By on March 22, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, Image: Chris Feola

I am the unfrozen cave man of car buyers. Every decade or so, a machine shaman whispers the magic words in my ear — You’re gonna need a new engine — and I leave my cave, shaking my fist at the great ball of fire in the sky, and go looking for one, always packaged in a new steed.

This habit has several interesting side effects. There are crazed leaps in technology when you only go car shopping once a decade or so. In 2001, I turned down a $1,500 option to add a hard wired Motorola Razr to my BMW X5; in 2016, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were standard on my base 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible.

Another is that I’ve just purchased my fourth car, despite being well into my fifth decade driving.

1984 Ford Mustang 2.3L, Image: Chris Feola

1984 Ford Mustang: 86-horsepower 2.3-liter I4 engine and four-speed manual transmission. Best. Car. Ever. (The Mustang was actually my second choice. I wanted a Pontiac Fiero, but when I showed up for the second meeting in my Army uniform, the salesman said, “We don’t sell to soldiers,” and that was that.) Drove it for eight years and 85,000 miles. It was parked for three years when the Army sent me to Japan. Drove it all over the country: Georgia, Indiana, Arizona, New York … first with cameras or a date in the front seat, then with a wife, and finally two car seats in the back, That is until my mechanic told me the engine block was cracked and I needed a new one.

So I bought a …

1992 Jeep Cherokee, Image: Chris Feola

1992 Jeep Cherokee: 190-horsepower 4.0-liter I6 with 225 lb-ft of torque and five-speed manual transmission. Best. Truck. Ever. Three car seats in the back now, and the way back filled with fly rods and cameras. Drove the kids to preschool and elementary in New England, middle school in Virginia, and then high school in Texas. Fished for trout all over New England and Virginia, bonefish in the Florida Keys, and bass in Texas, until my mechanic told me the engine block was cracked and I needed a new engine.

So I bought a …

2001 BMW X5 3.0i, Image: Chris Feola

2001 BMW X5 3.0i: 3.0 liters, 225 horsepower, 214 lb-ft of torque, five-speed manual transmission. Best. Car. Ever. Drove the kids to high school and college. Road tripped to the Keys to fish for bonefish and Galveston to fish for reds. Learned you can cruise Texas roads at a high rate of speed, until my mechanic told me the rings were shot and I needed a new engine.

So I bought a …

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible: 2.0-liter turbo I4 with 275 horsepower, 295 foot-pounds of torque, and a six-speed manual transmission. Best. Car. Ever. Daughter checked out the vestigial back seat and said, “There’s really no room for kids.” My response: “What’s your point?” The Camaro’s 2.0T makes 50 more horses and 81 more lb-ft of torque than the X5’s 3.0-liter I6 in a vehicle that weighs more than 1,000 pounds less. Not only is the Camaro a rocket compared to the already fast BMW, I’m getting 26.6 miles per gallon around town compared to 18.3 in the X5. People stop in parking lots and on roads to watch the roof go up and down.

One of the interesting aspects about only wandering out to buy a car every decade is that long-term trends are more apparent. Heading out to buy the first three cars was a sure recipe for sticker-shock. My first thought in 2001 when the Cherokee died was to buy another one. Unfortunately for that plan, the Great SUV Boom had started while I wasn’t paying attention, and Jeeps had basically doubled in price. Ironically, the SUV boom helped me get the car I’d been dreaming about — the BMW X5 — which kind of combined my first two vehicles. It drove like a sports sedan, but hauled stuff like, well, an SUV. It’s hard to remember now, but BMW’s first U.S. “truck” was seen as a risk, and the Bavarians had therefore priced it aggressively back then. The X5 I bought was cheaper than the 330i sitting next to it on the lot, and only a few dollars more than the Grand Cherokee I was about to buy.

This time was different. One example: BMW offered Bluetooth as an upgrade, but they wanted double what I’d paid for the entire new Sony stereo I’d put in the X5. X5s were no longer cheap by any stretch, no longer come with a stick, and I didn’t want a third SUV in a row. I looked at the 228i convertible, but frankly I like the Camaro and its tonneau better even before you notice it’s half the price.

