And just how often do you change your underwear?
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© 2002-2004 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.
We've had so many cars over the years that our friends and family have asked for a cheat sheet so that they know which car we are talking about. Well, it's kind of a goofy thing to do, but we love talking about cars so we figured, why not? So here's a rundown on all the cars that have come and gone over the years. As an extra bonus, we've blatantly ripped off Car and Driver magazine's Highs/Lows/Verdict summary format in case you're also thinking about buying something similar.|
||Honorary: 1985 Chevrolet Suburban Silverado|
We never actually owned this truck, but we drove it so much that it sometimes felt like we did. It was gargantahuge, and could carry 14 passengers without too much discomfort. Fuel economy was pretty pathetic, and its off-road capabilities weren't as good as one might think. It stayed in the family for 18 years, passed around as needed.
Highs: Hauls almost anything. Great intimidation factor.
Lows: Parallel parking. Fuel consumption. Lack of paint adhesion.
Verdict: A great truck to borrow. Not as great to drive regularly.
||Vehicle 1: 1970 Dodge Charger|
For a first car, this one was pretty cool. It had only a 318, so it wasn't stunningly fast, but it was way better than the imported econocars of our classmates. It took a lot of abuse in its daily-driver years. But keep in mind, at the time it was just an old car, not some valuable collectible to be pampered. It broke down frequently, which is why we became so familiar with the Suburban noted previously. After 13 years we sold it to someone who promised to restore it.
Highs: Timeless looks. Super cool. Cheap and easy to work on.
Lows: Frequent breakdowns. Not really fast. No A/C or FM radio.
Verdict: A wonderful classic musclecar that finally will get restored.
||Vehicle 2: 1988 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z|
We were getting tired of the constant repairs on the Charger, so we went looking for a more contemporary sports car. Rear-wheel-drive cars were hard to find, especially for a hardcore Mopar loyalist, so we found the hottest late-model Mopar we could afford. Though very fast, the combination of turbo power and front-wheel-drive made for some spooky handling; this is the only car we've ever spun out. The red rocket was also hard on the driver's license; after a year we were in danger of taking the bus. It had to go.
Highs: Very fast for its era. Sharp looks. Relatively reliable. T-tops!
Lows: FWD/turbo handling. Tickets. Lots of tickets.
Verdict: Great fun that needed to be had in a less visible color.
||Vehicle 3: 1980 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz|
Desperate for a car that wouldn't attract so much police attention, this aging luxury coupe caught our attention with its $400 price tag. We put $200 into the suspension and had to flush the oil twice before it came out amber. It was nowhere near fast but it was comfortable and had a nice big hood with a Cadillac emblem on the other end of it. Strange electrical gremlins started appearing a couple of months after bringing it home, leaving us stranded regularly. After trying to sell it for a little while, we just gave up and donated it to the American Cancer Society.
Highs: Comfortable. Cool in a way that only an aging Cadillac can be cool. Dirt cheap.
Lows: Never really did run right.
Verdict: A mistake, but a cheap mistake.
||Vehicle 4: 1990 Pontiac Grand Am SE|
This is the car that broke us of our "Buy American" loyalty. It didn't take us long to refer to the car as the Evil Grand Am. Though the Quad 4 was peppy and the car drove well when it was running, it frequently was not running or would have intermittent and virtually untraceable problems. It was a bear to repair and seemed to enjoy tormenting us. When we finally sold this one we never looked back.
Highs: It was a reasonable car when it wasn't acting up.
Lows: It acted up quite a lot.
Verdict: Not our worst car, but import manufacturers can thank GM for this one.
||Vehicle 5: 1993 Pontiac Bonneville SE|
It's hard to believe this car was built by the same people who built the Evil Grand Am. We had it for five years and put 155,000 miles on it. Along the way it needed virtually no repairs other than routine maintenance. It was a bit bulky for daily driving, but not too bad. The only real disappointment was the ABS system, which failed and was far too expensive to repair. The transmission was starting to slip near the end, though.
Highs: Very reliable. Roomy. Relatively stylish.
Lows: Bulky. Somewhat boring. ABS failure.
Verdict: A really good car when what we needed most was a really good car.
||Honorary: 1995 Ford Mustang GT|
This was actually a friend's car, but we did so much work on it that we felt a strong bond to it. We learned how to do all kinds of performance modifications on it, from the early days of "look we installed a catback exhaust!" to the final days of "are we ever gonna get this supercharger to work right?" The best part about it was, like someone else's misbehaving kids, we got to send it home with someone else when it just wouldn't work right.
