Introduction, and Kevin's garage(s) - this is a long one
One of the folks on Jalopnik told me about this tonight, and wanted me to talk about my little fleet of cars. I had just been introduced to Oppo when it died - so hopefully I am not a bad omen here. So here goes!
Hi, my name is Kevin, and I am an addict. But not booze or narcotics, cars. Not cheaper really, but probably marginally better for your health and not as hard on your friends and family (I hope). I am a 50-something storage and backup engineer/consultant who roams the country doing enterprise storage and backup things. I work for a company based outside Boston, but I am one of those long-time work from home guys, who now splits his time between southern Maine (summers) and SW Florida (the rest of the year when Maine is a frozen salty wasteland), at least when I am not on an airplane. In non-plague years, I spend about 180 nights a year on the road and fly 135K miles or so, all domestic. Last year, somewhat less, but I still managed 106K in the air.
So on to the garages and contents. 20 years ago this coming May, I lucked into a great deal on a garage in Maine. 32x44, two stories tall. Oh, and it came with a 1250sq/ft detached house that is kind of crap. A bit less crap after 20 years of work, but still pretty crap. Originally built int the 1820s as a mill cottage, and added onto a number of times. 4bd, 1ba. One toilet sucks when three adult males share a house... Sucks even more when it was two adult males and an adult female... So I ended up with a nice big garage up there that has seen a crazy assortment of cars come and go. And some that have stayed, and stayed, and stayed. Over the years it has gained insulation, heat, air conditioning, a four post lift, a scissor lift, and lots and lots of tools for playing with cars. I do as much of my own work as possible, pretty much everything but tires and alignments. Two housemates up there help pay for it all while I am down south.
So here is the Maine garage:
That was the summer of 2016, just before I moved to Florida 3/4 time. At the time the residents just visible are my 2011 BMW 328! wagon, '01 Range Rover HSE, '16 BMW M235i, and way over in the corner, my '74 Triumph Spitfire. I still have the 328! and Spitfire - more about them later. In the meantime, the Range Rover turned into a '95 Disco I shortly after this picture was taken. So in Maine I still have the wagon, the Disco, and the Spitfire. No changes up there in four years, which is a major record for me. I have now owned the Spitfire for ~25 years, and I bought the wagon new in 2011. The Cub Cadet now has it's own shed to live in though.
End of 2016, I was invited to SW FL to help some old friends who were semi-retiring and starting to live the snowbird lifestyle setup a home office at their house there. This was just before Thanksgiving. And in the course of 10 days, I found out two things that I did not know - first, that houses in that part of the country are CHEAP, and that Florida has no state income tax- something I kinda-sorta knew, having a background in accounting and tax prep before I fell into the enterprise IT world, but never really thought through the ramifications of. My friends are a couple who are both accountants, and they had just sold their practice in Maine, but were going to work one last tax season to help get the new owner going. Being the nicest people on the face of planet Earth, they offered me the use of their Florida house free of charge, to see if I liked living down here and so I could look for a place of my own. So December 20th, 2016, I packed up the M235i and headed south for the winter! Zero planning, just up and did it. Other than cars, I am not normally that impulsive, but it has worked out GREAT!
And about six weeks later, I bought these:
A nice little 2bd/2ba house that I love - except that garage is TINY - like barely fits the GTI tiny. Oh, just before I closed on the house, knowing I would be doing lots of renovations, and honestly not knowing how the finances of owning two homes would work out (extremely well, it turned out), I traded the '16 M235i for this '17 GTI Sport. The height of dieselgate, so the GTI was an absolute steal, and I did alright getting out of the BMW. And in the four years since, a number of second cars have come and gone in FL too - mostly because my mother wanted to come down in the winter, and due to some hip issues, she can't drive a stick - so an '02 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon came down, was replaced by a '91 Volvo 940GLE (that was a disaster), which was replaced by an '01 Camry V6 with 50K on it that is her current ride. And thankfully, she bought her own condo! One winter with mom in a tiny house was plenty. She's just across town though.
