Category Archives: Cars We’ve Driven

This is our road test section. We use whatever means we can to get whatever cars we can.

Driving my first exotic

We all have our firsts, and this was the first exotic car I ever drove, an ’02 Maserati Spyder like the one you see here (only a lot rougher around the edges).

I basically just bullshitted my way into a test drive at a used car lot down the shore. In true Italian style, the convertible top wouldn’t go down, but otherwise, it was in decent shape.

This was also my first experience with a proper paddle shift transmission. I found it shifted nicely at speed, but it was utter dog shit in traffic. I proceeded, enjoying the lovely Italian V8 engine, and I almost chirped the tires in front of a cop.

It was a fun test drive in a car which at the time was quite special in the eyes of 20 year old me…. if I only knew what was to come 😂👍

-Nick

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Enter the Miata

The Miata embodies the balance I was seeking in life, both as a car enthusiast as well as in my own mindset. At a time when I was about to go full ego with a big turbo on my Subaru, one of my buddies bought this little black 93 and offered to sell it to me at the end of summer. I sold my turbo and accompanying parts and made it happen.

EVO Magazine said the Miata has the same sort of experience as other sports cars, but in the Miata everything happens in slow motion so there’s more time to savor it. That piqued my interest big time, and as a bonus, driving the Miata also made my Subaru feel fast again, and I came to realize that having multiple complementary cars beats having one crazy car every time.

I came to love the Miata’s total lack of ego, and the strategy involved in driving a momentum car fast. It’s really all about blissfully enjoying life, and it has no greater purpose than that.

I call this photo the Miata Yin Yang ☯️ and it was taken by my buddy @danvphotos who had the white Miata. We had some great drives in these cars, neither of which we have anymore, but they set the stage for the future.

-Nick

The Car I Know 2nd Best: My Dad’s Porsche 996

I’ve got a secret to tell you, the Porsche 996 is a ton of fun, despite the hate it gets from Porsche “purists.” It’s surely not the last word in Porsche perfection, but it is a really satisfying sports car experience, especially when you consider the money. Sure a 997 is better, but you’ll spend more than double for it.

My dad traded his 944 for this 996 a few months after I got my Subaru, and it’s the car I know second best in this world.

300hp in a 2900lb car, RWD with an LSD, and a 6 speed manual transmission with perfect gearing. The handling is sharp and nimble and the flat 6 engine howls with fury as the revs climb. It puts most other sports cars in its price range to shame, and there is nothing missing from the experience.

My dad still enjoys it, and I’ve been thankful he’s let me enjoy it over the years as well. It’s a Porsche you can really get out and drive because it has nothing to prove. I love that.

-Nick

I was “that kid” in the STi in 2006

My first car, a 2004 Subaru WRX STi, which I still have 12 years later.

Yes, my dad bought it for me, and yes I was the stereotype kid with the STi in 2006. I did lots of really dumb things, insane 100+ speeds on roads definitely not meant for that. I embarrassed many Mustangs and even a few M3s and Porsches, and I somehow managed not to crash it along the way. I was always “smart” about being stupid, I guess.

I had the STI at the best time to have an STi, in high school 😂👍and it was fucking awesome. I enjoyed the hell out of it during my young and reckless years. It could’ve gotten me in a hell of a lot of trouble, both legally and physically, but it also proved good enough to get me out of any such trouble, either by way of slowing down or speeding up (if you catch my drift 😉🏎💨🚓).

I continue to hold onto it because I still really love it when it’s running right. It’s a nostalgic relic of my 19 year old self, and it brings me back every time I drive it.

-Nick

For me, as a driver, this is Genesis

Porsche_944_Turbo_Red_4New year, new beginning, and it’s making me think back on my journey as a driver and car enthusiast as I consider where I want to go from here.

My car obsession began as a kid, but my enthusiast driving really began with this, a 1990 Porsche 944 S2 just like the one shown here (not my photo). My Dad wanted to teach me to drive stick and he also wanted a sports car for some fun, so we found this 944 with 142k miles for around $9 grand and it was absolutely perfect. I first went over 100mph in this car, and my dad was very cool about it. I also learned to “drift” by sliding this car with it’s perfect 50/50 weight distribution (not sure if Dad knows that).

This car opened my eyes to the world of sports cars from the time I was 16 on a learner’s permit and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the 944. For me as a driver, this is Genesis.

-Nick Walker

A Fall Drive in the STI

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I don’t have much to say, mostly just the photos I shot. But the STI was finally running well again, so I took it out for a Fall drive on Sunday. It was like spending time with an old friend after a long time apart.

