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Old 05-02-2007, 12:25 PM   #1
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Smile Personal Automotive Timeline & lessons our cars taught us

Hey all, I assume that like myself you all have learned something from your cars, so I figured I would start this automotive timeline & lessons learned thread to describe what vehicles i have had, when i had them, and what they taught me, I'll start:

1 - 1966 Mustang - (coupe) bought in 1996 my first car, it taught me all the basics for an American Cam-in-block V8, and that rear wheel drive sucks in the winter, aside from basica maintenence I also had to learn how to tune a carb correctly, adjust timing, rebuild and swap heads, timing chain, water pump, and work on drum brakes (all wheel drum!!!) I also learned that if you dont eat breakfast or dinner for 2 months straight, and only eat 2 packs of ramen noodles for lunch you can save enough money to buy a 650 holley double pumper and pick up a few horses...
2 - 1988 buick regal - (2 door) bought in 1998 my first winter car, taught me digital dashes, tranversly mounted V-6's and spinning the tires in FWD cars are all bad ideas, or really expensive good ideas; you decide which applies to yourself
3 - 1992 Mustang 5.0LX - (hatchback) bought in 2002 taught me that just because a car is ugly doesnt mean it isnt fast as hell. i learned how to do a clutch, replace a driveshaft, replace brake pads (way better than those drum jobs i was driving) alternator, serpentine belt, some crap about fuel injection and car computers in general, how to swap a cam, replace a timing chain, exhaust systems, i also learned that the chunky aluminum thing on top of your engine where the carb used to be is a pretty cool idea, and that RWD is still bad in the winter. also the 5.0 and T-5 are essentially bulletproof, and displacement isnt everything, but its important.
4 - 1986 F150, - (straight-6, 4spd) free in 2002 my second winter vehicle, it taught me that the striaght six is impossible to kill, in a truck you dont avoid obstructions, you aim for them, when your paint is scratched its a four wheeling story, not a blemmish
5 - 1993 F150 - (5.0) bought in 2003 it taught me that putting 3/4ton suspension in a 1/2ton truck is probably the best idea in the world, caps on the bed suck ass, and in the winter you are everyones friend.
6 - 1993 subaru impreza - bought in 2005 (fwd 1.8L auto) i got this car when i sold my mustang because i couldnt afford to insure two vehicles anymore, it taught me that japanese cars are slow, they rot out quick, but they will always run, even without oil, and that flat fours are as indistructable as the straight 6.
7 - 2003 SVT focus - bought in 2006 (2dr hatch, with EAP) it taught me that everyone underestimates the focus, and that not many people know about SVT. I also starting learning more about DOHC engines, changing plugs in an OHC in line engine is wicked easy, and it is possible to get over 30mpg and enjoy your car. also that butt warmers are friggin awesome! and Ford can compete with imports mechanically, they just have a bad name in the states due to the early focus models inability to stay together
8 - who knows, I still have my 66 mustang, my brother has my 92 mustang, and my girlfriend has my 93 subaru; if anything I'll finish working on my 66, or get my 92 back from my brother, either way its going to be something hella fast

so lets hear your automotive timelines

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Old 05-02-2007, 12:41 PM   #2
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1 - 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier RS: "Rally Sport" would be an incredibly optimistic description of the old Cavalier - the 2.2l I-4 was rated, I think, at 90hp; that said, for $200 is was a steal, and aside from some moderate rust repair I didn't need to put anything into it. From this car I learned how drive a manual gear box, an invaluable lesson. I also learned that knowing what pedal does what and how to turn the wheel does not mean you've learned how to drive. It taught me, after 3 accidental snowbank-collisions, that old chevys were pretty tough. It also taught me that concrete curbs will destroy your front suspension when impacted at speed. RIP.

2 - 1997 Dodge Neon: This was the car that replaced the Cavalier. Single-cam, 4 door, power nothing and a 5 speed, it was dirt cheap and dead nuts reliable, with a couple exceptions (all of these cars suffer headgasket failure. All of them). It taught me that you don't need a fast car to drive fast. It taught me how to feather a clutch and how to rev match my downshifts, because doing anything else would result in catastrophic drivetrain lash. It taught me what a poorly designed PS pump sounds like at -10*F (think chorus of screaming children). And, at 145,000 miles and counting on all original drivetrain components, it taught me even a car that is largely panned by the automotive community can still be a very good car.

