While cruising the streets of the world wide web, I landed deep within the pages of a great thread in a motivemag forum. It had some outstanding photos of old car wrecks in it. Once you get passed the whole human aspect of it, it is truly amazing to see.
Many people assume that cars of that era were slow, but the truth is that many models were quite capable of today’s highway speeds. In fact, the first car to ever reach 200 mph was in 1927. Sure it was using plane engines, but it does show that America was deeply craving high speeds. Almost every car in the 1930’s could easily attain today’s 55 mph speed limit, and many of the vehicles from the 1920’s could too. Although these cars could clearly get up and go, their skinny tires, leaf spring suspension, mechanical drum brakes, and the dirt roads, made their stopping abilities less than stellar. Just imagine stopping your own “modern” car with nothing but the parking brake. That is similar to what many of the 1920’s cars had. Compound that with solid steering columns, steel dashboards, lack of seat belts and safety glass, and you were in rough shape in an accident. So the next time you hop in your car, open your window, and give a quick shout-out to modern technology.
You probably won’t believe this, but car companies aren’t throwing keys at me and begging for me to review their latest creations. Shocking right? So I’m doing things a bit differently than most. I will be begging for, borrowing and buying cars, driving them for a while in the real world, and then letting everybody know what I thought. The huge benefit to this is that I will be driving real cars, not Pagani Zonda’s. By all means, if a fresh Pagani lands in my driveway, I am willing to take it for a jaunt around the block, but my celebrity status isn’t at that level just yet. So until then, with your help, I will be tackling the slower and carbon fiberless real world vehicles.
Let me start off by stating that all of my life I have hated BMW’s. Granted, I had also never driven a new one, so my opinion was completely biased. Each one that I had the “pleasure” of driving felt like a 7000 lb gutless turd that was filled with cracked leather and broken electronics. While not nearly as bad as the Saab’s, Buick Reatta’s, or Cadillac Allante’s, it always seemed like I needed to know a secret slap-the-dash move to make stuff work.
Fast forward to last summer. My friend’s neighbor said “Hey Jeremy, I have a BMW Z3 that I don’t want, it’s got some issues (no surprise), you wanna buy it?” I checked it out and decided that BMW’s couldn’t be all that bad. Maybe I did need a little bit of the ultimate driving machine in my life. The price was very right, and with the top down, summer sun was going to be better than ever.
The Z3 is a 1.9L with a 5 speed manual and 90K miles. It is not the slowest thing that I have ever driven, but it feels like a typical 4 cylinder as far as power goes. The truth is that the engine feels rock solid, way more so than any of my other vehicles. I could probably rip 3 spark plugs out and the little devil 1.9L may not even notice, it feels like a tank. The 5 speed transmission is a different story. Mine was completely replaced at 60K by a BMW dealer, which means it only has 30K on it. Instead of feeling like a new transmission, it feels sloppy. I’m not sure if all BMW manual transmissions feel like this, but it is just not sporty feeling like I expect to find in a 2 seater sports car.
Steering and Suspension:
It’s small, and light so the steering feels tight & fast, especially with the relatively wide tires. The suspension on the other hand feels like it has 90K miles. It lacks heavily as far as sportiness goes, leaning too much, and being more bouncy than firm. If you buy one with 1998 suspension still attached, new shocks and struts should be the first priority on the list of parts to buy. If the suspension parts were new, I bet it would handle & drive 100X better than it does currently.
– Heated seats are toasty hot.
– The stereo sounds decent for an OE 1998 system.
– Incredibly awful. I hate nearly everything about the interior.
– The steering column doesn’t adjust down. Seriously BMW? Really? My knuckles are against the windshield!
– The seats and door panel belong in a 1985 Celica. They could not be more sleep inducing.
– The cup holders are right where your elbow is and they are too small for a medium ice coffee. Buy a coffee and it’s “Cya Armrest!”
