Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Serial Serial Questions

I think it is a bit interesting to note that the serial number that the authority, Adler in a scan of his text from Porsche 911 Road Cars, lists a different show car number than the one Faston found on the photograph that Heidi gave to him. Stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

$30k Collection The Pocket Rockets

David v. Goliath. USA v. USSR in Hockey. Petit Filet v. Porterhouse. Sometimes, the smaller things get the job done, give the larger competitor an upper cut to the nuts and the crowd goes crazy when it happens. And when it comes to cars, and car collections, you don't always need more size, more cubic inches or more dollar signs to be quite respected. Quite impressive. Quite the little, bitty thing that over-delivers. And things that over-deliver being in awfully short supply those that do just the opposite deserve to be sought out. And it is with that in mind that I present this $30k Collection of automotive Dustin Pedroias.

2002-2003 Focus SVT. This will take about $10K - $12K. I got to drive a couple of these when I worked as a copywriter at JWT on the Ford account. The base Focus was and is a fun car to drive. But when the boys from Ford's SVT group got bored of adding too much horsepower to the old fashioned Mustang chassis that finally made a proper, modern sports car. With 170 HP, uprated suspension and about 140lb-ft of torque available from a low 2200 RPM the Focus is a great everyday sleeper. The interior is modern and sporty. The looks, not too boy racer. If I was to buy one I would remove the SVT badges and surprise everyone with its excellent point and squirt ability. Overall this is one of Ford's finest products and one I hope to see more of in the future now that SUVs are proven to be as foolish as everyone knew them to be.

1986 Dodge Omni GLHS. Give this $5K and you will get a nice one. Ok, that Focus I was just writing about, well Dodge gave us a car that was its equal 16 years earlier. The Omni GLHS. And no other car has as good a name as this one. "But it is only a few letters" you say. But did you know the GLHS stood for 'Goes Like Hell Some'ore'? It does. And it did. 14.8 in the quarter mile. 130MPH top end. A stout bottom end that can stand mods and more boost for lots more power. These cars will, and I repeat will, double in value in the next few years. Sure it will still only be $10k then but that is not the point. They are super under rated. Super rare. How's 500 made for rare, makes any Porsche seem like a fleet car. And its boxy looks are finally start to come back into style. Me likey.

1957-1975 Fiat 500
. $13K will get the one you want. The Focus and the Omni are actually quick cars able to thrill in any fashion. The Fiat is one of those cars whose numbers should not be looked at. It is the sound, the tiny wheels and the pure connection to the mechanicals that create a sensation of speed that in most situations will be put a smile on your face to equal that of the owner of any other sports car. For $13K you can get a really nice rust free car. One with some Abarth mods. Maybe a 595 conversion. A straight exhaust. And of course, the propped up decklid that acts as cooler or spoiler.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Classy and Safe - Roadtrip Gem

So, Nickie and I are on the way in our Porsche(the Boxster not the 911SC as no air)to my book signing in Minneapolis and we are 9 hours into a 13 hour drive. A bit past Omaha. Feeling tired. And down. We needed a pick me up. And that is exactly what we got in the form of this roadwarrior.

Let us start with the helmet. Now, Minnesota does not have a helmet law for all adults, but this guy thought he was going to be safe. So he rocks his skid lid Yarmulkes style. This won't do a very sound job of protecting his frontal lobe.

Now the shirt. I agree, it can get sultry in July(remember, we took the Boxster not the 911 due to tha A/C) so go ahead cut the sleeves off your plaid shirt. That is OK. But to also crop it to the length of a preteen Hannah Montana shirt is a bit much. And this guy knows it so he is trying to keep the shirt down with his left hand. Let's hope he does not need to grab the clutch quickly. He is showing the ladies his manness though. And the touch of red boxer short is just as appealing as a flash of whaletail from a cougar.

Finally, I would not tailgate this character as he has his black leather bag(notice I did not say gym bag as you don't have to be Poirot to know this man does not workout) unsecured.

Yes, this little gem kept us laughing for miles and miles.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time To Change The Logo

I have not posted about ads in quite a long time, but feel forced to do so. Cars are soooooo much more interesting than most ad chatter. And after a day trying to create some great stuff I am often too tired to do anything but lose myself in a glossy auto mag. But after a business trip to Chicago, I do recco Primehouse for steak and fill your own donuts, I was driving home on Pena Blvd(a miserable stretch of well-patroled highway) and spotted a Sherwin Williams truck with the above logo.

