Monday, February 09, 2009

Q: What’s the difference between a porcupine and Porsche?

A: The porcupine has the pricks on the outside.

How many times have I heard that joke?

Since everything’s been so gloom and doom around the blogonets as of late (with the exception of Jackson’s kickass hard rock record retrospective), I thought I’d partake in a little self indulgence (that, plus the fact that nobody reads this blog anyway).

Last Friday while the wife did her GNO thing (that’s Girls Night Out for the Miley Cirus impaired), I finally got around to scanning some tasty photos from my vast archives. Some will end up on the ol' Facebook page, but these I felt worthy of a post.

Let me start by saying that I am a car nut of sorts. No, I don’t fix or tinker with them mechanically, I just like ones that look cool and go fast. With the exception of a 1972 Ford Pinto (worthy of a post of it’s own), a 1965 VW Beatle, and 1977 Ford Econoline Van, I’ve driven sports cars all my life. Before the cries of rich spoiled brat are hurled, understand that I bought and paid for every one of my cars with my own hard earned cash. Most were not expensive only requiring steely eyed negotiation and an ability to strike while the iron is hot. I'm a fiend for the art of a deal. Probably why I do contract and sourcing work for a living.

My first choice ride was a 1976 Datsun 280Z. I had to commute to school after parting ways over 'artistic differences' with the University of Maryland. My dad collected every pay check I earned that summer with the specific purpose of me buying a car to go to school in. At the end of the summer the search began in earnest and I selected this one. Dad would have none of it. "Why not a Chevy Chevette?" We almost came to blows over it, but in the end it was hard for him to argue with my “It’s my money!” posit. Okay, I just wore him out.

The Z was a great car. I shoved everything from mixing boards to fellow students into the hatch and many of my fellow dorm dwellers benefited from my loan out policy (give me a twelver and have it back by midnight). I did 110 MPH on the N.J. Turnpike with five people and as many cases of beer in it on our way to an Army/Navy football game. The thing drove like butter.

Upon graduation, my father offered to co-sign new cars loan for each of his five budding graduates in order to ensure we could all get to our new fabulous jobs we were going to find soon and NOT have to move back in with him and mom. While search for said fab job, I worked in a graveyard and in a rare moment of maturity elected to NOT spend money I didn’t have. I asked instead to have him co-sign a loan for this baby, a 1977 Porsche 924S.

This time I got the “Nobody who works in a cemetery can afford to drive a car like that” (didn't matter that it priced at a fraction of the new Chevy Barretta he wanted me to buy). I ended up getting the loan on my own. I. Was. A. Happy. Young. Man. That was until the following Christmas Eve when Jackson and I were driving home late on the Palisades Parkway, hit a sheet of ice, and crashed it head on into a tree.

After a period of morning and waiting for insurance to pay off, a check finally came and I bought this one, another 1977 Porsche 924S.

I drove this until my girlfriend and I were at the local Toyota dealer one day buying her a new Tercel and this little 1985 MR-2 came in on trade in.

The guy working the Tercel deal quoted some ridiculously low price when I inquired, so I dove on it. The next week had the dealership calling me to bring it back since the salesmen had “not been authorized” to sell it at that price and he was no longer working there anymore. I ended up giving them $200 more and got a three year bumper to bumper warranty that would pay off in spades over the time in which I owned it. I drove this car to my new life in Georgia in 1991 and made many round trips back to New York in it.

Once I had planted roots and found myself in better comfort job wise, I traded in the MR-2 and picked this baby up, a 1984 Porsche 944.

This was a great car. My girlfriend/now wife, loved this car too having just bought a Nissan 240SX and learning to drive stick shift.

During the dot com boom and stock option glory days at Nextel, I sold the 944 and struck gold with what would be the best deal I’ve ever made on a sports car. I searched far and wide for seven months and found this 1988 911 Carrera two hours south of Atlanta in Macon GA.

While I had to replace little minor cosmetic things, this car was tippy top. It NEVER broke down, and if not for the fact that the targa top began to leak in the seventh year of ownership (common with the Porsche targa tops), I’d probably still have it.

When doctors told us that we weren’t going to be able to have kids, I did what most guys would do to console the broken heart of their Mrs., I went out and bought her a Mercedes C280. GREAT little car, but did little to assuage the grief.

Then, the miracle beyond our wildest dreams happened and Mrs. Alva got pregnant. We were going to need a baby friendly car. No, not a minivan, prohibitive language in our pre-nup forbids ever owning a minivan. I decided to sell the Merc and the 911 and focus a search on a proper baby carrying machine. As luck would have it, I got uber bucks for the 911 more than covering the cost of Mama’s Jeep and plenty left over to make this affordable, a 1998 Porsche Boxster.

It was nice owning a ‘newer’ car, one with airbags, and all kinds of cool digital features and such. Oh, and did you notice it was a convertible? Fairly trouble free, but expensive to tune up once a year.

And that brings us to my current sad state oh my brothers. You know what happened not long ago. The high price of high test gas and my long commute had my beloved Boxster sitting idle in the garage for months on end and that simply was not fair to the car. I did find it a good home (my VP at work) and fetched a good price for it to. I’m now tooling around in my little 1994 Honda Civic DX wagon like any regular sucker.

