Friday, March 27, 2020

Hello Darkness, My old friend.

It's not as bad as it looks.

Enough angst and whining .

It's time for a reality check.

I kind of always knew that It would come down to this.

Trying to find a shop that "gets it" is much harder than I thought.

Since my back is starting to return to it's usual state, I'm starting to return to my native ( maybe a better term is naive!) state of optimism.

The shop that I found seemed pretty enthusiastic about working on my car so I took it down there for an inspection. They described it as a pre-purchase inspection. It would take a couple of hours and cost me 145.00.

I was expecting a checklist kind of thing. There would be a lot of prosaic checks made. A detailed listing of whether or not the lights and signals worked, an assessment on the belts and hoses, a visual inspection of fuel and fluid leaks under the hood.

Instead there was only a listing of some safety items, brakes, steering then a recommendation of oil seals and gaskets. They suggested replacing the steering rack, the front brake rotors and calipers, but they didn't even mention the ABS light that goes on occasionally.

But the suspension arms are okay? They didn't make any mention of them.

Probably because I had replaced the front lower items.  (At least that's what I thought at the time.) Everything else looked pretty good. Except that they recommended replacing the steering rack, rotors and pads and they included an outlandish price to replace the cam cover (that alone was quoted as 1,100.00!) and oil pan gaskets. In the end they had 10,000 dollars worth of things to fix!

They did find one real problem that I hadn't noticed, the lefts side sway bar bushing top link had come undone. I have to take responsibility for this one. I must have over looked tightening that up or putting a new cotter pin in. I already knew about the right front wheel stud that had broken off. There's still four left so I haven't been too concerned. It's not like I'm taking the thing to track days!

Today I decided to reconnect the sway bar link. I was checking the underside of the suspension when I noticed that the left front suspension arm bushing was shredding again. Clearly visible. Yet the shop said that there was no problem there.

I spoke with one of the service writers when I went to pick the car up. I explained that there was a lack of communication. I was expecting an actual inspection checklist. I explained that I wanted an estimate, isn't there a flat rate charge for labor? I used the example of a customer requesting front bushing replacements with polyurethane throughout the system.

I'm going to give them one last chance. I'm going to e-mail them a request for an estimate to remove the springs  a arms, ball joints etc.

I predict that they are going to tell me that they don't work that way. That they decide what work is needed and that they just can't do an owner requested job and release the car back to the owner if their recommended work isn't completed first.

Time to look around for some less uptight shops.

Ten thousand dollars and that didn't even include rebuilding the front suspension!

I guess that the labor rate is 145.00 an hour and that would sure add up quick.

"So I guess it's down to you and me kid." That might sound more impressive if it was done in my best  Humphrey Bogart impression.

I guess that I'll just have to cough up the money for the proper OE spring compressor.

I can do the work, but the car will just have to wait. The car is fully driveable and running fine. I've got a cover and those old quilts on it. It is not as forlorn and forgotten as the lead photo indicates. ( I was trying for a dramatic mood!) I'm still under the shelter in place mandate and that's going to cause some financial tightening of the belt. Still I'm keeping busy. I've been doing some interior painting as well as packing things up in preparation for having the floors done.

There nothing to stop me from looking at and thinking about cars. That won't cost me a dime and will give me a chance to reconsider my options.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

  • An unfortunate turn of events. A quiet rant.

The famous painting by Edward Munch.
Kind of says it all.

(I am currently hunkered down due to a shelter in place order. I am quite aware of the necessity for such a drastic action. I hope that you and your families remain safe and healthy during these trying times. This post was written several of weeks ago.)

Now that I've gotten my XJS running right, bought a new set of tires and almost finished my self defined shake down period it was time to address the two most pressing needs. Now the biggest priority was to get the front suspension squared away. I had detailed in previous posts how I replaced some of the more easily accessed suspension arm bushings. Now I wanted to get an accurate estimate for rebuilding the suspension. I needed the information so that I could decide whether or not I was going to go forward with this car.

I have owned this car for over four and a half years but have not driven the car that much. When I bought the car it seemed to run okay but the transmission was going out. After replacing the transmission it sat around like project cars usually do, as you deal with other things going on in your life. I was working on it as I could.

