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Preparing to release my inner Mike Brewer

Or maybe my inner Tavarish, since I’m not mates with a preposterously tall mechanic with an excellent supply of tools and skills to match? Anyway, the short story is that I’m starting to think about getting a first car for and with my son, who is thirteen but is already getting concerned about his access to wheels since his older sister is likely to take our Passat Wagon with her to college this fall. I’ve more or less promised him that if the VW is not available, we will look to get something for him, but in the Wheeler Dealers fashion. “So, a project?” Right you are, son.

I don’t have a lot of experience wrenching on cars, but I have a some tools and know where I could get more, and a reliable internet connection, so I figure I can muddle my way through most basic fixer-upper tasks. We won’t look to buy anything for a while yet, but I figured I might as well start poking around the usual used cars sites to see what kind of tired iron is out there these days and to get a feel for what kind of work we should be prepared to do.


I have no idea what kind of cars interest my son; I’m not sure he even knows at this point. But in just a few minutes of scanning the intertubes, I found a bunch of cars in varying states of tune that interested the heck out of me. Setting a price limit of $2000 and a 100 mile radius from our house (which incorporates one major metropolitan area and a state capitol), a few gems popped up among the expected array of Corollas, Saturns and Altimas. The ultimate bro-mobile when I was in high school: a 1988 IROC-Z, baby! It doesn’t, um, run, but it’s still totally bitchin’ (but bring a trailer). A 1981 Accord hatchback (1st gen); just needs brakes, so bring a trailer. A 1995 4Runner, with V6 and manual; unfortunately it doesn’t pass smog, so bring a trailer. A 1990 MB 300 SE; I love the idea of an old S-Class, perfectly wrong for a high school parking lot. A 1997 Saab 900 convertible; another weird one for the high school lot that I love and that my son would probably hate. And the true unicorn: a 1986 Peugeot 505 Wagon (not brown, not diesel, but c’mon, it’s a Peugeot Wagon!). Everything is high to ultra-high miles, of course, but that is to be expected.

In the end I will probably chicken out on the wrenching and just get some well-maintained late model Camry, but I’m pleased to see that the possibilities are dangerously tempting.

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