For us, the weekend started on Friday, and we began it by working. We set aside the day for putting carpet in the Buick. Lizziey's dad bought carpet for it sometime in the 90s, so it was definitely time for it to finally be fitted to the car.
The first step was to drive the car about 10 miles to my cousin's upholstery shop where we would then take the seats out, fit the carpet, and put the seats back in. Seems easy enough.
The seats came out just fine. Surprisingly, the bolts weren't too rusted and everything unbolted or unscrewed just like it should. I've worked on much newer cars at that shop that were much more deteriorated. Once the seats were out, we had to clean up the floor and get everything ready for the carpets.
Even knowing that it's an old American full-size car, the interior is surprisingly large.
I don't have any pictures of the interior with the fitted carpets, but they're a light color and the job turned out well. It wasn't quite as simple as we had originally planned though. The carpets seemed to be for a slightly different model (manual instead of auto), but maybe not. Either way, we had to cut them a bit and add a clever seam to make them fit. Good thing my cousin is an upholsterer, or that job wouldn't have gone nearly so smooth!
The next day, we took the car around town to do some wedding planning with my best man in tow.
We went to the wedding location to check out some of the barn's details and make sure things were going to work out okay with the number of people we have invited and to help us plan. I also wanted to make sure the Buick would make it up the hill alright, and it did great. That soft suspension even ironed out most of the bumps on the way up the grassy slope.
Then we went downtown to look at options for vests and ties for the groomsmen. That took significantly less time that I had imagined since we basically walked in, looked at a book with the colors, and got the prices, and then left. Maybe next time we'll place the order, but they said they can get the attire in pretty quickly and didn't seem at all bothered by the 39 day deadline.
The following day, Lizziey and I went shopping for our wedding bands. I didn't really expect to buy one right away, much less walk out of the store with one in hand, but that's what happened. I had gone in to check out some interesting Damascus steel rings. The jewelers seemed to be pushing the tungsten rings quite a bit too. I looked them over, but found that I just didn't care for them much. I ended up getting a plain yellow gold band, just like my father and grandfather had. I always liked how you could see the signs of wear, little scratches on the surface.
People seemed to be interested in the Buick I posted about yesterday, so here are some photos of it. Some are from a recent photoshoot I did with it for my photography class while others are just photos I've taken over time.
This was the first day I got to drive the car. I was like a kid in a candy store.
Lizziey's dad had to put some gas in the carburetor to help fire it up after sitting in the barn or a while.
First of the photoshoot series. These were taken just down the road from Lizziey's house in a church parking lot.
It's been a long time; I wonder if many of you even remember me. Not that it really matters. I haven't posted for over two and a half years, and I haven't posted anything I would deem worthwhile for much longer. When I logged in today, my Home page cheerily announced that it had been 2,684 days since I joined Xanga. Time flies. Xanga is one of those strange places on the Internet where I feel like I'm venturing into the past, and it's weird to consider that my old circle of friends on here, and myself, have not been frozen in time.
So hello to you all again. It feels weird to be on here and look at my old posts. I've grown up a lot since those days. I'm in my early 20s, just finished the last of my college coursework, and am engaged to be married to a girl I've known for roughly a decade. Her name is Lizziey. My major was Computer Graphics Technology, and my degree (though I haven't officially completed the last requirement) will be from Purdue University's School of Engineering and Technology.
I've always been passionate about cars. When I was a boy, I had my Hot Wheels and "Big Jake" Power Wheels to play with, and when I was just a bit older (6 or 7), my grandpa and dad fixed up his old go-kart with a 5 horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine and gave it to me. I grew away from it a bit as a pre-teen and teen, but my interest was reignited when I got my first car.
It was a series of disastrous problems, one after the other. First the engine died, then the transmission. Both were replaced. Then I got a little overzealous on a rain-soaked curve and my car decided to get a little too friendly with some trees. That too was repaired. That same car would continue to nag me with problem after problem for the next 6 years to the current day. Now it has almost 200,000 miles, a secondhand engine and transmission (the latter of which has since been rebuilt), and a clunk in the suspension.
Almost two years ago, I bought a '91 Audi 90 Quattro 20V. It has a sweet sounding 2.3L 5 cylinder engine, a 5-speed manual, and mechanical all-wheel-drive. But it fared no better than my beloved Grand Prix in terms of reliability. In the 20 months I've owned it, I think I've put fewer than 1500 miles on it. In fact, it's currently sitting in my apartment complex's parking lot with the throttle body and everything up to it removed, waiting for new parts. Eventually, it will run again.
