Archive for March 2010
Everyman feels the urge to punch a woman at some point in his life, but few will avoid the situation by throwing themselves from a moving car. A 25-year-old Australian man did just that while having an intense argument with his ex-girlfriend. From Sympatico.ca:
“Police rushed to the central business district in Darwin, Australia on Tuesday afternoon after receiving a report that a man had been run over at that location. They arrived to find the man sprawled out on the ground, but he soon revealed that he had in fact jumped out of a car, which was going 20 kilometres an hour.
He reportedly told police that the argument with his ex had become so heated his only options were to, “jump out of the car or punch her in the face.””
Making matters even more notable, police say the 19-year-old ex-girlfriend was driving without a proper license.
Kids in Darwin, Australia these days. Really.
Marketing can be a dirty word. Word's to describe Ford’s grass roots fabulous Fiesta Movement include 'Fun' and 'Wholesome'. Here’s the skinny:
THE FIESTA MOVEMENT
Revolves around the Ford Fiesta, a sexy if not cute subcompact that’s finally coming stateside this summer from Europe, where it was the No. 2 best-selling car overall and the No. 1 top-seller in its segment year-to-date.
To get Americans hot and bothered over the domestic import, Ford selected teams of two in target cities across the country and gave them a Fiesta. From fiestamovement2.com:
“For the next chapter of the Fiesta Movement – and in anticipation of Fiesta arriving in the U.S. – we're letting its fans take a crack at the advertising. They’ll use their creativity to promote the new 2011 Fiesta. And you get to be the judge.
The Fiesta Movement is bringing ideas and art to life in your backyard. Our teams of agents bring the passion. We bring the public spaces. Support one of the teams near you as they work with the best creative talent they can find in Seattle to promote the car, host local events and compete for the keys to their own Ford Fiesta.”
More specifically, the teams go on missions and followers of the movement vote for which team they think does the best job. Whichever team receives the most votes over the course of the missions wins two Fiestas of their very own to keep for good.
Fast forward to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, the artistic epicenter of the city. I’m sitting across a coffee shop table from Team Seattle: Parker Reddington and Nate Fihn of the buzz-worthy hip-hop group State of the Artist. This is their neighborhood. Their black Ford Fiesta is parked out front. They’ve brought an apple and some cheese spread for us to share. Already things are looking up.
More to come.
Car salesmen are an eclectic bunch. In Lynwood, along a main drag of dealerships, one of the more deplorable types told me it would cost only $200 to install air conditioning in his questionably priced civic coupe.
I reminded him that he was being misleading. In reality the rough average to install AC in a car that’s easy to do so is more in the $1,000 range. Backpedaling, Swindleson McWorkVodka said he meant the compressor for the AC would only cost about $200 from a junkyard. Having landed a hefty body blow, I moved in quickly and asked him how much he would give me for my 1991 Dodge Dynasty.
He scoffed and the delicate dance came to an abrupt end. The Dynasty and I bid him good day. We swung out onto the street and directly back into a Honda dealership that just happened to be next door.
Instantly I was greeted by a seasoned, well-spoken salesman with an Olive Garden “we’re all family here” charm and an ambiguous accent…
But this nightmare creature had the goods: A 1994 Civic Sedan with the LX trim package, meaning it had all the power options; AC, cruise control, the works.
Of all the civics I would visit on my Odyssey, none even came close to how perfect this car was. It ran like brand new thanks to the magical replacement of its timing belt and a folder stuffed full of maintenance records, each paper a tasty piece of mind.
Best of all, this clean-cut sales veteran only wanted $2,600 for it.
His first misstep came when he told me the car had a 1.6L Vtec engine. He was sure of it, even when I told him he was wrong. He was wrong. The1.6L was only featured on EX & SI model 1992-1995 Civics before it became the standard engine for the sixth generation Civic in 1996.
I noted his ardent misinformation and tucked it coyly into my pocket, knowing it would play into my analyzation of his character as the evening progressed. His next blunder was soon to follow. Once we were both sitting inside the car for the test drive, he farted.
It was silent, not boisterous or intended to be comical. Unfortunately it wasn’t the “oops, that’s going to stink a bit like Seafood Portonfino” kind, but the thoroughly noticeable variety that makes your eyes water and your throat swell shut. The kind you can taste.
