Ronnie

Me and My Buick Reatta

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This forum has become the Urgent Care Center for Reatta repairs and technical issues. That is a good thing but I would like to see more discussions about driving and enjoying our Reattas instead of just fixing one up so we can sell it. 

 

Let's break the mold of this being just a technical forum and put the fun back in this forum!

 

I'm starting this topic for sharing stories and photos about the Buick Reatta.  You can add your posts to it or start a similar topic of your own.   The posts you make don't have to just be about something recent.  Old stories about your Reatta adventures are welcome too.  Some of the post I will be making are from previous posts I made on the ROJ forum.

 

 

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Road trip to the Corvette Museum

 

I screwed up big time on my trip to the Corvette Museum in 2016 but in the end it turned out great. I didn't get to see any Corvettes being made in the factory due to the public not being able to take a tour that whole week.   I didn't find that out until I got to the museum.  They were working that day in the main part of the museum where a sinkhole had caused a huge hole in the museum floor so that part of the museum was in disarray and no tours were being given in that area either.

 

The reason the trip turned out great was because of the guy you can barely see in the background in the 1st photo below (red shirt). His name was Dave. He was a member of the museum staff who came out of the museum while I was taking the photo.

Click images to enlarge

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At first I thought he was coming out to make me to move my car since it wastn't a Corvette. There is a circle drive in front of the museum where Corvette owners go around the loop and stop to take a photo of their car in front of the museum. I was afraid I might have been holding up the line while trying to get a good photo but there were only two Corvette owners waiting behind me. He said he came out because he wanted to look at my Reatta! He took a long time looking it over and asking questions (2nd photo). He made comments about how he had always liked Reatta but rarely saw one anymore. He even said he saw some similarities with the Reatta and some of the Corvette concept cars when you look at them from the side. (I'm not sure I agree.)


When I parked my Reatta, a long walk away, and went inside the museum I bumped into him again. He was helping get one of the Corvettes started that had been pulled out of the sink hole where the ground under the museum caved in taking the floor and several old Corvettes with it.  They were moving the black one out of the pile of Corvettes to another location to begin restoring it. The rest of them look to me like they should be scrapped but he said some of them might be salvaged too.

 

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After they got the black Corvette started and moved outside he gave me a quick tour of the museum. The most impressive thing he told me about was a story about Zora Duntov, "The father of the Corvette", had developed a set of HEMI heads with overhead valves for the Ford flat head V8 engine before coming over to GM. The museum has a Ford flat head V8 engine block on a stand with a set of hemi heads bolted to it.  If I hadn't asked why hemi heads were in a Corvette museum I would never have heard the story about the Ford hemi heads. I had always thought Chrysler was the first to develop hemi heads for a V8 but Dave said not so.

I also got to take a up close photo of the Corvette GM built with a V12 engine in it that I thought you might enjoy seeing. I have more photos of Corvettes in the museum but I don't want to bore you any more than necessary with photos of non-Reattas. :)

 

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 Ronnie, this is a nice idea.

So, I'll add a bit to your thread here, and some of it may have been posted before. I hope that you find this story fitting your vision for the thread.

My Reatta journey started when I first heard about them, and then saw one in a Buick dealer's showroom some months later. I though that it was a neat car, but with somewhat bland styling, though in my humble opinion, that styling has held up better than most other cars from that era. I now quite like it.

I also wasn't keen on the touch screen, I worried that it could be troublesome, and liked the change they made a couple of years later.

Over the years I've often thought about buying one, and looked at an '88 in the early 2000's at a local used car lot. Though I didn't buy it.

 

Fast forward to my post here some months ago, when I said that I wasn't enamoured with the white, esp., my wife had always said how much she hated white cars! Though now that I have it, and she has got used to it, I quite like my little white convertible! Little it might be in some ways, but my wife drives an Envision, and the length of it is within and inch of the Reatta.

This car fit what I thought I wanted, a new, but not too nice a car that I was afraid to drive it, and the price was quite fair. It has highish mileage at 160,000, but it still seemed to be good for many more.

