Sunday, May 31, 2009
I do not consider myself to be anything like a good driver, but a car like the Miata encourages and rewards right driving behaviors, so you tend to get better just by dint of driving the thing.
The problem with my previous sports car (a bone stock 1994 Mazda Miata) was that I eventually got to be a good enough driver (and brave enough) to sometimes get beyond the car's limitations, leading to some sliding through corners if I came in too hot. Not good.
I decided to do some modifications to this new one, a 95 M edition. They only made 3000 M editions in 95, so I think it's worth preserving one of them by restoring it to pristine condition. Madness, I know.
Since it needed new shocks when I bought it, I went for the Flyin' Miata stage one kit. The kit replaces the stock springs with set with a rate of 318 lb/in front, and 233 lb/in rear. This makes for harsher ride on bad roads than stock, but with the Tokico Illumna shocks set to their softest setting the ride is tolerable with no loss in handling. The kit lowers the car about an inch and a half. Now my limitations kick in before the car's limitations, and that's a much safer situation than stock.
Here's a picture of the lowered Miata, parked on a repo job in a blighted neighborhood in East Baltimore.
The chevrons are another performance modification said by some to add 8-10 horsepower. I also added a Team Voodoo shift knob (spun aluminum, clearcoated) and an Oris windstopper, which is really necessary for top down highway driving, especially in cool weather.
Next: New top; new paint; new wheels or new clearcoat on wheels. After that a repower.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
My career as a repoman is over.
It was hugely fun, interesting, and challenging work. At the same time, it was sad to see people collapsing financially. The work was mostly investigative, figuring out where to go to have a chance of finding the car. People with cars like the one's in this photo don't let their cars fall into repossession. It's almost all three to four year old sedans, Altimas, Stratus's and the like.
Here in Baltimore, I did most of my work in dangerous neighborhoods. Places where I was out of place, and sometimes perceived as a person easy to to rob or assault. I learned early on that repo'ing in a convertible (that's my Miata in the photo) with the top down is a bad idea. And it wan't even a repo car owner that attacked me - it was just a crazy street person in Pimlico. I had to do some tricky driving to get away from him before he hit me with a big stick.
The problem with a repo gig is that less than 30% of cars that go to repo are recovered. It's easy for a debtor to hide the vehicle, and lots of people will lie about the whereabouts of their relatives - understandably. I don't know how many mothers of debtors I was hunting claimed not to know their childs date of birth. Most claimed to not know it.
It was not a viable gig financially. But I really, really liked it.