My Automotive Chronology
# 1 - 1975 Chevy Stepside: This is my first vehicle ever. In my memory I remember this pickup having three distinct phases, so I will refer to them as version 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2.
1.0 - Starting at age 14, I tore it down to every last nut and bolt. I didn't know that was a frame up restoration, I just loved to clean up and paint things. It had the stock 1975 front end, and I couldn't afford chrome wheels! (The blue wheels were not in style then. Some claim they are now!)
1.1 - The second version brought a 1990 Suburban front end with 80's sheetmetal, shaved 70's handles with 90's door handles grafted in below the bodyline, and a custom tailgate with Corvette tail lights.
1.1.1 - One winter I put it back to stock height and threw some 31x10.50s on it just to throw off the sport truck haters!
1.2 - In college I got caught in a lake effect snow storm driving to Rhonda's house and crashed it. To get access to a garage, I did the bodywork on the race car on the right below. It was a MASSIVE project. While fixing my pickup, I went overboard, as I usually do, and installed Corvette independent suspension, built a custom front rollpan smoothed into the front fenders, grafted a cowl induction hood scoop onto the hood, and added a convertible style top. I also put the stripes all the way down the back. I did this just before Dodge did it to factory trucks in 1996 or so. I also lifted it back up some. I never liked the stripes and the ride height though. IMO, version 1.1 was perfect. This led me to realize that I should focus on college more than on the truck. I sent it home to part it out. I only sold the front clip and Dad decided he wanted it. He still has it in Iowa.
# 2 - 1978 Chevy Fleetside: This was a running pick-up I bought for cleaner sheetmetal to rebuild #1. I have a picture of it somewhere that I need to scan.
# 3 - 1989 Toyota MR2: I was young when I built the pickup and had different tastes than I do now. I wanted a spoiler (I know, right?) for the pick-up (#1). A friend of my cousin had totaled this car without insurance and was storing it on our farm in Montana. I was trying to buy the spoiler from him, and he talked me into buying the whole car. I replaced the whole rear quarter of the car, and sold it weeks before moving to MI for college.
# 4 - 1986 Chevy Cavalier: This is the car I bought when I crashed #1.1 in college. I paid $500 and had to put a clutch in it. It was a rotted out mess, but it got me around.
# 5 - 1989 Chevy Cavalier: After my realization in #1.2, I decided to take a step up from #4. Dad worked at an insurance auto auction and found this car that was rebuilt but crept over the estimated repair amount during the repair, so they totaled it and finished it anyway and the insurance company sold the finished car at the insurance auto auction. I got a very clean car at a great price.
When I finally sold it, the guys that bought it from me turned it into a rally racer, which is what the picture below is.
# 6 - 1988 Pontiac Sunbird GT: By this time I was in my "GM J-car phase". A room-mate at college had friend who spun a rod in this car. The owner didn't at that time work on cars. I bought it for $500 and rebuilt the engine in my apartment. I had gutted it to turn in into a race car and the next time he saw the car, he wanted it back. I sold it back to him with a brand new engine, and he had it less than a week and someone T-boned him. I bought the engine back (it was a turbo) and dropped it into #5. The guy I bought it from ended up becoming a good friend, turned into a mega car guy, and was in my wedding. It is the middle car in the picture below. The turbo engine in a front wheel drive was just wrong, so I pulled it out and sold the engine and returned it to stock before selling it.
# 7 - 1990 Chevy Cavalier: Since I was now completely immersed in J-cars, I found this one that had light body damage and bought it to fix it and turn it. I ended up selling it to Rhonda's brother! It's the car in the back on the picture above.
# 8 - 1988 GMC truck: At this point I was nearing the end of college and wanted a pick-up. I bought the oldest of this body style (1988) at an auction that was a complete mess. I wanted a short box but I was very cheap and short boxes bring a lot more money. I completely rebuilt it to look like a 1998, cut a foot out of it to make it look like a short box, and put a Corvette LT-1 in it with a Saginaw 4-speed transmission.
