Payday Loans

Slandy’s Rides

16th October 2008

August 1984 – April 1989

My first car was a 1984 Chevy Chevette CS 2-Door.  Light brown metallic with a dark brown cloth interior.  It had a 1.6L I4, making a bone-crushing 70 horsepower.  I had always wanted a manual tranny, so I opted for the 4-speed because the 5-speed was not available if you also ordered it with air conditioning!  My mother didn’t want me to get the manual, because she would not be able to use it.  I told her that I shouldn’t have to drive something I didn’t like for the few times when she would really need to borrow a car.  Surprisingly, I won that round.  My grandfather (“Papa Moe”) bought me the car for high school graduation.
April 1989 – April 1995

I bought my first car for my own birthday.  A red 1989 Pontiac Grand Am with red wheels.  I wasn’t a big fan of the wheels when I got it, but they grew on me.  The car had the 16-valve Quad4 I4, making 150 hp and it had a 5-speed manual tranny.  The reaction to all the redness was fun.  2 friends, Harvey and Jakie, said it was very….red.  My grandmother (“Bubby Annie”) said it was my little fire truck.  It was great until the head gasket blew while I was in grad school.  Major bummer and major expense that I couldn’t afford.  I was still driving it when I started working for Ford in early 1993.  My boss told me that I shouldn’t be allowed to park “that foreign car” in the employee parking lot.  My response was 1. Since when is Lansing, MI foreign? and 2. if/when Ford wants to give me a car, I will happily drive it.  Until then, I would drive this car until I needed a new car.

1989 Grand Am SE Coupe

1989 Grand Am SE Coupe

April 1995 – December 2001

So then I bought a Ford.  The brand new 1995 Ford Contour.  Midnight Red was the name of the color, but it was so dark, people often thought it was black, including the dealership.  The first application of the new Duratec V6 engine.  2.5L, 24-valve V6 with a 5-speed manual.  170 horsies.  I loaded it up with all available options – except the automatic.  Leather seats, ABS, traction control, moonroof, CD player.  I loved this car.  It had clean, classic uncluttered lines.  The only part of the designs that needed some improvement were the chrome-looking strips on the front and rear fascias (see picture below) and the cramped back seat.  Ford eliminated the chrome strips the next year, and they tried to do something about the seat, but the seat was always lacking.  The Contour (and its sister, the Mercury Mystique) died a few years later due to neglect and a lack of focus of what it wanted to be when it grew up.  What do I mean by that?  The Contour I had was a performance car with a tight suspension and lots of goodies.  That was great, but Contours were also stripped-down rental cars and inexpensive family cars.  In other words, it did not have a clear mission in the Ford family.  It tried to do too much.  As the old saying goes, jack of all trades – master of none.

1995 Ford Contour SE in Midnight Red

December 2001 – November 2002

Finally got the promotion at Ford and got my first company car, the new-for-2002 Ford Focus ZX5.  The color was called Sangria Red.  I must have been thirsty when I ordered it.  Continuing the tradition started with the Contour, I sought to load every available option on this car – to make it unique – a true Slandy-mobile!  The base price was $16,105, including destination charge.  When I was done checking the boxes, however, the MSRP rang up at $19,020.  I had added a power moonroof ($595), leather seats ($695) and the new AdvanceTrac system ($1625), which combined traction control and stability (yaw) control.  I might have had the most expensive Focus ever, up to that point.  Ford’s management lease price – $292.94/month, which included all maintenance and repair, insurance and unlimited miles for 1 year.  Not a bad deal.  According to my evaluations submitted to Ford, I had a few issues with the Focus: the wiper pattern causes a collection of washer fluid to collect at the top of the windshield, which then dripped straight down the window, I apparently didn’t like the automatic locking of the doors, I thought the engine was noisy, I thought the economy was poor for a small car (I reported average MPG of 29), and I thought the fuel gage was inaccurate.  Picky, picky.  Keep in mind that I was trying to be helpful.  My feeling was that I should be picky internally, to make sure the engineers kept striving for perfection.  Overall, I thought it was a great little car.

