Tuesday, April 07, 2020

My Daily Driver: @mikurubaeahina's Honda Prelude


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

I had been daily driving my Supra, with a leaky roof, welded diff, no heat or A/C, leaking PS fluid, etc, for about four months, and I really needed a chance to work on it, but since it was my only working car, I was hesitant to start taking it apart in case I couldn't get it fixed and back together over the course of a weekend. I knew I needed a new daily, so I actually went and looked at getting a brand-new Mazda 6, which I considered to be the "responsible" course of action. The dealer treated me like absolute garbage and hit me with 14% APR despite having extremely good credit, wouldn't tell me the rate (I had to do the math myself), then suddenly dropped it to 7% when I complained, etc. I ended up walking out after four hours at the dealer. At the same time I had been shopping for a 6, my friend from Indiana had listed this car for sale as he was trying to thin out his collection in preparation for a move. I had always wanted a Prelude, I love Y49, and it's a manual, so I decided to book a one-way Spirit flight and drive the car home, all for less than the cost of the down payment on the new Mazda. 

2. What has your ownership experience been like?


Overall, pretty great. It had some wiring issues because, like all classic Hondas, it had the harness shoddily messed with to put a stereo in at some point, but my girlfriend is an EE with good soldering skills and fixed those issues for me, and that was really the biggest problem I've encountered. It's pretty drop dead reliable for the age, gets 27 mpg on 87 octane, is stupidly cheap to insure, and the interior quality on vintage Hondas is absolutely one of the biggest draws for me - it has nearly 160K on the odo and the inside looks basically new still. 

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?


Definitely the initial trip home. https://prime-excel.style/features/2019/4/24/frompreludetoaftermath I wrote a whole thing about it before, but I got to meet a ton of internet friends on the trip, take the car on some really great roads, and most importantly I stepped out of my comfort zone to do it. It felt like personal progress for me. 

4. Why do you love cars?

I am a strong believer that for an enthusiast, a car is a mirror that actually reflects who we believe ourselves to be. I think that owning a car that you know isn't necessarily the smartest daily driver, or a good investment, invariably ends up being a unique window into the personality of the person who made the choice to own it despite those factors. In my case, my Prelude is a reflection of who I would like to be: pragmatic without losing sight of individuality or fun. I get to have a relatively reliable and inexpensive car but I still get to own something that I see maybe one or two others on the road of per year, tops. 

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

My Daily Driver: @Contravex's W463A M-B G550


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

Going back a decade or so, when I was writing and thinking about cars to the exclusion of pretty much anything else, the "Dream Garage" included the likes of the R35 GT-R, Renault R26.R, VW XL1, Lexus LFA, Fiat 500 Abarth, SLR Stirling Moss, 997.2 GT3 RS, and of course the G55 AMG. 

By 2017, about two decades before I had any right to, I had the opportunity to start ticking a few of those boxes, so I did. That spring, I bought a 2013 R35, and in the fall, I put a deposit down for the not-yet-released W463A G-Class. The local dealer thought I was a bit nuts to put a deposit on a truck that wasn't even in his database, not to mention that I seemed to be making the purchase decision based solely on spyshots, but he took my money all the same. Thankfully so, because I had no purchase history with them at the time - in fact, I'd never purchased a new vehicle before in my life - and just a few months later, after the official launch in Detroit, the waiting lists started to grow and it wasn't long before VIPs were being prioritised, with more than a few Canadian dealers requiring "bundling," like Ferrari dealers and many Rolex ADs do, or so I hear (full disclosure: I neither own nor plan to own a Ferrari or Rolex). To the credit of Heritage Valley Mercedes in Edmonton, even though the dealership underwent a change of ownership in the middle of my build, they upheld their end of the bargain and delivered the first W463A in the city to me in February 2019. 

