Monthly Archives: March 2014

Let Your Cash Hit the Road

Successful investing requires vision and strategy for the long road ahead

Develop your investment strategy for the long haul – Photo courtesy Chance Buell

Investments are like passenger seats in which to passively park money while receiving a solid return, more so than a place to actively drive it on a day-to-day basis like a business or occupation. Of course no investment is completely passive, but the idea is that it should only require a small degree of time and attention relative to the return.
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Formula One Takes A Wrong Turn In 2014

2014 Ferrari F14/T

2014 Ferrari F1 car – Photo courtesy Ferrari North America

The FIA, governing body of Formula One (F1), banned active suspension and anti-lock brakes (ABS) for the 1994 season, ostensibly to curb costs and put racing first by emphasizing the driver’s role. Adherence to emphasis on driver skill has served the sport well in its rise to worldwide prominence.

Twenty years on, the start of the 2014 season saw the introduction of a host of new technologies aimed at increasing road car relevance and spicing up the show. It’s made a mess of the sport.
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Project MR2: Aftermarket Wheels

1991 Toyota MR2 with ASA wheels from Tire Rack

Toyota MR2 With Aftermarket Wheels

I’ve had my eye on new tires and a specific set of wheels for a while but had to hold off until after my recent move due to space constraints. I wanted to keep the stock wheels but they sure weren’t going to fit in the car with all my other stuff.

It’s hard to believe Toyota equipped 1991 MR2s with 14” wheels. More attractive 15” wheels were offered from the 1993 model onward. These are what was on my car until I chose 17” diameter (a +2 in wheel lingo). To keep the effective diameter fairly close I had to go with a lower profile tire. Still, the end result is a slightly bigger overall diameter.
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How I Started Investing In Real Estate

Real estate investment: From fixer upper to rental home.

A former handyman special after receiving lots of TLC

Two of my friends had bought a few houses and rented them out. Then they tried to buy another but needed an additional guarantor to qualify for another mortgage. This was 2008. The economy had tanked and the housing party was over. The media painted a pretty bleak picture, and I wasn’t sure the world wasn’t on the brink of economic collapse.

At the time I owned the house I lived in and knew little else about real estate. I just had the same common misconceptions that many people have (including those in media) about what a pain it is to own rental property. I didn’t want anything to do with it but I agreed to go in as a silent partner.
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The Legend of Mulholland Drive

Map of Mulholland Drive near Hollywood, California

Mulholland Drive, courtesy Google Maps

Earlier this week I had half a day of down time in Southern California and set out in search of roads like those in car commercials, those rare places where winding roads meet with little traffic.

After making my way past Malibu, I headed back for dinner in Hollywood on the famed Mulholland Drive to find out what it is really like. The very first words I ever read about it were from a write up of the original Lotus Elan in the January 1990 issue of Sports Car International:

“…Mulholland Drive, the legendary road that winds through the hills above Los Angeles like a Californian Targa Florio. It’s a road, in case you haven’t heard of it, that gets used as a proving ground for the manhood of young, middle-class delinquents who want to be race car drivers when they grow up.”

Finding it wasn’t too difficult, but starting just west of the San Diego Freeway (I-405) it wound through a residential neighborhood. Perhaps inexorable development had co-opted the original spirit of the road. There were too many intersections at first, the curves of the road interrupted by a string of traffic lights. But this is the road from the movies which offers fantastic views of the city lights below, with several overlooks along the way. And I found it to be authentically hardcore.

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Adventures In Moving, With A Sports Car (Part 2 of 2)

Adventures In Moving, With A Sports Car

The whole MR2 enchilada. Everything that came out of the car.

[Continued from Part 1]

Prior to leaving I checked the basics like fluids, drive belts and tires – especially the tires since I don’t carry a spare. Everything was fine so off I went toward South Carolina to visit a college friend, the car slightly heavier with what I gather was about 250 to 300 pounds of stuff.
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1997-2004 Chevrolet Corvette C5

C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 sports car

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – Photo courtesy Alex Cumming

It was 1996. The Ramones played their last show, Nintendo released the first Pokemon video game, and Dolly the Sheep was the first mammal to be successfully cloned. That fall Chevrolet launched the fifth generation (C5) Corvette, the first new Vette since the 1984 model year.

It followed the classic front engine/rear wheel drive sports car formula. A V8 engine provided power through a rear mounted transmission, placed there for greater rearward weight bias. Choice of transmission consisted of a six speed manual or a four speed automatic.
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Adventures In Moving, With A Sports Car (Part 1 of 2)

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Life with a two seater is not nearly as practical as it is with a sedan. That much we all know. It’s a lot more fun.

Aside from the minor challenges of not being able to use it for hauling certain stuff – stuff often found at Lowe’s, furniture stores, on craigslist, or in bike shops – and other people, it has its advantages. It forces you to prioritize better and helps prevent a certain laziness that’s implicit with SUV ownership.
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The Storied Tale of the 1991-2005 Acura NSX

Acura NSX aluminum sports car

Acura NSX

The Acura NSX, Honda’s legendary flagship sports car, was the first production Japanese exotic car. It was introduced to the U.S. market (known as the Honda NSX elsewhere) for the 1991 model year, right on the back of the company’s streak of supplying engines to six straight (1986-1991) Formula One Constructors Championships.

What set the NSX apart was its singular focus on delivering an unparalleled driving experience, breaking new ground in handling performance without the traditional quirks and shortcomings of the exotic car genre.
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The Way of the Sports Car

1991 Toyota MR2 hardtop sports car.

1991 Toyota MR2 hardtop

Sitting at my desk on a cold winter morning, having traded the warm Florida sunshine for a snow covered northern suburb, may not at first glance seem ideal. But the reality is I took an excursion from the cube farm to meander along the metaphoric open road, which just happens to wind through winter, and to share this drive with those who can appreciate it.

Our desires deserve discovery, expression and reward. For some it’s surfing the perfect wave or perfecting their golf swing. For us the rewards can be found driving a machine tailor made for twisty roads. This is our outlet.

For a long time I’ve immersed myself in thrilling drives, executing a perfect downshift after deftly apexing a curve, admiring fabulous sports cars, and unlocking financially sound ways to experience them. This is the four-wheeled equivalent of the hero’s journey, one that provides not only an escape, a respite from the mundane, but which also yields far reaching benefits.

It’s about more than what some may view as frivolity.  Embracing the dream of the open road and attaining meaningful and useful skills will enrich the tapestry of one’s life. Whether we’re talking about sports cars and performance cars, great investments, or any other endeavor, it all comes down to a few common threads:

  • Discovering and embracing what we love
  • Developing our skills and expertise
  • Connecting with those with similar interests

Choosing appropriate challenges, cultivating the ability to meet them, and connecting with like-minded people is tremendously rewarding.  Being able to share that with you in my own voice is what Sports Car Investor is about.  My goal is that we will both continue to grow and enjoy the mastery of the skills we seek.

Thank you for joining me on this epic automotive adventure.