2002 Ford Focus ZX5

2002 Ford Focus ZX5 in Sangria Red

November 2002 – October 2003

For my next trick, I went way up the corporate snob ladder and ordered a 2002 Lincoln LS.  Why another 2002?  2002 was a long model year, so they were still building the 2002 and they had a special price!  I once again attempted to order a car that nobody else had.  This time, I opted for the V6 manual LS ($33,965 MSRP), which was only about 4% of the total.  I added moonroof ($1005) and Alpine audiophile 6CD changer ($575).  Nothing overly unusual there, you say?  I also ordered the “vehicle communication system”, which was a special Lincoln Motorola flip phone with a built-in dock.  When it was docked, you could use voice-activated calling and the sound came through the car’s speakers.  Doesn’t sound like much today, but it was way cool in 2002 (before any of you had even heard of Bluetooth).  That was $1295.  I really think that car was unique.  My price was $408.84/month.  My evaluations included comments about overly aggressive warning chimes and automatic seats with a mind of their own and another comment about automatic locking doors.

October 2003 – October 2004

My quest for the unique car brought me next to the 2004 Mazda6.  What made this car (somewhat) unique was the color – Blazing Copper Metallic.  Copper cars are more common now, but this car really stood out at the time.  I also took some abuse for the color.  “Friends” called it “Flaming Orange” instead.  This is the only automatic transmission car I’ve ever had.  Reason?  The geniuses running the management lease program only allowed the Miata to be ordered with a manual.  They were worried about residual values.  To say I was mad would be an understatement.  In spite of this, I really liked the car.  This car stickered for $25,300 and included the sport package ($710), Bose audio ($635), moonroof ($700), side airbags ($450) and the aforementioned auto transmission ($900).  A few minor issues included bad spray pattern for the washer, audio knobs that didn’t stick out far enough, and a loose spoiler.

2004 Mazda6 in Blazing Copper Metallic

2004 Mazda6 in Blazing Copper Metallic

October 2004 – October 2005

I liked the Mazda6 so much, I got another one.  This time, they let me get a manual!  Yeah!  I didn’t get the copper again, because that was sooo last year.  I opted for the steel gray metallic with the gray interior.  I felt like I was driving a black & white movie prop – except for the eerie orange glowing instrument panel.  This one was more dough than the last one, even without the auto.  $26,705 for the whole shot, including a $40 cargo net, $250 autodim mirror with compass and homelink, $1240 for the leather package including heated seats and electroluminescent gauges, and $1335 for the Bose audio with moonroof package.  Looking at my evaluations shows that I did not like the electroluminescent gauges.  They were washed out in daylight unless I turned up the brightness all the way – but then they were TOO bright at night!  I also didn’t like that the wipers only made 1 pass across the windshield when I sprayed the washer.  I had to turn on the wipers whenver I wanted to wash the windshield.  Overall, though, I liked this car better than the 2004, but only because I was again permitted to row my own gears.

2005 Mazda6 in Steel Gray Metallic

2005 Mazda6 in Steel Gray Metallic

October 2005 – January 2007

New for the 2006 model year was the critically acclaimed Ford Fusion.  I got a blue SEL with the 2.3 liter I-4 and a manual tranny!

2006 Ford Fusion

2006 Ford Fusion

The manual was not available with the V6 – party poopers at Ford!  Steve Lyons, then President of Ford Division, tried to fight the manual completely, but was convinced to allow it on the I-4 to help meet CAFE.  Steve was a little like George W.  He made very clear decisions and never regretted any of them.  The problem was that soooo many were wrong.  Didn’t allow any dissension from those who reported to him.  It didn’t matter if they made a good point.  He was very much a “my way or the highway” type.  Ford is much better off with him gone.  Steve is also much better off with him gone.  As president of Ford Division, he was in a position to award himself a lucrative and highly desired new location for a Ford dealership in Arizona.  Many established dealers really wanted that location, but Steve gave it to himself as a retirement present.  Nice.  Anyway, the Fusion was great.  It had great, fresh new styling that really drew people’s eyes.  The SEL was the top trim package, and mine stickered at $22,810.  I loaded it up with side airbags ($595), moonroof ($795), heated seats ($295), ABS ($595) and leather seats ($895).  One of the best parts was the integrated key/fob – 1 piece to carry instead of 2!  See the picture below.