3 - 2004 SVT Focus: It's been mine for nearly 2 years, and is coming up on 60,000 miles. It taught me that sometimes, spending the money on what you want is worth every penny. It taught me that tires are expensive, and that clutches are expensive, and that insurance is expensive. It taught me the definition of "Depreciation". It is also the most fun I've had - since November I've owned the car entirely and am very proud to own it. Also, after 3 months in a body shop, it taught me that 2700lbs of steel and plastic reacts badly to trees at 30mph, and also the SVT-specific parts are idiotically hard to find.
2004 SVT Focus
Custom front-bumper-mount bug guts; precision sprayed brake dust on OEM rims; 15% Pine Tree pollen over the clear coat.
No more SVT autocross, I drive the thing in the avatar.

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Old 05-02-2007, 01:06 PM   #3
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1. 1966 Mustang Coupe as well, but mine was a I-6. My father and I bought it together back in 1994, and restored together. Great learning experiance. Also taught me that a short fuse on your temper can easily lead to a dent in the roof.

2. 1992 Dodge Dynasty. Hand me down car in 1999 for when I was in college. I wasn't going to leave the Mustang in a giant lot for most of the school year. Learned that a beater car will always need TLC.

3. 2001 Ford Focus ZX3. Got it on Sept. 15, 2001, since I thought the Dynasty was about to die. Oh how I was wrong. Gave me an introduction to 4-bangers and autox.

4. 2003 Ford Focus ZX3. Got it on July 5th, 2003. Had to have the Duratec engine. With it, it got me hooked on road courses, and the intricies of completely rebuilding a Duratec engine.

5. 1999 Buick Century. Got it in 2004-5? Replaced the Dynasty (which still was running, but smoking hard). Came to hate GM for their dual zone climate control, headlights you can't turn off, and turn signals that die too quickly. But its a stable beater.
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Old 05-02-2007, 01:26 PM   #4
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I have a very short, Ford list.

1. 91 Ford Ranger 4x4. Hand me down, I got at the end of my sophmore year in high school. It taught me that ricers won't race a 4x4 pickup, don't let people ride in the bed, and chicks don't dig red interiors. All in all it began to teach me if you treat your vehicle well, it will do the same for you.

2. 97 Ford Ranger 4x2. Purchased with cash, was first vehicle that was "mine". Taught me ricers won't race a 4x2 pickup, black vehicles suck in AZ and are a pain to keep clean, but when they are they are sexy and don't buy another Ranger as a daily driver.

3. 03 Ford Focus ZX3. The main thing the Focus has taught me is to appreciate small displacement light weight cars. I used to think if it didn't have a V8 it wasn't cool. Seeing what kind of power these little 4cyl engines can make, I've realized I would much rather have a 200hp, 2500lb car than a 350hp, 4000lb car. I've also learned that I should've bought a MTX......
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Old 05-02-2007, 01:54 PM   #5
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I'll probably forget a few.

1966 Chevy II Nova 4dr: I learned a lot on this car. How to properly clamp exhaust pipe, how to do body work (sorta), how to rebuild the Holley 1911 1bbl carb, how to drive a column shift 3 spd manual trans, why you install your 6x9's in the deck instead of just laying them up on the deck (also, your friends are the people who steal from you), how to fix wiper actuator problems, 4 wheel drum brakes do not stop well if used more than once within 10 mins, why it's not smart to kick your car, and that the Nova was perfect for riding on 2 wheels.

1984 Celica GT: 22-RE's kick ass, the benefits of lumbar support, the benefits of cruise control, that just because your speedo goes up to X mph, doesn't mean your car will, 900a batteries will fit in little cars, how to fix your own flip up headlight mechanisms, and also that manufacturer's parts are generally priced beyond the financial ability of a 17yr old who works as a dishwasher (later dishroom manager!!!$$$$... not!).

