Last month, we asked our readers to 'fess up to their first rides; now, it's time to let us know what's currently occupying space in your driveways. We'd love to know the following:
- What is it? (Be specific!)
- Did you buy your current vehicle(s) new, or used?
- How long have you owned it?
- What was the reason for choosing this particular vehicle?
- I love/like/hate my ride because...
- Any modifications, or unique original features/options?
- If you were to sell it tomorrow, what would replace it? (Let's be realistic, OK?)
Don't worry - we're not collecting this info for any evil marketing purposes. We simply like to talk about our own vehicles, and would like our readers to do the same. Flaming of other people's rides will not be tolerated.
After the jump, I'll run through a list of the vehicles that currently form the Bryant motor pool.
First and foremost, we'll start off with the vehicle I've own the longest, and the one with which I have the deepest emotional relationship. I picked up this '96 Impala SS in late 1998, after accepting an offer for my first "real" job. I went wandering around the used-car lots and found this Dark Cherry Metallic example with 55K on the clock. At the time, I figured that it'd cart myself, my friends, and our mountain bikes around the country in style, and wasn't supposed to be anything but a daily-driver.
The "mod bug" bit early. Oh, sure, it started off innocently enough - a K&N filter here, some exhaust mods there, and some computer recalibration. It now sports an LT1 that's been punched out to 396 cid (6.5L for the metric weenies out there) and topped with ported LT4 heads and intake manifold. A Canton oil pan, pump, and pickup solved some early oiling problems, and a Walbro fuel pump and 30lb SVO injectors work to deliver sufficient amounts of 93 octane. A sizable Comp Cams Xtreme Energy bumpstick and 11.7:1 compression ratio result in instant power at any engine speed. It's backed by a McLeod twin-disc clutch and a Borg Warner/Tremec T56 6-speed manual that was built with a combination of GM F-body and Dodge Viper components, which transfers the power to a 4" MMC driveshaft from Denny's. The suspension has been beefed up with Koni adjustable shocks, huge swaybars (33mm up front and 38mm out back), and spring rates normally reserved for heavy-duty trucks. With the exception of the basic machine work on the engine block and mounting/balancing tires, I've performed damn near every bit of work on this car myself (including the fabrication of the manual transmission swap components).
I love this car because it's a great sleeper (the only appearance mods are a red Bowtie up front and a pair of Borla exhaust tips in the rear), but I hate it because it rarely makes it between oil changes without breaking something. That seems to be a consequence of having a significant amount of power at the flywheel and a lot of mass at the contact patch. In the end, though, it's worth it, as the car is an expression of my wrench-turning, fabrication, and tuning skills. Plus, it's incredibly amusing to whip the big burgundy bruiser around an autocross course faster than cars that it really shouldn't be beating, and it sounds and looks great while doing it.
If I were to replace it with something, it'd be a previous-gen BMW M5 or a Cadillac CTS-V. My reluctance to do so isn't so much an issue of finances (although I'd much rather spend that chunk of change on my upcoming garage project), but instead the fact that either choice would severely cramp my DIY style.
Then there's my 1996 GMC K2500 SLE. I bought this in early 2002, shortly after purchasing my current home, as it's tough to maintain a house and some acreage without a proper "farm truck". With only 39K on the clock when I bought it, it was an exceptionally clean vehicle for something that had spent its life in the Midwest, and I've tried to do my best to keep it rust-free despite the fact that it's my weapon of choice during the winter months. It remained pretty much dead-stock until late last year, when it received a body lift and a wheel/tire package from a Hummer H2. That's the way it'll stay for a while, as it sees regular duty hauling anything from engine blocks to several cubic yards of gravel and dirt, and such activities are best handled by a vehicle that retains its original level of robustness. It's nice to own at least one vehicle on which scratches and dents are badges of honor instead of stroke-inducing events. When it's time to replace it - and if my previous ownership experiences are any indicator, the body will rot away before the drivetrain and chassis gives up - it'll be with a diesel heavy-duty truck of some sort.
My daily-driver is a '91 Caprice wagon, and my wife commutes in a '96 Buick Roadmaster Limited. Both vehicles are superb highway cruisers, about as simple and robust as the average chunk of granite, and average around 20 MPG around town and 24 MPG on the expressway (a fuel-injected pushrod V8 loafing along at a few ticks faster than idle doesn't suck much fuel). They're perfect for loading up with some friends and camping gear for a weekend away from civilization, and the wagon can actually hold a full 4x8' sheet of plywood with the tailgate closed - a feat not accomplished by many SUVs and minivans.
It's possible to draw any number of conclusions from the above list, including perhaps that I'm adverse to foreign vehicles (nope) or small cars (also not the case). Rather, having four vehicles that share a large number of parts and architecture simplifies the task of keeping several vehicles maintained with a minimal amount of time and money.