But why the G-Wagon ? My father grew up on the farm, was in the Canadian Militia, has taken me to more military museums than I can count, and owns a 1992 Defender D90. I've only ever driven his Land Rover once - on my wedding day - and it scared the living shit out of me with its tractor-like lack of braking ability, but the Military-Inspired Truck gene (aka “M-IT1”) carried on at least one more generation and there are encouraging signs that M-IT1 may carry onto the next generation as well. My two boys, ages 4.5 and 2, love our "Jeep." Not only is it clearly the coolest, most capable, and most "authentic” “SUV” in a world besotted by jacked-up-would-be-minivans-lacking-only-sliding-doors, but Mercedes also spared no expense in developing this new truck. I knew they wouldn't fuck it up and they didn't disappoint. It looks and feels like nothing else on the road and it's ideally suited to life in Oil Country.

The old G-Wagon looked the part, but from everyone I talked to and everything I read, it was cramped, wobbly, and not known for its reliability. The new G-Wagon, particularly in low-key 550 spec with none of the widened fender and bull-bar bullshit, was the ne plus ultra choice for this young family man living on the cold Canadian Prairies.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

Just over a year and 16`000 km since new, it's been pretty perfect. Yes, the rear brakes squeak more than they should, there's been an intermittent rattle in the passenger side door for the last few months, the CAD$ 2`700 windshield cracked from end-to-end in the first two weeks, the sun visors don't extend and aren't very wide, the running boards are too narrow and too close to the cabin, and the remote start app only starts the engine, not the HVAC or seat heaters (annoying when it's -40C/F outside), but it was worth the 15-month wait from deposit to delivery. With only two options boxes ticked - adaptive dampers and 360-degree camera - it's almost certainly the most modestly-specced example in the country, possibly the continent, but you'd never know it. An MB-Tex’d, roll-up-window stripper this ain't. Mercedes hit it out of the park with this one. It looks especially good dirty, which is how I like to leave it.


On the road, with Blizzaks on, even the iciest arctic pavement feels as dry as a bone and I now relish our seven-month winters in inverse proportion to the dread my previous daily engendered (RWD LS460L). Before the high-mileage Lexus, I had a beater W126 560 SEL, and the new G550 is almost as cool as ol' "Saddam" but with a more useable trunk, enough ground clearance to climb up any parking-spot-cum-snow-drift, and faaaaar fewer trips to the mechanic. Despite the 9-speed auto box and improved insulation over its predecessor, it's not as soothing as the LS or SEL were, particularly at highway speeds where the wind noise is predictably atrocious, but everything has trade-offs.

Most importantly, the new truck is much more family friendly than any of my previous vehicles. Strollers fit in the side-hinged trunk without needing to be collapsed and car seats are easier to install/remove than any vehicle I've ever seen. The new G is in fact so multi-faceted that it’s stolen almost every “daily” mile away from my double-car-seated R35 and obviously-car-seat-less Elise S2, both of which are now basically relegated to track day duty, which is probably for the best anyways?

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

Corny as it sounds, every non-commuting drive in my “Jeep” with friends and family. Whether road trips with our little family to Lethbridge (Southern Alberta) for the weekend, to the Rocky Mountains for a parents-only getaway, to the construction site with colleagues, or to the Enoch Cree Nation Powwow with my mother, sharing this incredible machine with loved ones makes my heart sing. I find that appreciation of my own vehicles is massively multiplied by vicarious experience. Maybe I’m on the road to cuckdom? I kinda hope not…


4. Why do you love cars?

Cars are emancipation from fixed location (and from self-isolation). They're freedom, possibility, engineering, creativity, and self-expression. That, and some people are just car people. For better or worse, I'm one of them.

Pete D. (@contravex) manages a small manufacturing company in Canada and has been banned from several automotive press fleets. He previously wrote at CarEnvy.ca, which eventually merged into his personal blog Contravex.com.  