As you now know, I bought it, had a few issues but got them sorted out and "took delivery" of it in mid January, and drove it home, during a warm break in one of the hardest winters we've had for many years.

I have now put about 1500 miles on my new "Buick Baby", and quite enjoy driving it. My Buicks are like my kids, I love them all! My '69 Electra is a lovely car to drive, and has muscle that the Reatta doesn't, but is large for today's driving, and it only is happy on 94 octane gold, I mean gas. Currently gas here in Toronto is about $1.40 per litre, which is close to a US quart, and the high octane stuff is more than 20 cents higher per litre, which makes it an expensive ride right now.

 I had started another thread about how surprised I've been at how many people have come up to talk to me about it, and known what it is.

 So the Reatta is easy to drive, and gets decent mileage on regular. The downside so far, is that there is quite a bit of wind noise from the top seals, particularly in the back.

 Keith

ReattaTop1.jpg

Edited by Buicknutty (see edit history)

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That's a great story about your Reatta journey. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for posting!

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Here's the story on the Black that only the "old timers" might remember and even they don't know the whole story. The guy I bought it from was on the forum for just a short time and went by the name "Snow Drift". He had bought this nice '89 Black/Gray from a guy in Arizona and about a year after he owned it was swapping out the alternator without disconnecting the battery and shorted out the alternator power wire on the engine causing a lot of sparking and burning of an ignition wire. 

 What followed was some great forum help from Ronnie, which led to the repair. While I am reading this I keep thinking that I wouldn't want to be within 10 feet of the car as it could have other issues not yet apparent from the short.

 So about a year later I am talking to Jim Finn about me wanting to buy another car and he connects me to this guy who has a 1989 black Reatta which is the color I was looking for. I make arrangements to meet with this guy and buy it. So I drive up to Jim's house with a trailer, meet the guy there and look it over and buy the car. As we swap cash for title, he then tells me that he is "Snow Drift". 

 So now I own "The Car" But it started and drove fine so I took it home. 

 Well I get home and try to start the car and it won't start. So I call Kendall up and he comes over, quickly sees the repair Ronnie recomended and gave the solderless terminal a squeeze and said "Turn the key". I did and it started. I get the car off the trailer pull it in the garage and solder the connection. Never had another problem with starting again. I also later swapped out the keyless remote as that was also damaged. 

 And yes the Black has proven to be a great car, glad I bought it. 

Edited by DAVES89 (see edit history)
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Great story Dave. It's been a long time ago but I remember going through the troubleshooting process with Snow Drift.  I really expected  him to give up and take it to a mechanic but he stuck with it until he got it fixed. Thanks for the memories!

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That's what I expected soon, or worse he just takes it to a slavage yard and junks it. You did a great job walking him through the repair, it was a great read.

 I bought that car from him for $1500.00 and to date put on about 100,000 miles and most of my expenses was a different tranny and struts all the way around. Oh yeah then brake lines, pads/rotors [twice] swapped out the dash and some other small repairs. Windshield was an insurance replacement and other then a few other "nameless" repairs it has been a great car.

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thumbnail_IMG_58761.jpg.f19fbbe62d95ac61e6b0a843b0fc03ef.jpg

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Some Premium American Motorcars of the  Reatta  in

RED WHITE & BLUE !

 

From the Reatta section of the BCA @ Charlotte Motor Speedway Auto Fair Spring 2018.

 

including our Select Sixty 🙂

Edited by NCBRIJEN (see edit history)
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The Buick Reatta from a mechanic's point of view

(I posted this in the ROJ forum in 2016)

 

While at a cruise-in I ran into an old friend who had just retired from the local Buick/Chevy,Cadillac/GMC dealership after working there for 35 years. I had my Reatta on display and we got to talking about what he remembered about the Reatta when they came to the dealership where he worked.

