What Truly Makes A Car Great?

What makes a car great? Does it need to have a striking and intimidating shape? Is it all about performance metrics and engine output? Brand image and curb appeal? Today, I’ll cover my opinion on what exactly makes a car special, and it may or may not resonate with you.

Emotion Trumps Everything


What makes a car an emotional experience? For me it’s a combination of a lot of different things, a performance engine, a slick manual transmission, and a decent interior are some important places to start. A perfect example of this would be the 997 Porsche 911 Carrera S, packing a 3.8 liter flat six engine with 355 horsepower. Zero to sixty sprints occur in under five seconds, and can be controlled through one of the best six speed manual transmissions ever assembled. Ultra precise steering, world class brakes, and a simple yet elegant interior design make the 911 so much more than a sports car. The exterior design is timeless, instantly recognizable and absolutely gorgeous. There really isn’t a bad line on the car, and I’d venture to say that the Carrera S is one of the best cars you could ever hope to own.



I’d also like to make a serious case for the BMW 135i, featuring the loved and famed N54 twin turbocharged 3 liter inline six engine. The 135i is a back to basics approach with a 3,300 pound curb weight and 300 turbocharged horsepower quickly on tap. I remember my first drive in a 135i, it was an Alpine white six speed manual M sport model, and it was instantly a favorite. The minimalist interior was exactly what I’d like in my weekend sports car, super supportive seats and just the most necessary gauges and nothing that really doesn’t need to be there. The manual transmission was pretty good, albeit a bit rubbery in feeling. Nonetheless, the 135i clawed confidently through corners, and always had the correct amount of torque to pull me up to speed when the powerful brakes had halted me. What counted here was the fact that the 135i always put a smile on my face, and that’s all I ever needed it to do.


Just the other day, my childhood best friend and sidekick Nathan had taken me for a ride in his new 1990 Eagle Talon TSi. The car is rigged to shit, and he paid $1000 for it from a Craigslist ad. We had worked for a few weekends to get it right, and we took it for the first drive on Saturday, roughly 35 miles round trip. The Talon is mostly stock, it has a 16g turbo with a nice exhaust and a front mount intercooler system. It’s not fast, but it’s certainly not a slow car. With that being said, that was easily one of the funnest trips I’ve went on in a while, we were just two car crazed friends enjoying an old DSM and listening to the massive Tial blow off valve.


After multiple trips in the Talon this weekend, it really got me thinking about what matters when it comes to great cars. Here we were in a 225-260 horsepower Talon, and we were just looking for reasons to drive it, and there wasn’t a single second this weekend where we weren’t smiling like two idiots. The Talon makes all the right noises and just does all the right things. Sometimes, that’s all you really need as a car enthusiast. Sure, Nathan owns a 485 horsepower Dodge Challenger that sits on drag radials, but I couldn’t help but find myself enjoying the non air conditioned DSM even more.


This brings me to a car I had driven Monday, a Nitrous Blue Ford Focus RS. The RS really needs no introduction, it’s an all wheel drive lunatic with 350 horsepower, a 3,400 pound curb weight, and a serious attitude problem. The exterior appearance is unapologetic, aggressive, and perfectly executed. The interior isn’t luxurious, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s a tachometer, speedometer, boost gauge, a nicely designed steering wheel and world class Recaro seats, that’s pretty much all somebody like myself cares about. The manual transmission and all wheel drive system are beyond great, traction is always there and shifts are very easy to execute. The RS has a very mean exhaust note, it’s always reminding you that you paid more for the RS and you make good decisions.


Steering was quite possibly on par with some of the exotics I’ve driven, move the wheel even slightly and the RS is ready to go EXACTLY where you told it to. This isn’t a car you’ll drive one handed or drive while texting. It’s also not blistering fast either. I’ve driven quite a few cars that would easily show the Focus RS some tail lights. In fact, it was a little on the slow side for the level of power in my opinion. The Lancer Evolution 8 had 276 horsepower and definitely runs faster numbers in stock to stock comparison. With that being said, I don’t care. The Focus RS is perfect to me. $36,000, horrendous ride quality, a slightly cheap interior, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The RS isn’t pretentious whatsoever, it is loud, in your face and it’s not ashamed of what it is.

I drove the Focus for roughly half an hour, and during no point did I ever feel like I was driving a Ford Focus. After my time was up, I didn’t want to give the keys up, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way about a newer car. If you’re depressed, upset or stressed out, go buy a Focus RS and I can assure you that’ll quickly change.

A Lifestyle

Again, performance metrics aren’t everything, reliability isn’t everything, and luxury isn’t everything. You buy a car because it’s a reflection of you, and because it makes a statement about you. Being a car enthusiast is the best lifestyle in the world, and your car should speak volumes about the type of person you are.

Cars like the Porsche 997, BMW 135i, Eagle Talon and Ford Focus RS are perfect because they’re heavily flawed in the right ways. It’s quite paradoxical, but it’s exactly how I see it. If I have a daily driver, I want air conditioning, navigation and satellite radio. Those luxuries are extremely important in a car I’m going to take big trips in and use it in that fashion. When I go to buy my weekend car, it needs to be a purchase that grabs at my heartstrings. If driving your sports car reminds you of your basic daily driver, you chose wrong.

A sports car should be an occasion, something you look forward to. You had a long twelve hour day at the office, and you take the long way home. You’ve had a bad day, and you go drive your car and cannot stop smiling, that’s the ticket. Every swipe of the shift lever, every kick of the clutch, and every blip of the throttle extracts a silly grin. You park your car to go into work and you turn around and snap three pictures of it, because you truly admire your purchase that much.

Nurburgring times, zero to sixty times, none of that carries serious weight for me. Any car can be fast, and fast is subjective anyways. Buy a car because it makes zero sense, because it has quirks you can’t live without, and most importantly, because you can’t live without it.

The BMW M Division Has Lost Their Magic

From a young age I fell head over heels for several BMW models. The iconic E24 M6, the E28 M5, the E30 M3, I could just go on and on. Silky smooth race derived motors, individual throttle bodies, something special happens when you take a basic model and turn it into an M model. At least, that used to be the case.

I say “used to be” because that spark and magic is no longer present in my opinion. There isn’t a single model available that isn’t turbocharged, no more individual throttle bodies, and the race derived motors are a thing of the past. Instead, the current M motors are heavily based on their mundane production counterparts, and it’s really starting to show. Sure, they’re all immensely fast, torquey, they posses all the makings of a great muscle car, just not an M car.

Let’s Start From The Beginning


The E30 M3 needs no introduction. The S14 four cylinder was good for 192 horsepower, breathing through individual throttle bodies. It was a lower revving engine with a factory redline of around 7,500 rpm. Yet, it was a one off engine built for the M3, and is a true masterpiece crafted from the M division.

