10K Fantasy Garage – Jonathan’s picks

March 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m not a beater guy. I like my cars new or fairly new and if it’s old, it better something somewhat nice. On top of that I’m a bit of a germaphobe, who knows who and what has been done in some vehicle that has 100K miles on it. I was expecting this to be very difficult for me, finding three cars for 10K when I’d probably have a tough time looking for one at 10K. So decided to have laugh and “buy” things that would give me some stories to tell

The Daily Driver ( I go home to my pipe and slippers buy) – 1990 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign – $3,000

The most class you can get for three grand, so what if it’s very thirsty and the electrical system acts like coke-fuelled Lindsey Lohan. You’re going to look great when the wipers don’t work or the windows go down in the middle of  rainstorm.  When you drive a car like this, no matter how crappy it is under the hood, people are going to think you’re from old money, went to an elite private school and you or a fellow male family member is named Nigel.

This car was found on Craigslist in North Andover, MA with the contact being a guy named Damien. He either fits the description above or someone looking to upgrade their baller status. The car is clean outside and the interior shows no marks from the last fox hunt.

The Weekend Ride (Only because I have the best AAA membership and a mechanic named Ralf is eternally indebted to me) – 1988 VW Scirocco 16v – $4,200


The rule of thumb on VW’s, especially old ones is that they’re fantastic cars…when they work. Whatever you pay for car, double the cost and that’s at least your yearly maintenance cost . Scirocco’s are your typical German: great ideas but poor execution/not being able to complete the job. This one (found on ebay) is said to have a rebuilt engine, new fuel injectors, new clutch, new brakes, new water pump. What the seller didn’t say was he’s now seeing a mental health professional and had to sell a kidney to cover the costs of the repairs.

The Can’t Be Killed Rust Warrior – 1985 Toyota Land Crusier – $2990

Land Cruiser

The true definition of a beater, this SUV refuses to die; rust, zombie apocalypse  and one or two nuclear holocausts couldn’t kill this Land Crusier. It looks like hell but so bad ass at the same time. Who cares if your feet might fall through the floor and you need to make sure your shots are up to date. Take this anywhere and you get respect.


Brett Quinn – A Sons of Taki Hero

March 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Legacy GT Update #2

The Leggy GT will live. Planet Subaru Service Manager  Brett Quinn called me this afternoon to give me the news. Subaru decided to cover the costs of the repairs to the Leggy GT, all I need to do was pay the small deductible (which is minimal in the grand scheme of things). Brett will now order new cylinder heads, a short block and turbo (basically I’m getting a whole new engine). I greatly appreciate Brett’s hard work over the past week in helping the Sons of Taki cause and allowing the Leggy to live.

I laughed as he was somewhat apologetic in that it may take a few weeks to get done, I told him I didn’t care; the fact that he did a great job and the wonderful people at Subaru decided to cover the cost was more than enough to satisfy me. Hell, I wasn’t losing my shirt by having to spend a fortune on repairs nor would I have to look for a new car when this one wasn’t paid off.

So once again, thank you Brett Quinn, if we ever make it big and have a Hall of Fame, you may be a candidate for our first class

Lav’s $10K Beater Corral

March 28, 2013 at 11:40 pm

As a follow-up to this week’s $150K bundle of joy, I’ve now struck out for a lineup that’s near and dear to my heart: beaters. Except, like a comfy sweater with a few holes or an old beach towel that’s bleached by the sun, beaters don’t necessarily have to be beaters. In fact, most of my selections are just the affordable versions of some once kick-ass cars.

Daily driver: 1990 Ford Taurus SHO – $4,000

I spend too much time making up bad puns involving the word “show” to not thoroughly enjoy driving this piece of 80’s goodness. Take a mundane family sedan, call up a few Asian pals who normally make sportbikes and outboard motors, and then ask them to build you a hotrod. I’ve always heard cocaine flowed like a river in the big hair era, but it must have been squirted out of air fresheners at Ford’s headquarters. And then to give it a manual transmission? Mercy. I’ll take mine with the slicer alloys.


Track rat: 1987 Isuzu Impulse Turbo – $3,000

Oh, yeah. I went there. A damn ISUZU. Actually, think of it as the fairer twin of the VW Scirocco, except it’s rear wheel drive, came factory turbocharged, Lotus breathed on it (or in its general direction) and it’s an ISUZU. I have loved these things for as long as I can remember, and it’s frightening to think that someday I will likely chase someone down, screaming “HERE, TAKE MY MONEY!” should I find one with all the trimmings and most of its sheet metal still intact. It also is the epitome of 80’s logic, of which there was very little. Might explain why Isuzu doesn’t sell cars here anymore.


