Dec 25, 2010

SOLD - 1964 FIA Shelby Cobra Replica

Too Fast, Too Loud, Impractical and Dangerous.
In other words, perfect.
My FIA Cobra is the only one ever built by ERA Replica Automobiles to be powered by the 281ci DOHC SVT Cobra motor, aka the "mod motor' or modular motor. It is much larger in size than the 289 that usually powers FIA Cobras and is also fuel injected. Hence it's quite a departure from a traditional replica. I have room for just one sports car and it's time to experience a GT car, perhaps something with A/C and power windows. The Cobra project was a great chapter in my life... it taught me a lot and helped forge friendships that will last a lifetime.

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Note the cool little FIA dimples in the trunk for the "FIA suitcase"
This Cobra is the less common 289 FIA variety, not the more common, voluptuous big block 427SC variety. Many refer to the FIA as Bo Derrick as opposed to the big block, Dolly Parton. I chose the ERA brand because of their reputation and body construction design. ERA is what we call a "Blue Chip" replica manufacturer and is without question the most well regarded company out there.  They initially restored Porsches  years ago and employ those techniques for their car's unitized construction. That makes for a far more durable body and chassis combination than other manufacturers offer.

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Building this car was complex with a goal of turning a Cobra replica into a modern reliable Cobra. Carol Shelby might have considered this power plant for the Series One, but his relationship with Ford was on the rocks. The Series One certainly would have sold better with Ford power.  It couldn't have sold much worse. SVT motors share similarities with the Cosworth motors that ran at Indy. Furthermore, Mario Andretti was a big fan of the SVT motor, and I am a big fan of his. Each motor is hand assembled and signed by the builders on a niche assembly.  This would clearly be a very custom project.

ERA takes on on a custom project periodically to keep the engineers from going mad with repetition. You'll notice I said engineers, not builders, mechanics or blacksmiths.  They are capable, educated guys. Frankly, they were a tough sell. This was a huge undertaking and would cost more than any traditional replica project. They wanted to be assured I’d achieve success and thus protect their reputation. That concern only furthered my commitment to ERA, especially since every other manufacturer I approached was willing to take on the project immediately, even before understanding the full scope. I wanted an elegantly engineered solution.

Once assured of my technical and financial capacity, they warmed to the idea. I learned that many of the guys at ERA found a high tech application like this an exciting departure.  They still charged me a premium but certainly earned every penny of it.  I'm sure they'd tell you that this project was too expensive and complicated to do again. 

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Wiring and coolant have both been rerouted for cleaner appearance
They pulled chassis # ERA2031 off the “line” and began fabrication italian style. Italian style means they drop the engine into the chassis, measure, fabricate and repeat. Bob Putnam explained: this was more efficient for one-off applications.  Since no blueprints were created, I was pleased... I wanted to be the only one with such a car.
Peter Portante (one of ERAs owners) built a Cobra powered by a 427ci SOHC motor, so they had done something like this before. Pedals moved locations, tranny and motor mounts did too. Headers were fabricated to hold catalytic converters (now gone). The steering column was rerouted around the enormous heads. Foot wells got reshaped to wrap around the engine. It was a perfect transplant. All this work was done at the factory.  ERA’s work is the difference between a custom fitted suit and one you buy off the rack. They never passed any additional expenses on to me and delays were minimal.  I recall being treated like a visiting dignitary when I flew out to see the progress. It was clear that they were enjoying themselves.

take by Eric English of Mustang & Fords Magazine.

While the fabrication of my chassis was underway I commenced shopping for options. Other ERA owners advised me to spend a lot on brakes. I upgraded the brakes to the larger 12.2” rotors. I also purchased the very 1st (or maybe 2nd) optional ERA competition rear suspension. That upgrade included many significant improvements, not the least of which were vented outboard brakes and an aluminum housing. I’d later also upgrade to leather seats, a heater, convertible top, dual anti-sway bars, powder coated chassis, factory body bonding and Trigo wheels.