The E30 M3 had one of the best steering systems in a production car, feedback and weight was dialed in to perfection and handling is regarded as precise. Boxed fender arches and an aggressive rear spoiler made the M3 like a tuxedo tee shirt. This was the first M3 and it was quite possibly the most iconic and sought after.


Even the hated on American specification E36 M3 is a special car. Sure, it didn’t have individual throttle bodies like the European S50 motor, but it still had the basic M flair. Larger displacement, more aggressive camshafts, a chassis that had been reworked for handling, and a subtle body makeover that has aged pretty well. 240 horsepower isn’t much today, but the car was just hilariously fun to drive. It was a special car back then, and it’s still special today. They are a favorite of racers everywhere and for good reason, the steering is precise and nicely weighted, the inline six cylinder engine is silky smooth and loved to be wrung out, it’s just a great package.


Progressing into the E46 M3, things took a huge step forward. The S54 engine churned out 333 ponies, and had a redline that rivaled Ferrari models. Power delivery was perfect for the track, with torque and horsepower becoming more readily available from about 4,000 rpm and beyond. The E46 body has become a timeless classic, a cult classic. Realistically, it was damn near flawless. Steering was the benchmark of the era and its’ class, the six speed manual was a beautiful piece of automotive art, and the S54 engine has went on to be regarded as possibly the best M engine of all times.


Fast forward to the E9x M3 variants. I’ll break this down for you in case you truly don’t understand the BMW model nomenclature. E90 denoted a sedan, E92 denoted a coupe, and E93 denoted a convertible. With that out of the way, the E9x M3 was a masterpiece, featuring the S65 V8 that could turn over 8,000 revs in stock form. 414 horsepower once again was available from about 4,000 and on. Eight individual throttle bodies ingested air, and the waste was expelled through four exhaust tips. The sound was orgasmic, the driving experience was even better.

Get the DCT transmission and downshifts are a special occasion, the M3 spits, cracks and burbles as the transmission rev matches for the next lower gear. Steering was once again incredible, the exterior was beautifully designed and the overall execution was just done right. This is a car that is capable of being a daily driver, track rat, and everything in between.


Now we’re up to the M4. Yes I said the M4. BMW decided coupes need to have even named numbering while sedans should be odd numbered. Except… You can get a four series grand coupe which is actually a sedan that isn’t all that different from the three series. So that’s what we’re doing now I suppose. Anyhow, the M4 is a serious departure from the old M formula. The S55 motor is rated for 425 ponies, and is actually underrated. It’s based loosely on the production N55, and features twin turbochargers. Yes, no more individual throttle bodies, no more screaming redlines, that’s all old news.

BMW claims emissions standards forced them away from their old ways, which quite frankly, is a load of shit. Dodge has a 707 horsepower supercharged V8, Chevrolet has a billion LS powered models, I could go on. The M4 isn’t bad from a performance perspective at all, it’s actually quite good. It’s blazing fast, the fastest M3 yet actually. The DCT transmission keeps getting even better, and for now a manual transmission is still available. So why am I being a harsh critic?

Losing Core Values

The M3 used to attract buyers based on what it was, not what it wasn’t. It wasn’t the fastest in its’ class, it certainly didn’t have the biggest engine, the most power, it was truly lacking in those departments. The Mustang and Camaro always packed more heat, and they were the faster cars from an acceleration perspective.

The M3 won over hearts because of the driving experience, if you’ve never driven a “good” M car it’s slightly hard to explain. Pushing the needle towards the red, the refined sound of the race derived motors, the precision steering and minimalistic interior, it created a class that never really existed. A basic model made race car, but still daily driver. The M3 was always the best car in the world in terms of being a Swiss Army knife. It could just do everything and do it better than the competition could. Daily driving comfort was there, practicality was there, it had everything. All while being hilariously entertaining and never dull. It was just its’ own experience.

That’s not the case anymore. In place of the minimalistic interior is a oddly placed iPad looking infotainment screen. I assume this design cue was discussed via email because the design engineers forgot to incorporate it at a board meeting. It truly looks like shit. However, the steering wheel does look amazing and the seats are phenomenal, I won’t deny that. That’s right where the good ends.

The engine is phenomenal as I stated. However, it sounds absolutely raspy and terrible. This is something that has brought the M4 harsh criticism. It deserves it entirely, a performance car should have a signature sound. The M4 has a sound that makes me pray for a debilitating hearing injury. Let’s not forget about the legendary M car steering, namely that the M4 doesn’t have it. Instead, BMW moved with the industry trend to go to electronic power steering, and you can quickly tell that it was a bad move. In normal mode the steering is numb and light, offering as much feedback as a mute person. In sport plus mode, it is artificially heavy and offers the level of feeling I’d expect as a quadriplegic.

Still yet, the M4 is a great muscle car. Torque is available really low in the rev range, making it like a Mustang. The chassis is amazing, and certainly boasts excellent handling. The numbers don’t lie, and the M4 doesn’t fail to perform.

So What’s The Problem?

The problem is us as enthusiasts. Everybody wants to buy a car based on performance statistics, they want those last tenths of a second off of the Nurburgring time. The thing is, a small fraction of these cars will ever see the ring, and 90 percent of us couldn’t harness the full potential of a car like this anyway.

So in the name of performance numbers, we’ve lost what truly made the M3 an M3, character. I know I’ll get a lot of hate for this, and I’m not bashing your M4. It truly is an incredible car, I’d venture to say one of the best. It’s just not an M car, and it’s never going to be. M3’s used to be precision weapons, you had to really work for the power, and that’s where so much of the charm was in my opinion. These cars were never meant to be straight line monsters or muscle cars, yet that’s where they’ve evolved. I remember when the M community used to take pride in the high redline, and lack of torque. “Buy a Mustang if you want instantaneous torque” they’d say. Funny how much changes in ten years.

Ballin’ On A Budget

So you’ve decided you’re ready to derail your financial security and upset your significant other with a project car. You’ve got five grand to your name, and you daydream of bombing down back roads, banging gears and relieving some stress. You want a fun car that’s reasonably reliable, attractive, tuner friendly and not a murder on your insurance rates. Luckily for you, I’ve made a small list of cars I’d recommend to fulfill this task. Go grab a cold beer, turn off the television and fire up the printer, I’m about to take you car shopping.

The Criteria

Don’t worry, I’m looking out for you so you don’t end up sleeping on the couch. I’ve set a minimum price of $1,500 dollars to weed out rolling shells and basket cases. The max price as we established earlier is $5,000. I’ve elected to search Autotrader due to ease of use and general popularity among sellers. I’ve taken future depreciation into account, and I’ve compiled this list based on availability of aftermarket parts, decent reliability and ability to retain a fair portion of the original purchase price.

