Monday, September 1, 2014

Same Old Blog In A New Blog Location.

In an attempt to create a blog that is easier to read, follow, and comment on, I have switched to a new platform. Please check it out, and don't hesitate to give me your opinions. This new platform is very flexible, and my goal is to make my blog as enjoyable to read as possible!

That said, the same dorky old cars and lame jokes that only I laugh at will still be present... so if that hasn't scared you off, hopefully you'll like the new interface!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Restoring Memories.

A recent visit home saw me rifling through hundreds and hundreds of old family photographs. Pictures of vacations and Christmases and family and friends and beloved pets and bad haircuts and worse clothing had my little sister and I laughing and reminiscing. Equally interesting were some of the old photographs my father had taken of his various automotive projects and treasures. The best find was a series of shots of his restoration of a true classic, a 1960's Ford Thunderbird!
I remember hearing about this car, but was too young to remember it when he restored it. I had no idea from what condition he had started, but I can see by the pictures that some major work took place to get it back into showroom condition. Unfortunately I do not recall any of the details of the car, but checking online I found out that it was a third-generation model, made from 1961 to 1963. This long and sleek convertible was painted a rich shade of red and had a white folding top and matching white interior with red accents.
According to the pictures it was clearly a very thorough restoration. The drivetrain was out of the car at some point, and the rear quarter panels saw some serious patching. My dad always enjoyed sanding an old car; he would spend hours going over the curves and creases to get them perfectly smooth, and the beautiful finish suggests that he took the same pleasure with this Thunderbird. He seems to have taken alot of pride in this project, as I don't recall ever seeing so many pictures of one of his restorations. As a matter of fact, I'm a little miffed to see that there are more of this car than there are of my science fair projects and kindergarden macaroni artwork...

The interior and roof were obviously completely revamped as well, because the end result looks nothing like the starting state! The 1961 to 1963 Thunderbird convertible really is a legendary car. It carried on some of the traits of the original model, but stretched and streamlined the lines. One of the most interesting features was the famous tonneau cover; these fiberglass panels sat over the rear seats and created a 2-seater feel and look. As with most cars of the era, the engine was a V8 and the transmission was a stout 3-speed automatic. The T-Bird was more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car, and I think that it really had the look to fit the role.
Over the years I remember my dad talking fondly of his red Thunderbird, and I am so happy not only to see pictures of it, but to be able to share it with other automotive fans that can appreciate such a wonderful restoration!

Monday, August 18, 2014

You Can Have Any Colour Taxi You Want, As Long As Its A Santana.

First automotive impression of Shanghai? Lots of taxis. Lots and lots and lots of taxis. It's all you see. And they're all the same. VW Santana sedans, by the dozens, hundreds, thousands. There were several different generations, some of which were designed specifically with China in mind (they later ones were even called the Shanghai Santana Vista). Apparently China was the largest single market for the rather large VW sedan, and as I noted was very popular as taxis, but also as police vehicles.
Seeing the same car over and over and over can be boring, but at least the taxis come in many different colours. You really have the whole rainbow here. They are typically grey on the bottom, roof and bumpers, with colour across the hood, trunk and doors. It certainly breaks up the monotony of an otherwise boring and style-less car, and brightens the streets of Shanghai.

Think I'll head out and explore the city a bit now. It's nice to know that if I get tired I can easily hail a taxi, and can even pick the colour I want!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Non-Automotive Ode To France.