I had never thought of it before, but with the Greening of everthing, it did cross my mind that their logo is a bit, shall we say, politically incorrect. I thought so. So I went to the Sherwin Williams website where they have a green initiatives page.

What was shocking was that at the bottom of the 'green initiatives' page was quick paragraph about how the logo is meant to show 'we protect the buildings of the world'. Yeah, but it looks like you are giving Mother Earth a bad dye job. And what was odder, was that there was no mention about how people have complained about the logo. It was just a defensive bit of copy under their own bit of green washing. Shame on you Sherwin Williams. Change your logo. Besides, no one will miss it as it is a** ugly.

Monday, July 21, 2008

$30k Collection The Corvette (er)

The Corvetteer.

There is nothing quite like riding in a Corvette. What with its acres of hood stretching out in front and barely any material behind you it is the modern equivalent of a Roman chariot. And I think that macho, riding-into-battle aesthetic is what most owners like about the fiberglass cars from Bowling Green. And for $30k you can get a collection of these American originals. Unfortunately, they will be at the rear of the charge going into battle due to the lack of horsepower. But, the style will be all there so you’ll look plenty like a suntanned Charlton Heston. All of the below models can be bought well or bought poorly on an $8 - $10 budget. I would spend the most on the 78 and the least on the 91.

1978 – Although you probably can’t get a Silver Anniversary edition for your funds you can do well enough to live out your Corvette Summer(the movie was released this year) dreams. Don’t settle for an L48 with its anemic 185HP. Really, to this day I am puzzled at how you could get so little power out of a small block. Hunt for the L82 and you’ll at least have the power to build up enough speed on the straights to scare yourself with.

1982 – Bye, bye Rochester Carburetor. Say hello to what will be the long-running “Cross-Fire” injection system. Although horsepower dipped a bit from the L82 torque was up to a useful and hoodlum inducing 285lb-ft. The two-tone colors with glass T-tops are the ones to go for to pin the look of the era. Being surrounded by velour never felt so good. Or sounded so squeaky.

1991 – The C4 Corvette. The door stop. The kinda flying wedge. Whatever you call it the Corvette was growing up. Especially in 375HP ZR-1 form, which you can’t afford. But the base model with 250HP, 350lb-ft is plenty fast. The sports seats plenty space-shuttle agey. Look for the ones with the 6-speed manual to get the lower rear diff for spirited driving. And if you still own a soft-shouldered linen suit than go for one of the tropical colors.

Friday, July 18, 2008

$30k Collection The Imposters

So, you wish to be an imposter. That does not in and of its self constitute a bad thing. As long as you go about it with some cheek and style. A flair that says "I am here to have fun, so piss off if you don't understand." The imposter cars available range from the good to the ugly. Some are almost new cars. Some are tarts with too much makeup. But if you drive it rain or shine and never, ever try to pass it off as the real thing a collection of imposters would be one of a kind kool.

Beck Spyder - This is where almost all of your $30k is going to go. And you will have to hunt to find one that is at the $20k range. But what you will get is a lightweight, fun to drive dedicated fun car. No top, so no worries about tears or cracked plastic windows. The drive train can be modern 4cyl or vintage VW 4cyl. Some are actually running real Porsche engines. But you won't be able to stretch to one of those. Actually an attractive car and deserving of merit all its own. So much more elegant than a Cobra replica.

Fiero Ferrari - What type of Ferrari will you have sir? A Testarossa? A 308? Or a 355? Any of them are yours with $3k and some gumption. The scale will be all wrong. The exhaust note will be all wrong. The steering will be all wrong. But what will be all right will be driving it dressed as Magnum to your next Halloween party. Make it a tradition, amortize the cost out of 5 Halloweens and it starts to make sense. Just make sure your shorts are not to the height that reveals you hairy robin's eggs.

Mercedes Gazelle - Always wanted and SSK but were about $400k short? Then let me introduce you to the Mercedes Gazelle. Most often built, or should I say stuck to, a VW bug or Corvair chassis the Gazelle is the Liberace of imposter cars. Often the ads selling these along say something like, "heads will turn when you drive by." They leave out the fact that they are protecting their eyes. Look for a rarer power train like Steam or Electric. I have seen both. So go retro and green with an Electric powered Gazelle. Just get up to speed on your Charles Nelson Reilly quotes.

Another NY Times byline. This is too much.

