While doing a little spring cleaning recently, I began to realize that I had amassed a massive quantity of extra wheels and tires for the 1989 Dodge truck I have. If you combine the number of tires (18), with the number of wheels (17), you can imagine just how much space this takes up. Now, I can look at this a few different ways. I could think positively, and say “Hey, I have 1 set of wheels for each season, plus a spare!” Conversely, I could be a downer, and say “I have 17 wheels, and only 7 will physically bolt on to my truck at this very moment.” Yes, they all have the same bolt pattern, but let’s just say that my truck is weird, and doesn’t willingly accept change. The question then arises, if the truck can only handle 4 wheels and 4 tires at any given time, do I really need 3 extra complete sets?
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.
First up: My very own 1998 BMW Z3.
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.
Once you get past the whole “I completely horrified my engine” thing, catastrophic engine damage is really awesome to see. Here is the Nutts & Bolts Top 3 Most Awesome Ways to Destroy your Engine:
1) Blowing pistons and / or connecting rods right through the engine block.
Typically when your internal engine parts forcefully become external, they do so for good reason. You likely built the engine wrong, over revved it, or had a complete lack of lubrication. What you may not realize, is that this seemingly negative action is a really just your car’s way of telling you it wants a more powerful engine.
2) Destroying your valves in epic fashion.
Whether it is losing your timing belt at highway speeds with an interference engine, or running lean enough to turn steel into magma, it sure is fun to see. The grossest display of shared combustion chamber space that I’ve seen was a Cadillac Catera that I worked on many years ago. It had broken the heads off the valves, bounced them around the cylinders, and then pushed them right back through the exhaust ports. The inside of the engine looked as if it were trying to combust rocks instead of gasoline. It was an epic win for shared space that day. Let’s not forget burned valves though, you get an extra points when the valves burn and destroy your turbo in the same instant.
3) Recipe for disaster: The automotive cocktail of destruction.
- 1 Blown intake / head gasket
- 1 Part Oil
- 4 Part Antifreeze
- 2 tbsp metal shavings
- Mix vigorously
- Cook at 220 degrees for approximately 3 minutes or until engine eruption is complete.
- Enjoy automotive cocktail of destruction.
There has been talk about Cadillac CTS Coupes for quite some time now, and also chatter about just how spectacular the CTS-V Coupe will be when it eventually arrives. Well, the time is now upon us. Cadillac is saying that the the CTS-V Coupe is really available for the 2011 year, and from the looks of the pictures, it is as beautiful as ever. Lucky for us, it still has the magnificent work of art under the hood, and it is just as beautifully supercharged and powerful as ever. The magnetic ride control, 14.7 inch rotors, and 6 piston Brembos matched with 19 inch wheels wrapped in Michelins, is truly the exact package that every vehicle needs. This car appears to be what happens when the GM engineers get together and say, “Let’s just put the best of everything we have on a car and see what happens”. If Cadillac wants to donate one of these to a good home for some real world testing, I will be willing to donate my time, gas, and opinions to their cause. 🙂
Autoguide.com provided the beautiful picture and specs.