CrapWagon of the Day: Bumpers!

July 23, 2013 at 6:49 am


Now, our latest CrapWagon is not in horrible shape.  For the most part, the body of the pickup was fair.  But what really caught my attention was the personalized chrome “bling” bumper!  It appears that either the bumper was broken, or the owner wanted to jazz it up a bit by adding some chrome.  However, he or she did it the wrong way.  It’s difficult to see, but the owner actually used silver duct/HVAC tape!  This awful, but quick fix, makes this pickup our latest CrapWagon!

An End of an Era: My Xterra

June 25, 2013 at 5:21 am

Picture 10823This post was inevitable, but extremely delayed due to my busy schedule and me applying to grad school.  May  29th, 2013 began like every other day off: catching up on sleep, followed up with a lunchtime Panera Bread run.  My 2000 Nissan Xterra, with around 155,000 miles was performing quite well for age.  However, as I turned the corner onto the main road, something went terribly wrong; I couldn’t accelerate to more than 20mph, while my tachometer hovered around 1000RPMs.  I knew that something was wrong, and had a gut feeling that this would not be an easy or inexpensive fix.  After letting the engine cool down for a bit, I was able to get it started and make it to my mechanic’s shop.  After running the codes, turns out I needed a new CAM sensor, along with a Knock Sensor.  This was going to cost me more than I hoped it would, which caused me to make one of my most recent, toughest, decisions: should I keep throwing money into the Xterra, or go with something new.  Well, obviously, I decided to trade the Xterra in for  a 2013 GMC Terrain.  This was an excellent upgrade, but I will always miss my Xterra.  Now, I can’t ram into massive snow banks while driving to work, or cruising through lake-sized puddles without any care.

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So, this post is dedicated to my 2000 solar yellow, Nissan Xterra, complete with a Whelen strobe kit, police scanner, and rear tail light guards.  Thank you for getting me to high school during my senior year, battling some of the worst traffic on the SouthEast Expressway.  Thank you for getting me to work in the worst weather conditions.  When the governor told people during a blizzard to stay off the road, and if they were caught, they’d be arrested, I had to drive 20 miles in the height of the blizzard for the EMS job, since I’m essential personnel.  My Xterra got me there safely and kicked ass in the 2 feet of snow on the unplowed roads.  Finally, thanks Xterra for 8 solid years of getting me all over the place safely without any major problems.  (Well, except for the time I lost my ABS in the middle of Roxbury).  I’ll definitely miss my Xterra, but I’m looking forward to what my GMC Terrain has in store for me.  Check back later on for my review of the Terrain thus far!

Crap(truck)Wagon: Ford F-150

June 10, 2013 at 11:01 am

Picture 10769

This gem was found in the South End of  Boston, an area known for it’s money, and up until this point, it’s nice vehicles.  Don’t be fooled by the bumper falling off; it actually doubled as a plow in this year’s February blizzard!  Other than the bumper, it looks to be in pretty decent condition.  However, the bumper, which is more than likely held on by zip ties, makes this Ford F-150 our latest crap wagon (Or truck)!

Crap Wagon Twofer!!!

April 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

While at a stop light on Melnea Cass Blvd in Roxbury, I came across a rare “twofer”! An open-wheeled BMW stopped behind a Volvo that has seen better days.

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It appears that open-rear wheel racing is back in Roxbury!

Fantasy Garage: Godzilla Edition- Matt’s Picks

April 16, 2013 at 3:02 am

Well, it is now my turn to pick the criteria for the latest Fantasy Garage.  As I drove around in a 2000 Nissan Xterra, I thought very hard as to what I could propose for our latest challenge.  That’s when the idea hit to do a Godzilla edition, aimed towards foreign cars.  The criteria: 1. a Japanese brand vehicle, 2. a “zombie apocalypse”  vehicle, and 3. a “rice rocket”- a sports/racing bike, just to throw a curve ball into the equation.  The price cap: $54,000.   Why such a strange number? Well the original Godzilla movie was debuted in 1954, so I just tacked a few zero’s on to the year.  So enjoy my picks for this latest edition of Fantasy Garage.

