HERE WE GO BOYS AND GIRLS AND PEOPLE OF UNSPECIFIED GENDER!

1. Buick LeSabre2000 “Murdersofa”

Yes, the ‘2000' was part of the model year in the first year of the last generation Buick LeSabre. This technically was my dad’s car but I drove it and modified it through highschool and got into autocross.

Mod List:

  • Low profile 245-45-r17 tires and wheels instead of the stock 15s with four acres of sidewall
  • Front sway bar from aPontiac Bonneville GXP
  • Rear sway bar from a Cadillac SeVille STS
  • “Heavy Duty” Monroe rear air shocks
  • ZZP1.0 box tune
  • “Custom” exhaust made of drain pipes and a cherry bomb (it sounded like shit)

Fate: Sold to my cousin after he hydroplaned and wrecked his car

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2. 1998 Honda Civic LX Sedan

If I were to have any car on this list back it’d be this one. Bought for $500 with 340k miles on it missing the exhaust, tail lights, most of the synchros, one cylinder, but the interior was in excellent shape and it had a manual! I bought it, road tripped it on 3 cylinders with the engine belching blue smoke and using a quart and a half of oil every fillup. Later on I bought a parts car for $300 and swapped the 240k low-mileage engine and trans.

Fun fact: This was a canadian import, so “LX” was the highest trim level in the US but the lowest in Canada for some reason so I had crank windows and manual EVERYTHING. Gauge cluster was swapped, A/C was added later.

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Mods:

  • OEM hubcaps painted white (originally had bare steelies)
  • New shocks with Skunk2 1" lowering springs
  • New OEM headlights (replace ebay LED garbage)
  • New OEM tail lights
  • Used OEM exhaust
  • New OEM steering wheel (had ebay nonsense)
  • TONS of car audio. Literally all of it. At one point I had $800 worth of RE subwoofers (2x15" and a 1kw monoblock JL) in the back seat that would pull too many amps at full tilt and shut the car off. It was hilarious.

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Once I toned down the car audio I had a comfortable spacious economy car that was incredibly well screwed together and got great fuel economy while being not-boring to drive. Still the best-shifting FWD car I’ve ever driven.

Fate: Stunting Z06 wrecked into a Porsche Macan Turbo and pushed it into my fender, totaling the car. Nonplussed, I walked to my parts car and plopped a green fender on the car, pocketed the ~$1900 from the insurance company then traded the car + $1000 for...

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3. 1991 Mazda Miata NA

This thing was pretty on the outside but has been run into more things than... something that has been run into a lot of shit. There wasn’t a straight piece of metal in the front end and the car always ran like dogshit. At one point I was hauling ass through an under construction development (twisty roads! No people!) when the roads were still covered in a dusting of grit from winter and I overcooked a corner and spun off the road over a curb, bending the subframe and a lot of the suspension. After briefly considering my considerable positive camber I bought new control arms and extended lower ball joints and had it re-aligned to an “autocross alignment”. It worked. I then threw the following mod list at it:

  • Turbo from a Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4
  • Lots of scrap pipe welded into an exhaust manifold
  • Lots more scrap pipe welded into a downpipe
  • Radiator hose from a 1-ton GMC for a charge pipe
  • ebay rising rate fuel pressure regulator at a 1:8 ratio
  • Injectors from a 1.8 liter Miata
  • “narrowband” o2 gauge to read the stock o2 sensor. All I cared about was “am I lean in boost?”. I was not.
  • eBay wastegate actuator secured with a bunch of strap and an unknown spring. “preload” of the straps were adjusted until it opened at 8psi
  • Brand new pleather seat covers
  • Hilariously tiny aftermarket steering wheel
  • eBay coilover sleeves with 350/500# springs
  • The cheapest all-season tires money could buy

During all of this I found out the reason it always ran like dogshit was a crap injector. FFS.

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The end result was a car that handled hilariously well despite the crap tires and went like shit. BOV? Don’t need it. Intercooler? What now? It made wonderful noises and had next to no turbo lag whatsoever.

Fate: Sold for $1400 when I bought my NB

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4. 1997 Buick Rivera N/A

$750 got me this from a coworker at the Chevy dealership I worked at. Sometimes the trans shifted funny. It needed a new alternator at one point. I did the car audio thing again with a crap box made of garbage and a 12" MTX and used a dremel to install a Pioneer double-din. Got 30mpg on the highway with me and three of my friends in it with all our crap 2000 miles to Cleveland, OH and back.

Mods:

  • Paint I thought was Guard Green but was actually John Deere green and was the absolute worst thing I’d ever seen

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Fate: Sold for $900 when I got the NB

5. ‘05 Mustang V6 5AT

So here’s the stage: Miata is still fucked up, Riviera’s transmission is shifting weird. I just want a reliable car to get me A-B and I see this sitting back in the wholesale lot at the dealership I worked at. They let me drive it while my cars were broken for about 3 weeks so I had a very good idea of what all was broken on it (quite a bit) and bought it for way too much at $4700. First car I financed, for what that’s worth.

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Bought, painted, and installed new door handles, new radio, replaced the broken steering wheel with an aluminum-and-leather affair from a higher trim level, fixed a bracket that had fallen off of the soft-top hydraulic cylinder mount that kept the top from going up and down, and had the car detailed. Then the plastic thermostat housing exploded on the highway, and I fixed it in an Oreillys parking lot using Autozone parts. Then the radiator leaked, and I spent 5 hours replacing it since absolutely no guide on the internet told me how to reconcile the location of four things held in by the same core support bracket. Then I parked it and put it up for sale out of disgust. For what it’s worth, it was an excellent commuter when it worked. Quiet, reasonably quick, decent fuel economy, comfortable, and I always loved this body style.

