Category Archives: Cars

The Porsche 718 Spyder is Amazing!

I’ve been sitting on this post as a draft for months now and each time I come back to it, I add a few more words and realize what utter chaos life has been in the time since I got it!

I’m not going to get into that now. I’m just going to end this and publish what I have because if I don’t, I’ll just keep adding to it and it will never be finished.

So here is the beginning. And just… what a car!!

I took delivery on July 4th and did some back road cruising, a couple of track days, a bit of warranty work and a bunch of random trips around town and I’m still grinning every time I fire up the motor.

This car is just fantastic.

The big day was only a taste. I picked it up in the morning at Porsche Centre Oakville and drove it across town from the dealer to the detailer to have PPF applied. Even keeping it under 4000 rpm though, the motor was already making some wonderful sounds and you could tell it was just itching to open up and breath.

The Refinery took it from there and spent the next few days doing a perfect job of adding the paint protection film.

I went off on a camping trip while they worked and they got it in time for me to pick it up when I got back on Tuesday, July 11th. I had a track weekend booked for the 15/16th and now had 4 days to put break-in miles on it to be ready.

I used those 4 days to the fullest, including visiting a friend up in cottage country. I spent as much time as I could behind the wheel but nothing could have prepared me for what this car would be like at the track. The Spyder is a proper Porsche GT car. It’s the first GT convertible they’ve made so I expected it to be good at the track, but having driven a GT3 for four years, I had to be a realist. I expected it to be good, but not THAT good. Man, was I ever in for a surprise!!

To say that this car performed well beyond my expectations at the track is an understatement. This was the one place I thought the compromise would be obvious so to be as impressed as I am, I’m over the moon excited. In just a few events I was running times within half of a second of what I did after 4 years of learning in the GT3. Whether this car just suits me better or I wasn’t driving the GT3 properly doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I don’t feel like I’ve taken a step back at the track and I’m excited to keep learning and try to get everything I can out of this new car!

There’s more to talk about here including some exceptional service from Porsche Centre Oakville and Mantis Autosport dealing with a leaking strut and getting me back to the track on a day I surely thought I’d miss. As I said at the top though, it’s time to cut this post short and just get it out there.

For now, I’m looking forward to springtime and installing a small pile of goodies I’ve picked up. I can’t wait for the good weather and top down driving again!!

It’s Happening!!

I got a notification last night that our car was delivered to the dealer and today the SA sent me pics!

If the stars align I’ll be able to pick it up by Friday morning but it might have to wait until Tuesday. I’M SO EXCITED!!!

Porsche Made Me a Car!

This process started last year when I placed an order but today I hit a milestone and Porsche has finished building my next car.

How do I know that? Well that’s what I’m writing about today.

The most exciting part of this process will be when I get to drive it home but recently Porsche set up a system to make the journey from ordering to delivering more interesting than just an agonizing wait.

They created a tracking system to keep customers up to date on the order progress and set up cameras in the factory to show your new car as it’s being built.

This was the first picture I got, just as it came out of the paint shop.

There’s a long wait between ordering and driving home and lots of things can happen in that time so it’s not as simple as placing an order and getting a delivery date. Knowing that, the tracking system gives you an idea of what’s happened so far and some estimates on the dates for what will happen next.

Some of the interior and exterior trim has been added but it’s still mostly an empty shell.

A common problem in the new post-COVID world of supply chain issues is that something you ordered can become unavailable. If you’re lucky, they’ll delay your build long enough to get the parts in but there have been cases where options have been changed by the factory to accommodate parts shortages.

The specific headlights and seats I ordered were in short supply so seeing them installed on the car would be a big relief.

Here the front bumper and headlights have been installed.

Finally, the last picture they give you shows the car mostly done. If you look close enough you can see which seats are installed. There’s still a few trim pieces missing but the car is mostly done.

Oddly, I got the final picture on May 18th but didn’t get confirmation that the car is complete until today, the 30th. I can’t guess what the delay was but am happy it’s been resolved. Many people get confirmation that their cars are completed within a day or two of receiving this picture.

Their caption says it’s complete here but you can see some trim still missing. It would be another 12 days before the system notified me that it was done.

So that takes us to today. With each completed step you get updated estimates for the next steps and they should get more and more accurate as you go. As of now, the car is complete and released for transport to the port in Emden.

The next milestone will be when it’s been loaded on a boat and is on it’s way to Canada. When that happens, a bit of sleuthing can find out what ship it’s on and you can track it in real time across the ocean.

I’m hoping it gets on the Siem Cicero, which is next boat leaving Emden for Halifax.

https://www.vesselfinder.com/vessels/details/9762534

It’s scheduled to load around June 7th and should make it’s way to Halifax for the 20th. That might get it here with enough time to get to a track day in mid-July.

If not, I guess I’ll have to wait for August. Either way, this system has made the waiting much easier by giving small steps along the way to get excited about.

I give huge props to Porsche for setting this up. What a great way to share the car’s journey from an order sheet to delivery!

My Year With a Miata

Last spring I sold my GT3 and bought a Miata.