1983 Mazda RX-7: Do not shift rotary engines by listening to the sound of the engine as compared to a piston engine, and at the same time, yes 10k rpm in 2nd gear is about 70mph, when people ask you how fast you were going when you passed them- it's really funny to answer "About 85" because you have an 85 mph speedo, that you really can fall in love with a car if you put 30k miles on it in 3 months, and finally, know your country roads before you go tearing up the twisties because you might round a turn into gravel you can't see, and then end up in a ditch after bouncing off a few trees, final lesson, pull out radios are very dangerous in accidents.

1982 Buick Century: what a TBI is, flipping air cleaner lids over makes the car go vroooom! Just because you don't have a cool car doesn't mean people won't appreciate you, or think you aren't cool, I learned what blowby was and to ignore it, I also learned that if you have blowby, you don't really need to change the oil since the engine is doing it for you anyway, The "Iron Duke" 2.5 is a good 4cyl even if it develops blowby.

1962 Dodge 330: back in the day when men built cars that carved up the air instead of letting the air carve up the cars you could have the front windows rolled down, vent windows out, lean against the door, and no wind would come into your ears. You could even hear animals like frogs and crickets as you passed by at 60 mph. Rebuilt Carter 2bbl, and found out that there is more than one 318, and that there is more than one transmission in Mopars for the same motor as well as different transmissions for different shifters- mine was a pushbutton. Final lesson- when old brake master cylinders go out- you do not have ANY brakes at all.

1982 Honda Civic Wagon: Just because a CV axle is popping on turns doesn't mean it's dead, don't replace it until it pops on straight take offs. Glasspacks fit all cars, you can use a fat screw to plug a hole in the tire and it will last, the benefits of cheap subwoofers, what makes Honda carbs go bad and why you don't touch the A/F screws, Honda carbs are expensive, difficult to rebuild, and impossible to set correctly without very expensive tools that don't work on any other carbs. Wagons kick ass, and FWD's can be fun to drive in the mud. Water pumps make lots of loud noises before locking up.

1987 Subaru Wagon: Flat 4's are cool, what fusible links are and how to fix them, why you should not allow stupid friends to help you work on your car. Subaru FWD's are not mounted transversely.

1960 Valiant: Don't buy another old car just because you loved one and wrecked it. This is one of the niftiest looking cars on the planet, and girls (oddly enough) really liked it! 1960 was the first year for an alternator, and the voltage regulators did not work well, the value of POR-15 used as a replacement for fiberglass resin, never buy a car from an idiot. You can dream about what you want to do with a car, but you might never get around to doing it because it's so much easier to do the same thing with other cars.

1967 Barracuda: 340's rule the small block world, how to rebuild engines, balance, and blueprint. Why racers use ChryCo 8.75 and Ford 9" rear ends in their cars. You must have a second car for work if you want to build a race car. It is not wise to build a race car if you don't make more than $100k per year and have plenty of spare time.

1989 Buick Skylark: There are many different versions of the Iron Duke 4 cyl, just because it sounds like a rod knock does not mean it is a rod knock, how to discover if it is a rod knock or something else like the balance shafts in the oil pump. If you go searching for the right parts from junkyards you can build a really fun FWD GM Iron Duke motor and smoke ricers while riding in a 4dr GM family car as your friends laugh hysterically in the passenger seat.

1987 Ford Ranger: Fords are good vehicles. I never knew that before. I-beam front suspensions are even better than torsion bar suspensions. Ford does have stupid disc brake designs, but they work. Coatings inside gas tanks do not work. Ford has bad cowl designs that can rust and leak rain into the cab. If you always crack your driver's window when you drive you could lose some hearing in that ear. It is possible to drive a vehicle for over a year without a radio if you're crazy and you like to talk to yourself.

1994 Ford Aerostar: Wow, they did make these with manual transmissions that were not cargo vehicles. The 3.0 Vulcan is superior to the 2.9 and 4.0 60deg V6 engines, and is not a 60 deg motor, but a chopped deck 90. Nobody breaks into mini-vans, and cops don't pull you over. Sliding doors are extremely useful. There is a lot of room underneath an Aerostar. From the factory there are places built into these vans that cops won't look for. There is plenty of room in Aerostars for subs behind the trim. Mini-vans are better than trucks with camper tops because you have more headroom, and carpet burn on the knees is better than metal burn any day. Utility is better than coolness.

