Minivans are a better alternative to nearly all CUVs
This isn't about me, this is about you!
Best posts made by atfsgeoff
RE: Which automotive hill(s) are you prepared to die on?
2022 riding season started today, it was over 50F out and salt be damned, I needed to get out and ride
Put fresh gas in, took her up to 100 a couple times on the highway, and then practiced figure 8s and tight U-turns for a half hour in the pictured parking lot. Good times. Both the bike and I needed this.
Found a relic connecting me to my automotive past.
For those who don't know, my first car that I bought at age 16, was a 1969 AMC Ambassador. Paid $100 for it on September 11th, 2001 (yes, that day). Faded red four door, with a 232 I6 and 3 speed automatic transmission. Wasn't fast, didn't handle, A/C didn't work, and had a broken exhaust manifold flange that caused a mild but annoying exhaust leak. But dammit, it was mine.
So anyway, I bombed around in that for my entire junior year of high school, before I had to send it off to the great beyond due to serious frame rot. Replaced with a 1985 Thunderbird Turbocoupe, which is a different story. The old AMC is long gone, but not forgotten.
Fast forward to yesterday, I was out with the gf at a local outdoor flea market and came across a glorious relic that I just had to have, so I bought it for $5. It now sits on a basement window sill above my work bench.
One year with S550 Mustang GT: Thoughts and Reflections
Top pic is from the day I brought it home.
I picked the car up with ~21,800 miles. Completely uncharted territory for me, this was my first and to date only motor vehicle I've bought from a dealer. It also cost almost 10x more than any of my other past motor vehicles. This purchase was a culmination of two decades of driving old hoopties and beaters, the very dregs of the automotive market. I was never in a financial position to even consider buying anything fast, late model, or at a dealer at all.
Then I found a new job that paid roughly twice what I was getting paid AND reduced my living expenses because it furnishes me with a company car, instead of having to commute at least 100 miles every day. This has considerably improved my financial situation, so after about 6 months at this job to make sure it was a good fit and I could stick with it long term, I said to myself: "Self, it's a bit early for a mid life crisis car, but if we don't pull the trigger on a late model sports car soon, it may never happen. The window to do this is now."
So down into the rabbit hole of car shopping I went. For the first time in my life I looked for a car of my choice, not one that happened to be within my price range. Don't get me wrong, I've had some great cars in my fleet over the years. But I didn't buy any of them specifically for their reliability, looks, performance, or other traits beyond asking price. Any other positive traits the car had were secondary factors only considered after price.
The Mustang was different, because I did my research on what kinds of sports cars were on the market with much less regard for cost; and I honestly cross shopped several different vehicles most wouldn't consider to be in the same category. Up for consideration were an ND Miata, S550 Mustang, C6/C7 Corvette, Cadillac CTS-V; I even entertained the notion of a 90s Dodge Viper for a hot minute.
In the end I decided on the Mustang for several reasons, mostly because I love the way they look, I've always been partial to Ford (though I have no delusions about some of the utter garbage they have churned out), and it ticked the right boxes for engine/gearbox/suspension. I won't lie, a rental Mustang breaking the Cannonball coast to coast record during the pandemic may have also played a roll in convincing me this was a solid choice.
The Mustang I found was about a 35 mile drive to an Acura dealership in Bridgewater, NJ that happens to specialize in used sports cars. No joke, they had nine V8 S550 Mustangs in stock, including two GT350s. And that was just one row of an entire level in a parking garage dedicated to sports cars. I had my pick of the litter. I chose mine because it had the only options I wanted: 6 speed manual and Handling/performance pack. I didn't want any of the other option packages or an automatic. The GT350 was tempting but they wanted about $20k more than I was willing to spend so... that one got away.
Anyway, after signing my life away for the next three years, I drove it home and started to familiarize myself with it. This car was lightly modded by the original owner, with Eibach Sportline lowering springs, an MGW short throw shifter, and Flowmaster American Thunder catback exhaust and a Ford Racing X-pipe replacing the midpipe resonator section. I researched all this before purchasing the car so went into the deal fully informed.
Since I bought it, I've added a UPR oil catch can, Steeda jacking rails, and swapped on 18x9.5" Apex EC-7 wheels, which saves considerable unsprung rotating mass at all four corners, and makes the setup square so I can rotate them for improved treadlife. The wheels also facilitate thicker sidewalls which aids in soaking up the moon craters we Pennsylvanians call potholes.
The car just ticked over 30,000 miles, so I've put 8k on it over the past year, including a trip to North Carolina and one to Michigan. Those trips combined were about 2500 of those miles. It has been trouble free, no CELs or mechanical troubles aside from a very very minor coolant leak coming from one of the hoses going to the factory oil cooler. And by minor I mean it has just enough weepage to see a drop beginning to form at the bottom of the hose, not enough to even drip onto the belly pan under it. I have a replacement ready to go for when I flush the coolant in a year or two. I'll keep an eye on it in the meantime, as the hose is right near the oil filter so I will see it regularly.
