Thursday, April 30, 2015

Quick, what can you tell me about this Jetta wagon?

2009; one-owner; 33,000 miles. What the heck is a 5-speed manual with overdrive?

Also, any reputable shops to do a PPI near BuggyBank? Model Garage?

Gonna check it out tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The car search continues

Bad news. That blue Saab wagon was sold to someone else the day before our planned pre-purchase inspection. I called the dealership with the yellow Saab wagon that needed a new oil pan. It's not ready yet because they still have not sourced an oil pan.

I have spent too much time online looking for the perfect car. My eyes are shot. So now, I'm just going to sit back and let the automotive gods bring me a car. Although, I am pretty sick and tired of driving the Dodge Charger rental. It is a freaking boat and no fun at all.

So, this white TT popped up nearby. It looks tidy. I'm concerned about the short commutes this car was subjected to. But it's beautiful. What's the word on these early TTs? Lemons?

Finally got my Suzuka F1 tickets

Grandstand B2. Should be awesome. Hopefully, the championship won't be over before then.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kabul fruit seller

Circa 2003, via Reddit.

Fingers crossed on this Saab!

I need y'all to send me some positive vibes. The pre-purchase inspection is tentatively set for tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dodge Spacevan

Back story here.

America, 2015

Saab post up on Hooniverse

Click here.

Update: Chris Diamond may have found another gem for me. This Saab is arguably in better condition than the Volvo, is newer, has less miles, and cost the same (or less). I'm setting up a PPI right now with the engineer-owner.

Breaking News: Kazakhstan leader re-elected with 97.5% of vote


Sunday, April 26, 2015

I drove two Saabs yesterday

I think I've pinpointed what I want. More on Hooniverse early next week.

280 horsepower is nothing nowadays, but this Turbo X is still nonetheless out-of-this-world. At idle, it sounded like a muted F1 car (I'm serious). This one-owner 66k mile example was locally owned and meticulously maintained.

It was by no means perfect to drive. A combination of turbo lag, slow throttle response, and/or indecisive automatic transmission meant that on the freeway, it took a second and a half between flooring the gas pedal and actual acceleration. The brakes, though not spongey, did not inspire confidence.

But it is such a cool car. The 9-3 is the perfect size (the 9-5 I drove on Friday was too big). But I'm really afraid of the scarcity of parts as well as Cooper messing up the pristine black interior. So I'm going to pass. But I think it's a good buy for certain enthusiasts.

This is a packed engine bay. When I opened the hood after a 20 minute drive, I was punched with a wall of heat.

I then test drove this 9-3 2.0T sedan with a manual transmission at an Acura dealership. I didn't want a sedan but I wanted to get a feel for a Saab stick/clutch. It drove really nice and I was tempted to just get a sedan. The only kicker was the color. If it was red, I may have just bought it on the spot.

The dealer couldn't list it for sale for a week because they had a hard time sourcing a rear passenger side window regulator.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cars I've owned retrospective

As I embark on getting my 7th car, here is a look back at all the cars I have had.

1. 1983 or 1984 Isuzu Impulse Special Edition. Gold rims and funky styling. I actually disliked the looks of this car when I owned it in high school. But I very much appreciate it now. Note that this was an early Impulse. No turbo and no "Handling By Lotus".

2. 1993 Jeep Wrangler. This anemic truckette was a lot of fun. I drove across the country four times in it, without A/C, a radio, or cruise control. It was brutal in DC summers with a suit on, stuck in Beltway traffic. Here is a shot of it in Shenandoah.

3. 2001 BMW E46 330i. It was fully loaded-- Sports and Premium packages. My first new car. It was fantastic. This is a photo I found online. But mine was also black on black and had the same wheels.

2004 Acura TSX. The shifting action was perfect. I regret selling it.

2005 VW Phaeton. The greatest car I'll ever have had.

2006 Volvo V50 T5. It was perfect for what I needed. Compact, roomy, quick, anonymous, and a sufficiently pre-roughed up interior for my sharp clawed dog.

Test driving 2 Saabs today

I'm going to test drive a Turbo X today just because it's the ultimate Saab. I'll also be test driving a 9-3 sedan with a manual because I want to know what I'm getting myself into with that Dijon mustard yellow wagon I posted yesterday.

In the meantime, here is a walkthrough/around of a 2006 9-3 Aero SportCombi 6M (same exact spec as the Dijon mustard yellow wagon).

And let's not kid ourselves, it's born from Opels, not from jets.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Very productive day shopping for a Saab wagon and such

Today was the first time since the accident when I actually had a bit of free time to go car shopping. I had three hours in the middle of the day, so I made the most out of it. You'll enjoy this...

There is a used car dealership owned by a guy named Olaf in Marin County. Word is he has the largest inventory of Saabs anywhere. He currently has 19 for sale on his lot. I went there specifically for the 9-5 Aero.

First of all, looking at this car just made me pissed off again at the lady who rear ended my car. My Volvo and this 9-5 are both 2006s and have similar miles (the Saab has 8,000 more). The Volvo is parsecs cleaner and in way better condition than this Saab. That Volvo was a really nice specimen.

This is a one-owner Texas car. The panel gap on the passenger side was distressing. Was that from a crash or from the factory?! Is that typical for Saabs?

The car was fine. It accelerated strong, braked solidly, and there were no creaks or moans. But the interior was austere and just blah. The automatic shifter looked shockingly cheap. The car was also bigger than I was used to.

Funny story. I ended up driving behind a W12 Phaeton during part of the test drive.

