John Li

I couldn’t help buying this cheap little $0.99 key tag for the Morgan, because every drive in the car is an adventure. Sadly, I took the car out for a quick last drive for the year to fill up the tank, taking unsalted neighborhood roads to the gas station and back before tucking the car into the garage for the winter. The snow is super light, and it’s not accumulating on the ground, but the scourge of salt trucks have begun nonetheless…

Progress on the Mustang is slow. The car that I had driven to the tune of 20k miles over the course of three years — more mileage than most non-air conditioned classic Mustangs would see in decades in retirement as classic cars — has added zero miles to the odometer for the past year.

The car doesn’t need much work in order to be able to move under its own power. Essentially, it just needs clutch hydraulics, new brake lines, and finally the transmission, driveshaft, and exhaust installed. Any competent mechanic could probably knock this out in a single weekend day. But I’m not a competent mechanic. (more…)

Sitrep: Four car garage, filled with three cars that aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and the shell of car that should go away but hasn’t yet. Progress on the Mustang is slow — I don’t think I’ll have the car mobile before the end of the year at this rate. Miata is down for bodywork, top, and roll bar work. The Morgan’s engine is making funny noises and needs some attention. And I still have the shell of the old red Subaru XT Turbo in the back corner. Motivation to work on the cars in my unheated garage is dropping rapidly, in pace with the mercury on the thermometer.

Bored of the 2005 Honda Civic EX coupe that I was daily driving at the time, I succumbed to the siren song of cheap turbo horsepower and picked up this 2016 model year Fiesta ST at the beginning of 2017. Because the car was a leftover 2016 model sitting on the dealership lot three months into the new year, I managed to get a fantastic deal on a nearly fully loaded Fiesta ST — a $5k cash factory rebate.

This car has all of the options except for the headroom-robbing moonroof. It has aggressive yet comfortable Recaro bucket seats that are also heated — a godsend in cold weather. It has automatic climate control and a touchscreen infotainment system. And of course, it has a peppy little turbocharged 4-banger putting power through a 6-speed manual.

I’ve told myself that I can’t do anything to this car. So far, outside of extra wheels and tires, I’ve accomplished that goal. We’ll see if that equilibrium lasts…

Photo by Perry Bennet

After a two year hiatus from the fleet, I bought the car back in October 2017. When I sold the car to Shane, I insisted that I have first right of refusal on the car. After taking the car to 5th place in Street Touring Roadsters last year, a fiercely competitive autocross class where the competition included ND Miatas and AP2 S2000s, (and probably the best finish the car will ever have at Nationals,) Shane decided to move on to a different car for next season, and I swooped down and claimed my car back.

My car? Why, yes. I bought this car brand new back in 2009, and it was mine for all these years save for the two years Shane owned and competed in it. The car started off stock as a C Stock autocross car, turning into a Street Touring Roadster autocross car once I moved to Michigan. The car is prepped nearly to the limit of the rules, with two sets of tires mounted on 17×9″ wheels, full exhaust with a tune, an aftermarket OS Giken clutch limited slip differential, full suspension running 500/400 pound/inch springs front/rear, adjustable sway bars on both ends, a lightweight battery, and a race seat.

In its current state, the Miata is a hoot to drive. But I do have “grander” plans for the future. I plan on installing a roll bar and taking the car to more open track days with the eventual goal of competing in time trials competition with the car.

Photo by Neil Britton

There was a driver quality Jaguar E-Type being auctioned off on Bring a Trailer, and I was among the last few bidders attempting to win the car. I didn’t win the auction. The very next day, my friend Soizic forwarded me a Craigslist ad for a local 1967 Morgan Plus 4.

The car was rescued by Bret, the manager of Auto Europe, a local dealership of Lotus vehicles and service center for all things vintage European. It was found in a warehouse in Ohio, brought to Michigan, and revived. I bought the car the day I test drove it. The Morgan has been in my fleet since July of 2016.

The car is very solid, with almost no rust on the steel chassis and only a little bit of wood rot on the body. I’ve been spending most of my time driving the wheels off of the car, taking it on as long a road trip as I could bear (record for distance driving in one sitting so far is 4 hours) and autocrossing the car locally and nationally. I am so very happy to have a Little British Car in my fleet, and an extremely rare and unique one at that.

In 2013, I had sold my house back in Illinois, and as a result, had some cash that was burning a hole in my pocket. I decided to use that cash to buy my first classic car. After test driving several different vintage cars, everything from Model A Fords to Triumph TR6s, I settled on the Fisher Price My First Classic Car: a celery green 1966 Mustang with a black vinyl roof.

The car looks like a Mustang GT, but it’s not a true GT. Whomever did the work made the car an almost perfect tribute, if it weren’t for the poor workmanship in rebadging the car (the badges are obviously pinned in the wrong places on the fenders) and the wiring (the fog lights only work when the headlights are on), one would be hard pressed to tell that this isn’t a real GT package car. The car started off as an A-code (4 barrel carb on a 289 V8 engine) 3-speed manual car, with the GT fog lights, GT dual exhaust, front disc brakes, and 4-speed Toploader transmission added.

I’ve taken this car on many long road trips — a trip down to the Mustang 50th Anniversary celebration in North Carolina, a trip to the West Coast and back, among many others — and is currently being prepared for its longest and most grueling road trip to date: a run in the Alcan 5000, a road rally that runs from Seattle up to Alaska.