Rock hopper: 1991 Jeep Wrangler Renegade – $3,000

Oftentimes, I wish I born a few years sooner. The early 90’s seemingly captured everything I love in a car today, from mesh wheels to fender flares and average vehicles becoming a little less average. Best of all, that even included monstrosities like the Jeep Wrangler Renegade. LOOK AT IT. It’s got a factory wide body, kick-ass moniker WITH its own pinstripe, monster fog lamps, multi-hole alloys, inline six, five-speed – oh yeah, and it’s four wheel drive because it’s a FREAKIN’ JEEP. When’s the last time you heard “Jeep” and “body kit” in the same sentence that you didn’t convulse with fear, anger, or likely, both? Well, the 90’s called and left a message saying thanks, you’re welcome, and have a nice day.



That does it, kids. The SHO and Renegade are on eBay right now – just need to get an “Impulse” to say bye-bye to the E46.


What I did there, do you see it?

When a Legacy GT becomes a Legacy

March 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm


What the sound of metal going through a wood chipper sounds like

What the sound of metal going through a wood chipper looks like


My relationship with my Legacy GT has hit an all time low. Over the weekend I was on my way to visit fellow Son of Taki Jeff Lavery for some burgers and car talk when the CEL came on. For my Leggy, this is a common occurrence especially since the car misfires and throws a CEL light in any temperature under 40 degrees. So I carried on; as I got closer to SOT’s Southern headquarters (of course being too late to turn around) I heard a clunk or two which wasn’t part of the Leggy’s monthly light show.

On the return trip to SOT’s coastal base, the noises got worse and more frequent as I got closer to home. Coming from a fairly Catholic family, I  began reciting every prayer I learned during 11 years of CCD and 8 combined years of Catholic High School and College. The car made it home but the sound it made when I stepped on the accelerator can only be described as pieces of metal being put in a wood chipper.

There are some great mechanics that maintain the SOT fleet and I had an oil change booked with one of them for two days later, so I contacted them and told them what the situation was and I would drop the car so they could look at it first thing the next morning (it being Sunday). I feared the worst, with it being a broken rod or a blown turbo

The plan was to drive the car to the shop which was a ten minute drive and have my SOT brother and real life brother Matt meet me there. Right in the middle of this trip is my office where I had to pick up some gear for a shoot that night. So I take off from my house with the chipper in full force, I get to the first traffic light and it dies. I fire it up and goes but in a very limp fashion. The only way I can get the car to move is by shifting it. I’m shifting to keep the car moving while praying it doesn’t die in the middle of a busy road and I can at least get to my office.

Thankfully the next light I encounter is green and I limp through that with the slow silver woodchipper and crawl into my office parking lot. I step out of the car and I’m hit with the sent of burning. I make the decision to call AAA and have them trailer it the two and half miles to its destination.

I get the call Monday afternoon from my shop with the diagnosis. The turbo has blown and was putting oil into the engine. The decision is made to send it over to the local Subaru dealership for further diagnosis and hopeful repair. Thankfully, a family member knows the service manager and was able to give him a heads up. I’ve dealt with this service manager in the past and my dealings with him have been very good.

So this leaves me carless for the time being with no timetable as to what the next step is? When will I get the car back? How much will the repair cost? Is it even worth repairing?

The last question is the one I don’t want to face as the car is less than five years old and will be paid off sometime this summer. The car doesn’t have an exorbitant amount of miles on it and I would like to keep it for a long time. My 1998 Grand Prix GT had almost as many miles as the Legacy GT did when I bought it and that ran like a true champion and was still in decent condition when I traded it in for the Legacy. The question is what to get? Do I go brand spanking new? Do I get a few years old? or do I go the Jeff Lavery route and throw caution to the wind and buy something eight years old with a decent amount of miles but is pure magic? There is an 08 R32 at Coastal VW on the lot with 30,000 odd miles on it…


I found out this morning from the Subaru Service Manager that the turbo was blown and they found pieces of metal in the oil pan. The car needs a new short block and a turbo, so basically a new engine with a total cost of $10,000. The hope is that Subaru will cover the cost (or most of it). If I end up going forward with the repairs, the Leggy will not be back on the road until close to mid April between authorization, ordering parts (insert the Fast and Furious line) and installation.