Mazda Miata

The Miata is an excellent choice for so many reasons, it’s lightweight, rear wheel drive, reliable and very tuner friendly. Insurance rates based on my information were lower than the average newer model Honda.

The Miata has a very cult type of following, and companies like Flying Miata have done some impressive things with the factory motors. Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, the Miata is a solid choice. I can’t imagine values will ever drop much below what they are currently at, so losing your ass in resale shouldn’t be a major concern. Focus on the fun of ripping a lightweight convertible down a twisty road and let the stress of your workday just melt away.

Porsche 944

There were ten listings that I found, with the average price sitting right at $3,500. There was an 86,000 mile example with some maintenance receipts and new tires that looked pretty promising. The 944 non turbo models are pretty reasonably reliable, not a complete nightmare to service at home, and values have been pretty solid over the years.

Plus, it’s hard to beat the fun a Porsche can offer. If you’ve never driven a 944, it’s an absolute blast. Sure the turbocharged 951 is where the real thrills are at, but reliability drops into the basement right about there and the price goes straight through the attic. The naturally aspirated models are more than enough for weekend duties, and are a popular choice for new track enthusiasts. Sharp handling, slick five speed gearbox and excellent steering make the 944 a no brainer. You can’t go wrong with this choice. You won’t have a high horsepower monster on the cheap, but you’ll own the twisties with nothing more than a new set of shocks and struts, some sticky tires and some upgraded brake pads.

BMW 325E E30

You didn’t think I was going to leave out the legendary E30 did you? Superb reliability, insanely easy to work on, a five speed Getrag transmission that is so good it’s almost a privilege to use, and precise handling are just the basic selling points of this model. The E model meant a lower revving, longer stroke engine that makes powering through corners very exciting, and fuel economy through my experience is in the low thirties. I found two really nice examples for $3,400 and $3,250 respectively.

The BMW E30 met legend status long ago among amateure and professional racers alike. There are tons of aftermarket goods that can transform your BMW into a razor sharp precision instrument without blowing through your retirement fund. Just watch out for rust on the shock towers and in the trunk areas. Other than basic rust, these cars are an intelligent buy and have actually been appreciating in value. Buy one now and start taking the long way home.

Eagle Talon

There was only one turbocharged TSi model on Autotrader, but take my word for it, you can get a beautiful all wheel drive model under $5,000 if you’re willing to take a trip to get it. There are plenty of Facebook sale groups for these cars, and they’re definitely out there. Anyhow, this car is an excellent choice for many reasons. Fuel economy is mid to low thirties, extracting more power is simple if you have basic knowledge of a turbocharged vehicle, handling isn’t terrible and you can enjoy it through any weather.

The 4G63 engine is extremely receptive to performance upgrades, and bulletproof reliable if the maintenance is up to date. Beware of rusty examples, spend the money to get the cleanest example you can find. Don’t buy somebody else’s headache and buy the most original example you can find. Assuming you bought a car that has had a recent timing belt replacement and other associated maintenance performed, you’ll have a car you can start making fast for pennies on the dollar, and enjoy daily driving as well. Values on first generation models have started appreciating recently assuming you buy an all wheel drive model. I want to stress again to avoid heavily modified and rusty examples. Spend the money and buy the most virgin example you find.

Volvo 240

Of course I’m going to mention the coolest car on the list, the Volvo 240. Quirky cars are my speciality, and the 240 checks all the right boxes in my opinion. This model has been shooting up in value recently, and turbo models are experiencing collector status. There was one turbo example with a five speed manual for $4,999 which honestly blew my mind. There were thirteen examples overall under the five grand mark, and let me tell you, this car is a safe buy.

Reliable, beautiful, collectible, and highly regarded are all things that come to mind for me. These cars just never die, companies like iPD have been offering goodies for years, so you won’t have to worry about parts so much. Handling can be very good when modified and the turbo models are capable of making huge power. Overall, this is one of the slower cars on the list, but it would be one of my first choices. There’s very few cars that are as cool as the 240 at this price point. Buy one and don’t think twice. Take it to cars and coffee, you’ll be a hit, I can promise you that.

Audi S4

I’m referring to the “URS4” which means the first generation S4 with the famed twenty valve five cylinder. This is the engine that dominated group B rally, the engine that pushed the envelope and raised eyebrows everywhere. Over 200 horsepower in stock form from the turbocharged 2.2 liter, and they’re capable of over a thousand if you want to spend the money.


I wasn’t able to find a single example on Autotrader, so you’ll have to take my word for it. There are several Facebook groups for these cars as well, and they sell for between three and five grand for a nice example. Reliability is somewhere between death and taxes, these cars are tanks assuming they haven’t been neglected. Look for the obvious service records and you’ll be fine. Values have been steady and the market is reasonable. These cars are absolutely gorgeous and have an amazing interior, highly tuneable motor, Quattro all wheel drive, and the sound of that five cylinder symphony. Look out for rust, questionable repairs, and don’t buy a model that lacks service records. Follow those little guidelines and you’ll have a car you can count on and bring you enjoyment for years to come.

Closing Thoughts

Yes I know, there’s plenty of other amazing choices out there, I chose to highlight a few well known examples, and a few you probably didn’t think of. I’m in no way telling you I guarantee stellar reliability, guaranteed resale market outlooks or anything of that nature. I’m simply offering my advice, based on my experience with owning quirky cars of all shapes and sizes. There isn’t a single car on this list that I wouldn’t run out and buy right now, so my advice is truly from the heart. If you want a car that is so much more than just basic transportation, a car that begs you to take the long way home after work even after a fourteen hour day, a car you can take to a car show and get attention, this is a great place to start.

Diamonds Are Forever – A Tribute To A Legend


It was a hot summer day, almost triple digits. The legendary Black Cherry 1G Talon made its’ way through the pits, everybody was watching. This particular car was holding the number one position all day, running in the mid nine second range. This pass was no different, and the Talon went on to destroy everything in its’ class that day. This was in 2002, and my life was forever changed since.

Flash forward several years, and that legendary Talon went on to hold numerous accolades, became the first all wheel drive car to run seven second quarter mile times and instilled fear into the competition in ways unimaginable. The truth is, the whole DSM community shed a tear the day John Shepherd announced he would be retiring the legend. This was a car that truly captivated an audience, when John pulled into the pits, everybody dropped everything and immediately paid attention. If your significant other called to announce she just went into active labor, it can wait seven seconds. His car truly was a rock star and always will be.

To be perfectly honest, this Talon is the car that started it all for me. Back in 2002, performance from four cylinder imports was still largely in its’ infancy, and to see a legitimate street car running nine second quarter mile times seemed almost impossible. With that being said, this was just the start for the reign of terror that DSMs would become known for. Whether you love these cars or you’re new to them, this article should hopefully bring a since of pride and cohesion, much like the community has for so many years.