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The SVT motor is actually even wider than the 427 engine.  The FIA had a very accurate engine compartment, fitted specifically to the small 289 motor. Due to it’s DOHC design the SVT more closely resembled the size of the 427 SOHC motor.  The motor above was borrowed to build the second set of headers. Note how they exit straight away from the block, the pipes then bolt directly on. The tire in the background was a great track and street tire... the Yokohama AVS Intermediate, which are no longer available... so I think old school Goodyears will be next

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The leather FIA seats have great side support and are comfortable for long drives
When the car arrived from Connecticut there was still lots of work to be done. While I had managed to get the OEM Ford wiring to work, it proved to be imperfect for such a simple car. The wiring weighed over 25lbs and most of it was OBD-II related stuff and various accessories that were irrelevant.  As the only shop around with an eddy current type dynamometer, Blood Enterprises was the clear choice for the tuning portion of the project.  Blood Enterprises advised me that, as the only person in the country with this motor (at the time) we had a unique opportunity.  So we made some calls and used the SVT motor to develop two different EFI systems in collaboration with the manufacturers F.A.S.T and Accel DFI Gen-7. The cost of developing such systems would have been prohibitive without such an opportunity. After the R+D for both systems was complete I chose to keep the Accel DFI system for the car.  Blood's installed two discrete lights to add to the dash panel,  a programmable shift light and a service engine light.  For you people who like to  modify and tune the DFI has various levels of user programming, so you experiment with fuel mixture and timing without screwing up too much.

All the testing, dyno runs, driving and wiring was done before painting. This made it much easier to work without fear of scratching the car. But now it was off to the painter, where the car languished forever (or at least, it felt that way).  This gave me time to collaborate with Blood Enterprises to rebuild an engine for more aggressive use.
I had dreams of a bullet proof motor.  I planned on driving at the track, which is much harder on a motor than the street. The plan was to build for quality and durability and not to chase after horsepower numbers. A car this light proved to be fast enough already. Over the previous 2 years, we’d learned a lot relevant to the SVT motors. I had comrades that were campaigning a 700hp version of this motor at The Silver State Classic in Nevada. Also I'd met with Mark Sanchez of AEW (Advanced Engineering West) in Ontario CA, perhaps the world’s authority on these motors at that time. It was Craig Blood’s race engine building experience that was the biggest factor in our decision to over build the engine. We actually piggy-backed a lot of work with some of the big ticket engine projects he had going at that time, otherwise I might not have paid for Polydyn coated pistons.
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Mine of the left.  OEM on the right.  "Cracked" rods have very serious issues

I learned at Blood Enterprises during the engine build that the speed and cost of custom work is quite variable. If Polydyn, JE, Manley, Moroso, Mr. Gasket, ARP, ARE, etc know you are doing something special, you can get some cool stuff developed fast. Throw in a potential magazine article, and you’re golden.

The engine is clearly a work of art. We had some pretty cool starting material. 32 fasteners hold down the forged, fully counter weighted crankshaft through the 6 bolt main caps (yes, I said six) . Early blocks like this one were forged at Teksid. In later years Ford cut costs and stopped using the Italian blocks so not all aluminum SVT blocks are equal.  Machine work included: torque-plate honing, porting, polishing, and balancing. We even optimized the oil return lines with a quick polishing and a full windage tray to insure good oil delivery. The rotating mass was optimized with less accessories to drive and improved materials in the crank trigger, internal oil pump, pulleys and a lighter Aluminum flywheel. Every fastener was replaced with ARP including a stud kit for the oil pan. While the horsepower resulted in a modest 320hp on the dyno, the throttle response dramatically changed compared to a factory motor. 

Red line is currently set to 8,000, valve springs or shims could take you to 9,000rpm if that interests you. The rings were gaped with enough extra clearance to allow for boost of any sort.  The 320hp has proven plenty fast for me so the subject of nitrous, turbos or a blower has never come up. It is built to handle about 600hp easily, so give it a shot if you’re brave enough. The car is fast with 320hp, but not completely insane.  The transmissions' been enhanced and the gear ratio changed since the magazine article in 2001, so it's a bit faster. It can do the ¼ mile in the lower 12’s and perhaps 11’s if you can find the right tires. 0-60 in the 4 second range, but again, it could do better with more serious rubber. Torque is not the same as a big block car, and they have walked away from me if I’m not in the right gear.  But that only happens once.  It produces 295ft/lbs which is respectable for a 281ci engine. The RPM range is broad even with my 3.73 gear ratio, so you’ve got to shift down to get to that 4,000-5,500 power sweet-spot. If you’re in 4th or 5th gear it’s pretty quiet and can be quite civilized, but don’t get too comfortable in the first 3 gears or you’ll kill yourself. Things happen quickly with a fast revving motor like this. If you're in doubt, read my blog post about just such an instance, when I almost killed myself and magazine author Eric English, quite embarrassing.

