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Old 07-07-2014, 10:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: 1000 Islands, Ontario, Canada
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
Team Metro
Last 3: 70.09 mpg (US)

MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.8 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 61.98 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)
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Project "Save the Flea!" Winter beater: 2007 Civic 1.8L, 5-speed

(Actual recent pics of the soon to be hermetically sealed specimen.)

After temporarily de-modifying and spending more than a day cleaning up the Firefly (first proper clean-up in about 3 years), I've decided its low miles, advancing years and decent condition have earned it some pampering.

Translation: I am going to stop subjecting it to the salt-soaking automotive rust party that constitutes eastern Ontario wintertimes.

(It has hardly any rust on it at the moment owing to the fact it has only been winter driven about 5/17 years. Also, it's had 3 anti-rust treatments/sprays.)

I'm under no illusion that this car will ever be a collectible. That's not the motivation. But with just 34,000 km on the clock, why ruin it?

So... the hunt is on for a winter beater!

Ideal Candidate: Twinsies!

I think another non-terminally rusted 96-00 Metro-zoid would be perfect, as I could swap ecomods between cars.

Also, I have lots of spare parts! Winter tires on wheels, 3.52 final drive transmissions and the like.

Also, also... I could be more aggressive with the beater's various panels for attaching mods, and then swap them over to the trailer-queen Flea for the other 2/3 of the year. Like the hatchback, with welded-on boat tail mounting mounts, or hacking the bumper covers to make them more aero.

I saw a sweet, sweet $850 Metro last week which I would have bought in a heartbeat if it hadn't been so far away.

I've also been trying for a couple of weeks to get a response on another reasonably priced super-low-miles doppelganger about 2 hours away, but the owner is frustratingly not responding to messages.

War_Wagon even offered up a free "ran when parked!" rust-free '96 Metro from his extensive eco car collection on the west coast! And I seriously (although briefly) considered an epic cross-country road trip to fetch it. mechman600 even sweetened the offer with a reminder he owes me a case of tasty home-brewed beer, but sanity (yawn, boring sanity) prevailed.

More Likely Candidate:

Almost anything cheap, somewhat efficient, with a manual transmission and a 4-cylinder engine.

Define cheap, you say? Around $1500 on the road would be considered cheap here in Ontario where used cars have to pass emissions testing plus a mechanical/safety inspection before you get your plates.

I envy those of you who live in lawless paradises where rusted out, smoking, $450 beaters can be bought and driven, exempt from such troublesome gubmint meddling!

Over $1500 if...

I'm not averse to spending double that amount or more that if I thought I could re-sell next year and break even and/or make a couple of bucks. But I don't really want to get into the fixing-up-and-flipping-cars business. I've got enough projects!

The Candidates So Far ...

To give you an idea what I've been looking at... all 5MT, and prices are "asking prices", nobody's offering mechanically inspected "certified" cars, though some have current valid e-tests:

  • 1998 Neon, 150k kms / 93k mi., $1500 - clean daily driver with good winter tires; female owner decided she needed an AWD car; a few dents & small rust spots. (Sold before I contacted her).
  • 2002 Honda Civic LX sedan, 200k kms / 120k mi., $1500 - another clean daily driver, set of winter & summer tires; female owner says she's tired of driving manual; cracked windshield, busted A/C, a bit of Honda rust. She says the price is firm; I told her get back to me if she changes her mind on that.
  • 2002 Mazda Protege 5, 230k kms / 142k mi., $1200 - rough around the edges (really dirty inside and rustier than the previous two); includes set of winter tires; needs complete brake job, says seller

The 50 km / 30 Mile Beater Rule ...

I'm also not going to drive all over hell's half acre looking at rusted out cars, so I'm limiting myself to somewhat local vehicles. Exceptions may be made for, well, exceptional specimens.

I almost considered going beyond that distance for a...
  • 2001 Pontiac Sunfire, 160k kms / 100k mi, $500 - rusty & banged up exterior, one-female-owner car with new clutch, working A/C and "runs well".
But it's not currently on the road (no plates), so no go (getting it home would be a bigger problem).

The Hunt Continues

Car shopping online is fun. I'll update when I have more news.

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Latest mods: 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage. EcoMods now in progress...
Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown

has launched a forum for the efficient new Mitsubishi Mirage - fuel efficiency info for Geo Metro owners - electric car conversion on a beer budget
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