So over those 8,000 miles, what is my takeaway? I love this car, the only thing that I still want to change about it is maybe put in a slightly quieter exhaust. Ideally I'd like to put in an active exhaust system so it can be loud when I want it to be loud but quiet the rest of the time, particularly for long trips. There are options available for this, but good active systems are a couple grand, and I'd rather put that money toward paying off the car before I go modding willy-nilly.
The car is fast, particularly in the twisties. It's not very quick off the line; being a manual it loses a lot of time between shifts and needs to be pushed pretty hard just to outrun an XSE Camry from a stoplight. But if I just wanted outright speed, I would have gotten the automatic. The stick makes the car so much more entertaining and enjoyable to drive. Despite horror stories about the MT-82 gearbox from owners (last I checked there is a pending class action lawsuit over defects), I find it to be a fine transmission, if a bit notchy when trying to shift very quickly. If you work with the gearbox and take your time shifting, it's smooth as butter. The twin plate hydraulic clutch is great, very progressive take-up, and light pedal. The car apparently has an upshift rev match feature that took me awhile to notice: It will hang the revs after clutching in, to where the next highest gear rpm will be for a very smooth upshift. It's also easy to blip the throttle for rev matched downshifts.
Where the car really performs is in cornering. Between the lowering springs and the sticky rubber (I put Bridgestone Potenza S007As on it), she can pull over 1 lateral G. By far the grippiest setup I've ever personally driven. I still haven't turned the traction control off yet, because Mustang gonna Mustang, but I'll get there eventually in a controlled environment. The regular traction control actually lets you rotate the car a decent bit before kicking in so it hasn't hampered my fun at all. Haven't used the factory line-lock feature yet, but I do have the original rear tires still mounted on the OEM wheels that need a proper send-off one of these days, so it'll happen eventually.
More mundane aspects of living with the car: It does have folding rear seats so you can fit surprisingly long luggage in it. Despite the lowering springs, it soaks up broken pavement pretty well. The car still gets over speed bumps and can take reasonably steep driveways without issue. It gets 26-28 mpg on extended highway trips, and about 18mpg around town. I've been averaging 22 overall, even with an occasional lead foot. The car happily cruises at any speed between 55 and 120. Cruise control won't go above 120, but that's ok because you can just use some foot throttle to go faster if the situation allows. This is a great car for long highway trips because it just eats up the miles very quickly. Top speed is limited at 160 mph, but it's got a lot more in it if the limiter is disabled. I'll probably wait awhile before having that removed, I rarely get a safe opportunity to take it to 160 as it is.
The engine is a gem. So much low end torque, I can cruise around in 5th at ~35 mph. Never have to shift above 1800 rpm if I'm just loafing around town. Granted the Coyote isn't known for its low end torque, but it is still a 5.0l V8, so while it's no LS, it's still more torque than any vehicle I've owned. Even more than the 1978 Lincoln Continental Mark V I owned, with a gigantic 460 V8 that only put out 210 net hp and 357 lb ft of torque in factory tune. The engine happily and eagerly revs to 7400 rpm, peak power being made just under 7k. It takes 2-1/2 gallons of oil in the crankcase.
So in conclusion, despite being the second most expensive purchase I've ever made, I have no regrets. I intend to keep the car for at least five years, then evaluate if there's something that fits my life better at that time, probably around 2025. Might look for a used CT5-V BlackWing as a replacement. Time will tell. Or I might keep it and go down the power adder/modding hole, putting a supercharger on it and swapping out the MT-82 gearbox for a Tremec Magnum XL for increased power handling. Or I might just keep it as-is and run it to 200,000 miles. Naturally aspirated, manual gearbox V8 cars are going extinct, so this may well be the only one I ever own. And there's charm in that.
Enough Wants. Here's a Have.
So I was drilling a hole into a tree stump to pour stump killer into it when my 35 year old Bosch 1/2" drill wrenched itself out of my hands while simulteneously wrapping its own cord around its trigger and then catching said cord in between the chuck and body, subsequently ripping the cord to shreds. I like this drill, so instead of going out and spending $100+ on a high quality 1/2" corded drill with torque for days to replace this thing, I decided to cannibalize an old Harbor Freight drill I bought years ago for one specific job, and use its cord.
It was easy taking this Bosch apart since it is very much designed to be serviced and repaired, although the trigger assembly was a bit tricky to pull apart. I tinned the ends of the HF cord to match the tinned ends of the shredded one.
After carefully reassembling the trigger group with intact spring contacts, I slipped the rubber cord relief onto the new cord, pushed the two leads into the trigger group, reassembled the drill, and voila, working drill once again.
Doing what I can with what I have. No extra money spent, no shipping required, took less time than it would have to drive to the store and buy a new drill, and drive back.
