Since I’m updating my book “How to Live on $10,000 a Year – Or Less...” over on the Peoplenomics side of the house (free there, update will be $4-bucks here when done), this whole matter of America’s Assinine Auto Addiction (quadruple A) was my focus Saturday.
Cars as Investments
Pappy always taught that cars were “…not investments…never think of ’em that way!”
But, when I raised the issue of original invoiced early split-window Corvette’s going to the moon (and well beyond, lately), he had to admit to a few exceptions.
So far, every time I have owned a Porsche, the whole period of ownership was essentially free. The asterisk is that the maintenance wasn’t. My ’73 911-E, for example, had the six-pack of Zenith TIN 40 MM carbs. They liked to be air-balanced every valve job or four,
Still, if you look around for cars, many of what are passed off as “beaters” today actually go up in value over time.
I’m not the only one in “exception-hunting.” Oilman2, for example has a Toyota FJ that will likely hold value nigh-on to forever. He’s also found that a well-maintained Ford big-block diesel pickup will hold value well; though YMMV in uppity areas like the So. Bay and NYC.
Type of transport is just one aspect of car-cost reduction, though.
Elaine is a Looker – Details Matter
Another way to make money – rather than spend – on cars is to learn the fine art of detailing.
Fun story. When we were dating, she’d expressed an interest in a collectible car – a Jaguar XJ-6. White, red leather interior, wire wheels. But the interesting part was under the “bonnet.” Everything had been done (with receipts!). Brakes, master cylinder, tires, battery, fluids and filters, and a transmission adjustment. Air conditioner had been serviced, too.
To me, the car looked a little “tired” though.
$4,500 bucks for it. Sometimes you take a flyer, right?
Well, in no time, Elaine the Detailer went to work. Must have taken her two days of work in the marina parking lot (we were living on the sailboat in Seattle at the time – Shilshole.) After that, saddle soaping leather, Q-Tips and cleaner were turned loose on the air conditioning vents.
Overall, it must have taken a week (between rainy days) to get it done. But, the difference in “look” was amazing. Good looking blonde at the wheel of a white Jag which was looking utterly showroom is one thing. Old gnarly geezer in a dirty around every edge and dirty sidewalls ride is quite another.
Clean looks like money.
The Shop Project
Our present ride is a 2005 Lexus ES-330. Had it since 2007. Just turned over 120,000 miles. Sewell Lexus up in Fort Worth has done all the major service. Damn shame we didn’t hold off until Lexus dumped timing belts because that was a bite…
Still, one of the last of the Japanese-made (in the ‘old country’) – most today are ‘sembled in ‘Merica. While it has great sound, and the leather and exterior are perfect, there’s one thing that dates the car. Here’s a hint:
Not clear? Exactly!
Look closely at the headlight covers. Most of the major manufacturers use an acrylic plastic cover and over time (and UV light exposure) these tend to yellow. Especially, as you can see, along the top of the brow.
OMG – this is so like people aging, right?
The ideal ShopTalk project was at hand. And, as always, what’s the point of any project?
“Let’s Buy Something!”
Amazon sells a 3M 39165 Headlight Restoration Kit (Heavy Duty – Drill Activated) for just under $34-bucks.
If you don’t have a well-stocked shop, toss in an additional inch and-a-half wide roll of tape. Spray bottle for the water you’ll use in the next to final step. And you’ll need a small electric drill. Power’s not critical since only light to medium pressure will be applied.
Let’s dump the box out on the bench…
So here’s the work plan:
- We’re going to mask-off the headlights so Mr. M. Precision doesn’t grind off paint while sanding. (lower center)
- We’re going to chuck up the hook-and-loop sanding wheel in an overcharged drill. (top left of center)
- We will attach the 500 grit pad and rough grind the covers. (middle right)
- Then we will put on the 800 grit pads (white middle) and grind some more.
- Then to nearly finish, we will get a spray bottle of water – soak the pad wheel and the working area well – and use the the 3,000 grit Trizact pad.
- When that’s all done…and we like our work…off comes the tape.
- Wash and dry the headlight cover.
- Put on blue glove (upper center)…
- …and open and apply the contents of one of the “clear coat” packages.
- Take a 20-minute beer break (HBR — hot buttered rum if under 55F is OK, too). Though somehow 3M just says “wait 15-minutes” then…
- Apply the second pad contents evenly.
- Keep car out of rain for at least an hour (longer is better) after.
Here’re the Visual Aids
Mask and sand.
This is the 800 grit – the 500 looked like a frosted light bulb. Then we work our way down to the 3,000 grit Trizact being careful and evenly throughout the process…
At last – on goes the blue glove and the top clear-coat:
Which, we I look at the top picture and one here:
Seems like a worthwhile investment for 45-minutes of detailing.
The amount of “worth” will depend on how old your car is and how much “accumulated sun time” has yellowed your existing covers.
(Come on Man! I don’t need to say ‘Doesn’t work on glass lenses….” do I?)
When people buy cars, they’re usually buying CLEAN.
The Ideal Six Ingredient Dinner
Simple country food, for us, last night.
First two ingredients: Big bag of frozen scallops from Wal-Mart. And thin-sliced bacon (low-sodium is best).
Unthaw, rinse thoroughly, and pat very dry, the scallops.
Cut several strips of bacon in halves or thirds. Halves for super-big scallops, thirds for quarter-sized and smaller.
Roll bacon around scallop, securing with organic toothpick
Pop in air fryer for 15-minutes on “Jeez that’s hot!” (400+) for 10-15-minutes. Also can be done 7-10 under a broiler but that makes the house smoky and do you really like to wash windows?
Third ingredient: Large glass of Pisano.
Fourth and Fifth ingredients: Wash a small head of Romaine per person. Pat dry. Break into large salad bowls. Toss a tablespoon or two of Marie’s or other cold-case Bleu Cheese dressing on salad.
Sixth ingredient: A dozen, or so, pitted black olives, which then get tossed into the salad.
My, ain’t simple country fare great? Refill third ingredient.
Woo Woo and the Whales
A word from the whales in Dream Realms overnight.
We were out in a boat and crossed a “floating grid line” we didn’t understand. But there in the middle of the grid line was a pod of whales. Not especially big, might have been Manatee’s or one of the killer whale pods in the PNW.
Not sure what it will be, but we’re scanning the news for word about whales now.
By the way, those grid lines were really neat. Authority put them on the water. They comes out of a shaving-cream looking container. So to put in a “line on the water” you push on the top of the can, the stuff floats, and a little goes a long ways. Like miles. And when it hardens (which is damn quickly) it’s stronger than ultra-high-density poly plastic rope.
Seems like I was supposed to mention this so a “floating life-line” could be invented for mariners over here in Waking World. So rescuers could snag the line on the first pass in difficult seaways.
(Also useful in the Dream Realms for trying to keep waking-state visitors from talking to the whales about their offspring!)
Whew…time to work…
Write when you get rich,