My newest interest though is my fiancée's family's 1952 Buick Super. It's a great old car, and her dad has been gracious enough to let me drive it pretty much as often as I'd like. I only say pretty much, because truth be told, I'd probably have it as a daily driver if I could. There's just something about it. I don't really care about the fact that everyone notices you when you're behind the wheel; it's more about how the car itself makes me feel. That smooth straight-8 engine, the pillow-soft suspension, the antique AM radio that has to warm up every time you turn it on, it all adds up to an experience that modern cars simply can't replicate no matter how they surpass it technically.
The car itself is in semi-rough, but original condition. Original paint, wheels, interior. Pretty much all of it. The paint is chipping and pretty faded, but it's held together fairly well. It has been in Lizziey's family since 1954 when her great-grandmother (her dad's grandmother) bought it barely used. Even now, it only has just over 40,000 original miles on it. We'll hopefully be using it as our wedding car this fall. The only real detail left to work out with it is how to keep her wedding dress clean. The interior isn't awful, but it's a little dirty and missing the carpet. Hopefully we can figure something out with that. The odd spot of old grease and oil on some of the surfaces bother me too, so those will all have to be inspected to ensure they're completely spotless, or at least that they'll leave her dress spotless.
Getting back to catching up on life, I'm not sure what I want to do now that I'm done with college. I currently work on my campus in a tech customer service position and I resent it. I don't hate it, because it does provide me with money and it's easy work. But it's menial work filled with digital paperwork and pointless meetings and formalities. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur has intrigued me lately. I imagine an ideal life of driving a classic car, perhaps the Buick, on a daily basis to my job in an old but up-and-coming part of the city. I'd like my design office to be located in an old storefront with a large plate glass window, wooden door and window frames, and turn-of-the-century style sign painting on the glass with a nice awning across the front. I don't know why I'd need a location like that, but I feel like it would be nice to be involved in a community like that and feel like a part of the local businesses. Maybe I could find a reason to have a setup like that someday.
So that's life. Maybe now that we've caught up, we can start seeing each other a bit more often.
It seems that in the supposed twilight of their existence, the Big Three have pulled out an old shoebox of memories of the good old days; specifically the glory days of muscle cars, horsepower, and low gas prices.
Representing Ford, we have the 2010 Mustang. While there aren't any drastic differences from the past few years of the Mustang, it has seen a bit of a facelift. But aside from that, it became the first major player in this old-school muscle car frenzy back in 2005 with a desperately needed facelift. There was hardly a single redeeming trait in the third and fourth generation Mustangs which were made from 1979 to 2004. Even the second generation was disappointing, but at least it had redemption in retaining much of the sporty lines of the original. It is somewhat disappointing that the Mustang only returned to glory by returning to an old styling pattern, but then I guess that is the way of the muscle car. The basic formula is light body + the biggest, most powerful engine available. Forget about sporty handling.
Representing Chrysler LLC, we have the Dodge Challenger. This is one of the more incredible American cars I've seen, and that includes the past. I guess the Mustang wasn't as much of a surprise because it's around since 1964, and the Challenger was discontinued twice. Once in '74. Revived in '78, only to be discontinued in '84. The most recent revival will probably prove to be the more impressive. Unlike the Mustang, the Challenger pulls out all the stops. The R/T configuration comes with the Gas Guzzler Tax, and that has to speak for something. At its least, it has a 3.5L V6 putting out 250 horsepower, and at its best, the Hemi V8 putting out 376 horsepower.
Last, but certainly not least (in my opinion) is the Chevrolet Camaro, representing General Motors. In classic antiquity, the Camaro and Pontiac Trans Am were both GM muscle cars based on the same body. Because of this, I wouldn't rule out a revival of the Trans Am if GM decides it needs another muscle car. Unfortunately, both of these initially amazing cars eventually became soulless and insulting to their own heritage. Graciously, GM discontinued both in 2002. With the ever-present Mustang and the new Challenger both competing in a market somewhat below that of the Corvette, GM needed a player. More importantly, it needed something with heritage. Of course, that brings us to the Transformers movie, where Bumblebee is transformed from the 1976 Camaro to the fifth-gen concept.
