Zen and The Art of Black Cars

I’ve owned 3 black vehicles in my life. Two were projects/beaters (my Buick and my Chevy) and one is my mid-life crisis daily driver with 306hp of hard charging Covid-19 quarantine therapy.

Black cars are beautiful. From my early days sitting on the living room floor watching Knight Rider and The A-Team, there’s always been something about a car that is black on black, they’re both subtle and screaming at the same time.

Black cars are a royal pain in the butt to keep clean. All my other cars were silver. A silver car can get surprisingly filthy before anyone can look at it and want to write ‘wash me’ with their finger. A black car is clean for approximately 8.3 seconds after cleaning.

Where previously I could go through the automated car wash without worry, that’s verboten with a black car. Every single imperfection is glaring. Scratches, swirls, and chips – oh my. I’ve generally been decent with washing my cars, with a black car? Oof.

My neighbor’s friend runs a detail shop, so he gave me some tips. I picked up the proper ingredients, and got to work. I used Griots Garage Brilliant Finish Synthetic Detailing Clay, Speed Shine Detailing Spray, Ceramic 3-in-1 Wax Spray, Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash, and Stoner’s Invisible Glass.

Now I’m no expert by any means, but this is how I took care of my ride today…

  1. Rinse the car off with the power washer (gentle nozzle). After successfully blowing the paint off of 3 of my last 5 cars, I do this more for a quick rinse and no longer attempt to use it to blow something off the paint.
  2. Fill a bucket with water and 1oz of the Honeydew Snow Foam, and also add 1oz to the power-washer’s soap tank with water. I coat the entire car with the foamy soap and let it set in for a bit before I scrub the car down with a microfiber wash mitt. I also rinse the mitt in a second bucket to make sure any debris are removed before I soak it with more soapy water.
  3. Rinse the car off again with the power washer, make sure to get all the soap off. Now the next part is key – drying it. Don’t use rags. Don’t use normal towels. Get some actual microfiber drying towels (I use the ProElite Microfiber Twisted Loop Drying Towel) – buy two of them. Get the car dry from top to bottom so extra water spots can be avoided.
  4. If there are water spots after drying, that’s where the Speed Shine Detailing Spray comes in. A quick squirt on the body panel, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, then flip the cloth to buff it.
  5. In my case, I had several water spots under the wax on my hood (more on the roof, but I’ll deal with that next time). For this I used the synthetic detailing clay and the speed shine detailing spray as lubricant. I sprayed a healthy amount on the hood then wiped it down with the clay bar in straight lines. After which, I used a microfiber towel to wipe off the excess spray and buff the finish.
  6. Lastly, the spray wax. I’ve been hearing tons about ceramic spray wax, the Griot’s Garage variety got rave reviews so that is what I used. I generally use 2 towels at once for this, wax on / wax off like the Karate Kid. However, I don’t swirl the cloths, I wipe them in straight lines. I usually go through 4-6 towels during this process.

After quickly going over the windows with Invisible Glass, I had a very shiny and clean car for 8.3 seconds. As you can see below, the work was worth it. Now I’m just waiting to see how the ceramic wax fares against the usual spring rain, and whether or not this buys me a little more time between washes.

As always, don’t take my word for it, do your own research, and by all means – enjoy cleaning your ride!

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Truly, Truly

60 days ago, I undertook a challenge, a plan – to read the entirety of The New Testament. Now if anyone had told me 10, 20, or 30 years ago – that I would have taken time out of each and every day to read from scripture – I probably would have snorted and laughed. As of today? I’ve completed my first read through.

What is a day? They all seem to bleed together right now. One long day of work, one shorter day of rest. More than once since I began to work from home I have legitimately forgotten where in the course of a standard week I was sitting. Still whether at the start, or the end of the day – I found myself reading through scripture.

I’ll fully admit, there were many things I read which I didn’t understand. Most of Revelation came off like a bad acid trip with what was being described… only to be countered in the end with undeniable beauty. However many years the Lord has given me, I can guarantee that I will never fully understand the word, but I won’t stop trying.

Over the past year and a half now since I was saved, the word has taught me… Through directly reading it myself, or through the interpretations and lessons from pastors and friends. It has truly, truly shaped my new life and brought me peace amidst the chaos that surrounds me.