– The power windows move in slow motion. I have honestly never seen a vehicle with slower moving windows. The time it takes to roll the windows up or down is measured in hours.
– The dashboard styling is really dated. It’s like they designed a crazy round unique shaped body, and then said “we have no time left to design a dashboard, here is one from a 1983 Mercury Capri, customers will never know.”
– The heat and A/C blowing ability is offensive. Then again, why am I driving a convertible with the heat or A/C on?
The looks of the car are pretty good overall, it’s really a matter of taste though. The fit and finish is all original and it really is high quality. The paint still looks fresh, and everything opens and closes properly. My only gripe is the headlights that are yellowed. Unfortunately all plastic headlights eventually look like that. I need to spend some time polishing them to make them pretty again.
Overall, I am glad I bought the car. It is a lot of fun on warm days, and with a little maintenance it could be a really fun car on windy roads or an auto x track. My biggest gripe is that I feel like people are calling me names and giving me dirty looks. I may need to paint it flat black and add some numbers to the side so that people don’t assume I’m a rich snob.
Do you ever find yourself wondering what would happen if the ancient Egyptians built an exotic sports car? I know I sure have. It would likely combine the mathematical genius of a pyramid with electrical technology that had yet to be discovered. Well wouldn’t you know it, somebody from dreamcar123.com has actually built one….. minus the 250 mph part. It is in fact pyramid shaped, has ample room for 1 excitable driver, and it will clearly make your neighbors jealous. Looks like a clever idea, but does it actually move? Ofcourse it does!
Each day of the week, you shift your car from “P” into “D”, feel the thud of your tired automatic, and cringe at the thought of letting a car shift for you. When you originally bought the car, you thought the automatic would suffice, but you’re an automotive enthusiast for god sakes, and driving an automatic just isn’t the same as ripping through gears at an rpm of your own choosing. I too was once in your shoes, and I have shared in your daily suffering. Don’t worry, you are not alone.
It began when I noticed an ominous amount of written warnings from the local law enforcement accumulating on my refrigerator. Obviously not my fault though; it was due to my car being far too enjoyable to drive, and thus not allowing anything but spirited driving. Bottom line: I needed something slow(er) and boring looking, which is where my story really begins.
I hunted around a bit and found myself oddly attracted to the fine lines of a 2000 Mitsubishi Galant. I can’t explain it, so don’t bother asking, or making fun of me. The only downfall was that they all came with automatic transmissions. Ah well I thought, and I bought it anyway. I knew that if it got too boring to drive, I would find a way to get a manual transmission into it. Well, that boring point came on quicker than expected, and before long transmission parts started arriving at my door. It turned out that “3G” 2000-05 Mitsubishi Eclipse’s were built on the same platform as “8G” Galants and did come with manual transmissions.
Flash forward a couple of months. I had run through the 5 speed transmission swap in my head about 1 million times and double checked that I had every part that I would possibly need. I didn’t want to have the car non-driveable for more than a day. (I also had a bet with a friend that I couldn’t allow myself to lose.)
That special Saturday finally arrived, and as crazy as it sounds, the swap was as easy as removing all the old stuff and bolting in the new stuff. It was smooth, and trouble free, likely due to my obsessive planning. By the end of my 8 hour non-stop wrench-fest, the swap was complete. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with it. Not only did my love for my daily driver improve 10x over, but I gained 5 mpg! Did I win the bet you ask? Well, I claimed that I could perform the swap in 4 hours, and my friend said 1 full weekend. 8 hours solidified the tie. Ah well.
For those of you that like to handle your own automotive work, or if you want to try it out for the first time, 1AAuto is here to help. In our videos we guide you through the entire process of replacing a part. In this case, we show how to replace an S10 Truck Door Handle (which is the same as a Chevy Blazer & GMC Jimmy). With this video, you also get the door panel removal, so if you want to replace your speakers, or anything else behind the door panel, you are half way there! If S10’s aren’t your thing, we have 40+ other how-to videos that may be of assistance, and we are adding more every day! You can see them all on our 1AAuto Youtube Channel.