Bill said the salesmen were really excited about having something new and different to offer from Buick. He said they thought the Reatta would be a hit but it didn't turn out that way. Bill, like most people, had always thought of a Buick as a nice car your grandparents would buy that is dependable and easy to work on. He said all that changed when he started learning about the Reattas that would soon arrive at their dealership.

 

When Bill and the other mechanics took training on the Reatta they all agreed that working on one was going to be a nightmare. None of them had ever worked on a car that had so many computers and electronics. He said ECMs were in some of the cars back then but they mostly controlled fuel and emissions. Computers back then didn't control the whole car like they do on the Reatta (and most new cars today). Bill said the dealership spent big bucks for a huge Sun diagnostic machine about the size of a clothes dryer to help them work on the Reatta. When all the electrical cables, vacuum lines, and hoses were connected to the Reatta it was supposed to tell you everything you would ever want to know about the health of a Reatta. He said it took forever to hook all that stuff up and when you did it was all right in your way if you needed to work on something. He said the only thing harder than working on a Reatta was learning how to use that new diagnostic machine. He said once he found out how to access the Reatta's on-board diagnostics the Sun diagnostic machine turned into a dust collector. Smile

He said that they didn't have to work on many Reattas due to the low number of them that were sold at their dealership. He said most of them brought into their garage for repairs needed electrical work or had brake problems that were fixed by replacing the accumulator ball.  Bill told me that troubleshooting the electrical problems was a lot easier than he first thought it would be. As we all know, once you learn how to use the on-board diagnostics the computer will usually point you in the right direction for finding your problem. He said most of the electrical problems he fixed were usually just a bad connection or replacing bulbs. He remembered replacing one BCM and one ECM on the handful of Reattas he worked on over a period of about 8-10 years. He said he thought once the Reattas got some age on them people probably took them to smaller shops to avoid having to pay the high hourly rate charged by the dealership.

I was hoping that Bill would share with me some of his secrets about repairing the Teves master cylinder since he had been factory trained on how to work on the Reatta. I was also hoping he would know how to rebuild the master cylinders. Nope, they didn't train them on rebuilding the master cylinder. He said they told them to test the system pressure first - then test the pressure switch, pump and relays much the same way we do. If that didn't fix it a new master cylinder was installed and the old one was sent back to the factory. They were told not to try to repair the master cylinder. Needless to say I was disappointed. I wanted him to teach me how to take the master cylinder apart and fix it. He said he had never had one apart. He told me he thought he still had the pressure gauge and a booklet on testing the Teves that he was given as part of his Reatta training. He said he would give them both to me if he could find them. I have my fingers crossed. I would love to have them.

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How I got the 'vert. One Sunday I was looking through the e bay listings of Reattas when I see a 1990 'vert listed that was about 10 miles from me. I mentioned it to my wife, but she wasn't too interested. So we go to church and I keep thinking about this car. So after lunch, [I forgot to mention the bidding was due to close that day] I ask her again and she still wasn't too interested. About 2 hours later I ask her if I could contact the seller and see if we could "just go look at it". She agreed and I call the guy as the number is in the listing. He picks up and says "Sure come out and take a look". So out we go. I crawl under the car and see it is really clean underneath and fire it up and drive around the block. He gives me a little history on the car telling me th original owner was a Buick Dealership owner in Janesville and that he bought it thinking he would keep it. But he was an Allante fan and one came up that he really wanted which caused the sale of this Reatta. We came to an agreement on price and I made arangements for him to deliver the car the next day when I would have a bank money order for him. 

 I have made a couple of changes to suit me [spoiler, chrome wheels, steering wheel, and wood grain dash panels] but other then that the car has just been a turn the key and drive car, no real issues at all.

