A little self-indulgence here.
First, Beatrice and I are done buying new cars. To me, purchasing or leasing new cars more often than 10+ years in-between is about the biggest waste of money Americans succumb to in their entire lives. And every time I see someone driving around in a well maintained, perfectly functioning old car with some retro stylish class, I’m reminded of that.
My car is a 2006 BMW X5 4.4i. It’s got 120K miles. Hers is a 2003 Infinity FX-35 with 150K miles. Both are in pristine condition and run like champs (we use only full synthetic, changes every 7,500 miles—plus, remember doing 4-Qt oil changes in big block V8s back in the 70s? My BWM takes 8.5 Qts, which is a lot of leeway in terms of breakdown). Anyway, my sense is that they’re at perhaps half life, at most.
We haven’t had car payments in years, so we’re very good about regular maintenance instead. And, for me, some upgrades. Some years back, I went from the stock wheels and tires…
…With phat 315s on the rear (BMWs never need tire rotation—they have proper German-engineered suspension instead).
Problem was, those “hi-performance tyres” (for whom and what?) don’t wear very well. The rear tires alone were $500 per copy, and when you get 20K miles out of them at best…do the math. Moreover, I actually do mild off roading, dirt and rocky roads to get to hang gliding launches. So, I had more than one flat, and sidewall damage in the front a time or two.
So, since I’d decided to keep the car because I love it so much, I hatched a plan sometime back to make it more of a serious contender in off-roading: My BMW X-5: Going Stealth and Zombie Apocalypse.
Deal is, the job featured in that post relied on the front fenders being chopped. When I took it over to Tommy at California Wheels, he took out his calculator, measuring tape, and within a few minutes showed me that with that total tire/wheel height, I’m going to get rub-rub at wheel lockout—something I was familiar with when I put big tires on a ’93 Jeep Grand Cherokee once, and ended up having to get a 3″ lift to eliminate the rub.
Glad I didn’t try to save $1,000 or so and DIY. In the end, it was a 2″ lift that required a preliminary drop-off in the shop for measurements. They’d never done a lift on an X5—there’s nothing on the Internet—so had to fabricate their own lift kit in the shop. Picked up my lift Saturday afternoon, using Lyft—for the first time—to get a lift there and it was a cool experience.
It’s remarkable what sitting 2″ higher + the added total wheel height does in terms of general “feel” and visibility. I really like it, and now, no worries when I head up to the cabin in Arnold and there’s a fresh snow. Those low profile tires just never cut it, and all-wheel drive is useless. For all-wheel or 4-wheel drive to be anything meaningfully functional and advantageous, it begins with where the rubber meets the road.
Now, all this plug-&-play rubber already mounted on alloy rims and balanced, go up on Craigie’s List.
Next comes the wrap. Still haven’t decided between matte black and drab green.
…Alright, now to resume blogging for different kinds of geeks… Back to your semi-regular programming, like about weird bacteria and viruses, and such.