CCG Project: 2002 Honda Civic Si

Ten years ago you wouldn’t have seen me driving a Honda hatchback if my life depended on it. They were great cars, but the “tuner craze” was still in full swing and I wanted nothing to do with it. Now, more than a decade removed from peak Honda fandom, I’ve actually developed quite the appreciation for them…and when this 2002 Civic Si fell into my lap for the incredible price of $750, I just had to bring it home.

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Project 535i update: The many gifts of previous owners

When I went to pick up the 535i from Indianapolis, I knew it was going to need a significant amount of work. Any car that has sat outside for 2+ years will, especially when they are old and German, and with something like 340,000 miles (seriously!) I knew that I was going to find some interesting handiwork. I immediately began tearing into the car in late September with the hope of completing a solid chunk of maintenance before winter gets here; and indeed, it didn’t take long for the issues to come out of the woodwork.

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My Automotive New Year’s Resolution

As 2015 draws to a close, I realize it was not a terribly great year for automotive projects. Attempting the “project daily driver” thing with a high-mileage BMW E39 ended up being a massive failure, and my Renault project didn’t stick around long, although I did successfully rescue it and accomplish everything I set out to do with it. Now that I have a reliable-as-gravity Honda Fit as a daily driver, I’ve thought about what my automotive goals for 2016 should be. And I’ve decided that goal should be to get back out to some track days after my two-plus year absence!

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Project BMW update: I fought the car…

…and the car won. Some time ago, actually. It was mid-September when I finally said “enough is enough” with this rare BMW touring. In my case, realizing I’d be lucky to get $3500 out of a car I had nearly $10k dumped into incentivized me to walk away the next time something went wrong. I continues losing the faith when it was discovered that the behemoth was loo long to fit in the garage of our rented urban cottage…and then stuff happened.

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Today’s Bad Idea: 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati

Chrysler was kind of a weird company in the mid-late 1980’s. Riding high on the success of their K-car platform, CEO Lee Iacocca was on fire. Chrysler was flush with cash and growing aggressively, buying up struggling rival AMC for the profitable Jeep brand, and even acquiring Lamborghini for a short period in 1987. His winning streak had to end somewhere, though. While at Ford, Iacocca had made friends with a guy by the name of Alejandro de Tomaso, and the two subsequently collaborated to create the exotic De Tomaso Pantera sports car. Iacocca figured it might be worth trying something similar at Chrysler; he leaned on his old buddy, who owned Maserati at the time, and the two companies decided to collaborate on a new flagship sports car for Chrysler. Deadlines were blown, somehow the K-car platform got involved, and the final product – ridiculously called the “Chrysler TC by Maserati” – was little more than a dressed-up Chrysler LeBaron for twice the price. If that seems to scratch your itch, for some reason, you might be interested in this 1989 example for a not-quite-reasonable $5500.

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Famous last words: 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16v

I have always really wanted to like Volkswagens. Flat-brim hatted “stance bruh” culture aside, VW is one of a very few mainstream car manufacturers that consistently cranks out interesting products. The various generations of Golf GTI and Jetta GLI, Corrado, Scirocco, their seemingly wonderful TDI diesel powerplant and many other offerings would seem to establish them as a true enthusiast company…if it weren’t for the fact that every one of their cars I’ve ever attempted to own has been absolute garbage. One of the most heartbreaking was my 1992 Jetta GLI, the ultimate A2-chassis Jetta with the wondrous 2.0 16V powerplant, lovely Recaro interior, factory BBS wheels and lots of other car nerd-loving goodies. A friend of mine offered it to me in late 2013 for the low price of $1000; it had been sitting for a while, but was in remarkably nice shape. At least it seemed that way. Oh, how wrong I was…

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