So, What Is A DSM?

Since you asked, I’ll go ahead and cover that now. For the purpose of this article, we will mostly stick to the first generation model. With that out of the way, DSM stands for Diamond Star Motors, which was a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. The naming came from the Chrysler star logo and the Mitsubishi diamonds, pretty self explanatory now that you know. Formed in 1985, this joint venture brought us three amazing cars, the Talon, Eclipse and Laser.


The Talon was the model produced by Eagle, the Eclipse was produced under the Mitsubishi Motors title, and the Laser was produced under the Plymouth name. All three cars were basically the same, with minor aesthetic differences. However, here’s the bigger differences:

  • The Laser didn’t offer all wheel drive as an available option until 1992

  • Laser was only produced from 1990-1994

  • Talon was produced until 1998

  • Eclipse produced for much longer than it should have been, second generation production ending in 1999 noting the end of 4G63 and all wheel drive availability


Back to some of those differences. The trio was sold in the USA starting in the 1990 model year, with turbocharged engines available in front wheel drive and all wheel drive trims. The 1.8 motor was known as the 4G37 and output was low, around 110-115 horsepower. These motors were found in base cars such as the Talon DL, Eclipse GS and Laser base. Many of those base cars didn’t feature the iconic hood bump, but some base models did indeed have it.


The 4G63 non turbocharged engine was rated for roughly 130 horsepower, and was found in the higher line Talon ESi, Eclipse GS 16v, and Laser RS. The turbocharged engine came in two flavors, 180 horsepower for the automatic transmission models, and 195 horsepower for the manual equipped models. These were designated Talon TSi, Eclipse GST (front wheel drive) or GSX (all wheel drive) as well as RS Turbo for the Laser. The difference in outputs between transmission choices is attributed to a few things. The automatic models had a smaller 13G turbocharger and smaller 390 cc fuel injectors. The manual models had a larger 14B turbocharger and larger 450 cc fuel injectors.

Acceleration for the day was rather impressive, with all wheel drive models going 0-60 in seven seconds flat. Top speed is something that isn’t really known per se, but I can verify a stock first generation model going well above 130 miles per hour. These cars are tremendously easy to make horsepower with, and even in stock form they are very fun to drive.

What Makes The DSM Special?

The 4G63 engine is the heart of a good DSM, and quite simply, it’s a masterpiece. The most feared four cylinder in the world, and engine with a list of accolades a mile long, if you’re a car enthusiast you’ve no doubt heard about this notorious engine. The 4G63 has been starting pissing matches with V8’s for years, and winning the fights with great regularity.

Featuring a cast iron block, forged crankshaft, forged connecting rods, and a cylinder head that outflows Niagara Falls, the 4G63 was an instant recipe for rally and drag strip domination. There were two distinct flavors of the 4G63, the six bolt and the seven bolt. The six bolt was available from 1990 until roughly a third of 1992. Around April 1992, the cars went to a new seven bolt motor. Here are some of the differences:

  • Six bolt featured the beefiest connecting rods

  • Six bolt and seven bolt head ports varied in size, this is a controversial subject for another day

  • Seven bolt featured lighter weight connecting rods

  • Seven bolt features a main cap girdle

These are just basic differences. All Evolution models featured seven bolt engines. Despite some mass hysteria over “crank walk” the issue was largely blown out of proportion and only affected a fraction of all cars produced. Crank walk refers to an issue in which the crank shaft thrust bearing becomes very worn and allows the crankshaft to quite literally walk inside the block. Again, this is a largely misunderstood topic for another day.


The three models also underwent other changes in 1992, and here are some of those changes:

  • Elimination of pop up headlights in favor of fixed headlights

  • Tail lights and other face lift changes such as bumpers, grille and the obvious headlights

  • All wheel drive models went from the three bolt rear differential to a far stronger and more desirable four bolt design.

  • Some rare 1992 models were available with the six bolt 4G63 and the four bolt rear differential. These are considered to be one of the most desirable models out there.

  • 1G model designation changed from 1GA to 1GB to notate these changes

That brings us to a few discussions. For the most part, the six bolt engine is the most desirable due to the ability to push the stock engine rotating assembly to stratospheric numbers. With that being said, don’t discount the seven bolt engine either. The factory main cap girdle is very desirable and huge power numbers are very achievable from either motor. In 2011, OSTAR Motorsports was able to run 9.83 at 149 miles per hour on a completely OEM rotating assembly. After being met with skepticism, they were quick to post a live disassembly video, which proved the point that their engine was completely unchanged from new. There have been multiple ten second passes on completely stock engines, featuring turbocharger upgrades, fuel system upgrades, and the obvious bolt on upgrades. This simply goes to show just how capable the 4G63 truly is.


How Capable?

Before the R35 Nissan GTR went on sale, DSMs were completely unrivaled in the all wheel drive arena. In terms of four cylinder all wheel drive models, they still hold every record possible.


  • Quickest and fastest H pattern manual transmission in the world – Red Demon 2G Eclipse, 7.49 at 199.9 miles per hour. Still all wheel drive.

  • World’s quickest DSM, quickest and fastest all wheel drive four cylinder car – Jeff Bush 1G Talon, 7.38 at 187.94 miles per hour

  • First all wheel drive seven second pass, previous world’s quickest and fastest – John Shepherd 1G Talon. 7.70 at 191 miles per hour

  • Brent Rau – 2G tube car that ran 6.83 at 193 miles per hour making it the first four cylinder in the sixes until recently.

A Nasty Reputation

Word spread very quickly of the capabilities of these cars, and people were quick to scoop them up and start modifying the crap out of them. The problem was, nobody was really maintaining them. As with any aging turbocharged car, special attention is required, and unfortunately it’s rarely given. Instead, people bought their DSMs, cranked the boost through the roof without supplying proper supporting modifications (fuel system, tuning etc) and problems were quickly arising. As this became a trend, these cars were labeled unreliable.


The truth is, DSMs are always as reliable as their owners, and give equal respect. I’ve personally owned multiple Talon and Laser models with nothing bad to report. The day I picked up my beloved 1990 TSi all wheel drive I had driven 250 miles to pick it up and drove it home the same day. The difference was simple, this Talon had been well maintained and I wasn’t an idiot. What I’m trying to say here is that DSMs are as reliable as any other car, they just require a little more love. Don’t knock a car because you lack restraint and common automotive knowledge. The DSMs I’ve owned have offered me excellent service as daily drivers and weekend toys alike.