I don’t know why that has stuck with me, “Truly, truly…” It’s something Jesus said many times, prefacing what He was to say next. I believe it. I believe all of it, truly. Maybe that’s why. The peace I feel is true. Am I always happy? Of course not. Many times in my solitude over the past decade, I have fallen down some dark paths… The word though, always brings me back.

Looking back through my life though, at the darkest points I’ve always sought the light… It wasn’t until much, much later – I found what I was seeking, or to be more clear, the light found me. “And the voice came to him again a second time, What God has made clean, do not call common.”Acts 10:15. There is nothing common about believing in Christ or being saved.

He’s restored and healed my family. He’s carried me through my funks and depression. In both light and dark, I’ve thanked Him. For 300 days I fasted from alcohol. I went from having several drinks a day to delay the darkness, to numb myself to it… To needing it for that purpose no longer. I couldn’t have done that on my own.

There are many trials ahead for me, many temptations. Many victories, and losses. Much sadness, and much love. Through it all, I will have the word of God with me. I will love God because He loved me first. Whatever else comes my way, is just a bonus.

‘When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”‘ 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.

It’s not just that Christ has removed the sting of death… He’s removed the sting of life, because through Him I have hope, peace, joy, and thanksgiving.

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Tales From The Loop / BSG / Music

I just started watching this new show ‘Tales From The Loop’ on Amazon… Based on the art of Simon Stålenhag which until now I never really heard of or knew was a thing. I’m just 3 episodes in, and the series strikes me as a blend of Eureka and Dark Mirror. Anyhow, the point of this post is the music.

I’m a sci-fi nerd. Have been my entire life. I notice weird commonalities between universes, be it actors, character types, but music is something I’ve always oddly noticed. There was this show for instance based on the work of Stephen King “Haven” which had a theme song that to me – always triggered a memory of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out for NES. Specifically the cut scene between major bouts where Lil Mac was jogging behind his trainer.

Anyhow – enough of that tangent. I’m watching episode 2, ‘Transpose’ and hear this musical score that reminds me of Battlestar Galactica. I mention it to a friend who points out the composer of the score from TFTL Philip Glass… I hop online, Google the BG and the composers name and get this:

Same composer, so that explains the similarity. I haven’t been able to find the song from TFTL online yet, but they both evoke the same mood. Figure I’ll finish TFTL, finish my Smallville binge, then move on to Battlestar Galactica. 🙂

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Romans 5:1‭-‬5 ESV

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1‭-‬5 ESV https://bible.com/bible/59/rom.5.1-5.ESV

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What… day is it?

Greetings from behind enemy lines! I’ve slowly been taking on small projects and tasks that I’ve put aside because I’m lazy, but as I can’t do much outside my lil 3rd of an acre lot – I’m making the best of it. Finally got around to cleaning my garage (still a work in progress), washed and waxed the car (not sure if car washes are open right now anyhow) and put my summer wheels/tires on.

When I first got my Civic Type-R, it was still “winter” and the summer tires weren’t playing nice with the very cold weather. I think before I’d even put 100 miles on the car I replaced the stock 20″ wheel and tire package with a set of 19″ all seasons from Tire Rack. 2400 miles later, warm weather is returning so I swapped back. Now with the stock setup back in play, I’m not sure what I was expecting… but wow.

The car already had great handling, but now it’s locked down tight. The stock wheel/tire package is 10lb heavier per wheel, so I was anticipating a hit on the acceleration but so far i haven’t noticed anything besides not spinning tires at the top of 2nd gear. The steering is much heavier now, more feedback through the wheels and suspension, overall it feels more planted and confident. Still a ridiculous ride.

As far as the washing – I spent maybe 2 hours on that project. I’m never buying another black car – ever. Every swirl, every scratch is easily visible on this car. Probably why i stuck for silver for so long. That aside, I hit it with the pressure washer, foamed it up nicely with some Turtle Wax car wash, gave it a bit of a scrub with a wet wash mitt, then rinsed and dried with el-cheapo terry cloth rags from Auto Zone. The coup de grace here though was the wax.