# 9 - 1996 Saturn: This was Rhonda's first car, and I took ownership when we got married. I engine swapped it with a DOHC. This picture is at a truck stop on the way to Nelson Ledges race track in Ohio. I built the trailer to tow the bike. It weighed 220 lbs and tilted so that I could load and unload the bike by myself.
# 10 - 1992 Saturn: This was a boring four door car. Since this was my Saturn phase, and I came across business opportunities in this area more often. I bought this one and rebuilt the engine and sold it to my sister.
# 11 - 1990 Honda VTR 250: I bought this totaled and seized. I rebuilt it slowly and months before it was ready, and friend of mine turned himself into a vegetable on a sportbike. I waited quite a while, and finally put it on the road. I went to a performance street riding school at a race track, and I never rode on the street again. I turned it into a race bike and went to a racing school and became a road racer. This was the most significant life changing event in my automotive story.
# 12 - 1996 Saturn SC2: I bought this car totaled. I sold the airbags back to the seller to make it cost even less, as I had not owned anything before with airbags, and I wanted to put a MOMO racing wheel on it anyway. I shaved all the emblems, which on a Saturn are molded into the body panels. I also sold the sunroof and shaved the sunroof. This was one of my bigger challenges, and it turned out perfect. Grattan Raceway is in the background of this picture. It's my favorite race track.
# 13 - 1997 Honda CBR 600: I moved on to this bike after my first season of bike racing. I was a mess when I bought it, I rebuilt it and painted it. Then I crashed it and painted it better and made major improvements, which we will call version 13.1. I sold it after I moved to Texas.
# 14 - 1999 BMW 328i: Rhonda wanted a 3-series, and I found this car that had been heavily modified by a BMW Master Technician. We had a love affair with this car until the mileage got too high for my comfort level. We still miss it a lot.
# 15 - 1990 Mazda Miata Race Car: I found this project on Ebay. It needed an engine. I put a high mileage junkyard engine in it and ran it at the track once. I could not get the Weber carbs tuned right. This was officially my first four wheeled race car.
# 16 - 1990 Mazda Miata street car: I enjoyed #15 so much that I wanted one on the street. This car was also a basket case. I built this into my favorite track day/street car. I ran Toyo RA-1 DOT slicks. They were very sticky and picked up a lot of rocks, but I could drive it to the track and drive it hard and drive it back home. I also built my own ECM for this car (soldered every component to the board) and tuned it myself, one of my biggest automotive achievements. It had no AC, and was pretty unbearable to drive in Texas.
# 17 - 1948 Chevy Fleetline Aero: I had not done bodywork for a while, and had always wanted to do a chop top. I grew up playing inside this car in Montana, so I decided to use this car to try one. I also decided to align this project with my fetish for V12's. (See #18 and 19)
# 18 - 1988 BMW 750iL: I bought this for the engine. I parted it out and made money, but it turns out the engine was too high tech for a clean engine swap. I sold and shipped the engine to Texas about a year before I ended up moving to Texas! This car was considered by some to be a Mir space station on wheels. It had power rear head rests! I took the giant bundle of wires out of it that ran throughout the whole car, and I still use it for wire for projects today.
# 19 - 1986 Jaguar XJS: This is the V12 I ended up putting in #17. Rhonda actually found this car for sale on a run of hers in MI. I paid $750 and drove it home!
# 20 - Reynard 90H: This is the donor race car for #28. I found it on Ebay as a roller. I slowly parted it out, and made friends with other owners that raced them. It was a very fun time of living vicariously through them. Dissecting this car was like dissecting a high tech aircraft. The technology and lightweight materials on this car were amazing.
# 21 - 1994 Chevy Camaro: Another Ebay race car project. The plan was to finish it and sell it. Rhonda had good reason to question that plan! I ended up owning it for 5 years, developing it into a very fast race car able to compete with a lot of very expensive exotic machinery at the track.