So which of these great cars is the best? That of course is almost entirely opinion. Each have their ups and downs, and all three have no lack of power.
If you're the kind of person concerned about gas mileage, all 3 come with a V6 option which doesn't lack much horsepower, but does provide an economical option (the Challenger's V6 has a rating of 29 highway mpg, the same as my Grand Prix). However, if you're going to buy one of these cars, it just seems wrong to me to have anything less than eight cylinders under the hood. It's the opposite of a sleeper car. You look the part, but can't walk the walk. These cars are not meant to be practical.
In my opinion, the Mustang still lacks something, and I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just feels... cheap. Maybe even fake. Somehow you can tell that most of those body panels aren't metal, when the original was. The Challenger on the other hand is like nothing I've ever seen before. Okay, actually it's like a 1970 Dodge Challenger, which is great since that's exactly what it strives to be. Just look at the grille. It is stunning. The quality of it is similar to that of the Spyker C8 or other supercars. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Camaro. It's grille strikes me as cheap and plastic. In fact, looking at it reminds me of a time I was playing with one of my toy cars when I was little, and a little plastic piece came off. I don't know why I remember that, but looking at the new Camaro's grille makes me think it would fall off just as easy. Fortunately though, that's where the bad taste ends. If I had to go out and buy one with my own money, it would be the Camaro, without a doubt. The Challenger almost strikes me as trying to hard. I'd love to have a poster of it on my wall, but I'm not sure I'd want to actually be seen driving it. Seems to make me think I need a cowboy hat and leather jacket. The Mustang just doesn't have the same youthfulness as the other two. I've seen too many of them being brought in by 50 year old men at my cousin's upholstery shop. Excluding the grille, the Camaro is stunning from all angles. Let me show you what I mean.
It doesn't seem like it's trying to be cool, it just is. Look at those sharp edged taillights.
If this were Top Gear, we'd have this Top Tip: If you want to buy a Camaro, buy the new one, but if you want to spend money on a Challenger or a Mustang, go with the original.
Sometimes when I get interested in things, I start to recall different memories. Lately it's been racing. Apparently, I've always had sort of an interest in racing, or at least going fast.
When I was little, I used to have a big bucket of Hot Wheels cars that I played with, and I distinctly remember always wanting my dad to race me, even though this really only consisted of who could roll them across the carpet in the toy room the fastest. Then of course there was F-1 ROC II (which stands for "Formula 1 Race of Champions II) for the SNES. I loved that game, and played through it several times. I perfected my Formula 1 car and set about defeating the likes of Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher on a regular basis.
And really, all of this seems pretty trivial until you get to the part where at the ripe old age of 6, my dad introduced me to his go kart. Back in the 60's, my great-grandpa had found this old kart at a junkyard and brought it home to fix up for my dad, who got it when he was a kid. By the time it had gotten to me, it had a shabby blue paint job, yellow wheel-barrow wheels, and a worn out lawn mower engine behind the seat powering the rear wheels. When my dad passed it down to me, he and my grandpa replaced the engine with a newer 5 horsepower snowblower engine. With no seatbelts, no roll bars, and only scrub brakes, you really could have convinced me that I was doing 60 mph behind the wheel of that thing. I even made up my own little race circuit at the house. Around the side of the house, looping around the back through the trees, around the dog pen, hard left to get around to the back of the pole barn (spun out there), right turn all the way around the pole barn and down the long straight past the apple and pear trees through the front yard and on to lap 2. Yes, with my several-sizes-too-large old helmet, I felt like a racecar driver.
I even remember having a passing interest in NASCAR, even though I don't remember ever actually watching a race. I remember buying a Jeff Gordan poster from someone my dad worked with, and having a NASCAR themed comforter on my bed that had the names of different NASCAR ovals like Talledega Speedway.
In fact, all of this happened before the age of 9. When I was 8, my dad died and we moved, which meant I had to give up the go kart (even though I still have it, just not at my house). The interest slowly died. I can only wonder now what life would be like if he was still alive.
There are a few words in the English language that I don't pronounce right half the time. One of those words is coupe. Most of the time I say (or think) "coop", but officially it's "coopay". Another word that has recently challenged me is Porsche. Most of the time, I say "porsh", but it's supposed to be pronounced "porsh-uh" or something like that.
