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The Daily Bread PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Monday, 27 June 2016 21:35

For a great many years I've argued that most people with modified cars don't need a "daily driver". That the whole purpose of owning a daily is counter intuitive when you've spent huge amounts of time and money turning a car into your pride and joy. I mean, why would you put all that effort into making your car just how you want it; building your ideal version of your perfect car, and then not drive it?


I remember years ago, a mate was going to finance a Mitsubishi Evo IX, and somebody got stuck into him about running costs. 'You'll hate dailying the Evo' the well-meaning friend said, 'save yourself some money and get a daily to drive to work.' Being a numbers man, he decided to test this. He based his calculation on driving a corolla (or similar) to work every day, and the Evo at night and on weekends. But in doing this he found that with two lots of insurance, registration, servicing and random other running costs, it was going to cost him nearly $2,500 more to "save money" by taking the daily to work every day. Or let's put it another way; $2,500 a year to not drive his dream car.

Of course there does come a time when a car crosses the imaginary line between road car and race car.

Usually that comes when the car is issued with a defect notice, but other times a particular car becomes simply too focused to be a road car. Either way, there is certainly a point where the road registration either can't or won't be renewed, and that's fine. With Australia's vehicle modification laws being needlessly retarded (not to mention our nation-wide road rules that differ in every state) driving a heavily modified car has for years been an exercise in self-restraint.

Regardless, I've always argued that the best trophies a car can receive are stone chips.

Another mate drives a 1978 Valiant. He converted it from a bird shit infested non-running garden ornament in the corner of his grandparents’ yard into a cool old-school cruiser that he drives everywhere. And by that I do mean everywhere - it's the only car he owns so of course he drives it everywhere. But people are always so surprised to hear that he daily's it. 'But what if it breaks down?' they ask.

'Then I'll fix it!' he replies. Which is a fair point. After all, he did take the whole thing apart, rebuild the front suspension, convert it from automatic to manual transmission and rebuild the engine. And while he does have access to another car, which came in very handy that time when the engine blew up, when the gearbox was hurt and that other time when the clutch needed to come out, it has genuinely been a case of 'oh well, I'll order the parts and put it together tomorrow night'. While annoying, nobody is really surprised when it breaks, and he gladly proclaims ’of course it’ll break, I built it!

But where was he going with this, I'm sure you're asking. Or not asking, either or.

With the 180SX back on the road, and with it being merely a bit of paint and an interior tidy-up away from being nearly the perfect image of a road-going 180SX, I find that I don't want to drive it. Well, maybe that's too strong. I'm more than happy to drive it to work, or the race track, or whatever. But for a 2 minute run to the shops, I'm looking for the key for the girlfriend's Mazda3.

There was also that time when I took her car because it was simply so very habitual to grab her keys because my car wasn't available, but that hardly counts.

With the new rear end in place this car is a completely different animal to drive. It was always stiff and noisy, but the noise, vibration and harshness is significantly more so now. I suppose I can deal with that. But with the new LSD, she doesn't like city car park buildings. Or tight cornering in any instance if I’m honest. If you've ever driven a car with a mechanically limited slip differential before you'll know what I mean. It's an interesting and tedious experience, and I’ll admit that I am starting to wonder when the driveshafts are going to fail.

I suppose I can justify going a bit further with modifications on the 180 than I normally would because I do have access to other cars should I need them, but that's not the point. Now that I've built nearly the perfect 180SX shouldn't I want to drive it everywhere?

I took the ladyfriend out the other day and shortly before we left she asked me which car we would take. I thought about it for a moment before replying with 'the Excel didn't have a heater so we're not taking that; the 180 doesn't have tunes because the CD player has stopped accepting CDs, so let's take the Mazda'. In reality this would have been the perfect opportunity to take the reborn Nissan out for a nice long drive, and I avoided it because of the radio...

Maybe I'm having these thoughts because I have access to other cars should I not want to drive it. Or maybe it's because I built it and I'm scared it'll break, who knows. I do know that I never considered what car to take when I only had one to choose, and I know that with most of the problems that I’m likely to have that I can fix them myself.

I guess what it comes down to is that the reborn 180 is a great car when I’m sitting there strapped in and wearing my helmet, and that is good because that’s what I built it for. But with the heavy duty clutch and the exhaust that really should be quieter, it’s a struggle to drive it in traffic. The drive is wonderful, but there needs to be an incentive, otherwise it’s nearly too bloody hard. I’ve often mused that one of the things I like about the 180 is that you don’t commute with that car, ever. You have to drive it absolutely everywhere.

And maybe that’s the key. When I need to make great time I want to drive something else, but when I want to have a great time, I take the 180.

Or maybe I need to finish the ute so I've got something else that'to drive when I don't want to drive the 180...



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