At some point in my childhood, my interests shifted from toy tractors to toy cars. From that point on, I’d say you could consider me a “car guy”. My experiences with the real thing began when my father (also a car guy) took me to vintage sports car races at Mid-Ohio and subsequently with the acquisition of a 1974 Porsche 914 2.0 in the late 90′s. When I was 16, I started working in a European car shop run by a genuine German mechanic. I spent a couple years working there in high school, as well as my summers home from college (and still lend a hand there from time to time). Cars have been the bulk of both my work and play for many years. Here’s a look at some of the vehicles past and present in the home stable:
1979 BMW 320i
This is my current daily driver for the non-winter months (my Saab 900 T is the winter car). This 320i was found at a local BMW dealership – the same one, in fact, where the car was sold from new (as well as my old VW, for that matter). Interestingly enough, back in the late ’70s it was not uncommon for dealerships up north to buy new cars in Canada (when the exchange rate was good) and bring them down to the states to be sold. That’s what happened with this car. Even today, the speedometer and odometer read in kilometers. After it left Erie, PA when still new, the car spent much of the next few decades in California. It eventually returned to Erie again and was traded-in on a Subaru – go figure.
At the time of writing this, there’s about over 155,000 Km on the car. Though it does get driven frequently now, it’s still remarkably clean and I aim to keep it that way. This car replaced my Volkswagen (see below) which, to some, may seem as a step backwards. However, to a hard-core vintage European car fan, this is a fantastic car to use day-to-day. There will, undoubtedly be more on this, and the rest of the fleet to follow.
1974 Porsche 914 1.8
In early 2010, this 914 was added to the line up (see article here) and is the current “flagship” of the fleet. My dad and I picked it up in New Hampshire after hitting “Buy It Now” on E-bay and drove it the 600+ miles back. It’s about as original as they come and had only 54,000 miles at the time of purchase. A few things about it have changed here and there, such as the chrome bumpers and a few other details. We’re slowly working on building up a mildly hot-rodded 2.1 liter engine that will eventually be replacing the stock 1.8. More on that when the time comes though… Currently the car has about 75,000 miles on the clock.
1993 Saab 900 Turbo
After the ’88 was getting a little long-in-the-tooth, the very same Dodge dealer that sold me that car turned up this fine ’93 Turbo with only 72,000 on the clock. I drove this car until 2008 when the rust (which came as a result of poor collision repair before I got it and several subsequent nasty winters) worsened and my dad donated the VW to me. I’ve always enjoyed this car, and it really got me hooked on Saab 900s. Even after I put over 100k on it myself, the only major mechanical issues were a failed ball joint and a water pump. In the fall of 2012, I finally got this car back on the road after sitting in my back yard for several years. While it’s now painted rat-rod flat black and generally isn’t quite as appealing looking as it once was, it’s still serving me well as my winter/beater car. At the time of writing, the old “Slaab” has 186,000+ on the odometer.
Currently it’s a shade of flat black (above) called “I just don’t care anymore”… Before the rust, it used to be “Imola Red” (below)
1974 Porsche 914 2.0:
Currently (and probably permanently), the car that sort-of started it all is out of commission following a hit-and-run accident in 2008. It was built in September of 1973 and originally sold in Erie, PA at the now out-of-business Presque Isle Porsche in January of 1974. It has remained in the city throughout its life. My father and I put a lot of work into this car and it was nearly fully restored over the course of the last decade. It had a few upgrades and engine modifications and served as a great running but continuous project. It’s purpose at the moment is basically to look forlorn and donate parts to the ‘new’ 914.
2000 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T
My former daily driver was the ol’ Golf (see road-test). My dad got this car when it was new back in early 2000 and the miles racked-up ever since. When I sold the car in April of 2012, it had over 215,600 miles, and was still going strong. It’s been a little battle scarred and but it really held up remarkably well. Honestly, wasn’t as fun as the Saab(s) were, though it remained rather quick thanks to the 1.8T – only about 7000 4-door Golf IVs got that engine, and it’s probably been the most reliable part of the car.
The Golf has transported me to many places, races, and car events over the years. Seen below at Watkins Glen in 2008.
It occasionally required some maintenance…
1988 Saab 900
Ah, my first car. It was an ’88 – the last year of the 8-valve 900 but the first for the “slant front” styling. God, it was slow. I got this 900 with well over 100k on the clock for $1000. I drove the ever living hell out of this car for a few years and aside from a clutch, some suspension work, and a little bit of an idle issue, it served me well. I even hit a deer with it doing 70mph and the car only suffered a small cosmetic blemish on the bumper! I purchased it at a local Dodge dealer of all places, but the car was originally from the D.C. area and the clean body could attest. This car was a bear in the snow too, which came in handy for my young driving self in North-West PA winters. Two years after the purchase of my Turbo, it moved on to a new owner, though unfortunately, I have the feeling this old girl is no longer on the road.
The sun didn’t treat the interior too well over the years. The once burgundy seats faded to pink and the dash had some bad cracks. (I made the wooden shift knob myself in high school shop class!)
I also briefly had a 2001 Jeep Wrangler, but that, of course, is another story.