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wheelsmithy Dork
1/18/17 8:16 p.m.

As a final insult, 2016 claimed one very close to me on the 28th of December. My trusty Fit, which I bought brand new in 2009, in the midst of the economic downturn, is no more. It has ceased to be. A group of five juveniles, presumably out on a joy ride in a burgundy Mitsubishi struck the death blow to my 87,000 mile appliance, daily driver, and trusted companion. They were the pursued in a high speed chase through a residential neighborhood. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Back in '09, I was fresh out of Home inspection school, and my DD Swift was deemed "not respectable enough" for my planned career path.The 300,000 mile chassis and blown head gasket didn't help, either So, I started shopping for a used car. What I really wanted was a Matrix. Preferably an XRS, but was disappointed to learn that ten grand might get you a 100K mile beater. Even in lower trims. Bogus.

I shopped all kinds of used cars, and no one was dealing, despite the severe economic climate. So, I started looking at new stuff. Toyota had turned the Matrix into a Camry wagon instead of Corolla. No Dice. After much deliberation, I started looking at new Fits. With projected 300+ mile days ahead, I started thinking maybe the security of a new car- which I thought I'd never do again- sounded like a good plan. The Honda guys were champing at the bit. They practically wrapped their tiny car salesman hands around my leg as I walked toward the door "to just check out the new Scions". We eventually settled on 15 grand on that Valentine's day, 2009.

Well, I turned down the home inspection job, and agreed to handle the shop in a new venture my former boss was cooking up-metal roofing. Thing was, that job didn't start for a bit, so I went on walkabout with my new steed. Out to the west coast, all the way up hwy 101 to Portland (I can't believe that GT3 was really trying, but suffice to say the little econo box handled 101 very well), then across the top of the country through Idaho, Minnesota, and the other states bordering Canada. I stayed in a hotel one night out of six weeks, and the Fit performed flawlessly. I had my mountain bike on a roof rack, camping gear and tunes inside, and a really open schedule.

I visited every friend I had out west. They were all scattered to the seven winds, and it was magnificent. Colorado, Santa Cruz, the Dinkey lakes,Portland, Montana, Minneapolis, Chicago, we visited lots of folks and places, camping and hiking the whole way. Good times.

I returned to launch the roofing business, and bought a house some two miles from the shop, as I knew I'd be spending a lot of time there. As my one and only running vehicle (come to think of it, the first car I ever had with functioning AC,horn, electric windows, and all that grown up stuff), the Fit became my truck. I hauled plywood on the roof rack, bags of concrete inside. I even brought the 14' I beam for the chainfall on my new shop home in that car. The Fit saw many road trips, and most horrifically, 4 miles of commuting a day for the next 6 years. Sure, it went through 3 sets of door locks in that time, but what a car.

I left the roofing shop for greener pastures, and through that last year, struggled to get the Takata air bag replaced. Just a couple of months ago, Honda finally came through, and the fit had a clean bill of health- all set for the next adventure. Funny thing, the airbags didn't even deploy.

Farewell, old friend. You took a hell of a hit for me.

bastomatic UltraDork
1/18/17 8:24 p.m.

*pours out some gas on the curb

wheelsmithy Dork
1/19/17 12:39 a.m.

It is time for a new DD, but things have changed. I have a truck. I expect short commutes in the future, and so, max MPG is no longer an absolute necessity, and the filth burning Bohweemoth above can do the dirty work, and heavy lifting. A car as sharply focused on economy and versatility as the Fit is no longer paramount. Moving forward, I'd like to have a fun car.


Not red.

100K or thereabouts. Lower, even better.

Able to carry my special lady friend, myself, a dog, and our luggage for weekend getaways,

Budget $6500.

stick shift.

The rest is somewhat negotiable.

Short List: I'd love a Matrix XRS, or Vibe GT,or an RSX, a breadvan,

or any Integra, particularly a gsr.

I've been doing research, following leads, and assorted general scheming. Emails have been sent, but not returned. This may be a fly and drive, or I may rent a car hauler from U-Haul a few towns over. In short, this could be an exceedingly dull thread. I'm not sure what will become of the new Car, but I assure you, it will be minimal. This shall not be a build thread, but rather a passing of the ring from one dynasty to another. Maybe some valve adjustment, new tires, and brake pads, but definitely not a build thread. The car is dead.

The0retical Dork
1/19/17 12:51 a.m.