I’ll admit I was concerned about going from a BMW to a Chevy. I think I would have found the Mustang or the Jeep difficult to love if I’d owned the BMW first. But while I was in my cave, Moore’s Law came to the auto industry.

Moore’s Law famously says that computer power doubles every two years. Less well known is that it also says the inverse; the cost of a given level of power falls by 50 percent every two years.

The BMW was largely an old-school mechanical car: a naturally aspirated engine, hydraulic steering, etc. The Camaro is basically a drop-top Cadillac ATS. The turbo engine is electronic everything, as is the steering. In Sport Mode, the steering has that same hands-on-the-asphalt feel I so loved in the BMW. The engine is bipolar in the best sense: below 3,000 rpm, it’s smooth and will turn in 34+ mpg on the highway. Above 3,000 rpm, the turbo howls, all that torque kicks you in the butt, and away we go. 

So it’s me and the Camaro for the next decade or so, give or take, until that dreadful day a machine shaman whispers the magic words in my ear — You’re gonna need a new engine — and I leave my cave once more.


Christopher J Feola’s experience has always been at the intersection of information and technology. He has been granted two patents for data architecture, was the founding director of The Media Center at American Press Institute, and taught at the graduate level at Columbia and Indiana universities, among others. He has worked at seven papers in 18 states and five countries on a couple of continents, including a two-year stint covering Asia as a foreign correspondent for Stars & Stripes, and has more than 4,000 published articles and 6,000 published photos to his credit.

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83 Comments on “Buying Decade-nce: The Unfrozen Caveman of Car Buyers...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “In 2001, I turned down a $1,500 option to add a hard wired Motorola Razr to my BMW X5;”

    The Razr was not released until 2004.

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      StarTEC was all the rage back then?

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Ah, I live my life with photography nerds, IT nerds and car nerds, and somehow still forget there are phone nerds! ;) It was whatever the top-of-the-line Motorolla flip phone was in those days; a special edition with a custom wiring harness in the flip-top of the center console, which included a power-port inside. It had steering wheel controls for the phone and worked through the stereo, like current Bluetooth setups. I asked the dealer what happened if I wanted to upgrade the phone at some point, and after due consideration and consultation they said “No one seems to know.”

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I only know about the Razr because I had one (eventually), and it was a big deal when it came out and I -didn’t- have one right away.

        • 0 avatar
          TEXN3

          Motorola v60. Great phone platform with many iterations and accessories (like a fm radio tuner).

          I had a v60 from 2002-2005, then went with Casio “rugged” phones when analog no longer was feasible. I miss well-constructed clamshell phones. All I remember about the StarTac is the need to have backup batteries!

          Then work required an iPhone at some point.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            My dad is a contractor, and was a proponent of the Casio built tough phones. He used and banged them around for years at at time before they broke.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I was in 6th or 7th-grade when the RAZR was the rage. remember lying and saying I had one, just because everyone else did. One kid called my bluff and hounded me relentlessly, causing me to repeat ad nauseam that my parents wouldn’t let me take it to school. Of course, he didn’t believe me.

          That bastard.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Haha, that phone was just the business at the time. I got one a year or so before my brother, and in that time they had cheapened it considerably.

            So I still got to feel phone superior.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Most certainly. I had flip hones until I got my first cheap smartphone (and it was still, like, $500) from Boost Mobile.

            I also distinctly remember wanting a T-Mobile Wing around 2008-2009.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            My first phone was a Kyocera (lol) SLIDR, which was awful but got lots of cool attention.

            I also coveted the early adopters in late middle school of the Nokia candybar.

            And I wanted a Sidekick because it was in all the music videos.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Now, now youngsters. My first cellphone was a Novatel (PTR800?). Calling costs were 50 cents per minute for local calls. The battery was good for a full 15 minutes of talk time.

            Before that, my business partner had a ‘mobile’ phone in his car. It looked something like the Batphone. You picked it up and the ‘mobile operator’ answered. You told her (yes always a her) who you wanted to call and she looked up the number and dialed it.

            When the person you called answered, the mobile operator stated “mobile call from Mr. —–“. The cost for the phone was the same as for a small car.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    …and a turbo-4 too!