With just over 24 hours left before I leave France, I felt like sharing my thoughts and impressions. While this has nothing to do with cars, I felt that a blog entry was the best forum to use, so those that are only interested in cars can stop reading now. Excuse me for this blatant misuse of automotive internet real-estate...
The past couple of days have been eye-opening. I am so excited about my next journey (to Shanghai, China), that I failed to predict the difficulty I would have leaving this place I have called home for the past eight and a half years. Wanting to go somewhere else does not necessarily mean you don't want to be where you are, and that's the case right now.
There's so much to love about this country. I live 150 km north of Paris, and have travelled extensively in France, so I have a good appreciation of the different regions of 'the Hexagon'. Most of my travels I have done by car (hey look, an automotive connection!), which is a fantastic way to truly discover a country. My house is in the department of Aisne in the region of Picardie, a very rural area loaded with history (what part of Europe isn't?!?). This region was touched heavily by both World Wars, and there are traces of it even today. There are beautiful old castles and cathedrals and churches, and old cities and towns with cobblestone streets and tired old stone buildings. Even the smallest of villages usually has an old church or ruin that seems normal here, but would be a historical monument anywhere else.
France is a fantastic place to live if you like food, wine, cheese and cars (there they are again!). It really is a gastronomic culture, and while not everyone eats top French cuisine every day (France is one of McDonald's biggest markets after the US, FYI), if you want to taste a variety of traditional and avant-garde cuisine, you can find it all here. I know that the French didn't invent wine, but they certainly have mastered it, and while I am certainly no expert, I appreciate a nice bottle of wine much more since I moved here. Add to that Champagne, a good bottle of which is an event all its own. Even before coming to France I considered myself a cheese fan, but the choices here are nearly unlimited, and one interesting insider tidbit is that the smelliest ones aren't necessarily the ones with the strongest taste! And the cars! The current crop of French cars, from Renault, Citroen and Peugeot, are competitive and attractive, but it's the historical models and brands (including Talbot, Alpine and Panhard) that really managed to catch my attention.
But it can't always be 'La Vie en Rose', can it? No, it can't. France is a frustratingly complex country. The rules, the traditions, the bureaucracy... they can all be tricky to read, difficult to manoeuvre, and angering to have to accept. I have countless examples of the mind-boggling complexity and paradox that is the French way of doing things...
A few years ago I had to mail in an official document to the government. I knew that I was supposed to send it by registered mail (to have proof that it was sent by the right date in case it got lost), but I was rushed before leaving on vacation and simply sent it by regular mail. The French postal system (La Poste) is very reliable at getting letters to their destination quickly (when they're not on strike; more on that later...), so I knew it would be okay. I was more than a bit perplexed when I returned from vacation and saw that a letter had been sent back to me. It stated that because I had not followed the rule, they could not accept my document. I recall standing there dumfounded, picturing the scene: an overworked public servant (because they're all apparently horribly overworked here) opened my letter that had arrived on his desk, as planned. He took it out, saw that it was the document he was waiting for, but also noticed that it wasn't a registered letter. He then prepared a response notifying me that my document could not be accepted because it had not been sent with the guarantee that it would arrive on his desk, put that in an envelope, added a 0.54 euro stamp, and had it mailed to me. Ummmm...
Or how about a few years back when I applied for my 10 year working Visa? For 5 years I had been renewing my Visa every year (according to the rules), and was therefore eligible for the 10-year version. I prepared all of the documents (there were many!), made an appointment, and filled in the paperwork and was told to wait a few months. A few months passed, then a few more, then a few more. After around 10 months I called and was finally able to get through to someone. She told me that my application had been 'filed'. Refused? No. Delayed? No. 'Filed'. I asked what that meant, and she said that it had been a busy year, no one had had the time to process the request, and that the best option was to start again with a new request! I heard her rummage through a file folder and she said that she had my file in her hands. I asked politely (because you have to remain VERY polite; these people have an incredible amount of power over you, and they know it) if there was any way she could simply put it on the 'To Do' pile, and she said no, that it would be easier to start again. Easier for who?!? I then asked if she could mail me the file folder in her hands so that I could simply mail it back to her, since it was complete and exactly what I would send her if I started over, and again she said no. Start over. Merci, au revoir. Grrrr...
