If there’s a core value of The Autopian community, it’s pluralism. I might like Volvo wagons and you might like electric trucks and both of us are right. In that spirit, Autopian Mr. Asa has a collection sure to make all sorts of readers happy. He’s got a classic American pickup, a vintage pony car, a Miata, an old Toyota truck and a Type 2 Volkswagen van. He’s got just about every possible situation covered with that garage.
(Welcome to Member 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 Mr. Asa’s turn!)
Autopian: Alright Mr. Asa, where do you live and what do you do?
Tampa, Florida area. Mechanical engineer.
Autopian: How’d you get into cars?
My dad has a 1974 VW Type 2 Westfalia Camper. We went everywhere in that thing. About the time I started looking at cars, Grandpop started to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s. About twice a month Dad and I drove the four hours one way to visit with him and Grandma.
Because the VW’s massive power levels (yes, that’s sarcasm) made it not suitable for interstate travel we ended up on rural routes and highways much of the time. At some point along one of those drives through mid-Florida, we saw a 1966 Mustang for sale in a field. Turquoise, gorgeous, and at $4,500 about $3,000 more than I had available. I wasn’t hooked, but I was interested. I started looking, Mom and Dad got interested, and my uncle found a ’67 Mustang in Crystal River for $1,500.
We all drove down, Dad and I drove it to Tallahassee with Mom following. Knowing what I know now, I would have looked for a different Mustang as the rust was (and still is) a bit much, but that was it. I was a car guy. I joined the U.S. Air Force, did roughly 10 years there, much of it as a heavy equipment mechanic, got out and worked as a service writer at Pep Boys ’til I realized the GI Bill paid me enough to not worry about having to work while I went to school.
So I went off to become a mechanical engineer. I joined my school’s FSAE team and did some cool stuff, graduated, and continued to do cool stuff.
Autopian: What’s in your fleet?
- Susie, a 1967 Ford Mustang. First car, bought with my own money when I was 17. 200ci Inline six, converting 1bbl carb to twin 2bbl carbs. Auto to T5 swap. 5-lug swap.
- Truck, a 1993 Ford F-150. 4.9L I6, put over 250K miles on it when I got it. Seen most of the country behind the windshield. Currently building a cylinder head from two GM LS cylinder heads for it. May cast my own head for it in the next ~5 years.
- Betsy, a 2018 Mazda Miata, bought just before used car prices started to fall. D’oh!
Dad’s vehicles, which I’m slowly taking over repairs and such for:
- 1994 Toyota Truck, 22RE, 4WD, manual
- 1974 VW Type 2 Camper van
Autopian: What’s the story with these cars?
Fair warning, as someone who is an amateur author and slightly-higher-than-amateur-but-not-paid-professional photographer, I have… a lot of data in these links.
Messed up a few plans I had for the trip, I ended up having to pull a couple long days to get to Cali on time.
I have had other things go wrong, typical replacement parts like a belt going bad or the alternator or starter going out. The biggest thing I learned from most of those is to, whenever possible, buy OEM manufactured parts. Harder and harder to do with a truck approaching a quarter century of age, but still possible and very worth it; OEM parts give me so much less trouble than the stuff at your local Autozoo. I’ve started to stock up where and when possible as well.
That being said, at roughly 365K, while on a drive from Tampa to my sister’s place just outside Tallahassee I started to see oil pressure dropping. Pulled over, added oil honey, did other things, and did all the tricks I could. Nursed it to Tallahassee and instead of spending time with my 18-month-old niece and sister I ended up swapping an oil pump.
It didn’t take. Within 5,000 miles or so I had a massive rod knock, 10k miles later when I was finally able to pull the engine for a cheap rebuild I had done I found that the #1 bearing had spun. Unfortunately for me, I skimped on a few things with the cheap rebuild and I’m having to rebuild the motor again as the #5 oil rings didn’t seat properly. Still runs, and would get me where I needed to go if I had to, but now I’ve got a miles-per-quart of oil figure that I have to track.
Once that motor is out, I’ll pull it and rebuild it properly for the LS4.9 head I’m building.
Autopian: Do you ever wish you’d have waited and got a clearly superior 10th gen F-150?
You’re gonna wish my boot didn’t go so far up your butt!
The year honestly didn’t factor into it. I wanted a 300ci I6. From what I’ve heard they made it into a very small number of fleet destined 10th gen trucks, but I’ve never been able to verify that.
