Friday, February 27, 2009

My Most reliable Car

My most reliable car I still have because even though I bought it new in 2000 it still drives just like a new car. It is a 2000 rx300 Lexus SUV 4wd. Because it is a full time 4 wheel drive it is the most amazing car on pavement I have ever driven in both snow and rain. It's braking system has saved my life more than once and it has also been the single most reliable car I have ever driven for 160,000 miles. Because we have maintained it it still drives like a new car. My only complaints would be fogging lenses on the headlights that I will have to replace or get a kit and rub it down and micro sand it off so I can see better at night. The only problem we have had so far is that my wife tried to pull the keys out of the ignition near Mt. Rainier in Washington with the whole family without first turning the ignition off. This caused the security system to seize up but because it was a fault with the car and because it was less than 3 months old we didn't have to pay for it being towed several hours to Seattle(luckily our family fit in the wide back seat in the oversize tow truck) or the 6000 dollars that Lexus had to eat for fixing the car. However, my wife never did that again. All we had to pay for was our hotel in Tacoma which was the nearest Lexus Dealer to Mt. Rainier, Washington for a couple of days and then they gave us a duplicate loan car to our own to finish our vacation in Mt. Rainier and then went back to Tacoma to pick up our fixed car before we proceeded up into Canada with our own fixed car back in 2000. So, other than that early experience it has been the single most trouble free car I have ever owned. My wife now drives a 2009 version while I still drive most of the time my old friend, the 2000 xl300.

Fastest Car I have owned. Though my 2000 Lexus xl300 has a speedometer that goes to 140 mph I have never driven it that fast even though likely it could because it is designed to go that fast on the German Autobahn like most good expensive luxury cars.

However, my fastest car that I have driven that fast was a 1968 Camaro 327 Metallic Blue car that I put superwide tires on for cornering while driving fast on curves. Since the front end suspension is fairly stiff one can do quick turns at high speed without the car turning over like most other cars of those days would except for Mustangs and european sports cars and maybe Corvette's and a few other American cars of that era. It was the single fastest car from about 20 mph to 70 that I have ever owned. My cousin had an XKE Jaguar that he let me drive that literally went from 20 to 70 in one second and one was completely pasted back against the seat while doing this.
Though my friend owned a 56 chevy that he built up as a street racer with a Hurst Shifter with 18 inch wide slicks(that were still street legal in 1969) I rode with him and other friends who raced on the streets. However, I found myself more into racing against myself on mountain rodes to see how fast I could drive my Camaro without dying. However, I was about 20 at the time and my favorite road to do this then was the road up from La Canada to Mt. Wilson Observatory overlooking the Los Angeles Basin and suburbia.

The Best mileage car that I ever owned was I believe a 1971? VW diesel Rabbit. It was the single most gutless car I have ever owned but if you wanted to take 2 people and very little else long distance in the 1980s there was no car I knew of then with higher mileage. However, if you weren't used to diesel engines and didn't change your oil often enough it got all clogged up from all the carbonization from the diesel over time. It had a manual glow plug for starting in cold weather which was problematic if it was very cold out also.

My favorite off road 4 wheel drive I ever owned was a 1974 6 cylinder International Harvest Scout II. I can remember pushing about 2 to 2 1/2 feet of snow out in the boonies in the Mt. Shasta area one winter and realized suddenly that nothing would ever pull me out for 4 to 6 months if I got stuck because nothing was better in dirt with snow on it than what I was in. Not only did it have incredible ground clearance and 4 wheel drive but it had a locked rear end which made it as close to all wheel drive as what was available back then. One time I blew out the joiner to the transfer case to the rear drive drive shaft. So I just pulled off the drive shaft. So I just drove it around in 4 wheel drive for a while(just the front wheels pulling) while I found another connector to the front of my drive shaft at a local parts store(I had to order one.) I think that the International Scout II's were probably the best 4 wheel drive that came stock that I've ever driven if you wanted a stock off road vehicle that you didn't have to modify in some way.

I also loved my 1965 1300 VW bug that I put and exhaust extractor(for power and sound) and a camber compensator(so it would turn over with intense cornering) and I also bought the first steel belted radials that were available in the U.S. through Sears then in 1965. Radial tires within 10 years completely took over the tire business because they were 2 to three times safer than tires before in regard to both handling and stopping. So many people died from shoe brakes especially in big trucks but also in cars from brake fade that disc brakes slowly took over too and saved thousands of lives since then.

