28 June, 2011

Strider Lives! And Meet The New Guy.

So! Strider the Ranger is alive and kicking and better than ever. Well, at least better than he has been since I first met him in 2006. I got the new transmission installed, put the exhaust all back together, put new fuel in the tank, brought the tires back up to the proper pressure, etc. and took him for a spin to Wal-Mart and back, (I didn't dare drive any farther because my registration expired 3.5 years ago).

Anyway, Strider lives, but is still too small for our family. So I will probably end up selling him, but probably not until we come back to the US in the fall. Dad had a nice aluminum cap from back when he had a Ranger and so I put that on the back of Strider, thinking maybe the cap might boost his value a bit on the used car market. I really liked this truck. I admit that at first I wasn't too thrilled about the small wheels, but at one point I experimentally put a set of tall tires on there, (ones that came from the old police car I junked out back in 2006), and they felt really scary to me because I was used to the better acceleration of the smaller ones, so I switched back. I do like the offset better than the stock rims. They are wide. Wide enough that I think that they might be messing with the front suspension geometry.

So now meet the New Guy. New Guy is a 1996 Ford Explorer 4x4. Originally a top spec Explorer, New Guy is showing a few signs of wear and tear, but appears to be a basically sound old car. Certainly better than the other similarly priced Explorer we looked at, which was only a 2 wheel drive and which had a "CHECK ENGINE" light that stayed on all the time. New Guy has lots of things that normal people care about, like power windows and door locks and ABS, air conditioning and dual front air bags. Things that I quite literally couldn't care less about, but there you have it, it's hard to get simple cars anymore! I do like the sunroof, though.

You might be wondering why I chose to get a 4x4 SUV. Well, we were originally looking for an RV, simply because an RV would allow us to live life more or less normally while travelling. I realised one day while driving here in FL with a very gumpy toddler screaming in the back seat that travelling with kids could well end up being very difficult, so I was hoping to find a cheap RV that would allow Clare and the kids to live life in the back, watching TV, eating snacks, etc. while I got on with the business of driving us from FL to MI and back again. Unfortunately, most of the RV that we looked at in our price range, ($1,000-$2500, and there were a surprising number in that range), were in pretty rough shape. All of them were advertised as "running" and yet, none of the owners were able to get them started, mainly because nobody wanted to spend the money on a new battery to get them started. So, because I didn't have time to do a lot of fixing up on an RV, I reluctantly let them all go and decided to get an Explorer instead.

Why an Explorer and not a Blazer or a a similar Japanese car? Well, I do all my own work on our cars and I'm most familiar with Fords and Very Olde Land Rovers. I was impressed with the Ranger (Strider) that I drove all over the East Coast in 2006, so I decided to get something of similar vintage and technology so that I wouldn't have to spend a lot of time learning how to work on it. Besides, Explorers are well supported in the aftermarket.

While I did not initially go out looking for a 4x4, I was happy when this one came up for sale, as we'll be doing a lot of driving over the winter and some of that in places where having 4x4 in the winter is a good thing, (like TN, for example).

Haven't decided on a name for New Guy yet. Clare says that all the baddies on TV drive black SUV's. I told her that we can drive around pretending to be baddies.

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