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Yup. Went in to get the V6, decided to give the 2.0T one try before I bought…and that’s what I bought. It’s a crazy fun engine if your taste runs to BMW 228s and Evos.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenn

        Did you also try a V6 version, Christopher? It remains hard for me to accept that a tiny, boosted engine is a sensible choice in a relatively heavy car (long-term) compared to the larger, likely less-stressed V6. Or, are we discounting the value of sensibility in this Camaro ownership equation?

        • 0 avatar
          Christopher J Feola

          Hi Kenn,
          Actually, it was the other way around. I drove the V6 almost exclusively for two months while I wavered between the Camaro and the (then) much cheaper Mustang ‘verts. I only drove the 2.0T 4 at the last minute because…well, because I’m OCD and drive every last possible thing before buying.
          The engines are pretty close. The 2.0T4 has more torque and therefore kick; the V6 has more horsepower and pulls strong all the way to the redline. The 2.0 flattens the last 1,000 RPM or so; if you really want it to go, you keep it between 4,000 and 6,500 RMP, and it’s all torque all the time.
          The performance exhaust on the V6 is da bomb, so points there. On the other hand, the nose of the T4 feels considerably lighter. It’s noticeable in the handling.

          It really comes down to what you like; they are that close, IMHO.

          Cjf

          • 0 avatar
            Kenn

            Thanks for the detailed comparison, Christopher. Yes, renting a car for 2 months before buying would answer a lot of questions.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Why not just replace the motors with junkyard equivalents if the car itself is still strong?

    “The Camaro is basically a drop-top Cadillac ATS.”

    So highly suspect and now add a ragtop to leak? Where is the good in this statement?

    “it’s smooth and will turn in 34+ mpg on the highway”

    I know something else which does that for me, but doesn’t howl above three grand. I think it starts with a 3 and grants believers eternal torque.

    EDIT: I am not trying to be a d!ck, I just find some of this thinking to be specious.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      “But these cookies are lower calorie if you make them with asbestos flour!”

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Specious thinking or not, the man’s in like with his convertible. Offer the Church’s blessing!

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Having rented a Camaro convertible a few weeks back, I can certainly see the appeal. I loved it. Walking up the car and pressing the key fob button that engages the dance to drop the top, it’s a bit of automotive magic in a grey world. Along with that, it’s cheap to buy, and is the epitome of the anti-CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        Christopher J Feola

        Bunkie – yeah, the tonneau dance is magic. People will stop in a parking lot to watch, and slam on the brakes in the middle of the street. More people have stopped/pulled along side to talk to me about the Camaro these first few months than all the other cars combined.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          One of the joys of being an empty nester and (ahem) of a certain age is that, more than any other time in life, you have the freedom to be exactly who you want to be (which, I suspect, for you has always been the case!). I salute you!

          Enjoy the Camaro!

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      And it may be specious, for you, 28. For me, I loved that BMW X5, but once it crossed about 200,000 miles it started eating two quarts of oil every tank of gas, and my mechanic thought my name was “$2,000, $1,500 if I use junkyard parts.”

      I thought about buying an older 911, but realized I was tired of that, for awhile, anyway. I was ready for just drop the top, hop in and drive.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        You go through engines a lot. Do you warm them up before heading out? I know they say it’s no longer “necessary”, but I continue to do so and have yet to need a rebuilt, driving many cars into the ground, but the engine still running like a champ. And with ridiculously long, oil change intervals.

        So I cringe when neighbors jump into a cold start, put ‘er in gear and slam the gas, all in one motion! That can’t be good.

        • 0 avatar
          Christopher J Feola

          Hi Denver Mike,
          Not much need to warm them up in Texas. I used to warm up the Jeep when we were in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. And in each case I think I got more than the rated life of the engine. I fixed most things; it’s just that a new engine in each case was worth more than the car.

          cjf

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @CJF – Call it “superstition”. But I’d still warm it up, summertime in Death Valley. OEMs recommend against it, since it drops MPG. And as long as it makes it past the warranty period, the hell do they care? And you may come in sooner for a new car, ‘reman’ engine, or maybe just for parts.

            So I went 48,000+ miles my 2nd “oil change”, on my ’04 4.6 V8 F-150, and just for giggles, I opened up the 48K filter expecting some amounts of metal particles. Nothing, and nothing on drain magnet.

