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My Autos - My Previous Rides Updated: December 25, 2013
   
The previous cars
in my adult life
have included:
Car Bought Sold
1973 Plymouth Duster 340 Aug. 1984 Sept. 1990
1985 Ford T-Bird Turbo Coupe Feb. 1986 June 1989
1987 Ford T-Bird Turbo Coupe Oct. 1988 June 1989
1989 Ford T-Bird Super Coupe July 1989 April 1991
1990 Toyota Celica GT-S Dec. 1990 March 2000
1995 Lexus SC300 April 1998 June 2000
1990 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo July 1999 June 2000
2000 Toyota Celica GT-S October 1999 October 2002
2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 cabrio May 2001 May 2003
1997 Toyota Celica GT Convertible April 2005 December 2013

For a couple photos of my most recent car collection, look here.

In high school, I had a 72 Plymouth Duster 340, and a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE 440.

Prior to getting my driver's license, I had two other vehicles.  The first was a 1967 Chevy pickup for use on the private roads at my family's camp in east Texas.  It had a  250 CID 6-cylinder with a one-barrel carb, and a 3-speed "on the tree".   I learned to drive in this truck.   I also had a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S 340 4-speed.  Unfortunately, Hurricane Claudette of July 1979 pretty much ruined this car before I got to drive it (much).  However, my older friends got to drive it a lot!


1973 Plymouth Duster 340; Owned 5 yrs - Aug '84 to Sept '89

This 1973 Plymouth Duster was originally purchased new by a fellow in his early 20's, and was unfortunately killed in Vietnam only a few months after buying the car.  His Mom had driven it for a few years but grew tired of the heavy clutch and simply parked it in driveway of home..  When I bought it during the summer of 1984 after returning home from active duty in the Marines, the car had not been driven in about seven years.  A few gallons of fresh gas in the tank and a shot of ether, and this baby came to life.

Over the next several years, it was my daily driver.  As a matter of fact, it was my only car until I bought the '85 T-Bird below.  Once I had another car to drive, I went about restoring this one to near show-room condition.  I rebuilt the engine, installed a high performance clutch and pressure plate, and swapped the original 3-speed manual transmission for a 4-speed.  I also rebuilt the entire suspension, from ball joints, tie-rod ends, pitman and idler arms, and rear leaf springs.  I even installed some up-rated front torsion bars.   I then stripped the car and proceeded to clean, sand blast, prime and paint everything, from floor pans to door jambs, to re-undercoating the inside of the fenders.  When all the hard stuff was done, I laid on several coats of paint in the original color of Rally Red. 

Performance wise, the car ran pretty well.  The engine was rebuilt with 10:1 TRW flat-tops, a Competition Cams 268H cam (268 advertised duration & .468" lift), Blackjack 1 5/8" alumicoat headers, and an Edelbrock Torker intake topped with a Holley 750 double-pumper. The only serious work on the engine was a mild porting job to the heads. I used the factory electronic distributor with a MSD 6C ignition module.  The 8 3/4 sure-grip (Mopar's version of a positrac) rear-end was setup with 3.91 gears.  With normal driving, it averaged 13 mpg.   It also was capable of a top speed of 140 mph in 4th at about 7000 rpms.  I actually did this once on the Sam Houston Tollway shortly after it opened.  Let me say that this car was never designed to go faster than 120 mph due to its brick-like aerodynamics.  At the drag strip, it ran consistent 13.8s and 14.0s which were reasonably good at the time for a car of this generation.  Overall ,it was a very fun car to toy around in.

Along about the fall of 1989, I had pretty much lost interest and had it for sale.  During this time, it was stolen and stripped.  I recall receiving a 911 page from a friend to say that the cops had recovered my car and had towed it to my house.  Blah..  about the only things they thieves didn't take was the wheels because I used wheel locks.  

Insurance companies (really, simply, plainly, just) suck. So I called my insurance carrier, ------------- , and apprised them of the situation, to which my agent  said he'd have the Insurance Company send a check for $750 in a couple days.  Huh?  What?  When I started driving the car since the restoration, I had told my agent that I wanted a "stated amounts" policy in the amount of $4500.  Unfortunately, my agent didn't write the policy correctly, and issued a standard auto policy.  Come on.. Who puts full coverage insurance on a fifteen year-old car unless it's something special.  Needless to say, I had to argue my point and threaten both my agent and the Insurance Company with a lawsuit if they didn't pay me the $4500, the amount I had previously requested as the value for the stated amounts policy.  In the end, the Insurance Company hired an independent auto appraiser, at their cost, mind you, to look at what was left of the car and also review the receipts I had kept for all the costs incurred during the restoration.  In the appraiser's opinion, I had set my value too low, as he was well prepared to tell the Insurance Company a figure nearer to $6000. As a result, I ended up receiving a check from the Insurance Company for $4500, plus tax, title and license.  It happens so infrequently in life, one has to rejoice with joy when the individual triumphs over a major corporation in a dispute such as this. 


1985 Ford T-Bird Turbo Coupe; Owned 3.25 yrs - Feb '86 to June '89

After driving a Turbo Coupe rental car on a business trip to Lake Charles, La., I fell in love with these cars.  So it happened one evening in February 1986, on the way home from work, I saw this car on a used car lot.  I stopped; I saw; I bought.  No thinking was required.  It had a turbocharged and non-intercooled 2.3L 4-cylinder with a whopping 140 HP mated to an automatic transmission.  It was a nice car, and lasted me for 110,000 miles. During that time, about the only problem I had with the car was with the quadra-link suspension (same suspension shared with the SVO Mustang of the same era.)  I never performed any modifications to the turbo or engine.  It ran pretty well and in 110,000 miles, it never missed a beat, save one timing belt episode about a quarter-mile from my house.  

Unfortunately, this car was flooded with water up to the dash during a tropical storm in June 1989.  Tropical Storm Alison it was.  No wonder I've never particularly like women named Alison.  <Sigh>  State Farm paid off nicely on this flood victim, and so I then proceeded to buy the '89 Super Coupe below.


1987 Ford T-Bird Turbo Coupe; VIN 1FABP64WXHH224059

I'd just as soon forget all about this car.  I'll write about it sometime later..  much later.  


1989 Ford T-Bird Super Coupe; VIN 1FAPP64RXKH197565; Owned 1.75 yrs - July '89 to April '91

I picked-up this car on my birthday in 1989.  I was in my mid-twenties. Wow..  What a car.  Equipped with a 5-speed and a supercharged V6 with 215 HP and 315 lb-ft of torque at some amazingly low rpm like 2400 rpms, I could drive all day with reasonable performance and never exceed 2500 rpms.  It was fairly quick for its day, and oh what a babe-magnet.  And that's about all I'll say about that.  Unfortunately, I think this car was built on a Friday at 4:30 pm because in all its glory, it is the reason I bought my first foreign car.  It's late and I'll write more about the car and my experiences with it sometime soon.

 
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