For now I am carless, bumming rides off of family members who have stepped up to the plate with their care and support. Being a car lover and on top of that being someone who is very independent; not having a car is a horrible feeling. I feel completely vulnerable and helpless, as if one of my major limbs has been torn off. It’s a feeling that it’s in the upper half of the worst feelings I’ve had in my life.

Mid April cannot come soon enough.

Multi 2112

March 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm
These two men will not be sharing a Red Bull together anytime soon

These two men will not be sharing a Red Bull together anytime soon


“Multi 21”. The order that Sebastian Vettel chose not to obey by his Red Bull team when he was instructed to hold his position behind his teammate Mark Webber at the GP of Malaysia. Red Bull gave the order for their driver’s to hold their positions, instead Vetel passed Webber and took a very hollow win that brings back memories of when Didier Pironi went against orders to pass his teammate Gilles Villeneuve and take the win at Imola in 1982 (a move which many feel led to Gilles’ death at Zolder).

I don’t think Webber will be killed at the next Grand Prix, but Vettel,the once innocent smiling schoolboy has become the ruthless villain; this all sounds very like another multi time world champion from Germany, one M. Schumacher. This incident was so terrible that even Red Bull racing guru Helmut Marko, a man who sees the world through Vettel glasses hasn’t been as defensive as Vettel as he normally is.

The question, how does Red Bull handle this? They have created a monster in Vettel, allowing him get whatever he wants and not facing responsibility or consequences for his actions. What action do they take? It’s inconceivable that they would suspend their star driver and best chance at a title. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz was not at all pleased with what happened and it’s supposedly been made clear to Sebastian that something like this won’t happen again.

But is it too little too late? Vettel has been groomed  by Red Bull since age 11, is 25, a three time world champion  and is rumored to have contract with Red Bull through 2016 while his teammate is 36 and on a one year deal.The team has been built around Vettel and he is their best chance of title so it’s possible that they may have to reap what they sow. How will the team react going forward? Will equal focus be placed on both cars now that they have much compassion for Webber? In regards to Red Bull team orders, are there any? Is it open warfare? Will one driver help the other late in the season if it came down to winning a title? If I were Webber I may think long and hard if Vettel needs help later in the season.

As for Webber, I’m saddened for him, there were rumors going around after what happened in Malaysia that was going to quit the team immediately but those have been denied by Webber’s father who has been vocal about the support his son has received from the team and from the entire F1 paddock. Let it be noted that Webber is one of the more beloved driver’s in the current crop while Vettel isn’t. Webber came up the hard way to F1 with stops at F3000, Sportscars and Minardi and has the image of being tough customer but also a team player. Perhaps Mark now regrets not signing with Ferrari and having Alonso as his teammate.

This brings up the question of team orders, which is a messy gray area. It’s something I’ve gone back and forth about. To me the one team order that should always apply is “Don’t crash your teammate” (something Vettel has done to Webber). I understand team orders late in the season when one driver is in contention for the championship while the other isn’t. The difference is that what happened took place at the second race of the season and isn’t the point of racing to win and beat the guy ahead of you?

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.

Lav’s $150K picks – non-beater edition

March 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

This is not easy. $150K to spend on three vehicles when most of what I want to own can be found for $20K or less. But, like any addict, those afflicted with the disease of gearhead can always find new ways to enhance their addiction.

Everyday car – 1998 Porsche 911 C4S ($50,000 + $10,000 annual maintenance):

This, to me, is the epitome of the enthusiast car. Collectible for being the last of the air-cooled 911s; classic for its strict adherence to the original design; useful for its four-wheel drive configuration, aided by the rear-mounted engine for additional traction; and just plain awesome for numerous other reasons, from its classic interior to its performance to its (relative) reliability. To drive one of these every day is to have truly made it in life, and is deserving of respect from gearheads everywhere.


Utilitarian transport – Land Rover Defender 90 ($45,000 + $5,000 annual maintenance)

If the snowfall renders the 993 useless, this is the next best thing – a classic Defender 90. Anything that looks good wearing big, honkin’ Hella fog lamps is usually going to find a warm place in my heart, and the limited-production Defender 90 is the ultimate paradox of barely warmed over military-grade transport that you can still drive while wearing your best suit. Obviously, its off-road prowess precedes it, but the abstract qualities it possesses – looking as good parked on Newbury Street as it does up at Killington – make it a must-have for me.