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I hate car shows, but it helps when you win.
PPG Silver paint with a Viper Blue stripe was the paint scheme. Very unoriginal, but hey, baby blue was the FIA’s original color! I recall driving the car back from the painter after coughing up $14,000. I drove very carefully. I should have taken a hint from all the trophies that I was going over the top in the paint department. NW-Cars was a show car painter, which I didn’t clearly understand I guess. It really did turn out well, and has held up nicely. Oh well, nothing refinancing the house can’t fix.

After getting the car inspected the title read as a 1964 Kit Car. Not exactly how WA registration law explained the process. As an accurate replica, it should have been titled as 1964 Cobra “R”eplica or if the inspector was a complete idiot is could have been titled as a 1996 Kit Car. I got neither, but did not press the issue since it was exempt from emissions laws and eligible for collector plates.   A lesson for other Cobra builders out there:  Bring photos of your car and photos of the original cars that look like yours.  They'll sympathise with what your trying to replicate and often help you get the title/registration you want.  The rules are not cast in stone (except in California)...  

By 1999 Blood enterprises had tested and tuned many of these motors in Mustang Cobras. They knew the Cobra would pass emissions with or without the catalytic converters. So we yanked them out and welded up new improved headers with more modern collectors and better airflow. It’s important to note that I do not need to pass emissions, but simply wanted to be compliant for the sake of the environment. As expected the emissions didn’t worsen after removing the catalysts. I’m sure it runs “dirty” during idling, during warm up and under acceleration, but the 25mph emissions were great. So that was enough for my conscience. Now in California, I believe they expect to visually confirm emissions equipment like EGR valves, ECM and whatever. So that would have been tougher. CA always is with any car. I considered moving to California in 2001 and worked up the cost of full CA compliance. It looked like about $3,000 and maybe 10hp too using today’s high flow compact catalysts.  Frankly, I wouldn't sell to anybody in California unless they were really sure about the registration process. There is only one man to prep a car like this in California, Mark Sanchez of AEW.

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To Idaho and Back, a week long trip.  Must bring sunscreen next time.

Miles? 18,000 and counting. I hate how people want to sell you a custom built car with no miles on it. How am I going to trust that thing to take me on a 2 week road trip when the builder hasn’t even driven it 300 miles yet? It looks to me like they ran out of money, so have to sell before really finishing. Driving is the only way to sort out a car! Things like: loose relays, bad bearings, vibrations, rattles, handling issues etc. All these things are discovered and sorted from real use. I say, give me a custom built car with 3000 miles and I’ll believe the car is done. This car is sorted out.

Some things do suffer from 18,000 miles of use. Tires wear out, I’m already on my second set. Rock chips, they happen, but I’m not driving gravel roads so they are minimal. Oh, another thing, my undercarriage ain’t clean either, it’s covered in grime. Grime from the road. That’s where I drive it, on the road!… Not onto and off of any trailer…. (just kidding,  a jab at trailer-queens.  I do clean the chassis each year. But you get my point). Don’t get your hopes up about the convertible top either, many of those mile were driven using the top, many times at over 100mph. Which isn’t too good for the top I suspect. One side curtain has a crack too. The center of the top is cracked a little and the window in the back is all but useless. I still use it because it rains here. Oh, and yes this car has been driven in the rain too. I’d never go anyplace here in Seattle if I couldn’t handle getting caught in the rain.  It is fiberglass you know, they make boats out of the stuff...  

We’ve driven it throughout the Oregon desert on a 2 week excursion. We might have broken the speed limit on that one a few times. I’ve also been caught in a torrential downpour with a few pals out in Spokane on a week long trip to crash a Viper show in Coeur D'Alene, ID.  The trunk in this car is huge, very different from any other Cobra replica.

