Last year I finally bought myself a TIG welder so that I could weld aluminum, stainless steel, roll cages, and overall, step up my welding game. I figured since I had been MIG welding for 10+ years, TIG would be a piece of cake, but boy was I wrong. TIG welding is an absolute art, but not everybody is an artist. It takes a boat load of practice and dexterity to be good at it, which is why professionals make the big bucks. As I mentioned in this blog that I wrote a few weeks ago, MIG welding can be done with 1 hand (blind folded, tango dancing, while on fire). TIG on the other hand requires holding filler rod with the left hand, a torch in the right hand (at the correct angle), and it has a foot pedal to control the heat. Once you get all three limbs to work in unison, metal begins to melt, and the learning curve really begins.
Faster than I could say “this is hard to do!“, I had burned through 2 tanks of argon, countless filler rods, several pieces of tungsten, and a few layers of skin. As I quickly learned, aluminum retains heat really well, and doesn’t look hot even when it is. Note to readers: WEAR GLOVES when TIG’n!
Here are a few “finished” pieces from my last practice session. Like I said, TIG welding is an art, and not everybody is an artist, yet.
Every car in Massachusetts is rusty. Whether you have a 1955 Lincoln Capri or a 2010 Chevy Camaro, in the North East, your car’s destiny is rust. Now, if the nice cars are rusty, just imagine what the vehicles in our junkyards look like. They are absolutely horrifying at best. In the time that it takes to remove a junkyard fender, it often erodes itself back into dirt right before your eyes. Bolts? HA! After 1 year (so… 2009 models at this point), all bolts become permanent. At the 2 year mark, the bolts don’t even look like bolts anymore. They become round rusty buttons that can only be removed by breaking the head off with Vise-Grips. It is truly an awful experience. Thank goodness for torches, Sawzalls, sharp drill bits, and tetanus shots.
Arizona cars on the other hand, are better in every possible way. Rusty cars (New England style) just don’t exist out there. What they consider a junkyard car is usually “flawless” in my opinion. The nicest cars I personally own aren’t as clean as what is found in their junkyards. It’s quite sad really. Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of working on several classic cars from the South West, and I laugh like the village idiot the entire time I work on them because I can’t believe that the bolts come out. Underneath the AZ cars, the original hydraulic brake lines and parking brakes cables are often still there and working. It is a gearhead fairytale.
Let’s do a comparison, to see who the real winner is. Massachusetts on the left, and Arizona on the right. Ding Ding Ding. FIGHT!
Sure enough, Arizona wins with a KO, as expected. If you want to restore an old car, just buy a rust free body from someplace dry. It will save you thousands of dollars, trillions of hours, and a Tetanus shot.
Like any car enthusiast, I often find myself scouring eBay Motors for cars and trucks that I can’t have. While doing so, I stumbled onto a fleet of Jaguars that looked noteworthy. Apparently they were collected between 15-25 years ago, and haven’t really been touched since. The thing that I find most impressive is that a bunch of them are “racked” up high in a warehouse of some sort. You need to be a truly dedicated & motivated gearhead for those kinds of shenanigans. I mean how cool would it be to be able to look up at project cars while you work on others? Anyway, the starting bid is $200,000, so get out your wallets.
Here is what the auction includes along with misc parts:
Saturday, February 27th is a big day, because 1AAuto.com has a product up on eBay Motors Daily Deal. It is a beautiful mechanic’s tray with dual rubber coated magnets. Although it looks like a museum piece, it is rugged to the core. We have used these ourselves in environments that make the average magnetic bolt tray cry for mercy, while the 1AAuto tray kept asking for more! With paint and construction this nice, the 1AAuto magnetic tray makes all other trays look inadequate. It could win a beauty contest while completely covered in grease, rust and mud. The magnets on the bottom are stronger than average and have no trouble holding piles of leftover bolts from any project. It is a great addition to any tool box, and will likely make your friends and coworkers jealous. For this price, it’s a no brainer, everyone needs one.
In high school, my friends and I drove some really, really crappy cars. We knew that they were crap, yet we invested fist fulls of money and months of time into them as if they were going to have a huge payout someday. Apparently foresight was not taught in school. Somehow putting $1500 of stereo system in a $30 car made a lot of sense at that point in our lives. On the bright side, the cars were so crappy that it allowed our creativity to really shine. We could do any ridiculous modification that we wanted because the car was worthless to begin with. If we messed up, it was still a worthless car. Racing stripes? Sure! Painted windows? You Bet! Backwards seats? ummm, yes? We learned many valuable life lessons on these cars, and we wouldn’t have be the same without them. Pictures above is a friend / coworker’s high school driven 1983 Olds Delta 88 in the prime of it’s life. It was a car that we were proud to cruise in for obvious reasons. Thank goodness for high school cars.
The guys at Hitman Hotrods and MBRP Inc. are building what appears to be the most awesome Chevy Colorado known to mankind. As if tubbing and caging a basically new 2007 Chevy Canyon wasn’t cool enough, they went ahead and stuck a supercharged LS7 in it, backed by a T-56 6-speed. Drool. Multipurpose racing with 1000 horsepower is the intention, and they appear to be on the right track. Let’s see how it performs on the 1AAuto Blog Pure Awesomeness list:
– LS7 engine that has no business under the hood? Check!
– 1000 horsepower? Check!
– Manual transmission? Check!
– 10 second quarter mile times? Check!
– Massive front AND rear tires? Check!
– 6 (yes 6) Brake Calipers? Check!
– The stance of absolute perfection? Check!
– Ability to scare people with the engine off? Check!
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.