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

My Daily Driver: @realmudmonster's 2011 Ford Fusion


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

A couple of years ago, my dad decided to replace his 2011 Ford Fusion with a CPO 2016 Acura MDX. My car, a 2006 Ford Fusion, was on its last legs. It had over 230,000 miles and various issues that was making it too expensive to fix. He made the decision to pass down his Fusion to me, while my car would be donated.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

About what I expected with a vehicle that has over 200,000 miles on the clock. The only major repair that I have done was to replace the front suspension due to it being driven on Michigan’s *quality* roads for all of its life. Otherwise, the sedan has been performing quite flawlessly. I think some of the reason for this is the Fusion goes for long stretches without being driven as I’m doing a run of new car reviews.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?


Back in 2016 when my dad still owned the Fusion, I arranged a group shot with it, my old Fusion, and a new one that I was reviewing. I gathered all three on our driveway and took some quick photos. I would end up using one of those photos in my review.

More recently, I took the Fusion on a bit of drive on some of the backroads I use whenever I have a review vehicle. I needed to clear my head as I had been working from home for a week due to my office being closed down for coronavirus concerns. The Fusion isn’t the sharpest around the bends or speedy, but I didn’t care. This was a time for me to get away from the world for a bit, and the Fusion was a perfect partner for this.


4. Why do you love cars?

I can’t fully explain where my love of cars came from. There is a picture of me about three to four years old looking at the dealer ads from the Sunday paper. But I think I know why. I was a bit of a problematic child, getting into a lot of trouble and annoying my parents to no end. This stems from me being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Along with being an outsider for all of my school life, I needed something that would allow me to leave the real world for a time. That’s what reading various car magazines or watching the latest episode of MotorWeek and Motor Trend TV gave me. It showed that I could escape to anywhere. To explore the world or down to the local store, giving me the space to decompress.

Intaking all of this also would give me a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge of cars, which would open the doors to me becoming a freelance automotive writer and now, a researcher for automotive data firm.

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

Monday, April 06, 2020

My Daily Driver: @dougs_cars's BMW M4


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

I had ordered a new 340i in Estoril Blue that was extremely delayed in production. Stopped in at a local BMW dealer to charge my i3 for a bit on a Sunday (they were closed) and saw this CPO M4 with a manual and the wheels I liked best. Called my sales guy Monday morning, and the rest is history. They actually kept my 340i in production and it sold immediately upon arrival!

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

This car's been fantastic! Having that extra year of CPO warranty was a nice bonus. And there's nothing like putting the exhaust in loud mode and rowing through the gears.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

I was alone in the car, had it in full Sport Plus mode, and was headed up the mountain switchbacks at Wintergreen, VA. It was a blast to head up the mountain with!

4. Why do you love cars?

I've loved cars since I was able to speak. I probably did before that, but wasn't able to tell anyone. I'll always have an interesting car, even if I'm broke. I guess some of us are just wired that way...passionate about transportation.

Doug has a YouTube channel.

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

My Daily Driver: @ferio_252's Honda Civic


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

This 1999 Honda Civic has been in my family since new. It was my brother's old car, and naturally I took ownership from him. 

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

I'd like to say driving a Civic has been 100 percent trouble free but I'd be fooling myself. Blissfully ignorant me learning how to drive found that neutral drops in the rain are fun but discovered I was slipping from first to second a couple thousand miles later. A gamble on a used $150 automatic transmission fixed that. I'm reminded that I forget to put in a new main seal with that tranny every winter with a few drops of oil on cardboard in the garage.

Lower it they said, it will be fun they said. I've replaced two ball joints since thanks to an aggressive 2.25 inch drop.

There are a few more instances where, if I let stock sleeping dogs lie, the Civic would be A-OK. The running theme is you can throw a lot of shi* at Hondas, even opt to use cheap parts, and they'll keep chugging along, returning 30+MPG, no problem. They call imports Japanese legos and it's true. Repairs are straightforward and in my experience, light on the wallet if you're handy. Last odo check is 243,670.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

The last year of college some friends and I went to Disneyland and a few other parks one weekend. On the drive back it was the middle of the night and there were five us in in my Civic, the trunk with all our luggage. Most of everyone was napping or just looking out the windows enjoying some cheesy pop/emo whatever from an album of burned CDs. The D-series was doing the most, stuck in mostly second, up the Grapevine and down the other side. It was just a lovely little moment, everyone happy.


