Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pocket Rockets

One of the classic philosophical questions car nuts ask themselves is, "Is it better to drive a fast car slow or a slow car fast?"

The answer to that question changes ever few years, but today the answer is "both".

Allow me to explain.

Today is the "good ol' days" of the internal combustion engine. At the far end of the spectrum you have supercars producing upwards of 700 horsepower. In the middle, V6 sedans and coupes produce around 300 horses and at the bottom, cars like Fiat 500 Abarth producing over 140 horses from an engine displacing less than 1.5 liters.

The choice then really comes down to personal preference. Either way you have fun.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beater Challenge: $800 to $0

It's been awhile since I posted to this blog. It's not from the lack of ideas, but a lack of time. Occasionally, reality intrudes on my Walter Mitty escapism...

For now, I'll just post the results of the Beater Challenge. By this point, I would have paid $800 in car payments for the Honda. $800 is about half of what I paid for the Cutlass, which has cost me exactly $0, except for gas and an oil change.

That's not to say there aren't things I could fix on the Cutlass. But it's a question of spending money on minor annoyances. The door lock and power window on the driver's side occasionally stick. Like a toilet, you have to jiggle the handle until the door opens. It's probably just a loose electrical connection somewhere inside the door.

Then there's the stereo. The tape player stopped working, so I can no longer listen to my iPod in the car. Fortunately the stereo does have a CD player and I've burned a number of CDs to listen to. It doesn't have quite the nostalgia of cutting a mix tape, but it serves its purpose.

If I had either of these problems on a new car, I'd have them fixed under warranty. On a thirteen year old car, they are an annoyance but ones that can be tolerated. I suppose if the Cutlass were an MG or some other interesting old car, these issues would be part of the charm of the car. But on a beater, they are simply something to live with, like a scar or old wound which hasn't quite healed.