So why has this word come into usage lately? Well, it started with the 240Z mentioned a couple posts ago. I was getting pretty serious about looking for one, so I went to my cousin's shop where I used to work a couple summers ago, and talked to him about it. That conversation led into a general discussion of cars, and during it I recalled a memory from my early teen years of walking through his dusty garage looking at the odds and ends everywhere and saw a car shape parked in the corner covered with a cloth. I pulled up the corner and saw the distinctive headlight and curves of what I now know to be the Porsche 911. Back then I just thought it was a nice car. So I asked him exactly what kind of Porsche it was, and he told me it was a 1977 Porsche 911 Targa. He informed me that the Targa refers to the type of roof it has. It's kind of like T-tops in old Trans Ams and the like, but with no bar down the middle; just a removable roof panel. He ended this conversation by saying, "You know, if you'd like to buy it, I'd make you a good deal on it."
Whoa. That is probably the best offer I've ever come across in my nearly 20 years of existence. I wasn't immediately excited about it because I was still really determined to look for the Datsun 240Z (which in some ways could be the better looking car), but as the day wore on, the immensity of what he had to offer was starting to hit me. Instead of having to probably go somewhere and buy a car and then find a way to haul it back, I could buy his. It's here, and he'll help me work on it. It hasn't been run in probably 2 years, but according to what he was saying, it sounds like it shouldn't take much engine work to get it running. He did say that someday down the road it'll need to be gone through because the rings are probably getting worn. The transmission isn't bad, but the synchro is a little messed up. He says it works and shifts alright, it just has a little bit of a snag. Other than those minor inconveniences, the biggest feat will be to do the interior. He said it would be probably a full day's job, but that's really not too bad. The paint also will need to be touched up, and eventually redone via a full restoration. Here are some pics:
Not original seats. They'll be replaced.
Now, you might be wondering just how affordable this could possibly be. I asked him how much he would want for it, and after some thought he said he'd probably want to get $7000 out of it. That's on the upper end of my price spectrum (actually about $1000 more than I was readily willing to part with) but is also $1000 below my cutoff point. I've got about half of that in bank accounts saved up from working so far. Sometime next month I'll also get my inheritance from my great-grandpa's estate (not all that much, but it'll put a big dent in the cost of this car), and I plan so far to put it all toward this car. So it looks like I'll have to take out a loan if he wants all the money at once, or hopefully I can work out some sort of payment system with him.
I got this email from Delirious? today through the subscription feed, and I thought it was worth posting here:
It's still amazing to me that music can touch people. As Delirious? we have been in the business of trying to find notes, melodies, rhythms and tempo that take people out of the ordinary, to make what is a difficult day feel better and to take the hardest of hearts and see them broken.
Music can do this, and we've seen it with our own eyes from the Littlehampton sports hall to the fields of Mumbai. So what's all this fuss about Mumbai? Why the lyrics to the Kingdom of Comfort, when simpler more 'vertical' stuff always sells more?
Well, our hearts got broken. Simple as that. With mothers trapped in the commercial sex trade their kids have a bleak future. And so, we promised to give a royalty of every sale of our last record to help the community at Prem Kiran, which is nestled in the centre of one of the red light districts in Mumbai.
After tears and emotion and the shock of seeing this stuff you need to dust yourself down and get a strategy, look at what's in your hand and use it to help someone. Stu G has a guitar, Jon a bass, Tim a piano, Paul a snare and me, well, an average voice but someone upstairs gave me a microphone and I've learnt over the years to speak down it. So we made Kingdom of Comfort, we sold it to people that love our music and we built a medical centre in Prem Kiran, Mumbai with some of the money.
Anyhow all that seemed a million miles away, 3 hours outside of Mumbai, on a new bit of land, with little buildings everywhere and the same mothers and kids I met 2 years ago with BIG smiley faces, as I pulled back the red curtain and unveiled the brand new medical centre that would literally save these peoples lives.
This represents a new life for them, leaving behind prostitution, learning a domestic trade, studying, and tasting for the first time in their lives a commodity we don't even know we have. FREEDOM.
It's not rocket science is it? or clever or even spiritually heroic. Just being human I think, just loving your neighbour. The gospel of Christ is simple, simple and simple.
As I stood before 30 prostitutes and their kids I had a smile the width of India and thought to myself how much fun I'm having even before I leave this planet.
