The Goddess, my dream car — 1974 Citroën D Special   3 comments

Anyone who reads this blog or knows me personally also knows that I’m way into Saabs. I mean, I currently have five of them and have owned a couple of dozen easily. But what is my all-time favorite, desert island, if-you-could-only-drive-one-thing-for-the-rest-of-your-life car? It’s not a Saab but rather a Citroën DS — “DS” is pronounced in French as “Déesse” (Goddess). I’m particularly fond of this 1974 D Special listed on Bring-A-Trailer. The colors, the equipment, and the quality of restoration are all just perfect. Which is good because at $32k I’d also have to live in it.

Citroen D-Special
There is truly no other car that looks like the DS.

I remember the first time I saw a DS. It was on a family trip to Canada in 1987 where at the time French cars were still available and popular. We were on the highway and my mom pointed to it, “look, it’s one of those ugly Citroëns.” Seven-year-old me was mesmerized, I’d never seen anything quite like it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted January 30, 2013 by jonathan in French

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Starting a cold stroker   3 comments

I shot some video this morning of starting my two-stroke 1964 Saab 96 for the first time in a week in 43 degree weather. As part of my New Year’s resolution to simplify my life, automotive and otherwise, I’m putting it up for sale soon. It doesn’t get driven much and I’d love for it to go to someone who will finish the work I’ve started on it. It runs, drives, and stops great, just needs interior and body work.

Posted January 5, 2013 by jonathan in Swedish

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An Automotive New Year   3 comments

We made it to 2013. The beginning of a new age, at least according to the Mayans. I’m biting off quite a bit this year as far as New Year’s resolutions go. I plan to lose about 40 lbs., get my finances in order, get organized, give away some things, sell other things, live more simply, and renovate the bathroom. Most importantly, though, I want to get all of my cars sorted out as best I can.

It’s easy to have a pretty nice car that slowly becomes a beater due to normal wear and tear. All of the small things ad up — every scratch, ding, and stain. As alcoholic/poet Charles Bukowski lamented:

“It’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse … No it’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to a madhouse, not the death of his love, but a shoelace that snaps”

Well the shoelaces have been snapping and all of our cars now fall somewhere on the shabbiness spectrum. I am good about normal maintenance — oil changes, checking fluids, etc. — but not always so great about fixing those nagging little things that add up.

1972 Saab 96
My current daily driver 1972 Saab 96 — missing a mud flap.

All of this will change this year. How will I do this? By spending at least a couple minutes every day fixing something on one of my cars, no matter how small. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted January 4, 2013 by jonathan in Car life, Swedish

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Screech. Bang. Bang. Bang.   Leave a comment

Car accident

My day just got slightly exciting. There was a three-car wreck on the bridge just outside my office window that I heard. A newish Buick, an oldish Ford Explorer, and a Chevy Cobalt. Looks like the damage may total some of them. Fortunately all the people involved look fine. This is a car crash town, ask me how I know.

Stay safe out there — keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel!

Posted January 3, 2013 by jonathan in Uncategorized

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Old cars will totally mess with you   2 comments

So one of the reasons why I was absent from theshiftpattern for a couple of months was that I found myself in old car hell. I’m slowly escaping it. Of our four running/driving cars which range from 1964 through 2001, each had some kind of problem that was making it difficult/impossible to use daily. Case in point — my daily driver, a 1986 Saab 9000 Turbo. Yeah, that one that I attempted to sell a little while back.

Saab 9000 with spots of oil
The 9000 marking its territory on Christy Ave.

A few months ago I replaced the clutch master cylinder on the 9000. I had been experiencing a weak clutch pedal with no fluid loss which almost always points to a dead clutch master cylinder. It was an easy job, under 30 minutes to change and bleed. While I was in there I decided to change the little hose that runs between the master cylinder and fluid reservoir, the ends were cracking and if I was going to do it now was the time. So I ran down to the auto parts store and got some fuel hose, I figured hey, brake fluid and rubber are compatible, right? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted December 16, 2012 by jonathan in Car life, Swedish

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Oh what a feeling – 1984 Toyota Camry Turbodiesel   2 comments

Manual. Turbo. Diesel. These are the kinds of words that will make an enthusiast like me drool, especially when searching for a practical and reliable daily driver. But these features aren’t usually top of mind when you think of the Toyota Camry in early 21st Century North America. But there was a time when you could, in fact, get a turbodiesel Toyota Camry with a manual transmission. I have found proof.

Toyota Camry diesel

When people old enough to remember think back to the late malaise-y period of the early ’80s, they usually recall cars as being boring and uninspiring. This post-OPEC oil embargo era was a time of stringent fuel economy and emissions standards coming into effect as well as the 55 mph speed limit which is well highlighted on the speedometer on any cars of this era sold in the USA. The golden age of the automobile was clearly over on these shores. Or was it? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted December 13, 2012 by jonathan in Japanese

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Ran when parked: a beautiful French lawn ornament   1 comment

I love old Citroens. They are a close second to old Saabs as being my all-time favorite cars and for many of the same reasons. Like Saabs of the era, Citroens were cars that had their own unique style and were just plain weird. They had front-wheel-drive (a rarity back then) and aerodynamic bodies. It was as if they were designed by people not familiar with conventional cars. Actually, this was the case with Saab as their first prototype, the Ursaab, was designed by aircraft engineers, most of whom didn’t even have a driver’s license.

I would love play with Citroens but they are too damn expensive and complicated for an amateur like myself. So I’ll stick to old Saabs for now. In the fantasy world where I owned one, I’d probably be wealthy enough to pay these guys to work on it since they are located within an hour’s drive of me.

The two Citroen models that I lust after the most are the DS/ID series of sedans and the SM coupes. The latter was a grand tourer with a big Maserati V6 engine. They were the most technically complex car of their time. I’ve had the pleasure of driving a well-sorted one that an acquaintance owned. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, the driving experience was somewhere between a muscle car and a spaceship.

Citroen SM

So today I received a half-joking message from my pal Matt via Facebook: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted December 8, 2012 by jonathan in Car life, French

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