A third example you ask? Just today I went to pick up my last 1-year Visa. It was actually processed quickly (I applied for it just two weeks ago), which was a nice change. The fee was 106 euros. For income tax, property tax, speeding tickets (oops!), France has fantastic, modern, one-click online methods of paying. It's really very easy and super efficient. For Visas? Now that's another story. You have to go buy 'Fiscal stamps'; they look exactly like postal stamps for mailing letters, but are in different denominations and are a form of currency. Where do you go to buy these? Why your local tabacco shop, of course! Logical, right? I think that years ago most (if not all) 'Tabacs' sold them, but nowadays it's getting harder and harder to find one that does, even though they're an official payment method that you need for many different types of official transactions. After my third try this morning I had a friendly tobacco vendor tell me that I could also buy them at the nearby Tax Center, which made a bit more sense. But then I watched as the woman behind the counter had to go take out 4 different file folders, carefully rip off four different denominations (90 + 10 + 5 + 1 euros), and note each one in a little chart, take my 110 euros, then give me change... and realised that it is not surprising that official transactions can take ages in France, and that public servants claim they are overworked! Arrrrgh...
Enough of the complaining! That can also be considered a French trait; 'raler', or complaining, is an art form in France, and I seem to have picked it up. Even with these frustrating moments in day-to-day life, there is still so much to be said for this country. Over my nearly nine years here I have made many wonderful friends: people of different ages, with different origins, and from different regions, but all kind and caring and likeable. I was a bit of a novelty at first in this rural area, with my broken French and horrible accent, but it generally seemed to be a positive thing. I leave behind many friends and some new family, and while I will obviously keep contact with as many as possible, it is difficult to realise that they won't be part of my everyday life anymore.
That's life though, isn't it? "C'est la vie"! I am glad to leave still in love with this place. I have always said to myself that I didn't want to wait until I hated a place before leaving it; to be so sick of it that it was a relief to pack up and go. This is the exact opposite situation. I leave very excited about the future, but a tad nostalgic about the past eight and a half years of my life. There was lots to learn (Do I use the formal 'Vous' with someone, or the informal 'Tu'? Am I supposed to shake hands with the people I know, or do I do the French 'bise' (kiss)? Are ALL stores closed between 12h and 14h? Why do I have to put a bar in the middle of my number 7 ( 7 ) so that people won't confuse it with a number 1? Am I legally required to go out and wait for the breadman in my nightgown and slippers like the 'mamies' in my village?), but then again that's part of integrating and appreciating a new culture.
And to finish off, another paradox. I was annoyed to have to go pick up my Visa this morning. This has to be done at the 'Préfecture' (the local government office, usually in the largest city of the department). In my case it is in Laon, around 40 minutes away. I was grumbling as I headed off, knowing that I would have to take a number and sit for an hour in a hot, noisy waiting room to be called. My grumpiness melted away as I hit the road, though. It's a lovely drive through green countryside, with a couple of hills and turns to make the ride more interesting. As I approached Laon (a city that I have visited often and know well) there was a detour because of a car accident, so I ended up approaching the city from a different direction than usual. At one point I caught a glimpse of the skyline in the distance... and was thankful for the convoluted French bureaucracy system. If I had been able to click a few buttons on a website and go to my local mayors office to pick up my Visa, I wouldn't have seen this:
Laon is a very old city perched on top of a large hill. The cathedral (Notre Dame de Laon), built between 1150 and 1155 (no typo there!) is the most impressive I have seen, and inspired other cathedrals in France, including Notre Dame de Paris (maybe you've heard of it??). In the end I was very thankful to have had the opportunity to visit it one last time, and the wait at the Préfecture (it was barely 30 minutes in the end) wasn't nearly as painful as I expected.
Tomorrow I will travel by train into Paris early and visit with a few friends before heading to the airport. More than likely I will go have a bite to eat at a Parisian brasserie, and the server will be rude and grumpy and annoyed at having to serve me. And I wouldn't want it any other way! Then I will trudge off to the airport with my bags and wait as my flight is delayed because the air traffic controllers have planned a strike tomorrow (another French pastime; there are yearly strikes with the Airlines, Post Office, and Railway, to the point that it's nearly comical!). And I wouldn't want it any other way! I'll sit and wait patiently as people around me fume and complain and argue with the hapless airport staff ("Mais ce n'est pas possible! C'est scandaleux!"). And I wouldn't want it any other way. So much in France is wonderful and unique and exceptional and loveable, that even the things that aren't somehow seem charming and adorable in the end.
So I raise a glass to this life-changing experience! When you cheers a drink in France you have to look the person in the eye; it's a sign of respect (and goes back to when if you wanted to poison someone you put the poison in your glass and sloshed it into theirs when you did a cheers; most people couldn't look their intended victim in the eye), and it says alot about the character of the French. They are honest, and blunt, and sincere, and caring, and respect their traditions because it is their traditions that built this wonderful country.