Turtle Wax has this “Jet Black Spray Wax” stuff. Works like pretty much every other spray wax I’ve used. Spray it on, polish it with one towel, then buff it with another. Wax on, wax off, Daniel-San. This wax in particular has a black tint to it. I’m not sure if it’s just a marketing gimmick but the car looked shiny and fantastic after all was said and done.

Something I’ve noticed lately when I do go out for a drive… This bug and quarantine has seemingly united gearheads of all manufacturers. I’m constantly getting / giving waves to other drivers in Subaru STI’s, Nissan 370’s, Civic Type-R’s, etc… I had to cancel a planned run on Tail of The Dragon this month due to quarantine. It’s good to see other performance car drivers out and about though. Hopefully soon we’ll actually be able to stop and say hello.

Maybe once a week I’ll head out to the supermarket to get a few necessities. TP and paper towels are still nowhere to be found (correction: local businesses have been selling their commercial TP at cost, which is very good of them!). Still, I get to the store, don my nitrile gloves and my reusable bag and head in. Social distancing is the name of the game these days, and I’ll say 99% of people are handling it well. We’re humans, surprisingly, we adapt.

So I’m in the meat department yesteday, and there’s an older customer in the same area grabbing a bunch of those pre-wrapped ground beef packages. I ignore them as my two goals are chicken thighs and pork loin. So I grab the chicken (which seems to cost 2x as much now), and as I progress this other customer is a shopping cart length behind me (using their shopping cart as a gapper. Obviously they’re in a rush, and I am not because their cart is maybe an inch off my rear end.

So I’m grabbing my pork loin and feel a shuffle behind me. I look and there is the lady, standing right next to me, no more than inches between us. She’s masked and gloved up. I immediately break out my Daddy voice, honed through years of corralling two precocious then-tweens. “ARE YOU SERIOUS, LADY?” She immediately apologizes and backs off, as I walk away shaking my head. If I’ve gotta stand at 6 feet off and wait a few extra seconds, it’s not a big deal. Like I said – 99% of the people I’ve crossed paths with lately are good.

I didn’t get angry, I didn’t flip out, but it’s good to know that my Dad voice is a timeless addition to my quarantine shopping repertoire. At the checkout I ran into another stranger (6 feet apart of course), no mask, no gloves, I’m not gonna lose sleep. I mentioned how back in the day I’d cough to hide a fart, nowadays we’ve gotta fart to hide a cough (I’m not coughing, was just a joke). Got a few laughs.

While everything is undeniably serious right now, we must try to maintain some sense of levity. The healing power of laughter is no joke. The wisdom of patience is a valuable tool to employ in nearly every situation, especially as we are faced daily with people going through their own struggles on top of trying to avoid the current pandemic. Be patient, be kind, and if you can – try to keep a laugh on deck.

One last side-note. While I was washing the car the other day, I had one of the local country stations playing… and there is an annoying trend with marketing right now. Just about every advertisement is acknowledging current events, most to exemplify how they’re adjusting to it. It’s so redundant it was annoying the crap out of me.

“In this {adjective} time…”

“In this time of {adjective}….”

As all of this was ramping up, I got an email from nearly every vendor or business along time same lines. We get it already. We are all riding out this storm. Plug your product and get back to the music.

Another thing? Facebook. Man, I’m so tired of it. Panic. Politics. The same joke told 30 times. There’s no entertainment to it. I connect to the people I need to without it. I posted a dad joke the other day, going to see how long I can make it without going back. I figure if I can give up drinking for… 275 days now, I think I can manage walking away from FB for a while.

I could ramble on more, but I’ll take a break to give all 4 people who visit this blog a chance to catch up. 🙂

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This day in history…

Oh, Facebook memories, you never fail to disappoint.

Back in 2013, I got divorced. An odd thing happened. From December 2013, through the finalization in March of 2014 where my alimony was paid, and all of my ex’s belongings were removed… I couldn’t get drunk or even buzzed.

There I was, at a point in my life where it’s almost expected to go on a bender – and no matter what I drank, beer, wine, or bourbon – I couldn’t get drunk. Now me being me, I didn’t take this as a sign that maybe something else was up, I increased my intake.

