High Ballers Only

April 30, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Sorry for the hiatus, folks – I needed to recharge the batteries after last week’s marathon posting sessions. Today, I want to submit the best find on Craigslist in the towns surrounding Providence, RI. And with a Porsche 928, a first-generation Taurus SHO and a Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 to compete against, credit the sellers’ vernacular for this rig taking top honors. fj60

Enter the 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser. I don’t know much about these, other than they have legendary go-anywhere abilities while Toyota internals make them near-impossible to kill. A rugged inline six-cylinder pumped out 136 screaming horsepower, which had to lug around a four-wheel drive system and 4,200 lb. + curb weight. But this was never a vehicle made for speed – it was for all-out reliability combined with impressive off-road capabilities.

This example, however, has likely been dealt the worst that nature could throw at it. Body work with splotches of primer, painted surfaces clearly weathered beyond salvageability, and no mention in the ad as to its mechanical integrity, with only the front wheels of the Land Cruiser locked into a tow dolly as any indication to its operating condition. With 194,000 miles, my guess is she’s just getting broken in.

Of course, to take this vintage FJ60 into your ownership, you’re going to want to bring your high balls. Or make certain you’re balling at a high level. Or could it be a synonym for high rollers? “Oh, Stanley? Yes, he was quite the high baller. He even had his own butler.” I don’t know, but one thing’s for certain: all of you with low balls need not apply.

The Last Ride

April 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Ask this question to automotive enthusiasts and you’ll get a wide range of responses: If you had one last tank of petrol to use in your life, what car would you put it in?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering for the past few weeks, for me the car of choice would have to be in all likelihood a homoligation special. A car that has a racing influence, can rapidly get from point A to point B by eating up straights and being able to handle the twistys. It would also have to be involving, giving me feedback as to what it was doing with the road but at the same time engaging the me in a sort of dance.

The shortlist contained the Subaru STI 22B, Ferrari 288 GTO, and the BMW E30 M3. All of them pure and wonderful but for my last tank of Petrol, I’ll take a Porsche 997 GT3 RS 4.0.

2 Icons

Two Icons

The RS 4.0 is the ultimate point A to point B car, it’s pure, it has a roll cage and everything that’s in the car is in it for a reason. There are no luxurious thrills. It has a power to weight ratio of 365 bhp per ton, it has front dive planes and a close ratio six speed gearbox, not the PDK which is in the new 991 GT3.

In addition to that, it’s a Porsche. Is there any other car company that makes such amazing and pure sports cars? Porsche makes the amazing by using what many wouldn’t use in creating pure driving machines (rear engine-rear wheel drive and a flat six engine).


I highly recommend finding old copies of EVO and watching old clips of the web video series Drive to see Sons of Taki Icon Chris Harris feature his own 4.0. Harris’ describes the 4.0 in the only ways it can described, pure amazing.

So what say you? What car would you put your last tank of petrol in?

Let Me See You Stripped Down to the Bone

April 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm

So after reading Jeff’s post about a tape deck and his E30, I decided to offer some music selections to listen to for when he doesn’t want to hear the sound of his M20B25 I-6. I picked six albums that someone would have been listening to when his E30 was new. Why six albums you ask? To match the number of cylinders in his E30.

As a side note: Jeff, maybe you’ll find a wedding song in one of these albums

Cylinder no. 1 – Depeche Mode – Black Celebration

black cel

This album is very car fitting in its song titles: “Stripped”, “Breathing in Fumes”, “Fly On the Windscreen”, “But Not Tonight”. All things Jeff will be saying if he’s driving the E30 on a night when he really can’t afford to have an issue with the car.

Cylinder no. 2 – Van Halen – 5150


Why can’t this be love? As we all know Jeff loves his E30, he posts about his E30 so much that the site should be called Son of Claus Luthe (The man who designed the E30). The fact he used the E30 of getting his missus out so he could propose to her is another reason for his album’s inclusion. The missus in this case being a wonderful lady, not a car or a part.