            So I feel I’m saving *more* than just an engine, by warming it up. Full synthetic though, but I’ll stick to my ‘guns’.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            A slow warm-up certainly is beneficial to the engine. Jay Leno has a relatively high mileage Countach that he bought new, and he attributes its exceptional reliability to following the advice of his Italian mechanic to always be gentle until it’s fully warmed up.

            I’ve never really idled my vehicles to warm them though, even at -40C. I do it by driving serenely until it’s up to operating temperature and plugging in any time I can in winter. I’ll even plug in above freezing at times if I happen to be outside or in the garage and know I’ll be leaving shortly.

            The mental imagery of heads and blocks expanding at different rates and microscopically abrading the head gasket makes me cringe. That sort of thing is happening with so many components, during every warm-up phase.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Why would a Countach be any different? A cold-start hammering can’t be good for any car.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’m sure it isn’t. I’m agreeing with you. But that’s what many drivers do.

            The Countach’s V12 probably underwent less of the torture testing that mainstream manufacturer’s require. It’s a low volume unit; Lamborghini’s not going to put much effort into worrying about the owners who might abuse it. Like a race car engine, I would imagine it’s optimized for extended high output use and not for being beat on during the warm-up phase.

            It’s not unusual for supercar engines to have short lifespans between rebuilds.

            Here’s the vid:

            youtube.com/watch?v=a2vcT1bq2XA

            He mentions fluid temperature as another reason to warm up slowly. Oil temperature lags coolant temperature significantly and idling doesn’t do much for that. It can take ten minutes or more of city driving to get oil temperature that would be considered adequate for hard driving in a high performance engine. This is why I believe that most supercar owners would benefit from thinner oils. They tended to specify thick oils for extended high temperature, high speed use, but for normal public road driving the oil is rarely anywhere near its ideal viscosity even with a 0W-20. Oils have improved a lot since that Countach was born though. A modern 0W-40, 5W-40, or thick 0W-30 would be all those engines would need for any operating conditions.

            I once did an oil change without going for a drive. I just idled the car until the coolant reached operating temperature and figured that was enough. The oil was still relatively thick and cool when it drained, and the fresh oil became dark almost immediately after, indicating to me an inadequate flush of the contaminants.

            I noticed that Jay appears to be comparing the Countach’s GVWR to the McLaren’s dry weight. The difference in curb weight is under 800 pounds.

            Anyway, I like the way Leno views cars. I also like the way Mr. Feola views his cars as long term companions. I do think his engines might benefit from some changes to his warm-up or maintenance habits though. The sort of mechanical failure and wear he has experienced is abnormal.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            No matter the abuse and neglect, I still get great service life out of engines.

            Is it the long warm-up times? Coincidence? Regardless, I know what works for me.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Likewise, some might be shocked that I’ve hit the 7100 rpm rev limiter on my Mazda3 about a hundred times in the process of making use of the 6500 rpm power peak thousands of times. But I’d never do that to a cold engine.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          BMW’s needing engines is nothing new. We see them all the time at auctions with blown motors, head gaskets, rattling top ends etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Christopher J Feola

            Hi guys,
            I guess my question is what do you guys consider a good engine life? I got 33 years and 516,000 miles out of three engines; I feel like that’s not bad at all.

            Thoughts?

            Cjf

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Tough call with the high miles but otherwise decent car when the motor blows. Does one pump $2K into it to only have the trans go? Fuel pump? Rad? Exhaust? Where is the line? Def a grey area, but you strike me as the kind of person who takes that as a notice to just junk it and buy new whereas I look to repurpose/repair what I already have. Cheers.

