• Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • Twitter

Car Life

Opinions of an auto snob

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Life of a Fringe Collector

There are people that argue the real value of collectible cars is determined by market forces external to the beliefs of your average car enthusiast.
F40: Bluechip collectible
F40: Bluechip collectible
There are people who argue that buying a Lamborghini Countach is less about the driving experience and more about the global economy tanking and rich people looking for a place to hedge their "investments". Never mind the 12 cylinders and 6 Webber carburetors, never mind the complete absurdity of a car that demands a spotter outside when reversing, and never mind that the Countach is still one of the craziest designs ever to don a production car. These are the same people who will be parking that Countach in a climate controlled garage and never driving it a fraction of a mile. What a shame.

I am NOT a collector.

Let me rephrase that: I am not a mainstream collector. What does that make me? An enthusiast? A wack-a-doodle? Certainly.... but it's more than that. There is an implicit understanding about the maker of the car, why it was made, where it was produced and its relative success or failure on the marketplace at the time it was made, which may be very different than its success or failure as a desirable car in today's marketplace.
M535i: Just let your friends call it a M5
Allow me to introduce you to the world of fringe collecting.
When I began my journey 5 years ago I did not have a destination in mind. I was a guy who had always appreciated classic cars, had the good fortune to drive many classic cars (thank you Manhattan Classic Car Club) and had already owned several “almost” classic German sedans and coupes. It was time to broaden my horizons and I decided that an air cooled 911 was a perfectly reasonable place to start. I had driven several and was sufficiently intrigued by their driving dynamics, racing history, and the mystique surrounding a car that, if you believed the hype, was always trying to swap ends and kill you. I was soon completely immersed in all things 911. I spent countless hours on Pelican Parts, Rennlist, and other assorted websites whose foundation of knowledge seemed larger than the entire car universe. And just like that I found myself the proud owner of a 1986 911 Carrera Coupe finished in the most perfect, period correct Garnet Red. If I could count the ways that I invented to stop myself from modifying a bone stock car I would have been a rich man buying up the rest of those Countachs. By golly, that 911 somehow, miraculously, stayed bone stock!
And then a wonderful thing happened several months later, which was even more wonderful than the act of purchasing said 911 and not killing myself. Buying that car and being a Classic Car Club member got me interested in countless other cars that I had never even considered owning. Sure, I had owned plenty of vintage 80s and 90s Audis and Mercs, but these were all cars still well inside my comfort zone of virtually indestructible German sedans (and the odd coupe) from a golden age of German build quality and reliability. Yes, as comical as it sounds, driving an old Audi with 200K+ miles wasn't the disaster that you might imagine, but that's a story for a different day.
Yes, the Cossie has a proper dogleg box.
Buying the 911 and joining the Classic Car Club gave me pause to reflect on my childhood, which I spent growing up in the "go-go" 80's, and all the craptastical and iconic cars that it spawned. I began compiling a list of cars that, for reasons both logical and ones that defied all rational mindset, I needed to own.

Mercedes Cosworth. Check. Alfa Romeo Milano. Check. Alfa Romeo Spider. Check. Ferrari Mondial Coupe. Check. One by one I began searching for these cars and acquiring them. Some of them were pried from the hands of original owners who cried during the title transfer (really!) and some were stumbled upon by pure happenstance. The best part? None of these cars, not one, is on the mainstream radar of any car collector. And the grand outlay for my purchasing spree was less than the cost of many fully loaded SUVs.
Tea trays are cool.
So what makes something like an Alfa Romeo Milano, for example, so special to this fringe collector? Novels have already been written about Alfa's racing history and heritage so I won't bore you with that. And you probably already know that it was the last production Alfa Romeo designed and engineered before the Fiat take over in 1986. The Milano is special because it was and still is the only sedan ever produced with a rear transaxle and inboard rear disc brakes for superior weight distribution, center of gravity, and rotational mass. The De Dion rear suspension was a sophisticated and exotic design that was often used on more expensive sports cars of the time due to cost. And the Guiseppe Busso designed V6 makes noises that belie the Milano's awkward sedan profile; I count 10 different intersecting lines at the rear and many people ask me if I'm going to get my car fixed from its rear end accident. No kidding, but really, I'm in the minority of people that love the way the Milano looks. These are the things, of course, that the fringe collector appreciates and go missed by the mainstream collector.

