Month: January 2018

Used Car Review – 1998 Chevy Blazer

Chevy S-10 Blazer#blazeit

At Surfwrench, we really like Blazers. We like that they are simple, capable small SUVs that can handle pretty much anything that you can throw at them (within reason). The early ones were a bona fide answer to the revolutionary Ford Bronco and they are pretty damn cool. Today though, we’re taking a look at a 2 door S-10 variant from 1998.

First of all, I had one of these early in my driving career and to me it was a genuinely great car. While the gas mileage wasn’t very good and I was commuting a long way to school, one of the main things that I remembered was just how liberating this car was. It meant that I could get where I needed to go in just about any weather because of the solid 4×4 system. This really was a very good car for a new driver being cheap, durable, and fairly capable when things get dicey. Continue reading “Used Car Review – 1998 Chevy Blazer”

Saturn: That Awkward Moment When GM Started a Japanese Car Company

Saturn: America's Japanese Car Company

Starting a company isn’t easy. Trust us — we’ve been there. Starting a car company — well that’s damn near impossible. The amount of capital, both human and physical, that is required is absolutely daunting. Since about the midpoint in the past century, few upstarts have been able to cope with the stringent regulations and vicious marketplace that is the automotive industry. This is why the seeming ethereal emergence of the Saturn company is so impressive, and why it caused more cocked eyebrows than Leo DiCaprio’s performance in Django Unchained.

In this article, we are going to be looking at one of the most fascinating companies to ever grace the automotive stage. A company that didn’t make the most innovative or even interesting cars, but a company that was built from the ground up to be new, innovative, and inherently competitive — and how it all went terribly wrong. Continue reading “Saturn: That Awkward Moment When GM Started a Japanese Car Company”

Used Car Review – Land Rover Discovery

Non-Starter at the Disco

Image via Wikimedia, By OSX, Public Domain

You know it’s always weird when I get to plug Surfwrench at the beginning of a used car review. That should be your first red flag. It’s even funnier when I get to plug Surfwrench to the poor sap trying to sell their car before I even drive it. Well, that’s the most stereotypical beginning to anything ever about a near 20 year old Land Rover Discovery — but I’m going to keep going on this because unlike most people, I genuinely like older, unreliable British cars.

I figured, since winter is bearing down on us like an army of white walkers, it was time to start driving some stuff with AWD that could qualify as a winter beater. One of the real marquis names in being able to go anywhere is Land Rover. That and I had never actually driven one, so I started looking for something beat, cheap, and British. Those are a series of statements that are bywords for reliability and quality — said no one ever.

Died in the Afternoon

Right away, I found one on the side of the road and knocked on the door. The owner said that it had some issues, and the price reflected that: a mere $1500. Normally, $1500 for something with leather seats, a V8, and a renowned 4WD system would be a screaming deal — that is, if you can get it to work. The owner said that he hadn’t run it in a while, but for the time that he had it it was his daily driver. He must not have owned it for very long, because it only had 99k miles on the odometer, which in retrospect probably didn’t work. Additionally, it looked like he had driven it into a lake given the amount of rust on the suspension components and musty, moldy smell of the interior.

Honestly, one of the things that has always drawn me to the older Discos is the looks. Yes, they are big, boxy people movers, but much like the Nissan Xterra, they look more capable than their contemporaries, even if they really aren’t. However, the Land Rover does have something that the Xterra doesn’t — some serious pedigree. However, pedigree doesn’t make a car run, because this one didn’t. It wouldn’t start or turn over. It had power, and that’s about it. Even after attempting a jump start, the lethargic 4×4 wouldn’t budge.

Dying is the Most Fun a Land Rover Can Have Without Leaving the Driveway

Undaunted, I started scouring the back end of our little app to see if there was anyone who could help me out. Immediately I found that all of our Land Rover guys were out in Buffalo and Albany. Seeing as that wasn’t going to fly, I remembered that BMW owned Land Rover for a short time. Unfortunately, they owned it later, taking over operations and giving them engines and transmissions in 2000. So this was a real, honest-to-God Rover, and seeing that we don’t get those in the United States, we didn’t have any Rover Techs.

Not wanting to waste any more of my afternoon, I thanked the owner and wished him the best of luck — right after putting his Disco on Surfwrench free of charge. I honestly expect to see this vehicle at the salvage yard shortly, because parts are not cheap and there is really any number of things that could have been wrong with it. They are notorious for very complicated electrical problems, and even using Surfwrench it would have cost much more to fix than the car was actually worth.

I Write Car Reviews, Not Tragedies

So there it is, a used car review without ever even driving the car — kind of a bummer because I was looking forward to driving one of the best names in the business of rugged 4WD.