Highs: Fun to work on. Ultimately someone else's problem.
Lows: Never as fast as it should have been. Funky styling.
Verdict: A great car for a friend to have.
||Vehicle 6: 1998 Pontiac Firebird Formula|
With a new well-paying job, we went all-out and picked up a brand-new Firebird with the 5.7L LS1 V8 and six-speed manual transmission. To say this car was fast is to say that the space shuttle has thrust. It had 300 hp and ran the quarter-mile in the mid-13s. We had a blast racing this car at tracks all over the Mid-Atlantic. Our one disappointment was with the transmission; it needed to be rebuilt by 25,000 miles. But after we bought a house, the payments were killing us. We moved on to other interests.
Highs: Fast. Fast. Really really fast.
Lows: Transmission durability. High car payments. Cost of parts.
Verdict: Fast. Extremely fast. Great track car. Hard to let go of this one.
||Vehicle 7: 1974 Dodge 100 Adventurer|
The new house was out in the country, so we needed a truck to do things like haul trash and tractors and things. But we didn't have much money to spend, so we found a rather worn-out truck about 200 miles from home; the guy was willing to sell for $650. We took it, and along the way home the exhaust fell off. This proved to be a warning for what life would be like with our truck "Col. Mosby". Over the next several years, various bits and pieces fell off. We learned how to do all kinds of amazing repairs on Mosby, since parts were dirt cheap and it needed lots of them. But, it hauled anything we ever needed it to haul.
Highs: Hauls anything. Dirt cheap replacement parts. Simple to work on.
Lows: Ugly. 10 mpg. Frequent repairs.
Verdict: A great farm truck. Lousy transportation.
||Vehicle 8: 1940 Chrysler Royal|
There's a long story behind this car, but the short version goes something like this: employee wants prewar car. Employer has one that needs restoration but he won't sell. Eventually he gives in. Employee gets car. Stores car, never does anything with it. Finally sells car to someone else to restore, disappointed. It was a great old car with a known history since new and all the major parts were there. It was as close to the perfect project you could ask for. The next guy got really lucky. Bugger.
Highs: Neat old car.
Lows: Never did anything with it but look at it.
Verdict: Sometimes dreams don't come true.
||Vehicle 9: 1985 Jaguar XJ-S H.E.|
We'd wanted an XJ-S for years, so once the Firebird's time was up we grabbed one. It's hard to explain what the appeal of this car is: it's got good looks, excellent handling, and a V12. Overall it's a good package. But the one we picked out turned out to be more of a project car than we bargained for, and it actually spent little of its time with us in running condition. We know they're not all like this, but this one needed more than we could give it, so after a couple of years we gave up and sold it.
Highs: Drives great. Looks good. V12. Ahh. V12.
Lows: Fuel economy. Cost of parts. Frequency of repair.
Verdict: A great project car. Not a great daily driver. We needed a daily driver.
||Honorary: 1953 Jaguar XK120|
We didn't own this car, but we got to pretend for half a year or so. Some Australians bought this pre-restoration XK120 roadster and needed a place to put it until their container was ready. We volunteered to let them keep it with us, and they accepted. It was nice to dream for a while.
Highs: Didn't actually have to spend anything on it.
Lows: Didn't run. Wasn't ours anyway.
Verdict: No harm done, helped someone out, nice lawn ornament.
||Vehicle 10: 1984 Porsche 928S|
We wanted one. We bought one. You only live once! We figured it would go well with the XJ-S, and they did look good together. But what we didn't figure was that the repair costs of a 928S make the repair costs of the XJ-S look positively affordable. So we enjoyed the Porsche for half a year and then sold it before it ate us alive.
Highs: Timeless looks. Great fun to drive. Reasonably practical too.
Lows: Extraordinarily expensive to repair.
Verdict: We loved the car but not the cost.
||Vehicle 11: 1986 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z|
A group of friends pooled their resources and bought us this car as a gift. A car as a gift! How cool is that! We flogged this car mercilessly because it was pretty much a rolling turd when we got it, and we didn't see putting a whole lot of money into it. It was much slower than it looked, turning high 16s in the quarter mile. But it cost next to nothing to maintain, demanding only regular maintenance, two tires, and the occasional odds and ends. We sold it when the tranny finally let go.