2005 ZXW: Buying a new car is a bad financial mistake so you might as well not worry about saving $200 in options- get everything. Ford brakes are better now. If you buy a new car that you don't have to work on nearly every weekend, your tools get dusty, rusty, and you might not be able to have a race car at the same time.
Be eclectic.

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Old 05-02-2007, 01:56 PM   #6
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1990 Mustang LX Hatchback 2.3L – Was truly and utterly clueless about cars, got it from my dad at a steal price. 5spd and RWD along with a tough little engine that wouldn’t die and actually made the car turn a lot better influenced me for life. Had a ton of fun getting the most I possibly could out of it and learning a lot of car control on crappy tires + RWD + Iowa winters. Also made me a big Ford fan. Never did a darn thing with it except change the oil, which is still largely true to this day. Took a $2500 loan out on this car in college to finance the next car.

1987 Porsche 944 – Had some body damage on the rear end, but still loved this car utterly. Torquey, incredibly well balanced, and people loved it even with the body damage. First car I ever went to 3 digit speeds with, on the way home from picking it up in Pennsylvania. Engendered a lifelong love of all things Porsche and just strengthened my priorities of Handling/Balance 1st, raw power distant 2nd. Started my affinity for European cars. Unfortunately lost the car, a very dark day and because of a stupid reason I can’t repeat here.

1992 SAAB 9000 Turbo - Only automatic I have ever owned and hopefully the last. SAAB parts cost more than Porsche parts as I found out a couple times. Was a very tough and reliable car though, and a very nice cruiser. Can’t really blame the original water pump and alternator kicking it after 215,000 miles… Didn’t like the turbo at all, although I recognize that it was an old turbo and the lag was exaggerated by the auto. Still, I will likely never own another turbocharged car again unless they make some massive advancements over where they are right now. Still drove better than most new domestic sedans that I have driven.

1991 Ford Probe GL – Hey, FWD can be fun! Was the then girlfriend’s car that we drove together. Not a great car, but had that same tough as nails 2.3L and again I had a lot of fun making to most of it’s meager performance. Darn thing just wouldn’t die, but then one night someone tried to steal it (seriously, why?) and just ended up busting the ignition, which would cost $400 we didn’t have to replace. A sad day though, because that car was an utter trooper and made certain that people who talked crap about Ford reliability around me got an earful.

2001 VW GTI VR6 GLX – Still own this one, my wife’s DD. Simply cannot find a replacement that drives as well and has all the features of this car for nearly the same price. It’s got plenty of power, super smooth, has been utterly reliable, very luxurious, tons of practicality, and gives over 30MPG on the highway. So it isn’t a very good autocrosser, so what? Taught me that not everything has to be a raw sporty car for me to really enjoy it. It’s the best street car I have ever had and I won’t be the one to try and pry the car from my wife’s clutches. Also, with a wax and detail inside it still looks brand new, a strong testament to VAG and for Euro cars in general.

1993 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 – Investment car, only owned it for 3 weeks. Bought for $19,800 and sold under value 20 days later for $26,000. If there was ever a doubt in me that the engineers at Porsche are the finest in the world, there wasn’t any after that. 10 year old 72,000 mile car that you couldn’t tell from brand new, and engine that just…kept….pulling no matter what, controls so perfectly metered and controlled that the last half-inch of throttle gave just as much power as the first, brakes that initially felt rock-hard but gave sick stopping power and amazing modulation, and steering that was utterly unreal. That flat six scream is something I will never get out of my mind, and you can be d@mn sure I will hear it again in my own car. The measure by which everything else is judged for me. PORSCHE FOREVER!!

2000 Ford Focus LX – SPI 5-spd. Took a customer on a test drive of this car and couldn’t believe how much better it felt that all the hum-drum crap I sold all day. Bought it 3 days later and had a blast with it, again relishing getting the most I possibly could out of tiny tires and 130bhp. Unfortunately someone pulled right in front of me only 6 weeks later and totaled it. After that, and getting a better job just a week later, I knew just what to get.