Sure, fringe collecting has its downsides. The ABS wheel sensors, that have given up the ghost on every Milano Verde, are NLA and impossible to find. A replacement for the delaminating rear glass on my Mondial Coupe is stratospherically priced and, like most parts, will probably take 3 - 4 weeks to arrive from the land of spaghetti and irrational super cars. The headlight switch on a Mercedes Cosworth is a marvel of German over engineering weighing no less than 5 lbs. and held in by 8, beefy Phillips head screws, if memory serves me correctly. Clearly, you better have a modern daily driver as a backup or begin stock piling parts prior to purchase. But, there is great reward in sourcing that unobtanium part that came out of someone's treasure trove, and there is always the opportunity to meet new and eccentric people who may share your love of fringe collecting. That stuff you read about Alfa guys being over-the-top OCD? Absolutely true.
This is the best sports sedan you've never driven.
So while I continue to crave a Countach in any physical form, the reality is that fringe collecting has quenched a deeper thirst for owning cars that make me happy. I am not under any grand illusions that any of these cars will ever be truly collectible and, for that reason alone, I am able to DRIVE them and enjoy them as their makers intended. Opinions are rampant and the internet would have you believe that a Ferrari Mondial is absolute garbage to drive. My challenge to you, dear reader: go buy that Mondial, or whatever fringe car from the 70's / 80's / 90's that makes your heart beat a little faster, and prove these armchair test drivers wrong. This author would argue that the real value of mainstream collectible cars is determined by people who know nothing about cars, while right there on the periphery, are hundreds of great cars waiting to be discovered by the fringe collector. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Lancia Delta Integrale I need to go and buy.
The least photogenic Ferrari is still a stunner in the flesh.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How to obtain an E55 winter beater

This wasn’t supposed to happen. The white Audi S6 (that’s UrS6 to you Audi freaks) I purchased 18 months ago was supposed to be my winter beater. But then I fixed the rust on the passenger door, bought a set of BBS RGRs, and got intimate with my orbital and the Audi’s pearl paint. And this is how the craziness started....

Call me a sucker for simple, non-flame surface, 90s 3 box styling, but I fell for the Audi’s svelte lines in a big way. The red Porsche 993TT calipers peaking out behind the BBSs sealed the love affair. And just like that the S6 was a winter beater no more.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, and my S6 was giving me the stink eye as the NJ flurries falling from the November sky began to stick. I consoled myself - and more likely the car - by spraying down the underneath with WD40 and giving the paint a thick coat of wax before the NJ salt sprayers did their best to assault everything metal. It didn’t help because later that evening, I began scouring Craigslist for anything that would fill the role of a winter beater. I briefly considered a 1988 Buick Century for $700... these were desperate times.

And then, as if by divine intervention from the Audi Gods, the ** PERFECT ** winter beater presented itself on one of the Mercedes forums. There it was, an honest to God 2001 AMG E55 that had been lightly hit in the driver’s rear and the owner was accepting offers above scrap value. And the car was practically in my backyard.

The nature of these transactions, if you’re seeking success, must always follow 3 golden rules:
1) Get to the car as quickly as possible and ask questions on arrival. Asking questions through e-mail or text will most likely irritate the seller and / or waste precious time, in which case someone else has already purchased said car by the time you get a response.
2) Bring cash. Always.
3) Have reasonable expectations. A near ATM money E55 is going to have some flaws no matter how nice the seller’s ad makes it sound.

After trading a few PMs with the seller, I got his phone number and we chatted briefly. It was then he disclosed that the car had * some * rust and a dented driver’s door which allegedly happened when he took it to a body shop to get the rear damage fixed. On the plus side, the seller was educated and knowledgeable about the car and didn’t seem like he was in the business of selling cars.

 6 hours later, I was stepping out of a cab getting my first look at the E55 in the flesh. It wasn’t pretty and if I judged a car on looks alone I probably would have gotten back in the cab. But I was in a posh neighborhood on NYC’s upper east side and I figured the worst that could happen is I have a nice dinner with my wife and go home beaten and beaterless.
If the outside looked like hell the inside looked like it could have come from a different car. It was practically spotless, and the two tone leather seats showed little wear. The black bird’s eye maple trim was crack free and the steering wheel was unmarked. The only eye sore was the after market Kenwood head unit. I then asked to go for a test drive.

Upon start up, I was greeted with a menacing rumble and a quick glance underneath the car (which was incredibly clean and rust free) revealed the center resonator had rotted away. It sounded glorious and I vowed that if I bought it I would leave it until it fell off. We attempted to get out to the FDR for some highway driving, but even at 7PM it was at a standstill. I was able to briefly accelerate hard up to 40MPH at which point I asked point blank if there was anything else I should know about. “The car drives great, no shimmies, no shakes, nothing” was the answer, and for some odd reason, I trusted a complete stranger I had never met up until about 15 minutes ago.