I heartily recommend the VibeGT. I bought one from a board member a few months ago to use as a winter car so I could park the MS3. It is great fun to drive around and listening to its noises at 8500 rpm is immensely entertaining.

I've been carrying all kinds of stuff in it lately too as there's actually a lot of interior room.

Side note:

SWMBO asked why I needed a winter car with a 2zz-fe.

"Because it exists."

wheelsmithy Dork
1/19/17 8:42 a.m.

In reply to The0retical:

All the above cars compare almost neck in neck on paper. They are all great in some way or the other, and zero to 60, 1/4 mile times, and even fuel mileage are almost neck in neck. All that said, the Matrix/Vibe edges them all out on the lbs per hp ratio. How's the gear spacing? All the articles I could find make it sound goofy. Same with the Celica GT-S of that period. I found a nice 65K mile Vibe GT in Evansville, but it is a little north of my budget. Awesome cars.

The0retical Dork
1/19/17 5:16 p.m.

I actually don't mind it that much. My point of reference is a bit skewed however, as the MS3 stays in the 2800 to 6450 rpm range.

The Vibe drives well in 2nd through 5th from 2800 to 6500 RPM. I think the mentions of the goofy gear spacing come from the secondary cam set engagement which, unless you're driving the car deep into the 7k territory, will cause the primary set to re-engage on an upshift when it drops below the 6500 RPM threshold.

I suppose that can make it behave a bit unpredictable but I find it more interesting to drive because of that quirk. Below that threshold the power curve is nice and smooth. It exhibits the same high RPM cruise characteristics as most small engines in 6th gear (3000ish @70mph.) That's to be expected from my experience though.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/19/17 6:42 p.m.

In reply to The0retical:

Yeah, I used to ride 2 stroke street bikes, and had a Honda CB-1, and other people always complained about those being gutless down low, and they were. However, the top end "powerband" makes for highly entertaining times. Those bikes were great because I could be racing everywhere I went, and I was the only one that knew it. Sounds like a similar thing with the Vibe/Matrix twins. I wondered if it was magazine guy complaining, or if it was genuinely a PITA. Thanks for the input. They shall remain on the short list.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/20/17 8:40 p.m.

I'm still waiting for the settlement check, but the insurance company extended the time I can have the rental. If the check shows up tomorrow, I have 3 days to buy a new car. One of which is a Sunday. That's not actually true in my case, as my truck can get me around, as long as I don't stop for too long when its cold. Without the block heater,and once it cools off, anything below 40 degrees, and It will kill the battery before it starts. What I mean to say is that's an unreasonable amount of time for the average Joe to buy a new car. I'm very fortunate.

So, lets talk about the enemy. The enemy of fun that is a modern car. The rental 2016 (I think) Chevy Cruze. Full disclosure, it's not anywhere near as bad as I would have expected. It Moves quite well, and the seats and handling are suitably firm yet comfortable. It's the "features" that annoy me endlessly. The thing has "auto stop", just like the finest gasoline golf carts from 30 years ago. It has a back up camera. Is it just my imagination, or does it seem that once cars started coming with this standard feature, it was seen as the go-ahead for the automakers to make cars that you can't see out of? What else? No CD player! I know I'm a dinosaur, but I'm not ready to have my com link do everything for me, and at this rate, never will be.

But my true, ever-loving, abhorrent hatred is for the friggin key.

This thing is as big as my nokia brick. Does anyone still carry a knife? I can't have this monstrosity taking up valuable trouser real estate. I mean, it's so big, the metal keyed part actually folds into the keypad. And it is still huge. Furthermore, there is no lock, other than the ignition to accept this ludicrously over-sized VCR remote/key/panic button thingie. I firmly believe modern automotive keys killed Checkov. You Bastidges!

Ok, I've got to cool out a bit here. My point is I like simpler cars than this quite satisfactory Chevy. The MPG meter on the dash has been pegged at 35.5 MPG the whole time I've had it. So, keyless entry is not something I want on the new car. I want a benevolent, even-handed (wheeled?) car that doesn't try to dazzle me with bells and whistles, but one that is simply good at being a car.

Some of the ones on the list have a fob that I'm sure I could leave at home

Wall-e MegaDork
1/23/17 4:33 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:

I have the giant key clipped to a belt loop.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
1/23/17 4:57 p.m.

Cheap miata?

The0retical Dork
1/23/17 5:01 p.m.