I haven’t said much about it. I didn’t get time to do much with it. Earlier this week I sold it though and it feels wrong to let it go without a review.

Mazda invited me to a launch event nearly a decade ago when this version first came out. I had a lot of fun there but was already headed down the road of buying my first Porsche. The experience stuck with me though and when I found myself unexpectedly without a fun car for last summer, it shot to the top of my list.

It was a terrible time to buy a car. The pandemic had taken its toll on supply chains so new cars were nearly impossible to find unless you wanted a Mustang. I didn’t want a Mustang.

If you were in the market for a sports car and wanted one right away, the pickings were slim. Of all the big players like BMW M cars, Corvettes and Porsches there were none at all available. It was the same story for the FRS or BRZ or Golf R or anything else that might come to mind as an option.

You couldn’t even buy a Miata. I went looking and the only ones I found were bare bones base models or had automatic transmissions. For one you’d want, they had waiting lists with delivery times around the end of summer.

I was gutted.

Then, out of the blue on a Friday night, a friend sent me a link to this one that had just popped up on AutoTrader.

It was nearly perfect. It wasn’t red, but other than that it ticked all the right boxes. I called the dealer as soon as they opened on Saturday morning and, finding it was someone’s canceled order and was available, I gave a deposit to buy it immediately.

The car was still in Japan so it was a few weeks later when I got to go see it and then a few days after that when I got to drive her home.

I was ecstatic and man… I had PLANS for this car!! I did my research to see what I’d want for the track and bought new wheels and tires and springs and sway bars and floor mats and a camera. I couldn’t wait to put it all together!

And then I changed jobs. And in my new job, I had no vacation days left for 2022.

All the track goodies stayed in the garage, untouched. All the track days I wanted to do would have needed a day off and I didn’t have any to spare.

It was my first year without a track day since I started doing them back in 2015.

But that didn’t mean the Miata didn’t get driven.

At first I’d take it out now and then just for fun. I very quickly found myself looking for excuses to take it out and then simply using it EVERY time I could. Taking my wife to and from the train for work? Miata! Grocery shopping? Miata! Random errands? Miata!! Taking Granny home after a visit? Miata!!

Every time I got in and threw the roof back I was smiling. Every single time.

In the short time I had it I fell in love with the little thing. It was like having a toy to play with every time you needed to go somewhere. The roof went up and down in about 2 seconds so it was ALWAYS down unless it was raining.

It wasn’t perfect though. I’m not going to miss the constant beeping when it thought I wasn’t keeping in a lane or the warnings about imaginary cars in my blind spot. That system needs some work but on the flip side, I DID like that it would beep when it saw someone coming in a parking lot as I was backing out. Being so small and low to the ground it was impossible to see past the cars next to you so this system was a blessing.

There was annoyance at not having wireless CarPlay while also not having a reasonable place to put a phone when it was plugged in. There’s a cubby below the head unit I used but if it wasn’t sitting right or shifted around while driving it would be up against the shifter. Mazda has wireless CarPlay in the GT model so this made no sense at all.

That also brings the model differences to light. In order to get the go-fast goodies I wanted, which were the Brembo brakes, Recaro seats, and BBS wheels with summer tires, you had to choose the middle of the line GS-P model. Doing that meant you couldn’t have the upgrades the GT model got like wireless CarPlay, fancier headlights, a garage door opener and automatic climate controls. I’m sure there are others but those are all things I’d have happily paid extra for if I could. In fact, I had a plan to upgrade the rear view mirror myself to get auto-dimming and a garage door opener.

Mazda made a single special edition a number of years back that combined all these options. I have no idea why they never did it again or why you can’t simply order the Sport Package on the GT model.

I was eagerly looking forward to Mazda releasing the details for the 2023 models on the slim hopes they might make a car with everything I wanted. I was ready to order one. In retrospect, I guess it’s very good luck that they didn’t.

And now it’s gone. I look at the empty space in the garage and it makes me sad. I’m very excited for what comes next but I’ll never forget this one and would absolutely own another one in the future.

It’s not just hyperbole. The answer to everything really might be Miata.

I’ve Ended My Grudge Against Doug DeMuro

Firstly, if you don’t know who Doug DeMuro is, you really should.

https://www.youtube.com/DougDeMuro

It’s been the better part of a decade since Doug asked his fans what car he should buy next. I told him, and the world agreed with me. Buy a Ford Model T, I said. It will be endless hilarity!

https://jalopnik.com/what-car-should-i-buy-next-1747063020

It seemed like a done deal and would be my claim to Internet fame. And then… he didn’t. He bought a Viper, which was the next most popular suggestion because obviously he’d rather own a Viper.

I get it, Doug. We’d all rather own a Viper. But this wasn’t for you. This was for US to be amused at your expense! You asked, and we answered.

It’s hard to describe just how disappointed I was with the result. I was livid. Bitter, even. My hopes and dreams of Internet infamy were stamped out forever. And for what?? Does anyone even remember anything Doug did with the Viper?

But that was then. This is now, and I’m ready to turn over a new leaf. They say that time heals all wounds and if we look at what’s happened in the past 8 years since this soul-crushing rejection, I have to admit that things seem to have worked out ok.