Then, for my 50th birthday in early 2019 I bought myself a leftover 2018 Fiata. Loved it, didn't fit in it. After a year and a half, last summer I bought an '11 BMW 128i convertible. It was just as I was going to migrate back to Maine for the summer, so I literally drove the Fiata to Carmax, sold it to them, took an Uber to the airport, flew to Wichita, KS, got picked up by the local BMW dealer (for Hoovie's Garage fans, the same dealer group that screwed him over on his Porsche PDI then gave him a deal on a Range Rover for his wife). Bought the 128i, drove to Maine, spent the summer, then drove it to FL in October.
So on to the cars! I'll do them in purchase order:
'74ish Triumph Spitfire. I bought a '74 Spitfire that turned out to be too rusty to save. So on my 26th birthday I bought the one I still have. Technically, it's a '77 chassis, but it has a '69 motor and is trimmed with most of the parts from the '74, and I never actually bothered to register it, I just slapped the builder plate and license plates from the '74 on it and called it a day. I bought it from a guy who built it originally to go racing. So it is sort of a best of all years mongrel. A '69 small bearing high compression motor with dual carbs and a header, and an overdrive transmission (original to the chassis - very rare in the US). So for a Spitfire, it goes right along. I had to finish the interior restoration and maintain it over the years. I've put about 30K miles on it in 25 years. Great little car!
The infamous 328! wagon:
In 2009, I bought a Saab 9-3SC in the GM Saab firesale. Two years later, Saab was circling the drain, and BMW was making noises that they would no longer sell my dream car, the 3-series wagon (I have wierd dreams) in the US. So I took a deep breath, signed some paperwork with very scary numbers on them, and ordered a 2011 328i wagon for European Delivery at BMW Welt in Munich. Both because I thought it would be cool, and because you got a substantial discount for doing it that way back then! Combined with the dealer discount, that made the car somewhat affordable. Being an old school car geek, I of course ordered it in the proper configuration - rear wheel drive, with a 6spd manual transmission. What is now known as "unicorn spec" for these cars. A friend and I flew to Munich, picked it up, toured around Germany for a few days, then did a mad dash overnight to Stockholm Sweden to meet up with two other friends, then go to Finland on the ferry to attend the 2011 Saab International Festival - the trip to the festival was planned long before I ordered the car, so it was shoehorned into the same trip. Toured Finland and Sweden for a week and a half, then back down to drop the car off in Amsterdam to be shipped home. Met a Dutch friend there, and drove with him to Paris to meet another friend and go see the display of a chunk of Ralph Lauren's car collection at the Louve. Then TGV back to Amsterdam and flew home - it was quite a trip!
The 328! part? BMW managed to put the "i" badge on upside-down on my car - I did not notice, a friend pointed it out at the first BMWCCA meeting I attended after re-delivery. Going back over the pictures from Europe, sure enough, it had been that way since delivery. And it has proved to be the best car BMW has ever made. Currently just over 50K on it, zero issues. I plan to be buried in it, and now that I live mostly in Florida it lives a semi-retired life of 2K a summer in Maine.
Next is the Disco I. It's a 1995, base truck with no sunroofs, no rear A/C, and a 5spd. Almost as much of a unicorn as the BMW. I found it at a specialist dealer in NJ with 126K on it, one owner, super clean and well maintained. The Range Rover never actually gave me much trouble in the five years I owned it, but it gave me a nervous twitch thinking about all the stuff that COULD go expensively wrong with it. The Disco is MUCH simpler, if not nearly so regal to drive. But with the stick it's fun enough, great in the snow, tows a boat just about as well, and in general is a handy thing to have around. Doesn't give me much trouble, has needed an alternator since I bought it. I drive it in the winter when I am up there.
Here it is with me, the day I picked it up in Joisey:
Yeah, I am a big guy -see why I had to get rid of the Fiata??
Next up is the GTI. Not much of a story, as I said I traded the M235i for it. I had done Euro Delivery again for that car in 2015 (nine countries in four weeks with my Mom, another great trip) - it was just about the first US spec '16 M235i built- Estoril Blue on Oyster, 6spd, no sunroof. Great car on the Autobahn, kinda boring in the US. I really didn't love it as much as I expected. I was not sexy enough for that car. So I traded it for the '17 GTI Sport. 6spd, white on plaid cloth, just a great car with all the GTI factory performance goodies, but no sunroof or other nonsense. Currently has just shy of 21K on it, and I love it. But I am ashamed to say, I am thinking of selling it. I rarely drive it anymore, and since I have but one garage bay in FL, it just sits out in the sun, which will do it no good at all here. And the house renovations are long done. It's a bit of a quandary, and since Covid has caused the car market to go insane, it would be a great time to sell it on. It's paid for, but insurance is expensive down here. So it costs a lot to have it look pretty on the front lawn. Decisions, decisions. I know I will regret it if I do it. I wanted a GTI since Jr High and finally got one.
