Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Spending a lot of time indoors...

It is still very cold, even though we are in February now. Pretty much every morning, the temperature is dropping below -15. As a result of this (added to the fact that Oscar is only 2 months old), we are spending a lot of time indoors. Luckily, we have Netflix...

Oscar is now able to be awake without crying, at least for a few minutes at a time, which is nice. Jules is generally in a good mood, but not always! 

Oscar: awake and not crying!
Jules after his swimming lesson

I have come across some pretty dicey driving conditions, where even front-wheel-drive cars have been unable to manage. The BMW handles all this pretty well, although I am sometimes jealous of the hordes of people driving SUV's in Montreal (there seem to be more and more of them!).

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Winter driving means winter parking...
Last Sunday, in the space of a couple of minutes, I saw a couple of cars that must be a handful when driven in winter: an Aston Martin V8 Vantage (convertible) and an Honda S2000. The M3 must feel like a Subaru compared to these cars...

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Sleeper at the supermarket... Tesla P85D... 0-60 in 3.2 seconds!
Although it's a long way off, I can't help but obsess over what car I should buy as my next project car. One thing is for sure: when I first get back into automotive events, I will not be participating in wheel-to-wheel racing, as it simply costs too much in time and money. Rather, I expect to ease back into things, spending time instructing and lapping at local tracks (so I can be home for the boys' bedtime or dinner). As a result, I will not need a full-on race car. This means I can pick something a bit less hard-core, something that can also be an enjoyable weekend car. As a result, I am eliminating any 2-seaters, like the Miata (which I love), so that the family can join me on such rides. 

There are three main contenders so far:

1) 1985-1989 BMW 635Csi. 

Since I was a teenager, I have been impressed by these big BMW coupes. They are not sports cars, yet they have a fantastic racing heritage. The challenge would be to transform this grand tourer into a sports car with the right modifications (weight reduction, suspension and wheels/tires to start). The long-term goal would be to convert the car to vintage racing specifications.

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Pros: 
This is really the car I would like to end up with
No depreciation, possible increase in value
Racing heritage
Reliable engine and transmission
I like the idea of having two BMW's
Rear-wheel-drive
The car is a real head-turner and now rare

Cons:
The cars are old, so might need a lot of work
I'm not sure how the car will do on track with inexpensive modifications
Not a sports car
Limited availability of performance parts

2) 2004- Mazda RX8

I have always liked these cars, but do not love them, like I love M3's or Miata's or Evo's. Still, you can really get a lot of car for about 6 000 $. Also, the car really is a sports car, even though it has four doors. I am confident I could keep on top of the maintenance of the rotary engine, but I would have to know for sure that the previous owner did as well...

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Pros:
This car would be fun to drive and comfortable on track even without modifications
The cars are not old and many were never winter driven
Rear-wheel-drive
Racing heritage
Can't really depreciate any more
Quite uncommon 
I could drive it for a couple of years, then maybe get a more serious project car

Cons:
If the car was not properly maintained, the engine might have issues
I am not in love with the look of the car (although some lowering springs and new wheels might help)

3) 2006-2011 Honda Civic Si

These cars are pretty much sports cars right out of the box as well: 197 hp (easily tuneable for more) and a limited-slip differential are stock. It's a Civic, so I would be confident about reliability and my ability to be quick on track behind the wheel.

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Pros:
Honda reliability
Wide availability of tuning parts
The K20 engine is a beauty
I could drive it for a couple of years, then maybe get a more serious project car, as these are easy to sell

Cons:
I am not in love with the look of the car
It's front-wheel drive, so less of an interesting challenge for me
The used ones I see will surely have been winter driven
Not much of a head-turner, not especially rare

It is really hard to figure out which would be the best choice for me... but I have plenty of time to figure it out. In fact, figuring it out is, in and of itself, a fun way to spend these cold winter nights.

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