Tag Archives: Dodge Dakota

1.10 Der Panzerwagen

It was too good to pass up.  It is probably a Terrible Idea.  It will probably break me.

I bought a car, a silver 1998 Volvo V70R AWD.

Which, I’ve quickly learned, is not the version to buy: the all-wheel-drive limits your choice of aftermarket parts.  Downpipes, springs, exhausts…  All these normal bits won’t fit the AWD version.

Oh well.  Maybe I should just swap in a manual gearbox and ditch the AWD…

So I really don’t need four wheels, most of the year, since I commute by train to my job in Manhattan and I stash a bike near my apartment in warmer months.  But I love cars, and I’m very, very bored with my faithful Dodge Dakota.  So I made the mistake of telling my buddy Ciro Papi from CP Car Detailing that I was thinking about buying an old Volvo 850 Turbo.  Preferably the T5-R, but they’re pretty hard to find.

Why a Volvo wagon?  Well, I’ve always liked the way they look, they’re very practical, reasonably fast, handle well, and not especially valuable.

Basically, it’s the cheapest car I’d actually want to own.

Ciro is like part of the car-culture mafia in this neck of the woods: he’s connected. A week later, he found a car for me, at a price that made it worth braving the truly terrible drivers that frequent the New York Thruway worth it.  It needed work, but the body and interior were in pretty great shape.  It had been sitting for a while, so now the calipers are blue.

Volvo Brakes

Next, it needs new axles, a trailer hitch, and a refresh of all the fluids, but that will have to wait until I sell the truck.

-tad

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1.5 Old Is New

I like classic bikes and cars.  I don’t live in some fantasy world where “hand crafted” equals “higher quality”.  I know that robots make nice welds, and don’t have a bad day on the job because their wife is screwing another robot, or they’re hung over.  And I’ve owned/driven a few old cars: they’re charming and full of character, but they’re annoying as fuck sometimes.  My 2001 Dodge Dakota is the most boring vehicle I’ve ever owned, and it just flat works.  I’d love to sell it and buy something weird, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

But I do miss the individuality that old cars and bikes had.  Old bikes didn’t really have anything extraneous on them.  Modern bikes have weird little bits of chrome-look plastic and little pieces stuck on everywhere that have no real purpose, except to hide really ugly wiring and differentiate model years when the manufacturer can’t afford a redesign and needs to move some product.

And old cars all look so distinctive.  Just one look at the silhouette, and you could tell them apart.  Modern cars?  Without peeking at the badge, it’s pretty tough.  Even supercars kinda look the same if you squint.  I admit: that Nissan Juke is pretty weird looking, but at least it looks like it’s trying to be something.  It’s got character.

A Camry is just trying pathetically to please all the people all the time.  If a Camry were a person, they’d be both boring and annoying at the same time.  And who needs that?  A boring appliance that appeals to people who need functional transportation….  Functional transportation with 260 horsepower though.  Why?

Why the hell do these family cars need traction control?  ABS, sure.  But when I’m stuck behind some idiot trying to pull onto the Turnpike at 40mph in his or her 260hp, V6 Honda Accord, I’m wondering just what the impetus for the purchase of that, over the four-cylinder model really was.  Does that moron need 260hp?  For what?  Clearly, they’re not using it to safely merge, one of the few things you could argue that power is good for in the day-to-day driving environment.

Every Camry and Accord in the world should have a four-cylinder turbodiesel, something with good economy and great torque for the way these people drive.

Twenty years ago, you had to buy a Porsche 911 Turbo to get power like that, a car only available to rich enthusiasts who liked to do 24 quart oil changes in order to experience the “purity” of air-cooled engineering.

Porsche 911 Laguna Seca

I actually think Priuses [“Prii”?] are perfect: they’re damn boring to drive, but they don’t pretend to be sporty at all.  There’s no “SE” edition, or “R” model.  They’re not really even cars, they’re “wheeled personal transportation modules.”  And that’s how most people look at driving: as a way to get places.

I hope they sell a million of them, a billion.  Save all the gas you can.

So I can burn it up driving an old Lamborghini Espada.

-tad