Which brings us to the last of the current fleet - the 2011 128i convertible.
As mentioned, I had a Fiata that I loved driving, but didn't fit in. After 40 minutes or so, it became actually painful to drive. So wanting a bigger convertible, I looked at a lot of options and decided to stick with what I knew - another BMW. Looking around the internet, I found this one. For sale by the BMW dealer in Wichita (and anyone in the know will know how rare it is to find a car this old being sold by a BMW dealer), and it was and is just about as perfect as a nearly 11 year old car can be, in both condition and service history. All the right stuff done, just wonderfully cared for, and only 46K when I picked it up. it was EXPENSIVE, but it was worth every penny. Another six speed, it's really nice to drive. Another long term keeper, I think. I spent the summer in Maine adding in some things it lacked - cheap original owner (it was also a Euro Delivery car) didn't order it with the premium package - so no lumbar support in the seats - that SUCKED. So I retrofitted that. Also the Homelink mirror, and I am in the midst of retrofitting factory Bluetooth. I swapped the plain black interior trim for poplar wood trim. With all the roadtrips, its now up to 53K and doing great, also no issues at all with it.
With the Spitfire on my Mom's front lawn in Maine - the Spitfire is wintering at her house so a friend can work on his car in my garage up there:
Yeah - Spitfires are TINY cars! The top of the windshield frame is barely above the top of the door of the 128i and 128i's are small cars too! But top down, I fit in the Spitfire just fine - so much more room when there is no "safety" and "comfort" nonsense cluttering up the place... I can't get in and out with the top up any more though too old, too fat, too inflexible. So I just drive it top down.
So the master plan is to do something about the garage situation in FL. By building a proper garage with a semi-detached house (I want a lanai between the house and garage). Not as big as in Maine, but I want space for comfortably parking two cars, with a nice airconditioned and 2-post lift equipped workshop bay behind that. A little bigger house, I would like to have a separate office space, rather than a corner of my living room as it is now. Saving my pennies, a couple more years and I will be ready to do it. Then the madness can really begin down here too. I'll keep this house as a rental property.
So that's my story. Along the way I have also managed to own a baker's dozen of Volvos, eight Saabs, two Alfa Romeos, six BMWs, six Peugeots, six VWs, a Subaru, two Fiats, and a Jeep. Plus more I am surely forgetting. I do have a list I can post if anyone is interested in the gory details since I got my license in 1986. And I drive a crapton of rental cars every year.
Taylor Martin last edited by
@krhodes1 Welcome to Oppo! We're all bad omens, so it's not just you haha.
That's a wicker assortment of cars, and I think I speak on behalf of most of the people here when I say I envy your garage. That being said, my favorite is the Bimmer wagon. Love the ! part of it, that's too rich.
Also, I'm the opposite of a snowbird in the sense that I go to school in the summer, but make damn sure I'm back home around winter. Florida is cool and all, but I'm definitely a cool weather guy.
MisterButtercup last edited by
Welcome! Jealous of all the cars, but sounds like you've enjoyed them all properly, and make sure they get used well, which is awesome!
I also discovered Oppo right before it got shut down, so was glad when this site opened up!
Chariotoflove last edited by
@krhodes1 Yeah, you belong. Good to see you here!
ClassicDatsunDebate last edited by
A Former User last edited by
Welcome to the madhouse 2.0.
Very nice list of European cars there.
gettingoldercarguy last edited by
@krhodes1 Welcome, way to out flex 95% of us here. That Maine garage looks the business, plus all the murder she wrote you can stomach (like lobster, there's never enough).
flatisflat last edited by
@krhodes1 Great write-up and it sounds like you've hosted quite the stable in your time!
Don't tell the rest - but the wagon is still my favorite too! And would be by far the hardest to replace.