So, NY Times. You find my words irresistable? So do I. But at least let me clarify what I meant by "dialed in". I actually meant, more appropriate to the track. Designed and built for such a circuit vs. choked so that it is capable of making a lap without flying off.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

$30k Collection The Ombudsman

The Ombudsman

The Ombudsman. A great German word for someone who looks after the rights of their citizens. And the below collection of Germanic rides should help look after all your interests. Racing. Rallying. Cruising boulevards with flair.

911SC, 1978 to 1983. $15,000 Everyone should own a Porsche 911 at some point in time. And the SC is the one to go for. Gobs of torque in the 3.0 liter. Good sounds from the back end. And please, please get a coupe. That is the classic. Drive cross-country in it or autocross it. It will enjoy either and so will you.

Mercedes 220S fintail” 1958 – 1968, $6,000 Stylish, swift and quirky what with swing axles and crazy new items like safety crumple zones. The ladies will love the leather and wood interior. You’ll love twin carbs and a nifty column shift if you go for the manual gearbox.

Audi Coupe GT
1981-1987, $3,000 The affordable front, wheel drive version of the world conquering Quattros. Perfect for dashing up to Vail or parking in the seedy part of town.

Craigslist Gem

OK, let's see. You are selling a European sports car that is 11 years old and the few items you decide to highlight the excellent condition of your car are:

A new pollen filter and a new engine air filter? Regarding the pollen filter, these are convertibles and they get dirty inside. Seems foolish that the Boxster has one of these. And the engine air filter is a nice touch, but what about the rest of the 15k, 30k or 60k miles service. So that is a total of $40 of maintenance you did on the car. And tires, you can almost guarantee they are not the N rated tires these cars should get.

Not to mention any of the more serious Boxster concerns like RMS, Intermediate shaft or lower suspension arms. All maladies well detailed at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

$30K Collectin Chapter 3

Wow. Check out that logo. I figure anything that I was spending as much time on needed a logo. Now you can see that my background is in copywriting, not art direction. And if you need a logo, do not contact these people. Shameless, they reduce the artist to a machine with the inevitable substandard results.


There must be several million different collections one could put together with a budget of $30,000. The following pages contain a hundred examples. And if you say “pish, posh those are impossible” I must say that all prices are averages taken from actual ads and not supposed expert price guides. There are no one-off miracle 1967 Corvettes found for $3,000. There is no such thing. The collections listed are real and could be put together for $30,000 with a little time within 1000 miles of most peoples homes. And a roadtrip of ten or so hours in a new-to-you classic is an adventure worth having. Bring your Dad or kid. Make it special.

Searching nationwide is a viable option and very easy. Just do your due diligence. The person selling on eBay is not your best friend and as such you should not treat them with trust reserved for such a person. Treat them skeptically. And always pay the $100 for a local garage that specializes in the sort of car you are looking at to do a Pre-purchase inspection whether the car is found in the paper, through specialty magazines or on eBay. (See the index in the back for a selection of places to look.) If you don’t do a PPI as they are called you will be one of the people who moan and groan about owning a collection of vehicles held together with prayers and chewing gum. If you do a PPI and don’t get carried away just because a car has shiny paint but junked internals you will be one of the people who drive a selection of cars as the occasion demands

Get involved with the forums and groups of a particular marque you are after. These collections of helpful people can quickly get you up to speed on any car. Some of the biggest are:
- Porsche - Mercedes, BMW, Porsche - uh, Ferrari - uhhhh, Lotus - you get it

Now, the next time I post. I will give you my first example of a $30k Collection.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My First NY Times byline. Kinda.

Enlarge the image. Now, look down in the bottom right hand corner. There. See it? A pithy comment on a blog. The oversized quotation marks do make it seem rather official though.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chapter 2 $30k Collection


No matter what style of transport inspires you buying a collection of true classic or used specialty vehicles is a viable option. By collection, I mean at least three vehicles. Two vehicles is two vehicles. Three and up is a collection. Over 50 an obsession. Don’t worry, you can’t buy 50 vehicles with $30,000. Really, I’ve tried.

One of the most often bandied about negatives of non new cars is that they are unreliable. That is patently false. Remember, in their day(whether that was 3 years or 30 years ago) these vehicles were designed to be used daily. Well maintained, and this is different than restoration and is actually very affordable, vehicles rarely leave one down. Just like a squeaky wheel gets the oil we all hear about the old cars that break down and leave you stranded to hitchike, not the thousands of others that keep on rolling. And in the case that one of your vehicles decides to show its “character” by not performing that is why you need a collection. You just shrug your shoulders and pull another arrow out of your quiver.