        • 0 avatar
          Christopher J Feola

          Hi 28CarsLater,
          I guess I’d better explain my other comment better. By the time I gave up I’d replaced all the window actuators twice, the entire suspension, every hose and cable and tube and wearable part, and the wiring. Besides the body, the only thing original still on the X5 was the engine and the tranny. So I have a car worth $2,200 BlueBook, and here is what it needs: At least two and before long 4 door handles, at $450 a pop; at least a ring job if not an engine replacement, at $3,000-$6,000, and a transmission that was, frankly, overschedule for some major work. On top of that, I’d already spent more than $6,000 trying to fix the oil problem. After three different BMW specialists and a dealer worked on it, oil consumption rose from 350 miles/quart to….TaDa! 300 miles a quart. So when that dropped below 100 miles/quart last summer…frankly I gave up. I was tired of the fight at that point.

          cjf

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Leaking drop top! Maybe 4 decades ago. So far not one rag top owner I have spoke to has had any leaks of any kind and that includes Camaro’s, Mustangs, Chrysler Sebrings and a host of foreign stuff.

      Perhaps this is a Euro thing?

  • avatar
    duncanator

    I commend your frugality and wish I had just a bit of it. I want to own a car for that long and wish I didn’t want a new one every year. Sadly, the longest I’ve owned a car was 7 years and only put 120k miles on it. I’m coming up on 2 years in my current vehicle and have already started looking. Sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Actually, duncator, that’s part of the reason I got the T4, rather than the 6. There’s a ton of modding possible with this thing, from bolt ons to tunes – there are tunes available for this motor that produce 390HP. I’m thinking I’m going to mod this thing a bit after the warranty runs out.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        But why? The factory is already wringing an incredible amount of power out of that small-displacement motor, meaning that any mods you do to it will simply stress it even more. This is a sure recipe for greatly shortening the life of the engine. All of your previous engines were not pushed to the limit from the factory, which explains their long lives.

        • 0 avatar
          Christopher J Feola

          Hi RedmondJP, I’m not sure that I will. I’m saying after the warranty runs out in a few years I can mod it for a lot less than a new car, and have fun that way. It was an interesting factor, given that the engines were so close otherwise.

          Cjf

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Daughter checked out the vestigial back seat and said, “There’s really no room for kids.” My response: “What’s your point?”

    Well played, sir. Sometimes it takes the kiddos a while to wrap their brains around the concept that less than 100% of Daddy’s life is devoted to them anymore.

    I wish I could give myself leave to buy something entirely frivolous like a Camaro convertible – and if you’re gonna buy a Camaro, I’d say the only one worth buying IS the convertible – but I’m thinking hot hatch as my mid-50’s ride. Enjoy – you’re earned it!

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      FreedMike, go and get you a hot hatch, and enjoy it! And thanks for the kind words. Love my kids, but my philosophy with them was always clear: I’m dad; you’re not.

      Cjf

  • avatar
    JMII

    I had an 83 Mustang with the inline 6 – even back then I knew it was a terrible car. It was stolen (why?) so I got what I originally wanted: a Civic S1500 hatch. Now that was a great car.

    The big technologies leaps are very evident on a decade long scale. My garage current features vehicles from ’02 and ’03 along with a ’14. The differences are remarkable. The ’14 doesn’t even require you to interact with the key, has a built-in reverse camera, GPS mapping, Bluetooth, different temperature controls for each person aboard and even reminds you when its time to change the oil and rotate the tires. It has 330 HP yet gets over 23 MPG while blasting from 0-60 in around 5.5 seconds. My ’02 truck is totally caveman in comparison, it has cruise control and power windows. I think the only advanced system is ABS and that was optional when I bought it!

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      JMII, yeah the key thing drives me a bit crazy. I instantly got used to leaving it in my pocket and pushing the START button. Now when I drive anything else I push random buttons for five minutes like an idjit till I think “Keys!”

      Also, I was 22 and single when I bought the Mustang, whose best feature may have been its unwavering ability to fill its passenger seat with Pretty Young Things.

      Cjf

  • avatar
    threeer

    You and my mother must be cut from the same cloth when it comes to time between car purchases! Every ten years (more or less). Unfortunately, her choice in cars doesn’t run quite as much fun as yours (1981…Toyota Corolla, 1993…Toyota Camry 2003…Toyota Corolla, 2012…Buick Verano (though I think she secretly wanted a C-class MB)). Longest I have ever been able to hold onto a car was seven years for my 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart, and two of those years of ownership I was in Saudi Arabia while the car resided in Mississippi with friends.

    Oh, and thanks for voluntarily serving the country. My father did 26 years Active Duty (Army) and my son is currently in his fourth year piloting C-17’s around for the Air Force.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Thanks for the kind words, threeer, and your family’s service. Some gave all; all gave some.