Continue reading A Fall Drive in the STI

Podcast: Comparing Camaros, Classic vs Contemporary

Having recent seat time in both a ’69 Camaro SS 396 and two Gen6 Camaro SS 1LEs, I wanted to compare the Camaro experience between generations that are 50 years apart.

Review in the video, gallery below. Enjoy!

Continue reading Podcast: Comparing Camaros, Classic vs Contemporary

A tiny package with so much sting, my second take on the Fiat 500 Abarth

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I’ve recently been spending some time behind the wheel of my buddy’s Fiat 500 Abarth and I find myself thinking about it a lot. I drove one briefly a few years back when they first came out and I was enamored with it, but spending more time with the Abarth only makes you want one at a deeper and deeper level. It has all of those intangible things that don’t immediately jump out on paper, and those things give it what I call “staying power.” The Abarth offers a depth of experience that will keep it interesting long after you sign on the dotted line.

Continue reading A tiny package with so much sting, my second take on the Fiat 500 Abarth

What I Learned Driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio back-to-back with the Giulia

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Regular drivers in regular cars doing regular things in their regular lives. If you ask most people, they don’t aspire to be just regular, yet, overall, most of us wind up doing regular shit day in and day out. Life defaults to being excruciatingly routine if you let it. The “good enough” mindset sets in, and one day you wake up just another average Joe or Jill. It’s a fact of life. We all make sacrifices in the name of convenience and practicality because to do otherwise usually causes more struggle than necessary. That makes everything work smoothly, but it also totally dulls your life experience, and frankly, it’s depressing.

Compromise is the reality, though. The fact is, most genuinely remarkable things in life are exceedingly impractical and don’t really fit into the lives of most people. In our minds, we’d all love to be that stylish and interesting person who’s always going on adventures, seemingly without a care in the world… or a budget, for that matter. That idealistic perception can never really be fulfilled, but what we all can do is make our compromises intelligent. Okay, maybe you can’t really be the guy who daily drives a sexy classic Italian sports car. Even if you can afford one, if you have a family it doesn’t really work out that well, and that’s not even counting the car’s functional lack of reliability. The dream doesn’t have to die with a boring minivan or nameless sedan, though. There is a very real middle ground that can give you most of the experiences you’re yearning for while also satisfying your practical needs.

Car enthusiasts, like myself, are well aware of this, but the average consumer may not be as turned on to it. I’ve seen a lot of more casual car people go from driving something genuinely fun to something awful like a Minivan or a mundane SUV. It’s sad, and it’s not necessary. Meet Alfa Romeo, a company that makes sports cars of different sizes and shapes.

Continue reading What I Learned Driving the Alfa Romeo Stelvio back-to-back with the Giulia

Test Driven: BMW X3 xDrive M40i (Grade: B)

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Compact crossovers have taken the American market by storm in epic proportions. Sales of sedans are declining, and sales of luxury crossovers from brands like Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and the like have gone through the stratosphere. Cadillac’s best selling vehicle is the XT-5, the replacement for the SRX. Meanwhile, BMW started working this segment with the first X5 way back in the Bush Administration. Two Presidents and eighteen years later, we face the new X3, a car that I mocked often when it launched in 2004. Now in its third generation, I took the keys to this blue M Sport (as ridiculous as it sounds) and found it to be quite an eye-opener. Continue reading Test Driven: BMW X3 xDrive M40i (Grade: B)

Range Rover Velar P380 SE Review: Taking a Different Approach

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Sometimes style is everything. In the age of Instagram, appearances are more important than ever and brands are having to make the appeal of their products more and more bold.

Land Rovers of old were boxy functional things, meant to go places other vehicles couldn’t. If you bought a Range Rover, that just meant you wanted to bring the comfort of your living room along with you to such remote locations.

My oh my, how the game has changed.

Continue reading Range Rover Velar P380 SE Review: Taking a Different Approach

The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part VI: All Good Things Come to an End.

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Well, like all things, this story has to end. It was September 2017, and the Lincoln was running and driving with a new battery, water pump, and fuel pump. The power steering system was still leaking like a sieve and it smelled funny like always, but I did not care. The day I picked it up, I took over running a poker game at a local bar and everyone was genuinely shocked to see me pull up in the thing, especially after I’d killed it on the highway a week prior. With a whole day of driving in hot September temperatures under its belt, I was confident the Lincoln could make it on the trip it didn’t make the year prior–Radnor. Continue reading The Lincoln Mark VII Chronicles, Part VI: All Good Things Come to an End.