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This pic, is a link to another track pick, with "the enemy"
Track days? Hell yes it’s been to the track. I spent time at SIR/Pacific Raceway’s driving school run by our local hero Don Kitch (Team Seattle, Daytona 24hrs). I lived an hour away from the track. It was really cool to arrive, race and drive home in the same machine. When driving the car on track days I’d run a 3 quart oil accumulator to lubricate the motor more and prevent any risk of starvation. The accumulator acts kind of like a dry sump but is less complicated to install. It’s a must have for track use in my opinion. The car no longer sports an accumulator, since my race days are over. Once I got my head around the 6 figures spent building this car, I began to think twice before signing up for a track days. I wrote about it in more detail in my blog on trackdays. But you should go out there and learn what this car can do. Better yet, learn first hand and appreciate what Ken Miles did in one of these cars. I went fast, but was never brave enough to challenge the car much  The car can to 155mph on the long straight at Pacific Raceway.  But, my nerves aren't really really up to it.   I'm not cut out for driving that fast, I'm more cut out for buying cool accessories, installing them and drinking coffee.
Well, that about sums it up.  The wife doesn't want me to sell (she's one in a million, I'm sure you'll agree).   But I'm ready to move on to a Porsche 911 Turbo or RS America maybe. This is a very specific car for a very specific customer, I expect the Cobra for a while before the right guy comes along.  I've also got some plans if keeping it becomes the plan (or if a bigger garage comes along)  like a Lemans hard top, Shelby 2011 GT500 motor perhaps.  Also stroking it to 289 inches and adding webbers has been brought up.....  Only time will tell...  Please check the blog if you want to see what happens.

Price is:  SOLD  (See what I bought with the money )

Check out my more current blogs: 

This is the perfect example of the premise "Buy don't build" (see link).  Clearly the buyer will save tens of thousands buying this car rather than building one like it.  Even if it is not exactly his dream, it will be a starting point to realize his personal dream.  This will get him closer, faster than doing it himself.  In that process he'll be able to make it his own, don't worry.


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Fuse panel is relocated in the passenger footwell with modern fuses.
My alternator would have melted that vintage stuff right off the firewall.

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You'll make lots of friends

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Don't buy from people with messy garages
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Blood Enterprises custom EFI wiring harness, elegant.

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Inspirations and rationalizations:


Series 1


Imax's "Superspeedway"

ZR-1 32 valve
Bernard Earll <> wrote:

Dec 22, 2010

I'll Take Mine in Green, For Envy

I know you'll be shocked, but someone has to tell you.  I didn't win the 2011 Carrera GTS in the Porsche Club of America raffle.  I know your hurting for me, and I appreciate it.

I don’t think I can eat breakfast. I’m not going to brush my teeth either, nor comb my hair. I want that PCA raffle judges to see what they’ve done to me. I’m a shell of a man. How could they lead me on like that? Mailing me raffle flyers, posting pictures on their website. They should be ashamed of themselves. This is no different than all those girls in college that gave me their number only to tell me they were busy once I called. My new Porsche driving gloves are going to look pretty stupid when I’m behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer.

So now what? I can tell you I’m not going to buy a new GTS that’s for sure. Besides, I’m not sure Porsche corporate wasn’t also complicit in preventing my win. Oh, did I mention that I don’t even like water-cooled Carreras anyway. Well, I don’t.

After watching the video, I forgive Colin Black for winning my car.  Frankly, I cried like a baby for him.  Enjoy!  You lucky bastard.

Dec 3, 2010

Stop Waxing and Start Driving

Your last sports car can't be a trailer queen.
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Richard Newton of  Naples Florida demonstrates how to enjoy a Classic 911

These days, you can buy all sorts of junk to help you keep your car perfect. Every kind of gadget imaginable exists for you to make sure your car appears as though it's never been driven at all: Plastic bubbles for storage (because a simple cover won't suffice), special tooth picks for cleaning tiny places that weren't even clean the day the car was originally manufactured, swirl remover, rock guard, seat covers, dash mats, floor mats, magnetic door ding protectors… you name it. Heck, in some cases you can even buy your original (and by "original" I mean "crappy") tires from 30 year ago.

Now that your car can look like it's never been driven, let's find ways for you not to drive it too!
How about special tire holders? That way, when it sits in the garage for 5 months, the rubber won't get flat spots. Oh, and while it sits, no need to start it up either… why bother? We'll just use this Battery Tender. And, don't forget the fuel stabilizer! Now that you're not driving it, it should really hold up well. Just think what a wonderful feeling you're going to have when you die… you'll rest in peace, knowing you didn't wear out that awesome car.

It makes me ill listening to people tell stories about how they "almost got caught in the rain last week." Then, they go on about how much trouble it is to get underneath the car in order to dry the undercarriage. Dry the undercarriage?! Friends, when your engine looks so good you're afraid to put oil in it, you've gone too far. When you crawl off that creeper, your arms should be dirty! Period. These things are cars, not fine china.