For that near 4 month period, I can’t tell you how many bottles of wine I cleared, but I went through a minimum of 3 750ml bottles of bourbon a week. Generally on Friday and/or Saturday night, I’d have at least on of those bottles in a sitting.

“Do I seem drunk?” I’d ask a friend and get the response “no, you seem sober to me.”

I’d blow in a portable breathalyzer, the alcohol was there – but there was zero effect.

I made it a goal to see how many different varieties of bourbon I could try from the liquor store down the street. I can’t say I managed to try every variety, but even at a minimum I cleared 12 per month, not including beer and wine. Nope, nope, wasn’t an alcoholic at all.

Even today, a little voice in my head says “no, not an alcoholic, you just drank a lot.” Maybe that’s true. This day on Facebook, I actually posted in celebration that I had finally gotten a buzz. My intake slowed as I was finally able to hit that sweet spot and ride it…

6 years later? I’m at 265 days without a drink. By the grace of God and with the support of a few good friends, alcohol just is not a priority in my life anymore. Still, I remember nearly everything from that time and to this day wonder why I couldn’t feel a thing.

Maybe so I’d remember?

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Day 6? 7? What day is it?

Since all of this began, I’ve done my best to maintain a level mind. I lean into any anxiety with scripture and prayer, but for the most part I’ve been handling it no differently than say… how I’d handle taking out the trash. It’s a new variable to the equation, but since I’ve lived alone for 7+ years now, how much of a change – to me – would it really be?

Facebook on a good day, is a few minutes of distraction from the grind. Lately though? It’s an awful lot of people masking fear with humor. It was nice the first day or two. Now it’s the stand-up comedian bombing so hard it’s almost become a Michael Richards shouting slurs at the audience type of performance.

Everyone’s handling this their own way, attempting to stick to the guidance given by the government, from health experts. Some folks – like me – are blessed with the capability to work from home. Others ran off to the market and bought enough toilet paper that in order to use it all they’d need to poop 47 times a day for 10 years to use it up.

Most days I’ll go out in the car for a drive, or stop at one of the local supermarkets for a few small items, or just take a walk to get out of the house and out of my head for a few. Last night I realized though that my level head was teetering on a very fine point. The scales so closely balanced that when the tipping point came, it really put me on my back.

My folks are in their 80’s. My dad, recovering from lung cancer surgery. Since this started, my Mom has been going out for supplies with my dad locked inside. Yesterday they asked me to pick up some supplies for them, so I happily obliged. Honestly – the folks at the store, both patron and employee – have all been in good spirits.

So I get everything together, spray it all with lysol, and head over to drop it off. I arrived and both my mom and dad were waiting at the door. My mom looked concerned, my dad had an ear to ear grin just to see me. I handed her the box of stuff, they closed the door, and we waved goodbye.

One thing I cherish more than anything, one worldly desire I posses and have been unable to let go of as it has been the thing that keeps the balance, keeps my head straight – is a hug. A simple hug. Hugging a friend, hugging a loved one, hugging my mom and dad. Now because of this bug, because of the guidelines, because of a panic driven survival instinct…

I couldn’t hug my folks. I know its selfish of me. Honestly, I get it – I don’t want to get them sick, I want them to stay safe and well… but as the day carried on past that drop off my brain began to spiral. Balance revoked. Finally realizing that the one aspect of human contact I cherished most, from the people who I cherished most, was forbidden… hurt.

I can’t imagine how they’re handling it… but I am grateful I saw smiling faces on people I love, and that I was still able to help them in any way I could despite everything else going on in the world right now. A good friend helped to correct my course, and I thank God that through the trials they’ve endured, they were able to say the right things at the right time.

Not quite sure how long this is going on to carry on for, or what the world is going to look at after the seas have calmed, but I am grateful. I am grateful to have good people in my life, and a great God above who will continue to make our paths straight as long as we listen for Him, believe in Him, hope in Him, and follow Him.

There’s this Bible app I use on my phone, YouVersion. Beyond being able to read nearly every version of The Holy Bible, it also has various plans to offer guidance through scripture. For the past 15 days I’ve been working through a 60 day plan, reading the New Testament to completion and absorbing its Truth.