Final Thoughts

No matter how hard I try and convey my thoughts on this subject, I can never give these cars the proper justice they deserve. Like a good friend, Talons, Eclipses and Lasers have always been a huge part of my life. I’ll make this very clear ahead of time, you don’t simply buy a DSM and stop there. Just like a desperate stray, you feed it once and it becomes a part of your everyday life. There isn’t a way out, and you’ll find yourself comparing other cars to your DSM. The ability to offer insane levels of performance for such small monetary investment attracts many people, and it holds so many of us enthusiasts hostage. Take me for example, I have well over five thousand dollars invested into my Audi 5000 Turbo Quattro, and if I had invested that amount of money into a 1G Talon I would easily be over 500 horsepower.


Add the nostalgic and always iconic appearance of the first generation cars, and you have a recipe for a life long disease. Sure the interior is very cheap in appearance, but it’s truly something you grow to love and embrace. These cars have so much character, and a certain level of panache that is virtually unrivaled from cars of this vintage. For roughly five thousand dollars you can find a very clean first generation all wheel drive Talon, Eclipse or Laser. You’ll be buying into a lifestyle, for better or for worse. With it, you will make friendships, enemies, and memories you won’t ever want to give up. The friendships I cherish today, the friends I’ve had for over a decade, they all spawned from DSM talk and ownership.

We all share the same paralyze, the same sickness, and we typically stick together through thick and thin. As these cars become extinct and rare due to part outs, we hoard parts and buy up all the models we can in hopes of saving them. Someday, I look for my daughter to be sliding the key in her first Talon, and she too will understand the meaning of automotive pride. Nothing makes you quite as proud as a clean DSM, and the fear and respect they demand on the street or at the track. Everybody knows just how fast they can be, and when they see it pull up they tend to assume the worst. Don’t expect to hustle street race money, DSMs won’t fly under anybodies radar, and they certainly aren’t sleepers. Instead, they’re misunderstood, respected, loved, loathed and feared universally.


I hope this helps convince you that buying a DSM is indeed worth it, or maybe helps settle some of the myths. Again, my best advice is simple, buy one knowing that there is no going back, and be prepared to win races that your friends couldn’t.

What’s Next For Dodge?


As we learned the unfortunate news about Dodge killing off the Viper, it’s hard not to feel some sense of sadness. The Viper is a serious piece of Americana, a car that rivaled much of Europe’s best, at a much lower cost. The latest Viper ACR dominated virtually everything on multiple race tracks, setting several records along the way. If we’re honest, the Viper was an American hero, a General Patton of the car world. I know that I hate to see it go, because in my opinion, it’s dying long before it’s time.


Sadly, lackluster sales performance haven’t made a great case for continuing production of the Viper. Add in increasingly harsh emissions standards, and it is almost hard to understand how it’s lived for so long. With more enthusiasts claiming they want more “hardcore” cars like the E46 M3 CSL, it’s also hard to understand why more people weren’t buying it. 640 horsepower from an 8.4 liter V10, naturally aspirated nostalgic power delivery, gorgeous exterior appearance, in my opinion if the Viper was sold by anyone but Dodge, sales would have been far higher.


I say this because Dodge has been the target of negative press in terms of poor quality and brand image lately. Justifying over $80,000 dollars for a Dodge product seems irrational to many. In my opinion, any time you are spending that much money, badge appeal isn’t what I’m looking for, I want the most car for my money. Sadly, that obviously was not the case for everybody. In lieu of that, the American legend has to die.


Luckily, Dodge has some pretty incredible cars that still exist in their lineup, and I’m about to make a compelling case on why they’re dominating the American market in terms of performance.


The Demon


Ah yes, the Demon. It would be impossible to talk about the current Dodge lineup without discussing the Demon. You see, we have to say goodbye to the savage track weapon that is the Viper, and we say hello to the brutal Dodge Demon. To put it into context, the Demon is literally unrivaled. I truthfully believe it will remain unrivaled for quite some time.


Ford has the Cobra Jet Mustang, and Chevrolet has the COPO Camaro, both of those cars are capable of mind boggling acceleration, but neither of them can legally drive on public roads. Additionally, neither of them have any sort of warranty. This is where the Demon starts to flex it muscles, and earn the hatred of Ford and Chevrolet fans everywhere.


What we know as of right now is this:

  • At least 840 horsepower on 100 octane fuel
  • At least 800 horsepower on 93 octane fuel
  • The engine block, crankshaft, pistons, rods and bearings are all entirely bespoke to the Demon
  • The cylinder heads are also bespoke and CNC designed
  • The torque converter is redesigned, as is the differential and axles
  • Launch control allows at least 540 pound feet of torque from a launch
  • The options you would want to add, they cost $1
  • First production car equipped with drag radials, first production car to run a nine second quarter mile, as certified by the NHRA


That’s a pretty serious list of accolades, considering nobody else is even remotely close to that from a production vehicle. What really makes the Demon special however is the fact that all of this performance is available with a factory warranty. Yes, that’s right, a factory nine second quarter mile monster capable of pulling a wheelie is also backed by a full warranty.


Before you chime in and say something to the effect of “it can’t corner, who cares”, I’d rebuttal, “no shit” it doesn’t handle well. Dodge actually redesigned the entire suspension to be slightly softer for wicked launches, and let’s be completely honest here, they aren’t marketing this car in that way. This is not a huge trade secret, the Demon is heavy and riding on drag rubber, of course it doesn’t handle. It doesn’t need to.


I’ll add this, the muscle car era was a very special time in automotive history. There was a no holds barred free for all going on for quite some time, monstrous engines with insane horsepower figures were being stuffed into anything that would take them. America ate it up, embraced it, and earned a cult like following. Nobody gave a shit about handling or “road manners” because a 454 cubic inch V8 placed over the front axles isn’t exactly a great recipe for handling, and this is no different.


Whether you’re a Ford fanatic, Chevrolet Fanatic, or whatever it is you like, I think we can all agree that the Demon is a win for everybody that likes American cars. I say this as someone that generally doesn’t like American cars. Embrace it, because the facts don’t lie, and the Demon is the car to beat now.


The Hellcat


We haven’t forgot about the Hellcat Challenger and Charger yet, have we? Of course not! Unless you’re living in a remote cave, you know the Hellcat duo as the cars that dominated everything else before the Demon set the bar even higher. Following the same classic muscle car recipe, the Hellcats quickly became a household name. 707 brutal horsepower from a 6.2 liter Hemi V8, topped off with a glorious positive displacement supercharger, and if you bought the Challenger version you could even control all of that power through a Tremec six speed manual. Has there ever been anything more American than that?


Of course, the duo faced heavy criticism almost immediately. Weighing over 4,000 pounds, they became the target of thousands of internet memes. Still yet, Dodge had challenged the status quo, and raised the bar on what was possible from a production car. In today’s strict emission controlled world, generating power from any large engine, while still managing to meet emissions standards is commendable. BMW even downsized and turbocharged everything they make, solely because of this.