The other negative the uninformed love to throw out that maintaining an older vehicle or collection of vehicles is expensive. To that I say that is not nearly as expensive as throwing away over $300 a month on depreciation. You can perform a whole lot of maintenance for the average three year loss of $14,000. Heck you could maintain a brace of new Ferraris at the highest level for this kind of money. Maintenance is affordable, restoration is not. That is why I suggest buying well-maintained cars that have already been restored either fully or partially. Let the pervious owner take the financial pain. This is common sense and knowledge. I just don’t know why more people don’t follow it.

And one of the worst things of new car ownership the depreciation turns into a positive, in most cases, with the cars I recommend you look at. Most will be at the bottom of their depreciation cycle. They won’t go down. And a few will go up in value by a couple percent a year if kept in good shape. Wow, you’re investing in a stable or appreciating asset and not a depreciating one.

Then there are the other savings involved with owning older vehicles: taxes and insurance. Property taxes will be lower for sure. Then when it comes to insuring your collection you have lots of options to save money. If one vehicle is a motorcycle these are very affordable to insure even with ridiculously high bodily damage limits of a half million dollars. For regular vehicles you can drive one daily and insure the others as classics for a fraction the cost of regular insurance through a company like Hagerty. Or, you could have a seasonal collection where you insure the coupe in the winter and the convertible in summer. And this sort of rotation will keep the relationship fresh to boot.

And the final and most important reason owning a collection of classics is better than a brand new car is that it is much, much more enjoyable. You’ll meet new people through enthusiast clubs or just on the street. You’ll become more confident after tackling basic maintenance like filter and light bulb changes that our overweight over indulged society has to have the dealership do for them. And any day you’re not in a car dealership is a day worthy of Champagne. Or at least sparkling wine.

The positives continue. You can choose a vehicle like you choose an outfit. Is it a sporty weekend or a dirty errand? You will have a vehicle that is better suited to the task. Or you can pick a vehicle by your mood. Feeling adventurous grab the old Triumph Trophy or Ford Bronco. Feeling a bit flashy, drop into the drop top. Every combustion engine powered dream is reachable within a $30,000 collection. Just break free from the new car lemmings and follow the sent of oil and leather to the promised land.

Finally Done. Now Buy My Novel.

What an absolute relief after five years. My first novel is finally done. Did I mention it only took five years?

Hunt for 901 is the story of automotive hunter and gatherer Faston Hanks who finds missing cars that others can't. In this case, the Porsche 901.

I've gotten a ton of support to help make this happen. From my publisher of course, Kevin Clemens at Demontreville Press.

The editors of Total 911, who are featuring an excerpt in their magazine. As well as notes from several other mags.

The book launch will be at the Velocity: The Art of Motion show in Hopkins, MN at the end of the month.

With some follow-up hawking of the book at the Rolex Vintage Fall Festival at Lime Rock in Connecticut.

So do go ahead and order a copy up. The perfect read for when you are sick of working on your cars.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The $30k Collection


How to convince your self, spouse or parents that buying a brand new vehicle is the lamest, dumbest thing you can do with your money.


Most people say buying a classic or exotic car or motorcycle is an emotional decision. True. However, if you look at the numbers you can also make a logical argument that it is a rational one.

The average new car costs $30,000. And you are not getting anything fancy for this thick stack of cash. You’re looking at an unfortunately styled Chevy Impala or a well drawn but stripped down Chrysler 300. Both of these tell people that you like to eat vanilla ice cream and Tivo American Idol.

Fancy an SUV? Well for your $30,000 you can get a poorly assembled Xterra or maybe a middle of the road Trailblazer. The former says you don’t live in Colorado but wish you did. The latter screams I like Khakis. Pleated.

You could get a decent coupe for this price, say an RSX Acura or Focus SVT. Nice enough. But you’d be foolish. For a couple of reasons. The first being that no matter how great of a deal you think you got on a new car the dealer got the better of it; through financing or automatically including a clear bra or floor mats as extras. They made too much money off you.

The advertising agencies of car companies work very hard and spend more on media than any other product trying to convince you that you need a new car. Trust me, I used to by a writer and television producer for one of the Big, now littler, 3. We did a good job. We had lots of tricks. I almost believed my own lies. Ignore the ads.