I started driving the car in earnest a bit over a month ago. My goal was to put five hundred shakedown miles on it. This has taken a long time since I have a short commute and only work part time. However this was chance to interact with the XJS as an actual car, not just an abstraction.You know how your dream car is more of a fantasy than a daily driving reality, especially if you bought it as a project that you hoped to get running. Eventually.

I started to get comfortable while driving the car as it took quite a while to overcoming feelings of self consciousness. A bright red 12 cylinder Jag is not what I usually see on my daily commute. It can obviously garner some second looks. The car started easily every morning, idled well when cold or hot, never stalled on me, and most importantly maintained it's proper temperature. It has not demonstrated any problems, I was feeling pretty good about it. It wasn't even leaking any oil!

I was a little leery of talking to the convertible top shop as I was afraid that they would tack some huge surcharge on the job, just because it was a Jag. I was pleasantly surprised that the quoted price was not out of line with he price they charged me to change to top on my Mustang. And that was seven or eight years ago, so I was feeling pretty good.

I had contacted a local independent Jag shop several years ago and seemed to strike up a comfortable rapport with the owner. I asked if he could give me a price on a complete front suspension rebuild. He told me that he couldn't do that, since most cars didn't need to have all parts replaced. I figured that there had to be a flat rate quote somewhere for the job, and he could add the major parts that would be needed. I pressed him, but he insisted that wasn't the way that he would do it.

He would perform a complete inspection and list what was needed. Of course he would have to charge me labor for the inspection, which seemed fair to me. I wasn't sure exactly where was I was at with my car, so I told him that I would get back to him. That was a couple of years ago.

I recently contacted this shop as I was ready to finally commit to having some work done. I had planned to do the work myself, of course, but certain recent events made me think that I should save the strain on my aging bones and farm out the job. Also, we are planning an extensive remodel of the house and my time and garage space will be needed to deal with that. I even came to the realization that I might be willing to actually spend a few bucks. Unfortunately the shop seems to have undergone a change in management.

I called the shop and spoke with the service writer and asked about having a suspension inspection done to determine how much a rebuild would cost me. I told him the year and model of my car, the '89 XJS. He then informed me that they did not work on cars older than 1996. I asked him why, and he answered that it was hard to guarantee a satisfactory result with with cars that old. He went on for another couple of minutes before I told him that I got it. I thanked him for his time and ended the call.

I was pretty disappointed and told my Wife that evening. She told me that I should see about taking the '97 XJ6 down there before it became too old. So I called the shop back this afternoon, the car is newer than 1996, here comes the punchline.

I called the shop and spoke with the same service guy. I told him what I wanted and asked how much the inspection would be. He said that he couldn't do that. He asked if I had any service history records for the car. Like most hand me down old Jags, of course I didn't. Oh, he said, the shop doesn't like to work on cars where they don't have a prior service history with the car and owner. It's possible that they could replace some parts and not completely fix the problem. There could be "multiple layers of problems." ( his terminology)  (Of course there could, these are old Jags!) Expenses could add up and cost more than the cars are worth. As if I didn't know that!

Yes, I agreed, an old XJS isn't worth that much, but I remember when a decent XKE could barely fetch a grand and NOBODY fixed them. They just pushed the car to the side. An owner might want to spend money on an old car because they liked it. (Why am I having to explain this to a Jag shop?) He said that the "customer experience" is very important to them, and they didn't want to sour the experience by being the bearer of bad tidings. I responded, "You know Jags, old Jags are NOTHING but bad tidings!

I guess he then decided that it was time for a change in tactics.

He asked me who I had spoken with before. I told him that it was the owner, but it was several years ago. He asked me why I just didn't take it to a Goodyear shop and have them do the work. First of all, I said that many shops don't even want to work on a Jag. I told him that I figured that his shop would be familiar with the cars and their problems and would know how to fix them. He begrudgingly admitted to that. So I asked him if he just couldn't inspect the suspension and give me a read out of what needed to be replaced. He said no, that he would have to perform a complete alignment that would cost me 450.00 to achieve a base line. (He knew that would shut me up, he was right about that!) So I told him that I understood that he didn't want to get involved in this sort of work, and thanked him for his time.