You know, everyone's got those little bitty RFID/NFC tile things now days to recognize damn near anything. Why is that remote so large? (yea yea security and such things.)

I do dig the press button to unlock door and press button to start car thing that my rental Challenger had. I just wish the FOB was smaller.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/23/17 7:21 p.m.

Wall-e, no janitor keys for this jerk.

Duster, love to, but alas, interior room has to take precedence.

TheO, seriously, even the cars that don't have keys have HUGE remotes, and while I'm at it, what's up with those stupid USB keys. Grrrr...

I just got the word...one of the cars I've been internet stalking has become available again. I just found out today that I can return the rental anywhere in the nation, so, now this becomes an adventure thread. I'm on my way to Boardman, Ohio tonight, leaving Murfreesboro, TN. The plan is to turn the rental in moments before it is late, and drive the new car back. I'll post as I can. The fact that I still haven't received the settlement check is merely a detail.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/24/17 8:19 p.m.

So, I left last night, and just got home. approx. 1200 mile round trip in 23 hours. I do not have a new car.

A couple of weeks ago, I barely missed an 80k EP3 Civic Si for 4 grand. The paint was rough, but it was only a couple of hours away. It has haunted me since. So, when I found what looked like a clean one in Northern Ohio (almost Pittsburgh) for $5500, I was definitely interested.

Not the actual car, but same color, year, etc.

The pictures looked great, and the salesman, when questioned about its condition said "the floormats might not be perfect." Everything else was in very good shape. No rust. I was prepared to have to adjust my idea of no rust to the Ohio vernacular, but in fairness, that part looked pretty good. Couple of fastners underhood were beginning to rust, but nice floorpans, and wheel arches.

After driving 9 and a half hours, I was a bit dismayed to find a windshield cracked directly across my line of sight, tires that while having nice tread, were obviously dry rotted, and a manufacturing date of 2007, They didn't have the code for the radio, and there were whistles and leaks due to deteriorated trim. The cabin vent box behind the rear bumper was somehow letting water in the cargo area. 15 minutes of driving had maybe 1/4 inch of water in the spare tire well. I showed the sales guy all these things, figuring they all could be fixed. We could not reach a deal, so I left.

I will say, the shifter really is as great as everyone says. The power is okay. Fun car, but I'd give the edge to the old Swift GTi in the hot hatch wars. I still could see myself getting one.I kind of wonder if whistling door trim and leaky cabin vents are some of the reasons these cars are widely panned.

Oh, I took all of one picture during this "adventure". I warned you folks this would be lame. Anyway, I'll post the picture later. Hold your breath.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/25/17 1:17 p.m.

I got a great night of sleep, returned rental car #1, and finally got my settlement check, but admit to throwing the words "bad faith claim" around first. I'm now headed to Raleigh, NC, with high hopes for the last car on my maybe list. The seller seems good. I have rental car #2 in my possession,a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans, and a wad of cash.

One more rant on rental car #1. The infotainment occasionally grays out displaying a message saying fooling with this infotainment system can lead to distracted driving. It will not return to its normal, less distracting screen until you click on the box acknowledging that you have read said message.

As promised, the only picture from my first excursion. I'll try to do better this time.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
1/25/17 4:05 p.m.

Im only a few hours south of Raleigh....

wheelsmithy Dork
1/25/17 10:47 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13:

Duly noted. I've never owned a Miata...Nah, I can't.

Well, I doubled my picture count. I told you all this would be lame, right?

Anyway, as this has basically degenerated into a used and rental car review, #2, while somewhat befitting its name, is much more my style.

This excursion has so far been 100% better than the Ohio trip. Reason #1, CD player. I've been rocking out the whole time. Reason #2 is, well, #2. I expected little from the Versa, and have been presently surprised. First off, I can see out of this thing. The hunch backed, huge trunk/ no rear visibility trend I'm seeing is no good. Lots of Chevies seem to want to cocoon you in metal. Second, this thing is the first CVT I have ever driven, and I'd rate it as excellent. For being a e36m3 box, it has good power. It is a little off-putting,but like the auto stop from #1, you have to be looking for it to notice. Its like you give it gas, and it feels like you are opening an honest-to-goodness cable operated throttle, but meanwhile, the computer is telling the engine and transmission what IT thinks. At random times, I'd unexpectedly be turning 1000 rpms doing 70, and my calibrated foot figured we should be turning 5000. Weird, but so highly integrated, I didn't notice for a good while. All the controls feel more intuitive to me than the Cruze. Another kudos to Nissan- look at that!

