Maverick74's new motor

As the title says, I have once again bought another car. A couple of years ago I bought a brand new Kia Forte GT manual to serve as my daily driver.

It was a fine enough car, but I always felt it was a bit too big for my tastes. I imagine most of my fellow Americans would think calling a compact sedan “too big” to be a silly thought, but it’s kind of true. It wasn’t all that smaller compared to say an early 2000’s W body Impala, and that was considered a fullsize. While it had several nice features and a nice engine, it just wasn’t quite what I wanted in a car. So I decided to get rid of it for something smaller and a bit more characteristic. So this is what I replaced it with.

It’s a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso. After seeing one of the Launch Editions at a race years ago, I’ve kind of fell in love with the looks. And after the 300 mile trip bringing it back home, I can say I’m in love. Despite it’s size, it manages to have better forward visibility and more headroom than the Kia did. The interior layout is pretty much perfect. The controls for everything seem to be placed exactly were I’d like them to be. The clutch is taking a little getting used to, it’s a bit heavier than I’m used to, but shifter is brilliant.
The car wasn’t terribly happy doing 80mph down the interstate, but it’s right at home doing 60 on two lane roads, which is were most of my driving takes place anyways. And it rides super well too, cars with short wheelbases tend to suffer in that regard.
Sure, there do seem to be a few small issues with it. The driver’s seat and the lettering around the volume control seem to be showing more wear than one would expect from a car of this mileage. But given the number of trashed clunkers I’ve owned, that’s something I’m not too bothered by. The other thing is it’s a smidge too quiet. The engine makes a nice note when you start it up or when you really give it the beans. But it’s not quite as sonorous as I’d like it. So I’m thinking an aftermarket exhaust may be in order. :wink:


Nice ride. They were some collab with Mazda, based on the Miata, right?


It was. However, the Abarth 124 Spider is even sportier still; that said, an actual ND MX-5 (especially the post-2018 2.0 version) is still a better driver’s car, although the 124 in general was, for a time, the next best thing.

I test drove Miatas as well, since they’re a little more common (the local Chevy dealership also sells Mazdas) and I would say the difference between the two is minute. Maybe if your really pushing it or at a track day there’s a bigger difference, but for ordinary driving they seemed basically the same. And since I prefer the looks of the Fiat, it’s what I decided to go with.

Spent a couple of hours giving the Fiata a full detailling to get a good idea of any blemishes and chips in the paint, only to open the garage door to find that it was snowing! Life in Minnesota I guess. :sweat_smile:

While I do plan on driving this during winter, I’d prefer to not do so with summer tires. So it looks like I’ll be relying on my little Mazda for a bit longer.


“As reliable as coming third in a challenge hosted by Knugcab”… :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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So, a month’s ownership with the Fiat has come to be. And I can say, it has a few idiocricricies. Second gear tends to be a bit cranky when it’s cold out (I’m thinking this is a Mazda thing, since the 2 has similar issues), the radio is rather slow to load up my Ipod (though it does at least remember my settings, the Kia never did that), it revs higher on the highway in sixth gear than the Mazda in fifth, and the doors lock themselves every time you move a couple feet away (a really annoying thing when all you’re doing is filling it up with fuel or checking the oil).

But you know, all of that is forgiven when you get it out on the road. Gosh, I had forgotten how much I love owning a convertible. Being able to just throw the top back and let the sun and wind in after a tough day is better than any antidepressant. I owned an old MGB years ago, and this thing has the same effect. I had also forgotten the joy of a rear drive car, being able to rotate it around gravel or snow covered roads with the throttle. I’ve already put on something like 1200 miles so far. :sweat_smile:

That being said, it has become a little of a money sink. Though not necessarily due to any faults in itself. It started as just a basic service, some spark plugs and oil and filter. The dealership claimed to have done this prior to my ownership, but I figured better safe than sorry. And it turns out this is actually rather easy to work on by modern car standards. Though the engine is rather basic, still be a SOHC unit with an iron block. So I decided to buy a service manual for it.
…and here it is.

Apparently printing them in books is considered obsolete. By far the most expensive CD I’ve ever paid for. Pretty sure all the paper manuals I’ve owned combined cost less. And because I haven’t used the disc player on a computer in ten years, I didn’t order my current pc with one. So I’ll need to spend more money just to read this. Hooray for technology, I guess? :sweat_smile:
While I was at it, I also picked up this:

The factory muffler was way too quiet. So it’s been replaced with an axle back setup from Auto Ricambi. Now it sounds like a proper Italian sports car rather than a Buick. Around town it has a nice growl and a burble off throttle. And giving it the beans is pretty raunchy, with the occasional snarl and pop between shifts. :grin:
I’m certainly looking forward for summer.