As I read through the book of Luke, already completing Mark and Matthew, I noticed some patterns. In these books, I read of the miracles performed by Jesus. The healing. I also saw how he would regularly go off by himself into solitude to pray to His Father and be with God. He’d return to the crowds, where they would beg Him to be saved.

I’m sitting there wondering what I’d say to Him, or ask of Him and “Would you pray with me?” was what immediately dawned on my heart. Immediately I feel Him ask me “and what would you pray for?” So I prayed for the health of my family and friends, the ones I love, the strangers whom I do not know… and I prayed for the people who I dislike as well.

Less hysteria, more prayer. I think we could all use a moment to answer that question… “and what would you pray for?” if you had the opportunity to pray with Jesus. Every moment of every day, we have the opportunity to pray. We need that right now more than ever.

Last weekend I got to spend time with my step son. At the end of the weekend, after returning him home, I started to wonder what impact sharing my time would have, if it was enough… I opened my trusty Bible app and was greeted with the words of Hebrews 13:16…

Do not neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. Love your family. Love your friends. Love your neighbors. Love your enemies. Do good and share what you have. God help us all transcend this current situation as one people, worship, and give thanks to you.

Amen.

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Convicted.

For more than a year now, the good people of Grace Community Church have been by my side in my walk with Christ. The past few months have been challenging to say the least.

On the advice of wise counsel from a friend, I downloaded a podcast application to my phone (Podcast Addict) and began to explore the 10 years of messages spoken by the senior pastor and others.

So. Much. Conviction. Forgiveness. Rest. Guilt. Hiding sin. Believing. Obeying.

I can only imagine how different my 30s may have been had I been subject to the conviction of God… Had I believed, truly believed in Jesus. What mistakes could I have not made with the wise counsel of God? What could I have accomplished with Jesus by my side?

I know that even then, in my feigning faith, He was with me. Even as I embraced my own Messiah complex, He pursued me. As I blindly drove my life off the cliff with a proud smile on my face, He tried to steer me away from the precipice. Free will, right?

Folks, even today I thought I was good with God! I thought I was facing Him, close to Him, in reality there I was again, foot to the floor like Thelma and Louise. I let that old sin back in. I let that old guilt push me back down. I let myself backslide the whole time as the solution was a mere repentance away.

I know that through Jesus I can always find my way back home. I just need to pray, daily. Read scripture and breathe it in daily. I need to remind myself of where I came from, where I am, and be open to the joy, peace, and love that Jesus brings me, every single minute of every single day.

These convictions are red flags in my life, things I need to turn away from and give to the Almighty God. Thank you Jesus for being here for me, sacrificing yourself for me, and always being present to lead me back home.

Amen.

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Pressing Onward.

I think George Carlin had a skit where he discussed words and phrases that didn’t make sense… things like “near miss” to describe two objects almost hitting each other, it sounds like they nearly missed – but in my head, they hit. Another phrase that’s been on my heart lately was “meteoric rise.” That phrase has never made sense to me. Meteors don’t rise, they “blaze briefly in the sky and as quickly disappear.”

2019 was a transformational year for me. By the traditional definition – I experienced a “meteoric rise” in my faith. I documented much of my experience here on this blog, so if you’ve been following along you’re aware of how I was saved by Jesus, how my family was restored, how I was baptized and born again, and how I reach out to God in prayer to provide for all my needs. The power of prayer exploded in my life. I turned from sin, abandoning alcohol and pornography. Every night before bed I took 20-30 minutes to pray to God, to make my requests known, to thank Him, and to study His word.

At the tail end of 2019, I was riding high on life, I was riding high in faith. The change was noticed by my peers and my pastor. On December 22nd, he highlighted my transformation, my obedience to the Lord in a sermon where he discussed our responsibility as Christians to share Jesus with others. My main goal of sharing my story, of sharing my experiences with Jesus, is that it might help others. As my pastor stated… I’m one of those folks who never shuts up about Jesus.

I haven’t written of my walk with the Lord since 2019. I may have shared some scripture that spoke to my heart, but overall – I really shared nothing. Truth be told, I’ve been under spiritual assault for months now, and I have been enduring a chain of trials as a result. It feels like after that sermon, the enemy popped up and said “Oh, Sam likes to talk about Jesus? Hold my beer and watch this.”

