Four of Our Automotive Black Holes

Vehicular points in space from which no money or hope can escape.

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Zach Bowman

Astronomers recently pulled off something astounding by taking t. It got us thinking about pits of our own, cars and trucks that languished long enough to become objects from whence nothing could escape: time, money, hope, the light of our automotive dreams. We've all had at least one. Some of us have lost count, but these are our favorite.

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1 Brian's Miata
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Brian Silvestro

Buying my Miata was probably one of the dumbest things I've done. Like, ever. Though it showed over a quarter-million miles when I first bought it, the body looked pretty clean from the outside. I foolishly purchased it without a thorough once-over, and quickly discovered the nightmare that would soon unfold. Massive sections of rust, a terrible ride, and a tendency to burn a shocking amount of oil were just a few of the highlights peppered throughout my short ownership. I was able to sell the car for more than I bought it for, but considering all the time and parts I invested into it, I doubt I broke even in the end. Sure, it drove nice, but I don't miss it.

-Brian Silvestro, Social Media Editor

2 Bob's YJ Jeep Wrangler
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Bob Sorakanich

At one point, maybe, my 1988 Jeep Wrangler looked as good as the one you see here. Not when I got it. I was 23; the Jeep was three years younger and far worse for wear. I handed over two grand in cash. A fog light fell off as I drove home. Music sounded better with every mile—exhaust leak, $300. The best muffler shop in town didn’t sully their lift—the shop lackey did the work on his back in the parking lot. There were growing, flaking holes in the floor where the seatbelts once attached. My buddy at the body shop fingered a crumbling fender as I asked him to cut me a deal. He slapped in the floor pans with pop rivets and body filler. Another $300, and a lesson: Never pay up front. My red Jeep—“Reggie,” my sister dubbed it—nickel-and-$300-dollared me to death for the rest of the summer. I finally decided to sell it and, while taking photos for Craigslist, backed over both pop-off doors. I dropped the price by $300. I still miss it.

-Bob Sorakanich, Deputy Editor

3 Zach's Fox Body Mustang
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Zach Bowman

I've had some long, arduous, drawn-out projects, but none can surpass Ugly Horse, the 1989 Ford Mustang LX. What began as a $475 crusty Fox Body with grand plans for a heart transplant from a turbocharged Thunderbird spiraled into genuine madness when Ford threw me a 2.0-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder from a Focus ST. At that time, the 2.3-liter Ecoboost Mustang was a just a gleam in Ford's eye, which meant I got to fumble through the puzzles involved in turning a transverse engine longitudinal. I've lost count of the thousands I've sunk into the car and the number of hours that I've fed the thing. Between a full independent rear suspension conversion, fancy brakes from a Mach 1 Mustang, and a low-mile transmission from a 2006 Mazda Miata, it's a long tab. But a few job changes, a kid, a year on the road, and two or three moves meant the car got backburnered. Now it's sequestered in my father's garage, five hours from where I live. It needs a long week's worth of work to be drivable, along with a fresh cash infusion, which means it may be years before it gets done. Or maybe not.

—Zach Bowman, Senior Editor

4 Máté’s 1983 Fiat 131 Supermirafiori 1.6 TC
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Mate Petrany

I inherited this car from my dad while still in high school. It had a rotten body and messed up electronics, but it was still rear-wheel drive and Lambredi Twin Cam. 131s are rare, and that’s especially true of the 1.6 TC. After somebody kicked in its left headlight, we could only source the earlier grille with the double round ones. That was a huge improvement, but I wasn’t okay with being able to poke my finger through the front fenders. After just a few months, I decided to go for a “full restoration” without having either the cash or the know-how to complete such a project. My only real contribution was sourcing a 131 diesel’s badass hood for it. By the time the car was 90-percent complete after all the delays thanks to a number of unreliable people, I ran out of money completely. I was also set to move abroad. Testing my mom’s patience, the car sat in our garage for at least seven years. Long after I got back, I took the chance the sell the 131 to the Alfa restoration garage that keeps my Autobianchi peppy. They completed the build and fixed up the car, after which I asked whether I should buy it back to complete the decade-long circle. But since they firmly advised against it, I decided to let this one go, knowing very well that I was the only one who lost money on it. I should have just driven the damn thing until it broke in half.

-Máté Petrany, European Editor

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