Sports cars are tools for going fast. They look best when in motion.

So, what are you waiting for? Stop waxing and start driving.

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Just don't take the concept too far.

Nov 15, 2010


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One of the most validating (and embarrasing) moments in my life was when I learned my "Cobratech" project was going to be featured in a magazine. I knew using a non-traditional power plant was risky... it cost double what using a 289 or 427 might have cost and, once complete, would be worth much less than a traditional replica.  Despite this, I thought the new SVT Mod-Motor was the future of muscle cars and insisted it was the right choice. I have no idea why I couldn't be convinced a simple 289 Cobra replica was cool enough.  In the end, I'm glad I wasn't.  I learned a lot from the project and that knowledge combined with the people I met along the way has more than made up for any value disparity.  With a magazine article as the final exclamation point, I could enjoy some recognition and fame, and after such a tremendous undertaking, that was truly priceless to me.

I located my donor-motor a couple of years before Ford introduced the crate motor program, so once underway, my project had immediate notoriety. Any time my project came up in conversation, car guys would listen. I enjoyed talking on the subject immensely. Eventually, a wrong number from an old SAAC (Shelby American Auto Club) phone listing landed me in an accidental conversation with Eric English. Eric was once the local chapter president and, as it turned out, a writer. He expressed an interest in photographing the car once it was complete with paint and interior.

The thought of getting my car featured in a magazine certainly created some urgency. I dumped my girlfriend and bought a few cases of Boost so food breaks wouldn't slow my progress. ARE (American Racing Equipment) came to my home and quickly built custom wheels for the car.Both ACCEL and  F.A.S.T. finished the prototype fuel/spark management ECMs with a new found vigor. NW C.A.R.S put all their other painting projects on hold (if you're car enthusiast, you know that's a lie, painters don't understand the words "speed up").  Blood Enterprises stayed open later than usual and my bills got smaller (also not true).  Everybody was on board and I was very excited.

You can see, later I fitted more proper pin-drive wheels.

In late September of the next year, Eric and I met at a coffee shop in Magnolia where I proceeded to explode with information... how the thought of the Cobra got me through college, with little magazine pictures stuffed into the pages of my textbooks... that I bought the first wrecked Modular Mustang Cobra in the US... how the engine sat in my father's garage with 25 lbs of wire. We discussed the development of my close friendship with Craig Blood, owner of Blood Enterprises. We went over the prototype engine management software Blood & F.A.S.T.(and later ACCEL) had collaboratively developed for the car. Then there was the tale of how ERA was convinced to fit an atypical motor into their traditional replica, which was no small feat.

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16" Torq-Thrust IIs with custom backspacing and prototype knock offs.  Tires are AVS Intermediate Yokahamas, w/compound appropriate for the track but wore out very quickly.  No longer sold; they were poor in rain and cold.

After I finished exploding, Eric shared with me that he was a little afraid of Cobras; all power, no traction; no safety whatsoever. I agreed and extolled the virtues of my 32 valve power plant making low rpm driving more streetable. We then went on a little drive along the waterfront, in agreement that we would take it easy since the road was cool and so were the tires. While driving cautiously and obeying all speed limits, my subconscious kept asking me, "what impression will you make driving around like THIS?" Suddenly, my excitement culminated into a burst of acceleration along a sweeping right hand curve. Did I mention it was very cold?

As the rpm's spun up, so did the car. We spun into oncoming traffic, across the street, over the curb, and up a grassy embankment. For the next 2 minutes, I tried to stop shaking while attempting to restart the car, both unsuccessfully. Upon inspection, the car hit the curb with the rear tires in a fortunate angle and no damage was found. The impact/kill switch I installed for the fuel pump was the source of the stalling. The only damage was the green grass stains on the paint (the stains in my pants were a different color).

Once composed, we both reentered the car and Eric turned to me and asked...

"So, do you want me to write about this?"

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The candidates were MM&FF or Mustang and Fords magazines.  Eric chose to sell the article to Mustang and Fords, which meant no girls in bikinis would lay on the car.  A tough decision, but my grandmother though we made the right choice.

Oct 24, 2010

Dare To Dream

I've never owned a new car. Well, I guess the leftover 95 Nissan truck I bought in 96 might count. But come on, Nissans look 2 years old the day you buy them, so I'm claiming never on this issue. There are two reasons I've never bought new: first, they are expensive. Second… I forget the second. Boy, you really do pay a lot for new cars. I have often dreamt of the glory associated with a car that is perfect and has no flaws hidden by sellers. But buying new really blows the budget. I seek out used cars in really good shape with some success but, invariably, I later find the hidden flaws and they become even more depressing. My solution: win a new supercar in a raffle and fix all that.