The day has come; one which I once thought I would never come across. My car no longer satisfies all of my cravings. Of course it's still reasonably fast and sporty looking, but... it has an air of mundaneness about it. It's my car and I love it, but it's a Grand Prix. I see other Grand Prixs on the road pretty much every time I drive somewhere.
I think this Top Gear mania has gotten the best of me. One can only watch the three luckiest men in the world slide around a Lotus-designed track in the world's greatest cars for so long without starting to crave some of the action in the real world. It begins with the manual transmission. Somehow it's no longer popular here, so my car has an automatic, but in England, nearly every car has a manual (proper) transmission (gearbox). So I started thinking toying with the idea of buying a second cheap car with a manual gearbox to just kind of play with when I wanted. Of course it would probably have better gas mileage than my current car, so I could actually use it as a daily driver if I wanted.
I started browsing eBay for old Honda Civics and the like and came across something called the CRX. It's an 80's hatchback which many on eBay were labeling Civics. Unfortunately, that's not correct. The CRX was apparently a terrible car; one of Honda's worst. So I passed it on by. Browsing through the Civics, I decided that if I was going to buy another car, it'd have to be at least more sporty than those. I talked to my mom about it and she listed some cars that might be good, and one caught my ear: the Datsun 240Z. One look at it and the prices on eBay, and I was hooked:
[If I could pick, I'd probably have a dark green (or some dark color) one.]
Apparently practicality never enters into the equation here. It's a two seater, and at first that seems like a lot of trouble, but I don't think it would be. Lately I've used my backseat to give people rides home from work, but other than that, the last time I used it was probably Thanksgiving when Sheehan came with me to pick up Duby from college, and I could have done the drive down by myself and been fine in the 240Z. The other possible impracticality is the gas mileage. At this point you might be confused as to what it has under the hood. Datsuns (now known as Nissan) typically have small efficient engines... but it looks like a Jaguar E-Type, so it probably has a V8. Actually it has a straight-6 (made from joining one and a half Datsun 4 cylinders). One seller said you'd get 18 to 22 mpg out of it, while another claimed to average 26 (which is better than I can say for my car at the moment, averaging 23 from warming up and driving a bit more aggressively). All that aside, it looks and sounds like a sports car, and it has a proper gearbox.
So the question is, do I buy it? Or better yet, can I afford it? The eBay listings put it around $5,000, and I might be able to get it cheaper and work with people I know (mostly family) to get it running and looking nice since I wouldn't need it to be completely roadworthy immediately since it wouldn't be my only car. For those prices, I could easily take out a loan and pay it back over time. If I really wanted, I could probably have it paid off by the end of the summer (oh the joys of living mostly expense-free).
To me, this isn't an extravagance; it's an investment. This car will only increase in value over the years as it's already becoming a collector item. And I'd really rather have a sports car now when I'm in my 20s rather than when I can completely afford to and I'm in my 40s or later.
Before any of this even comes into play though, I have to find one. Sadly they all appear to be out on the West Coast.
This pretty much sums up why the Christian music genre (if such a thing exists) is stagnant:
"While Poor Old Lu developed an extremely loyal following, it did not achieve wide popularity in Christian circles, due in part to its edgy sound and challenging lyrical content. The band addressed hypocritical televangelists, drug addiction, sexual guilt, domestic unrest and spiritual rebelliousness in its lyrics, topics generally considered taboo in Christian music."
Ever since last week, the news here in Northern Indiana has been buzzing with an ominous message: "Sub-zero temperatures coming sometime around January 15th." For once, they were dead on. Today, the highest I saw any calm air temperature was 1 degree Farenheit. Nearly a foot of snow and completely clear skies made for bad heat insulation. So of course, I decided that it would be a great time to go take pictures! I scraped my car off, came in to thaw for a bit, went back out and started it up, came back in to warm up and finish getting ready, and then went back out and took off for the park. I pulled up near the river, got out of my car and trudged through the snow to the river's edge and managed to get 5 pictures before my fingers were just getting too cold and I headed back to my car. Here's one of the pics:
On my way out there, the radio informed me that the ambient air temperature was -1. As I'm typing this, my widgets and the local news are telling me that we now have a temperature of -8 with a -29 degree wind chill. Pretty cold!
EDIT: It is now -10 degrees, and one of my 3 weather widgets can't handle two digits with a - in front.