Somehow, Nissan has figured out how to make a reasonably sized key/remote. Genius. (Also pictured, supper and breakfast).

wheelsmithy Dork
1/26/17 9:00 p.m.

Last night I stayed in an Econolodge in Raleigh. I'm sure there is a story behind this license plate, and why such a person would choose to board at the Econolodge. I am equally sure I don't want to know it. Anyway, bright and early, I showed up here. A little too early, so I had biscuits and gravy at Gypsies shiny Diner across the street. Mmmmm biscuits.

I have to take a moment, and get just a bit ahead of myself, and say I wholeheartedly endorse The above car lot. Muhammed, the sales man was up front, honest, and thorough. The car was exactly as described, and there was a flat $200 fee on top of the asking price. No hidden BS like the guys in Ohio, and more importantly no surprises. They are in Raleigh.

First view of the target.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/26/17 10:31 p.m.

So, yeah, no need for a drum roll. I found my new DD. '04 Toyota Matrix XRS. 65,000 miles, 6 speed 170 angry, topend biased horses. Darned clean interior Thank You, TheOretical for the encouragement. It is a great car. It is perfectly adequate everywhere, but almost like a tease, if you have the talent to keep it in the last two thousand RPM, you can be a hero. I mean, you've got 6 gears to play with, right? The motorcycle analogy really works for me. It is sort of like if an Integra GSR and Honda Fit had a baby.

Getting used to the 6 speed is going to take some time. Cruising at 70 is maybe 2500 rpm. To move quickly, you have to drop 2, maybe 3 gears, and with redline at 8 thou, you can do that. Highly entertaining.

I do have a list of minor complaints. A new drivers window seal is needed. There is some noise. I see signs of previous tint. That crap ruins windows. The CD/tape player is getting tired. It plays perfect CDs fine, but any imperfections, and it starts skipping- what do you want, its 13 years old. And finally, yes those chrome bits in the interior blind you from weird angles at random times. Maybe some light sanding, and/or painting. That's it. I'm very pleased.

So, there you have it folks. I may update the thread as adventures ensue, but there are no plans for a build thread. Things that wear out will be replaced with factory spec stuff (KYB struts, anyone?), but that's about it. I have no excuse for not doing stock class auto cross, but there are too many other irons in the fire at the moment.

I couldn't get too many pictures, as I was so busy driving, but of all the gas stops, rest stops, and what not, I thought this the best shot.

EDIT: Stupid deleted picture is no longer here.

Long live the car!

petegossett UltimaDork
1/27/17 6:14 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:


The0retical Dork
1/27/17 10:15 a.m.
wheelsmithy said: Thank You, TheOretical for the encouragement. It is a great car. It is perfectly adequate everywhere, but almost like a tease, if you have the talent to keep it in the last two thousand RPM, you can be a hero. I mean, you've got 6 gears to play with, right? The motorcycle analogy really works for me. It is sort of like if a Integra GSR and Honda Fit had a baby.

Glad to be of enabling. I'm not good with maintaining RPMs either but it is pretty entertaining. The interior looks exactly the same as the Vibes, minus the Toyota logo on the steering wheel (the wheel looks to be the same though.) The interior shiny chrome bits are a bit worn on mine and are likely to be painted once the MS3 is back on the road in the spring.

The only real thing of note that I've found on these is that there are two oil screens that enable the secondary set of lift/duration cams to be used. They sludge up sometimes and you need to pull them and clean them. It's not hard to do and I know for sure you won't have trouble with it since I follow your Starlet thread.

Other than that they seem to be bombproof from everything I've read, and if something does go wrong parts are almost as cheap as petegossetts SBC according to RockAuto. That fact factored into my purchase as well.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/27/17 4:41 p.m.

So, after all the tomfoolery with insurance, rental cars, and dishonest car dealerships, I basically paid $600 over what my settlement was for this car. It is 5 years older, but has 18,000 fewer miles. I was going to need new tires on the Fit quite soon, so in my eyes, that makes it just about a draw. The car lot was thorough, and this thing is near immaculate. Brand new air filter, 90% tread on Sumitomos, Oil looks fresh, but I'm going to change it just to get a baseline in another couple hundred miles. Front pads are maybe half. I'm quite pleased.