Cylinder no. 3 – Crowded House – Crowded House


“Something so Strong”, the love Jeff has for his E30, it’s his pride and joy, his labor of love. When fears rise about the E30 being on it’s way out of the door, my recommendation to Jeff is “Don’t Dream It’s Over”.

Cylinder no. 4 – Cure – Disintegration

cure disint

I love the Cure, I think they write brilliantly beautiful and at the same time gloomy music. Robert Smith wrote “Lullaby” as wedding present to his wife, Jeff in this case will sing it to the E30 when he drops in a significant part in the E30 and I don’t think I need to make a comment on “Pictures of You”

Cylinder no. 5 – Echo and The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain


“The Killing Moon” was in an Audi commercial, “Seven Seas” might be a better song and we’ll use that when Jeff does a video on one of his BMW’s

Cylinder no. 6 – The Style Council – Our Favorite Shop

style our fav

There isn’t really a car reference in the album. I love “Down in the Seine” (especially the version Weller has done in his solo career). I can also picture Jeff bopping around to “Shout to the Top” while driving the E30.


Sons of Taki Fantasy Garage Godzilla Edition – Jonathan’s picks

April 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm

When Matt announced the Fantasy challenge Godzilla edition my first though was to find an R32 Skyline but that would either break the bank or I’d end up with something illegal. Instead I picked a solid threesome that would serve me well.

The Japanese Driver – 2004 Nissan Sentra SE-R V Spec (Price – $5,950)


The V Spec will chirp third as I haul away from what ever monster a Japanese film studio has created. I wanted to find a B13 SE-R but one was nowhere to be found. I prefer the B13 as it reminds of a 510 (sigh) and doesn’t have the fast and furious look this V Spec has. This however does have the 3.5 V6 and a nice NISMO exhaust system.


The Vehicle for Mowing Down Zombies – M548/M548A1 Tracked Cargo Carrier (Price – $30,000)


Military Camo? Check! Tracked? Check! Potential to mount a big honkin gun? Check! Ability to run over zombies? You betcha!

I was thinking of a loaded up truck /SUV or a retired military truck but when I saw this I said to myself this is it. This is the vehicle I want when the rapture arrives. I can throw a gun on it, run anything over and save some people at the same time


The Bike – 2010 MV Agusta F4 (Price – $10,00)


I have a thing for bikes, if I wasn’t such a car guy, I would definitely be a bike guy. I have a thing for dirt bikes or sportbikes. I love my supercross/motocross and World Superbikes, TT, and MotoGP. I think the MV is a work of art. When I wasn’t riding it, I would have it in the middle of my living room just so I could look at it when I’m at home. As for the sound, don’t get me started; if Ferrari made a bike, this is what it would sound like.


A Place For My Arm, a Holster for Cups, and a Cubby for Tapes

April 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm

When you own an older car, the list of improvements you can make may appear odd to most consumers. Things like navigation, side airbags and interior vacuum cleaners just aren’t on my radar screen. But you know what I’m looking forward to most this weekend? Cupholders, an armrest and cassette storage.


A company from Wilton, Connecticut called Husco made an OEM accessory for 1980s BMWs that combined an arm rest with cup holder, and mounted directly to the factory console. In what can only be seen as a barometer for where most car shoppers’ priorities (or expectations) lay, not many E30s came equipped with this marvelous contraption. After some message board investigating, I found one for sale with a matching console that had the mounting holes pre-drilled. Believe it or not, I think this was pulled from a car that had this nifty piece installed at the factory, given the clean drilling job into the fragile console plastic. It’s brilliant, and I can’t wait to use it.


The next OEM accessory I found on eBay and is also an original BMW option. The Fischer cassette storage box was a must-have when rocking your Van Halen and Ace of Base tapes, perfect for the factory Premium Sound cassette deck a buddy gave me for free. It mounts below the armrest and required cutting out a mounting hole in the console, and each drawer pops open to swallow a cassette. I still have to wire up the deck, but once complete, the E30 will inch ever closer still to being a factory-correct, well-optioned car. Imagine – just being content to have a place to store your tapes. No need for a multi-pixel display capable of telling you the weather, your horoscope and what clothes to wear on Friday.