4. Why do you love cars?

Cars means freedom, it gives its owner the option to go wherever, whenever.  

Paulo runs this website.

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

My Daily Driver: @lahtiain's Peugeot 406 coupe


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

The looks. My first car was a 406 sedan, 200k miles when I bought it. It was way better car than I ever expected, so I became a bit fond of the 406s. Naturally the Pininfarina styled coupé was one to get, so in 2013 I imported this example from Germany to Finland.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

Pretty fine. You see occasional airbag lights, but they're generally way better build than you'd expect. Mechanicals are strong, and the V6 is trouble free engine. It's a grand tourer, comfortable long distance drives suit it much better than occasional twisty roads. It's a relatively heavy front wheel drive car after all.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

Picking it up from Böblingen, right next to Stuttgart in Germany, then finding out that the planned ferry from Sweden to Finland is fully booked. That meant reaching another ferry a day earlier: I had about 20 hours to cover a bit over 1 000 miles. I did that in three stops. Very good way to bond with your new car.


4. Why do you love cars?

Car has a simple task of offering us better mobility, but it achieves this through very complicated mix of design, engineering and cultural behaviour. It's the most complicated thing most individuals can own.

Of course I just generally love driving.

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

Sunday, April 05, 2020

My Daily Driver: @julkinen's Volvo XC70


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

I bought this car over the phone over Christmas. I needed a dependable daily driver diesel for my hour-long commute, and since some of my friends from the UK were coming over to northern Finland in mid-January, we did a deal where I’d locate a car somewhere near them, cover the costs for the car and some initial roadtrip-proof maintenance and they would divide the fuel costs among themselves. It was basically this, a Multipla, a Frontera or a Discovery with a coil conversion, as I wanted something I could use for hauling garbage in the countryside as well as driving to work. I chose the Volvo as they’re the easiest to repair here due to good parts availability. It would also cost a fraction of what similar Volvos cost here. The car is RHD, too, but that’s another story.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

So, the guys bought the Volvo after determining it was beat and needed servicing but it wasn’t too beat to make it here. It’s far from mint as the paintjob is severely scratched here and there, the interior trim is coming off as a bunch of clips are broken, and the all wheel drive doesn’t actually work as it’s chewed up a sleeve next to the angle gear. “They all do that sir”, I believe, and on my commute it doesn’t really mean anything except wheelspin where there should be none. I’ll have it fixed as it’s not exactly desirable for a jacked-up crossover wagon Volvo to be FWD, but since the car runs and drives fine without any warning lights, I’m not too bothered about it. At least the car is a stout 6-speed manual, as I’ve let myself be told the automatics are more breaky.
I taxed and plated the car here soon after getting it and proceeded to drive it to work every day for months. It quickly proved its worth as it’s really quite frugal for such a big wagon, and really comfortable and capable. The seats are excellent, the leather is in good shape, and the entire car feels like it’s designed to be driven around here. The engine seems to be in alright shape for 160,000 miles, but I want to get some use out of the car before I invest into overhauling the AWD. There’s a lot of “While I’m here” parts that are adjacent to the angle gear, and I’ll have it done at a specialist anyway.
3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