Santé, la France, je t'aime!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Abbecourt Auto Show.

I like to think it was organised as a farewell party just for me. As I finish my last week of work in France and slowly finish packing my things for my big move to China, I am thankful that I got one last (actually it was a first as well!) auto show in... and believe it or not, it was in my tiny village of Abbécourt!
It was a few weekends ago; just after breakfast on the Sunday morning I heard the distinct sound of old cars sputtering up the street. I live on a very tiny street with no through traffic, and hearing old car after old car make its way up the street really caught my attention. I ran to the window just in time to see the last of the old relics head up out of view. Assuming they were gone, I got on with my morning.
A short time later my visitor (a Canadian friend who was visiting) and I headed out. On a whim I drove up the street to in front of the Mairie (the town hall), and lo and behold, the cars had all stopped for a mini show and shine! I was in heaven! We jumped out of the car and joined the handful of people looking over the hardware. As an anecdote, the owners heard us speaking English, and when they tried their best to talk to me about their old cars in broken English I didn't have the heart to tell them I spoke French, so I played along! It's amazing how you can make yourself understood when you're passionate about something...
In total there were 10 cars: certainly not an international auto show, but still worth a peek for a couple of old car fans. There was a customized yellow Beetle, and a tidy Renault 4L, and a nifty Renault Rodéo 4x4 buggy. There was also a very clean and original Simca 1300 sedan in green with a tasteful black vinyl roof.  On the more eccentric side there was a Mega Convertible, which the owner told me was a plastic-bodied, partly take-apart-able beach bomber based on a Citroen Ax platform. I had never seen one before, and probably won't again!
The three most interesting cars were also amongst the oldest. First there was the Panhard CD coupé. This long, wide and low sports car had a Jaguar feel to it, but with some touches all its own. To be sure I wouldn't call it downright beautiful, but it certainly had a charm to it! The protruding front bumper and oddly square headlights (relative to the curves of the body) spoiled the look bit, but when viewed the rear the Panhard was every bit a sleek road machine. Built from 1963 to 1966, only 159 copies were built, making it one truly rare car!
Another beauty was a big black Panhard-Levasseur 6CS. This massive closed-carriage, produced from 1930 until the end of the decade, represented the peak of production and success for Panhard, which wouldn't last past the 1960s as an automotive manufacturer. This lovely 6-cylinder coach remains as a pristine example of one of the most storied French luxury brands.
And the best for last! My absolute favourite of the little mobile troupe was a cute little Simca 5 from 1937. The curvaceous blue and black coupé had just the right lines. The long sloping hood and massive fenders, grille and headlights made the small car look bigger than it was. The two doors opened suicide-style, allowing easy access into the cramped cabin. Car fans will know that this car was perhaps better known as the Fiat 500 Topolino, but it also had a succesful career under the Simca name, the French outlet for Fiat back in the day.
The front-opening hood, inboard radiator at the firewall, brake light with 'Stop' script, manually operated side marker lights, and rear deck spare tire cover were all interesting and unique features that caught my attention on this beautiful little car.
Quite the nice send-off if you ask me! I'm very excited about my opportunity in China, and am sure that I will find a whole new bunch of cars to drool over (and blog about), but I am already feeling nostalgic about all the fantastic automotive adventures I've had in France. Luckily I have a folder full of photos that I will pull out from time to time to remind me of all there is to see here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