      On the other hand, all my vet friends would like to tell you that I didn’t have an actual military job because I was a Stars & Stripes photojournalist and, I quote, “That ain’t work.”

      To which I respond, “What’s your point?”

      Cjf

  • avatar
    focal

    similar to me, a few “used” cars to entice me away.

    92 camry LE 5sp manual
    01 Jetta 1.8T 5sp manual
    13 BMW 328i 6sp manual

    used cars briefly owned (regrettably)
    97 Jetta VR6 5sp manual
    06 BMW 545i 6sp manual

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I find the chronological story line with the vehicle, hp and torque fantastic.

    If I look back I never had a similar linear improvement in my vehicles.

    I found my XJ Cherokee a great disappointment. It had the potential to be a fine vehicle. It was riddled with poor quality parts and workmanship.

    Looking at your turbo 4 Camaro it is plain to see you look beyond the engine in the traditional “redneck” sense. That is refreshing.

    An enjoyable article, that makes one look back at why, especially us older farts.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Thanks for the kind words, Big Al.

      I can see why some people won’t like this engine. It’s not the endless torque down low of the V8s. But if you’ve driven and loved the BMW i6, or the STI/Evo, you’ll know this thing instantly – more torque than the V6 and it will slam you in your seat in pretty much every gear when you’re winding it up to the redline and upshifting.

      Cjf

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    If you are willing to go through a few test revisions, go get a TRIFECTA tune, and have it Dyno tuned. REALLY good gains to be had that will not affect mpg if you don’t stick your foot in it ..

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Thanks, maxxcool7421. I’ve been reading up on tunes, and I’ll definitely check Trifecta out. Have you used them yourself? How dramatic is the change in everyday driving?

      cjf

  • avatar

    Good Article.
    My 03 has nav, but it was a big deal back then. Bluetooth was added by AUX, so it’s almost up to date.
    My 08 has nav and bluetooth, basic-music by wire
    My 10 has nav and bluetooth, basic but takes iPod with an adapter to Lightening.

    yup, newest one is seven I understand the very occasional emergence into a Showroom, even if I shop every day. I’ve been invited to the Come Drive Our BMW events, which are always fun and well run. I come home and say “More Power, Better Gadgets” every time, but not enough to churn the existing metal. I’m not going into debt for 30 hp or music streaming bluetooth.

    I’m going to want full Android and Apple on a big screen next car, lots of USB outlets, and nav.
    Smartphone nav is great, Waze better, but I’ve still been saved a few times by hardware that doesn’t need LTE to work.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Thanks, speedlaw.

      Actually, for all its electronics, this Camaro seems much more a throwback than the last few generations of cars. Big tach and speedo, and a little info screen in between; the 7″ screen showing the phone – in my case Android Auto – and a stick shift. It’s pretty bare bones, and it makes me happy.

      Agree on the vaugeries of GPS. One good workaround is you can set Google Maps to download large areas. Then it runs off GPS when available, and downloaded maps when not. Recommended.

      cjf

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Best. Car. Ever.” I’ve always tended to feel that way about the current vehicle I owned.

    Good story. Enjoyable read.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Thanks, Lou_BC,
      Yeah, it takes me a year to buy a car, but I’m very happy for a very long time after that. I drive everything, so I’m never passing something on the road and thinking “Why didn’t I try that one?”

      Cjf

  • avatar
    TMA1

    That’s a good looking Camaro. It’s like a totally different car without a roof. Haven’t seen one in real life though. Even the coupes are still pretty rare.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Hi TMA1,
      You are absolutely right. It looks closer to the Jaguar F-Type than the Camaro coup. Not that I’m complaining. But yeah – the coupe is too boy racer for me, and the ‘vert is just a beautiful sculpture.