Clearly this shop doesn't want to deal with old cars with an unknown history. I can understand that. They would rather deal with newer cars that are just out of warranty than waste a lot of time diagnosing an old beater's series of problems. Time is money and they're not running that shop as a hobby. Still, it doesn't make any sense to perform an expensive alignment on a car with known worn parts, unless you just want to use it as a tactic to shut the customer up. It would make more sense to inspect and replace faulty parts like suspension arm bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, rack bushings, etc. then perform the alignment. Service records are valuable, especially to a prospective buyer as they know what maintenance and repairs have been performed. You don't need to look at a service history to see if a tire is worn out. Likewise if a ball joint is loose or bushings have perished.

Suspension repairs are difficult because unwieldy and dangerous springs have to be removed while the car is propped up in the air. It is not like engine tuning or dealing with electrical gremlins as the problems are usually not intermittent and the defects are visually obvious.

A policy of not working on older cars or obvious junk is not too hard to understand. The cars and their owners can be stubborn and cantankerous. I remember when I worked at a motorcycle shop just out of high school. The owner told me that they would never work on a basket case. I asked why, and he told me that more than likely parts were damaged or missing and that the likelihood of satisfying the owner was slim. They would often refuse to pay the bill and the shop was stuck with their junk.

I guess that this might be the real issue. Dealing with bottom feeder owners like me, with old tired Jags that could refuse to pay the bill. This would cause the shop to take a big loss. If there's no real value in the car, then placing a mechanic's lien on the vehicle would just be a waste of time. I suppose that the shop could ask for half of the estimate up front, sort of like a restoration shop arrangement.

Back when I had my shop, I was talking with the owner of the German car repair next door. He told me that it was hard dealing with owners of old Mercedes that were brought in for service. He started charging them a diagnostic fee of an hour's labor, before looking at their car. Many owners left right then. If they agreed to the repairs then he would deduct the cost from the total repair. Even then, he said he would often have to bargain with the customer who wanted a discount on the estimated cost. The shop owner said that it was tough to keep the shop going profitably.

Enough with the empathy, what does all this mean to me?

First of all it means that I have to find a shop willing to work on my car. I'll have to do some investigating on the Net, then do some calling and visiting. I could do still some of the work, though as I stated earlier, I'm going to be in the middle of a long, long, home remodeling project so I won't have the time. I also don't want the leave the car partially disassembled and immobile during this period. Thankfully, I have the resources of my Jaguar Forums community available to help out with advice, information and encouragement. They have been a real life saver in the past.

The bottom line is also that I don't have to do anything right now, both cars are up and running well. They are both usable except for some grumbling from the chassis and the tendency to chew up a tire or two. I also have other cars that I can drive so I'm not really in a jam. But I really wanted to move forward with my XJS. I suppose I can work on other things until I can tackle the suspension.

Still, the bitterness of disappointment leaves a bad taste in my mouth

Friday, March 13, 2020

Five hundred miles.

                                   Who could forget this haunting melody, Five Hundred Miles?
                                          Sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Video from YouTube.

That's the distance that I arbitrarily chose for the end of my shakedown miles run of my XJS.
At the end of this distance I'm expected to come to some conclusions. First, how reliable has the car been? Does it start easily cold and hot, does it idle smoothly, Does it ever stall out? Does it get too hot? Will these questions will be answered by then?

Five hundred miles doesn't seem like a lot of miles to me. Last month I drove 500 miles in a single day, driving down to Santa Ynez and back, to pick up a cabinet that my Wife had purchased. It wasn't a big deal in my truck, but Jag owners can have different ideas. I was reading a post in the forum where the poster stated that he usually only drove his XKR around a thousand miles a year! I don't know why he wouldn't drive it a lot more. Even if he didn't want to drive it to work every day, there are a lot of weekend and vacation trips that I know I would use it for!

Hopefully after these five hundred miles I'll also have the answers to the hoped for emotional connection that I expect to develop by then.

Looking back through my records, mostly forum posts, I'm reminded that I've owned this car four and a half years. Initial mileage when it came under my ownership was somewhere more than 106,000 miles, It just passed 107 k, I find it hard to believe that I managed to put almost one thousand miles on a car that had a bad transmission and initially wasn't really driveable. I just drove it around the immediate neighborhood. I never drove it any further than I wanted to have to walk back! After some repairs were done I ventured further, in longer loops. After replacing the transmission and the tires I've managed to put some miles down.

Things are looking pretty good right now as it running well.