104 Gun Salute.

It may have happened over three years ago, but I still would like to request a moment of silence for my dearly departed Peugeot 104. After two years and over 30,000 kms of flawless service, my 104 was retired to that big wrecking yard in the sky after a nasty little road accident.
I hadn't been in France long when a local car caught my attention. I drove by it almost daily, and was always curious about this strange miniature hatchback. My curiosity got the best of me in the end, and I stopped to see the make and model. It was a 1987 Peugeot 104 Style Z, the 3-door coupe version, and I was in love. A quick peek online led me to one for sale in Paris, and after a first visit and test drive I returned with 600 euros cash in hand and drove it home.
Most of my coworkers thought that I was nuts, and wondered why someone 188 cm (6'2") tall would want such a tiny car. I explained that having grown up with large cars in Canada, I was more amused and intrigued by some of the tiny models that existed in Europe. The tough little 104 ran like a top, with the characteristic muted growl from the X-type Peugeut 1.0L engine. The only issue was starting in damp weather, but that was easily solved with a replacement distributor cap.
The 104 was a willing partner for all sorts of roadtrips, including a rather imposing 1000km, 10 hour trip from Paris to the Pyrenees mountains for a ski holiday, and back again a week later. Three adults and their luggage and assorted odds and ends equated to one cramped trip, but it was a rather memorable journey.
And then came that fateful Sunday; it was a typical lazy afternoon drive with no destination in particular planned. Where the 104 did end up, however, was embedded into the side of a small van that did not pay attention to a stop sign and crossed the road at exactly the wrong moment. Luckily neither myself nor the other driver were hurt. The side of his van was nicely caved in, but he was able to drive off. The poor Peugeot, however, wasn't.
The accident had ruptured the radiator, and the coolant had leaked out. Even if it hadn't, the front right wheel had been shoved back, and the car wouldn't roll. It had to be yanked onto the back of a flatbed tow truck and carted unceremoniously back to town. I was a bit insulted that the tow-truck driver wasn't more compassionate ("Well she's a write-off for sure, an old piece of junk like that!"), and that he didn't radio ahead for a police escort, or at the very least a trumpet solo as she was pushed off at the garage, but I bit my tongue. Not everyone can appreciate such a fine automobile.
If I recall correctly, the insurance adjuster quoted around 4,000 euros to repair it, which clearly wasn't going to happen. I ended up getting 750 euros, which was more than I had originally paid, so I guess I could consider myself lucky. When I look back at these pictures, though, I can't help but miss my first French car. It's a bit late, but I'd like that 104 gun salute now, please...
NB: one fond memory of the 104 was when the exhaust pipe broke; mostly people would consider that a bad thing, but not me...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Concrete Proof.