Yet Dodge said “hell no” and stick a middle finger to the EPA. They had managed to take a large port injected (instead of cleaner direct injection) Hemi V8 and stuck a supercharger on top of it. My question is, why aren’t we all embracing this harder? This is a push in the right direction, kind of a last stand, if you will.


We already know the Hellcat is immensely powerful, but it did have an Achilles heel. For reasons unknown, Dodge decided a 275 width tire would be up to the task of taming that level of power, and it wasn’t. Because of this little issue, hellcats were embarrassing themselves at the drag strip and losing races to much slower opponents. Embarrassing, yes. End of the world? No.


Quickly, Hellcat owners fitted the cars with larger drag radials and turned out some blistering fast ten second quarter mile passes. Heavy or not, there’s no denying how impressive that really is. With a few basic modifications, we’ve seen plenty of these same cars cracking the nine second range.


So in conclusion, the heavy weight and undersized tires are detrimental to the Hellcats, sure. However, for $700 you too can fit some drag rubber to a stock car and kick ass as the strip. At the end of the day, Dodge had the most powerful car going, that was of course until they beat themselves with the Demon.


The SCAT Pack Cars


Like the Hellcat, the SCAT pack comes in two flavors, the Charger and Challenger. Additionally the Challenger comes available with a Tremec six speed manual, and the Charger comes standard with the Torqueflite automatic. To be clever, Dodge basically took a standard RT model, and stuffed a large 6.4 liter Hemi in place of the anemic 5.7 Hemi.


485 horsepower, 0-60 in the low four second range, all available from the mid $40,000 range makes the SCAT pack an intelligent choice. The Camaro and mustang both come with less power, and smaller engines. Of course, both cars are lighter as well. Nonetheless, the more brutal SCAT pack take a different approach.


Chevrolet has streamlined the new Camaro much more than the comeback model it replaces, and the S550 Mustang has a “love it or hate it” touring car look. The Challenger looks very similar to the legendary 1970 Challenger and offers a genuinely retro look, with modernization where it needs to be. The Charger of course is very modernized and the Charger models of yesteryear never came in sedan form. With that being said, if you need a four door car for your needs, the Charger SCAT offers so much for the money.


We already know neither of them handle particularly well, but they both offer Bilstein suspension and Brembo four piston braking systems at all four corners, and optional lightweight forged wheels. The RT model with options can easily run past the cost of a lightly optioned SCAT model. My close friend owns a lightly optioned SCAT Challenger for example, and it came right in on the $45,000 mark.


Retro styling, premium braking and suspension, and a large V8 engine with a glorious voice, what more could one ask for? The interior is a pretty decent place to spend time as well. The large infotainment system runs the easy to use and intuitive uConnect interface, optional Nappa leather and Alcantara seating surfaces, you can get leather everywhere for an additional cost.


Taking all of this into consideration, the current performance cars that Dodge has on the market offers some serious performance for a rather reasonable amount of money.


So What’s Next?


That’s what I think so many of us want to know, with the impressive Challenger and Charger offerings, where do we go from here? Is it reasonable to think the upcoming GT500 will top the Demon? Will a future Camaro top the Demon?


The real question is, will they even top the Hellcat? Will Dodge yet again raise the bar? What’s going to replace the viper? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this subject!

Dodge Challenger SCAT Pack Review


There are so many incredible cars to be had under $50,000 it has become almost overwhelming to try and find the best bang for your buck. Admittedly, I have personally driven many vehicles that fall right into this exact category, and I believe I’m about to make a compelling case for a particularly overlooked car.

Ladies and gentleman, the 2016 Dodge Challenger SCAT pack is a serious contender. Now, before you start digging up memes and going on a tirade of weight jokes, just hear me out. I was given the opportunity to drive a beautiful and well optioned SCAT, equipped with a six speed manual transmission. To be very honest, I too was completely skeptical.

I had driven a 2012 Challenger RT when it was brand new, also equipped with a six speed manual transmission, and I couldn’t have been more disappointed if I tried. For those of you not well educated on Dodge products, let me fill you in. The RT Challenger featured a 5.7 liter HEMI engine, good for 376 horsepower, and a 0-60 in about five and a half seconds. That’s not exactly terrible, nor is it exactly impressive. The problem is, the Challenger is a fat car. Weighing well over 4,000 pounds does not make a great case for performance whatsoever.

The 2012 felt numb to me, the steering was completely lifeless, the shifter was about as rubbery as a two dollar steak, and the brakes weren’t exactly great either. So, why is the SCAT pack so much better? It’s simple, everything has been changed to make the car far better. The engine is now a 6.4 liter 392 HEMI, making 485 horsepower. Transmitting this power is a masterpiece of a TREMEC six speed manual as previously mentioned. Clamping force comes from four piston Brembo brakes at all four corners. There’s a myriad of driver selectable parameters via the infotainment system, controlled by a button cleverly labled “Super Track Pak” which gives control over the engine, steering, suspension and launch control.

The particular Challenger I drove had featured some beautiful Nappa leather seats with suede center inserts, which were certainly grippy and extremely comfortable. Plastics in the interior have a rather nice feel, soft touch textures in place of traditional Dodge hard plastics. The center stack is surrounded by a stitched leather surface, which truly adds a touch of unexpected class. Honestly though, none of this matters at all. Sure, the interior of the Challenger SCAT is a pretty nice place to spend time, but it’s a far better driving device. After all, you aren’t buying one of these to keep up with luxury trends.

Press the engine start button, and you’re immediately greeted with a voracious exhaust note. Even at idle, the exhaust is beyond intoxicating. Going into the previously discussed driver options, you see sport settings for everything from steering, to traction control. I elected to set the steering in sport mode, as well as the engine, suspension, and put the traction into sport mode as well. Electing to turn the traction control from full to sport allows just enough slip to be thoroughly entertaining, but not quite enough to imitate a Mustang leaving cars and coffee.

Upon sliding the beautifully designed shifter into first, you almost immediately notice that the clutch is so easy to modulate, that your wife may just let you buy this car without killing you in your sleep. Seriously, this is by far one of the easiest clutches I’ve ever operated. Once the car is moving, prepare to be taken aside by just how incredible the shifter is to use, the throws are extremely short, and the action is very crisp and deliberate. I will venture to say that it is one of the best transmissions I have ever had the joy of shifting, and I have driven every generation of Porsche 911 after the 993. That’s some seriously high praise.