What kind of epiphany am I expecting when the odometer rolls past that magic 500 mile mark? First, I've gotten used to just getting in and out of the car. The XJS is a very low car with a bolstered seat. I don't like to drag myself across the seat so I use a different method. I put my right leg into the foot well, turn at an angle to the left, and lower myself into the seat with my left leg still outside the car. Then I lift and pull my leg back into the car. It's not as hard as it sounds but if I'm parked in a narrow stall then anything goes to get in. At my employee lot at work, the stalls are pretty narrow and my co workers sometimes park pretty poorly, leaving limited space to open the door. There have been times when I have to enter through the passenger side door and crawl over the center console! Getting out is pretty easy. I pivot to the left, stick my left foot and leg outside, bend over, and hook my right elbow over the top of the windshield post, and swing myself out. Again it's easier if I can completely open the door.

I have a coworker that drives a Honda S2000. The gentleman looks to be somewhat older than me, but is a lean, spry little guy. I've watched as he unfolds himself out of that car. One time as I watched him, I said "The hardest part of driving these cars is just trying to get out!" It's no wonder that most old fat guys prefer to drive trucks and SUVs.

Inside, I find the seating position and actual seats to be comfortable. The wheel is adjustable telescopically for reach, but I have it completely forward and the driver's seat completely back. Visibility to the front is excellent, as the long hood drops down neatly, giving a clear view of the roadway. There's a generous view  through the rear window, though there are blind spots in the rear quarters due to the sides of the top. At least there's those little quarter windows. Since parking lots are filled with trucks, SUVs and crossovers, backing such a low car out of a stall requires a lot of caution. Visibility is blocked by the vehicle parked next to me.  It seems that Today's drivers are so discourteous that they don't want to slow and allow you to back out easily. Usually a blast of the horn warns you that they are zooming by. Overall though, I find visibility to be very good. 

Ergonomics are good in that I can reach the headlamps, ventilation controls, radio and glove box while seat belted in. Of course there are column mounted controls for the high beams, cruise control and wipers. I have never liked the instrument panel with the widely set speedo and tach divided by those unusual vertical display gauges. I know that they are supposed to resemble the instruments in a private airplane, but the speedo and tach are just too small, with tiny numbers. (Of course it just could be my aging eyes!)

I much prefer the dash in the face lift models which is almost identical to the one in my XJ6. Just recently as I was grumbling to myself about the dash it occurred to me that the instruments are very similar to the handlebar mounted display of a motorcycle as they are configured similarly, as well as placed a similar distance away. So now I've made peace with the design. Currently the dials are pretty dark at night. I'm going to have to replace a lot of little light bulbs!

Speaking about lighting, I really like the cabin lights. There are two on the outside of the dash as well as two in the cargo area. Especially the "puddle" and red warning lamps that are built in the rear of the doors.

My '89 model was built before key fob controlled power door locks were available. It has a system that is controlled via the door locks. Holding the key in the extreme travel position, open or closed will lock or unlock the doors and deck lid. It's not as intuitive as the key fob systems and I might also might be have some issues with my aging system.

Luggage space is great, the trunk is large and well shaped. My car is a two seat model with a storage locker behind the seats and a large luggage platform. Everyday storage for incidentals can be handled in the glove box, center console, and door pockets.

These may seem like minor things, but day to day livability has a lot to do with how much you enjoy a car. My '70 Mustang coupe had terrible ergonomics. Once belted in with the shoulder harness I couldn't reach the lights, wiper or ventilation controls.

The XJS was produced for a very long time, from 1975 to 1996. That's 21 years! This was not just the continuation of the model name, but 21 years of production of virtually the same car. There were well over 100,000 cars produced. Despite this long period of production, it seems that there aren't many survivors commonly seen on the road. There are many more XK8s seen out and about, and even though they are quite beautiful, they are now seen primarily as just another used car.

The XJS remains as distinctive and it's design is still polarizing as it's ever been. For the most part, it's styling has stood the test of time and it's become more appreciated. These cars have been gaining fans over the last few years. As a car enthusiast I value owning a distinctive car. Something that makes all the head aches and effort worthwhile.

I'm looking to make some decisions. Primarily decisions about spending money and making a commitment.

But at least I've finished my five hundred miles.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Trapped in a prison of my own making.

photo source: wikipedia
Eastern State Penitentiary

What do I mean by this, and even more importantly, how did this happen?