The latest issue of Porsche Panorama arrived in the mail this week. On page 15, the answer: PCA's 2010 Member-Only Raffle. The winner will be provided with a $104K Carrera GTS coupe and $25K cash to cover most of the expenses associated with winning it. The GTS is one step above the Carrera S and one step below the Turbo. It sports over 400hp and I'm pretty sure it will by mine by mid-December. That's when I will be revealed as the drawing winner.

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There is no need to describe this car in detail. Porsche has done a plenty good job promoting it, just pick up any magazine. (see attached video below anyway) I myself love cars with all the super performance options and no super performance engine (perfect examples are a short list: C2S, GTS Carreras & Grand Sport Corvette). 400hp is enough for sure, and the turbo, to me, is just a bunch of moving parts to fail eventually. So the GTS will work out perfectly. To ensure my victory, I bought 4 tickets, but I'm pretty sure the first ticket will be the winner.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no sell out. I'm not going to take my new Carrera GTS and drive it into the sunset. I've meant all I've typed in my blog and know that even getting a $100K Porsche for free still doesn't make it a free car. A water-cooled supercar will likely require regular attention that I still cannot afford. Frankly, I don't even have it in my budget to replace one of those Center Hub Spyder Wheels when I curb it in a Seattle roundabout.

Now, don't think I'm going to take the cash option either… that's just ridiculous! No real man misses an opportunity to own a car like the Carrera GTS, even if it's for just one day. So, no, taking the $75K cash prize and buying a 993 or 964 ain't the strategy either, but it was considered. It's complicated, but I'm going to need to experience that Carrera GTS a little before we part.

So I've come up with a more realistic plan, once they announce me the winner.

On December 17th I'll get notified by the Porsche Club of America that I've won the raffle. I'll then spend a couple days determining the color, which will most likely be a non-metallic standard color (they are easier to repair should it get scratched). Luckily, Porsche's website has a "build your car" page that will help with this critical step. I'll just need a very large monitor with good color representation to get the proper effect. Once the color is determined, I'll likely take possession of the car in January at a distant location so I can make a victorious drive home from somewhere interesting. Vegas to Seattle would be a good choice, complete with mountain routes for the drive home following a victory party at the Wynn. I won't be gambling of course, since I'll have just won big time… it just wouldn't be fair for the casino.

Once the victorious ride home with the wife and camera is complete, washing and waxing will ensue. Reflection comes next. I'll praise my driving skills and the car for a couple days and my wife will agree. Then to post a blog, which will be fun, because you 20 people that read this blog deserve details, and I'm going to provide them. After a couple dates to nice restaurants with great views of the parking lot, it's onto phase 2 of the master plan.

After that first oil change, I'll be looking to sell the GTS and locate an acceptable Carrera replacement. It will likely be 993 Carrera 2S, 964 Turbo or perhaps a low mile RS America (despite my wife's disapproval of the RS America as a "stripped down, loud, luxury-less bullet"). I'll find something that suits my mechanic/touring/dinner-out nature. The primary point: I'll be hunting for a car more suitable mechanically and financially to user-servicing. I'm sure the water-cooled cars are great, but that's an extra messy step for the shade tree mechanic. I'm game for an elegant, simpler engine design, even if the performance stats are less incredible. I figure I'll try to get an amazing example of one of the aforementioned cars for around $50K then hopefully have $20K left over for bills etc.

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pic from listing at a great place to view exceptional examples of Porsches

I'll find this car easily (meaning, I'll have my wife do it) by matching up with another PCA member who owns a like new 993 C2S that's red with tan leather from the east coast. We'll then agree to drive our cars toward Chicago or perhaps South Dakota, meet for dinner and drinks, swap stories and have a really great time. I'll exchange my GTS for his C2S and an aluminum briefcase full of cash. Then, onward for a quick visit to Mt Rushmore and finally, off to Seattle via Yellowstone National Park. Catherine will be careful not to eat food in my car, not because of the bears, but because I hate crumbs.