# 22 - 1980 Honda Spree Scooter: This came with the Camaro. It didn't run, but I got it running when I got to Texas and even licensed it and rode it to Target once. I got a little obsessed with trying to get more speed out of it. They start out at about 20 mph, and I got it up to about 25. Seems silly, but it was pretty exciting at the time. Man vs machine kind of stuff. I bought a spare, it's the black one behind it, but I didn't include that in the count.
# 23 - 1993 Chevy Silverado: I found this pick-up on the way home one day on Long Prairie Road. It was the pick-up I built #8 to be. It had a 350 with a 5 speed. This is a VERY rare combination. I owned this until We bought the X5 that could pull a trailer.
# 24 & 25 - 1989 Toyota MR2: I had not ever really gotten over #3. I had #22 at the shop to have AC recharged, and this car was sitting in the corner. The owner of the shop had given up on it. I paid him $200, and did a complete engine rebuild with Ebay parts for $200. I am still very proud of that. I bought another one for parts. The best part of this story is that when Rhonda is pregnant, she doesn't drive real well. One morning I watched as she backed the 3-series into this car. The BMW was hardly affected, but the door of the MR2 was destroyed. Since I had a spare red MR2 for parts, I swapped it out the same day. No harm, no foul!
# 26 - 2001 Toyota RAV4: This was my "New father, self deprivation" phase. I decided I had to start driving a family type car with no soul. This was my first automatic in a LOOOONG time. I did however decide to put a pretty impressive sound system in it, complete with in dash DVD with a camera facing our rearward facing baby. I got over this phase and bought another fun manual transmission car (#27).
# 27 - 2004 BMW X5: We had hoped this would be a 3-series that had more room and could tow the race car trailer. It took us months to find, but it has a manual transmission. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the interior trim quality of the 3-series, and we are just not in love with this car. Modifications to this car include adding a hitch, a cold air intake, custom exhaust, and a performance ECM tuning.
# 28 - 2001 Acura RSX: I sat in one of these at the Detroit Auto Show when they were introduced. I liked them ever since, and every time I saw one I thought, "I want to own one of those someday." After the RAV4 I decided to buy one. It was a fun car, but I had to sell it for my new job and bought #28.
# 29 - 2008 Acura TSX: #28 sold me on Acura, so this is kind of a 4 door RSX. It had a beautiful interior and gauges, but sadly, it had no soul. It served me well though and I kept it until my company car plan made me get something newer.
# 30 - 2012 Ford F-150: First Ford I have owned, also the first new vehicle I have ever bought. I couldn't support the General with so much government control. Sadly for the General, I have seen the other side, and it is pretty good.
# 31 - 2007 BMW X3: #27 was always too big for Rhonda, and it had a very awkward 1st gear. She wanted smaller, but still manual transmission BMW, so we bought the last year for manual transmissions in the X3.
# 32 - 1993 Kawasaki ZX600: I really wanted a small engine project, so bikes lured me back in. Paid $400 on Craigslist. It didn't run, I put $200 in parts into it, rebuilt the head and carbs, and sold it for $1500 to buy #33.
# 33 - 1996 Honda VFR 750: I met up with the guy that bought the V12 from #18 about 8 years later South of San Antonio. He let me listen to his VFR750, and I knew I was done, I had to own one. While looking and waiting to find the right deal, I came across #32, which gave me the money to buy the VFR I wanted. V8 like sound with gear driven cams make for a truly unique sound. So great I made this video to explain the sound.
#34: 2015 Ford F150: This replaced the 2012 F150. Twin turbo charged and aluminum body. In this picture it is pulling Dad's 1953 Chevy COE cab on our move from TX to SC.
#35: 2007 Hayabusa: I bought this bike to test the race engine for the TV1 that I owned for 12 years and never knew if it ran. It got it running and so far it makes 175 HP to the rear wheels. The tuner thinks the fuel system is still holding back 15 hp. I can't use what it currently has without wheel spin.
#36: 2014 Toyota Highlander: Three rows of seating for Rhonda and the kids. I now drive her X3 as a daily driver.
# ??? - TV1: I won't call this a car yet, but it will be someday.
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