By on January 16, 2015

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Please welcome Fil Cvetkovic to TTAC. Fil owns a manufacturing firm involved in automotive, aircraft and other industries – and has a long history with owning, repairing and giving up on obscure project cars. Fil will be reporting on used vehicle auctions, and likely picking up new projects for the ame time.

Being the new kid on the block at TTAC, I figured an appropriate place to start would be introducing myself. My name is Filip Cvetkovic, but many know me as Fil or… “Phil with an F.” More importantly, I have more or less dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of unicorns. No, not the mythical creature, I’m talking about the cars that are made of unobtanium. As of this moment, at the ripe young age of 25, I’ve owned 96 cars. Many of which were never even available to Canadians.

I grew up in a family with a general interest in cars, but nothing like the insanity bordering on obsession that has enveloped my life. My mother has always kept an expansive library and at 3 years old, I found the only book about cars, and over the following days spent every moment possible glossing through it until she finally tired of all the drool and crayon markings, and put it on the highest shelf. Looking through the book over two decades later, it’s clear that I was most enamored with the “pagoda roof” Mercedes-Benz 280SL. That passion never faded.

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2006 was the year that I got my license, and with it, a Buick Grand National. Before anyone accuses me of being a spoiled brat, I should add that I inherited the car. My father passed away in 2001, and left the GN to me. He was the original owner, buying it new in November of 1986 and it had just a touch over 60,000 miles when I got it. I did my due diligence and had it towed in for a new battery and full service, then it was time for me to hit the roads.

The day I got it back from the mechanic, I picked up two friends and went for subs. Then went to an empty parking lot and did lots of donuts. Was it a good car for a 17 year old kid, filled with testosterone and bad ideas to get his hands on? Absolutely not. Did I wrap it around a pole? No, not yet at least.

By the end of that summer and 1000 miles of shenanigans later, it was time for me to find a sensible winter vehicle. With no intention of driving the GN into December, I acquired myself a print copy of Auto Trader and went on the hunt.

As any car guy does, I spent days leafing through the magazine obsessing over every last detail, until I found the car for me. This time, a metallic emerald green(a colour only available for the last year) ’92 Lincoln Mark VII with tan leather. It had 302 cubic inches of fox-body rear driven glory, in a mature-sensible shell. I went to see it that night, made a low ball offer that the owner accepted and left a deposit. When I called the owner the next day to arrange pick up, he told me somebody gave him his full asking price later that night and I could pick up my deposit at any time.

I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of car buying yet, a skill that I’ve managed to somewhat perfect over the last ninety something cars. With October almost over, I made a desperate call to our family mechanic and he told me he had a ’92 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Sight unseen, I agreed to buy it. All I knew at that point was that it was burgundy and wrong wheel drive. But when I came to pick it up a day later, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was an “International Series”. For those not in the know about obscure early 90s General Motors trim levels, this was the cream of the crop. It had an oem CD player, sunroof and best of all, GMs famous 178 way adjustable leather seats. Not to mention silly globe badges everywhere.

The real surprise came under the hood. Where I expected an anaemic multi-port fuel injected 60 degree V6, there was an LQ1. We’re talking the high-revving, 215hp 3.4 Twin-Dual Cam motor that was hated by Goodwrench techs everywhere for it’s 13 hour timing-belt replacement and 4 hour alternator replacement. So the perfect car for me to learn how to wrench, right?

I fell in love with it immediately, and I know what you’re thinking, this was a result of it being my first car that I purchased with my own money. But I really don’t think it was that simple. Rather, it was the idiosyncratic nature of that black-magic powered, redheaded step-child of an engine combined with a trim package that consisted of gadgets that worked when they wanted… and lots of globe badges. Who knew a W-Body could have that much character? The car quickly asserted it’s dominance over me. It started when it pleased, idling perfectly when at shops, stalling at lights when not. It was an angry old misfit of a machine made from parts unknown.

Quickly I learned what appealed to me and this is where things got progressively worse. The only way I can describe the following several years is a bad case of mad-car disease. Scanning craigslist and Kijiji, soon I found another International Series which I used for parts to keep mine going. I slept on a friends couch the day I brought it home. Apparently normal people don’t buy cars to have spare parts for their own.

If that’s the case, I don’t want to be normal.