All of the time I spent reading those Hardy Boy books as a kid paid off last weekend! I did some super sleuthing, and made a very interesting automotive discovery. Okay, so it's a bit of a stretch to call it automotive, but it was close. And it is also a bit of a stretch to say that it was sleuthing, as I was given the approximate location of the vehicle, but it still felt like a bit of an adventure.
My new auto-obsessed friend, Antoine, who has more cars and stories than anyone I know, told me about a few old car and truck wrecks in the area. One legend that particularly caught my attention was of a dump truck that had slid off a winding road and rolled to the bottom of a steep hill. At the time (decades ago), it was deemed too expensive to try and have it removed, so it was left to rot away. He didn't mention what had happened to the driver, so I want to assume that he got out okay.
After hearing this story, I knew that I would have to go and check it out, especially since it was only about 30 kms away. The following day was a sunny Sunday, and I was happy to have an excuse to go on a little automotive-related mission. Antoine had given me the approximate location, at the end of a twisty road that runs up a very steep hill just after the village of Vezaponin.
(As an aside, this just so happenes to be along a stretch of my favourite road, which I have written about previously: My Favourite Road blog entry...)
At the very top of the hill I was able to park, and walked back down to scan for the truck. The trees and undergrowth were so thick that I was sure I wouldn't find it, but after a few passes up and down a flash of yellow way down at the bottom of the ravine in the first big corner caught my eye. Forget a pot of gold, I had found the yellow cement truck of Vezaponin!

It was there. And looked impossible to get to. Just behind the guardrail the hill was nearly vertical; there was no way to climb down without climbing gear. I found a little path a few hundred meters away, and headed down hoping to be able to loop back. No such luck. The trees and brambles and thorns were so thick that there was absolutely no way to get through. I hesitated leaving, but wasn't willing to give up.
I went back down the road to where I could see the truck. The path straight down was clear enough, but it was going to be difficult to get a foothold. A few small, well-placed trees looked promising, so I started half climbing, half sliding my way down, grabbing tree after tree (much like a monkey, I have to admit) to slow my descent. I pictured myself falling to the bottom and breaking my leg, and wasn't convinced that there was cell-phone service at the bottom of the ravine to call for help. The bottle of water and pack of gum in my pockets wasn't really going to help me survive months stranded at the bottom, so I knew that I had to be careful.
In the end it was less dramatic than I pictured, and I got to level ground with only a few scrapes. I had to push my way through some more trees and thorns, but there it was, in front of me.
The cement truck had apparently been there for several decades, which was believable considering the state of it. The tumble down the hill had twisted the cab to to the point that it was nearly unrecognizable, but the huge rear cement drum was more or less intact. At some point someone had come and removed the drivetrain, as no trace of the engine, transmission, or wheels was left.
After close inspection I could make out the remains of the drivers seat and the dashboard. I could also see some of the roof and the door panels, and bits of the front end, bent under the rest of the cab. I could make out an 'H' logo in a star, but did not recognize it. A quick bit of research revealed that it belonged to Henschel, a German manufacturer that built heavy trucks (including cement trucks) from the early 1900s up until the end of the early 1970s, when the truck division was purchased and absorbed by Daimler-Benz. It is not clear exactly which model this poor yellow wreck was, but it would appear that it was probably a Hanomag-Henschel, perhaps from the late 60's or early 70's. The truck was so damaged that I couldn't positively identify the model, but my best guess is that it looked something like this, but with a cement mixer on the back:
There is something interesting about seeing this cement truck slowly rusting away. It will take a very long time, but eventually it will disappear into the ground. Only a few bits of plastic and glass will remain as a trace of this yellow monster. It was easier than I expected to get back up the hill; I retraced my steps and pulled myself up using the trees.
I can't wait to go see Antoine and show him these pictures! With luck he'll know of another treasure hunt I can head out on! I was tempted to take a souvenir, but decided against it in the end. The truck isn't mine, and it's best to leave it untouched for the next automotive adventurer who wants to rediscover this wreck.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Ode To Fiero.

We all like marking milestones, and today I mark my 100th blog entry. I've really enjoyed sharing my stories, and am happy to see a small but seemingly interested group of people to share them with. I have a head full of other stories and a folder of pictures to go with them, so I don't see myself stopping anytime soon.