It started when I stopped praying out loud. Growing up Catholic, I prayed along with the Lord’s prayer, the Apostles Creed, and all the other responses that were required during attendance. I did it with my mouth shut. I prayed in my head. My voice was the first thing I found while being saved, and it was the first thing I lost in this assault.

I spent less time with the Lord each night. I spent less and less time praying. I sped through scripture. My good habits were eroding. I was staying up later. I was sleeping less. Old sin started creeping back into my life. I started to become bitter, angry, depressed, and negative again. My loneliness really started to hit me. I wasn’t angry at God for the trials but I was definitely angry again.

January 26th it hit a peak. The thought of having a drink, the very thing I’d abandoned in July of 2019, the thing that I have not touched in 236 days, the thing I have considered since as my “canary in the coal mine” in my turn from sin… That thought became comforting, instead of terrifying. That comfort, in fact, was terrifying.

I immediately went back to praying out loud, meditating, repenting, and taking time reading scripture. I had let myself be infected by sin, infected by doubt, to be slowly and gradually turned away from my God so subtly I didn’t even notice until the idea of having a drink ceased to bother me. Even as the Lord continued to answer my prayers boldly, I kept slipping.

Thing is, even right now I am fighting to stay on my path. I am fighting to seek God’s face. I am struggling to remain turned from sin. What came so easily and naturally mere months ago, I find myself resisting like cardio after making it a New Years resolution. I fight that resistance daily. I’m still not doing cardio, but I am praying my head off.

Another phrase that never sounded right in my head? Steering into the skid. I’m in my car, I’m losing control, it’s skidding, and you want me to WHAT? My wordly mind says steer against the skid. The reality of physics says steering into the skid will allow me to regain control and keep my cars tires on the road and not wrapped around an immovable object or worse.

That’s what I’m doing right now with my faith. I feel like I’m skidding. I feel like I’m losing control. I pray for my father’s health and recovery from cancer surgery. I thank the Lord for the time I have with him. I pray for my stepdaughter’s continued discovery of Jesus which has spectacularly ruined her atheism. I thank the Lord for putting her where she is so she can grow in faith with the Lord and continue to rise above. Every prayer is me steering into this skid.

I volunteer and serve at my church after months of making excuses. I’m helping people. I’m steering into the skid. I’m regaining control of my faith. I’m diving into scripture. I’m turning from sin and poison. Cigarettes, Porn, Booze. I’m steering into the skid. I thank Jesus for my blessings. For all he has provided me in this life. I am still in a skid, but I am gripping tightly on that wheel of faith, I’m steering into this skid, and I have faith that when this latest assault has ceased, I will still be facing God, averse to the draw of sin, and I will be stronger for it.

I know He is with me. I feel His presence always, through this struggle and whatever comes next. Phillipians 3:13-14 has one of my favorite verses: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I’m pressing on, each and every day, in faith, love, and hope in Christ. Thank you Jesus.

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Cars – 2019 Honda Civic Type-R

I was speaking to my mother this past weekend after I helped repair a broken fence in the yard, and started to talk about this series I’d been writing about all the cars I’ve gone through. Now growing up, I was always told I took after my grandfather who was also named Samuel. When she told me that he used to buy a new car every 2 years, it started to make sense.

A few years back when I picked up that Golf R, I wasn’t exactly ready for it. I wasn’t mature enough for it. It was the first real toy I’d had, a daily driver that could absolutely rip when I pushed it. The possibility of overestimating my abilities, overestimating the cars capabilities was real, and it scared me. After a confluence of events convinced me to get something more reasonable, I did. I needed a break.

I was never going to be the guy who had just a truck. I can tell you that GMC I had, when driven properly, took corners well enough to scare the snot out of anyone trying to keep up… but it wasn’t sporty. It wasn’t fun in the same way my old GTI was. Getting that Civic Si was testing the waters. Was I ready for a fast car again? Would I respect its capabilities and my abilities? The Si was fun, but reasonable fun.