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From there, it was a 5 speed ’89 Cavalier Z24. Then a pearl ’98 Oldsmobile Aurora, with the rare Autobahn package. When that blew it’s head gasket, in typical Northstar fashion, the next logical progression was buying a ’99 Cadillac STS with a Northstar, right? Then my girlfriend at the time needed a car, so I bought a supercharged ’03 Grand Prix GTP. It incurred a few bumps and bruises over the years but she learned quickly and took excellent care of it. Although I didn’t always enjoy having to hear about the car acting funny.

The following summer, I bought a Dark Green Grey Metallic ’96 Impala SS, which I later traded for a white/grey ’92 GMC Typhoon #1805. After I sold the Typhoon, I bought a ’98 Regal GS and installed an aftermarket turbo kit. You’re probably thinking, didn’t the GS come factory supercharged? Correct, but with an NA intake manifold, turbo and front mount intercooler I managed to pull 310whp out of the car. I know I seem like a total GM fan boy, but in this time frame I also owned a ’96 Mystic Cobra and ’90 Taurus SHO for a few months respectively.

Then when I finished school it was time to buy something responsible. I bought an ’07 F150 XLT Crew Cab. The following summer, I installed a Magnusson twin-screw supercharger on it. It had a liquid-to-air intercooler and 44lb fuel injectors, and even with a dyno tune I was averaging 12mpg out of the already thirsty 5.4L 3V triton. And now I had to run premium gasoline. So much for responsible.

Being forced to find a more efficient daily driver, I found what became known to my friends and I as “beater GN.” It was a tired 87 GN with 180,000 miles, T-roofs were silicone shut, it had rust bubbles up the a-pillar and around both rear wheel wells but completely solid underneath and ran mint. With my other GN more or less a garage queen, it was an invigorating experience to get to drive one daily and despite it’s condition, still received compliments and thumbs up wherever I went.

Cruising down Ohio back roads returning from the Buick Performance Nationals in a Grand National was truly special. Telling my then girlfriend that the windows were down to feel the warm breeze, when truly I just didn’t have to listen to wind noise and rattling from the t-roofs that way. Being asked by the border officer to give it some gas when pulling away. Finally getting home at 1am and wishing I was still behind the wheel. There is something that unicorns bring to the table that “normal people cars” don’t.

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After that summer I sold the supercharged F150 and beater GN and bought a ’12 F150 XTR Crew Cab with the 5.0L, a decision I regret to this day. I’ve since gotten rid of it and vowed never to buy a normal car again. I understand the appeal to the most, but I just can’t drive normal. These days I daily a ’00 Volvo V70R and have an ’87 Mitsubishi Starion, ’97 Volvo 850 AWD turbo, ’96 Impala SS and my Grand National in the garage.

So from here on out I look forward to providing you with regular Craigslist/Kijiji and Auction car reviews, highlighting the most obtuse cars, that only weirdos like you and I will appreciate. And I’ll probably end up buying them.

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104 Comments on “A Sordid History Of Unicorns...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Look forward to reading more about your unique finds

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I feel like I should probably call you Flip, as that’s A) what you do with cars and B) how I read your name the first five times.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Does the Starion have the 2.6 or a 4G63?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ll be that guy (sorry):

    “Its” = possessive

    “It’s” = it is

    Otherwise – good story, and I believe many of us are drawn to unicorns. Can’t wait to hear more.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    You had me at Typhoon.

    Welcome.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      Right?

      So much want

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I was always a sucker for the ’91 Syclone. I remember idling in what I thought was badassery at the time, an ’87 1/2 Dodge Shadow ES Turbo when this sleek black lowered S-10 rolled in the right lane. It was so low I didn’t see the blood red Syclone until it left me there stupified in a cloud of tire smoke. More impressively, a Porsche 911 owner lost his pinks three blocks later. Been looking for one ever since.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Perfect opportunity for my random car question of the day:

    I’ve been watching the new FX series Fargo, and am on episode 3 so far. It’s a great show, and the cars they pick for the characters are spot on. Outside the character cars, the pedestrian and traffic cars often are too new for the time period of the series (Minnesota, 2006).

    The main character’s wife drives a gen1 Acura EL, which of course was never available in the US. Would this be a legal thing to drive/register here? I realize it’s the exact same as a Civic, but since it’s on KM and didn’t go through crash testing and etc. I think this might be an oversight.

    • 0 avatar
      Preludacris

      I looked it up and Fargo is filmed in Alberta. That’s how it made the screen. Could you import one? Yes, it’s been done, but I only know that because I went through a brief period of obsession with the EL and read a couple of SoCal-based build threads. Civic guys import them because they’re rare and unique while still being a Civic under the skin.

