Welcome to the 90’s

If you look around this blog it’s pretty easy to tell I have a thing for the 80’s. When I first got my drivers license, 90’s cars were new or almost new and 80’s cars were the affordable used cars, so I’ve owned a LOT of them. Maybe that’s what makes me so comfortable with them. Or maybe it’s just my OCD kicking in still trying to have a nice version of a rust bucket I once drove through winter in Nebraska. Who knows.

Shopping for car number 12 here wasn’t about fulfilling any long time dreams though, it was just about finding a car to drive. It’s now October and the weather is cooling off. Sooner or later snow is going to fall. Sure the 4Runner will come out to play, and we will laugh and have a good time right up until the road crews hit the streets. For those that don’t know, shortly after the winter wonderland starts happening the Nebraska road crews will do their best to ensure the “average person” can get to work without killing themselves or others. In this process pounds of gravel and salt will get dumped on the roads. In some cases they will even spray brine. A liquid salt like substance that can dissolve automotive sheet metal quicker than you can blink. Sure they may save these “average people”, but at what cost? Really your only defense is washing your vehicle repeatedly (every other day in the case of the 4Runner on our past winter trips). Or putting it away and driving something else for the season.

The next logical step might be to drive the daily driver aka the Hi-C and deal with the rust consequences. I’ll be honest here, a Prius in inclement weather just sucks. We drove it last year while the truck was waiting on parts, and sketchy is the nicest thing I can say. The ECU that is really driving that car just doesn’t know what to do on ice. While I got a good laugh from the situation, that laughing would turn to frustration way too quickly if you actually needed to be somewhere at a certain time. Enter the “need” for car number 12.

We had our choice down to two vehicles. The Echo seemed promising. An easy bumper fix, maybe a quick plastidip paint job and do something about the wheels. The Celica on the other hand had a lot more miles, was further away, and could potentially need more work. The fact that the Celica runs an S series engine was a big factor. Since it shares parts with so many other cars here minor repairs can be fixed pretty quickly in a pinch by borrowing parts from the rest of the collection. It’s also more sports car than shit box, so there was that part of the equation as well. Since this isn’t titled “Is it just me or is there an Echo in here” I guess it’s a dead giveaway that we bought the Celica.

Once purchased we had to go get the Celica from Denver. The previous owner told us he wouldn’t hesitate to drive it cross country. After debating about saving money and driving the Hi-C to pick it up, we decided to error on the side of caution and drive the 4Runner, and I’m glad we did.

It was quickly apparent the Celica had a few issues. We were told the “clicker didn’t work” and what this really meant was that the door lock system didn’t work at all. We knew the power antenna was broken off. I didn’t know that the CD player only resulted in high pitched screeching. Maybe you could just jam out to the tin can sound of your phone? Nope the whole cigarette lighter pulls out of the dash so no way to charge that. That’s okay I really should be concentrating on that the 3rd gear shift anyway. It seems the Synchro for that gear has been beaten to death.

When the rear wiper started falling off the back after the first rough road I was glad we had the 4Runner’s tool kit. When the right front started clunking I was REALLY glad we had the tool kit with us. Yes as you can see above the nut was working it’s way off the top of the strut. I got it tightened as much as possible, but whoever made these struts didn’t leave a proper way to hold the rod from spinning, so there was only so much I could with a ratchet and socket. It was enough to stop that noise at least!

Other than minimal radio reception and the strut trying to stay in Colorado the drive home was actually good. Despite some of the issues the Celica is still overall fun to drive. I still prefer the small coupe style and seating to the upright econo box type cars, and God bless the manual transmission. I was quickly reminded how much less frustrated I am on the highway when I can drop a gear or two and maneuver through traffic quickly and easily vs trying to wind the a hybrid power train back up to speed or lumbering along in a truck.

So is the Celica too nice to be a true winter beater? Will it get saved and have way to much money spent on it? Stay tuned!

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