– Japanese-brand vehicle: 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S – $3500

SoT Altima

This vehicle is small enough to be able to cruise around in the city without any issues.  It comes complete with power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, and cruise control.  It’s valued at $4393, according to Kelly Blue Book, but as a price like this, it’s a decent deal.  Not to mention the other Nissan sedan choices were either a tan/gray color that has seen better days, or a green/blue which just looks horrendous!


– Zombie Apocalypse Escape Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X – $31,131 (accessories included)

Sot Xterra Pro4x

I’m a big fan of the Nissan Xterra. I own a 2000 Nissan Xterra which I purchased pre-owned in 2005 and I have had no major complaints since.  However, it is riding at around 154K miles, so the complaint list is beginning to grow- but that’s expected.  Regardless of these issues, I still chose the Xterra as my escape vehicle.  After pricing it out to fit my needs, including side steps, rain guards, and a tow hitch, this vehicle runs for a little more than $31,000.  Not a bad deal.  I’ll probably toss in another $1000 in strobe lights and police scanner installation, which would bring me up to my $54,000 goal.   This vehicle is needed to drive over debris and anything else that may be lying in the road post- apocalypse.  In addition to all of this, motor trend picked the Xterra to be one vehicle which would excel during an apocalypse.


Rice Rocket: 2012 Ducati with 848 EVO – $13,995

SoT Ducati 2012

I’ll be honest and say I’m not a big fan of bikes.  They’re very unsafe and do not leave much room for error.  Whether it’s an inexperienced operator, or the other idiots on the road, I could never see myself on any motorcycle.  However, this is a sharp looking bike, and if I didn’t care about anything, and didn’t live in New England where you can ride a bike for only one third of the year (might be an overestimate), then I would be seen on this.

Well, this puts my total to roughly $48,626.  I’ll probably spend the remainder adding strobes and police scanners, like I said earlier on the Xterra.  With the Altima, I’ll probably have to throw money into maintenance.  And finally, with the Ducati, the remainder will be spent on hospital bills since I don’t even know how to ride a motorcycle.  Well, those are my picks! I hope you enjoyed them!

A Slight Adjustment

April 16, 2013 at 1:06 am

I found this addition on one of the ambulances a few days ago.  I thought that it had a little more “kick” to it after they made a few slight adjustments. Figured we all could use one of these!



The Life of an Ambulance Driver

April 9, 2013 at 2:34 am

As the EMT/ First Responder of the group, I was asked by my colleagues to write about what exactly it is like being the wheel of an ambulance, driving with lights and sirens.  It was also suggested that I mention the dos and don’ts of what to do when you see an ambulance, fire engine, or police car approaching from behind.  I know I can’t cover every situation, but I will hit the ones that I come across most frequently.  Before continuing, I would like to make it clear that they do not let any moron behind the wheel of an emergency vehicle.  All operators must complete and pass an Emergency Vehicle Operations course, comprised of classroom and driving time.

SoT Amb Cart

               So, what’s it like driving an F450 Ambulance around with the lights and sirens on, going to pick up a patient or while you have one in back?  At first, to the inexperienced novice, it is one of the biggest adrenaline rushes you could ever get.  For the ones who have a few years of experience and driving under their belt, it’s like a normal drive, while avoiding the idiots who seem like they are completely oblivious to the lights and sirens.  While you’re driving with the lights and sirens on, you become the biggest target on the road, and similar to hazardous road conditions, people forget how to drive.  Finally, driving in the suburbs/countryside is completely different from responding in the city.  When responding through the suburbs, people on BOTH sides of the road pull over and STOP.  In fact, one time, when I was responding, I had a guy on the opposite side of the road put all 4 tires on someone’s lawn, despite me not having a single vehicle in front of me, blocking my path.  A bit of overkill, perhaps, but I still waved and thanked him.