The real magic happens when you press the skinny pedal, and the heavy battleship takes off with some insane authority. 0-60 times are said to be right at four and a half seconds, and I believe that to be conservative. Despite weighing as much as a Orca Whale, the SCAT moves out without fuss. Through first gear, there’s a pretty nice amount of wheelspin, quickly grab second gear and the wheelspin ensues. Upon sliding into third, the traction light stops flashing, and the torque gives you some insight as to how a cannon ball must feel after being fired. You may think I’m exaggerating, but the power figures simply do not lie. The 392 has a way of delivering torque so well, that it seems as if the powerband never really starts or ends. It just keeps going, and going, and never thinks about stopping.

While you’re lost in the moment, coming past 100 miles per hour in what seems like the blink of an eye, you can’t help but love that beautiful exhaust note. The HEMI projects its’ voice very well, and is capable of giving small children nightmares for nights on end. When it becomes time to slow down, the Challenger does that at an even more stellar pace than it accelerated. The Brembo brakes show zero signs of weakness, and subduing the heavy Mopar is extremely easy. Brake fade was nonexistent upon my test, and I most definitely put the car though some abuse. It should come as no surprise that the brake pedal was rock solid, and offered a very nice and confidence inspiring feel.

Steering was better than I would have expected, most electric power steering racks are dull and boring, that’s not to say this was any different. Still lacking the true feedback of a hydraulic system, it wasn’t terrible. This was the area I found to be disappointing, only because the SCAT pack automatically gives the Challenger some Eagle F1 tires. With rubber of that caliber, I expect much more from my steering wheel. I’m not bashing it completely, but it is a weak point. Still yet, the suspension carries the weight of the Dodge very well. Handling was without a doubt better than I thought it was going to be, and I found myself attacking some highway off-ramps and truly enjoying what the car was doing. Obviously, no Challenger is going to be a corner carver in stock form, but the handling isn’t uninspiring, it actually becomes playful and confident as you get used to the weight of the vehicle.

I’m used to driving my 2300 pound Nissan as a daily driver, so almost doubling the weight for the Challenger becomes a new adjustment. With that being said, I came into this drive fully aware of what the car can and can’t do. What I didn’t expect, was to come away from this drive wanting to own this car. The truth is, I have been brutally hard on the Challenger ever since the day I drove the RT. I have always loved the exterior beauty, and let’s be honest, it is the most visually appealing of the group. The Camaro is beautiful, assuming you are blind in both eyes. The S550 Mustang is sporty, aggressive, and a step away from the traditional Mustang formula, and I do love that about it. However, the face lifted and redesigned Challenger is a work of art. The new grille design, the new LED tail light design, it all pays homage to the iconic 1970 Challenger, which is forever going to be one of the best looking classics. The 2016 model is everything I would expect from a vehicle at this price level. Wide, low, and retro, easy on the eyes is an understatement.

So, in conclusion, I will say this. If you think the basic RT is anything like the SCAT pack, you couldn’t be more wrong. Saying these two cars are anything alike, is a lot like saying that an iPhone 7 is like a vintage rotary phone, sure they both make phone calls, but that’s exactly where the similarities end. The SCAT pack takes all the shortcomings of the basic RT, and allows the car to become a finely tuned weapon. If you find yourself wanting to buy a weekend toy that is capable of being a comfortable daily driver should the need arise, do not discount the Challenger. Offering luxury, performance, beauty, and a reasonable sticker price, the decision starts to become an easy one.

You Don’t Really Want To Own A Rare Or Quirky Car


My choices in vehicle ownership spawns lots of commentary from my friends and family. They’re always asking me “why on Earth” I choose to drive such odd cars, instead of a “normal” car. If you know me at all, you know that I have owned some pretty random vehicles. I’ve owned a few Maserati Biturbos, multiple Audi 5000 variants, a turbocharged first generation Ford Probe, and that’s just a basic start.

The truth is, I always idolized the quirky cars as a child. Most kids had a Corvette or Porsche 911 poster growing up. I had a Lotus Elise Sport 190 poster. I dreamed of owning a Maserati Biturbo. Instead of a common Porsche 911, I’d fancy a Lotus Esprit instead. While this doesn’t make sense to the general car population, it does for me.

Flashing way back to my very first car which was a 1986 Audi 5000 S, I immediately fell in love with the rarity and mystique of a quirky car. People would often gaze and try to figure out just what in the hell it was. In a small town flooded with Ford Escorts, SUVs and Mustangs, I had a very weird looking sedan in an abysmal color. I became hooked on the idea of not following trends, and not being a part of any certain group. I’d decided at a young age that I would do my own thing and just run with that.

It wasn’t very long after owning my old 5000 that I had moved on, a few vehicles later I had acquired a rather clean 1990 Ford Probe GT. This particular car was pretty cool to me, instead of the common second generation Probe, I’d had the more rare turbocharged model. Not much really happened with this car since it had developed a catastrophic transmission failure, and once again I had moved on. However, that car stuck with me for years in my head. I longed to own something odd like that again someday.

Several years later, I’d purchased another Audi 5000, this time I had found the very rare Turbo Quattro model with a manual transmission. I was sold on the car before I ever even went to look at it. I truly had no idea what I was getting into, and this Audi had changed my way of thinking for a very long time. I had heard all the maintenance horror stories with old Audi cars, yet I’d covered 200 miles just to bring it home through a blizzard. I had covered almost a year of daily driving, and the only problem the car had was a bad battery. Sure, the old CIS fuel system was finicky at best, but reliability was absolutely a strong suit for that old car.

Regrettably, I had sold the 5000 due to several electrical issues that seemed intimidating. The power windows did not work and a hot Tennessee summer was coming. The heater did not work, yet I’d made it through one of the coldest winters in Tennessee history. The Audi served me admirably and went on to a great home. I’d go on to miss that car for many years.

Flash forward to a few years ago, I’d owned my second Maserati Biturbo, this time a fuel injected model. My previous Biturbo was carbed and never really gave me much reliable service. I’d found an opportunity and jumped on it right away. I traded my beloved 1989 Jaguar XJ6 (a finicky car in it’s own right) straight up for the 1987 Maserati. The Jaguar was in need of a head gasket, but save for that issue, was an extremely reliable car for me. I was nervous, obviously the Biturbo has a horrible reputation for unreliability. However, that was anything but the case for me.

Now I’ve written a separate article about this particular car I’m referencing, but for the sake of this story, I’ll recap quickly. The Maserati was the single most reliable car I’d owned in a few years. There was never a single occasion in which I needed to get somewhere that the car didn’t oblige. Quite literally, it was without flaw. Everything electronic worked, the heater worked, the windows, I mean everything. On a -50 degree winter day, my Mother’s two year old Chevrolet Impala would not start. The Biturbo jumped it and gave it the chance to run. No, I’m not joking.

