My friend and fearless leader of this website, David Tracy, has done something that some people just can’t comprehend. After years of driving cars with gaping rust holes in them and with the technological sophistication of a rotary phone, David has leapfrogged into the present day by buying a modern car. But he didn’t just buy any modern car, no, he found the cheapest BMW i3 that he could find. Has David gone Hollywood?
Some of us in the Autopian Slack still don’t really know how to handle this. Without David collecting rusty Jeeps and pissing off the city, am I going to have to take over his shenanigans? Should I specifically seek out rusty buses and park them at my apartment? That will probably do the trick.
David has even started recycling!
Clearly, it’s not just his friends and coworkers who don’t know how to deal with David’s new and cleaned-up image, plenty of you have shown various levels of disbelief. Take this COTD winner from Lieutenant Commander Data:
“The seats need to be cleaned a bit, and there’s a small blemish on the steering wheel…”
David has gone full Hollywood. The man who was perfectly fine driving a rat infested Jeep FC while feeding gasoline into the engine from a container mounted on a wooden pole. Project Postal, Project Krassler, Project Cactus…
I think David was suffering from environmental contamination while living at his Michigan Superfund site. The pollutants are apparently dissipating and he’s getting plenty of sunshine and Vitamin D in California.
Since it’s Friday, I’m going to nominate a bunch of secondary COTD mentions. Somewhat Like a Rock made me crack up:
Congrats on your electric Aztek.
Mr. Asa had to grapple with this new kind of story from David:
This is such a mind-fuck from normal DT stories.
Go buy a questionable car
Decide not to buy it!?!?!
Change mind to buy it.
Be patient about buying it
Accept dealer’s word that someone was coming for it!?!?!
Dealer has to change battery for a complete and total win!?!?
Was it crossing the continental divide that did it? Before the waters of life were flowing against you, now they flow towards you?
Flick shared their own astonishment at David’s current situation:
David has become a white-collar car guy — working the contractual/legal/bureaucratic angle in place of grinding/welding/wrenching. A transformed man!
This one from 10001010 mentions something hilarious about David’s hotel stay. See, David, like the rest of us, pays as little money as possible for lodging. Sometimes that means a motel room that doesn’t have running water and if you look long enough at the place he stayed at, sleeping in a place that looks like a prison:
“Oh, well, I think someone’s coming tonight,” he said.’
I’ll bet my lunch that absolutely nobody was coming in that night or any other night.
And David, as long as you’re digging around in the California warranties, see if there’s one regarding hotels having working water. You might be able to get a refund for your stay.
Our readers take any subject about rust and they always seem to lead back to David:
Is the carbon fiber rusting?
If anyone could make it rust it would be David…
British Leyland would have been able to make carbon fibre rust, and it would have come that way from the factory!
All jokes aside, David does note that he hasn’t completely gone Hollywood. Remember, he has a bunch of old cars still sitting around including an old Jeep pickup, a Jeep ZJ, his Cherokee Golden Eagle, a beautiful vintage Mustang, and that Nash Metropolitan that someone swapped an automatic transmission into.
Don’t worry, Autopians, I will hold down the fort in the Midwest. I do want some old cars, too, but I’m not brave (or foolish?) enough to try buying one now while my condo association watches over me and my already huge hoard collection.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Im very disappointed he didnt but a Toyota Echo/Yaris. Small economical and easy to repair…. why did he go to Bavaria for a tiny runabout???
Oh, right. Itd never break down giving him fodder for stories…
The drive system, the body, and the mechanical bits will likely last for life.
The battery pack and charger, and all of the fussy integrated electronics, OTOH, is what will brick a car that is otherwise made of stoutly-built components, because of all of the proprietary tools and software required to fix anything that goes wrong in this department.
The manufacturers can do better. EVs built on carbon fiber tubs with everything open source/repairable open the door to the possibility of building a car that will outlast the buyer(and with minimum maintenance), provided it isn’t destroyed in a wreck or fire.
Since there are no emissions regulations on EVs, you don’t need computerization any more complicated than OBD-II, and could arguably get by on a lot less if certain “safety” regulations were eliminated(especially getting rid of government mandated black boxes, drive/brake by wire, and GPS in modern cars).
Instead, the resources and energy used to manufacture these EVs are being squandered on maintaining the paradigm of planned obsolescence. At best, David’s i3 might get 250k on its new pack before it is ready for the landfill if he is diligent about never abusing it, unless something drastic is done to alter the car. More realistically, 150k miles. And at any time, electrical gremlins can pop up that will brick the car, likely before the battery even sees that amount of mileage. And that’s a shame, because the drive system and chassis should be good for basically however long David’s lifespan is, even if certain mechanical bits may need repairs/rebuilds/re-fabrications along the way.