After a year and a half of driving it, I felt like being a little unreasonable. I felt I was ready to have a little fun. Heck, I’m a bachelor in midlife crisis territory, I was almost obligated to push my limits again. The funny thing here is, as I think I stated in an earlier post, when these 10th generation Civics came out I thought they were completely ridiculous.

As it turns out, I was 100% correct.

Initially I’d considered a Tesla Model 3… but after hearing the various complaints of my peers about their higher end models – I decided to play it safe and wait it out. I don’t doubt at some point in the future I will have an electric car in my driveway, but not yet. I will admit, the 3 is a very well reviewed car, and it seems to have avoided much of what has plagued its older siblings… but I wasn’t ready to be a beta tester.

The thing with the Type-R, it’s a popular car. It’s in demand. As a result, dealerships added markups to them. One dealer in Sussex, NJ had a $5k markup. Middletown Honda had a $1k markup on the car. In the end – both dealers removed the markup to try and get my business. As I didn’t really like the gray, I bet on black, and took a ride up to Middletown on a Tuesday after work.

The black definitely made the car look more subdued…. still ridiculous, but it wasn’t quite as gaudy as the other color options which made all the various details (vents, spoilers, ground effects, etc…) stand out. Looking at it doesn’t do it justice. The moment I sat in that car the dopamine and serotonin spiked in my brain. All my caution went out the window. I flat out wanted this car. I wasn’t hitting my head on the roof, and there were actual BUTTONS on the infotainment screen. I don’t know why but I was really excited by the buttons.

Walk away, Sam. Walk away!

I got a quick quote on my trade-in, then told the salesperson I’d have a decision for them by Friday… and I walked away. In the mean time, as I cooled back down, I made sure I could afford the car. I decided what I would accept for my trade in. I reached out to my insurer to see what it would do to my rates. I planned, I mulled it over, and by the next day I was 83% sure of my decision.

Did I call the dealer? No. Did I rush in the moment I decided? No. I said Friday, and I meant it. The only out at this point was whether they’d give me what I wanted for my trade-in. I did the research, in the condition and with the mileage my car had – the dealership offered me $2k less than what it was worth. So when I came in to buy it, I made it clear that if they gave me what I wanted on my trade, I’d buy the Type-R right there.

So far I’d made sure I could afford the car. I got my OTD quote where they removed the markup and would sell it to me for MSRP plus tax/tags/registration. When I got overly excited at the thought of having it, I walked away. I went in to the dealer knowing exactly what I wanted and settled for nothing less. I negotiated my trade-in and held my ground. I rejected all the add-ons (in this case I made it clear before hand I wasn’t interested) – the only thing they tried was the service contract. Lastly, I made sure to get the best rate possible for financing. I followed each and every one of my rules, and I got my car.

Now there are some caviats to buying a performance car in the winter, in this case it was that the car came with 20″ wheels and high performance summer tires. In warm weather, without copious potholes, I’m sure that combination would be fantastic. Still, I’ve got at least 3 more months of unpredictable winter weather. Winter tires on the 20’s were out of the question. $495 a tire. That tiny sidewall on my roads? Forget it.

Ok, so I decided to go down a size. The last time I did this was on my GTI. I went 2 sizes down with Bridgestone Blizzaks. The soft, squishy sidewalls greatly contributed to me wrecking the thing. I did the research and saw that other Type-R owners ran 18’s, some ran 19’s… I was more comfortable with going down to 19. Prices on the snow tires I liked – Pirelli’s – were decent, but I also have a truck that’s great in the snow.

In the end, I chose 19″ wheels and tires with Continental DWS all seasons. What I lost in grip was gained in lessening the likelihood of ruining the wheels on my car with a pothole… not to mention the new wheel and tire combo was 10lbs less than stock, a performance increase. Of course, the day after I installed them, I nailed a pothole on the way to work and bent one of my brand new wheels.

The tire held pressure, there was no noticable impact on road feel or performance, so I didn’t actually see the bend until I took the car to the car wash. Once the weather warms up enough, and the potholes have been patched, I’ll reinstall my 20’s and get the 19″ wheel repaired. So, what about the car???

