Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Bike Hauler - Sorta

Behold the new bike hauler and rain commuter. Well, new is relative - new to me anyway. The mighty steed is a '96 VW Jetta with 164,000 miles, 3 busted electric windows, and suspension that seems to contain no damping whatsoever. It does run well and sports a manual 5 speed, so that bumps up the fun factor a tad. All this gleaming, well used technology for the grand sum of $500 - courtesy of my old riding pal, Brian. In this day and age, $500 for any drivable car qualifies as a total bargain. Thanks Brian.

Plan A is to just change the oil and see how long $500 transportation lasts. Plan B was to fix the electric windows, but since the driver side and the sun roof work - and with winter on the way - doesn't really matter. Plan C was to replace the struts so the thing actually doesn't wander all over the highway.

After driving it for two days, I may bump up Plan C and order some struts online. I could even get a full suspension kit with stiffer springs and lower ride height for $500 or so. Total cost would still be under $1000. We're talking new world economy fun here.

Plan D is already in progress - mount my Yakima roof rack to Jetta. My rack is old however and uses the discontinued SST towers that require Y clips. I need the Y44 clip and can't find any at the moment. I've been checking eBay and Craigslist daily. If anyone out there in Blog Land has a set to let go, let me know. In the meantime, old pal Brian has loaned me the Yakima trunk mount deal.

Since my previous car blew up a few months ago, we've been surviving pretty well with one family vehicle, thanks to bike commuter me. With school starting and various activities kicking in, the second car does comes in handy at times. I also cheat a bit and drive more often when the full on Seattle rainy winter kicks in. Son Ian and I also dig heading out to different places to ride and race and now we can do that once again, guilt free, without stranding the female half of the clan.

In any case, I only wind up driving a few days a week, so will be interesting to see how long the $500 experiment lasts. I still ride more miles then drive per year. Yeah, I'm bragging a bit and take pride in that little fun fact.

Despite my car related past few posts - have actually been riding lately - including mountain biking on all three days of the Labor Day weekend. One ride solo, one ride with Ian, one ride with Ian and old pal Brian. Fun stuff for sure. We've had some rain and the trails were in great condition - damp - but no mud.

On a different note, through Facebook, have gotten reacquainted with a cousin I haven't seen since we were kids - maybe 13 years old, so haven't seen him in 35+ years. He's a long distance truck driver and hit the Seattle area over the weekend. Family and I drove out to the giant truck stop in North Bend to meet him. Went out for a nice dinner and it was cool. We plan to meet again on his next trip out west. Always great to reconnect with long lost family members.

On a similar note, I've reconnected with loads of people on Facebook - relatives, friends, old coworkers, etc. If you're into that kind of thing, highly recommended.

This concludes the special report, we now return to our regular programming....


  1. I love 500 dollar cars. I have bought a bunch of them. Almost always from someone I know, just wanting to make a simple sale and get rid of the car. The White Whale will be sad.

  2. I had a 98 Wolfsburg Jetta. It was a great car! I think I sold it with about 94K on the clock. It should do fine for you..

  3. I wanted to go for the hot rod wagon (still do), but the Jetta deal was too cheap to pass up.

    The savings leaves some wiggle room for bike stuff. Or mortgage payments, or food....

  4. Back in the Datacom days, I had a 95 Jetta - Nice cars, and you really can't beat that price. It makes me a little dizzy to think what I paid for mine back in the day.

    I *may* still have my Yakima towers and hardware, I just have to figure out where I stashed it in the past couple of moves. I'll dig around and see what I can find.

  5. @Anonymous J

    I remember that Jetta. It was red - correct? Nice car. Let me know if you find the old Yakima hardware. If not, no sweat - thanks for checking.

    The wheels may be falling off my $500 experiment already - it just failed the emissions test. The money hole begins that could turn the $500 Jetta into the $1500 Jetta. I'm debating the next move.

    Man, it's fun being a single paycheck family of four at times.....