The Volvo is probably the most appliance-like out of any cars I’ve ever bought, so I’ve been happiest just driving it to work and back and filling it up with increasingly cheap diesel. In the future, I plan to do more roadtrips in it, as I’ve only really driven it when necessary and not for fun’s sake. I’d love to chuck some bags in the back and drive to Lapland in it, where it belongs, make some memories. But it’s the one car I’ve bought out of need instead of the more usual “Let’s see if I can get away with buying one of these” approach that has led me to owning the project cars I have in the barn, or roadtrip cars like the one-liter Fiat Panda which I dailied last winter after driving it home from Slovenia. I couldn’t see myself commuting in anything else I own or have owned.
Right now, the Volvo’s declared off the road as keeping a diesel car taxed here is easily double the cost of a comparable gasoline car, due to the higher road tax which needs to be offset with getting use out of the car. As I now work from home instead of doing 100 miles per day, I’m running errands in my dad’s hand-me-down Mercedes S203 M271 C-Class which I initially used for commuting, but which I wanted to replace with a more beat wagon that would offer more countryside capability. The Merc is about the same age as the Volvo, but far better kept, and I don’t want to subject it to too much wear and tear. It’s also factory lowered where the Volvo has a factory lift, low profile tires where the Volvo rides on taller rubber, and it’s also an automatic. Great car, but it would go to waste just racking up the miles on a straight road to work and back. The Volvo’s better for that, and my fondest memories in it come from the countless hours of comfortable commuting.

4. Why do you love cars?

I’ve always loved cars, like many of the others who have taken part in this blog series. I don’t really remember a time in my life where I haven’t strictly been about cars, but of course you have to separate the idea of a car and the reality of owning several. In my life, cars are also linked to movies, music, brochures, adverts, roadtrips, photographs, the car aesthetic where it’s in the center of the frame but there’s either a million things happening around it or because of it or nothing at all, like in a sterile ‘80s brochure shot seemingly set up in a vacuum. I never seem to think about cars as constantly degrading hulks of defunct engineering ideals that gather rust and maladies, but as the way they were depicted in period marketing material and movies. The fact they are quite often a bit beat and broken by the time I get to own them is just a minor inconvenience. This is probably also why I can more readily champion cars that in actuality completely failed on the market. But it’s easier when you have known good, dependable cars that get you to work and then the cars that are fine as they are, working or not, and you can haul parts for the latter in the former.

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

My Daily Driver: @otho03's VW Passat W8 wagon


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

Thanks to being raised in a household that exposed me in equal parts to classic muscle cars, NHRA drag racing, rally, and touring car racing, I had a healthy fascination with all things automotive and automotive engineering-related. 
I was always fascinated with the way that the VW/Audi vehicles we owned over the years were engineered and, later on, how they drove.  When the W8 came out, I saw it as the perfect crossroads of everything niche thing I enjoyed about cars. 
Sleeper station wagon?  Check. 
Quirky, unassuming Volkswagen on top of an Audi quattro platform?  Check. 
Available six-speed manual?  Check. 
Bizarre, expensive, over-engineered, and seductively smooth new WR8 engine crammed into a vehicle not intended for such a thing?  Double check.
That, and I really just enjoyed the story. Equal parts understated and borderline-exotic engineering went into the thing for a future of the company that would never be realized.  After a few years, it was gone.  It’s a neat time capsule for a select few VW fanboys.
So naturally, I browsed Craigslist for 16 or so years until a cheap enough one popped up.
2. What has your ownership experience been like?

Overall, very good.  It was pretty well taken care of by its (eight) previous owners, but even so, it’s racked up a hard 200k miles, all of which have taken place in our fantastic Minnesota climate.  And everything still works, save for the passenger side heated seat.
I pulled it out of a dirt field where it had been sitting for a year, put gas in it, and drove it an hour to get home the day I bought it.  I’ve not had to touch or repair anything on the engine outside of a cranky PCV valve.  I did an output shaft seal on the transmission, it needed new CV axles, a general cleanup and normal high-mileage car maintenance stuff.  And it doesn’t even leak oil.
Since then I’ve just been driving it every day, road-tripping it around, cramming it full of camping supplies, remodeling debris, you name it.  Outside of the terrible yet shockingly consistent gas mileage, no complaints.
3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

This years’ winter road trip to a buddy’s cabin was probably the best memory, actually.  Nothing like loading the car to the roof with people and gear and heading out on some long north-woods forest roads in the dead of winter.  She hauled us out and back in perfect comfort, smooth as can be.  And with the traction control fuse pulled, also did some excellent all-wheel drive skids.


