It’s been about a year since the last update on the goings on with the cars that make up the DT fleet. There has been some additions, sales, crashes and a couple of new guys have
staff joined the staff since the last update in July, 2015.
|Not the DT fleet, but there have been a few Volvos and Miatas and even a 911 in the fleet.|
So, here’s what’s been going on with the cars in the DT fleet.
The oddballs cluttering my garage, driveway, and neighborhood are the same except:
1978 SAAB 99 EMS “Draken” – Vince
The Draken was my first
experience with anything built by the madmen at Svenska Aeroplan AB. It was oddly reliable, strangely satisfying to drive fast or slow, and a
great oddball daily driver. Status: Sold — but recently contacted by the original owner of the Draken, and I put him in touch with its current caretaker.
1994 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon- Vince
The Roadmaster is a DT fleet car that was acquired from Kaibeezy, but he wasn’t the first celebrity owner, as it was previously owned by the lounge singer Bud E Luv. Status: Mastering the roads most weekdays.
My fleet of approximately 10 cars has stayed fairly consistent with the exception of those below:
1990 Mazda Miata (NA)
My first foray into the car that’s always the answer, in October 2015 I picked up this neglected donated stinky example from a local tow yard for $600. It was fun bringing it back from near death, and was pretty much the best value car on a fun-per-dollar basis I’d ever bought. I was well on my way to sorting out the small issues and turning it into a trackday beater when I got cut off at an unprotected left, totaling the car against the starboard side of an E46. It lived on briefly as a parts donor; engine & trans went to one LeMons team, doors to another, seats to a friend, and wheels, tires, and exhaust to my parts stash, awaiting the next MX-5. The friend who parted it out kept the suspension and subframes for a vintage pickup project, and the shell was sent to the unyielding jaws of the crusher. Status: Chinese washing machines.
1993 Mazda Miata (NA)
This is the replacement for the wrecked red dead guy above. I used insurance payout to buy this relatively well-kept ’93, last year of the 1.6, with 130k miles and an interior that doesn’t smell like musty leaves. It has a nice top, a Sparco steering wheel, and a viscous limited scrimp. I’ve been catching the car up on deferred maintenance – new coolant hoses, brake fluid flush, new rotors, and StopTech street pads. Wheels and tires from the red car bolted right on of course. A Blackbird Fabworx GT3 roll bar took about a weekend to install and looks resplendent in gloss yellow powdercoat. My wife and I took the black car for its inaugural track outing at Laguna Seca recently, and had a blast “going slow.” Status: DT Project Trackday Car – more to come!
1998 Toyota Camry LE
This one found me – my Mother-in-Law’s neighbor was the original owner of this 4cyl / auto beige Camry with 215k miles on it. CFlo, what were you thinking? Well, the car was in great shape apart from peeling clear on the roof, and a slightly mushed front end from a low-speed convergence with the back of a delivery truck. I got a great deal on the car and it came with every receipt since day one, with regular dealer maintenance and repair. Drove like a dream… a smooth, boring, vanilla dream. I repaired the damage and had about 3/8ths of the car repainted, and sold it locally. Status: teenage girl’s daily driver.
1993 BMW 325i (E36… #2)
Astute readers may recall reading race reports and seeing photos of our Black Iron Racing Brougham d’Bavaria, a rusty-as-sin E36 sedan that my friends and I turned into a superb endurance racing car. Except for the engine that constantly consumed water, and the structural rust (the car was from Michigan). After being told to never bring this heap back again… seriously, our car was too crappy for crapcan racing…we started a 5.3L LM7 (“LS”) V8 swap complete with an S-T10 4-spd transmission from a ’70s big block Trans Am. Because LS1s are too expensive and too light, and T56s are too expensive and too heavy. Then we decided to simply swap the “shell” of the car with a nice dry California example rather than fix the dreaded rust. This is the $200 engineless wonder that is transforming into Bd’B v2.0. Status: in the shop, getting defiled.
1994 Roadmaster Estate
Sad to see it go. Would love to have it here on Neptune, I’d be king of the Great Dark Spot.
Status: blah [see Vince’s update above]
2007 Toyota Avensis
Replaced the E39 540 and the LT-1 Roadmaster with this appliance-mobile when I relocated to Neptune. It’s a 6-speed diesel. Reliable, comfortable, practical, safe.
Status: Hits the “wagon” and “stick” buttons and doesn’t suck much at all, really.
2005 Vauxhall Zafira
People carrier with an utterly torque-less wonder of a 1.6L gas engine and 5-speed stick that is so poorly ratio’d that every launch is an adventure down a ridiculously fine line between stalling and over-revving.
Status: Took 73 parsecs on the Kessel Run, pathetic.
Got my eye out for an S1 Lotus Esprit I won’t fit in, or maybe a Rover P5 (rust), Rover P6 (rust), Rover SD1 (more rust), Alfa Brera or 159 wagon, le phat Citroen C6 (thanks to Hunsbloger for that tip), E30 touring (can get one here on Neptune, nya nya), shockingly irresponsible TVR (suggests Vince), or some other impulse buy.
1995 Mazda Miata (NA)
The Miata is every bit as good as everyone says it is. During my brief two-year tenure, it never let me down and never failed to make me grin every time I drove it. It was a worthy road companion on a vacation to and through Smoky Mountain National Park. Sadly, I had to sell it due to a new job in a not-so-pleasant part of town. Its 50/50 weight distribution just wasn’t needed on an hour-long rush hour commute next to donked 90s Impalas blasting trap music. I needed something safer and more practical. Still, I miss it dearly. Status: Sold, begrudgingly.