As I look over what I've written up until now, one thing shocks me: I have yet to mention my favourite car! Those that know me well can guess what it is... and there's even a hint in my email address (paul8488). I owned one in 2003, and while it didn't last very long (engine failure was a known problem with some of the early models, and mine was no exception!), I still consider it my favourite car.
Enough suspense, my childhood dream car that remains to this day a smile-inducing mash-up of steel, plastic, rubber and glass is the Pontiac Fiero. North Americans are usually familiar with the Fiero, though rarely for the right reasons. The 2-seat, rear-engine sports coupe is often the butt of jokes, and the irony of the "O, fire" anagram still stings 26 years after it went out of production (after a 1984 to 1988 production run).

But first the good stuff. The Fiero project started at the end of the 1970s, and has become a bit of a legend for fans. Apparently Pontiac wanted to create their own 2-seat sports car, but the Corvette people at Chevrolet (another GM brand) didn't want competition to their iconic coupe. The Fiero project eventually got approval, but only after Pontiac agreed to build it as an economical commuter car, and on a very tight budget.
A clean-sheet car wasn't possible, so Pontiac had to pick and choose from the GM parts bin where they could to save development costs. The rear engine and drivetrain was from an exisiting front-wheel drive platform at GM, and was simply moved to the rear of the car. The front suspension and wheels were taken from another exisiting car. Where Pontiac did spend their money was on the design of the ultra-modern spaceframe and plastic body, which would be copied on future GM models, and truly was a revolution at the time.

When the Fiero finally hit the streets, it was an attractive, stylish little car with several hidden compromises. The performance didn't match the racy looks, as the only engine available at first was a lightly modified 2.5L 'Ironduke' 4-cylinder with less than 100 horsepower. The handling wasn't up to snuff either; while the car was entertaining to drive thanks to the low center of gravity and weight of the engine just behind the cockpit, the borrowed low-grade suspension bits didn't offer any precision, or a particularly inspired feel. 
And then there were the fires. Time has blown the story up (no pun intended), as in the end the fire rate of the Fiero actually wasn't significantly higher than the industry average. The spectacular nature of the fire's however, and the fact that it happened on a newly introduced model, painted the Fiero as a fiery deathtrap from the start, and it was never able to fully shake that reputation.

Several different models were produced over the five years it was built, from the base 2M4 4-cylinder model to the Ferrari-like GT version with fast-back style looks and a more powerful V6 engine. While I was happy with my 2M4 (for the short time I had it), to this day I dream of a red GT...
Someday, someday. Most people dream of exotic sports cars or collectible convertibles, but not me. If I was to put a poster up in my bedroom today it would be the same one I had up 25 years ago, the flawed but charming Fiero.

Hopefully for my 200th blog entry I'll be able to share pictures of my own Pontiac Fiero GT!

EDIT: I found a picture of my actual Fiero that I added to the post; this was before the era of digital photos, so it's always nice to find old photographs; even if the quality is a bit lacking!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Broken Breakdown.

A broken down car on the side of the road isn't necessarily an uncommon or shocking sight. One in the state of this Renault, however, certainly is. A few weeks ago I noticed this grey Laguna on an on-ramp to a local highway. Naturally I was curious, and stopped to take a closer look and take a few pictures.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who had noticed it. There were no clues as to why it had broken down, but it had clearly suffered greatly during its stay on the side shoulder. Many parts had been removed (headlights, taillights, grille, hubcaps), and the rest of the car had been smashed.
The windshield and side and rear windows had been shattered, and someone had clearly taken a baseball bat or crowbar to each of the body panels. Even the inside of the car had suffered, as the dash, door panels and seats had been ripped, torn and beaten.
I was disappointed to see the car in this shape, and consider it a silly waste. Even if the car had suffered engine failure, the rest of it appears to have been in decent shape before its savage beating on the side of the road. The engine could certainly have been fixed or, worst case, replaced. As it is now the car is good for the scrap yard, as every single body panel, window, and interior bit needs to be fixed.
Breaking down on the side of the road is already a big enough pain, but I can't imagine coming back the next day and seeing this. I am going to think twice about letting my car run out of gas in the future, if this is what is waiting for it on the side of the road!