4. Why do you love cars?

I love learning how a machine works, doing your own work on it, and then putting it to use.  It’s especially satisfying to do so on a vehicle that you care about, as it’s not only fun to drive and experience in its own right, but it also facilitates some of the best shared experiences in my opinion.

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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!

My Daily Driver: @DeadclutchDB's 1983 Audi Ur-Quattro


1. How did you come to the decision of buying this car?

My first car was an '86 Audi 4000 Quattro which started the addiction, and as an avid 70s and 80s Audi enthusiast after my first it was the pinnacle of the era's lineup. Wide body, turbo, AWD, manual, all the boxes checked! After prices started to climb a few years back I began dedicating a significant amount of time in to tracking down one to purchase, and when something affordable came up for sale on QuattroWorld within 45 minutes of my house it was a no brain'er.

2. What has your ownership experience been like?

Unpopular opinion, but daily driving a Ur-quattro was rather disappointing. The overall package is very pleasing to drive solo, very well planted through corners and the purr of the 5 cylinder plus its massive laggy turbo whining in at higher RPM was an experience everyone should have. Everything feels very well put together lacking the typical 80s car rattles and squeaks. It certainly feels robust, that is until you're accelerating with any other modern traffic. Even with my engine being modified to European spec, it was lackluster comparatively. Simply put, a V6 Toyota Camry will outrun you to 60mph without breathing hard, even large diesel trucks have the oomph to upset you behind the wheel of the rally legend. So I wanted more horsepower than the 200 I was playing with, easy... right? Begin the long road of disappointment.

Having owned so many 80s Audis of the past I knew the pitfalls of the complete lack of factory support and aftermarket part-scarcity but that was part of the fun for me, as an at-home mechanic keeping it going by all means without having factory part support was a challenge I gladly (foolishly) accepted. What I didn't account for was how that lacking and aging part supply would play a role with the California Smog checks. You see, it started with my Ur-quattro tail pipe passing California smog at PZEV levels, however still failed its initial smog check due to a missing EVAP valve. I found a used replacement via a Porsche part # and was able to get passed the smog check, but it did bring up a very serious point of contention with my ownership: Smog acceptable performance or lack there of for California.
The way California engine conversion laws are written, even engines that smog 100 times cleaner than the original are not acceptable to convert depending on what OBD2 sensors need to be in place, how they are installed, what the ECU is doing with all of the information, and how the wiring to those sensors back to the ECU may have been modified. Those IROZ 07K 5 Cylinder TT-RS powered Ur-quattros are all not legal under any circumstances here in California, even though they smog cleaner than the original engines they replaced. The only real upgrade over stock is a 20v turbo motor (AAN or 3B) which have great power potential in their own right however both are quickly approaching 30 years old, have their own part scarcity, and with California smog still in play will be limited to ~250 horsepower to still pass the sniffer (or you know, 50hp less then that V6 Toyota Camry). If you live in California, the Ur-quattro is a car where you need to be completely happy with it in near stock form, or find another chassis to play with. The purists out there would say "find another chassis to play with!" so I suppose it's for the best.

3. What is your fondest memory with this car?

The way people reacted when driving or at car shows will forever be my fondest memory. It's not like other hot-rods I've driven where you get waves and thumbs up, instead you'll notice looks of confusion or interest as you drive around town. The typical car-folk responses you get are replaced with stares that continue as you pass by, generally people wondering what it is you're actually driving. Seeing people's heads turned with eyebrows raised in the rear view mirror is a great feeling even if I didn't get the smile and nod from the get-go.


4. Why do you love cars?

Automotive repair and fabrication have been a passion of mine since high school. I went to college for ASE certs before changing my career path but the wrenching addiction never left, and some 50+ cars later I'm still having fun with it as a pastime even with my local smog.


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If you would like to participate, just answer the above four questions and submit one to three photos of your daily driver to milhousevanh at geemail. Thanks and have fun!