2011 Honda Fit Sport
I will consider the Fit an excellent car as long as its Takata airbag doesn’t carve into my face like a Butterball turkey. Responsive enough for easy heel-toe downshifts, docile enough for my wife to learn stick-shift, and useful enough for just about any IKEA trip, the Fit will be in the family for a long time. The only thing I would add is Bluetooth. And a K20/6-speed from a Civic Si.
Status: Freshly waxed, probably waiting to kill me.
2005 Volvo XC90
Remanded to local daily driver status, it has been pulled off the road for the major road trips as our daughter is now old enough to travel with less baggage and our rather large dog seems totally fine with knocking out 500 mile days in the back seat of the Passat Wagon with only one mid-day stretch of his legs! (If dog’s bladders are rated in MPGottaGo he’s the reigning mileage champ!)
2010 Passat Wagon
Picked this up last summer on our road trip from CA to MI and return. I was looking for one of these for 2 years as I wanted the DSG and they were only available in the US in 2010. Found this one with 22K miles. It’s already hauled us cross country loaded to the walls, with a dog and a car top carrier, and is slated to repeat soon. VW’s just fit me like a glove. In full auto, my wife enjoys having downsizing for her commute, and I like it manually shifting the DSG. It ain’t a sporty car, but it’s just quick enough to make me less grumpy than I would if it was a boost-free slushbox.
1965 Buick Sportwagon
This car has barely moved in the past year. A/C compressor blew a pump seal and the 51 yr old wires serving the front electric windows are causing them to work sporadically. I can get by without A/C but I gotta have some ventilation. I’ll be rewiring the windows in the next couple of weeks and reluctantly putting this one up for sale before the summer. This is a rock solid car, that we should have been using more than we have as it draws rave reviews wherever we go.
Once the summer is behind us, with the Buick gone, the Volvo is next to go. I’ve been hunting for another long roof, but the bigger issue is finding something that I don’t mind parking outside. That points me towards a mid-week matchup. It has to be maintenance free, mostly due to the garage situation. That makes me think it might be time for something like ’02-04 Passat Wagon and a $3k Miata like CFlo’s. Motorcycles take up so much less room, but parenting obligations suggest that I should not subject myself to the day to day attacks by SoCal haters of lane-splitting. As CFlo’s [recent trackday] weekend proves, sometimes its a lot more fun driving a slow car fast. If only I could find my unicorn ’71-73 Opel Manta that I could pop a 215 Buick V8 into!
1973 Alfa Romeo GTV
I’ve wanted a GTV ever since I could remember. Back about 25 years ago (when they were cheap, used cars), I looked around locally, found a few rust buckets, missed a nice one, but didn’t have much luck. I ended up joining the Bay Area Alfa Romeo Association, so I could get their magazine, Overheard Cams and more importantly, access to their classifieds in the back. I found a two owner car for a reasonable price, booked a ticket to SFO and flew down on January 2, 1992. I had a PPI, lined up, gave the man the cashiers check, and pointed it north. It’s wild to think next year will be 25 years of ownership!
Status: Sideways on rollers in the back of the garage, appearing on sunny days and cars and coffee.
1991 Mazda Miata (NA)
I bought The Smurf” a couple of years ago after I sold the Mk1 GTI. I wanted to see if Miata really was the answer. I found a two owner, non-mod-ed car with 46K on the clock on Craigslist and have added another 5K to it. After buying it, I kinda wish I hadn’t waited so long to own a Miata. I can see why guys who own old classics give up on them after buying one. Something to be said for driving vs. wrenching.
Status: Making roarty noises, but not really going that fast.
2005 MINI Cooper S
I was bored with my daily at the end of 2004 and decided to change to a MINI. I liked the look since I saw the AVC30 concept in R&T back in the 90’s and dug the good reviews the enthusiast press was giving them. I ordered it the week before Thanksgiving, 2004. I had to order it from a dealer in Ohio as the WA dealer had no cars and wasn’t taking orders and the neighboring states were much the same. It’s now got 108K miles on it and unlike most of the horror stories on the web, its been reliable and not really expensive to run. Of course I’m comparing it with the 164 I owned for about 10 years…
Status: Waiting to be sold, once the boy has enough money for his own ride.
2015 Mazda CX-5
Mrs. G’s car. Last spring Mrs. G. let me know she was ready to move on from her 12 year old, Toyota stinky van. She didn’t want another van, so we looked at wagons and CUV’s. AWD was a must as my daughter is a downhill ski racer and we are up at The Summit every weekend from January to April. We ended up with a CPO CX-5 with 8K on the clock as it had the best steering feel and taut ride of all the stuff we looked at. It doesn’t have the 230hp of Old Stinky, but it isn’t soul sucking to drive. Mrs. G. also likes the heated leather seats…
Status: Doing the Junior High school run, daily.
2016 Mazda MX-5 (ND)
Gianni’s new DD. We always talk about how one has to be stupid to buy a new car, so call me stupid! But, you will thank us dummies later when there will be something other than stinky minivans and CUV’s to buy second hand. I ordered the car around Halloween last year and took delivery at the end of January. I had never driven an ND, but everyone was calling them a new NA, so I felt pretty good about ordering it. They are right. It’s so nice to drive a small, light, sports car every day, and when its dry, the top is down.
Status: Being a (daily) driver.
Right now, I’m leaving this spot open. I’m in between cars I wish to write about!