Years ago I posted a column entitled, "paradigm shift."  Paradigm shift in this situation meant changing the way I looked at certain cars, it was changing my perceptions of MY reality about old cars. This lead to big change in the kind of cars I became interested in.

Classic hot rods for example, and muscle cars from the 60's and 70's fell off my radar because they had reached a price point that made them too expensive.  In my view they were not worth that price. At least to me.

As a result I drifted into the Jaguar camp where I saw that there was quite a bit of low hanging fruit. Unfortunately, this was also what Eve noticed in the Garden of Eden, before she made her pitch to Adam!

Things went along well for awhile.

I was the guy with the energy, zeal, knowledge, and passion that could turn one of these old Jags into a rewarding experience.

A post or two ago I elaborated on my experience with fixing up my '70 Mustang coupe.

As I explained it was my attempt to make an end run around the high price of 70's Pony cars.

Unfortunately it was both a success and a failure.

It was success in that the car was returned to a presentable driver level.

A failure because it didn't result in a car that I really wanted to hold onto, though I could have.

There was nothing really wrong with the car as it was. Sure it wasn't fast, didn't stop that quickly,  and it didn't get the kind of gas mileage that I would have liked, but a little more tweaking and work would have significantly improved some of these areas.

It just needed a bit more commitment and dedication that I denied it when I put it up on the block.

Of course I didn't make make all the money back that I had invested. Of course.

So now I consider my XJS. I bought it cheap and it was actually in pretty good shape, The body and paint are all original, the motor is in good shape and it is running very well, The top was very poor, the driver's seat is a mess and the transmission was going out. Not to mention that the a/c is out, the suspension is worn out and the windows didn't work. Of course I wasn't deterred, I mean it was old and cheap. I could have easily paid three or four times more for a better example.

Of course I would apply my knowledge, zeal, passion, labor, etc. and a bit of money and come out ahead by owning a fantastic car. Of course!

However, I now find myself reluctant to spend any money on what it needs. Now that I have a little bit of money tightly held in my hand I don't want to let it go carelessly.

The last couple of days I've convinced myself that I should spend the dough. I even went by the convertible top shop that did my '96 Mustang to get an estimate on the replacement. I need to contact the indie Jaguar shop and let them give me an actual estimate on fixing the suspension. It's time to make an informed choice.

My reasoning is that unlike my 70 Mustang, the XJS is a cool and desirable car. It's not like I need to update the engine, brakes and even replace the wheels. I just need to fix the basic things now, and work my way through the other problems as I can. In the end I won't have a particularly valuable car, I'd probably still be upside down with it, but at least I would own a car that I really like and can take pride in. Something that I will actually want to hold onto.

Over the last couple of weeks I begun to work through my feelings of being self conscious when driving it, and I am even starting to enjoy the actual process of driving it. I was starting to think that I might actually go through with my plans.

I've been looking at all kind of replacement cars and I'm starting to feel that I'm not too excited in what I see. I even told my Wife that I should just stick with what I have.

That was at least until this afternoon.

I drove my XJS to take a tour of the Wheels and Deals consignment lot. There were some nice cars there, a 1990 300 ZX, several older Zs, a Mercedes SL500 a Mercury Marauder, and a couple of other things.

As I was walking down a row of cars I saw something that just blew my mind!

It is as nice as this picture.

I saw MY car parked there! It was red 1990 XJS convertible with a black top. Except unlike mine, the top looked brand new, the interior was the same tan color but the seats were almost perfect and sported contrasting red piping. There weren't even any dings in the sides. The wheels were silver painted alloy with the correct Pirelli tires fitted. Wow! I'm not kidding when I say that the car looked brand new. It is a two owner car with service records, and the owner's manual in the glove box. The windows and radio work and the veneer on the ski slope has only a couple of hair line cracks. I don't know if the a/c works but it was enthusiastically blowing out a storm of air. The odometer read just over 62,000 miles! Egads!

I knew that there were XJSs out there in this condition, but I usually saw them offered at around 15,000 dollars in Octane magazine. I had never seen one this good offered for sale locally.

So how much were they asking for this gem? The sign said: lowered to 7,200.00!

