There’s always something fun about a personal fleet that runs the gamut from a $200 beater Police Interceptor to a beloved family F-250. Autopian Member Ford Friday has a couple interesting non-Fords in the mix, too—a newly purchased E36 and a Subaru with over 300,000 miles—and you know what? We here at Members’ Rides love that.
(Welcome to Members’ Rides. This is the weekly feature where we look at people who became members of the site by signing up here and parting with a little of their hard-earned dough to keep The Autopian going. Our plan is to do these every week! Today it’s Ford Friday’s turn!)
Ford Friday lives in Denver, Colo., and works as a project engineer for a mechanical contractor. He started driving his big Ford F-250 to work on Fridays as soon as he got his first “real job” out of college, hence the screen name.
His fleet has taken him all over the place, from corner-carving on awesome mountain roads to camping and off-roading. I’ll let him take it from here and tell us more about his car history.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and how you got into cars.
I have always been interested in cars for as long as I can remember, starting with Hot Wheels as a kid to “Need for Speed” games and eventually getting my license. I remember how excited I was when I got my Subaru and was finally able to learn how to drive a manual. I never got a chance to work on cars until I bought my first car of my own that didn’t belong to my parents. Since then, I’ve gotten more and more into wrenching and mechanical stuff.
Cars are a very big part of my life outside of work. When I’m not working on cars (or my dirt bike), reading about cars or looking for a new car to buy, I like to do a lot of stuff outdoors. Beyond working on cars, I enjoy a lot of outdoorsy activities and going to breweries (not to sound like too much of a Coloradoan).
What cars do you have now?
2001 Ford F-250 with a 7.3 Power Stroke Diesel: I grew up with this truck. I remember when my dad brought it home from the dealer. He gave it to me as a college graduation present. It’s lifted and on 35” tires, and it’s surprisingly capable off-road given its size and weight. I use it primarily for fun stuff (road trips, dirt biking, camping, off roading, etc.). It is really a great truck for fun things. Its biggest downside is fitting it in a parking spot.
2004 Subaru Legacy Sedan: This isn’t the first car I bought, but it basically is given that I owned my first car for two and a half hours before totaling it. I’ve had it for almost 10 years and it’s been my daily driver the whole time. This was the car I learned how to work on and I have done just about everything to it. It currently has 337,000 miles on the engine (not the head gaskets, though) and is still going strong.
1995 BMW 325is Coupe: I’ve only had this for about ten months, but this car is so much fun. Almost everything works (except the air conditioning for now) and it has 180,000 miles. It’s been serving as my daily recently along with the Subaru. The 2.5-liter engine has more than enough power and it handles great, but still has a nice ride. I’ve never owned something this “sporty,” so it seems incredible to me, at least for now. I’m looking forward to some longer trips in it when the air conditioning is fixed.
2002 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor: This one is definitely the crappiest of the bunch. I bought it for $200 with a seized engine off a friend who scrapped the catalytic converters. I put a new engine in it and replaced a bunch of parts while I was at it. It has done nothing but run since I swapped the engine in, although it does leak transmission fluid. It was a Denver police car that was later sold to a nearby town’s fire department, so it’s fire engine red. It has a smashed bumper, so my friends and I retrofitted an old Jeep bumper that we had lying around to it.
Wait—this has to be a story. How did you end up totaling your first car in just two and a half hours?
I was 18 years old and stupid, and it was 100% my fault. The car—a green 2002 Subaru Impreza hatchback with a five-speed manual transmission—was a sort of high school graduation present from my parents, as they didn’t want me driving around their F-250 (now my F-250) once I was in college. They had given my sister my mom’s old car (a 1998 Volvo V70) and wanted to be fair, so I got something of the same value.
At the time, I didn’t really know how to drive a manual. I only had driven friends’ cars, but never my own, so I was stoked to drive it around. I met up with some friends the night I got it and we all thought it would be a good idea to drive it up a canyon road nearby. I don’t remember whose suggestion it was, but I knew that I wanted to drive somewhere. Another one of my friends was following us in his V6 Camry (which ripped!) and was trying to pass me, so I wasn’t paying attention to the road in front of me. A turn came up and I was going too fast. I hit some gravel and slid into a concrete barrier. Two of my friends were in the car, but luckily, nobody was hurt. It could have been so much worse, but thankfully, Subaru makes safe cars.
The worst part was that it was my mom’s birthday. To this day, I don’t drive any new cars I get the first night I have them.
Let’s talk about the replacement, then—what all have you done to it, exactly?
Saying I’ve done “just about everything” might have been a bit of an exaggeration—it’s really just maintenance and replacing parts. It’s stock except for an upgraded transmission, springs, some lights and a roof rack. Eventually, if or when the engine finally goes, I want to STI-swap it.
I’ve removed and reinstalled the engine for a clutch and timing belt, removed and replaced the transmission twice. I’ve replaced all the shocks and springs (rear shocks more times than I can count), front axles (more times than I can count), the steering rack (twice), the oil pan and more stuff I probably can’t think of now.
