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 www.sloancars.com 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?