Would it be smarter, easier, cheaper and better to just buy this car, instead of fixing mine up? It has 45,000 less miles (though I don't consider my 107 k to be particularly high). If the suspension is up to snuff, then this is a car that I could just buy and enjoy, right now! What kind of heresy is this? I could take some road trips with my Wife who thinks my red XJS is just gorgeous. That makes it only the second old car that I've ever bought that my Wife actually thinks is attractive. She liked the lines of my '66 Riviera so much, that she could see the beauty that was there, even through the faded, ugly old paint and funky interior. Believe me, that doesn't happen very often!

This a car that I could use and preserve and fuss over. Washing, waxing, keeping it covered up and treating and cleaning the leather. A beautiful example that I could cherish and maintain. I've even got a spot in the garage to keep it in.

But then what about my plans for my existing car? With a car this nice, it could become the focus of my "collection."  But maybe, I wouldn't even need a collection if I had a single car this nice. Maybe I've had a bunch of old cars to compensate for the fact that none of my cars were that nice.

I could sell my XJS, the XJ6, the Mark VII and probably even the '96 Mustang! I think I could get 2,000 bucks for the XJS, 1,500 for the XJ6 and maybe a grand for the Mark VII. Even at just 1,500 dollars for the Mustang, that's 6,000 dollars.  Reducing my cost for the '90 XJS to a little over a grand. That looks like a real bargain!

But what about all my "crafty car guy-ness" that defines who I think that I am? Am I betraying my "code?" Is there anything wrong with abandoning my plans for even more hard work in the garage? Would I be taking the "easy" way out? Or could this be seen as the "smart" way out?

Do I even want to buy virtually the same car that I already have? Do I like having of having an XJS that much?

I've found that I do like having an XJS, but it is hard for me to think about just buying a car without the intention of fixing it up. Probably because for years, I've never had the money to splurge on something like that, that was just for myself.

I have bought nice cars in the past, cars that I bought and then just expected to drive, not rebuild it first.

My '77 Cadillac, '92 300 ZX, '94 Cadillac Seville STS. All bought used, but only a few years old.

It's kind of funny, because I haven't bought many new cars in my life, most of the new cars were bought as family cars: the '84 Cougar, the 1990 Dodge minivan, the '07 Mustang.

The only new vehicles that were specifically mine were my '90 Honda Civic SI (bought for me by my Wife) and the '07 F150.

I kind of got in the habit of buying old stuff to satisfy my enthusiast's needs. Money has been needed for important stuff like buying a house and taking care of the family, not buying some kind of interesting hobby car.

So I've gotten used to buying old cheap stuff instead, that needs a lot of work. Things that never end up as nice as I would have hoped for. But the important thing, is that I work on them. That is who I am. This has become my paradigm.

The whole DIY car thing is just a part of my entire DIY view of the universe. It has helped me to save money in the past. Although it has not always been appreciated, because no money was ever spent in the past to get things done by someone else. I have painted myself into a corner, because well, who else am I going to let paint my floor?

That's why it's a prison of my own building that I've put myself into. It makes me uncomfortable to think of changing things up.

Still, I should not let the perfect be the enemy of the barely good enough. If there is a better, more economical, and easier way of doing something I should not reject it out of hand. Just because it rocks my boat.

I know that I am holding on to certain beliefs, attitudes and behavior patterns that may now actually be counter productive. A new priority is preserving my health and body so I can complete those last few years of employment that I still need.

Change is coming, like it or not. I'm coming to the end of the road when I could do all the heavy work myself. I'm coming to the end of the road where I want to do all the work myself. But I can still do some of the work myself.

This is a car related task that I need to figure out in my head, not my garage!

Crunching numbers to determine if buying that '90 Jag is the better path, depends on the cost of the two major expenses that I'm looking at with my '89.  Replacing the convertible top and rebuilding the steering/suspension and brakes.

I'm not naive enough to think that that '90 would be perfectly reliable, just like a new car. A thirty year old car with such low mileage has certainly sat for extended periods. It looks like it sat in a garage, but it was sitting nonetheless. I'm pretty sure that some bugs would pop up. There would probably have to be some shaking down. It possible that the suspension would also need to be refreshed. The ad stated that the radiator had been replaced, along with some other work. Did the car overheat before the radiator was replaced? I don't know, that could spell trouble.

On the other hand, my car is a known quantity. I know that the engine runs cool and well. I know that the transmission is good. That knowledge is valuable and contributes to the value of the car.

The most important thing is for me is to keep an open mind. The mind remains free even when trapped behind bars.