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Weekend Edition: Getting to grips with the Peugeot 405 Mi16

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There are two ways to refer to this car. A simple, non-sugarcoated one is to say I have a French car with peeling paint and leaking coolant. The other, a more sympathetic way is to declare that I drive a 1992 Peugeot 405 Mi16 that isn’t yet as good as it could be. Both sentiments are true, but it’s the latter that drives me forward. As does the Mi16, whenever I need it to.

Does it sound like a motivational Facebook poster image yet?

After the previous, introductory post, the Peugeot spent a couple months at the local vocational school’s auto shop. During that time, it received a new cambelt + waterpump combination, along with the strut mounts getting replaced with new OEM ones, as the old ones were just crumbling rusty discs that resembled Finnish rye bread more than anything holding a strut to anything. The shop also noticed the alternator was way past its prime, and proceeded to order one and fit it. A couple weeks ago, I got the car back and felt tremendous relief to actually be able to use it.

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Weekend Edition: Winter Sports in the 1993 Mazda MX-5

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Winter is both awesome and terrible. Spontaneity goes out of the window as cars need to be pre-heated for an hour or so, you have to consider wearing adequate clothing like long johns and then there’s the matter of the white stuff getting absolutely everywhere. Door locks and seals freeze and windows become opaque. With a little planning, none of these things are an issue, but at -25 °C you just can’t fool around like you’ve used to.

It gets a lot easier when it warms up by almost 20 degrees Centigrade. This means it doesn’t feel like a terrible idea anymore to get the German import Japanese roadster out of the shelter, as it doesn’t have a block heater and the battery is fairly small. But with a recent enough tune-up and good quality coolant in the cooling system, you can rely on it not being a block-splittingly bad idea to awaken.

Just make sure you have the Steve Martin comedy album ready for your outing. How’d you get so funky?

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Weekend Edition: Giving Up the Ghost / Mongrel Meets His Maker

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The new year is off to a good start. My little Volkswagen Polo has become a running, driveable car instead of a 60 euro paperweight, and with the newfound will to sort out all the loose ends, I’ve now sold my Ford Sierra that has hung around my neck. It’s another tale of a project car not going where it should, until it’s gone for good.

You might remember the burgundy Sierra from these pages. I bought it in the summer of 2014, as I had sold the Saab and the Xantia was on its way out, and I figured I’d try my hand in resurrecting a long-dormant car. The Sierra had sat for a decade in a cold garage, and it had barely passed the 100,000 km mark. Of course, it was a very basic car in every sense, with very little power from its 1.6-litre CVH engine, and the driving thrills were few and far between. But still, I saw something in the bulbous old hulk.

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HCOTY Nominee: The 60 Euro Volkswagen Polo Classic ’86

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The Mazda MX-5 I bought early in 2015 injected me with a new-found passion for rear-wheel-drive, introduced open-top daily driving into my life and took me to Nordkapp, the northernmost point in mainland Europe that’s reachable by car. It proved itself to be an immensely great buy for very little money, and there’s no doubt it’s my personal favourite car of 2015.

It’s not my Hooniversal Car of the Year, though. The 60 Euro Polo is. It works, finally!

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Weekend Edition: Cheap 1992 Peugeot 405 Mi16 is a winterbeater find

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What is the best justification for a car purchase? Buying one out of need, want, or nostalgia? This 1992 Peugeot 405 Mi16 combines all of those three, and I got it home last weekend.

I’ve found it funny for a while, that despite having several cars, I’m constantly lacking a honest-to-god daily driver that does it all. It’s already late November, which means that my MX-5 is going into winter storage, under cover, freshly inspected and washed and waxed. I won’t daily it like I did last winter, as it needs some rust work and I’d hate it to develop any more rot than it already has on its rockers and rear arches.

The 205 will also go off the road, as I have purchased a lot of interior parts for it, and the seats will be taken out and refurbished. The torn driver’s seat is the single biggest blemish on the car at the moment, and it needs to be put right. My humble VW Polo is on its way to be finished, but it’s hardly a highway car. And the Sierra? The less said, the better, but it’s been out of use for the best part of 2015, and motivation to put it right is dwindling along with little, insignificant parts breaking.

So, there you have four cars that necessitate the purchase of a fifth. And here, you have the fifth one. Four cylinders, four doors, 16 valves, 600 euros. A perfect recipe.