Now, responding in the city is completely different.  In the city, no one wants to move out of the way of the emergency vehicle, unless it’s a cop who can pull them over.  Not to mention, people do not understand the concept of pulling over to the RIGHT, or if a lane is free at an intersection, to keep it free despite which lane it is.  Now, I’m not sure if if people don’t move out of the way because of pure ignorance, or just plain stupidity, but regardless, we know you can see us in your mirror, and it shouldn’t be a surprise when we’re behind you, blasting our air-horn.

So, with all this being said, here are some quick tips for when you see an emergency vehicle responding behind you:

– Pull over to the RIGHT (not left, and don’t just stop in the middle of the road) and come to a COMPLETE STOP.  It’s not easy having to maneuver and have to consider how much space we have when you’re still moving.

–  If there’s awful traffic, some drivers may “play Moses” and split the lanes.  In this case, the left lane pulls over the left, and the right lane over to the right.

– If you’re an an intersection and you see a lane open, (even if it’s the far right lane where you would normally pull over into), keep that lane OPEN, giving us easy access through the light.  Not mention, everyone stop at the intersection!  It allows us to plan our moves before we come up to the area.

– Don’t follow close to us.  We may have to stop suddenly and you may not.  (And we’ll probably win).  Also, police officers love to follow pull over people who are driving too close to emergency vehicles.  (Keep back 300 feet actually means something).  Also, we have extra weight with water tanks, equipment, and patients, so it takes us longer to stop- so PAY ATTENTION!

– We have our lights and siren on for a reason-  because we are needed, so get out of our way because you never know who we are going for- could be your family or a friend.

– Most importantly, there may be multiple emergency vehicles behind one another.  We are required to keep at least 500 feet of running room between us.  So before cutting back into your lane, check to make sure another emergency vehicle isn’t coming.

– Despite all these rules/bits of advice, we (emergency vehicles) do not own the roads.  We still have to stop at all red lights and stop signs despite how severe of a call we’re on.  Also, not many know but we have to stop for school buses who have their Stop signs displayed-  Not too many civilians know that fact either.


With all this said from the perspective of one who is behind the wheel of an ambulance, saving and improving lives, my coworkers and I would hope that you all pay more attention next time an emergency vehicle is behind you. Enjoy the YouTube clip I found of an fire truck responding to a fire.  Take note on the idiot in the SUV at 0:50.  Don’t be that guy!


Pinto! Found in the Fenway area of Boston

April 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm


Here’s the latest Crap Wagon.  Found this while driving around Boston.  It appears to be a Ford Pinto.  What makes it a Crap Wagon?  Well, besides it being a Pinto with an awful gas tank design, causing punctures similar to the Ford Explorer, there is significant front end damage on the driver’s side.  Not to mention this hideous green color!


$10K Fantasy Garage- Matt’s Rat Boxes

April 2, 2013 at 2:01 am

I really thought this would be easier than it actually was.  I started this out with a few cars and trucks I would like and picked them.  Then when I was left with about $200, I knew I had to revamp my choices. So sit back, and enjoy my collection of rat boxes for under $10,000.

1964 Chevrolet C10 Custom Cab: $2,950

1964ChevyC10Cust Everyone needs a pick up truck, and this was the best one I could find with in this price range.  The seller says this truck runs, but the only catch is that seller bolted on fenders and put in a ’61 GMC V6 engine along with a 4 speed transmission, which only makes this truck “Yard Driveable” (for now).  This truck is a 1/2 ton, which means you’d be able to haul a lot of hay, dirt, and tractor parts in your hick truck.


1984 Pontiac Grand Prix: $3500

1984GP This is my fun beater- something that I can spin the tires with and impress the ladies, as long as they like old beaters whose hoods don’t latch on completely.  Pontiac has always made great vehicles, but unfortunately, due to the economy, the ceased production and this company shut down a few years ago.  Here are some vehicle specifics from the seller: recent V6 231 motor and TCI 200-4R transmission, polyurethane bushings and recent front end work.