Edited by DAVES89 (see edit history)
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This is a great idea Ronnie. As useful as the tech stuff is, I love hearing other peoples Reatta stories. My Reatta story began in 1990 when my father called me on the phone and asked me to come test drive a car he was thinking about buying, He would not reveal the car which added to the excitement. We drove to a Buick dealer in Wheaton, IL. I think it was Suburban Buick GMC. Out front was a new 1990 Red Reatta Coupe. Wow, was I impressed. I had never seen such a beautiful car, it looks so futuristic! We test drove the car and the dealer said they would sell it as a demo for $25k. Unfortunately, my mother had a different idea of what they needed as transportation and they ended up buying a 1991 Cadillac Eldorado, metallic green with a saddle interior. I still have the Eldo in my garage. Since that test drive I have owned 4 different Reatta's, first, a 1990 claret red/tan coupe, a blue 1989 coupe, a 1991 white convertible with white wheels and my current car, a 1991 red/tan convertible. I think Reatta's are like Corvette's, once you have owned one you will always want one.

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1 hour ago, Cargirl said:

 As useful as the tech stuff is, I love hearing other peoples Reatta stories.

 

I feel the same way. I hope more people will contribute. I really enjoyed reading your story!

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Well I still have one [maybe more stories] as to how I got the Red and how many cars I looked at before I got it...

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I spent a lot of time this morning getting my Reatta ready to go to a couple of cruise-ins this weekend. I think the cruise-ins are probably going to get rained out but I didn't have anything better to do this morning.  :)

It was nice outside this morning so I did a really good job which meant cleaning inside the wheel wells and wiping down the door jambs and under the hood.  Every time I wash my Reatta I can't help admire it. It is probably the best looking 2-seater I've owned and I've owned several.


When I look at my Reatta I can't help wonder what GM was thinking when they designed it. It looks fast but it's not. Why didn't they make it rear wheel drive? Why didn't they give it a supercharger or a turbo so it would have some power? Why didn't they offer a 4 or 5 speed transmission to make it sportier and more fun to drive? With just a few changes they could have made a car that would have sold faster than they could make them.  It could have been Buick's 2-seat equivalent of the Grand National Buick that is so popular and sought after. It was an opportunity missed. I'm not complaining.  I enjoy it just the way it is. It still takes good photos without all the things I mentioned. :)  I took this one after I got it cleaned up this morning...

 

May-2018.JPG

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Okay here is what started it all for me. 

 One winter day I am driving up in Door County Wisconsin running appointments [it is a wintery day with a recent snow fall making the roads snow covered but still safe] when a guy in this sports car pulls out on me causing me to brake/slow down. I said to myself "What kind of car is that"? so I got close enough to read the taillight, which said "Buick". I hadn't been keeping up on cars for a number of years as we had kids and life generally got in the way, but I did remember Joe Montana getting a Reatta for being the MVP of a Super Bowl so I knew the name plate but not the car. So when I got home I went on line and looked up Reatta and thought that maybe I could own one some day. I talked to my brother [ who worked at a Buick dealership what he thought about them and he said to "Stay away from them as they have no value and are loaded with electrical problems". He even took me to a mechanic who confirmed what I was told. Well being an independent thinker I knew then I had to have one.

 The kids were still not grown enough for me to have a two seater but I did start looking. Most of the ones were poor examples, rust, mechanical issues, poor interiors so I started expanding my search. The first time I was ready to pull the trigger we had a medical issue in the family so I stopped the search again until everything was good again. 

 I found 4-6 for sale in Wisconsin and one day I went from car to car working my way to Minneapolis and didn't like a single one. [Oh yeah it had to be a 1989 Red/Tan with 16 way seats]. So the search continued. 

 I found one in Ohio that the guy assured me was perfect, but wouldn't send pictures, but I was sure I could trust him so I booked a one way ticket and flew there sure I was getting a Reatta.  He picks me up, takes me to the car and I swear there were better examples at Gibson's. He daughter had been driving the car and had totally trashed it. I kept thinking how can I make this car mine and bring it back to its "glory". Well I started it and then the deal was sealed. It started leaking anti freeze and I said "Take me back to the airport"  He made a desperate offer of less then $1000.00 but I knew it wasn't worth that and I would never make it home. I used my airline miles and booked another flight home. I agreed with my wife that I had to put this car thing on hold for awhile. 