I wanted the 300 because the engine in my Mustang was a 200 and by that point, I was in love with the inlines. Yes, they suck in stock configuration. The passenger vehicle equipped 144-250ci I6s that Ford made had the intake cast into the head, it probably saved Ford millions of dollars in post-processing costs. It was a 1bbl intake. It sucked.
However, for a clever person, power could be made by the I6s and I wanted to be a clever person. For my Mustang at least, I wasn’t as enamored with getting monster torque from the truck as I was with boosting HP for the Mustang. I just wanted a good solid vehicle that was better than the ’86 El Camino I was bombing around in, and I got it.
I hated that El Camino (have I mentioned I hated that El Camino? Here’s a post about why I hated it).
So, I got the ’93 cause I wanted the 300, at the time I got it I could have found a 10th gen, but no 300 = no care.
Autopian: Do you name all your vehicles? Is the truck named Truck?
I don’t really set out to name my vehicles, but if they have one they tell me. Susie’s name came about in high school one day. I was driving my best friend somewhere, on a nice day, windows down; we may have been on a long lunch break, or we may have been at the start of playing hooky for the rest of the day.
We were passing a gas station in the 1600 block of W Tennessee St, Tallahassee (a station that time has erased) and Bubba asked me if he minded if he smoked. “I don’t care, but Susie would.” was the first thing out of my mouth. He gave me a Look, I shrugged and focused on avoiding getting hit by some idiot college student. That was that. Susie was Susie forevermore.
I tried to actually name The Truck, but nothing ever really worked, so it’s “The Truck”
Don’t really call it by its name, but when I’m doing something stupid, or I’m frustrated by traffic and do something dickish like drive off the shoulder to get to the turn lane, or I’m pulling someone out of mud or snow I’ll typically exclaim “TRUCK!” and pound the steering wheel or seat a few times.
Betsy was a similar thing to Susie. Wasn’t with anyone, but I was just kinda reviewing the day to myself on the drive home after work and realized I had been referring to the Miata as “Betsy.”
Autopian: Have you ever sold a car?
Never sold a car. Never had a car that I wanted to sell. Unfortunately, I haven’t had near as many projects or cars as I want. Mom is going to give me the El Camino at some point.
Dad is going to give me his VW Van, Grandpop’s ’94 Toyota Pickup, and ’71 Porsche 914-6 (yes, an actual 914-6, not a conversion. Needs a LOT of work, but no rust!).
My aunt has a ’61 GMC Carryall that she’s promised me, I just need to get up there and drag it back down. Some of those I might be interested in selling one day, but nowhere near today.
WAIT. I sold a ’68 Mustang once! Bought it for $500 around ’06, meant to strip it of everything usable, didn’t have time, and sold it for the same price four or five years later. Probably should have kept it, could have sold it for a lot more these days.
Autopian: Ok, what’s your dream garage:
Everything I already own, completely de-rusted along with Chip Foose chained to a wall; he weeps because I keep making him turn FWD shitboxes into Mid-Rear track-day shitboxes.
Autopian: Poor Chip Foose, but it’s a noble cause. What FWD shitboxes are we talking here? Aspires? Geo Metros?
A couple of years back I joined the Grassroots Motorsports forums after seeing an absolutely epic Ferrari 308 V12 swap.
It was a great thing for me. The projects, the attempts at greatness, how often the members pulled it off! It was the equivalent of the Roadkill! builds that Freiburger and Finnegan would do, but at a forum level.
It inspired me. I wanted to do their $2000 Challenge. To that end, I bought a turbo Dodge motor, transmission, and bits from a member of the forum for $1.
Now I’m looking for a Dodge Rampage to put it in, and then maybe take it out and shove it into the bed of the truck for a mid-rear build.
That’s honestly the only car I really want to do a FWD to mid-rear conversion build, although a couple of Kei cars with a turbo 2.0L shoved in the back would be fun, after that I’d just have Chip helping me with rust repair and bodywork. I hate bodywork. Everyone sane hates bodywork.
Autopian: That makes sense. Thanks for all the answers!
Oh! With the engine losing oil pressure. The only reason I had any warning at all was that I upgraded the dummy gauge on the dash to an actual one and put in a real pressure sender.
It’s stupidly easy, literally just soldering a jumper wire and replacing the sender on the block.
When he got The Marshall I recommended that Jason do that upgrade if it hadn’t already been done. If he hasn’t taken that advice, please kick him in the fork for me.
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