We completed the whole transaction inside the car, drug dealer style, parked illegally in front of a parking garage. Yep, I had entered the world of seedy, fly-by-night Craigslist “deals”, except I didn’t, because the title was legit and free of red flags and the seller was thoughtful enough to bring two bills of sale so we could each have one. He took a prolonged glance at his wounded warrior, shook hands with me and I was on my way. Did I mention it came with an extra set of summer wheels and tires?
Honestly, driving through the city, I half expected the transmission to spit out its innards or something worse. But it didn’t. And then I was out of the tunnel, clear of city traffic and sink holes (yes, they’re are sink holes that will literally swallow your car) driving on Rt. 3. This was the first chance I had to bury the throttle... the transmission obediently downshifted a few gears, and wait for it... BAM!!!! The E55 lunged forward with such urgency I briefly forgot that it ** only ** had 349HP. It may be a winter beater, but at least it was unholy fast.

The next day, I inspected the car in my driveway in the daylight. The rust was even worse than I remembered. The bottom of the passenger fender literally wasn’t there.

I could stick at least 3 fingers in there. The bubbles towards the front of the fender also looked pretty threatening. Circling the car, there was more rust to be found, albeit not as bad and no rot through. I briefly considered bringing it to my body shop and having new sheet metal welded in and getting the whole car repainted. Was I mental??!! The whole reason I bought this rust bucket was so that it could serve a singular purpose as a winter beater and keep my nice cars looking nice (and free of salt).

So that settled it. I would go the local auto parts store, invest in some sand paper, goggles, Rust-Oleum, GM silver spray paint (it’s actually pretty darn close), and Bondo and call it a day. 

As luck would have it, some unseasonably warm weather presented itself, and I instantly became an expert on rust and body repair. Well, not really, but one thing was certain: I wasn’t going to make it look any worse!
I’ve put on roughly 1,000 miles, and so far - knock on rusty metal - this thing rocks. It’s solid, comfortable, and stupid fast. If you can keep out of the throttle, it even returns 22+ MPG on the highway.
Stay tuned for an update at the end of this winter!

Friday, January 10, 2014

6 Hours of Sebring and Pie

Every race event brings some degree of humility to even the most jaded of drivers, and I fully expected Sebring to be a wholly humbling experience. I just didn't expect to spin the first lap of my race stint.

The confluence of events leading to that spin was telling: first time driving the track + rain + night race + some seriously intimidating machinery = oh shit, here comes a corner I'm taking way too fast in the wet. Attempting to prepare for this event, I had spent hours watching YouTube videos of similar cars racing at Sebring and imagining myself behind the wheel from the safety of my Play Seat. Sitting myself in the car for the first practice session on Wednesday night I knew it was going to be all for naught in the dark. The first few turns looked vaguely familiar in the same way seeing your old college roommate from 20 years ago does, and that was only partially because THAT section of the track was actually lit.

But after that I may as well have been an English speaking taxi cab driver navigating the back streets of Tokyo. Braking zones revealed themselves by crashing on your front bumper, and saying "Surprise! Here I am!". Turn in points and apexes were also shrouded in the same sort of mystery that besets a Jaguar electrical engineer on tea break. I let a Miata blaze past me in the hopes that I could follow in pursuit. Had he been robbing a bank I couldn't have told you which direction he went by the end of that lap. 30 minutes later I pitted and generously let my codriver Kenny partake in the malaise.

Fortunately our 3rd codriver, Whit, was a seasoned pro at Sebring and graciously walked us through the track and all of its "nuances". You see Sebring race track occupies a portion of Sebring Regional Airport and much of the surface is rough, uneven pavement used for World war II era landing fields. Some of the track also uses smoother, newer style pavement. Some sections use both, with newer style pavement interspersed with blocks of the old stuff. And just to keep it interesting the rough pavement is mended together with seam sealer which basically creates a friction-less surface. More on that in a minute.
No lack of serious machinery

The next morning, we wisely let Whit qualify us who puts in a blazing lap and lands us 2nd in our class on the starting grid. We then devised a strategy that would have Kenny starting the race, me doing the 2nd stint, and Whit bringing home the checkered. I use words like "strategy" and "devise" but if I'm being honest there was a little less science to it... as in "Hey Kenny, you mind if I do the 2nd stint?".