 But less then 6 months later I was back on Autotrader looking at Reattas when one came up in Fort Lauderdale. I didn't jump right on it but kept looking at it. I finally contacted the guy who  was willing to send me pictures [including the "The Show"] and I liked what I saw. I asked about service history and he said a lot of new parts were installed as it was serviced at the local Buick dealer. So I called the dealer and they confirmed that they had done a lot of work over the years and that the car was a great car.

 So I flew down, and he picked me up in the car and we drove around. It was very clean, checked out well and about 2 hours later paperwork was done and I was heading home.

 He was pretty fussy and told me he never ate in the car. I said that was changing today and that I might even sleep in the car [I did] on the way home.

 I did have one glitch along the way. I kept getting a"Service Engine Soon" warning through the CRT but everything checked out so I kept going. Turned out to be the warning light bulb in the dash had burned out.  

 The color of the Reatta that pulled out on me in Door County? It was maroon and could have been 2seater...

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For those few folks that are not Reatta Division members, this article about my '91 Reatta appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of the BCA RDIV magazine:

 

"I’m Dave Shipman; BCA Minuteman Chapter and Reatta Division member.

Of the seven Buicks I’ve owned since the mid-nineties, five have been Riviera’s and two have been Reatta’s.  I’ve currently down-sized to one 1992 Riviera and one 1991 Reatta.  My Reatta coupe is Artic White with Black belt molding and Flame Red interior.  I’m told that it is somewhat of a rare manufacture with this color combination. Under my ownership, I’ve added 16-way seats and white wheels…two factory correct options but not original to this Reatta.

The car was manufactured on December 5, 1990, VIN 900183, and delivered to BOC Proving Grounds, Milford, MI.; suggested retail price $29,880.00.  Based on some investigation, I found that it made its way from Michigan to Arizona, then on to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally Massachusetts.  I found it listed on Auto Trader’s web site in Mattapoisett, MA, where I purchased it on January 17, 2013.  It had 97,913 miles when I bought it.  In my four years of ownership, I’ve driven a little over 8,300 miles…my longest having driven round trip to the 2013 BCA National held in South Bend, Indiana.  It received a Gold in the 400-point judging category.  Although it is cozily stored from December to April, I do drive it weekly Spring-Summer-Fall to local cruise-ins and car shows.  I have to say, Reatta’s are starting to get some attention/appreciation around my area…nice to see this happening."   

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On 5/18/2018 at 5:10 PM, DAVES89 said:

That's what I expected soon, or worse he just takes it to a slavage yard and junks it. You did a great job walking him through the repair, it was a great read.

 I bought that car from him for $1500.00 and to date put on about 100,000 miles and most of my expenses was a different tranny and struts all the way around. Oh yeah then brake lines, pads/rotors [twice] swapped out the dash and some other small repairs. Windshield was an insurance replacement and other then a few other "nameless" repairs it has been a great car.

Some people may think that I put a lot of money in this car and they might be right. However I did have a small "fender bender" where a woman changed lanes and cut me off resulting in minor front end damage [fender not hit]. I recieved my estimate on repairs and called up Randy [Manikmakanik] and he gave me a good deal on parts so I ended making almost $1000.00 on the repairs. I used that money to offset future repair costs, so that is why I still consider the Black a good deal. Plus the low cost I paid when I bought it.