Highs: Can't argue with free. Fun to have a reliable beater.
Lows: Stinky, loud, no A/C.
Verdict: Great fun for a year. Thanks guys!
||Vehicle 12: 1996 Mazda MX-5 Miata|
The concept of having several older cars, counting on at least two of them being running at any one time, was not working out well. Our Miata was our first step away from that formula and back toward relatively late-model cars. As it happened, we stumbled onto one of the best cars ever built, from what we could tell. It's a blast to drive and easy to service. Alas, it was taken from us in a rather bad accident after only five weeks. We will forever miss this fun little car.
Highs: Great fun. Reliable. Efficient. Convertible!
Lows: Tiny. Crappo stereo.
Verdict: The best car we've ever owned, driven, borrowed, or rode in.
||Vehicle 13: 2001 Plymouth Neon LX|
We were on a real efficiency kick, and bought the Neon within weeks of the Miata. In comparison to the Miata it was spacious. It could haul everything we really asked of it, since we still had Mosby around for the really big stuff. And it got great fuel economy. Though a practical and efficient car for the suburbs, it was out of its element when we moved to West Virginia, and we traded it in.
Highs: Fuel economy. No repairs.
Lows: No frills. Very basic.
Verdict: A good commuter car.
||Vehicle 14: 1995 Cadillac Seville STS|
A little gun-shy after the Miata accident, we wanted a car that would be more noticeable in Northern Virginia traffic. We ultimately decided on this Seville. With 300 hp and considerable bulk, it was perfect for the environment we bought it for: long daily slogs on high-speed highways. It ran faster than the Mustang in the quarter-mile, and cornered reasonably well for its size. But when we moved to West Virginia it was out of its element, getting a dismal 15 mpg on the hills and raising questions about the transmission's long-term durability in the brutal new environment. After a relatively short stay it was time to move on.
Highs: Comfortable. Powerful. Good-looking.
Lows: Front-wheel-drive. Lousy fuel economy when not in overdrive. Heavy.
Verdict: Perfect on the highway. Ill-suited to twisty mountain roads.
||Vehicle 15: 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport|
Subaru basically went to West Virginia and built a car for it. Its engine is powerful enough to make its way through the mountains even with a load, it's nimble enough for the curves, and the all-wheel-drive is ideal for snowy mountain passes. With all of the utilitarian options available on this car, it's like an adult Erector set.
Highs: AWD. Cargo capacity. Nimble.
Lows: Too expensive for a car of this size. Could use more pep.
Verdict: Is there a Subaru logo on the state flag yet?
||Vehicle 16: 2002 Chevrolet Camaro Z28|
We tried so hard to be responsible and drive sensible cars. We were kidding ourselves. When spring broke in the mountains, we cracked and went looking for a sports car again. The goal was to get a convertible, with a manual and enough ponies to get around the mountains, and size enough to actually be useful. This is the car we chose: sort of a melding of our Miata and our Firebird.
Highs: Way fast. Drop-top. Let the good times roll.
Lows: Cars are getting much too expensive.
Verdict: A great car for the soul, as long as the big paychecks keep coming in.
||Vehicle 17: 1986 Honda Rebel CMX250|
One thing that's been missing from our motorized experiences was a motorcycle. We decided to rectify that while we're still young enough to not creak (too much) as we swing over the saddle. Our first bike was a 250cc Rebel, a great small cruiser that is lightweight, easy to handle, and really really easy on gas. It does very well for in-town riding.
Highs: Good looks, cheap to own & maintain, any bike is fun!
Lows: Underpowered and a little cramped.
Verdict: Excellent first bike, good commuter in a flat place. Not so good in mountains.
||Vehicle 18: 2002 Honda Shadow Spirit VT750DC|
We thought we might outgrow the Rebel, and we did. Though it did well around town and we enjoyed the 70 mpg, we struggled riding to work through the West Virginia mountains. So, we moved on to this Shadow Spirit, an enthusiastic and sporty cruiser. The extra horsepower sure was nice, as was the extra space to stretch out. Plus it looked way cool. Mileage? Still over 50 in the flatlands, but high 40s were more typical around here.
Highs: Great looks, Honda reliability, powerful enough for the mountains.
Lows: Heavy. No tach. Cornering limitations. Low-tech sometimes gets annoying (tube tires?!).