Worst of all, he knew I knew. On the positive it was only natural I made sure the power windows rolled down properly and the AC blew cold air directly out of them. They did and the car fumigated itself.
“Everything seems to work nicely”, I said, breaking the terrible silence as sales guy’s ass fumes escaped into the cold night.
“Oh yes,” he said, unclenching his thighs and launching into a comfortable sales pitch.
What a champ. Throughout the drive he completely won me over with his honest candor. We spoke of many things. Property taxes, the area, how it had changed, the car, Honda.
Wait, had the fart been planned to make this conversation seem less pretentious? Probably not, but I could tell by the glorious feel of the car it would be a steal for $2,600 and my cogs were turning.
Back at the dealership I sat in the hot seat at the sales desk, itching to pull $2,600 cash from the Dynasty’s glove compartment and slap it down on the Formica. Then, abruptly, stinky got up to retrieve the official offer from his boss. After an odorless albeit suspenseful interlude, he returned and slid a piece of paper across to me, a move that’s as standard as it is cliché.
I asked where the $2,600 number went.
I asked to speak with his boss. Sales guy left again to retrieved him from their Wizard of Oz back room of decision-making.
Boss guy followed his jolly belly out to greet me. He too seemed honest with a bottom line to meet. I convinced him to come take a look at the Dynasty out front, hoping he might take it as a trade-in and knock the price of the Civic down to $3,000.
Bossy admired the Dynasty, calling it an old “K-car,” skirting the topic of money. Actually the Dynasty is not a K car but a derivative of it, officially classified as a C-platform.
What the hell did he think this was, a LeBaron?
Things went down hill rapidly from there. The boss was nice but directed his nostalgic comments about landau tops and the like to the sales guy, excluding me from their happy trip down memory lane. I would have loved to talk about landau tops, having been involved with several in my day.
The boss went back inside, leaving me with the advice I sell the Dynasty on Craigslist. I bid them good day and turned to leave, disenfranchised. Sales guy stopped me half way to the Dynasty…
And asked for the keys to the Civic back.
To be continued. Repeatedly.
A red two door coupe, drenched in the heavenly glow of a single street lamp. It brings my late night jog to a stop. I peer in the window. My eyes set to work clicking over the little specimen’s points of interest with the cold calculation of a man who knows just what he's looking for.
The passenger side airbag means it’s a’94 or ’95. Although there’s no trim package emblem on the trunk it has to be a DX due to the lack of power options. This also means it has the standard 1.5L Vtec engine, unlike the top of the line EX that comes with a disgusting 1.6L version that sucks the fuel economy down by nearly four miles per gallon combined.
Looking good, looking good, and instantly I’m no longer interested; it’s an automatic. Deal breaker. The automatic transmission brings the fuel economy down by nearly four miles per gallon city, five on the highway. Jesus, you might as well drive a 1.6L! If it had a manual transmission this little red coupe would get nearly 30mpg around town, 40mpg on the highway. Perfect, but this car is not. It isn’t worth a dollar to me.
Like most DX’s it doesn’t have air conditioning, another deal breaker. I’m almost angry at the car now. Like the countless other Civics I’ve sifted through on Craigslist, its failed me.
F*** this car. Actually I should probably be moving on, seeing as I’m working myself into a rage in front of the owner’s house, steaming perspiration under a street light, dressed in all black running garb, looking in their car’s window, mouthing obscenities and breathing heavily.
This car is not for sale.
I pick up my feet and disappear into the night. Over the next three months I’ll call on and travel to visit more 1992-1995 Honda Civics than any normal person has a right to. Enumclaw, Marysville, Everett, Kent, Renton, Bellevue, Mountlake Terrace, Lynwood, Edmonds, Seattle, private parties, used car salesmen, liars, swindlers, honest men, secrets, broken English, secretaries, lemons, hot cars, cars with water in the trunk, nervous flatulence and finally: The perfect one.
More to come.