Doug has grown from being a bit player on Jalopnik to being a full fledged YouTube star and he’s been crushing it for years now.

Would that have happened if he’d bought the Model T? Could owning that car have been such a joy-sucking disaster that he’d have lost all interested in journalism?

Might he have become a used car dealer just north of Tijuana, hawking clapped out Volkswagens to washed-out former Top Gun pilots in San Diego?

Imagine a world without Doug telling us about the most random quirks of everything we wish we could drive but can’t.

And what would my life have been like? Would I have been blamed for him quitting Jalopnik in a huff? Would I have been named and shamed in his last ever post, complaining about his permanently arthritic arm being damaged from cranking the damned Model T every day, just trying to get to work?

Would he curse my name every time it hurt to slap some barely-running Corolla on the hood when trying to extol it’s virtues to a new recruit that’s just gonna go and finance a new Challenger anyway?

Instead of that, I ended up spending most of the past 8 years driving Porsches on race tracks and having the time of my life. So really, things seem to have worked out well for both of us.

I’m still a fan, Doug, and couldn’t be happier for the successes you’ve found since this all went down.

I’m ready to bury the hatchet. Let bygones be bygones.

You keep doing you… and I’ll keep watching with amusement.

And it’s not too late to do a Model T review! Tell us how the damned clutch and shifters work as only you can.

We're Jeep People Now!

Last night was our first night with the Wrangler. The pics aren't very good, but it was pretty dark when I took them. For first impressions though… well… I don't hate it. I actually think I'll have a lot of fun with it in the future, once I grow more comfortable behind the wheel. She really is a monster! With our first night involving a blizzard, I got a chance to see how it handles the snow and I'm actually impressed. I know there's a bunch of computers doing all sorts of whiz-bang stuff with the brakes and throttle to keep it all straight… but she does go straight with no drama at all. Now, obviously it weights as much as a house so I need to leave lots of distance for braking and what not… but all in all it was pretty good on the stock tires. I also had a bit of fun doing full on opposite-lock drifting in 2WD with the TCS off until I got that look that says "You need to stop that now!"

So what the heck happened??

Our Mazda had been having issues for the past year or so and the needed repairs and maintenance were really starting to pile up. It was time to make the choice to either pour a bunch of money into it, or cut her loose. To be honest, now that I've got the Porsche in the garage, cutting it loose really wasn't hard.

With those issues in mind, I'm probably the only one you know that's going to save money on gas by buying a Wrangler.

Michelle and I had talked about it in the past and even went and test drove one in the summer just to see how much I'd hate it. The answer was "not as much as I expected to". I'm not a truck fan and she knows it so she never really pushed. She, on the other hand, has always loved Jeeps since she was young so really, it seemed only fair to make that dream come true. I mean… mine's already in the garage, right?

If I was miserable on the test drive, that would have been the end of it but I wasn't. If anything, I'd say I was just a bit bored. It felt like driving a tractor.

Last week we got to talking about the issues with the Mazda and the fact that the Canadian dollar is dropping drastically so car prices might jump up at any time. It might be time to do something.

We dropped by again to talk to the sales person we'd dealt with and I asked him a bunch of questions about some options I'd read about on the Jeep Canada website. He explained how most of them couldn't actually be ordered and that there seems to be some huge disconnect between the website and the ordering system. As it turns out, what happened is that a bunch of Jeeps got sent to dealers with an option package that was then very poorly represented on the website.

As I found out later… what ACTUALLY happened is a bunch of Wrangler X models got built and sent to Canadian dealers while Jeep Canada seemed to have no inclination whatsoever to actually have another model in their lineup and just called them Saharas. In the US, it's a separate model. They even had one at the Detroit Auto Show. I posted up a picture of it here.

Well… as it turned out, he had two of them on the lot so we went and had a look at them. One was black, and the other was this yellow one we bought. My first thought was that the whole package looked pretty badass. It's got the fancy hood from the top-trim Rubicon and a bunch of stuff blacked out that normally isn't. It's even got black wheels on it. It all looked pretty cool and we liked it. We asked him if he could look into whether he could find one in blue and then left it at that.

At the time I didn't yet know about this whole Wrangler X thing and neither did he. As it turns out, they're only available in black, white, red, and yellow. Here's a link to the details on the US website. http://www.jeep.com/en/limited-editions/2015/wrangler-x-edition/

So we discussed it and, while I've made plenty of school bus jokes, we decided that the yellow looked pretty wild and we'd be happy with that. I'll probably paint the fenders black at some point, but in the summer with the black soft top on it, it'll look great.

We made a decision on how much we'd be willing to pay and I emailed an offer to the sales person.

As it turned out, I was being a bit ambitious on what to expect in trade on our Mazda, but in the end, we probably did as well as we could hope for anyway, considering we also save the taxes when it's traded in.

We did some haggling back and forth and came to an agreement.

We went in on Monday to have them do an actual appraisal on the Mazda and to test drive this actual Jeep, and then signed the papers.

And there you have it. We no longer own a vehicle with a fixed roof.