Classic – E28 BMW M5 ($35,000 + $5,000 annual maintenance) 

Some might say this should be reversed, with the M5 taking the honors as the every day vehicle. But really, if this is a fantasy, I’d want to drive the 911 daily after so many years of using sedans for commuting purposes. The E28 is one of my favorite generations of the BMW family, and the legendary qualities of the M5, from its limited production to the Ronin-esque images it conjures every time you slip behind the wheel, deserves to be treated with classic status sooner than later. The 993 is not far behind in that department, but at this moment, the original Q-ship is already there.


Give ’em the bird

March 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm
Less twitter, more this

Less twitter, more this

Nascar was the first form of racing I fell in love with when I was four years old. As young child watching races on ESPN the colors and speed of the cars was my first step into loving motorsport. However, over the past few years I’ve become a bit discouraged with the sport I grew up loving. A majority of the races are 50-100 laps too long, the tracks are cookie cutter and many of the driver’s have become whinny babies.

My major annoyance with Nascar has been the passive aggressive nature of drivers and the use of twitter in their feuds. The latest example has been the Denny Hamlin/Joey Logano feud where the two have decided to feud less in person and on the track but more on twitter. Hamlin recently tweeted a remark about if Logano had an issue with him he has his “DM” and other social media/texting info.

I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t picture Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace or Cale Yarborough and the Allison brother’s stooping to such passive aggressive levels in their feuds back in the day. Driver’s tweeting feuds doesn’t excite fans; two driver’s running into each other during a race and having words after the race with a little pushing and shoving does. Then to really get the blood flowing, after the words and pushing, blasting each other on the track PA, to the TV cameras and to the media so it’s in the Monday morning sports section.

Remember this is a sport that many would say made it to the mainstream when Cale Yarborough fought the Allison brothers on live national TV during the 1979 Daytona 500. Hardly anyone remembers who won the race  but everyone remembers the fight.

Over the past few years there has been a decline in attendance and sponsorship dollars in Nascar. My solution is simple: ban the driver’s from twitter except for news related items, fan interaction and sponsor promotion. Have driver’s feud the way the legends of the sport did who allow the current breed of drivers to have multi-million dollar salaries and private jets.

SouthEastern Mass. Find

March 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm


I found this while cruising the streets SouthEastern Massachusetts, more specifically in the Brockton area.  Does anyone know what this is? Looks like it’s seen better day, ever since it became the base of a wood pile.


$150K Fantasy Garage- Matt’s Picks

March 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Everyday Car: 2005 GMC Envoy XUV: $29,780


I’m very disappointed that this SUV was discontinued.  The GMC Envoy XUV was not just an SUV; it could be transformed into a small pickup truck with a few pushes of a button.  This allowed for the rear roof to retract and a small divider window to rise up behind the second row of seats.  This vehicle would be ideal  to transport my drums instead of a truck. Where I would be able to protect them from the weather and other elements?  There’s also plenty of room for me to store my  EMS equipment, along with yardwork tools and materials when the weather is right.  The 4 wheel drive would allow me to get to work during all times, including during state of emergencies. Now, if I had to chose a vehicle still in production for my everyday vehicle, it would either be a GMC Terrain or a Chevrolet Avalanche.


Work/Rescue Vehicle: 2009 (or newer) Hummer H2: $63,090



As an EMT, I need to be able to get to work despite the weather.  When I’m at work, that doesn’t change.  Granted, at work, we use Ford F350s, F450s, and Chevrolet 4500s, but since this is Fantasy Garage, I wouldn’t mind cruising the streets of Boston in a Hummer H2 fully loaded.  Maybe motorists and pedestrians would make a better attempt to get out of our way if this was behind them laying on the airhorn.  Disclaimer: The listed price does not reflect aftermarket/equipment prices.  If it were, this would be closer to $150,000.  The above price is the average MSRP for 2009 Hummer H2s.


Classic Car: 1975 Pontiac Trans AM: $30,000


This was the toughest decision.  It came down to a Pontiac Trans AM or a Chevy Corvette. I’m a fan of the looks of the older Trans Am, so I went with this.  Also, it’s cameo in Smokey and the Bandit definitely helped out with the decision.  I’ve driven a few of these when I used to work at a GM dealership.  They handle well and it’s easy to see out the windshield (I’m a vertically challenged guy). Not to mention, they’re fun to drive!

Well, those are my Fantasy Garage Choices.  Keep checking back for other Fantasy Garage Challenges, along with other posts!


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