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Jeep Wrangler Bestop Trektop NX softtop installation

Over a year ago my mother bought a new Jeep Wrangler to replace her Acura TL. While she found a Wrangler that was in the exact specification she wanted, there was one thing that was missing from it – the soft top. It wasn’t really a big deal as the factory soft top is a bit pricey and kind of a pain to install. Months came and went and it wasn’t until this spring that I ordered an aftermarket soft top for her Jeep. After much research I decided to buy the from Bestop. I’ve used Bestop soft tops for years on many of my Jeeps and I knew that these were quality products.

I also didn’t want a typical soft top for my mom. I knew that this will be used only in the summer and I did not want to spend a lot of money. The Trektop is different in that it relies of the Jeep’s roll bar for support as opposed to complicated frames that support factory soft tops. There are some interior space sacrifices, but that did not matter to my mother.

Below is my adventure with the installation of this top and a quick review.  … Continue Reading

Craigslist: 1998 Lada Niva in Los Angeles

The Lada Niva. Some call it the best Soviet vehicle ever made. It’s so good, that they still make it. It’s so good that my father, who lives in Poland, is on his second one. I spent a full day driving it and I wasn’t so smitten by it; manual steering, not enough power, and overall just not up to par to western vehicles produced in the 1990s. It was tiresome, but for communist Soviet times, it was great, and it sure would make a great novelty car in the U.S.

I once toyed with the idea of bringing an Eastern Bloc car from Poland to the United States. Back then they were still dirt cheap, but lately a wave of patriotism and cult following has developed for these cars, bringing sales prices up with it. Add $2000-$3000 for import fees and I’d be lucky to break even on an eventual sale, not calculating the time and stress needed to legally register such vehicle.

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Our Cars: 2010 Toyota 4Runner SR5 is the newer family truckster

After years of discussions, decision making, (sadly the hundreds of comments on these posts were lost) and shopping, I have finally purchased a replacement for my family hauler, the 2005 Acura MDX. The two finalists were:

  • 2010 Acura MDX with the Advance Package. I liked the MDX because the first one served us so well and the Advance Package meant that it has the collision mitigating system which stops or slows down the car when it senses a potential front-end collision. These systems work really well and it was high on my priority list. ’10 was the first year with that system, a six-speeds trans, and a minor facelift.
  • 2010 Toyota 4Runner Limited. The 4Runner Limited was there because I always wanted a Land Cruiser-like Toyota and the 4Runner was pretty much it for a reasonable amount of money. It’s also big, strong, and safe. I liked the Limited’s Lexus-like interior, full-time 4WD, and the almost rare now body-on-frame design. 2010 was the first year for the fifth-gen 4Runner.

But I did not buy either of these vehicles. Instead I bought a 2010 4Runner SR5 with cloth seats and part-time 4WD. It was a private party one-owner vehicle with 32,000 miles on the clock. It has the upgraded audio system with Bluetooth, USB, and SiriusXM, back-up camera, parking sensors, power seats, a wife-mandated third row seat, and a sunroof. I paid close to retail for it, but the owner was completly OCD; he had all the records, kept it very clean, and properly maintained. When he bought it, he swapped out the gawd-awful stock highway tires for a set of the awesome BFGoodrich All-Terrains, threw in WeatherTech mats all around, and installed a remote start. The low mileage and a good home is what did it for me, but I am still not sure if that’s the right choice.

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A Tale of Craigslist Wheels… and New Jersey

damn wheels

My mother used to have a very nice 2005 Acura TL. For almost nine years she used that car to commute from her home in Edgewater, NJ, to her work in the Bronx. For those of you that have not traveled between New Jersey and New York over the George Washington Bridge, and further north over the Cross Bronx Expressway, should know that this may be the worst road in the United States. The traffic jams are constant, as is construction. Someone always breaks down or rear-ends someone else. Due to heavy truck traffic the pavement is extremely wavy. It’s bad, really bad.

The third generation Acura TL came standard with 17-inch wheels wrapped in 235/45-17 tires. The car handled very well right out of the box, while retaining a ride that was comfortable. With a 270hp engine, it was a fun car to drive, even with the ever-present torque-steer. The problem was that its wheel/tire combination did not resist road imperfections well. Bubbled-up tires and bent wheels were the norm for my mom and many other TL owners. I did my best to ensure that she always had a good set of wheels and tires on the car, which meant frequent Craigslist searches.

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Craigslist: 1988 Mazda 323 GTX

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One of 1243, as per our pal . And now this turbocharged, all-wheel-drive rally goodness can be all yours for only $1500!

I won’t deny it, it looks like roadkill a little unused like it’s in need of some TLC, but this will soon be a proper Japanese classic!

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Truck Thursday: 1967 Toyota Land Cruiser on Craigslist

1967 land cruiser 1

Japanese classics are gaining appreciation and value at a very high rate. Rust aside, perhaps it has to do with the fact that they are arguably better made than their American and European counterparts. Perhaps it is the people who grew up with these so-called appliances that are getting old and nostalgic. Whatever the case is, Toyota Land Cruiser is one of those vehicles being a red-headed stepchild a few years ago to where it’s dream ride de jour. Finding one that is priced relatively well can be challenging.

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This 1973 VW Super Beetle died because of YOU!

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You! Yes, YOU! The ones sending us awesome Craigslist tips! The keyboard warriors! Internet commenters! You caused the death of this VW Super Beetle!

Instead of talking about it, low-balling it below the scrap cost, or asking for parts, you should have bought the whole damn thing and save it for next generations. Instead, this solid-ish Beetle will be turned into Apple Watch bracelets. You should feel bad!

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Ariel Atom on a Karting Track

Few weeks ago I have taken the very same Ariel Atom that is in this video for spin around town. It was an amazing life-changing experience of which I will write about shortly. More recently the car has taken a trip to Monticello Motor Club, where , who is a Rally America Pro Driver and 2wd Champion, has taken it around the karting track of all places.

Why a karting track? Because why not? Because it’s fun. And to see how much, if at all, the Atom is faster around the karting track than some of the best karts.

The answer – it’s about four seconds faster per lap.

1967 International Scout RC truck made of wood

No, the whole truck isn’t made out of wood, that would be impossible. But the body is, and it has some fantastic patina and original details on it. Check out the video and make one for yourself! It’s easy, just follow these easy steps…

Thanks for the tip, Mike!

Review: 2015 Hyundai Genesis AWD 3.8

2015 hyundai genesis side

I do some of my best thinking while driving. Not city or spirited driving, but long wide highway at night type of driving, where there is sure to be a speed trap. With the cruise control set to fourteen over the limit, my mind starts wandering. Sometimes it’s about life, past and present, people that inspired me, lost loves, missed opportunities, and choices made. Other times it’s about the car I am driving, and sometimes, when the conditions are just right, it’s all of the above.

The latter was the case when I was driving this 2015 Hyundai Genesis. Its smooth and quiet ride was quite conducive to my mind running amok. Deep thoughts commenced – in college, did Kathy know that I was in love with her? Should I continue at my current job or look for more interesting opportunities? Big projects? Government work? Automotive industry? Wow, these seats are really soft – soft yet supportive! How am I going to pay for Gabby’s college? Should she go to a private school? These pretzels are making me thirsty. Why is a V8 even an option on this car? It’s not like it’s short on power.

This continued for a while and eventually developed into a conversation about the car. This review of this 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a transcript of this conversation that I had with myself. In reality, if this was an interview or a podcast with Jeff, it wouldn’t have sounded any different.

… Continue Reading

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