So, I have gone out and bought another car for the fleet.

It’s a 1983 AMC Concord. '83 was the last year these two wheel drive AMCs were built, this being one of 5,300 to roll off the assembly line. Crazier yet, this is a factory four speed manual car, so it’s very rare indeed.

As one can see, the body is in pretty good shape. It came out of central South Dakota, which doesn’t use road salt and has a fairly dry climate. And it seems to be fairly complete. What the pictures don’t convey however is the smell. Seems that in the nearly two decades since this was last on the road, several generations of mice called this car home. So yeah, that’s not going to be fun to address. It also doesn’t run. It was claimed to have done so when it was parked, but I wasn’t able to turn the engine over by hand (admittedly I didn’t try very hard and it’s possible it was in gear).

All the same, there’s probably worse ways to spend $960. I’m going to give it a more thorough inspection now that it’s home.


Dug into it a bit more today. It looks like the previous owner took the time to preserve the engine before parking it. The fluids were all topped off and looked usable. So a little oil was squirted down the spark plug holes, corrosion scrapped of the distributor car and rotor, and replaced the completely toast battery (the positive terminal post ripped out of the battery when I tried removing the cable, never seen that before). And it runs! Err, sort of. One of the cylinders is missing and the carb doesn’t seem to be taking in fuel (admittedly the external gas tank I was trying to run it off of may not have been feeding fuel to it). Should have the parts to hopefully fix this all next week.

Feast you eyes on 4.2 litres of pure straight six fury making mumbles incoherently horsepower and get’s cough 22 cough EPA rated miles per gallon!

The interior looks to be in mostly good shape, with plenty of simulated wood trim and padded vinyl.

…that is until you look down. Yeah, all those bits of black is mice poop. So. Much. Poop. The dryer sheets did nothing to prevent the mice from getting in. To add on top of that the rear window must have been leaking, as the rear parcel shelf is water damaged. And the passenger rear window is jammed, leaving a bit of a gap open. Not looking forward to cleaning all this.

But what is neat is that all the original paperwork is still with the car!

From the looks of it this was bought by an old man in '83, getting inherited by one of his sons in '87. He held onto it until the 2000’s when his grandson started using it before getting parked in 2006 or so.

And look how few options it has! Tilt steering wheel, AM radio, fabric seats, a spare tire, and a block heater. That’s it. So there’s no power steering, no power brakes, no power windows, no AC. It’s about as basic as a car could be. All for $7,729, which is a little under 24 grand in today’s money. Times sure have changed.


I was hoping to see a pic of the steering wheel and gear shifter lol. Great find nonetheless, congratulations and keep us posted.

Well, I don’t really feel like going back outside and taking pictures of them, I’m about to sit down for some dinner, but here’s the photos of the interior from the auction.


The birth of the great times of equality. The beginning of the movement of Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, here that era manifested itself even in tattoos on the steering wheel.

Thats a cool piece of history right there

Kinda made me wanna watch this again

So, I have gone out and bought another car for the fleet.

"But wait, you may be asking, didn’t you quite literally just buy something?"

Um, yes?

Thing of it is, this popped up for sale twenty miles down the road the day after I bid on the AMC. And it’s something I’ve been on the lookout for a while now, and the price was right. So, what is it?

A 1992 Saab 900 Turbo.

It’s done 190 thousand miles, it has a few small electrical issues, the brakes need replacing, has the typical Saab rust on the bottom of the doors starting to bubble through, and the check engine light is on. But it’s fully loaded, power seats and mirrors, factory CD player, moon roof. And most of it all works (the radio is currently non-op due to the lack of the anti-theft security code)

It’s about as far away from the Concord as one could get. Adjusted for inflation, this would have been a $65,000 car, about two thirds more than the AMC. And it’s crazy to think that these two cars would have been on sale at the same time.


Maybe…or maybe not. Two cars from small manufacturers where the engineers did a marvelous work considering their limited resources.

Fly! Congratulations on the replenishment of your collection with a new submarine!

It is nice choice.

Although the front part is somewhat thoughtful, but the rear door opens with the lights. This is generally a highlight!

Indeed, that is true. And both are from companies that were bought by foreign automakers who didn’t know what to do with them and lead to their ultimate demise.
And both cars can trace their roots back to a 1960s model.