The race itself was an endurance event that would span a total of 6 hours and we would each do 2 hour stints. Starting at 3PM, the first 2 hours was supposed to be in the daylight (or in our case, pouring rain), and the rest would be driven in the dusk and dark (and rain) where those sealed beam halogens would undoubtedly pay big dividends. That's right, our Spec E30 BMW was still wearing its sealed beam halogens that it left the factory with 25 years ago which are slightly brighter than a match in a mine shaft. And that's when I began scouring the pits and noticed that almost every single team was sporting a super bright, LED front light bar perched on the front of their bumpers.  But who needs lights when you have semi-reflective concrete walls shielding you from the dangers outside the track!!
Kenny getting belted in for the race

There was no getting around it: I was really, really nervous which is not the ideal mindset for a racer. I watched in part disbelief and part terror as Kenny went down the front straight in fog and teaming rain, with rooster tails of spray jettisoning themselves out the back of every car and creating near zero visibility conditions. And sure enough, the unrelenting rain brought out the pace car and a full course yellow until the conditions subsided 5 laps or so later. Kenny is the smooth, consistent driver I aspire to be, and I wasn't surprised when he brought the car in 2 hours later unscathed. This also signaled it was time to refuel and change drivers.

As I strapped myself in, the two-way radio linking driver to pit crew decided to go on holiday. But don't worry they told me, we'll be in the pits waving our arms when it's time for you to come in which should be a snap at 100+ MPH in the rain spotting our nameless tent among the 40 other teams. As I eased out of pit road, I mentally drove the first few turns I had driven in the morning's practice session and they were perfect. Then reality hits, and as I passed the blend line into turn 3, my mirror is filled with a prototype car bearing down on me at what looks like warp speed. I panicked and didn't brake hard enough and the car launched itself into a lurid, not so glamorous spin. I sat facing the opposite direction between turns 3 and 4 looking at traffic squeeze past me. If I didn't like humble pie it was just too damn bad, 'cause Sebring wasn't serving anything else.

That spin also parked my wipers at the top of the windshield, right in my direct line of vision. As I made my way through the rest of that achingly slow first lap, I tested every position of the E30's windshield wiper stalk at least 3 times but the wipers resolutely would not move. Luckily it was only misting and there was enough RainX on the windshield that I could see.... sort of. So I elected to stay out and pray for a yellow flag before it turned completely dark and wipers would become a necessity.

It's funny how your mind plays tricks on you in adverse conditions. I had gotten into a rhythm and had almost completely forgotten about the wiper issue when I spotted the double yellow flag on the back straight. That would be my only chance to pit before it got completely dark in 15 minutes. Turn 17 arrived before the main straight, and I ducked down pit lane where the DriveGear pit crew expertly spotted a blown wiper fuse and replaced it. They also sorted out the radio so at least I would be able to hear them (although they still couldn't hear me).

Life was looking decidingly grand when I re-entered the track, freshly invigorated with working wipers and a sense of confidence I was lacking only a little while earlier. It was short lived. The rain became steadier and the track became more slippery. Low grip braking zones and corners were reduced to NO grip braking zones and corners. The luxury of dusk had eroded and the E30's paltry beams barely managed to light more than a car length in front of me.

It's all a blur of lights and sound
None of it mattered, because my mind was playing tricks again. Wow, I thought, as I came barreling through the fast right hander of Turn 9, I really nailed it. And then, much like Wiley E. Coyote in the seconds after realizing he just stepped out over a canyon, I catch a glimpse of orange cones in my peripheral vision out the driver's side window. Specifically, the orange cones signifying the braking zone for Turn 10, which means you already should have been braking a 100 yards back in the wet. I tried anyway. Hard on the brakes in the rain in a car with no ABS means a whole lot of nothing: basically, front wheels lock and you continue moving ahead without shedding any real speed. The last brake marker arrived and I eased off, modulating pressure as rapidly as humanly possible. This helped momentarily before the seam sealer decided I had enough braking anyway. There's no way I'm making the turn and the front wheels went over the curbing into the thick, Sebring dirt and sand which caught the car like a fish net. It was a bumpy ride, but the E30 is damn near bullet proof and hustled back on to the pavement unfazed by my brief, offroad excursion.