Once again, regrettably, life circumstances happened, and the Biturbo said goodbye to me, and went on to a new loving home. With that being said, owning that car gave me the confidence to tackle quirky car ownership. I’d serviced it myself, I’d kept it reliable with minimal fuss, I thought I was the man. So when the opportunity presented itself around six months ago to purchase my 1986 Audi 5000 Turbo Quattro, I did not think twice. It had a manual transmission, it ran and drove. The body was pretty well straight, and the frame was clean. I’d reminisced on my days of owning my other 5000 in Tennessee. What could possibly go wrong? For $1300, I figured not too much could.

This ladies and gentleman, is where things get sketchy. I still own this 5000, and let me tell you something right away. Be smarter than me, and buy a normal car. Want the Audi badge? Buy an A4. Want a turbocharged all wheel drive car to have fun with? Go buy a first generation Talon. Do anything, but don’t do what I did. Now that we’re getting to the point, I’ll break this down into segments for dramatic effect.

Cost Of Ownership

Seems cut and dry, doesn’t it? I paid $1300 for the car. In reality, it hasn’t REALLY broke down, but it hasn’t exactly been safely road worthy since the beginning either. I had purchased a set of RS6 wheels for a very cheap price, and was pretty excited to put them on. Except, 18 inch wheels don’t work on a 5000. So, we grabbed a fender roller and got to work. That is when we discovered the first of many major issues. The rear upper control arm on the passenger side was snapped in half, and the rear strut was also broken off at the mounting point. Seems easy enough to fix, doesn’t it? That is when we get into:

Parts Availability

Not to be immodest, but I’m proudly at a point in my life that I can afford to fix major repairs, mostly because I sold my soul to truck driving. So, being the overly thorough person I am, we inspected the rest of the rear suspension. What we found was what we expected, thirty one years and over a quarter million miles made for a very sloppy suspension. My best friend Nathan works at a major auto parts retailer, and I had him order all new bushings for the lower control arms, since the lower control arms went “no longer available” many years ago. We went ahead and ordered new upper control arms, all four struts, some bushings, and we figured that would be easy enough.

So here is the sad news folks, it’s NEVER that easy with rare vehicles. For instance, I get the call from Nathan, he tells me that two of the bushings we need are discontinued. There is no stock anywhere. A few days later, he calls and tells me the front struts arrived, but unfortunately, the rears did not. They were also discontinued and nobody could source them. Frantically, I started searching high and low. Even the almighty parts giants at ECS Tuning told me in a very polite way, “Sir, you’re shit out of luck” and I began to freak out.

By some miracle, the rears arrived. Turns out, I got the last rear struts in existence for my car. The only others I have found are the OEM Sachs for $200 each, and there are only a few sets available. I said a quick thank you to the Gods above, and figured it would be smooth from here. Another newsflash, it’s NEVER smooth from here. I still did not have bushings for my lower control arms, and the bushings in the ones I have were absent. Reluctantly, I hit the forums and found a set of control arms off of an Audi 200, which is a similar car. They were in good condition, and beat what I had by a long shot.

I told myself, since we are already in there, better order the parts to replace my brakes at all four corners. By some miracle, the parts were in stock. A couple clicks later, I had the parts coming. What started out as a simple upper control arm replacement quickly snowballed into a repair costing over a thousand dollars to do correctly. Even then, everything wasn’t smooth.

I had ordered my components based off of my VIN number to insure accuracy, since there were parts changes in 6/1986. When do you think my Audi was produced? You guessed it, 6/1986 and my font brake pads were very incorrect. The vendor did not do much to help, and I ended up having to reuse my old pads on expensive brand new rotors. This did not make me happy, obviously since I frown upon this. Also, the control arms I had received had differences we ended up having to address. This theme had followed the car since day one. Everything from spark plug wires, to control arms arrived incorrectly.

It gets even better. My rear axles seals were also leaking, allowing the oil to leak from the rear differential. The rear driver side wheel bearing was toast. I ordered two new wheel bearings and axle seals. Now, before I even open that can of worms, you know what comes next. The parts arrived incorrectly, and the correct ones are no longer available. I by some stroke of blind luck found a rear wheel bearing that was correct, and Nathan cross referenced the axle seals by size, and we finally had what we needed. A simple weekend repair turned into a stressful two week ordeal, simply because of parts scarcity.


Working On An Obscure Vehicle

Admittedly, Nathan has the horrible job of doing the repairs. Honestly, he is far more skilled than me, and I sleep better at night knowing things are done correctly. With that being said, this comes with many challenges of its’ own. For instance, that basic Craftsman tool kit you got as a wedding gift years ago, well, it’s not going to cut it. Ever heard of a triple square fastener? If you haven’t, get familiar before you buy odd ball European cars, and be prepared to spend a lot of money in specialty tools just to do even basic repairs. You may think I’m exaggerating a little here, but I promise you, I’m not.

Also, very little information exists about even basic torque specifications and repair procedures. You’ll find very quickly that Facebook groups and model specific forums are your best friend, without them, you will fail, bank on that!

Insuring An Odd Non-Exotic Car

Let’s see, Geico says if I wreck my car and it becomes “totaled” I would receive $3200 for it. I surpassed the $3200 investment mark a while back. You can see where I’m going with this.

So Why Do You Own Something Like This?

This question never has a good answer, and now you see why I say to stay away from cars like this. I do it because it is my passion. You’d think finding parts for a nearly extinct Maserati was hard, but you’d be wrong. In comparison to my Audi, the Biturbo is a Civic in terms if ease of acquiring parts. If and when I blow out a rear strut, or need another rear wheel bearing, I’m going to be in trouble again, and the stress of finding parts starts all over. This is only the beginning as well. This is a low production car that is now 31 years old, and there isn’t exactly a huge following for them. So when you do finally find parts for them, you’re going to pay exuberant prices for those items.

What I’m trying to tell you is this, buy a car like mine because you truly want to own it. Do not buy it because it is “different” or “cool” because I’m being brutally honest with you, it is not worth it, and it is never going to be worth it. Resale value isn’t terrible, but the resale market is. Need to sell a car like this in a pinch and I assure you, not going to happen. When you own something like a Biturbo, or an old Audi, you own it because you embrace the quirks, you respect the heritage it has, and you love the nostalgia it brings.

For many people, they want to get noticed. Admittedly the Biturbo was good for that, it sparked conversations constantly. However, nobody is going to come up to you and say “dude cool car” or even respect the hell you have been through to own and maintain that car. The positive to this is, when someone does approach you about your odd car, chances are they know it, own or have owned one like it, and you form some pretty cool friendships because of it.

It is very easy to drop $5000 on that cool car you like, but the question you have to ask yourself isn’t whether you can afford the car, it is can you afford to maintain it, are you resourceful enough to spend hours trying to find something as stupid as a wheel bearing, and are you really prepared to be asked constantly why you won’t just buy an A4?