It’s amazing to think that options brochures once consisted of a few pages splashed with bolt-on accessories that required no wiring, just some washers and careful drilling. In my recent post, I mentioned how I found an original Honda CRX accessory in the form of a reflective center tail light panel; that $15 junkyard score turned into a $350 eBay home run. But you know what? I get it. I’d pay out the nose for a rare factory part from the 80s. Assembling this arm rest reminded me of just how ingenious car manufacturers used to be without the need for Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth headsets. I could give a rat’s ass if it makes my life “easier” or “better”, a purely subjective sentiment. Whatever happened to being grateful just for something that was functional? 


Like the days of your parents making you wear L.L. Bean clothing while the cool kids wore Starter jackets that disintegrated after a few runs through the wash, it’s nice to arrive at a point in life where it’s more enjoyable to accessorize a vehicle with things that work rather than things that impress. 

The Kindness of Strangers

April 22, 2013 at 10:58 pm

A few weeks ago, I embarked on a hunt to fill some holes in my E30’s history. As reported here, I addressed the most glaring void by connecting with its original owner who offered a glimpse into what my car was before its sojourn into used-up car ownership. Though there are more pages to write, acts of kindness from some folks along the way have given me new hope for mankind.

First up is a BMW CCA member from Texas who sent a package today that essentially made my week. After some quick web searching, I stumbled upon a member of BimmerForums.com who maintained a collection of 80s BMW goodness unique to the Texas area. Among the items he kept was an original John Roberts license plate frame, the dealer that sold the 325is to its first owner. The dealership has since been absorbed into a larger chain and no longer exists, so this was quite the score. Even better was the “surprise” he included in the package, which was an original dealer badge in the shape of the Lonestar State. To top it off, he didn’t want a dime for it. Great to connect with a fellow CCA’er in another state, and to give the E30 some added character to its posterior.

IMAG1657 IMAG1660

As part of this quest for more information on my car’s first days, I’m in hot pursuit of photos of the 325is as it sat on the convention center floor at the Dallas Auto Show in 1987. Between posting on The Car Lounge and Reddit, I haven’t discovered any major leads. In reaching out the salesman that sold the car new, he had no recollection of the vehicle or the auto show. But I might have found a thread worth unraveling in the form of a communications manager for the Dallas Fort-Worth New Car Dealers Association, which is responsible for organizing shows in the downtown convention center. The woman could not have been nicer and seemed genuinely intrigued by my research project. She pledged to dive into the archives and see if any photos exist of the 1987 show and if my car is among those photographed.


All of this by merely sharing my story with perfect strangers to fill in the blanks about the early years of the life of a car, one in which they have no personal connection or stake. While I’m not sure if these individuals care more about my car or the journey I’m on, one thing is for sure: I couldn’t have even started this process without the help of some extremely generous and amazingly kind people.

Ain’t this hobby grand?

I’m not dead yet…

April 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm

It’s been a while since I posted on this beloved site. As you’re aware my beloved Legacy GT decided to eat itself which ended up with a long term vacation in a bay at Planet Subaru with a new shortblock, turbo and other parts ordered. The second reason for my lack of recent posting was a few weekends ago I was using a chainsaw to cut some fallen trees from this past winter when I had an accident and cut my left hand open. A trip to the hospital resulted in nine stitches between two cut open areas, so I was car-less and one handed for a while.

But as of today things are back to normal, the Leggy GT came back this morning with a brand new motor and my hand is healing well and I can actually type with it. It’s a busy work week for me but I plan putting some posts up soon.



Munching at the Parts Trough

April 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Saturday was a day of good feelings. The weather was holding, I was in a junkyard, and it was just me and the battered hulks of past machines. What made it better was discovering a new destination not on the internet, not in any phone book, and clearly off the radar of most.


This is a short post before bed, but one that depicts how vital it is to have some knowledge of rare parts and optional features on every day vehicles. Case in point: I spotted a silver 1986 CRX Si in largely original condition. What really grabbed my eye was the center garnish/reflective panel with the letters “CRX” emblazoned across the middle. This was an optional piece if you didn’t want the standard black trim that came on most versions of the legendary hot hatch.

