All posts filed under: Cars

Things with motors and wheels are exciting.

Rain Delay

We lost the Mini to car fever yesterday. The WideEyedSpouse struggled heroically for months. Yesterday he succumbed. Yesterday, a bright sunny day perfect for painting a century home, we spent in the air-conditioned comfort of a car dealer’s showroom. The Mini stayed there. We left to rearrange the snow shovels in the garage to fit the new WideEyedMobile. “Tomorrow we’ll work on the house all day,” the Spouse said, staring dreamily in at his new ride. But. Rain. Guilt-less, feck-less, fancy-free we fled the Homestead with our Niagara Wine Trail Passports (thanks WideEyedMLB!) in hand and turned left and right for an hour or more, heading east and north into rural western New York. We crossed and crisscrossed the Erie Canal. We skirted Lake Ontario. We saw old houses tumbling down, fixing up, and hovering undecided in a state of quasi-repair. Trucks and Chevys from oldy-time hid half under tarps – rusty butt ends sticking out. Kids played in puddles, trailers huddled in clusters on abandoned farm fields. We breathed deeply of non-city air and …

What happens when one of your top five take-out places gets a liquor license and installs a bar?

Nothing good and everything wonderful. Last weekend I was starving, STARVING after cleaning the house, doing the laundry, walking dogs, and visiting the car show. Sliding gracefully in and out of dreamy luxury sedans (I recommend the Audi A7 for sheer comfort and interior silence) and climbing into wee-electric cars (the Chevy Spark doesn’t feel real) works up an appetite. We stopped at a newer restaurant that’s supposed to be good  – a two hour wait and hairblowingly loud music in the bar. The WideEyedSpouse looked down his nose. “No. Much No.” We tried a BBQ joint. One hour and 15 minutes. Good food but not that good. Drove past our number one sandwich take-out joint. Closed. Friends, we were now out of our milieu. We were in downtown Buffalo after dark. Unusual. We were looking for food without a plan. Rare. We weren’t calling for pizza. Shocking. In fact, we had given up on the very notion of take-out. The universe shook and I was cast adrift, hungry, helpless, sad. The Mini motored us up …

Ten reasons not to buy a used car.

The plan was simple. Hop in the car. Scoot over the Canadian border to hit the closest Costco and back home for lunch. What? Why Costco specifically? Because friends, they sell Kirkland Signature peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets. And our laboriously imported supply from an Alaskan Costco ran out. Needs must. No other peanut butter stuffed pretzel nugget will do. As the mighty Pathfinder heaved itself up and over the arc of the Peace Bridge, the WideEyedSpouse and I witnessed our doom. Cars. Cars as far as the eye could see gleaming in the summer sun, filled with hopeless dead-eyed passengers, lined up in two endless highway lanes out of Canada. On our side the border lines were short, but leaving…leaving was going to be bad. Once you are on the Bridge there is no turning back, no way home that doesn’t include two border crossings. I looked at the Spouse. “Well,” I said, “I guess we can take our time putzing in Costco.” What we didn’t know? Saturday marked the start of a major Canadian holiday weekend. I …

Thanks Mini, for getting sick before the dead of winter.

Team WideEyedFunk spent 5 hours in the garage Saturday, transplanting the Mini Cooper S’s failing electronic thermostat housing. It wasn’t quite freezing outside and I could feel my toes for most of the afternoon. Sure, some nice folks at the Mini dealership could have done it for us, and I could have stayed all warm and toasty on the sofa. But, the WideEyedHousehold is cheap. We suited up in chilly weather gear, prepared the surgery table, and started the multi-hour Mini evisceration. First the air box came out. Good thing we had a new air filter ready, the old one was caked with Buffalo street filth. Poor Mini was feeling asthmatic. We unplugged a couple of vacuum hoses, a bunch of electronic stuff, and yanked out the wiring harness box. We drained most of the antifreeze out of the engine. Messy, like pumping a stomach. Then, the WideEyedSpouse leaned deep into the engine and unhitched six hoses from the thermostat housing. Some went to the turbo cooling system, some feed the heating system somehow, and …

This situation is intolerable.

I could fix it in ten, maybe fifteen minutes. Or at least improve on it. Make it less distressing. A classic, careworn Mercedes 380SL convertible moved onto my street last month. The rear driver’s window panel is out on the driver’s side and has been during the whole of my acquaintance with the car. The owner’s cleverly expedient fix, a pink and orange beach towel shoved in the gap, pains me. This morning there were three beach towels shoved in the hole and draped over the entire area. Evidently one towel was insufficient to combat the near inch of rain we had in the night. As the lightening crackled and the downpour thundered on the roof of my house, I worried about the Mercedes. I fretted for it as it crouched under a tree in the street. Every time it rains, even a little, that Mercedes ages faster. Yes, it is already over the hill and running on fumes as any good old Mercedes will do for decades. But I am overcome with wonderment that a person …

Car Fever Part 3: New Cars Come with New Tires.

“Spouse,” I say, coming in the house after driving home in the rain, “we need to research new tires for the Mini.” The WideEyedSpouse perks up. New tires means hours of research on TireRack, DiscountTireDirect, and Mini Cooper S forums. Productive research, not idle research. The Spouse opens his laptop. Do we get tires that perform best in snow and rain but are less ideal in summer asphalt conditions? Would we prefer a better warm weather adventure driving experience and have tires that are merely adequate during the times of year when it is best to go slow and careful anyway? Do we replace the run-flats that give a buckboard ride to the Mini with conventional performance tires and toss a donut spare in the boot? “How spirited is your driving?” the Spouse asks me. This isn’t a subject I care to discuss. I pretend I didn’t hear the question. As we watch evening TV (Episode 107 of Star Trek Next Gen), I listen to the Spouse clickety click around the internet. I see that …

Hamish Rides Console

He’d ride shotgun but he is too small to see out the window. So he rides Console. Riding Console in the trucks we’ve had over the years is easy. The space between the driver and passenger seats is huge. The console is a big padded platform that looks like it was designed to provide mattressy respite for beefy man arms. There’s enough space that a passenger beefy man arm would not accidently touch a driver beefy man arm already using the console. Hamish the Corgi fits on truck consoles with room to spare. His panoramic view of traffic, countryside, and snacks being eaten by the passenger is unparalleled from the console. However. When Hamish cruises the urban scene with me and the Mini Cooper S, he struggles to maintain the attitude of superior contentment. You can see that he is smiling, but maybe his back teeth are clenched. Smile and clench your teeth – then say “this is great”. That’s exactly how Hamish looks riding the Mini console.The Mini console is low and he mainly …