March 1972: A 250 cc car with one door that opened to the front. Drove it home, broke my leg the next day and couldn’t close the door. Sold it to a soldier in my company. Okay, everyone should have owned one really weird car. Nate has his Skoda, I have my Isetta.
1960 Porsche 356B 1600. July 1972: A nice car but rusty. The saying among Porsche fans was that if you parked a 356 or an early 900 car in a dark garage, you could hear it rust. Drove it around for several months and traded it for “Frank”.
1962 356B T6 Super. November 1972. 75 charging horse power and lots of potential. I did everything except replace the floor pan. Sold it in 1980 to get money for my business. By that time, it had a 130 HP, 1750 cc engine and accelerated like a big bike. It was the only car I ever owned that had a name. A friend named it Frank as in Frankenstein since it had parts from so many cars. I have dreams about finding it and buying it back. It is always better in the dreams than reality ever was.
1966 Alfa GTC 1600. November 1973: A GTV convertible with both a hardtop and a softtop. A nice car. Sold it at a profit in February 1974. Later discovered that it was an extremely rare car.
1970 Mercedes 280SE March 1976; 4 door, 4 speed manual, limited slip and factory hot-rodded engine. An insanely fast, “family” car. I timed it at over 140 MPH on I-81 in Virginia. I drove it 150,000 miles and did a valve and ring job. Sold it in 1981 when I re-entered the Army and was shipped to Germany. The car was as quick as a big block Chevy and a good bit faster. I suspect that it had at least 250 net horsepower. I would like it back, but it also suffered from severe rustitis and is probably pushing up lugnuts somewhere.
1966 Porsche 912. December 1977: Basket case that I rebuilt. Sold it to an employee in my business in 1979.. He hit a holly tree going sideways. The tree went through the car just in front of the doors. Steve broke his collar bone and his date got a bruise on her left leg from hitting the gear lever. I got the car back for parts and still have the motor.
1973 Pinto Station Wagon. 1978: A disaster. See remarks about Falcons. Sold it after three months and bought:
1969 Chevy long wheel base van, 307 V8. 1978: No not the 305 V8 which was a real motor, but the 307 which Chevy really shouldn’t have build. I seem to recall that it was 283 with a 350 crank. A nice truck that we hated to part with but it went to get money for the business.
1979-81: BMW 2002, Saab 96, Saab 99, VW Squareback. Cars bought and sold while I operated a foreign car repair shop. All came in as basket cases and left in the care of good owners. All except the VW were pretty good cars for the time.
VW Transporter, 1200 cc, 40 HP January 1979: . A great little pickup. Used it in my business for two years. Used the Porsche 912 motor for motivation most of the time which was right quick through the final drive and end of the axle reduction gears that together yielded about a 7:1 final drive ratio. Sold it to an employee when I re-entered the Army in 1981. He was still driving it in the early 90's.
1975 1200 Honda Civic. June 1979: 100,000 miles, unbreakable, but it was the only Honda I saw at the time that was reliable. I sold the car to the girlfriend of the guy I got it from who was also the fellow who wrecked the 912.
1969 VW Beetle with Porsche 912 engine, 5 speed and four-wheel disc brakes May 1981: . A fun car! Smoked more than one Vette. Left it with my little brother who burned it to the ground. I still have the motor.
1970 Mercedes 220. November 1981: Back in Germany and needing a “family” car. This was a nice car that I kept until April 1982 when my wife decided that we needed a larger car.
Mercedes 220D. January 1982: My one and only diesel car. It didn’t accelerate. It gathered speed. Sold it to a friend at a small profit a couple of months later.