Once home, the garage containing my new Guards Red 993, I'll again blog and share my experience. Then, I'll break out the random orbital polisher and lay a nice coat of wax onto my new Carrera. At this time, the less triumphant phase 3 of the new car purchase begins. I'll discover all the minor blemishes common to even the most well maintained 13 year-old car. Depression will set in and I'll spend every dime of the extra cash I received trying to turn that Carrera into something it's not: New.

Oct 2, 2010

Birthday Blog

Yesterday was my 40th Birthday. It is a time of reflection on what's really important in life. So I'm going to review my cars and motorcycles from the very beginning. The beginning, being when my license was issued of course.

For the record:  No Sunbird EVER looked as cool as the one in this add. 
Mine was light blue, steel wheels, an automatic and didn't have any spoiler.  
Also, the sunlight had dissintegrated the plastic interior bits to dust.  Oh, and
a Ritalin induced spontaneous painting project turned the front end gloss white.

For my 16th Birthday I inherited mom's light blue Pontiac Sunbird. Don't laugh, it had the 6 cylinder. The pizza deliver profession enabled me to spend quality time with that car. At around 17 or 18 my grandfather got in an argument with the Nissan dealer about the value of his trade, so I received a 1986 Nissan Pickup. Some stripes, Alpine, CB radio and a tonneau cover and I was off and running.

Actually, my Nissan didn't look half bad.  But, I'd have to get off the couch to scan a picture.

While preparing for college I became fascinated with motorcycles which scared my mother into helping me pay for a sports car. "I'll help you buy a Corvette if you'll just quit this motorcycle nonsense." I drove a few terrible 70's Corvettes and ended up being played by the local Chevy dealership. I was the proud owner of a 1986 T-Top Camaro with an anemic V6. Still it proved fast enough for me to lose my New Jersey license in short order.
I set off to college in that Camaro and took my driver test in Oklahoma immediately upon arrival. The DMV fellow threw my (revoked) New Jersey license in the trash and said "New Jersey? Git a rope." Then he handed me my Oklahoma license.

Mine wasn't quite this cool, but it is in my memory.  Funny how that works.
Muffler fell off, so I didn't have to ring my girlfriends doorbell, just rev a few times.
I did my time for 7 years with that Camaro, speeding here and there. I guess I saved my own life having such a slow car. But I made up for it with mullet style and glass-pack mufflers.
After spending a small fortune of my mother's money rebuilding the engine and interior of that Camaro I sold it and financed a very affordable Nissan truck again. I was now a graduate and was going to save every dime for that Cobra project I'd been daydreaming about for 7 years.

I can't say a bad thing about my truty Nissan.   Eventually I sold it to my brother,
he promptly got into an accident that funded a month long trip to Italy..

The Cobra took shape and while saving for it I spent small amounts on some motorcycles. Suzuki RM125 for some wheelie practice and a really cool Honda XR250 decommissioned from the Yakima Sheriffs patrol. You can ride on any trail when they "mistake" you for a cop.

Exactly like mine, only a bigger motor, better wheels, better brakes, wider fenders,
better paint and more decent interior.  But otherwise
exactly the same.
 The Cobra project was on the fast track since I worked overtime every darn day and had zero expenses initially while I lived at home. But I did pick up a small distraction after the Cobra was under way. That distraction was a 914 Porsche. It was a very fun car and I enjoyed it till the crash. I was gassing up a fuel can at the station while the Porsche rolled away. As I ran after it, it collided with a hydrant causing significant damage. The insurance company then manipulated my paranoia so that I didn't file a claim. Sold the Porsche for next to nothing and bought a Golf for transportation.

around this time, the cobra project was underway. 
The Golf was a good deal since I bought it from an OCD Pharmacist I knew. She was crazy, but really kept her car in good condition. So now I'd joined the Shelby Club and was known for having a very cool Cobra project, but was seen more often in my shameful Golf.

File photo. What did you expect?  Nobody takes pictures of their Golf.
Electrical problems ruined the dream, sudden unexplained horn blasts were embarrasing.
 I knew the Golf didn't reflect my passion but I was poor with the credit card debt as the Cobra project snowballed. I found a trashed Saleen Mustang that I thought would better reflect my passion. With my connections at Blood Enterprises I could get this thing into acceptable condition in no time.
I spent lots of money, at least in trade. Sourced parts from here and there and ended up with a relatively acceptable 1986 Saleen. Looking at old pictures, I still like the shape of them. Seats and shifter positions in these cars really needed help though. Mustangs are money pits, and too many cool things are available. All the opportunities were driving me mad.