      Scratch that, most of the skin is Civic too.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yeah I think it would only be worth it for the upgraded interior and gauges. They showed the dials at night, and they were clearly Acura dials.

        As far as exterior, it just looks like a different grille and maybe tail lamps. It also has some weird factory spoiler.

        I’m disappointed in the production a bit, that they’d put in such a car on screen. I can forgive background and random cars being too new – but not something like that where someone with car knowledge would immediately label it as inappropriate.

        • 0 avatar
          Preludacris

          Grille, headlights, bumper skins, taillights, interior. The body and doors are untouched, including hood and trunk. The engine is a SOHC VTEC.

          I live in Canada and almost bought one last year, before deciding to get my second Prelude instead. The EL was tempting though. All the tossability and tuneability of a Civic but a bit more comfy inside, with no discernible difference in resale value.

        • 0 avatar
          calgarytek

          The EL wasn’t just exclusive to Canada. Japan got the Isuzu Gemini/Honda Domani badge engineered variant for ’97.

          I love the front/rear end of those cars. Some peeps take a EM1 Civic and slap a ‘Domani’ front end on it. It looks really sharp. Kinda like Honda did with their bug eyed Integra in Japan, except that throwing an Integra front end on a Civic of that vintage would look weird.

          I think the JDM versions got a B16/B18?
          We gots the D16Y8 SOHC VTEC.

          (My cousin just bought one from Kelowna BC)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isuzu_Gemini

          The resale value is higher than a Civic, by about $500 to $1000… I’m not a fan of the HVAC/radio in it though. Wonder if I can swap the controls from a 99-2000 into it. It’s got double-din room.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Fargo “Muddy Road” (2014)
      Goofs

      Factual errors

      “Lester is driving an Acura EL which was exclusively sold in Canada”

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3519062/trivia?tab=gf&ref_=tt_trv_gf

      they’re fully FMVSS/DOT/EPA compliant

      So, yes you can legally import them from Canada

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I wonder if there’s a list of cars which are in Canada but are said compliant, so you can easily bring it down.

        Do you watch the show?

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          I found the car on the imdb site, I just went from there. It’s basically a Civic with leather and heated seats and some other trim bits. Built in Alliston, Ontario

          The only big difference is that the instruments are metric only

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I guess other than a few Pontiac rebadges, the EL, and the X-Trail, and some French cars perhaps, they don’t get a ton different.

    • 0 avatar
      mx5ta

      This barely relates, but I was just looking up the Ford Sunliner because Aunt Bee drives one (convertible) on the Andy Griffith Show. On her car, the little windows in front of the main front windows are rectangular. Perry Mason is also pretty good for car-spotting, though I’m usually not quick enough to identify them. More than once, the crime involved one of these cars going off a cliff.

      • 0 avatar
        kovakp

        It certainly relates to me! I love old movies and TV for car spotting. Yes, Perry Mason is one of the best for that, so are Mission Impossible and, for lovers of ’70s boats, Hawaii Five-O.

        My favorite is Peter Gunn for the late ’50s De Soto and Plymouth Furys he drove. His ’59 Fury convertible had a *car phone*. Also love its noire cinematography.

        But any major show from the ’50s and ’60s will have excellent camera work that when digitally restored will throw detailed close-ups on your big screen of old cars that are magnificent.

        BTW, the Sunliners with a rectangular vent window were 1955-6.

        • 0 avatar
          mx5ta

          Thanks, so that Sunliner that Goober sold to Aunt Bee in the 1965-6 episode “Aunt Bee Learns to Drive” was a 10 year-old car, although it looks mint. I saw it tonight in the 1966-7 episode “Mind Over Matter,” in which Goober is rearended (while sitting in Andy’s police car) by a roadster, and thinks he has whiplash. I didn’t catch what the roadster was.

  • avatar

    Welcome! I think it’s going to be fun riding along with you.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Welcome… I believe we have another “Canuck” here. I want hold it against you.

    Good luck Eh !

  • avatar
    puzinbutz

    Why do some people under the age of 25 or so refer to themselves as “young”? You’re the oldest you’ve ever been. And 26 isn’t necessarily ripe or young. No matter what the 30-year old “We Are Young” singers say.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      We’re young in comparison to all the 40-, 50- and 60-somethings on TTAC.