      That makes for some funny conversations. Driver pulls up and rolls the window down.
      Driver: Hey, what’s that you’re driving?
      Me: A Camaro
      Driver: Noooooo
      Me: Yep
      Driver: Noooooooooooooooooo
      Me: Dood, I’m pointing at the bowtie
      Driver: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…

      Cjf

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I’m torn. I am stingy on many things. I drive 96 Caravan. I love driving tons of new cars. I think (test) driving someone else’s car is my favorite way to have fun. ANYTHING is more fun than a 96 caravan. :)
    But last week doing 175 mph in Porsche GT3 RS, driving new Focus RS for half a day, auto crossing 911/Cayman, and driving 911 Turbo S, and Giulia Quadrifoglio, and Jag F-Pace S… that satisfies my appetite for a month or so. Plus, friend let (only) me drive his 720 HP Lingenfelter [Mr. Ken Lingenfelter got OUT Of the Giulia I was getting INTO.. .nice guy!], ZL-1 and his OTHER ZL-1 (which will be 900 hp or so shortly). Those are crazy fast cars.

    I’m stingy, though, to part with my money that could be used to help out my children, and being that my dad was raised during the depression and fought in WWII (two) through Korea, he taught me to plan for worst of times. But I love driving OTHER people’s cars, fast/crazy and mostly FAST. All other times, I drive under the speed limit! :)

    We had a Jeep XJ like that. I had THREE different straight sixes in a row. 4.9L Ford F-150, Jeep Cherokee 4.0L and Mercedes E-Class 3.0L. Not sure ANY other USAmerican can say they’ve had three different ones, and in three different classes of cars too (Truck, SUV, sedan)

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Hey FThorn,
      Well, I’m envious of your weekend drives! But here’s the thing: We have a concept in IT called the The Rule of 9s; every 9 costs the same. So if it costs $1 million to get your data center to 90% uptime, then it costs another $1 million to get it to 99% uptime, and a third $1 million to get it to 99.9% uptime.

      Cars seem very much the same to me. Is the Porsche GT3 RS better than, say, a Corvette? Let’s say yes. Is it three times better than a Corvette? I’ll guess no, even though it costs almost three times as much.

      In the meantime, I’ve never driven a car on a track. (Looking to track this one, though!) Here’s my bet: I’m guessing an experienced track hand like you in my Camaro will beat me in a Porsche GT3 RS. Once the car exceeds your abilities, does it matter by how much? So for me the sweet spot is the 90% solution.

      Cjf

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      PS: FThorn, I’ve had 2.5 i6s: The Jeep, the X5, and my mom and I went halves on a used Dodge Dart Swinger with the slant i6 when I was in high school. That thing was indestructible!

      cjf

  • avatar
    9Exponent

    This was a great read. Please write more, soon!

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    What a great read!

    I would love to find a way to to have your ownership cycle. I think for every one car you have had, I have had 10 in 2 and change decades of driving. ]
    Please provide a follow up with your track day (s) experience; would be nice to get a ‘rookies’ thoughts and the mods you complete on the Camaro.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Thanks for the kind words, 87 Morgan. Will do a follow up when I track it. Can’t wait. The handling on this thing is just razer sharp, it’s super light with the 4, and tons of fun when you keep the turbo on the boil…

      cjf

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I hope you have more automotive stories to tell. I like your writing, suspect that I like you, and hope you and this site continue together.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    A long time friend of my mom has a 1969 light blue Camaro convertible with white seats and drives that thing around every Summer. I told her that a new Camaro was out and that she should check it out. She found a nice blue one with black top and took it out for a drive last week when we had one of those rare 55 degree Indian Summer days. She was flabbergasted. From the trick drop top to the power of the 3.6 to the rock solid ride/handling and body structure. Also shocking was the price. Nearly 40K. needless to say a nice gently used one may be in her future.

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Hi ponchoman49,
      Not sure where in the country you are, but you might want to check Truecar, then negotiate. There’s a TON of money on the hood of Camaros right now. I got mine for a couple thousand less than Truecar for my area, just by being patient for a few weeks. Camaro sales, for whatever reason, are a lot lower with this model, trailing the Mustang most months and sometimes the Challenger too.

      cjf

  • avatar
    kenwood

    What was going on in 1984 to make someone say “We don’t sell to soldiers”?

    • 0 avatar
      Christopher J Feola

      Hi kenwood,
      It was just a decade after Vietnam. People thought nothing of walking up to soldiers in uniform and calling them “baby killers.” Thank goodness that’s changed.

      cjf

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