Vehicle #1: 1985 GMC High Sierra
Purchase price: $800
Specs: 4.3l V6, 4 speed manual, RWD, short cab, long bed
Time owned: 2000-2002
Backstory: My high school ride. Learned how to drive standard, rebuild a carburetor, change spark plugs, shocks, brakes, drive belts, do wiring, paint, and recover a seat with this thing. Sold it before going to college as I needed something more reliable. The junkyard it was sold to used it as a yard truck before the yard’s owner’s son thought it’d be funny to drop a sea container on its bed, squishing it flat.
Vehicle #2: 1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Z34
Purchase price: $6000
Specs: 3.4l twin dual cam V6, 4 speed auto, underdrive crank pulley, shortened upper motor mounts, GM Performance parts W-body handling kit, high flow weld-in catalytic converter
Time owned: 2002-2006
Backstory: This was the “more reliable car” I bought to replace the truck to drive to college. I loved this thing. I beat the everloving crap out of it, blew up two transmissions, went through countless sets of tires, and learned that automatics, GM automatics especially, don’t like being neutral dropped. My first, second, and third accident, first head unit install, first body kit install, first gauge overlay install, first timing belt(which along with spark plugs is NOT as hard as everyone says it is on this engine), first road trip, and first time using my vehicle to cook. I used to buy a package of corn dogs, throw one on the defroster grille at the windshield base, crank the heat, and after my hour commute home from school, I’d have a cooked corn dog. I’ve documented this before, but this one met its demise at the hands of a Chevy Impala and a Toyota RAV 4. R.I.P. little buddy.
Vehicle #3: 1995 Saturn SW2
Purchase price: $500
Specs: 1.8l, 4 speed manual, wagon, brown
Time owned: One month
Backstory: Something cheap I bought to get back on the road after the Monte was wrecked. Owned it for so short a period of time, I never took a picture of it. Shoulda kept it as a winter beater.
Vehicle #4: 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Special Edition
Purchase price: $5250
Specs: 3.8l supercharged, 4 speed automatic, tuned PCM
Time owned: 2006-2010
Backstory: Saw this and fell in love instantly. One of the more fun and functional cars I’ve ever owned. Comfortable seats, cavernous trunk, sunroof, power everything, and even heated seats. Stupid winter caused me to blow up a transmission when I was stuck on a patch of ice spinning my tires and caught dry pavement. It wasn’t incredibly fast, but it was fast enough and would cruise at 80 mph returning nearly 30mpg all day long. Took this to Niagara Falls, back and forth to Ohio a few times, and would’ve kept it if it wasn’t nearing 200k and the junkyard replacement transmission wasn’t failing. Traded it in as a down payment for my next car.
Vehicle #5: 2004 Pontiac GTO
Purchase price: $11,500
Specs: 5.7l LS1, 4 speed automatic, JBA Headers, Magnaflow exhaust, PCM tune
Time owned: 2010-present
Backstory: Found this online after my boss at the time turned me on to these and how much of a bargain they are. Immediately went down and bought it. I love this car. It’s been the most reliable thing I’ve ever owned. Good on ya Aussies. Aside from basic maintenance, I really haven’t done anything to it. I do plan on heads and a cam in the future, but for right now, I love it as-is.
Vehicle #6: 1991 Honda Civic RT4WD
Purchase price: $800
Specs: 1.6l, 6 speed manual, 4WD
Time owned: 2013-2016
Backstory: Even with snow tires, driving my GTO in the winter was a chore. I picked this up as a winter beater, but grew to love the little thing. I lifted it by throwing various other Honda suspension bits at it, threw some larger wheels and snow tires on it, and it was unstoppable in the snow. Impressive gas mileage for what it was. Yes, that’s not a typo, 6 speed manual. Admittedly it has a super low first gear, kinda like a makeshift low range, but 6 forward gears nonetheless. Unfortunately rust got the better of it. The drivetrain had over 300k on it and ran like a top. I sold it to a buddy who also has a 4WD Civic wagon. He told me when he went to swap my suspension into his, the frame basically crumbled apart. I’ll get another some day.
Vehicle #7: 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Purchase price: $3500
Specs: 4.0l, 4 speed automatic, 4WD
Time owned: 2015-Present
Backstory: My wife actually bought this as she was planning on starting a mobile dog groomer business. Turns out the trailer people she was speaking to about custom building her a mobile grooming setup were shady, so she abandoned that idea. After the Civic was sold, I kinda took this over as a daily/winter vehicle as my GTO has now been relegated to “fun car”. It’s not awful, but I don’t love it either. Badly need to do the shocks and treat the rocker panel rust before it gets worse.