      And when average lifespan is 75-ish, 25 is still in the “young” third.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” No matter what the 30-year old “We Are Young” singers say.”

      Lol, “We Are Young” was a hit by Pat Benatar who just turned 62 last week

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Well, according to Pat, “Hell is for Children”, too. I’m confused.

        “Precious Time” is one of my P.B. faves, and is available on the Internet Jukebox at the bar.

      • 0 avatar
        puzinbutzz

        I wrote s!ngers. Plural. If I was refer!ng to Pat Benatar I would have said s!nger. S!ngular. And her song is actually “Love is a Battlef!eld”, not “We Are Young”. Thanks for play!ng.

      • 0 avatar
        puzinbutzz

        I wrote s!ngers. Plural. If I was referr!ng to Pat Benatar I would have said s!nger. S!ngular. And her song is actually t!tled “Love is a Battlef!eld”, not “We Are Young”.

    • 0 avatar
      puzinbutzz

      I wrote s!ngers. Plural. If I was referr!ng to Pat Benatar I would have said s!nger. S!ngular. And her song is actually t!tled “Love is a Battlef!eld”, not “We Are Young”.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    The Volvo nut in me is screaming “YOU CAN’T GET ALL WHEEL DRIVE IN AN 850!!!!!” Unless it was different in Canadia, the AWD didn’t become available until the 850 morphed into the S70 in 1998.

    Other than that one little detail, I’m sure your segments are going to be totally intriguing.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I love the Mark VII, especially in the green you speak of. That or the dark blue, there can’t be any other color if I ever find one( and have money to burn). Welcome.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Wow, real cars. Nice to see you again.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Nice Typhoon… but what in the heck is it doing with those wheels?

    Looking forward to hearing more tales of vehicular oddity.

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    Welcome to TTAC, Mr. Cvetkovic!

    I’m looking forward to your future articles.
    I’ve got to give you credit for your bravery/dedication. I’ve always had a couple unicorns I wanted to own, but backed out of buying to focus on other things.

    One of these days, if I ever find the time/money I’ll buy a Saab 9-2X Aero, one of the best looking Subarus ever made.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Driving an F-150 XTR in the US would be a great way to get people looking…if they hadn’t already passed it off as “just another” F-150.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Fil,
    Didn’t your mother ever ask you why you buy these unicorns instead of a nice Honda Civic?

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    And when average lifespan is 75-ish, Great!!! this means I only have a couple of months to live. Fil you are young, but also a mature writer. keep it coming.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    What’s abnormal about a V70R?

    Well, maybe that’s just me.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    2 questions , how did you afford all of this, just the sales tax and DMV fees would seem to kill you, what is the most you had at one time, I assume your in the in a area where you can park several cars not like GTA

    • 0 avatar
      Fil Cvetkovic

      East side of GTA. I took over the family business, lots of hard work and long days has allowed me to squander my earnings on uncommon cars that a very small group of people appreciate. Most at one time is 13.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Wow, I can’t claim 96, but I’ve had a few Unicorns. How about an 82 Mercury LN7, yellow stick shift? Or a 98 Ford Contour SVT, or a 92 Mazda MX-3 GS with the JDM 2.5L V6 engine swap. Or an 08 Ford Fusion SEL with a stick.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    From one obscure car buyer to another, welcome to TTAC.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Love me some unicorns myself.

    I look forward to hearing stories!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Have we ever had a unicorn poll here? I’m sure there are some good ones.

    Mine are a bit lame (meaning they might not really be unicorns):
    74 Fiat 128 SL
    85 Lebaron GTS non-turbo with a 5-speed stick – unusual combination.
    12 Leaf – In western PA, I’ve seen more Bentleys than Leafs, and have never met another Leaf driver in my area in 2-1/2 years. The Leaf seems like a unicorn to me, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      1994 Lincoln Continental with floor shift and the more attractive round airbag steering wheel (instead of the ugly Square Bag).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Do tell about the Conti, floor shifter?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Only year of that bodystyle (88-94) you could get it. Same center console as my current 1995 Taurus. 1994 was also a one-year-only front and rear facia. I found one near Atlanta not long ago. I drove one once when I worked at a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in the early 2000s. I was shocked when I opened the door and saw that console shifter.

          It remained an option on the later generations, which of course did away with the terrible 3.8 and instead stuffed a tuned 4.6L. Never liked the 95-97 style, but really liked the 98-02.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            For your viewing pleasure, a good example of a 94 Conti with floor shifter. Lots of pics.