So, some updates.
Work has been done of the Saab. I had put off doing to much to it until I got it registered, which turned out to be a longer and headache inducing trial than I had anticipated. Long story short, the previous owner passed away and his sister inherited the car. Not wanting to deal with it, she commissioned an auction house to sell it. Unfortunately, the state of Minnesota requires extra paperwork to be filled out for this. But the folks running the place wound up sort of disappearing after I bought the car, I don’t know if they ran into financial or legal trouble or what, but it made getting this extra paperwork harder to do. But a month later I was finally able to get it all sorted and the car registered in my name. So it’s time to spin wrenches.

What I had thought was a failing clutch turned out to be something a bit simpler: all the brakes where jammed up. I knew the brakes were a bit wonky after the first test drive of the car, but I wasn’t expecting this! Well, being a cheap bastard financially conscience person, I decided to rebuild the calipers instead of buy rebuilt ones. It’s not terribly difficult and calipers seem to be getting a little hard to find anyways.

With a home-made grease zerk to brake line adapter and power grease gun I was able to push out the old pistons pretty easily. Sadly, it wasn’t just swollen seals preventing the pistons from moving freely.

There was some pretty bad corrosion. The rust in the piston was a good .02" tall and the chrome? finish on the piston badly damaged. The driver’s side caliper was in a little better shape on the inside, but the brake bleeder was completely sheared off. That’s what’s left of it below my thumb.

So needless to say, new calipers it is.

And hey, it’s always fun finding random tools left in the car by the previous owner. This socket was just sitting on the frame rail.

Along with a new battery, an oil change, and a couple of vacuum hoses, the mechanical bits now seemed to be sorted out.

Next up is cosmetics. The paint on most of the car was noticeably faded and rough to the touch. Nothing an hour with a rag and some polish can’t solve.

Wow, look at that shine! It could still use a professional buffing to get rid of some of the deeper scratches and blemishes, but the color at least now has some life back into it and it presents well in photos.

Gosh, how nice it is to drive a classic Saab again. Despite the high mileage, there’s hardly any squeaks, clunks, or rattles. The engine runs smoothly and pulls nicely, though it does feel as if a few of the 180 horses may have fled the stables over the last 30 years. It seems as if all the interior bits still function as they should, apart from the dashboard lights. So there’s still a few issues, but at least it’s a running, driving project now, so things will be easier to fix.


So, as of today it has been one year of ownership with the Fiata. And, I absolutely love this little thing. So far I’ve driven it about 16,000 miles (25,750 km). That’s quite a lot, especially considering my commute to work is less than 6,000 miles yearly and that’s been split between this and my Mazda.
But this thing is just that much fun to drive. Most of those miles are from bombing down our winding lake roads, though I did go on a holiday out to Montana to explore some of the mountains out there. For such a small car, it’s surprisingly comfortable and happy cruising down the interstate at 80mph as it is tackling the twisty bits.

let’s play find the chipmunk

And I drove this through the whole winter. Admittedly, this winter was pretty mild compared to most years, but with a set of snow tires this little roadster is surprisingly good in snow, provided it doesn’t get too deep. It’s a very easy car to steer with the throttle and it communicates quite well when things are about to get sideways. The big downside is the convertible top isn’t as well insulated as a normal car. So I found that once the temperature starts to drop around 10-15 degrees (-12 to -9 C) the windows start to ice over on the inside quite badly. So days it gets that cold are better suited for the Mazda.

It’s honestly been a great car so far. I haven’t had any issues with it mechanically. It’s a pretty easy car to service. I perhaps wouldn’t mind having one in a different color. While I love the black and tan combination, it pushes the limits of my OCD to keep clean and looking nice. But I don’t see myself ever getting rid of it. I’m looking forward to several more years with this little thing.


As a side note, I haven’t been neglecting my other projects either. Well, maybe the Saab a bit. I’m thinking it might new a new alternator and new power steering hoses (it been leaking), but fixing those issues is almost an engine out sort of job due to their locations. Hopefully with the warmer weather I’ll be more motivated to get to it.
But there has been progress with the Concord. The fuel tank has been cleaned out, carb rebuilt, and a new fuel pump and filter installed. Along with plugs, cap, rotor, and vacuum hoses it runs reasonably well. The mousey interior has been gutted, which was not a fun job.


I’ve had to basically throw out the carpet and sound deadener and repaint the floor just to get the smell to go away. And the seats are currently at an upholstery shop. They aren’t going to be quite factory, it seems that finding that particular shade of brownish orange is difficult. But we found a color that should be reasonably close. I’m hoping to get them back by the end of the month.

A set of '71 AMC Hornet hubcaps really help the looks of the car. As the moment it’s up on jack stands as I rebuild the brakes. New master cylinder, front calipers, rotors and wheel bearings (the rotors are the outer bearing race for some annoying reason), rear drum cylinders, and hoses all around. With any luck it should be on the road again this summer.