I haven’t rebuilt the engine or anything like that yet. I learned a valuable lessons about not buying the cheapest parts you can find from having to replace the same parts multiple times. Aside from that, most of these are just things you have to deal with when you daily drive a car with so many miles for ten years, but the car is great overall. The transmission lasted for 315,000 miles before the viscous coupling went out. The viscous coupling could have just been replaced on its own, but I wanted to upgrade the transmission for an eventual STI swap. The bottom end of the engine (or middle, since it’s a boxer) is all original, and its head gaskets were done at about 200,000 miles by the previous owner. If any other readers have seen comments talking about how great the 2000-2004 third-gen Legacy and second-gen Outbacks are, it was probably me.
What’s next for the relatively new BMW? The air conditioner?
That’s my goal to finish this winter. I also need to do brakes and replace the battery, and I need to upgrade the cooling system just since that’s a common problem with E36s. Otherwise, I really haven’t had to do anything to the BMW. It’s probably been one of the easiest cars I’ve owned, although it has only been about ten months. It already has an exhaust and nice sporty tires on E46 wheels. I also think it might have some sort of aftermarket suspension, but I can’t really tell as this is the first BMW I’ve ever owned.
Either way, there’s not much I really want to change on it for now. It drives awesome and is pretty damn quick for what it is. I drag raced it at Bandimere Speedway, which is a Colorado icon that shut down last year. It ran much quicker than I was expecting, and I beat my friend in his NC Miata. That’s obviously not fast by most people’s standards, but it is for me considering the next fastest vehicle I have is an F-250. I want to take it to a road course track or autocross next summer. Eventually, I might add a turbo or swap the engine to get more power.
The $200 Police Interceptor sounds like an absolute riot. What have you done with it so far, and what kinds of plans do you have for it?
It is a blast and seems like it is my friends’ favorite. It’s fun having a car that you can thrash and not really care about since it’s not a daily driver and it’s cheap and easy to fix. I haven’t really done much since I replaced the engine and got it running except for some cosmetic stuff. The transmission seems to be on its way out, so I might be replacing that, plus it desperately needs shocks. I also need to get the spotlights working.
I’m not really sure what I want to do with it. It’s a blank slate of sorts for all my stupid fantasies which have included lifting it and putting off-road tires on it, manual swapping it, putting nitrous on ii, turbocharging it and lowering it. I’ve yet to do any of those things. I also might use it for a Gambler/Rambler vehicle this year, but I’m still not sure yet on that, either. I’ve also considered selling it and picking up another project.
For now, I’m just enjoying hooning it. It’s very fun driving a low car that handles like a truck because you can throw it around corners and not worry about flipping it over. A V8 and RWD are a hard combo to beat.
If you could have anything, what would be in your dream garage?
Well, the F-250 and the Subaru Legacy aren’t going anywhere, so they have to be in there. Beyond those, I would want a Subaru WRX STI (ultimate dream is a 22B, realistic dream is a 2004), a 2005 Ford GT, a Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno, a Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon and a Toyota Land Cruiser (either an 80 series or 200 series). Also, maybe an E36 M3 just because the BMW I have is so good.
I love that the F250 and Legacy are constants that you’d keep in your dream garage, too! Is that because of your personal connection to both?
It is mostly sentimental, but also somewhat practical. The F-250 was bought new by my dad. I remember the night he brought it home. I was 5 and I thought the coolest things were the door handles and just how huge it was. We took it on every fun family trip that we didn’t fly to. He also always let my sister and I sit in the front since it had a bench seat, which was amazing as a kid.
My dad gave it to me as a college graduation present, and I have proceeded to continue taking it on fun road trips, including the trip where I proposed to my now wife. It was also featured in a couple of our wedding photos.
The practical side of it is that I need a truck for “truck things.” The F-250 is certainly overkill, but I know I’ll never exceed the capabilities of it. It is also way cheaper to keep and maintain it than to buy a new truck. I also feel that even though 7.3s are notoriously high polluters, it’s more environmentally friendly to continue using and fixing my old truck than to buy a new one since I don’t drive it much more than 2,000 miles a year.
Also, I’m obviously biased, but I just love the first-generation Super Duty trucks. They look awesome and are kind of old school and simple, but also modern enough to be pretty safe and keep with traffic. It’s comfortable, pretty well built, surprisingly decent off road with both front and rear solid axles, extremely capable for towing and carrying stuff, and the 7.3-liter Power Stroke is a great engine. So, I would want a truck like mine for my dream garage even if I didn’t already have it.
As for the Subaru, it was the first car I got to work on and where I learned almost everything I know about wrenching. It’s also been so damn good that I don’t want to get rid of it. I know a car with that many miles is pretty worthless to anybody else and if I sold it, somebody would use it as a beater until something broke, then just junk it. I don’t think I could let that happen. It’s also an absolute beast in the snow with AWD and the snow/ice-rated all-terrain tires I have on it.
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All photos credit Ford Friday.