2002 Ford Focus SVT – Oh little SVT, how I loved thee. Started my racing addiction, took my on my first Autocross run 19 hours after I purchased it. The feeling of the rear end coming around juuuust right on my first fast sweeper nearly sent me into a giggling fit. I took it to 2 G Stock championships and was often the fastest street-tired car. I took immeasurable pleasure in using it to beat up on cars with hundreds more BHP and twice the tire. Redline was lovingly caressed every single day and I couldn’t help taking a racing line to and from the grocery store, work, everywhere! By the end, that car and I functioned like a single unit, and I could make it do anything I wanted, and it always seemed to love every second. After 3 years, though, felt like taking on a different challenge

2004 Mazda RX-8 Sport – Rotaries sound like alien blenders but make for disgusting front-end grip and handling characteristics. Still doesn’t have monster power (less than 200WHP) but can still pile on scary speeds, especially as it has no real need to slow down for darn near anything. As great at the handling in the SVTF was, the purity and adjustability of RWD in this chassis puts it on a different level. Only raced once, but I am looking forward to challenging for FTD, instead of just “most surprisingly fast compact”.

Look at how much work you just made me miss!
Don't waste another minute waiting on parts, or anything else. Just get out there and start racing! You will suck at first, and you will be slower than many other cars, but the only thing you will regret is not starting earlier...
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Old 05-02-2007, 03:28 PM   #7
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1995 Ford Escort LX Sedan: Introduction to Ford's Economy car, learning that you can't always win on a straight road; Mountain roads and Handling is important to successfully defeat opponents. It had power everything one flaw was the wind burn on the front bumper, "Silver" was the color and name of the car. And sold in above average condition for it's age.

1997 Ford Escort LX Wagon: Was bought in running condition and was a project car, use to have many flaws but the paint wasn't one of them. Took about 14 month project and the car ran like new. It had performace parts and a towing package hooked on. Had power everything and a early anti-theft deterent which was useless in my case cuz I live in the desert. Sold at above average condition knocked $200 off because of a small crack on the windsheld. A name was given from a movie called Ace Ventura, the cars name is "equinsu-ocha."

2002 Ford Focus LX Sedan: Reincarnated version of my 95 and 97 escort, though it doesn't have power everything except for air conditioning. Was proven that CVH/SPI technology advances from escorts are still manufactured; but less high quality performace parts. It's currently a project car with many performace parts done with it, the project car is 2 steps from being completed.

These cars owned have something in common, making one car better will only get powerful in time.

Next project will be aiming on 1991-1996 Escort pretty soon.
Finally peace and quiet...
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Old 05-02-2007, 04:25 PM   #8
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Drove a '94 Buick Century for a while, then got my Focus Jan 05 as my true first car. So everything about cars I've learned from the Focus. Didn't drive the Century enough to learn maintenance, etc. but I learned some on how to wash and wax it. The Focus however I've done all in my power to mod and maintain it myself, there are a few exceptions but I've gone into tranny work, so I think it's a good start for dealing with cars about 2.5 years.
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Old 05-12-2007, 05:13 PM   #9
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I've been around a while, and learned a few things for every car I've owned.

72 Maverick Grabber: Taught me that front drum brakes don't work too well when hot from repeated hard use, or after running through water. Bench seats don't hold you in place when cornering hard. Never get a high horsepower car as your first one, because you can get into plenty of trouble with less.(250 CID straight 6)

70 Mach1: Going fast is fun. Cornering fast is much harder. Holley double pumpers are easy to rebuild, make cool sounds, and suck gas. Classic Mustang front ends get darty when busing wear out, and wear out tires fast. At triple digit speeds, a lot of air is going under the car, and can affect it's stability. Too much understeer is a bad thing. Wire tires hydroplane easier.

79 Mustang 2.3 turbo: Turbo's are fun once the boost kicks in. Having less weight in the front makes for a more balanced handling car. Black vinyl makes for a hot interior surface in the summer, in the South.