The owners manual recommended a 600 mile brake in period, no full throttle acceleration, no heavy braking. No problem. Where with the Golf R, I started having fun early, and even with the Si… I knew to respect the 306 HP here. I fully intend to keep this car for the long haul. I haven’t researched it, but it almost feels like this car was limited up until I hit 600 miles. I mean it was quick, but after the break in period? Ridiculous!

Handling is exquisite. I don’t know what the skid-pad numbers are, but I’m fairly certain this could literally run circles around the Golf R. Very sharp and firm handling, minimal body roll. The suspension firmness, throttle response, and steering / road feel is all adjustable by a switch near the gear shift. To be perfectly honest? Comfort mode is my favorite. How messed up is that?

In comfort mode, throttle response is reduced, suspension is softer, and steering is easy with a more subtle road feel. For general driving around, in comfort mode, this thing is as docile as your plain old ordinary Civic hatchback. By default, it’s in Sport mode which is the happy medium between Comfort and R mode. If I want the firmest suspension, the sharpest steering, and the quickest throttle response, one more flip of that magical switch to R mode, and this docile hatchback turns into an unrepentant beast of a car.

Now one of my favorite websites, Jalopnik.com, had an editor named Doug Demuro. He’s a car guy, does tons of reviews on Youtube. He’s a fairly quirky bloke whom after I viewed his scathing review of the Type-R, I refer to as the “Great Value Jay Leno.” His biggest complaints? The spoiler wobbled when the trunk is closed, and the exhaust had 3 tips. It went downhill from there, even his complements came off as back-handed. This was before I even pondered the idea of getting one of these.

Great Value Jay Leno at work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Jay Leno, I just throw on the Great Value title because IMHO, Demuro in this video comes off as the Walmart store brand of an actual car review. I get it, the design isn’t for everyone – heck, it wasn’t even for me when they first came out, but as much as I hated on it – this was just… Show us where the bad car touched you, Doug!

Back to the car. It is perfectly balanced. Any curve I throw this car into, it hunkers down and pulls me through it. If I need a little more kick, that accelerator is at the ready and the turbocharged 2.0l engine is dumping out peak torque between 2500 and 4500rpm, plant my foot and it will happily launch forward. The acceleration is taking some getting used to. I know how much gas I had to give in my Si to get onto the highway for instance. Same amount of gas in this car, and I’m in “car is going to the impound lot” territory. Respect the accelerator!

Without the moon roof, there’s plenty of headroom up front. No more smacking my head over small bumps. With the front seat set for my well-fed 6’1″ tall frame, I can easily sit in the back seat and have plenty of room. The trunk is massive, and the seats folding down only add to the cavernous amount of space. The seats themselves have more bolstering than the Si, and really hug me every time I get in.

Surfaces are plastic, carbon fiber (can’t tell if its real or plastic), alcantara (think synthetic suede that’s easy to clean), and cloth. Everything is very well put together, and the infotainment is leaps and bounds better than what was offered in 2018. Previously there was no volume knob. Simple climate control options required pressing a button to go to a custom menu. The interface was laggy. All of that has been corrected.

The lighting is fantastic, front and rear LED’s, including the fogs. In my Si, the halogens were simply inadequate for night driving even if the weather was perfectly clear. The LED’s used in this car apparently still get poor reviews from the IIHS, but IMHO – they’re more than adequate. I do miss the way the lamps turned with the steering in my Golf R, but that’s a nice to have more than a necessity.

What else… ah yes, no heated seats. This is the first car I’ve had since my GTI that has not had heated seats. Again – a nice to have, not a necessity. Also gone is the passenger side camera that would activate during right turns – I didn’t really depend on that to begin with. Overall though – this is the best Honda Civic that a driver can get. Docile in Comfort mode, rip snorting front wheel drive demon in R mode. Gas mileage has been between 27 and 29mpg so far which isn’t bad at all.

Every time I look at it, I smile. Even despite the scratches and swirls that I hope to resolve with a detail ones spring arrives. It’s fun to drive, whether I’m commuting, going to the supermarket, or paying my respects to the great driving roads in this area I’m blessed to live in. I’ve said it before – that I hope this will be the car I finally hold on to, and it checks off enough boxes that it just may be.

…and if it’s not, I can always blame my genetic predisposition to loving new cars. 🙂

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