Brought to you by high gas prices
Oh who am I kidding, I would have taken the bike anyway
Over 100 miles yesterday. Decided to top up the tank and see what kind of mileage I was getting. 60 MPG, not bad for an old carbureted Workhorse, especially when about 30 miles of that was done at 75 on the interstate.
How to wear out a rear tire in a fortnight, the fun way, Part I
Two Fridays ago I embarked on the longest, most ambitious journey of my life. 7500 miles and 15 states later, I am back home. The rear tire just started showing the steel belts on the last 200 mile leg. It started out brand new when I left.
It all began on Friday evening, the 10th. Took off around 8pm, just before sunset. Snapped this pic about an hour in on my way to Michigan to meet up with my friend Ryan before heading further west.
Made sure to pack all the essential tools, of course.
The only stops I made before hitting Michigan were for gas. On a ~40mpg bike the sting isn't so bad.
Met up with Ryan at his place near Detroit. He and his wife have a super good boy puppy.
He took his 2018 BMW R-Nine-T Urban G/S with some modifications for touring duty, including hard sided luggage cases and auxiliary fog lights.
All kitted out and ready to go.
One of our first non-gas stops was just before the Mackinac Bridge leading to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There was a 'scenic view' of the highway we just got off. No signs saying I couldn't park on the viewing deck, so...
Rain was the rule of the first day and the Upper Peninsula. We got soaked.
Holed up for Saturday evening in Rapid River, in a pretty decent motel room. Gave us a chance to dry out our gear.
Onto brighter days and greener pastures, as we passed through Wisconsin.
We stopped at a really cool restaurant containing all manner of motorcycle memorabilia, mostly Harley though. They had a really cool ceiling fan made from old windshields.
They had a delicious blackened mahi strawberry salad as their special for the day:
After eating I took a couple pictures of this contraption, called the Timeline Motorcycle:
Onto our destination for the day:
We in fact arrived at 7:37 early Sunday evening as the Sun was setting in the Minnesota sky.
After staring at the ball for awhile, we proceeded south to a nearby campground and setup our sleeping quarters for the night.
After stopping early in the morning back at the Twine Ball gift shop to get a souvenir miniature ball of twine, we then proceeded through Fargo, North Dakota where we stopped at a nice Scandinavian restaurant, and then further north to Grand Forks, where we stayed on Monday evening.
It was at this point we discovered that Ryan's heat shielding solution was not holding up to the rigors of the trip, as despite the insulating tape applied to the outside, hot exhaust gases were melting the bottom edge of his left luggage case.
Enter: Harbor Freight.
After some parking lot fabrication, we were off again the following morning.
Continuing through North Dakota, we stopped that the Geographic Center of North America.
More gas stops and truly desolate roads
We made it past the Montana border and stopped in a very remote state park to camp for the night.
It was extremely windy and proved troublesome to set up our tents, but we managed. Little did we know that the following day would be hell.
We woke up, packed, and set off down the gravel road, just as the winds picked up more and the rain started.
To Be Continued
Latest Member of the Bronze Wheel Club
Took six months of waiting but they finally came in. Got my waiting tires mounted and balanced this morning, and then spent the next hour heaving heavy things around to put them on the car and store the old ones in the basement.
Went from 255/40R19 on 19x9 Front / 275/40R19 on 19x9.5 Rear (staggered oem wheel and tire setup) to 275/45R18 on 18x9.5s for all four corners.
Original tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, new ones are Bridgestone Potenza S007A. I got a screaming closeout deal on them so saved a lot of money despite all the reviews saying they are roughly comparable in grip to the PS4Ss. Might not have quite as high a tread life though. We'll find out.
First road impressions: The bigger, meatier tires with taller sidewalls definitely have a bit more cush to them, and turn-in isn't as immediate or crisp. BUT the new tires soak up bumps better and maintain a better contact patch through broken pavement in corners, and provide objectively more grip at least in acceleration. Used to be I would spin the tires through 2nd gear and into 3rd. With the new Bridgestones, 2nd hooks immediately and stays hooked. I haven't pushed it suuper hard into corners yet so that's an unknown but I expect it will want to oversteer a little bit more because the fronts are wider than stock. I'll report back eventually to let you know how at-the-limit dry traction is in lateral loading, as well as wet traction.
Saved 6.5 lbs per front corner!
I haven't weighed the OEM rears yet but they're at least another 7-8 lbs over the fronts, so probably about 14 lbs of saved rotational/unsprung mass in each rear corner.
Latest posts made by atfsgeoff
RE: Thought experiment: It's 1963, what would you drive?
If it was 1963, what would you buy?
RE: What makes a bad car?
So, what is it that makes a bad car truly a bad car? Or is this just entirely an opinion piece?
Unless you've driven a Lada or various other communist bloc vehicles, our Western definition of "bad" could be described as tainted by affluenza