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/1994-LINCOLN-CINTINENTAL-EXECUTIVE-SERIES-149K-ARIZONA-CAR-NO-RUST-NO-RESERVE-/171580384255?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&forcerrptr=true&hash=item27f2fce3ff&item=171580384255&nma=true&si=u%252BObZhceqvwlkZO9GIURMIZgrHg%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I always liked that year specifically for the sporty exterior updates. But much like the Northstars, how can it be “fixed”?

            Also why the heck are their 18 bids on this thing? 1800 are they playin’? 149K miles and those digi dashes sometimes lost miles as they went… plus Executive and not Signature.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            HAHA didn’t notice the miles. I wouldn’t want one with that sorta miles, and I don’t really dig old blue Ford interiors. Very dated shade of blue.

            But damn those are a LONG looking car.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            http://atlanta.craigslist.org/wat/cto/4846247903.html
            ^Thats the Atlanta Conti w/floor shift. Looks a little rough for the asking price IMO. And the seller seems to be an idiot (read the bogus description about it being V-8 RWD, and the first car with a 4 speed auto lmao).

            I emailed him awhile ago. I told him it was not a V-8, and that he didnt have to take my word for it as under the hood, plain as day, it says 3.8L FUEL INJECTED V-6 on the upper intake manifold (big bold letters, youd have to be blind not to see it). He wrote back thanking me, but didnt update the ad. This leads me to believe hes being dishonest intentionally, waiting for a sucker to come along and take the bait. Or, I suppose he may just be lazy and doesnt really care if the information is correct.

            I despise the Essex (3.8L), otherwise Id love to have one if I could get it cheap enough. But, although it doesnt ride as smoothly, the Taurus is pretty similar (same platform, but lighter and without all the electrical and suspension problems that Conti was known for).

            It can get by just fine with the 3.0, which is about eleventy billion + fiftyleven times more reliable. My Taurus handles better, the steering has more weight to it, and its better on fuel. Plus, as you can see by my screen name, it has the (very rare for 95) AX4N, the best version of the 4 speed autos used in these cars (its based on the AOXD family but is SO much smoother and more responsive than the others). It (3.8L) wasnt avalable with the AX4N, it has the lazy shifting and less reliable AXOD.

            All that said, Ill keep my Taurus, but I would love a floor shift 94 Conti, just for the unicorn aspect of it. But, I wouldnt give up my Taurus for one.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Welcome, I look foward to your reviews on unicorn cars. It’d make a great series to learn which ones are worth hunting down and which ones will drain your back acccount.
    “00 Volvo V70R and have an ’87 Mitsubishi Starion, ’97 Volvo 850 AWD turbo”

    You got guts for buying several of those FWD Volvos, I gave up after the first one. Neat cars but a pita when they go wrong.

    I’m a little lame with unicorns:
    ’84 Notchback Mustang
    ’90 Plymouth Horizon, one of the last ones made
    2 low mileage Volvo 240s
    A ’90s Accord that was kinda a lousy car, imo.

    • 0 avatar
      rileyru

      “90s Accord… Kinda lousy car”

      I know, right? Most folks talk about these as if they were the best ever. Mine was a piece of junk by 100k miles, one of the only cars I’ve ever had to leave me stranded by the side of the road. Really disappointing

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I wonder what went wrong

        Mine was reliable if dreadful to drive, its no wonder why you never see stock Hondas. Shook terrible in reverse and bottomed out over speed bumps despite being stock.

        The sheet metal was cheap too, way too fragile for a family car.

        My Accord was worse than dull, it was plain cheap and under-built.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        I have had a few 90s Accords. I much prefer them to the Camry, but I had issues that were expensive on them. The non-VTec in my 95 LX was very slow in the mountains. Auto trans were always quite jerkey. Ate CV axles. Expensive sensor failures. If I have another, itll be a 94-7 EX 5 speed, but Id probably just get a Prelude instead if I can find one.

        My 95 Taurus (as of yesterday, @192K) has more miles than my 95 Accord did when I sold it, and it barely uses any oil between 5,000 mile changes. Ive always had to top off a Honda often, and that 95 was no exception. I ended up changing the oil in the Accord (and other Hondas) at closer to 3,000 because it was low and dark usually. No visible leaks, this appeared internal. I use the same brand (Motorcraft Synthetic Blend) in the recomended weight in any vehicle I own or maintain, so different brands/wrong weight was not the issue.