After rolling his Peterbilt 18-wheeler, Jim Harris found the 14.0L Cummins turbo diesel still ran just fine… So he mounted it in the bed of his son’s ’95 F-150. Cha-Ching! The 3,600 pound engine (500hp/1,450 lb-ft of torque at 1,600rpm) was a bit much for the quarter ton Ford at first. Luckily Jim had a plan for that too. From Jalopnik:
“After significantly reinforcing the F150's frame, Jim dropped the N14 and an adapted Dodge 1-ton transmission in, hooked it up to a monstrous V-drive box which attaches to a Ford 101/4-inch rear axle. It takes one ton axles up front and monstrous suspension upgrades to handle the added weight, heck, the original 300 cubic inch I6 stays under the hood mostly for ballast, but the truck still manages to put the wheelie bars out back to use. Yeah, it's got the stones.” (1)
Stones indeed, the semi kind. From Diesel Power:
“The Cummins N14's Jake Brake, sandwiched between the modular cylinder heads and valve covers, still roars and slams the front end to the ground with a flick of the switch.”
“You might be wondering about the driving dynamics of this unusual engine-truck combination. The standard operating procedure is to start the front engine, then light off the real one in the rear, put it in gear, and hang on. Since the N14 Cummins has so much low-end torque and limited rpms, Jim says the lower gears in the transmission are basically useless. Typical street driving is Third, Fourth, and Fifth gears, wherein the truck really hauls in the last two.” (2)
Sometimes wrong is just so right.
Talon is my brother, and as such he drives a 1994 Ford Escort named Otis. Before that he drove a 1977 Volkswagen Beetle named Sunny that was powder blue. Talon currently haunts the streets of Pullman, Washington where he attends Washington State University. He took time out of his strenuous academic schedule for a phone interview with the Beater Diaries:
Car: 1994 Ford Escort
PART 1: The Interview
B: Hello! How’s my special guy?
T: I’m doing fine, how are you?
B: I’m doing good; let’s dive right in. I have a 1991 Dodge Dynasty, you have a 1994 Ford Escort and our sister has a 1996 Jeep Cherokee. Would you saw we’re a family of beater lovers?
T: I would say that yes, um, but I actually have a 1996 Ford Escort and Destry has a 1991 Jeep Cherokee.
B: Oh. I stand corrected.
B: Okay. Well now I just feel like an ass.
T: It’s fine.
B: How does Otis compare to other students’ cars at WSU?
T: I would say he’s pretty much in the same class as most of them. But I think now that he has snow tires he’s a step above.
B: Are you jealous of rich kids whose rich parents bought them nicer cars?
T: I don’t think so because I think it would be better to first make my own money and then buy one for myself.
B: Yeah, they’ll never know that joy.
B: Why did you name your car Otis?
T: Part of it was after the town of Otis,
B: Where we like to get pancakes.
T: Exactly, (Goggle “Otis Cafe” in Otis, Oregon) and then it also came from the movie Milo and Otis, about the cat and the dog.
B: So you’d say your car is cat-like?
B: Do you think it’s important to name a car?
T: I do, especially because if they’re not the nicest of cars it increases the level of fondness we have of them.
B: But does that make it harder to sell the car eventually, like you’re not supposed to name a pig because then it’s a pet and it’s harder to eat him later?
T: I don’t think so. Once you know you’re getting a different car it’s finally okay to admit it wasn’t that great of a car to begin with.
B: So you just eat the pig, and you’re like, ‘eh, that pig wasn’t so great’?
T: I’ve never really equated selling a car to eating a pig so I don’t really know.
B: Fair enough. You enjoy a nice body wash, correct?
B: Do you ever wish you could lather Otis up with sweet Shea Butter?
T: Not really, when Otis gets too clean you can see all the scratches more, so it’s good to have at least some level of dirtiness to cover that up.
B: That’s why I use bar soap. Do you think Otis is nicer than my Dodge Dynasty?
T: I think its objective. The Dynasty has a smoother ride but Otis has some advantages, like cup holders.
B: Would you like to race?
Otis and I didn’t have the chance to race or even go for a drive after the interview due to the state of Washington being in between us. However, when I’ve taken him for spins in the past, I’d describe him to be in keeping with other American-made cars of the early 90’s I’ve come across: Disturbingly reliable. His little engine runs strong, but not great. It hints at sputtering, but only shivers briefly. The transmission is sloppy, but doesn’t really slip. These are telltale signs of a quality beater, one that should survive a four-year stint at WSU with proper maintenance.. And the occasional shea butter bath.