This is pretty much what my '86 Saleen looked like after I was done. 
My wife had to put a sports bra on just to ride in that car.  Okay, so I exagerate just a little
  By now the real-estate bubble was in full bore. I had sold my first home and made enough money to pay off the entire Cobra dept debt (thanks for nothing spell-checker). I did still owe my brother money associated with the car though. I paid him in the only way I knew how. I'd buy us a pair of motorcycles to settle the debt. So off to the dealership I went and borrowed more money. I arrived with a matching set of silver Suzuki SV650's. I'd read they were the best handling bikes in the world and also that the naked model felt a lot like a dirt bike, which appealed to the hooligan in both of us. Debts "settled."

The madness over Mustang upgrades was still building. I calculated that even when I restrained myself, I was spending over $400/month on little upgrades. Also it was beginning to rust through the paint on the hood. I listed it for sale in hopes to make a down payment on a more complete, newer sports car. My target was one of the best handling cars in the world, the E36 BMW M3. I eventually took a bath on the Saleen and found my M3.

This sums up why I wanted this car.  And why I miss it too.
As a convertible it taught me that squeaks and rattles bother me alot.

I worked 2 miles from my home, so the M3 spend a lot of time in the garage. I actually earned a little selling that car because my wife found it in California for a great deal, but that's another story.
I found the Suzuki imperfect for my new life passenger, Catherine. So I sold it and bought a Honda V-Magna. That Magna bored me almost instantly so I sold it and ended up with a Triumph Speed Triple. It was lightning fast so I sold it before killing myself and bought a basket cast Ducati Monster 900. That Ducati proved to be a money pit, but ended up a respectable machine.

one thing stayed constant most of my life.  my interest in the shelby cobra
Oh, did I mention the other dirt bikes? Sorry. A Husaberg 400 and a Husqvarna 650 Motard happened somewhere in there. Husaberg couldn't get tuned to my satisfaction and the Husky vibrated my ass to sleep on the street.

It was a bitch loading the motorcycles into my F150, I should have bought a 2WD.
Somewhere around this time a 1994 Ford F150 was purchased for reasons that escape me.  Everybody's got to have an F150 at some point in his/her life.  The Ford was called Goliath by me, but after being sold for a dollar I hear that its now referred to as "Chuck the truck for a buck."

This is a pic from the day I bought it.  I was stupd to sell it, I know.
Buying the C2S hasn't stopped the pain.  Who says stupid doesn't hurt?
After getting rebuffed trying to test drive a Carrera at the Park Place Motors one afternoon, I bought a red 911 Carrera on Craigslist out of spite. It was a great deal on a fantastic machine I sold it a few years later after some long tiring drives where my ankle was killing me. Also our impending move to very hot Arizona was on my non-air-conditioned mind. I figured a newer 2006 BMW M3 would have the comforts I'd need for long drives in wide open Arizona. Did I mention that I hadn't found a job in Arizona yet?

I didn't even keep the E46 long enough to get good pictures.  Brilliant eh?
Keeping those 19" CSL wheels scratch free was an exercise in futility.
Oops forgot the motorcycles again. One morning my wife woke up and said to me, "what we need is a bike with a flat seat so we can ride together more." She was lying of course, which is why I love her so much. We bought a Triumph Scrambler that morning.

In an attempt to increase my payload and lower my payments. 
I ended up with this for a mere $6,000 more than the M3.  Smart.
Arizona never happened mostly because I had no inpatient pharmacy experience. So it was off to Port Townsend Washington, to get some. But no BMW dealers are out in the WA peninsula. What to do? I'll have to trade that M3 on an SUV, after all we'll need it for the snow and the dog. The Grand Cherokee SRT-8 has 400hp, so that's respectable right? Oh, did I mention there isn't a Jeep dealership near Port Townsend either. My bad.
Cutting expenses now, because the inpatient hostipal experience, well…. It doesn't pay shit. So I sold the Triumph motorcycle.

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1 year in Port Townsend now has past and it's my 40th birthday. I've recently "stolen" an amazingly restored 1977 BMW R100S. Oh, and the dog is now afraid of the Cherokee SRT-8. We don't know why, but it might be the loud exhaust.

Happy birthday to me.

3 months later........................

Addendum:    I'm still 40 years old, but now have sold the Cobra !!!!!!!!!!! why?  to fund a 993 Carrera-S.  Does that say mid-life crisis?