        The Taurus’ engine has never been opened up, This is typical of the Vulcan V-6. Ive repaired a few things, but very little money has been spent on the car in that department. Timing chain = no need to replace unlike the Honda’s belt. I have had to replace the PCM for $100 and an $8(?) Temp sensor that wasnt the problem (was the PCM). The transaxle has been serviced (pan dropped, filter replaced), but again, its original. Struts and springs are due.

        I bought the 95 Accord with very little info from the previous owner (auction car), but it was much better kept than my Taurus, so I dont think it was neglected. It showed no sign of “mods”, stock from the wheel covers to the radio and even the air box. I do know the PO was female and at least recently had attended college.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Cool. I have to say that right now I kind of feel the way about my Charger as you did about your ’12 F-150.

    There isn’t anything wrong with the Dodge, but it’s really not what I’m into. I almost bought a ’78 Cadillac DeVille when I was shopping and I might have been happier going with that one instead.

    Anyway, here’s my list. I’m 30 FWIW.

    1994 Cadillac Seville SLS
    2014 Dodge Charger R/T
    1989 Buick Electra
    1989 Cadillac Allante (4.5)
    1992 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi (3800 SI Supercharged)
    2007 Buick Lucerne CXL (3800 SIII)
    1989 Pontiac Bonneville SE (3800 LN3)
    1990 Pontiac Bonneville LE (3800 LN3)
    1989 Pontiac Bonneville LE (3800 LN3)
    1987 Buick Lesabre Custom(3.8 LG3)
    2000 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP (3800 SII Supercharged)
    1996 Buick Century wagon (3.1)
    1999 Pontiac Firebird Formula (5.7L LS1)
    1991 Pontiac Grand Prix SE coupe (3.1)
    1998 Buick Park Avenue (3800 SII)
    1992 Pontiac Grand AM GT (3.3)
    1987 Pontiac Grand AM (3.0)
    1991 Pontiac Grand AM (Quad4)
    1993 Buick Regal (3800 SI)
    1998 Jeep Wrangler (4.0)
    1986 Dodge Diplomat SE (318)
    1980(?) Triumph TR7 Drophead

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    My personal unicorn vehicle was a 1992 Ford Tempo LX with the optional 3.0L V-6 and every other option Ford offered on that model (except the ugly as sin decklid luggage rack, which I was more than happy to do without). Loved that car. Drove it accross country more than a dozen times. Very quick little car. Topped out at 127 mph, as confirmed by a buddy pacing me with his Honda crotch rocket. Maybe not Mustang GT fast, but fast enough to put a frown on every ricer’s face when they pitted their 5,000 hp (in sticker power) against it. Raced a 98 Civic Si, walked off and left him, too.

    At one point I had a 1988 Ford Taurus L with the 2.5L HSC I-4 and the V-6 Tempo at the same time. Its as if their engines were switched at birth or something, lol. One was fast, the other slow, but not as bad as you might think. The V-6 Tempo got better MPG than the I-4 Taurus, both had a 3 speed auto.

    I wanted a V-6 Tempo/Topaz for years before I finally graduated, got a job, and bought one. I really wanted a 2-door GLS or XR5, but couldnt find one. At one time, a 92 XR5 popped up on a Chevy dealers lot. I called and confirmed it was a real 1992 XR5 5-speed (which had a standard 3.0 that year). They said sure, its here, its in mint condition with 70K on it. I borrowed a car from my friends parents and drove the 40 miles down there. Hell no it wasnt there, I overheard a salesman say it had been sold over a week ago. They tried to push me into a FWD Subaru wagon, with an automatic no less. I told them to shove it. Like Im going to go from a V-6/5spd sporty coupe to a 4 cyl/automatic station wagon with twice the miles. I told them that I wasnt interested in the Mercury because of its price, that was a non-issue, I wanted the car itself, and no granny wagon would take its place no matter if they were close in price. I ended up settling for the 4-door automatic V-6 LX, but I was very happy with it. I still feel like kicking my own ass for getting rid of it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I got to thinking about it, maybe my 95 Taurus is unicorn-ish. The car itself isnt rare (was America’s best seller that year), but most had the column shift and split bench seats. Weird, because the buckets/console/shifter was a no-cost option, per my car’s original window sticker. Id think seeing a floor shift 2nd gen would be more common than it is.