Verdict: We loved this bike, but didn't always love being on a cruiser.
||Vehicle 19: 1977 Honda CB750 K5|
Project cars never seemed to work out very well around here, and hopefully the reason for that is because cars are so darn big and expensive. Motorcycles, on the other hand, are small and (comparatively) cheap. Originally we were going to rebuild this bike as a commuter for a friend, then we thought we might restore it, but the current plan is to make a cafe racer out of it.
Highs: Dirt cheap and parts are plentiful.
Lows: Not actually, you know, running.
Verdict: Too early to say. Hopefully spectacular.
||Vehicle 20: 1975 Honda CB750F|
eBay can get you in trouble. I found an auction for four CB750s in various states of assembly, put in a stupid low bid, and actually won them. 1400 miles of driving later, here they are. This one, "Big Red", is the most complete and closest to running again. The plan here is to finish rebuilding it, then ride it while waiting for it to sell.
Highs: It's pretty neat lookin' and has some trick parts on it.
Lows: Electrics are blown and some other parts look a bit dodgy.
Verdict: Probably a better buy than the '77, and it came with three other bikes too!
||Vehicle 21: 1971 Honda CB750|
This one is a former and possibly future drag bike. It's got what appears to be a nicely modified engine -- we haven't measured it for specs yet, but there's some hardcore-looking bits in the valvetrain -- but it definitely has seen better days. The frame is cut so restoring it to a normal street bike is out of the question. For now, it gets shoved in a back corner, but down the road it'll either be returned to its drag racing specs or turned into a chopper maybe.
Highs: Vintage drag bikes are cool.
Lows: Looks like a lot of it has gone to the care and feeding of other vintage drag bikes.
Verdict: If the engine's good, schweeeet! Otherwise, parts.
||Vehicle 22: 1973 Honda CB750|
If we had to guess, we'd say we still have about 50% of this bike in boxes. The frame's straight and we have an extra engine sitting around, so this one is screaming for a restoration or a cafe treatment. In the meantime, its main benefit is that the wheel on the back makes it real easy to wheel out of the way when we need to get at the other bikes.
Highs: The open book of potential.
Lows: Some assembly required.
Verdict: Worth a few bucks even if we never build anything on it.
||Vehicle 23: 1978 Honda CB750F|
The '78 CB750F had some cool features, such as the Comstar wheels with disc brakes and a hotter engine. The engine from this one was cooked, but we got the F cylinder head at least, and we've got another motor to build around. Most of the F goodies are still in boxes here and there, but this one will likely require more visits to eBay to ever finish.
Highs: Ummmm... basically free.
Lows: Basically just a frame and a few spares.
Verdict: If we still like building CB750s by the time we get to this frame, at least it's ready to go.
||Vehicle 24: 2003 Kawasaki ZZR1200|
Project bikes are all well and good, but you still need something to haul the mail. We've long lusted after a sport touring machine to go faster, corner harder, and travel farther. After looking at a succession of dilapidated wrecks, we went in the total opposite direction: shiny-new. So here it is.
Highs: Good-looking, fast, nimble, awesome brakes, relatively comfortable, hard bags, more horsepower than several of the cars on this page.
Lows: Beefy and heavy, making it tiring around town or on bad roads.
Verdict: It's like owning your own hyperdrive with luggage.
||Vehicle 25: 2000 Kawasaki ZR-7|
Much as we liked the Shadow, we switched to using the ZZR-1200 most of the time. But we still needed a backup bike, preferably something nimble, light, and comfortable -- and with similar ergos to the ZZR so that it would be easy to switch back and forth. Enter the ZR-7, a one-year wonder from Kawi that is just about perfect for us.
Highs: Nice naked/standard look, good clearance (for cornering and for bad roads), lightweight, nimble in town.
Lows: Wind blast on highways. Hard starting. Air-cooled?!
Verdict: All around an excellent bike, especially useful around town and on unpaved roads.
||Vehicle 26: 1978 Honda CB750F Supersport|
Okay, so we really didn't need this bike, and we don't actually expect to keep it very long. But the seller seemed to think it had major issues while the buyer (us) secretly thought it probably didn't. Buyer was right. We had this beast running halfway decent by the end of the day, and put 200 miles on it the next.
Highs: Finally, a CB750 that runs! And does it ever! Good handling, great power. Such fun for so little moolah!
Lows: Heavy. Requires kickstarting due to an inop neutral switch. Needs cosmetics & some detail work.
Verdict: Hard to believe it's possible to get this much utility for so cheap.