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My Reatta story started out on a whim. I was messing around on the computer one night. I saw an '88 reatta for sale on E-bay with no reserve. I asked my wife if she might be interested in a two passenger car. She said "sure". I bid on the car and I won it for $1,340. (I sometimes wondered if I was fortunate or unfortunate) I drove the ninety miles to pick it up from a very ill gentleman. He said he had to get rid of it because he couldn't even get out of the house. I paid for the car and we did the paperwork. I chased out the chipmunks and mice, put in a battery. It fired up and I drove it home. The only issue it had seemed to be the cruise control. I found the Reatta web sites and bought the manuals. I began the process of cleaning out the rodent nests, smells and fixing things before I could register it here in MA. I fixed the cruise control. Next thing I found was that the headlights operated three times and then stopped going up. rebuild time! I learned that I could not buy an exhaust so I had one custom made and installed. The guy didn't want to do it because there was things rusted under the car that he didn't like. He finally understood I was fixing things as I found them and agreed to do the exhaust. He did a GREAT job by the way! Next I went through the brakes (also replaced the accumulator ball). Then it was four new tires. I was finally on the road and driving after almost three years! While I was under the car I saw some bad rust on the rear control arms. I bought a rear end assembly from a guy in MI. I drove there (with my SUV), picked it up, brought it home and changed out the whole rear assembly. Of course while doing this job I changed out all the sub-frame to body mounts on both front and rear. My wife didn't like that the A/C didn't work. I knew it need a compressor and I didn't have proper equipment to work on A/C. I asked the mechanic to convert it to 134A whilst he was replacing almost the whole system anyway. He had the car for 7 weeks. Five of those weeks was him trying to get the A/C compressor to start and keep running. I brought the car home. I did some troubleshooting with the help of Ronnie. We determined the problem was the power steering pressure switch. So.... Here we are four years later. I store it during the winter and try to drive it at least once a week during the warmer weather.(usually to a car cruise show). I have found that the more I drive it the better it behaves. It seems that not a lot of people at the cruises really know what a Reatta is and it frustrates me a little bit. I was surprised last week when a guy asked what car I brought. I pointed at the Reatta and he immediately started talking with me about it. Turns out his wife had one when they first came out. That's a good feeling!

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Edited by fordrodsteven (see edit history)
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A beautiful day for a Cars & Coffee!

 

My Reatta is starting to think it's a Cobra. I never have any Reattas to park with at cruise-ins but my buddies with Cobras (replicas) have started saving me a parking spot next to them. I feel a little out of place parking with them but it's better than parking next to strangers all the time. Last fall they invited me to run the Tail of the Dragon with them and we had a great time together.

 

6-9-18.jpg  IMG_20170923_111524853_HDR.jpg

 

  IMG_20170923_123015772_HDR.jpg

 

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Back at the turn of the century, I received a promotion and decided that Fieros were just too small for a DD. Must admit that I liked 3800s (had different cars with them since 1990) but the touchscreen was what sold me. Looked at several not really knowing what I was looking at except 3800/440T4 which I considered bulletproof. Did think the 15x6 wheels were a bit silly when I had 15x7s on the Fiero, soon had 16x7s with 225x60x16 Michelins. Found the triple blue 88 coupe and liked the roof vent but had not a clue how rare 16ways and sunroof were in an 88..

 

Was my only car through some rough times in the mid-oughties and never did anything I could not fix. About a decade ago finally found a 'vert I could afford and still have. Over the years I had a few other 'verts but would fix what was needed and they soon passed on. At one point I had three which was over 1% of production.

 

Now I mainly take the coupe to shows where kids do not believe the touchscreen and use the vert for occasional nice days out but have other daily drivers. Such a life.

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Road trip from Michigan , to Colorado to see family then up intp Oregon and Washington.  First picture is I80 truck stop in Iowa to see the Trucking history museum , second was Jags and Java at Red Nolan Jaguar in Colorado Springs , where they placed me dead center in front of the dealer.  On the way to Salt Lake City to visit a couple museums. Fried the alternator on I70  at the Frisco Colorado ramp , so currently at the Bayview Inn for the night.  Alternator is off , will replace in the morning. Car is wonderfull on the highway , but is struggling a bit at the 11000 foot passes.

 


 

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2 hours ago, padgett said:

Was my only car through some rough times in the mid-oughties and never did anything I could not fix.

The rough times you went through with your cars and your willingness to share what you learned has helped a lot of people like me who have followed in your footsteps. Thanks!

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