Roughly 90 minutes in and I begin to wonder how long I've been out in the car - I've lost all sense of time blanketed in darkness, fog, and rain. The 2nd generation RX7 I began battling with could have been a GT3 Cup Car, such is the fragile mental state you enter into in these hostile conditions. Turn 17 arrived and I got a much better exit than he did and began to overtake him on the main straight. He stayed the line and I moved over to the left, towards the inside wall. In the blink of an eye, I saw headlights just over my left shoulder and then in an instant, a rush of sound and fury as a prototype car barely squeezed through between me and the concrete wall at double my velocity. I briefly forgot about the RX7's angry headlights and cyclops hood light in my rear view mirror and took a few seconds to recount that very vivid moment.

The crackle of the radio interrupted the rare moment of peace out on the track when everything seemed to be in perfect equilibrium. I almost forgot I had a radio. "10 minutes to go before the driver change" was the message. Still well endowed with fuel from all the cautions, I put the hammer down on the back straight and run it up to redline in 4th gear, briefly shift into 5th before getting on the brakes and back into 4th again for turn 17. 3 more laps fly by, and I'm being told to pit.

Driver changes are always harried, even though you really have plenty of time. Whenever a driver change occurs, the car is refueled and it is a mandatory 5 minute stop. In the span of about 30 seconds, you are simultaneously loosening your safety harnesses, sliding the seat back, undoing the window net, unplugging the radio from your helmet and extricating yourself from the seat, up and over the roll cage.  Fueling itself is usually only a 90 second job and getting the next driver belted in and ready is another 90. Plenty of time like I said, but you would never guess it by the whirlwind of activity that occurs when a car pulls in.

5 Minutes until racing
Thanks to Kenny's gifted driving in the first stint, when I exited the car we were in 17th place overall out of 40 cars and 1st in our class. Whit then took the wheel and drove the final two hour stint to the checkered flag. His talent and familiarity with the track netted us 3 more positions putting us in 14th overall, 1st in our class, and beating plenty of higher priced, higher powered machinery. 25 years on, and the E30 is still an unbeatable combination of reliability, durability, performance, and economy. In 6 hours of hard racing, our only mechanical failure is a blown wiper fuse. A lot of credit also goes to DriveGear for preparing a well sorted, issue free race car, which is no easy task for this length enduro.

24 hours later, I'm back in the dry confines of my house that keeps me safe from the outside world. And the outside world safe from me. There's a lot to process during a race under normal circumstances: you're checking your mirrors, your gauges, watching flag stations all the while calculating braking points, steering and throttle inputs. Now throw in rain and darkness - and, if it's Sebring, paint across the finish line that is more slick than teflon - and your mind is tasked with making very, very quick decisions, which you hope are the right ones. Sometimes, they're not. Right now, I'm tasked with making the very quick decision of what's for dinner before Jen walks through the door.

"Hello Dai Kichi, can I help you?"

"Hi, I would like a double helping of humble pie."

More Pictures and Videos

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Releasing the Inner Snaab

Let's be perfectly clear: I was not one of the mopers who spent the larger part of 2011 distraught as the company that was "Born from jets" quickly rolled over and went dead from neglect. Sure, there's the closet nerd in me who thinks that V4 engines are sexy in the same way that Denise Austin is sexy telling us to eat potatoes, and I would go bat crazy for an 80s anything 900 Turbo in black with matching black rear window louvers.

Its just that not all the blame can be entirely laid on GM, even though the mindset in America prefers this ire by pointing fingers at whichever failed administration happens to be in office. Who can honestly say that staking your entire product lineup and future on TWO, long-in-the-tooth, premium priced hatchbacks in a country that despised (and still despises) hatchbacks, was anything less than a terrible idea? And yet this was exactly the position that Saab left itself in as it entered the 1990 model year and into the General's receivership.

The car that tried to change Saab's fortunes, the 9000, shared its platform development with 3 other, ill-fated brands in this country: Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia. And yet, in a strangely perverse way, the cars this platform spawned - 4 in total - weren't inherently BAD, they all just suffered from varying degrees of hyperactive, torque-steering twist (or bliss if you're the sort that enjoys scouring both sides of both shoulders). While the Lancia Thema and Alfa 164 were too dynamically flawed to be game changing executive cars, they were at least compelling sedans in their most potent forms. The Thema's trump card was its optional Ferrari V8 in 8.32 flavor, which pleased automotive snobs everywhere  (more on that one in another musing), and Alfa's V6 looked and sounded like a thoroughbred. The 9000 Turbo was also a compelling entry, at least dynamically, even if it was a bit stoic compared to its charismatic, Italian blooded cousins. It took a entirely different route using Saab's signature, small displacement, forced induction 4 cylinder. I'll leave Fiat's poor bastard, step child, the Chroma, out of this discussion since its relevance in the marketplace could best be measured on a thumbnail.