But rest assured I’ll be back behind the wheel of something sexy in due time. With the downturn in the economy there are PLENTY of good deals to be had out there. What will it be? Will it be another Porsche, or something different say, a nice late 90’s Acura NSX? Beamer? Merc?

Any suggestions?


At 8:07 PM, February 09, 2009, Blogger Dr Zibbs said...

I have a friend that had 3 Z's

At 11:08 AM, February 10, 2009, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Great cars if you could keep'em from rusting away. I sold it to a specialty car place that restored it. I knew the guy who bought ot from the place and they did a SWET job on it. That straight six 1st generation fuel injection was so badass!

At 3:47 PM, February 10, 2009, Blogger Jackson said...

What, no Colt?

At 4:04 PM, February 10, 2009, Blogger Tony Alva said...

The Colt! Nope, that actually belonged to the old man. Never had a registration card with my name on it. It was as you remember, the Alva offspring pool vehicle which we feverously fought over constantly. That car kicked ass though. My sister Cindy wrecked that one.

This post was actually inspired by my dad who last week was reading to me some document that listed all the cars he'd ever insured with USAA. We has a good laugh at some of them.

At 4:15 PM, February 11, 2009, Blogger Mathdude said...

How about a Fiero for your next car?

At 6:48 PM, February 11, 2009, Blogger smiley said...

TA – Nice post. I enjoyed your journey back through time. Nice fleet of wheels. I have a similar story wrt your last, and my last beloved vehicle. My 2002 Corvette ZO6 (NCM Delivery) sat in the garage, unused. Tires would go flat, battery died, computer for ABS, Active Handling, Traction control went out - $4K to replace. With all that to consider, the car was sold and the proceeds were used to build a pool. Best decision ever. However, I am planning to return trip to Bowling Green, at some point for another NCM Delivery - awesome experience. I’ll need to get out the scanner and go hunting through the stacks to see if I can come up with the all the pics of my “fleet”. Do you remember my brother’s car he had in ’79? It was a blue Triumph GT-6. That was my 1st. Nice hand-me-down after he got the Landcruiser with the biggest, “Gumbo Monster Mudders” you could by. He lost it on the way back to upstate NY, driving back from LA. I think the engine seized when it ran out of oil. In 2008, I forget the details, but somehow, my brother was tracked down as a previous owner and was propositioned to buy it back. He passed on the offer – I think it needed _a lot_ of work.

At 9:15 PM, February 11, 2009, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Dave, I do remember your bro's car. Way cool. Man, if $4.50 a gallon was killing me with a flat six boxer engine it was surely burying you with that beast. That's okay though. I've already been looking and prospects for something badass are good for the next ride. Let me know what you end up with.

At 10:15 AM, February 14, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you remember when you and I rode out to check out a 280Z and the guy swore it was is great shape. We got there and he had screwed 2X4s on as bumpers? What a dork. -- Mitch

At 11:04 AM, February 14, 2009, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Holy shit Mitch! That's right. I think you drove me out to Westchester to pick up the Z if I recall. The 2x4 bumpers geez...

At 9:42 PM, February 16, 2009, Blogger Bobby said...

Wow!!! A '94 Honda DX.. I'm jealous. I drive a '91 Acura Integra. I bought it new in December of 1990. Mileage is now closing in on 200K, but I have to dump in a quart of oil every week.

At 3:52 PM, February 18, 2009, Anonymous busbee said...

My Dad had a 240Z that cooked. We'd borrow it all of the time for dates and such. I remember driving from Stanford to San Jose in under 30 minutes(easily a 40-45 minute trip), hitting 140 (stupidly in retrospect - I'd be dead had a tire blown) on I-280 which was designed like the Autobahn.

The other extremes were the multiple VW Buses I drove which made up for lack of speed with instant parties and sleep-ins/pass out spots with two double beds. My Pops still talks about the time I brought two girls(both friends) to one of his scuba diving camp trips and how I was the talk of the camp when the three of us sacked out in the VW that night. Funny thing was I did have a Penthouse Forum moment that night when one of the gals hopped into the top bunk, which makes the memory even better. Did I say too much? Good thing you have no readers!

Great entry.

At 2:53 PM, February 22, 2009, Blogger dhc said...

Cool post. I like cars, too, although I haven't owned too many cool ones, mostly cars that are practical. But I love me some German engineering, and I have had 4 VWs (couldn't afford/justify an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes). Got my eye on a Mercedes now, next car will be my present to me.

Dated a guy who made a hobby out of buying and refurbing Audis and BMWs. He had a machine shop in his garage. He had an '88 Quattro that was really fun, and a 740i (?) that I couldn't drive for fear of getting many tickets. :) He had the skeleton of a Porsche 911 RS in the garage that he was preparing to paint British Racing yellow (I think that was the name-I used to tease him that it was "school bus yellow). We broke up before he finished that car. Good thing. :)

At 3:15 PM, May 22, 2009, Anonymous Mark James said...

Some hot motors, luv Porsche

At 6:45 AM, August 09, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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