Posts By: Phil Coconis

By on December 3, 2012

It’s been a long, long time since I can remember seeing one of these on the road…and a WAGON no less!

These Polaras were considered mid-sized in an era when truly excessive full-sized land yachts were the desired mode of transport for the financially solvent and nuclear family-oriented, here in the good ol’ U. S. of A. Still, the automotive purchasing public didn’t exactly pan the model; and, in fact, some racers embraced it, considering its combination of outside and underhood dimensions—read that as the possibility of stuffing a big powerful engine in a relatively small car— ideal for quarter-mile shredding. I seem to remember seeing them in law enforcement and fire department livery—likely for the same virtues appreciated by racers. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2012

Being an avid proponent of resolution—whenever reasonably possible and prudent—I had to pause to make sense of what certainly appeared to be the aftermarket equivalent of Anti-Theft Engineering Overkill, which had been residing for some time under the front seat of my newly purchased 1991 Eagle Talon Tsi AWD (Some of the circumstances surrounding said purchase are explained at the end of Part One.)

Not that the installation looked a mess, or anything like that. It was really rather well organized, in truth. At least a half dozen standard circuit relays, a control unit, and all of the accompanying wiring neatly gathered into a substantial loom and routed under the carpet to points North, East and West. (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2012

Recently, while dining with friends, the subject turned to what else but things automotive. (This tends to happen with marked constancy, and long ago I learned to embrace, roll with, and otherwise enjoy the process.)

The hostess, an avid bird-watcher, related an anecdote regarding an in-field faux pas, wherein their transportation for the day—an early millennium Ford Explorer equipped with an intermittently malfunctioning anti-theft system—was the catalytic device that made them the unwelcome center of attention—albeit a momentary one. (Read More…)

By on November 26, 2012

Since we we’re on the subject of the Downtrodden Mini-Truck, I figured it’s so nice…we’ll have to do it twice. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2012

Expertly collected and commented by Phil Coconis, this is the first of many BODACIOUS BEATERS and road-going derelicts, an assemblage of the still driveable near-dead.

Straight out of the late-Disco era, this exhaustively coastal-aged example of GM’s early efforts in “badge engineering”—taking vehicles virtually completely manufactured by another entity (in this case ISUZU) and fitting them with their own (in this case Chevrolet) emblems—is truly a miracle survivor, on so many levels. (Read More…)

By on November 11, 2012

 

Since my last entry involved Crooked Customer behavior, I think its only fair that I give equal time to that of the Shady Shop. Rather than merely relating what have most certainly become cliché’—and I’ve pretty much heard them all—I’m going to relate a few accounts in which I personally have been on the receiving end, as either a consumer or a shop owner.

They really stand out due to a few factors, not the least of which is the absolute unflinching nerve, if not downright out-and-out hubris on the part of the perpetrators.
(Read More…)

By on November 4, 2012

“You can’t cheat an honest man”, a quote I understand to have originated from none other than W.C. Fields turned out to be even more profound than I originally surmised.

I mean, I had for some time figured that being as straight as possible with myself, or anybody else—including, and maybe even especially customers, when I finally got into that arena—was the best way to go.

Of course there were real tests, trials, and defining moments along the way, but it always seemed to be a road worth staying on. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2012

“Have it Your Way” was a popular TV ad campaign some years ago. While it seemed to work for the world of fast-food burgers, it certainly wasn’t universally applicable in others.

Like in the world of Auto Repair, for instance. (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2012

For the most part, I’m trying to avoid the whys and wherefores behind the topics I write about in this column. I’d just as soon hear from readers as to their opinions about the reasons behind. But there are going to be exceptions to that rule, as far as my postulating about motives.

This entry (as with Part One) is one of the exceptions. I still wouldn’t mind “hearing” your thoughts, though

Once upon a time, when my little repair shop microcosm was a much safer and secure place to tread, I would rarely get a customer request for a repair procedure that was unlawful, unsafe, unprofitable, unfair, or just downright unrecommendable. And if their request was any of these, it would take very little effort on my part to dissuade them from their skewed request and get them to embrace my recommendation for properly solving their problem.

Or, did I DREAM that? (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2012

For the most part, I’m trying to avoid the whys and wherefores behind the topics I write about in this column. I’d just as soon hear from readers as to their opinions about the reasons behind. But there are going to be exceptions to that rule, as far as my postulating about motives.

This entry is one of the exceptions.

I still wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts, though

As I stated in my last entry, in the final analysis—in spite of the opinions voiced on the nature of their vehicles problem—the customer generally sincerely just wanted the problem remedied. There were no ulterior motives I could detect in their erroneous observations; I just appreciated that their scope of experience was limited in comparison to mine, and I took what usefulness I could out of their efforts to help.

But then, there were those occasions when I highly doubted the sincerity of the customer’s statements. In this entry, I’m going to relate a couple of those occasions to you. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2012

If I had a dime for every time a customer said that to me while in the process of Repair Order composition… I would have made a lot less money off the ensuing job!

I mean, the whole idea of the pre-repair consultation—at least from my point of view—was and is to get as good an idea as possible about the nature of the vehicle’s problem, so a proper repair can be performed in an expedient, efficient, and cost-effective manner. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2012


The next stories I’m going to relate weren’t actually borne from performance-oriented driving impressions I might have otherwise gathered and formulated based on my British Car wheel time. Therefore,  I couldn’t rightly include them in my last entry. Worthy of recall they are, nevertheless—especially because they are firsts that I haven’t since repeated, fortunately. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2012

In my last entry, I tried to convey the wonderfulness that was, and is part and parcel to the British Car driving experience, which I was able to enjoy through my “wrenching connections”. For me, if I had to describe this experience in one word, it would have to be “unique”; and when it comes to motorized transport, unique is ALWAYS worth doing at least once.

The experiences I related in the last entry, as far as I’m concerned, are worth doing often and on as regular a basis as possible. In this entry, on the other hand, I’m going to relate some British Car driving experiences that define the darker side of the term. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2012


 

One would think that with all the head scratching, added expense and needless difficulty involved, anyone who persisted in their own repair and maintenance efforts (professional or otherwise) on such flawed contraptions —which I will continue to document in this series on my experiences with automobiles British— must be running as low on vital fluids as the vehicles themselves typically were!

But we’re not talking about the repeating of the same procedure and expecting a different result, in this case. The experienced British Car  mechanic understood that the oil leaks would persist, the electrics would continue to be perform intermittently and the driveability would literally change with the weather. To expect otherwise WOULD have been a sign of insanity! (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2012

“We don’t need mechanics…we need MAGICIANS!”

In a heavy accent loaded with London grit, that was the response of the proprietor of the local—and at that point in time, quite vital—independent British Car garage, when I approached him to inquire as to whether he was in the market for hired help.

Not even twenty years of age, with a whopping one-year’s worth of experience servicing used cars for a BMC/Jaguar/Toyota dealership, just up the Pacific Coast Highway, I was still in the process of formulating an opinion as to what it took to make a success of wrenching (or should I call that “spannering?”) on things British. (Read More…)

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