When I brought the car back, I was kind of bummed. I chatted with the salesman and asked if he had any Saabs with manual transmissions. Yes, but they just got it and it still has to be prepped. It hasn't even been entered into their inventory database yet. May I see it? Sure, come out back.

It was really rough looking, but I liked it a lot. In fact, I may have been a bit too enthusiastic and ruined my chances of negotiating with strength. It's a 2006 9-3 Aero wagon with around 95,000 miles. It's a one-owner California car and was first sold at auction in May 2014 and hasn't accumulated any significant miles since. It has a 2.8 liter turbocharged V6. And, it's got a stick. I need to do research on it over the weekend.

So before they advertise it, they are getting it detailed. Plus, they are waiting for a new oil pan. Apparently, when they put it on a lift, they noticed a "hairline" crack on the bottom of the pan. I told the salesman to let me know when the car is ready, and that I'll then take it to an independent shop for an inspection.

Not being mechanically minded, can you guys read anything into the carbon buildup on those exhaust pipes?

With a little bit of time left before my 2pm meeting back at the office, I stopped by West Coast Shipping's new digs. You may remember that I wrote a piece about them shipping Lexus GXs to Kyrgyzstan.

Well, a lot has changed. Last year, Putin got Kyrgyzstan to join the Eurasian Economic Union. That means used cars imported from America to Kyrgyzstan now have a $25,000 import duty slapped on each car (as opposed to $5,000 before). Suddenly, there are no cars from America being shipped there.

West Coast Shipping is pretty flexible and is finding alternate export markets. It needed more space so it took over a piece of property that used to belong to a private contractor that shipped the personal cars of US military personnel to South Korea. Hence, the sign.

The cars being shipped abroad never cease to amaze me. A first generation Camry, a beater DeLorean, and of course, tons of VW microbuses. But this Goliath bus was hidden in a sea of VWs.

According to this BAT post, which may have been written by one of you, this is the last living example of an Express 1100 in the world!

I'll close this post with this Jensen Interceptor. Tomorrow, I will test drive the Saab Turbo X wagon. But if any of you have any insight on the 9-3 Aero, please share. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hooniverse post on wagon choices

The post is up and there are over 100 insightful and hilarious comments. I'm leaning towards the Lexus.

Monday, April 20, 2015

$9,199 in damage to my Volvo

And that's just the exterior damage. Writing a piece for Hooniverse now.

All suggestions for a replacement are appreciated.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Michigan diesel shop refuses service to gays

Ugh. I predict within a week, he's going to raise over $100,000 on a crowdfunding site.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The only Australian car worth photographing

My friends and family have a routine. Whenever they go abroad, they promise to take a picture of an interesting car for me. This is what my friend Ali took pictures of while traveling in Australia and New Zealand. This was spotted in Sydney. Is that a Northern Territory plate?

Ramon's fantastic European vacation

This blog's resident Chilean, Ramon, is on vacation in Europe (London, Germany, Prague, Hungary, etc.). Check out his photos of the regions' architecture, trains, and cars. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cooper's dogwalker

Amazing. He took these 19 dogs on a 5-1/2 mile (9km) walk today.

A video posted by Zane Flynn (@zanimallover) on

Bonneville Salt Flats video

I'm not a hot rod/American muscle car guy, but I'm looking forward to checking these wild contraptions out in person.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gas logs advice

In California, we have Spare the Air Days when burning wood is banned. So we are looking into a gas log fireplace. Does anyone here have one? Pros and cons? Brands you recommend?

Legos Volvo V50


OG Cadillac Fleetwood

Hat tip to Ryan.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2016 Presidential Candidates' Cars: Hillary Clinton

Clinton admitted to not having driven a car since 1996.

Check out more candidates' cars here.

2016 Presidential Candidates' Cars: Marco Rubio

Another surprise. Rubio drives a Ford F150.

Check out more candidates' rides here.

Kei car RV

This episode of Begin Japanology covers Kei cars. The first half covers the history of the car segment. At 15:45, there is a piece about a cute retired couple and their RV.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Beyond Bullets Afghanistan book

A couple of weeks ago, I was out of books to read so I walked to the local library. This book looked interesting so I checked it out. I haven't been able to get past chapter one because of the above photo. The book is written by a Polish-Canadian photojournalist. He embedded with an American unit in Afghanistan. Every other page has a poignant photo.

This is the story behind the cover photo. The journalist and the unit in which he was embedded were in a long caravan of Humvees. As they drove through a narrow mountain pass, they were ambushed by the Taliban. The attack took less than 15 minutes, and fortunately, no one was injured. The caravan drove another couple of hours and pulled into their base, safe. The journalist was still sitting in his Humvee, looking out at the shattered bulletproof window. Outside, this soldier shown on the cover was just resting against the Humvee, in shock. He stood there for five minutes, totally still. The journalist later learned that when this soldier was home on leave, he killed himself.

Hillary Clinton is officially running

Good video. She's the favorite to win it all, but a lot of things can happen between now and November 2016. Remember when everyone assumed Rudy Giuliani was going to win in 2008?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2016 Presidential Candidates' Cars: Rand Paul

I'm gonna start a new series. Today, Rand Paul's Mazda 3.

From the Des Moines Register:
Q. What kind of car do you drive?
A. "A Mazda. I don't know what it's called. It's a (Mazda) 3 or something. It's just a little hatchback."

If you know what Ted Cruz drives, please let me know!

To see what others drive, click here.

2 Phaetons at Hanzel's

It was great to meet commenter Francisco and his gorgeous white Phaeton this morning.