2006 Ford Fusion Integrated Key Fob

2006 Ford Fusion Integrated Key Fob

January 2007 – April 2007

My last company car at Ford was a Mercury Milan.  It’s basically the same as the Fusion, but different styling.  One of the issues I had with the Fusion was that the license plate slammed against the trunk lid every time I closed the trunk.  The Milan has the license plate in the rear fascia instead of the trunk lid – problem solved.  The Milan’s styling also appealed to me as it wasn’t so much “in your face” as the Fusion.  Something different while maintaining everything I liked about the Fusion.  I got the highest level I-4 manual I could get, just like with the Fusion.  Why did I only have it for 3 months?  I left Ford mid-April and they demanded that I return their car by my last day.  I asked if I could keep it, and continue making the payments, of course.  No deal.

April 2007 – April 2009

So what did I get on my last day at Ford?  A GM car, of course.  My wife works for GM, and she gets a company car from them.  Their program requires the purchase or lease of a GM vehicle every 4 years (it was every 2 until recently) unless you’re single or your spouse also has a company car.  I had trouble selecting a GM car that I wanted, though.  Notice anything about the cars I’ve had?  Almost all of them have been 4-door American sporty cars with manual transmissions.  Mid-market – nothing really cheap or really expensive.  GM has really nothing that fits that bill.  I like GM’s Epsilon-platform cars (Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, Chevy Malibu).  I thought I’d get the G6, because the other 2 don’t come with the manual.  Then I found out the Pontiac had killed the manual G6 and the dealer couldn’t find an existing one.  My next thought was the Cadillac CTS.  There was actually 1 within 500 miles of Detroit, and it happened to be really close to my home town.  I drove it and I really liked it – except for 1 thing.  I HATED the audio system.  It was a several years old design, and had no audio input for my iPod, which I had on the MIlan.  I finally went to the Saab dealer and drove the 9-3.  Not perfect for my needs but nice, fast and good-looking.  I got a little sucked in to the idea of the convertible, then upgraded to the Aero, which is a turbo-6 instead of the turbo-4.  I won’t bore you even more with the all the details.  You can read the complete review here.

April 2009 – February, 2011

With the lease on the Saab close to expiring, I had to go through the same deal as 2 years ago.  The manual choices from the General were about the same: Chevy Aveo/Pontiac G3, Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5, Pontiac Vibe, Chevy HHR, Saturn Astra or Cadillac CTS.  None are ideal choices for me.  The Caddy is the best car, but too much dough.  All the others have small issues that I don’t like.  Then the General’s problems benefitted me.  Because many dealers have been closing, GM found itself with extra inventory to sell.  They made these extra vehicles available to GM employees and family for a significant discount from the employee price!  I found an HHR SS that was just about exactly what I wanted, and I took delivery just before Easter.  Why the HHR over the others?  I found out that the 2009 HHR includes a USB port for the old iPod, and that made all the difference.  Control over the iPod from the steering wheel!  Woo-hoo!  The SS, in case you don’t know, is the hot rod version of the little cargo truck-looking HHR.  260 horsepower from the turbo 2.0L 4-cylinder engine provides more than adequate motivation.  Mine is black and includes a moonroof, performance package (Brembo brakes, limited slip diff), Pioneer premium speaker system and spotter mirrors.  MSRP=$27,445.

2009 HHR SS

2009 HHR SS


February, 2011 – January, 2013

Dodge Charger


January, 2013 – March, 2013

Dodge Dart, part un

2014_dodge_dart_limited-pic-8140371441532401839 2013-dodge-dart-limited-cockpit

March, 2013 – October, 2013

Dodge Dart, part deux


October, 2013 – April, 2019

Cadillac ATS

2013 Cadillac ATS 2013 Cadillac ATS Interior

August 2017 – Present

2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Convertible in Competition Orange

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