My parents bought me my 1965 bug for college. Then I bought my 68 camaro when I started working as a computer programmer. However, eventually I kept the Camaro in the family but bought another bug when I returned to college in 1971 to 73. It was a 1966 bug but was I believe either a 1500 or 1600 engine. This bug took me 150,000 miles in the next 5 years or 30,000 miles a year. Luckily, gas was cheap enough for me to drive places to places like Utah and Colorado and to visit a girlfriend in Santa Fe from San Diego where I lived then. Taking buddies to Rock Climbing in Yosemite Valley and up to Mt. Shasta for hiking, climbing the mountain and eventually moving there with my first wife in 1976. We bought Fisher Cross Country Skis in Ashland, Oregon for a good price in 1976 and we were on our way to years of happy skiing in Mt. Shasta from Bunny Flats to 7 mile curve and up to Horse CAmp even in 20 to 40 feet of snow which happened pretty often back then in the early to late spring. However, if you are cross country skiing in over 20 feet of snow remember don't go to close to tree tops where the snow is melted out 3 feet. I broke a cornice between two trees a few years back and fell down about 10 feet into a tree. That wasn't fun to recover from. I found myself standing on a tree limb 10 feet down with another 10 to 20 feet to go if I went to ground so I had to take off my skis throw them up and out and ask my buddy to help me out onto the snow because I couldn't push off the top of the tree to get up onto the snow. I really learned my lesson because I was at least 55 when I did this not 20 something or 30 something anymore. So it was a little scary to recover from.

My first vehicle was a 1956 Ford STationwagon automatic. I called this my Surf WAgon because I saw myself as a surfer and had many buddies who surfed too. So we would drive down the freeway with 3 to 5 ten foot long surfboards hanging out the back end of the stationwagon. We liked to surf in Malibu, HUntington Beach and if we headed south to Huntington Beach we often went to KNots Berry Farm just for kicks as well.

I also owned a 1976 Datsun (now Nissan) long bed truck that I built a wooden camper for with a skylight and plexiglas back door with a sleeping platform inside and a nice storage area underneath the bed. We traveled with it from Mt. Shasta to Arcata and the REdwood coast and back then in 1976. Eventually my first wife and I broke up and I left the truck for her to drive and bought myself a 1976 Toyota Long bed TRuck and bought a cabover 6 pack Camper for it and stayed in it when I worked on remote construction jobs away from my home in San Diego at that time.

I also owned a 1976 VW Rabbit that was pretty powerful for a small car. It had a four speed stick shift. I took my surf rack and put piece of plywood up there in place of where the surfboards went and put up on top a large tent the kind used in Campgrounds for a family and camp stove and sleeping bags and took my new family(now two step kids, my son from my first marriage and my new wife 1980) up to Banff and Jasper in Canada. The kids were young enough to fit into the back seat and with all the gear on the roof we made it from Mt. Shasta, California all the way up to Jasper. I was amazed at the turquoise Lake Louis and all the water coming out of Glaciers that far north that had this amazing taste of being prehistoric since it last fell out of the sky or was even liquid. So thousands of years had passed since it had become the glaciers so it tasted really amazing.

Motorcycles. I started at age 10 or 12 with a little Wren by Bird. It was a mini bike with a 2 1/2 horsepower tecumseh gas powered motor with a centrifugal clutch. However, it could do about 35 mph once it got going. Its biggest difficulty was stopping as the braking system was poor. I can remember driving it across my High School Parking lot when I was 12 or 13 and the throttle getting stuck at about 35 mph. The only way I survived was to slam my feet down at the last moment before I ran into the chain link fence of the tennis courts so I could bring the min bike up so the seat cushion hit my chest so my face wasn't destroyed on the fence. It worked and only my neck hurt a little from the concussion after I started to breathe again.

Though my father's friend had a Vespa, I sort of destroyed the clutch on it when I was 12 running it in to deep a sand in the desert. next, my Dad bought a Honda 90 Trail bike that had two ranges hi and low. Low top speed in the highest gear was about 10 to 15 mph. Whereas in the hi range it could go about 45 mph to 50 top speed on the highways and dirt roads.

I bought a Matchless 600 thumper(single cylinder for instant response) hill climber from England when I was about 17. It was geared so low for hill climbing that you had to be very careful starting off or the bike would snap you on your butt and be on top of you. So I learned to start off usually in 2nd or 3rd gear to avoid landing on my butt with the bike on top of me. Top Speed was only 45 mph because of the really large rear sprocket. When I ran it too fast it blew up but luckily the chain didn't take my leg off it only wound around the front sprocket and burnt my leg with hot crankcase oil.

At night since the Matchless 600 thumper(single cylinder) had a straight steel pipe and it blew flame out of it if I rode it at night across the desert.

When this bike blew up I got a World War II BSA 500 that had been used in North Africa during the War. It had a half inch thick metal plate to protect the engine right underneath. Though it was a very heavy bike compared to todays bikes it could always be kick started in any weather and was incredibly reliable even though it only had seat spring suspension in back and an unusual suspension in front from that era of world war II.

But my favorite Motorcycle I ever owned was a 1974 Honda 250XL dirt street combo that was street licensed. This bike I purchased in 1975 as the previous owner had had an accident with it and slightly dented the silver gas tank. However, I owned this motorcycle from 1975 until 1989 and always loved it and had many amazing adventures on it over the years.

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