Saab 9000

But there was the question of style, or lack thereof for the 9000. Pininfarina did a masterful job penning Alfa's 164 - now wearing two decade's old fashion like only a gracefully aging supermodel could - and arguably imbued Alfa Romeo with a longer shelf life in this country than should have been possible for a marque whose dealer infra-structure was shakier than a 1st generation X3 on run-flats. Lancia's creation, the Thema, was no supermodel, but it was, in its own right, attractive in a generic sort of way. Both were in contrast to the 9000, which always managed to look like your older, disapproving Aunt in a Nun's habit. Ironically enough, both the Thema and 9000 were the creations of Giugiaro.

Alfa Romeo 164

Even if Guigiaro's hand had been more evocative while inking the 9000, the real blame for the 9000's epic design failure lay with Saab and its penchant for the hatchback form. Somehow, even Alfa Romeo, whose North American marketing arm thought it was a good idea to show us a picture of a 164 dash lit up like a XMAS tree (I have the brochure to prove it) knew that you just couldn't peddle a premium priced hatchback in the US market. Oh sure, Saab later realized this was a shortcoming of mammoth proportion and gave us the graceless 9000 CD sedan in 1989. But in any form, the 9000 was a bitter pill to swallow for the average, status conscious American. Some of us tried to swallow paying Mercedes E Class or BMW 5 series money for a car with 4 cylinders (even if they were - for the time - exotically turbo charged... nope, didn't work for Lotus either). And what few of us hadn't spit it out yet took another big gulp and tried to force down its plebian, instantly forgettable shape or gave up when we saw that strange looking appendage at the rear.

Lancia Thema 8.32
In fairness, Saab's Italian cousins fared no better as serious competition to the German juggernauts who churned out barely enough E Classes and 5 Series to meet demand. However, Saab had tangible advantages in the North American marketplace over the likes of Alfa Romeo - namely a plausible dealer infra-structure - and with a pretty body and a few more cylinders it could have posed a credible threat to the likes of Mercedes and BMW.

 The real problem was Saab had fallen victim to its own, inverse automotive snobbery. It deluded itself with thoughts of pricey, esoteric hatchbacks that few Americans wanted to or even cared to understand. By 1990, the 900 was a relic, albeit an interesting one, and the 9000, already long-in-the-tooth, would be forced to soldier on for 8 more years until its replacement, the 9-5, arrived. And yet, the 9000 was brimming with potential - it offered competitive performance, interesting (but flawed) dynamics, excellent fuel economy, and a large, comfortable cabin. If only Saab had paid a little more attention to the fundamentals of what sells a car, it might have been a different story today.

Instead, Saab was left to flounder and share second rate GM platforms and, in later incarnations, share mechanical bits too. The irony for Saab, of course, was that mainstream GM snuffed out automotive snobbery in whatever, limited forms miraculously came to market (R.I.P. Carlton and C4 ZR1). In the end, automotive snobs everywhere were left clinging to romantic notions of quaint, turbocharged hatchbacks that were barely competitive in the most competitive market segment on the planet. The only salvation was to release the inner snaab and find solace in your neighbor's Camry or Taurus which, after-all, was the whole reason you bought a Saab in the first place.

Meet the Auto Snob

Mike Kovac


My passion for all things cars traces itself back to the age of 3 when I became obsessed with my Dad’s 1973 Capri V6. He would give me the keys and I would spend hours locking and unlocking the passenger door. Once I could read, I would lose myself for hours pouring over his car magazines and that carried into my teen years and beyond. Every month, I would creatively find ways to scrounge up $10 and buy the latest issue of ‘CAR’ Magazine which just fueled my desire to buy the “forbidden fruit” cars that were never imported into the States. This might explain why there is a 1987 Citroen CX25 TRD Turbo 2 parked in my garage. And why there will be others…

Age 3

Mike Kovac

Contact Information

Phone number: +1 (917) 374-3291
E-mail: euroe28m5@gmail.com

And now

Today, my addiction has morphed from just reading about them to collecting, racing, detailing, driving and yes, even fixing them on occasion. But it’s not just the cars that I own that are exciting to me; it’s infecting others with the same passion and love for cars of all nationalities, shapes and sizes. It’s seeing what brings out the auto snob in each one of you!


Get in touch with me