For the past few months The Green Dragon (my 1991 Honda Civic hatchback) has been running worse and worse. It started with running hot (not overheating though) while in traffic. Next was difficulty starting. I’d have to crank it for ~5 mins before anything happened. Right about the time that I’d get angry enough to start screaming at the car, it would jump to life and I’d be on my way. Finally one day I was headed to a meeting at work, in traffic, in the heat of the day, and it overheated. And when I say it overheated, I mean the temperature gauge was pegged. Now, I don’t recommend that anyone do what I did, in any other circumstance I would have stopped immediately and let the car cool down, but I’m driving a disposable car with over 200k miles on it, I chose to drive the remaining 5 minutes to my office. That was it, that killed the car. The Green Dragon now has a blown head gasket. In non-technical terms, that means I wouldn’t trust it to get me to the end of my block.
At this time I still had Red (my 1994 F-150), so I started driving him again, but that big V8 more than doubled my fuel costs, so that wasn’t going to be a good long term solution. On day two of driving my truck it sprung a new coolant leak. That was it. Two cars with 200k+ plus miles on them was not going to work anymore. I need a new car. Now.
So, I started my car search online. Between eBay, AutoTrader and Craigslist I’ll bet I looked at 300 cars within a week and a half. I focused on Toyota Camrys, Honda Accords and Nissan Maximas. I secured financing and narrowed my selection down to 4 cars, a Maxima in Austin, two Accords in Houston and one Camry in Dallas. According to Carfax reports and blue book values, the Maxima was the best deal, but I needed to look at it to verify its condition. Once I drove it… that was it. I bought it right then.
Since Red is a 14 year old with over 200k miles, trading him into a dealer wasn’t really an option, there’s no way they’d even consider giving me what he’s worth, so I was committed to selling him myself. By the grace of God, I was able to get my asking price, and sell the truck within an hour of picking up the Maxima!! Craigslist works!!
Say hello to Maximus. I’ll call him Max for short.
If I had only one comment to make about this car, it would be “Oh my freaking gosh!” This car is AWESOME! When I was driving it I noticed that it had power. I didn’t realize that it has the same engine as the 350Z until I got it home. This engine, by the way, is well known for, and has won awards for its performance, smoothness and reliability. According to Wikipedia it produces 255 hp. Whoa. This V6 has a full 70 hp more than the V8 in my pickup had!
I decided to find out how much juice it has for myself. From a dead stop I can keep the tires spinning until I hit 40 miles per hour. Gulp. On the highway passing is never a problem, when you ask for power, its there, no hesitation. In addition to its power it is both smooth and predictable. This car is incredibly fun to drive. Plus, it has the Bose stereo (with steering wheel controls!), keyless entry, sunroof, Xenon headlights, alloy mag wheels… its way more car than I hoped for. Can you believe that I got it for thousands below book value? Me either.
When I bought it I really wasn’t interested in performance, reliability and economy were the goals. I had no idea that I was getting a four door hot rod. Unfortunately its not known for its economy. Apart from the peppy driving mentioned above, I’ve been driving very tenderly to improve mileage (I totally promise). Fortunately I’m an engineer, so we’ll see what can be done about improving economy.
Last night I placed The Green Dragon on eBay. We’re not even 24 hours into the auction and there’s already a bidding war. As of right now the price is higher than I hoped to get for a dead car. I’m humbled.
In less than a week I have gone from two worn out beaters to one kick ass car. I’m confident that with regular maintenance Maximus will last me at least five years.
Its so cool I could cry. Thanks God for provision.