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November Rain: 1983 Austin Mini-Metro

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Here in rainy old Finland, seeing an Austin Metro makes you do a double-take and hit the brakes. At least that’s what happened to me, when I spotted this henna red hatchback parked next to a warehouse in my town. It’s not a common car, but more of an unicorn, as they were barely imported here. I think Suomen Autoteollisuus Oy (Finnish Automotive Industry) dipped their toe in the water and brought some Metros over in 1983-1984, but in the end they decided not to go through with it. We’re talking a handful of cars, and by now there cannot simply be too many left from the original ones. The car is so old, that running the plates notes it as a “Mini-Metro”, like the initial nomenclature was.

I originally saw this car on my street a couple years ago, and I talked to the owner then. Somehow the Metro looked to be in a bit sadder state now.

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Weekend Edition: A look at Eastern Europe, 1985-1989

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This Sunday is Father’s Day here in Finland. It seems fitting to contribute an article consisting of photographs taken by my dad way back in the mid-to-late 1980s, as he travelled to East Berlin, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and so on, with a group of other Finnish teachers. I got this stack of travel photos from him last weekend, and we leafed through them.

I cannot provide a point-to-point narrative for them, as some of them are out of sequence by now and even the chronological order is sketchy at best, but what they do is provide a look into countries that do not even exist anymore. After these photos were taken, Eastern Europe faced years of change never even thought possible, and even the next five years were a tumultuous time for those countries. Germany, separated for decades, became whole again and these street scenes captured from a tour bus would never be the same. Trabants, Wartburgs, Skodas fill the parking lots, almost the only bright spots in towns and cities consisting of grey and brown, the early wintertime having stripped the trees of leaves and the ageing photographs exaggerating the muted colour palette.

The Berlin shots are from December 1985, and the Hungarian scenes have been taken as late as 1989. Everything here falls in that time period beginning 30 years ago, as my dad was roughly the same age as I am now.

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Back to the Present: On October 21st, 2015, 4:29 PM PST

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The minute this post goes live is the exact time the DeLorean DMC-12 converted to a time machine by E. Brown Industries comes into our time from 1985. Or to be more precise, the alternative timeline where everything is a pastel-coloured futuristic version of 1989/1990. I kinda like that idea.

Today’s been jammed full of everything Back to the Future related, and it sort of feels like a New Year’s celebration in October. It’s funny to think that in a way I’ve been waiting for this date for as long as I can remember, from the first time I saw the film on VHS after it was shown on Finnish television in the mid-1990s. I have been fascinated with DeLoreans ever since, and it’s likely that my hobbies, my career and my entire life have been steered into this exact direction after being so enormously inundated by 1980s nostalgia. I haven’t become that guy who fills his apartment with eBay movie memorabilia, but I do have a DeLorean brochure on a shelf somewhere.

The thought that has been with me the whole day is that if the kid I was at the time of seeing the film came here to visit me in 2015, would he like what he sees? Is this the future I thought it would be?

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Back on Track Day: Hooniverse Goes to Ahvenisto

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Out of all the racetracks in Finland, Ahvenisto stands out. Most of the tracks here have been built somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and that usually renders them quite flat. But Ahvenisto stands proud by a ridge, with uphill sections and daring curves without yards and yards of run-off area. Originally, there wasn’t much close by but woodlands and fields, but urban sprawl reached the track quite quickly. Nowadays the track has to hold its ground to be able to exist in modern smalltown Finland, where people move next to race tracks and then complain about engine noise. But I digress: every minute spent at the track is worth it, as long as the track is in active use and respected for the motorsport history it embodies.

It has become sort of customary for our circle of FinalGearheads to end the summer season with an Ahvenisto trackday somewhere in late September or early October, and this year was no exception. I was eager to take my Miata there, as it’s the closest thing to an actually track-ready car I’ve had in my fleet.

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Heavy Metal: 1977 Cadillac Coupé de Ville

Antti Kautonen September 23, 2015 Finnish Line

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I love the deep copper colour on this Cadillac. I love the faux wire wheel trims on it, and the matching vinyl roof. Most of all, I love the very heavy-looking bumper and the ton of chrome on the front of this 1977 Coupe de Ville: it looks like it accounts for a quarter of the vehicle’s weight.

I shot this Caddy on the same lot as one of the first cars I photographed for this site, the Buick Roadmaster. The presence of both cars is pretty spot on.

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