David could take one of his other cars in the fleet fleet, and convert it into an EV that will outlast the i3 multiple times over, with off the shelf components. Although significant rust repair will likely be carried out multiple times in the interim.
I was surprised that he chose an i3 as well. His taste in vehicles was historically almost completely opposite to that. If something on it breaks, odds are good he won’t be able to fix it, in spite of being a mechanical genius, as like most modern cars, it is designed not to be fixable.
I’m hoping it gives him decades of useful life. That carbon fiber body could last a lifetime, as long as it isn’t wrecked. Same with the electric drive system. The battery is really the weak link, and the car is not designed to allow one to build their own pack and swap it in when the time comes.
However, when the time comes, there’s nothing to stop him from gutting everything out of the car and installing old, non-computerized EV components to replace what was in it, albeit it would require a lot of engineering and expense. Maybe he’ll be the first to de-CAN an i3 and use a bunch of “dumb” hobbyist level EV components in place of all of the computerized BS that’s currently in the car and turn it into something that’s repairable with basic tools, at the cost of losing all of the useless luxury features present.
Giving up fast food pays off in the long run as well. I stopped eating that crap decades ago, and am much better off for it. Home cooked meals using real, unprocessed ingredients, are the best.
(Remembers shower spaghetti) Home ‘cooked’?
Mercedes, I 100% came over from the other cite for your and David’s car shenanigans (okay, in fairness, all of your writing, but those stories are almost always the best). If he goes all corporate and stops doing crazy (read: interesting/fun) projects, I think that absolutely means you need to double down. Rusty buses, gambler builds, maybe a lemons build, or a bus build to try to take to one of those events. Or a bus conversion to a camper that will hold a smart. Or buying the highest mileage, rustiest, non-running V10 Touareg to get ready for a drive across the country, or something equally entertaining. It’s up to you now!
I don’t know if I’d call the i3 a “normal” car. Maybe if he bought a 5 year old Corolla I’d be shocked.
And arguably jury is out on whether or not the dealer screws up this warranty repair.
My thoughts exactly. I was looking at these pre-pandemic when they were less than 10 grand. It is not a normal car, which is the attraction. WhoTF wants a beige corolla? So hats off to David. He bought the least common car he could find, and I totally get the “I never want to see rust again” vibe of the carbon fibre tub.
I was about to say: the i3 is far from normal. Maybe it’s not rusty, but it’s still, at its heart, an i3 with a bad battery.
This is like me looking at something from a slightly different branch of the Volkswagen Group longingly and going, “I can fix her.”
When DT buys a “new” car, my first question is usually “what’s wrong with it?”
The fact that he decided on an i3 isn’t that big of a surprise to me. As I recall he’s been taking notice of their existence since his Jalopnik days. With its much more stringent emissions requirements, the move to California would make going electric much more practical.
It’s been 30 years since I lived there, so I’m sure things have changed at the DMV a bit, but I remember there was a hefty penalty for registering a non-California car in the Golden State. That would also make getting the i3 a smart move.
As long as he’s still buying broken cars and fixing them with pure optimism, DT is being true to his roots.
(in hippie drawl) Dave, you changed, man…
Skip the plastic recycling to be a true friend of the earth. Meat is fine, as long as it’s not being raised on corn and taking up farmland. In other words, eat lots of rats and squirrel!
David raises those in his jeeps.
What about bison?
Or ethically hunted game. It’s a thing.
I, for one, applaud the Hollywoodification of DT. I’m sure that he’ll abandon the comfort and convenience of a modernish car six months after he gets it back.
Iron oxide is a hell of a drug.
Normally it’s Chryslers and Jeeps. Lately it’s a Chevrolet (okay, a rebadged Suzuki) and now a BMW. What are the odds David’s next car is a Ferrari or Bentley?
My bet would be something else German, given his heritage. A hydrogen-converted Mercedes 600 Grosser with still functional* hydraulics? An imported bulletproofed X5 from Germany? A Cayenne to join in with Stef’s and Mercedes’ big VAG SUVs? A Mercedes BlueTec?
*they don’t leak, but they’re inconsistent, leading to fun deep-dove articles about hydraulically-run accessories.
I wish I had a Cayenne. :'(
Anyway, Cayenne is always the answer, so hell yeah, do it.
“Should I specifically seek out rusty buses and park them at my apartment?”
Well, yes, you should, but I don’t see what that has to do with whatever David is doing.