      As I mentioned above (as well as in my screen name), it also has the pretty rare 3.0L Vulcan/AX4N combo. AX4N was intended for the 3.2L SHO and later V-8 Contis along with Duratec and V-8 SHO Tauruses. Someone told me that something like 2% of 95 (and 94) Vulcans got the AX4N. I love it, as you may have noticed. :D

      Aside from the factory 5 passenger setup, Ive converted nearly all of the interior to black, sourced from a 92 LX parts car. Only the dash, steering wheel/airbag and the console remain gray.

      I once owned a 1990 Tempo with a factory drivers side airbag and horn-on-turn signal switch. Those arent exactly common, either.I had an AWD Tempo, but I bought it as a non-runner and was soon forced to resell it before I had a chance to get it going.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I once took a ’92 Tempaz 3.0L/MTX on a trade. It was pretty quick, but the torque steer was beyond comical. It dusted a ’99 Civic SiR in a drag race, much to the Civic owner’s dismay.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Yeah, the low-end grunt of that 3L would also shred front tires, especially going from R to D while moving and flooring it (lol yes I know I abused it, but it took it in stride). I learned to compensate for the torque steer.

  • avatar
    RHD

    “Finally getting home at 1am and wishing I was still behind the wheel. There is something that unicorns bring to the table that “normal people cars” don’t.”

    Now there’s a great way to judge if you should get rid of your car or not – what do you think when you turn off the ignition in your driveway?

    Welcome to TTAC, Fil!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Fil – Please tell me that’s not you standing on the hood of that Camaro.

    If the answer is yes, do you only weigh 20 lbs, because otherwise I don’t understand how that hood isn’t crushed.

    • 0 avatar
      Fil Cvetkovic

      That’s me, and last time I checked I weigh in around 165. The hood was bent but the body and undercarriage were beyond saving to begin with. It was a transmission and cluster donor for my Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Good to know, because I cringed when I first saw the picture with you on the hood

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        As a former owner of a ’97 Camaro (RS), that pained me to see.

        Mine was lost to unibody/fuel/brake line rot – I blame it on the ground effects, which held snow/salt/moisture under the car long after sunrise – and my stupidity of using the “underbody spray” at the local touchless car wash – I don’t do that any more.

  • avatar
    PunksloveTrumpys

    What a wonderfully eccentric collection you’ve amassed/possessed!! Your comments about “normal” cars echo my sentiments exactly. I’ve only had five cars over four years of driving, the only “normal” one was a ’90 Corona ST171 hatchback…. ok, make that three cars and one appliance. Never again!

    -Jarrod

  • avatar
    dal20402

    My current ride is the most unicornish I’ve ever had. ’09 G8 GXP, 1 of about 800 manual cars. Lots of weaknesses (especially ins!de), but they’re all made up for by how ridiculous an attitude the car has for a 4-door sedan. It’s loud (especially for a stock vehicle), rude, crude, bellows on-throttle, burps and belches on overrun, requires manhandling of the shifter, and yet steers and handles with uncommon finesse.

    Other than that, my history is full of common cars. The rarest was an ’89 Taurus SHO. My other car today is a Forester XT. Some kind of Forester is owned by every winter sports person in my hometown of Seattle.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Welcome to the Jungle, Fil.

    Glad to meet another fan of 90’s GM ephemera. I come at it from the other side, as I was selling them (and other car lines, too) new back in the day. I missed all of the heartbreak that owners actually endured. Regardless, glad to see that someone else enjoys them…

    I look forward to hearing more of your adventures.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’d never thought about, but the 1st pic got me to thinking I’ve owned as many cars and pickups, though I’m an old dude. Mostly beaters though.

    I was living in an apartment building at 21 years old, but had 4 cars lined up, backed in like that in the parking lot. I had both a newer Mustang GT conv and MR2, a company pickup, plus a beater 5.0. I lived there 3 years to find out later, other res!dents and locals thought I was a drug dealer! Yeah what with people always showing up there, nonstop and at all hours. But most of my rowdy friends had multiple cars, plus their friend’s cars and trucks, girlfriends, etc, showing up all the darn time. Heck I was just early 20’s, living it up.

    But the chicks at the apartments and around town must have had it bad for drug dealers, b/c I’ve never got so much action!! The “bad boy” thing and all. The whole time I thought they liked me for me.. Or at least for my cars.

