Google Maps & the Truncated Jag

For the last few months or so, I have been missing the XJ40 Jaguars I once owned. While the SAAB convertible is quick and fun to drive in warm weather, it is not really my style. Zippy cars are fun for an occasional quick burst of speed. But for someone who drives the speed limit and doesn’t race cars for a living, the Jaguar’s smooth suspension and comfortable seats are what works best for me.


With all of that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find a picture of our white 1990 Jaguar XJ6 (XJ40) parked in front of our house on Google Maps. The picture was taken back in 2013 when we still owned it. Notice how Google’s camera truncated the Jag. It’s kinda cute in a weird way. I once had a stuffed pillow shaped like a Porsche 911. The picture reminds me of that. And, yes, that is the front of the car you see. (Notice the single wiper on the windshield.)

R Wagon in the Wild


Last night, I had a treat. A couple pulled into the motel parking lot in a Volvo V70 R wagon. When they pulled up to the office entry, the sunroof was open and everything looked perfect. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good picture while they were here (hence the picture above). For some reason, I felt a bit awkward about asking to take a picture even though I met the owners.

The driver was a Swedish gentleman who insists that the manual transmission was the only way to go. He also agreed that the Volvo seats are very comfortable and good “for tall people like you.”WP_20151221_23_01_29_Pro_LI He liked the car a lot but has been disappointed with some electrical problems and lights that appear on the dashboard. His goal is to get a car from the early 80’s without all the electrical components. (Maybe I should have given him my number for when he finally sells the thing.)

“The V70R was the last of the hotted-up wagons, and it lasted two generations before being discontinued with the third that launched in 2007. Lame. The body styles changed over the years, but one thing stayed consistent: a turbocharged five cylinder engine, in proper Volvo fashion. Depending on the year the car put out somewhere between 236 and 300 horsepower with as much as 295 pound-feet of torque. Best of all, the power gets put down by all four tires.”1

Why all the hype about a mid-size Swedish wagon? If you are wondering this, you have never driven one. This is a driver’s car. Volvo, whose reputation is based on its safety, surprised everyone when they introduced the R variants of the S60 and V70. As Car & Driver put it, “Volvo is bringing steak tartare to its normally vegan potluck.”2 While it may seem strange for a safety first company like Volvo to produce a sports car, you have to imagine that some of them enjoy a quick drive through the twisties, right? I know I do.

1 Patrick George in “Why The Saab Viggen And Volvo V70R Are The Next Great Future Classics.”

2 Aaron Robinson in “Volvo S60R/V70R.”

Head Gasket Sealer?

Backyard Mechanic

Just today, someone suggested that the Fiero’s overheating problem is probably the head gasket. If that is the case, there are only two options if I wish to keep the car. First, I could shell out $600 to have the head gasket replaced. Second, I could try adding a liquid sealer to the cooling system in hopes of stopping the leak. But do these sealers actually work? One Youtube mechanic says that he has had 80% success with a product called K&W Engine Block Sealer. Here are his thoughts:

Note how he ends his video. Sealing the head gasket leak is only part of the solution. The other part is finding out what made the engine overheat and eventually rupture the head gasket. He suggests that common problems include a clogged radiator (which flushing will not fix) or a non-working radiator fan. What he says makes sense and would certainly be less expensive than the other option.

Pontiac Fiero Replacement Wheels

As a follow up to yesterday’s article about Fiero replacement wheels, I visited Great Lakes Auto Recycling in Perry, Ohio. They made things easy as all the rims and tires were conveniently stored and organized by size in a poll building near the front of the property. With my list in hand and an aesthetic look in mind, I located two wheel/tire combos that looked pretty good.

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The first picture is from a Pontiac Grand Am. They probably wouldn’t fit but they looked pretty good next to the car. The second set was from a Chrysler Sebring. I kinda liked the Sebring rims. Which style do you think looks better?

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I did not end up replacing the wheels today. But it was good to see how different sizes looked next to the wheel well of the Fiero. Specs are nice to have but seeing the actual thing in person makes a big difference. I think the Sebring wheels were the biggest I would try on this little car. The slightly larger Pontiac rims would probably have rubbed on the wheel well.