So I was going through my “other” PC and stumbled upon a bunch of old photos of past relationships. I actually cried a little over loves lost. In my third-of-a-century on the planet I have owned some oddball cars, and LOVED every one of them. Join me, if you will, as I take a journey down memory lane…
If there was any doubt that perhaps Jo Schmo didn’t have Hoon in his blood, I hope that perhaps the following “resume” clears me. Granted I don’t have photos of every vehicle I have ever owned, but the photos I do have speak for themselves.
Here is a quick list off the top of my head, and I cannot guarantee I have remembered everything, but you get the idea (more or less in chronological order):
- 198x Isuzu P’up with Jesus engraved into the back windows
- 1990 Toyota truck (carb, no EFI (90 was the year they switched over, I believe))
- 1994 Mazda B4000 (with a few mods and some great tires this truck NEVER let me down)
- 1997-ish Dodge Avenger (first or second year of the Avenger and I LOVED it’s lines, though the performance and build quality were a bit of a letdown)
- 199x Crown Victoria (loved that 4.6 but the trans was hands-down the worst transmission manufactured in the history of EVAR)
- 1984 Subaru 4×4 wagon (could barely make it up an incline at 55 mph but it was still fun as hell)
- 1985 Saab 900 turbo (my favorite car to date and I am not even kidding. Actively looking for another one in good shape for a daily-driver)
- 1999 Dodge Durango (loved that truck, would totally own another. V8, seating for seven, 4×4 and not full-sized)
- 1975 CJ-5 (turned every bolt on that damn thing, twice. Also I briefly owned a 78 Grand Wagoneer which was my parts donor)
- 1984 BMW 318i (I am kicking myself in the ass for not keeping this for SCCA events *and* its 30+ mpg)
- 1985 Dodge Daytona Turbo (quirky, somewhat rare and fun, Philip can attest to this though he had the “laser”)
- Eleanor (pretty sure I don’t need to elaborate on this)
So there is my list and I have probably left something out, but I hit on the important rides. It seems like my sweet spot is the 84-85 model year. I’m not going to talk about all of my past cars but I will share the quirky/fun ones with you.
First up, the Subi wagon.
Yep it was tan and had some spots of rust but it was a wagon and came equipped with 4-wheel drive. It was gutless as hell but still managed over 30 mpg. It was my daily driver for a hot minute and and I hooned it around the foothills of Davis County on a regular basis. I had alot of fun with it. When I got the Saab I didn’t really need it anymore and donated it to a friend. Not long after, it died (blown head gasket or something or other that I disremember) and I helped him pull the motor. We literally hooked a strap to the motor and 2-man lifted the damn thing out of the car with a metal bar. It couldn’t have weighed 200 pounds. Quirky Subaru fact: the spare tire sits on top of the air cleaner.
Next up is the Saab. Despite the maintenance and cost of upkeep and parts, this is the greatest car I have ever owned. The 16 valve motor paired with a turbo is surprisingly fast. You could be cruising down the freeway comfortably at 75 mph in 5th gear and stomp the gas pedal and still get pinned to the seat. Not only is it also the best winter car I have ever driven, it is also one of the funnest all-around cars I have ever owned. Sadly, it is 10x more high-maintenance than my previous girlfriend, yet strangely, infinitely more rewarding. After twisting off 2 keys in the ignition (located on the console between the seats) I upgraded to a swiss army knife (screwdriver/bottle opener) for starting duties. I couldn’t risk ruining my last key on the ignition when I still needed it for the central locking mechanism. I have to say that car gave me more bloody knuckles than all my other cars combined. It took me an entire weekend to replace the starter (which was actually located on the top side of the engine.) Similar results ensued from the alternator. And did I mention all the belts are on the back of the motor next to the firewall where average man-hands don’t typically fit? I would like to think that up until this point I had “tinkered” with cars and this was really the one that I cut my teeth on. One other thing: this Saab had well over 300k miles on the clock and was still running strong when she left me.
Saab fun fact: You could actually order an effing camper for them. COOL!
After the Saab I stumbled on a CJ-5 that had been sitting in a garage for God-knows-how-long. It was a wreck. Seized I-6, four rotted/flat tires, and no love. The body was in surprisingly good shape with almost no rust anywhere. Five hundred bucks later and she was mine. I ran down to a “used tire” store and picked up 4 suitable tires and towed her home. After pulling the motor and tearing into it I realised that it was seized. This is where it gets interesting. I knew a guy that had a 78 Grand Wagoneer that was non-running. He shoved a full-width Dana 44 under the front with heavily re-arched springs and somehow stuffed 39″ swampers under it. Mechanic he was not. I had mentioned on several occasions how I would love to have the Wagoneer since he could not get it running. One day he calls me up and says to come get it. HELL YES! Turns out it didn’t run because AMC V8’s have a (replaceable) distributor drive gear on the camshaft and the only problem with the engine was that the 20 dollar piece was stripped. So after pulling the water pump and timing cover off the engine and replacing that damn gear, the effing thing fired right up! Free V8, hell yeah and I swapped it single-handedly in about 3 hours! So I sold the original I-6 on Ebay to a guy who mods-the-f*ck out of them and crams them in rally vehicles. Interestly enough, I bought everything else I needed on Ebay. Flyweel, motor mounts, headers, modded Ford distributor and ignition. The Wagoneer was also a great source of parts. Tilt wheel, the whole power steering setup (I could go lock-to-lock using only my pinky) and the bucket seats (which were not original to the Wago but in great shape and fit well.)
Fun fact: I put the Wagoneer carcass up on Ebay for .99 cents and no reserve because I needed it out of my garage. I shit you not, it sold for $1.20 and the next day someone showed up with a trailer to haul it off. Someone got a really good deal on some Jeep parts and I got paid to have it removed.
I figure I was into the whole project for less than $2000 including both Jeeps. The most expensive thing I bought was the new black steelies and those ran me about $200. The Jeep is also the first project where I put my newly found welding experience to use. I built the tire/luggage rack you see above, rock sliders and front bumper/towbar.
Lastly, we have the E30. I miss the hell out of that car. I could go on and on about this and that but there is nothing to really say. It had well over 200k on the clock IIRC and I never had one problem with it other than a sagging drivers seat. It was an awesome little car that got 35 mpg on a regular basis and looked good doing it. The only thing I ever had to do was give her new tires and rear brake drums. I would love to find another one for track duty. There is a reason you see so many of those at LeMons events, they are cheap, easy to fix and handle great. Granted most E30s from that era came with a 6-cylinder but my diminutive I4 did just fine for commuter duty.
Well, there you have it, a peep into Jo Schmo’s past. It has been a great trip for me, and I am glad to have shared it with you.