1978 VW Bus 2000 cc, 4 speed April 1982. The most insane car I ever owned . According to the German dealer where I boutght it, the previous owner had "tuned " it. It would do an honest 100 MPH. That is like 200 MPH in real car speed. Twitchy does not begin to describe what it was like at speed. I once slid a half mile on black ice, only managing to stop after I got the front bumper against a guard rail and ground off both bumper and speed. I drove it all over Western Europe, built a bed in back, attached tents and camped in several countries. Sold it to a friend in 1984 when I bought a Vanagon Camper. A few weeks later he was driving sedately down a street in Mainz when the engine spit its guts out on the street. I told him it was because he didn't drive it hard enough to keep all the parts slammed together.
1973 Innocenti Mini 1000 May 1982. . A flying shoebox! If you could catch the BMW’s and Mercedes just right to draft or get a good hill, it would do 100 MPH and it got 40 MPG. I held the absolute record up the back tank trail at Baumholder, Germany at 6:57 over 8 miles of twisting, uphill road. I had my best time in the rain since I could slide through the hairpins and not scrub off so much speed. After a few Lieutenants and Sergeants slid off the road trying to beat my time, my Commander forbade any more "informal" time trials. A friend had a Turbo Volvo 240. He and I raced forty two miles from Baumholder to Bad Kreuznach one winter night. He started in front and it took me 20 miles to get around him since the Volvo out-accelerated the Mini on the straights and I couldn't get around him on braking through the turns. Once I passed him ( I used a hilly, curved section of the road where that I could see about a mile of from the top,to get a round him on a sharp curve when he braked hard), he never saw my taillights after the next curve. Sold it in April 1985 for more than I paid for it. In three years of hard driving, I replaced a wheel cylinder and an accelerator cable.
1962 Mercedes 220Seb, 4 speed manual, 2 door coupe December 1984: . This car has leather or wood everywhere in the interior. It was handmade and was the second most expensive Mercedes the year it was built. I installed a 2500 cc engine and timed it between kilometer markers on the Autobahn at 145 MPH. It has been sitting in a barn since July 1987. I have plans!
VW Vanagon Westfalia Camper 1984: . A water cooled VW with a real heater. Traded it for a Ford Taurus after my wife injured her back and could no longer easily drive it.
1967 Mercedes 250 SE 4 door April 1985: . Bought the car to get the engine. Switched engine from 220Seb and sold it at a profit.
April 1985: 1974 Innocenti Mini 1000. Bought it, stripped all the good parts off and shipped them to the US when I departed Germany. For you ex-military, I put it in my household goods.
1979 Austin Mini July 1985: Bought with no engine and missing front sheet metal. It had been wrecked by a Canadian college student on his way to Florida for Spring Break. Put Innocenti 1000 shipped from Germany and fiberglass front fenders. Good car that I sold in 1987 when the Army shipped me to Ft Leavenworth for a year-long school. Another car I wish I had back.
1988 Ford Taurus Station Wagon December 1987:. Actually a nice car. It went to Germany with us in 1988 and held its own on the Autobahn. It was a little slow from 60 to 90 MPH but topped out at 125. Drove it 113,000 miles and averaged 27 MPG. At 100,000 miles, a mainbearing carrier bolt broke which I fixed for $8. At 110,000, it developed electrical problems that the dealer could not repair. After a few months of it quitting at random intervals, my wife insisted on getting something else.
BWW 320 November 1988: German model with an inline 6. A good, honest car. My son was 15 and a boy scout. We went camping one weekend and on the way home he asked how fast the car would go. It hit 220 KPH or around 135 MPH before we ran out of Autobahn. As soon as we walked in the house, he told his Mom. We sold the car a few weeks later.
1989 Mazda B2200 Pickup January 1991. . A rebuilt total wreck with 3000 miles. We drove it for 100,000 miles. It went through several Colorado hailstorms and my son took it to college in 1995. He sold it when the engine started to run rough. The only thing we ever did to it was to get it repainted after the hail damage and replace the sparkplugs twice.
1961 Austin Mini November 1991: A 1500 cc overhead cam Austin Maxi engine and a five speed . I still have visions of driving this car. It is sitting in my garage with a gorgeous yellow paint job (except for the fiberglass front) and no brakes. In 12 years, I have driven it 7 mile and towed it 2500.