In an ideal world, I would live somewhere like San Diego where the weather is nice year-round, but I can't afford that and a bunch of cars too! I just try to get out of FL before the weather gets brutal.
ttyymmnn last edited by
Welcome! How soon can you start?
jminer last edited by
@krhodes1 that's an awesome story - thanks for sharing! I'm glad you found us here.
I've always wanted to do the Euro delivery, seems like you made the most of it too.
Feel free to share any of those stories in more detail, I'd love to read it!
Peter_Black last edited by
@taylor-martin you will do well here.
WhoIsTheLeader last edited by WhoIsTheLeader
@krhodes1 That is a fascinating fleet. I really enjoyed this introductory post. Welcome to Oppo! Judging by your fondness for quirky and rare (at least in the US) cars, you'll fit right in here. You've owned probably most of the cars in most of our realistic dream garages. Especially that manual 3er wagon.
Also, how on earth have you managed to own 5 Peugeots, presumably all USDM? I've still never seen a single one in functioning condition.
For me, my garage is pretty boring right now. After tomorrow, it'll be 4 months before I see my beloved Cruze again.
EDIT: I really would like to learn more about the Euro delivery experience
i86hotdogs last edited by
Many welcomes!! My only critique on your fleet is the lack of VANS.
I'm kidding, of course. That is an awesome fleet that many enthusiasts dream of. Wagons, stick Discos, roadster sports cars, you've got em all!
I am very envious of your garage in Maine. Like your new Florida home, I too am stuck with an underwhelming garage. I'm currently house hunting in the area, and basically have one criteria: large garage, or enough land to build one. The missus has other criteria too, but irrelevant to garages.
BicycleBuck last edited by
LimitedTimeOnly last edited by
@krhodes1 said in Introduction, and Kevin's garage(s) - this is a long one:
I had just been introduced to Oppo when it died
Oppositelock.kinja.com is dead! Long live Opposite-lock.com!
Welcome, thanks for sharing the great overview of your life in cars.
Now I want to see a photo of the 328! badging.
MybirdIStheword last edited by
@krhodes1 your collection is far too sensible. Need to buy a bunch of unreliable niche junk to fit in here.
Shop-Teacher last edited by
@krhodes1 Since I am reasonably certain that you didn't personally turn Jim Spanfeller into a Herb ... Welcome!
I am supremely jealous of your garage in Maine
davesaddiction last edited by
@krhodes1 Glad you found us! Love your Spitfire.
@krhodes1 Was wondering when you were going to show up here!
I had an '02 Aero wagon as well! And I still currently have the 91 volvo wagon, but apparently my experience has been better than yours. I drove it last night and I still love the ride.
just-a-scratch last edited by
Welcome. That's a thorough intro. Good on you for it.
My dad had an early '70s Spitfire, but had so many transmission problems he couldn't keep it. I'm guessing that the one you have with the somewhat later transmission is a better version. BTW, there's a potted plant that looks like a floating head in the pic showing the car on the lawn.
I can't see a Disco of that era in green and avoid thinking of It's Always Sunny.
I have a big garage for where I live, but I'm still jealous of that setup in Maine.
CivicWagonEngineer last edited by
Welcome! Love the wagon, the "!" is just too funny. Hope to have a garage like yours one day!
onlytwowheels last edited by
Welcome to Oppo, fellow Mainer. Quite a fine selection of vehicles you have, past and present. I once had a similar automotive affliction, which included motorcycles too. The loss of my big as the house garage and cheap storage facility, necessitated a reduction in fleet. I look forward to reading your future posts.
Have you ever consider how many more motorcycles you could fit in that large garage? Maybe start off with one, and see where it leads??
I feel like I should get into bikes too, BUT - my father died on one. So I can't do that to my mom. And given the level of distraction out there today, I feel like it's a bit too dangerous. And by the time you have ATGATT, might as well just drive my Spitfire - it's a lot more open air than wearing battle armor on a bike.
But for a few years a friend kept the nicest '70's Honda something or other in my garage and I loved looking at it.
onlytwowheels last edited by
Motorcycles can be magnificent art work, even to those who aren't inclined to ride. I've been riding for more than 40 years, riding is in my blood, and I have seen the good and the bad parts of being a rider.
Open air motoring is great. It's funny how a lousy commute can become so much more enjoyable just by lowering the top. I have had 2 Mustang convertibles, an NB Miata and Saab Viggen convertible, but Maine doesn't have an abundance of top down days.