82 Mustang GT: Assume that any used V8 Mustang you buy will have been driven hard and need some things replaced. A car like this doesn't drive that well in snow. Replacing stock rear gears with 3:73's will really make a difference in how quickly the car gets up and goes. It's possible to steer using oversteer and your right foot/

90 Taurus SHO: Four door sedans can be driven quickly, yet seem invisable to law enforcement. Front wheel drive and antilock brakes are great for snow. Room for people and cargo in the trunk is nice. Understeer on a FWD car is even scarier than on a RWD car.

01 Cobra convertible: Top down crusing is nice when you can hear a V8 sound coming from the back. Mustang handling and brakes have improved a lot since '82 and the IRS makes for a smoother ride around town. A V8 can deliver decent power and still decent gas mileage. (22 MPG mixed city and hwy on my last tank) Convertibles are not as stiff as coupes in most cases you will feel some cowl shake.

2000 Cobra R: A limited production car has it's benefits in terms of attention and holding it's value, and it's negatives in terms of spare parts, service, no warranty. I learned that open track days are probaly the most fun you can have wearing clothes. If you drive a car only on occasions, it makes driving it that much more special. Having more power, handling, and braking than you can use legally on the street, and than you ability can use on the track makes a sense of responsibility just as important as any other safety device when driving. Trail braking when done correctly is so cool.

86 Mustang SVO: Turbos are even more fun when there's less turbo lag and more power. Most Mustang mechanics are not familar with this version of the 2.3 Older cars weren't rustproofed as good as newer ones. With the right mufflers, a 4 cyl can have some rumble and not sound buzzy. Old headlamps suck compared to modern ones.

03 SVTF: Front wheel drive cars can handle really well. A 4 cyl can have power and yet still get really good city and highway gas mileage. It's easier to get in and out of a Focus than a Mustang. Hatchbacks are still a really cool solution for when you need to haul a bunch of stuff around.
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Mods:K&N drop in, Predator Tom's Tune, Cabin Air filter
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Old 07-28-2007, 12:06 AM   #10
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Fan#: 36552
Location: Wichita, KS
What I Drive: 2006 Dark Toreador Red ZX3 SE

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Kind of new but nevertheless:

1: 1985 Dodge Ram D-50: this was a hand-me-down truck that i learned how to drive a stick-shift with. it did not have power steering and before i replaced the tire rods, it was near impossible to steer. what is odd is my dad sold it in oklahoma city and a guy down the street from me here in wichita now owns it.

2. 1997 Nissan Sentra GXE: this was a tough freaking car. it was my first official car. i had an argument with the woman i bought it from before she finally gave in and signed the title over to me. when i got it, it needed a lot of work. i learned from it that you can get good gas mileage and still enjoy your car. its been a year since i sold it and even though the focus is much nicer i kind of miss this car.

3. 1965 dodge dart gt: this car started out as the worst idea i ever had on 4 wheels and then turned into a 350 dollar profit. i bought it from a friend of mine who was leaving town that day, and i thought ok its been (moderately) taken care of over the last few months. well the dude beat the shit out of it and never cared for it when i started investigating the car. i posted it up on a local racing forum and someone scooped it up from me for double of what i paid for it. i learned that i need to thoroughly look into a used car before buying it.

4: 1981 toyota corolla-tercel: this has been one fun car to fix-up and customize. i bought it from a dude i worked with in april 2006, and i have had no regrets at all. i am about 90% done with replacing all the worn parts on it, and when its finished it will put the focus in the back seat and i will daily-drive this car a lot more. i have learned so much thanks to this car, and i know it will give me reliable transportation long-after the focus is gone. *first toyota, definitely not the last*

5: 2006 ford focus zx3 se: this is my first new car. i bought it in june 2006, and i have had mixed feelings about this car. for the most part i have had good luck with it, but 3 weeks after i bought it, the key broke off in the ignition, then ford charged me 100 bucks to fish it out and replace it. after that i had a few things that they fixed under warranty, and i went a whole year without problems. currently, its sitting outside not being able to run because the fuel pump gave it up the other day. so tomorrow morning (july 28, 07) i will have it towed to the dealership to have that repaired.
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