TheOretical, Thanks for that bit on the VVTLi, Did you buy the $2000 Vibe I read about a month or so ago that had the "lift" not functioning? I kind of wondered about that. Like Honda, seems like if it fails, oil is not getting to the right place. The actuator seems like the only other thing that fails.

Here is a picture of a groundhog.

The0retical Dork
1/27/17 4:52 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:

Yep that was me! Filters were just gunked up cleaning them fixed the problem right up. I'm convinced the VibeGT/Matrix XRS is the best winter car I could have bought. Ground clearance, 30mpg, cheap parts, and room for 4 in the engine bay. Bonus points for being entertaining to drive. I'm seriously pleased with it.

I'm going to address some of the other old car issues in the spring when I dig turbo fun car out of it's hibernation. I'll probably address rusty plow truck after that.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/27/17 4:58 p.m.

In reply to The0retical:

Yeah, it's a beast. My plan is to leave it the heck alone, so I can wrench on the fun stuff. I'm glad you nabbed that Vibe. Mercilessly beating one of these must be wicked awesome. I saw a MS3 locally, but you could smell the improper mods from a great distance. Truly nice cars, too.

Edit: Oh yeah, I did read the interiors are identical between the Vibe/Matrix, save the badges. That's understandable with how different the exterior panels are. I don't think anything directly interchanges. Maybe rear hatch minus the very top bit. I just read mine has a GM sourced radio. Funny that's the one thing failing (other than a window seal).

wheelsmithy Dork
4/1/17 8:19 p.m.

This was supposed to be an adventure thread, right?

Well, after doing boring stuff like removing emblems, putting a cheap stereo in, oil changes, new pads and rotors, and several shake down runs with no problems, other than smelling the old brakes burning, I set out for the West.

The first night, I crashed in the car, at a rest stop just this side of Amarillo. I didn't leave home til noon TN. time, or I might have made it further. By late afternoon, I was somewhere East of Albuquerque. After pushing a little hard, I had to put 1/4 tank of regular in the car at some tourist trap/gas station that claimed to be part of Route 66. Finally, I found an exit with premium, and this place, which had great chicken tacos, and something that wasn't posole, but looked and tasted a lot like it. They also claim Route 66 membership. The sign says they have been there since '59, and there was a picture of Andre the Giant holding three ladies on his biceps on the wall, along with other famous patrons. I would have gotten a picture, but it would have disrupted some people's meal.

I stopped for a day to visit a friend in Durango, as it was her birthday. No pics, but a lovely town where I was lucky enough to spend my 20's.

The next day, I was headed North on hwy 550 towards Silverton. The stretch of 550 between Silverton and Ouray is commonly known as the Million dollar Highway. It is certainly the most awesome, desolate stretch of road I have ever traveled, with shear drops of thousands of feet, few guardrails, and passes over 10,000 feet.

Did I mention switchbacks?

wheelsmithy Dork
4/1/17 8:51 p.m.

As I said, I spent my 20's around these parts, and have navigated this road in all sorts of conditions, and in or on all kinds of vehicles. I admit to taking pictures while driving. I went slow, and made sure there were no approaching vehicles. The road was all but deserted, and I am now home. Judge if you must.

I have never seen something like this elsewhere. I choose to call it a reverse bridge.

I might add that this whole drive, I had the windows down, the Rolling Stones playing, and a t-shirt on. it was 72 degrees, or thereabouts according to the dash thermometer in the Matrix. Sublime

Tunnel. You can see where it gets its name. The roads are insane, and the pass is closed often.

Coming down into Ouray. Again, that stretch between Durango, and Ouray is spectacular. Before the highway was built, each was sort of a dead end on either side of a mountain peak, with a VERY long way around to get from one to another.Pictures do it no justice, whatsoever. A truly humbling experience.

North of the pass, it flattens out, and there are towns like Olathe (famous for their corn), Montrose, and Ridgeway. I could have taken 62 West to Telluride, but this was supposed to be a quick trip.

In Delta, I stopped to grab a shot of this lovely place. From there, I took 92 to Hotchkiss, and 133 up to Carbondale and jumped on I-70 at Glenwood Springs. After that, I kept the hammer down til Tennessee. This shot was somewhere on 133, I think So, right around 3000 miles in five days. To attend a dear friend's birthday shindig, and drive my favorite road. I am fortunate to be able to perform such an extravagance. I feel like the car and I have fully bonded.

I have some 7500 miles on it since I got it the 25th of January.The thing performed flawlessly, and I've got to admit, Cruise Control is all right.

Long live the car.

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