And the other reason a new car is a horrifying proposition is depreciation.

The average new car loses 30% of its value in the first year. I’ve done the math for you. On $30,000 that’s $9,000. Ouch. Doubt my numbers? Buy a new car than bring it back to the dealer in a year and see what he will give you for it.

After three years it only gets worse. The best cars, like a BMW 3-series loses its 30% over 3 years, well above average but still terrible. And besides, you can’t buy a BMW for $30,000. Depending on your research source, we’re told the average cars loses 45% of its value over 3 years. A massive $14,000. So that car you paid $30,000 for three years ago is now worth only $16,000. This is nuts.

Let’s add in your car payments and the figure gets even more obese and obscene. I’ll give you that you have good credit and came up with a $10,000 down payment. Now you have a $20,000 loan over 4 years at 3%. A payment of $442. Now if you divide your $14,000 in depreciation by 36 months you get $388 a month in depreciation. Add that to your payment and you are REALLY paying $830 a month for what? An Impala. Or Xterra. This is dumber than putting icing on a poop cake.

Add in insurance costs and taxes and a new car becomes even more expensive to run. The numbers vary too much to go into in detail but suffice it to say that a single brand new vehicle is always more expensive to insure than an older one. Or several older ones.

And the capper. You only have one lousy car. You have to drive it 24/7/365. No wonder people on average keep a car for only three years. They’re as sick of it as a 5 year old is sick of eating his veggies. And this is not an exciting or interesting car you’re climbing into. It is Grade C average. It is no Porsche or Lotus or Koenigsegg. It was brand new for only one day of its life and after that it is transportation not inspiration. And to me, and I hope you, paying $830 to be average is quite unacceptable.

Look for more installments of the $30k collection coming soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Paint Chips are for Suckers

If. And this is a big if. If I had the money there would be no way I would pass over the paint to sample option provided by Porsche.

How can it be that more people do not take up the few exotic manufacturers that offer this service up on it?

The British, they have the best word to describe such an option, bespoke. Bespoke, it is a word that should be whispered or said as an aside.

I want a bespoke Porsche. One that is only to my taste. One that is not decided by marketing or color theorists. Yes, car companies employ color theorists and color trend analysts. Very sad. Can't even this stage be handled by one's gut and a companies heritage.

For example, Porsche's current white is Biarritz White. Why not Racing White? 

What color would I pick? A pea green. A sickly, seventies pea green. A flat green. A green that would match the dark brown leather I would also choose. Would it be difficult to sell? Not to the right person.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Craigslist Gem

This entry really has everything I look for in a Craigslist post. A barter option. A unique car. Confusing pictures.

Ok, I clicked through because of the TR3 in the ad. But wow. Trade for a Yamaha piano? And what is a TR3 Harley Davidson special? 

The car picture is also taken in front of a hot dog shaped hot dog stand in Bailey, Colorado for a little bit of roadside America tastiness.

And the final bit of greatness here, the "Philly Kid" nickname given by no less than Sinatra.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What time is it? It's Porsche time.

I have a problem. When I check what time is it, I often think of the Porsche model that the time of day relates with. So, I made this desktop image so I can obsess 24-7.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Craigslist Gem

Okay. I know getting cars for photoshoots can be difficult, but you need to do more than beg. 

The promise of seeing my car on a fashion website is not all that appealing. Or is it? Is there a scantily clad woman draped across my freshly Zymoled hood? If so, that may change things. Or it might not. 

And beggars can't be choosers. Notice he only wants newer Ferraris, Porches(sic) and Lamborghinis. So if you have a Miura, don't bother calling.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reacquaint Yourself with the Gimlet

You tart summer sundowner. A drink to be had, yes, when the sun is setting and the heat has abated to the point a seat outside is wanted. Not punishment. And I shamelessly steal the term sundowner from the very, very good novel A Debt to Pleasure

I made my first Gimlet in about eight years. A father of one of my friends used to pound Gimlets of medicinal quality(lots of Rose's Lime Juice). They were never desired.

But some fresh lime juice and a distinctive gin can combine to make a super sipper. Cut one fresh lime in half, squeeze the entire half of one of these limes into a rocks glass. Top with 2-3, I prefer 3, ounces of Gin. My new fave is from Leopold Bros. Stir, fill to the brim with ice. Enjoy.