1993 Mazda B2200 Pickup April 1995: Bought it with 31,000 on the clock. It now has 171,000 miles. I have spent $100 on other than normal maintenance. The paint is coming off (3 years in the New Mexico desert), the seat is split and the ride is a bit rough, but it runs like the day I bought it. I would like a new truck, preferably a Dodge Dakota V8, but it appears the Mazda will last forever.
1995 Mercury Mystique May 1996: . A cute car that my wife and daughter wanted. A great powertrain, but lousy construction. To make it clearer, a good moter surrounded by junk. Gave it to our daughter when she started college. It died a few weeks ago of electrical problems and we donated it to the Red Cross.
1999 Mazda 626 January 1999: 4 Cylinder, Automatic. My wife’s car. It appears to be unbreakable.
I ran a foreign car repair shop in the late 70's and early 80's. People ask me what cars I saw then that I would like to own. There were four.
Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 4 door luxury sedan that would ourrun and outhandle most sport cars.
1963 Corvette 327 4 speed roadster. I look for these and if I ever see one that is close to reasonable?
1973 Triumph Stag. Possibly one of the least reliable cars ever built, but I could drive one all day or until it broke and enjoy every minute. With a good American small block, this would be the perfect old sportscar.
1973 Pantera: Fast, sexy, too cramped for a 6'1" guy, hot, noisy, but I'd take one in a New York minute. I came off the ramp from I-40 onto US 25 from the East going North in Asheville, NC at over 100 MPH, braked hard through the double esses and stopped at the signal at the Biltmore Estate entrance. My employee who was riding along on the test drive said that I was a complete idiot who cared nothing for other people. I pointed out that I had hit nothing. He refused to ride with me again.
The only American iron I have ever wanted other than the 63 Vette is a 55 Chevy Belair 2 Door Hardtop, red and white into which I would install a late model fuel injected small block and a 6 speed..
I see that I have owned 6 Fords with scattered reliability, 4 Mercedes, 4 Minis, 4 Porsches, 4 VWs, 3 Mazdas, 2 BMWs, 2 Chevys and a smattering of other cars. I would buy back any of the Minis, the 356 Porsches, the 280SE Mercedes and the Opal 1900 tonight. My wife, on the otherhand has liked the BMW 320, the Mercury Mystique and the Mazda 626.
I think we have identified a problem!
That’s all folks, 37 cars, a few more than Nate McCord, but then I suspect I have few years on him.
Monday, May 12, 2003
For some time now, I have been aware that Terry over at Possumblog has a fairly advanced case of carnutitis but I was not aware of how bad it really was until he asked who was able to identify the car at the top of the today's "Bleat". Assuming that he is correct in his identification, I fear that his case may be terminal. The only hope is that he doesn't have a general case of carnutitis but that his is more of a case of big Merican iron syndrome.
I fear for him though, since I have seen comments in Possumblog that indicate he knows about certain yurpeen brands.
By the way, termination in carnutitis cases is usually at the hands of a spouse who can no longer handle the obsession. For some reason, carnutitis seldom affects women although there are a few famous cases but those are so rare that movies get made of them.
Update: Carnutitis has been badly affected by Ebay. In the past, sufferers were left to puruse the local classified for their next fix, but Ebay provides an almost daily updated list of "collectables" that can be purchased merely by placing a bid. Even better than the local race to buy some wonderful example before someone else can overpay for it, Ebay allows you to follow the bidding and jump in at just the right moment.
Collectable in the automotive world refers to those cars that no one with an iota of sense would ever buy much less attempt to support. I often counsel sufferers to get a mistress as I believe that would be the less expensive choice. On the otherhand, if you go for the collectable, your spouse may insist on getting it as part of the divorce settlement and save you immense quantities of money.
By the way, there are several really good Minis, Porsche 356s and Lotus Super Sevens on Ebay today.