1970 International Fire Truck: $2,795

1970 IntFT Of course, I would need to find an emergency beater!  This was taken out of service from a fire department in 2007.  According to the seller, it starts right up, and drives well.  In addition to this, the lights siren work, and this truck is capable of spraying foam.  The only downfall is that a warranty is not included.  If you can get over that, then you will definitely enjoy cruising down the back roads with your 5 speed manual transmission.  Surprisingly, this truck only has 2,433 miles on it, which means the call volume for this department must be extremely low.

I believe this leaves me with approximately $700 left over, which will probably be used for towing expenses when all of these break down in the middle of no where.



A New Look for Buick

March 26, 2013 at 1:35 am

SOT Buick Regal                 It appears that the old man car of yesterday is now the hip, sporty car of today.  With in recent years, Buick has shifted their focus towards the younger generation with vehicles such as the Lacrosse, Lucerne, and now with the rebirth of the Regal.  Additionally, Buick also made the attempt at SUVs, such as the Rendezvous in 2001, which were not as successful as their sedans.  The only exception to this would be the Buick Enclave, a more luxurious SUV, similar to a GMC Arcadia.

Buick began this transformation to a younger audience in the spring of 2001, by introducing the 2002 Buick Rendezvous to their line up.  This was the first truck in Buick’s line up since 1923.  Comparable to the Pontiac Aztek, the Rendezvous was classified as a mid-sized crossover, which boosted Buick’s sales.  This was a great improvement in the Buick line up, lasting from 2002 up through 2007.  The Buick Rainier was the next SUV to be produced by Buick.  This full sized, luxury SUV was introduced in 2004 to replace the Oldsmobile Bravada.  The Rainier was the first rear wheel drive vehicle to be produced by Buick since the Roadmaster.  Both the Rendezvous and the Rainier were replaced in 2007 by the Buick Enclave.  In addition to these two vehicles, Buick also manufactured a minivan, the Terraza from 2005-2007.  The sale of this vehicle was quite poor in the U.S., which caused Buick to discontinue production of this model.  As previously mentioned, Buick then joined the full size luxury crossover competition, and released the Enclave in May of 2007, as a 2008 model.  This model was accepted with much praise, and similarly to the Rendezvous, has boosted Buick’s sales.

Not only has Buick transformed their appearance with the introduction of their SUVs, but also with the introduction of new sedan models from the Lacrosse and Lucerne to the Regal, Verano, and Encore.   The Lacrosse was introduced in late 2004 as a 2005 model to replace the Century and the Regal.  In Canada, the Lacrosse was originally sold as the “Allure”, since “la crosse” is translated from Quebec French as “self love”.  I have driven this vehicle before, and I can say that it is a very nice with respect to both the interior and exterior.  Additionally, it handled very well and I was very comfortable sitting in it.  The Buick Lucerne, introduced as a 2006 model, was another great product of Buick.  This vehicle replaced both the Park Avenue and LeSabre models.  It handles very well, and both its V6 and V8 version have excellent acceleration.  This luxury sedan could definitely be compared to a Cadillac in some aspects.  Unfortunately, it was discontinued in 2011, making room for new and improved Buick models.

More recently, Buick has released the Regal, Verano, and the Encore models.  The Regal, which was discontinued in 2004, began production in the US for the latest model in 2011.  This model was both advertised and sold as an “upscale sport sedan”.  I have not personally driven this model, but I have yet to hear anything negative about it.  Buick also introduced its first compact sedan, a 2012 Verano, since the 1997 Skylark.  This vehicle appears to be very fuel efficient, as it is comparable to the Chevrolet Cruze. Finally, Buick has most recently added the Encore to their product line.  Unveiled in 2012, and sold in the U.S. beginning in January 2013, the Encore is the first subcompact crossover to be produced by Buick.  This crossover is comparable to Opel’s Mokka.

As you can see, Buick is no longer the old man, last ride car that we once knew it as.  With Buick’s improvements with in the past 10 years, I see big thing in their future, especially now that they have extended their customer range from young adults to older adults.

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