Mods:

  • Head unit
  • Upgraded OEM steering wheel
  • Aluminum accents on the shifter

Fate: Sold when I got my NB

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6. 1993 Nissan Sentra SE-R

This is the car I drove to Cleveland Ohio in the Buick to buy for $1, famously, from fellow Opponaut Jake W.

Here’s a list of things that did not work on this car:

  • Exhaust
  • A/C
  • Heater
  • Power steering

Here’s a list of things done to this car:

  • New OEM shocks with lowering springs (net result 1" lift over the ebay coilovers that were on there with .25" of travel)
  • Engine mounts
  • A/C pump removed
  • Questionable wiring fixed up
  • Moldy carpet removed
  • Starter

Fate: Thrust bearing killed itself. Upon engine removal it was revealed this had a competition-only ultra-light flywheel which had gotten bent, preventing the car from starting sometimes. This model flywheel was actually put out of production for- shocker- bending too easily due to the aggressive weight reduction. Sold to a Nissan specialist who parted it out.

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7. 2002 Mazda Miata Special Edition

This was the result of four months of trying to find a “forever car”. Something that looked more expensive than it was, was fun to drive, cheap to own. Miata is always the answer and I found this for sale at a small dealership, drawn to it by the wheels. It was a trade-in for a truck and I haggled the seller down to $4500 from $7000 and brought it home after borrowing the money from my dad, and then getting a bank loan to pay him back. Second car financed. At 110k on the clock, this was also my lowest- mileage car.

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Mods:

  • Racing Beat front sway bar
  • Koni Sport shocks
  • MazdaSpeed springs
  • Aftermarket crossover intake pipe
  • NA hardtop
  • Pioneer double-DIN head unit
  • Low-profile aluminum shift knob
  • Delrin door bushings
  • Flowmaster Delta 40 muffler

Fate: Wrecked by wife

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8. 1986 Ford Mustang V6 3AT

My then-girlfriend-now-wife had been daily driving the Sentra due to the hilarious sketchiness of her 1992 Honda Civic sedan (yes, she actually had a car MORE SKETCHY than the Sentra) and after it blew up I was looking for something else for her to drive and hit upon this Mustang sitting in a field with plants growing through the engine bay. Featuring a 100hp 200lb-ft of torque 3.8l TBI V6 and a 3 speed slushbox this car was... not very motivated. The A/C worked, though (heater didn’t, cuz blown core). It was a godawful eggshell yellow color. But not for long.

Mods:

  • World Class T5 Manual swap
  • Initial D homage primer paint job (the katakana on the side says “pizza hut”, which originated in Wichita)
  • Yellow brights. Because JDM
  • Total emissions equipment delete except for catalytic converters
  • Intertia sensor bypass
  • Front wheel bearings/brakes
  • Power steering hose

Fate: Sucked too much gas so I used it for my 5 mile commute instead of her 15 mile commute, then my ankle got so bad I couldn’t use the heavy clutch any more. Sold for $1200

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9. 1977 Jaguar XJ-S

This is both my biggest regret for buying and my biggest regret for selling and I swear I will own another one of these some day. After wallowing in depression after getting a job yanked out from underneath me I impulse-financed (holy fuck this was the worst idea) this thing for a whopping $3500. 1977 Jaguar XJ-S, shittons of rust, Chevy 350 swap that ran like absolute wet dogshit. It also had chrome dubs but came with a set of OEM mag wheels which I immediately put on, tuned the carbs which had COMPLETELY the wrong jets in them, and road tripped it 500 miles to Oklahoma and back averaging 10mpg.

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Mods:

  • Engine rebuilt after rod bearing spun 2mo into ownership

That’s about it. Drove it through the winter which was a BLAST. Lots of projects were half-started on this and i had intentions to strip it down to nothing and re-build it with a new wiring harness, HVAC out of a Chevy, fix the rust, new fuel tank... none of that ever happened.

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Fate: Radiator cross-contaminated trans fluid and coolant and trashed the transmission. Traded for a 1996 Kawasaki Vulcan 500

10. 2002 Lexus IS300 SportCross

After riding the Vulcan all summer to save money on gas and insurance I financed this for $5700 after finding it on Craigslist, thrilled to have a reliable, respectable, reasonably entertaining and practical car.

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Mods:

  • OEM wheels
  • eBay headlights from a brand that has been around long enough to be “legit”
  • New head unit to replace the walmart-tier thing that was in there
  • New front brake rotors to replace the slotted and crossdrilled warped nonsense
  • A bunch of dents and scratches

Fate: Totaled by my wife, paid off by the insurance company, bought back by me. Still driven.

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11. 2003 Mazda 6s 6MT

Bought this for $1500 to replace the Miata. Asking price was $2000 but when I arrived in Texas to pick it up it turned out the clutch got trashed the day before and $500 was knocked off the asking price. I limped it home with screaming wheel bearings and a slipping clutch.

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Mods:

  • Clutch
  • New hydraulic motor mount
  • Upper heater hose
  • OEM intake (to replace aftermarket nonsense)
  • Upper control arms (+ balljoints)
  • Lower rear control arms (+ balljoints)
  • Tie rod ends
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Intake manifold gaskets
  • Spark plugs

Fate: Still have it. Wife drives it to work.