  • avatar
    bam210135

    Welcome Fil. I look forward to the stories behind your unicorns. I’m kind of a unicorn man myself. My daily is a Saab 9-7x and I’m now on my second turbo Volvo 780 Bertone with eyes on a third for a parts car. The mainstream stuff just kills me to drive. My sister in law makes fun of me for liking “ugly weird cars”, but I just have to be different than anything else I see.

  • avatar
    AmcEthan

    my unicorns I have owned are:
    1978 f250 460 dual quads extended cab long bed 2wd all factory almost 700,000 miles, never had a rebuild.
    1993 Isuzu amigo 2.6 i4 and 5 speed manual bare bones base model.
    1978 Mercury monarch 4 door factory 302 4bbl. was one of the 13 brochere cars for that year of monarch.
    1993 Plymouth acclaim “S” gold edition
    1993 dodge spirit RT
    1992 Dodge Ram d150 factory 440. custom ordered new by my uncle.
    1994 dodge Dakota power wagon package. factory 3″ lift and 32″ tires. very few made

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Why?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Nice edit

      • 0 avatar
        AmcEthan

        i called bull on him owning 96 cars because I didn’t know if he was serious. especially since you can only sell 6 a year before becoming a legal dealer.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ” especially since you can only sell 6 a year before becoming a legal dealer.”

          There are ways to get around that. In case you don’t know, one of them is to buy a car from a private seller and don’t register it in your name.

          Once you sell it to another private party, you let that buyer register the car (and pay the taxes).

          This is done all the time. I did it for decades. I used to buy cars from GIs leaving the area and then resell them to a third party and then let that third party go to MVD or DMV to register it and pay the taxes. Did it across state lines too (TX, AZ, CA, NV, OK, UT, ID, CO).

          All that’s needed is the signed clear title.

          But there are at least two more ways that I know of, and they are both perfectly legal –dealers and private parties do it all the time when selling used cars to Mexicans before they are towed down South. That way those trades stay off their books.

          But things could be different in your state or country.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          In Ontario anyway, you if you can show documentation that you aren’t doing it for profit, you’re OK. I’ve bought, registerd and sold more than 6 cars in a year many times and not a peep from anyone.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I was just referring to this practice:

            “There are ways to get around that. In case you don’t know, one of them is to buy a car from a private seller and don’t register it in your name.

            Once you sell it to another private party, you let that buyer register the car (and pay the taxes).”

            Acting as some undocumented pass-through for cars is totally illegal, contrary to his statement.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Yeah I got that, I should have quoted AmcEthan.

          • 0 avatar
            AmcEthan

            here in iowa you cant do it even if it isnt for a profit. we have gotten in trouble for it a few times. another thing that gets a lot of people in iowa in trouble is selling a car and putting a price way lower than what they sold it for on the bill of sale and/or title to reduce tax prices on the vehicle. that got us a nice $500 fine a few months back.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I’ve had the odd unicorn or two. Let’s see….57 Plymouth Fury with 3-speed manual. 69 Valiant Signet coupe, factory 318 4-speed. Clapped-out 1964 230SL. 65 Valiant Signet 2-door hardtop with every factory option to make it a Formula S clone, plus power steering and brakes and a vinyl top, specced out by a Boeing engineer. 76 Dart Pursuit, hi-po 360 4-barrel, with factory dual exhaust and no catalytic converters, hi-po drive train and suspension. I’ve had at least ninety cars too, most of them in my 20’s through 50’s – I’m 75 now but don’t feel like I’m close to the end of my life yet.

    Welcome aboard, Fil!

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    The world needs more twentysomething automotive writers who’ve wrenched on their own domestic and Asian cars. Seems like the big magazines are hiring twentysomething automotive writers who were gifted Audis and BMWs by their parents.

    Welcome aboard, Fil.

  • avatar
    puzinbutzz

    Why is this webs!te slow as he–? Why doesn’t the comment box work for sh–?

  • avatar
    dwbf11

    Welcome Fil! If you’re still reading this far down…are you on the Volvo boards at all? Proud owner of an Olive 00 V70R here, although mine’s currently undergoing surgery – an M66 6 speed swap!

  • avatar
    PJmacgee

    My mom drove a 1980-something Z24 with the 2.8 and 5MT. The undersized clutch and spaceage digital dashboard each had to be replaced about every 15k miles to the tune of $1200, not covered under warranty. With 96 cars though I bet you didn’t own it long enough to be a problem…

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