Knowing it an accessory from the awesome 80s, I knew not every car would have them. Similarly, I recognized this was once a pristine CRX Si (an early example at that), and figured the odds were good that its owner splurged. So, for a very fair price indeed, I have a potentially rare bit of CRX kit that is now on eBay for $350. I also snagged a set of OEM E28 mudflaps that are already for sale and will hopefully be gone soon.

Got to walk around a junkyard and possibly make some money. Not a bad day in the office.

You’ve Got a Friend in Texas

April 19, 2013 at 12:15 am

The 1987 325is I own has been through a lot. When I got it from Richmond, Virginia almost two years ago, it was – oh, let’s call it rough. Ripped, stained interior; mildew in the carpets; leaking oil from multiple places; coolant seaping here and there; and a horrendous whine from the rear end thanks to original wheel bearings that were long overdue for replacement. However, despite its sorely neglected condition, it came with a few pieces of the original owner’s manual – one that included the name and address of the first couple to bring this car home, when the odometer showed a lot more zeroes than it does now.

So, some might call this a bit on the creepy – I prefer eccentric – side of things, but I went to work searching for every combination of the names of the couple that bought it new from John Roberts BMW in Dallas, Texas. Chasing a number of leads, I started mailing letters. First one to a business address I found on Superpages came back in the mail marked ‘return to sender’; second one to the  home address listed in the car’s service manual never bounced back, but I didn’t get a response, either. I’d later find out my hunches had been right on the business address but that he had since retired from that venture.


One night, I finally punched in the owner’s last name and the words “BMW.” Amazingly, success: there was a user on the Roadfly forums with the same name who owned an ’87 325ic and an early 7-Series. Better yet, he was in the Virginia area which is where my car ended up. But something didn’t make sense: the other reference to the first couple that owned the car was on a swim team’s website from the Dallas area, and there was too much evidence that they still lived in Texas. Plus, the original owner’s wife had no paper trail in Virginia – so either it was a case of divorce or I had the wrong guy in VA (ironically enough, the gent with the same name was, in fact, a divorce attorney). Still follow me? Yes, that’s right: there are two people with the same name who are both active BWM enthusiasts, each of whom live in a state where my car has previously resided.

Let’s go back to the swim team website: the first couple’s name showed up as a testimonial to the positive influence the coaches and training had on their son’s swimming successes. There’s my next nugget: the kid’s name. So I Google that and get several good leads: all from Texas, all the same name, and a college email address that’s pretty easy to figure out (first initial, last name, schooname.edu). I send off a short email explaining what I’m trying to do and jackpot: a few hours later, I get a note from his father, the very first owner to ever turn a wheel in my 1987 325is. Turns out not only did he and his wife buy this car before they had kids, but they bought it straight off the convention hall floor when the auto show rolled through Dallas in 1987. That’s right: this is an actual show car. I don’t care how big or small of a metro you live in – it’s always super cool when you own a car that a dealer felt was the best way to attract people to the booth and move inventory.

The original owner and I went back and forth for hours. I basically spilled my guts, the gearhead equivalent of reconciliation, even showing him the original for sale thread and what his former pride and joy looked like when I got it (one word: bad). I found he, his wife and son were BMW fanatics, and owned several desirable Bimmers ranging from an early 535i to a V12 850. My mind = blown. But through it all, sharing with someone just how much blood, sweat and tears had gone into this thing – and knowing it meant the world to them – is likely one of best feelings I’ve ever encountered in my years of car ownership. It’s vindication that sometimes, saving a rough car is worth the risk and likely losses. But that’s not why you invest in car that cost less to buy than a new washer and dryer. You do that to preserve the memories, and give them another shot at living on. If I didn’t care about that, I wouldn’t have found a way to make this car actually enjoyable to drive on a daily basis.

And, in what may be the best part of all this, is the sign-off of the first owner’s email to me: “So nice to have made a friend.” Isn’t that what this hobby is all about?

More to come on this, for sure…

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.

photo (1) photo


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

Visit Us On Twitter