About 10-12 years ago, my friend Jason had wanted a car that he could drive fast and frighten people with. After some car-hunting with his muscle car fanatic friends, he ended up with a non-running 1972 Chevy Nova. It’s engine was junk, but the body was all one color and it still had a little bit of shine to it. So he picked it up for a good price, and started wrenching. He built himself a reliable 350(ish) horsepower small block Chevy to put in it, a TH350 transmission, and a Posi rear end. He then drove the car like he hated it, making sure to leave two rubber stripes on the pavement at every opportunity. Over time, priorities in life changed, and his once potent, transmission eating, hell-ride ended up in a derelict state for several years in his parents driveway. Typical automotive tale right?
Fast forward a few years, and he bought a house of his own. The Nova was transported gingerly from the forgotten driveway to it’s new home in a heated garage with all the equipment to bring it back to life. The bubbling vinyl roof was removed immediately so that we could view the holes that we knew were hiding underneath. We also knew that the quarter panels had been replaced by the previous owner, but we didn’t realize that the right side was doubled up. Yes, a new quarter panel welded right over the original, both of them rotted and packed full of body filler. The trunk lid and floors were both rotted, the fiberglass cowl hood was cracked, the lower tail panel was not attached, and the front fenders were fixed poorly from a previous accident.
Here is the simplified to-do list:
1) Replace both doors
2) Replace both quarter panels
3) Replace trunk drop downs
4) Fix the hole in the trunk floor that was meant for a fuel cell.
5) Replace the roof skin
6) Replace both front fenders
7) Replace both outer rear wheel houses
8 ) Replace portions of the inner rear wheel houses
9) Make inner and outer rocker panels and install them
10) Fix the 10,000 holes in the firewall, and straight it out
11) Replace tail pan (the metal that holds the tail lights)
12) Replace the rear section of the trunk where the tail pan attaches
13) Replace trunk lid
14) Fix rot holes in rear deck lid area
15) Fix rotted front body mounts
16) Fix hacked floors that I hastily installed one night when I was young and stupid.
17) Clean the underbody
18 ) Replace front subframe
19) Make custom subframe connectors that look like part of the body
20) Fix the rotted SS hood, and use it because it is cool
21) Make custom gauge cluster or convince Jason to use the stock one with supplemental aftermarket gauges.
22) Slam it to the pavement
23) Make new brake lines that are the proper size.
24) Install the all aluminum 6.2L
25) Do a celebration burnout
26) Do another celebration burnout
27) Finally race it against my truck since we made a bet about 9 years ago that I could build a 4 cylinder truck faster than his Nova.
Most sane people would have junked the car long ago, but when you have a personal connection to a specific vehicle, you can’t just give up on it. You put in the work and bring it back to make it better than ever before, and that is precisely what we are doing. It will be straighter, lower, louder, faster, and better engineered. It will be done right, with no exceptions. It it will be powered by an all aluminum, fuel injected 6.2L Escalade engine (L92 I believe?), backed by a built TH400, dropped several inches to tuck the tires, and have a body-filler FREE body. If things work out right, it may even have some forced induction, but that is still an unknown at this time.
Disclaimer: Making this post allows me to be accountable for work getting done or not getting done on his car. If you fail to see updates on a regular basis, please kick me, and we will pick up the pace. Ideally we want it to move under its own power in 2010.
People were more creative in the 1930’s, this video makes that quite apparent. This guy decided that 4 wheels was not the proper way to transport people, and 1 giant wobbling wheel would be waaaaay better. I am not going to say he was wrong, but maybe just a little too advanced for his era. If I’m not in a flying car by 2020, I am definitely going on search for a dynosphere. It’s the only logical thing to do if I am travelling down a beach or through a desert. Who’s with me?