Easy come, easy go

I usually make a point of not mentioning active ebay auctions for feature cars and parts. This is because I am sometimes one of the bidders and don’t want to drive up interest and thus the ultimate final sell price. It is also because I don’t want my opinions to impact auctions and their sellers and buyers (either negatively or positively). But, not everything is what it is described as being and I sometimes can’t help but comment. I have waited until one auction in particular has ended and it doesn’t appear that it is going to be re-listed so I don’t feel that bad discussing this.

One particular white ’93 feature car keeps showing up on my radar as it has traded hands quite regularly as of late. The reason it stands out to me is due to strange claims being made about it whenever it appears. Last time, it was the gold emblems which I don’t even want to get into again. (See here)

Well, it was back on ebay with no mention of the gold (perhaps I can take some credit for that) but this time the following claim was made:

“Documented lowest miles automatic ‘Feature car’ in the nation.”

I find it hard to believe that this can be documented regardless of how true it might be. No one knows the status of every feature car out there. I have been working on this exact task for about four years and I am no where near knowing about a fraction of them. Turns out, even if you only know a little bit about proofs, that is usually easier to disprove a statement than to prove it.

Looking at this view of my “where are they now?” section you will clearly see a number of other automatic white feature cars with lower mileage than this one. Even though some of these mileage numbers are up to a few years years old, my guess is that cars with low mileage like these are not being driven much and are still very low mileage cars with mileage at or around what was reported. Not many people are going to take a 10+ year old car with 10,000 miles on it and double that in the next few.

Additionally, based on information I have collected through my registry, I know about a half dozen automatic white feature cars with lower mileage than the 16,000 this one has. You’ll have to take my word on this since I don’t share those kind of details about cars in the registry.

I regularly see claims being made about these cars that have little or no substance behind them. I’d like to think I have some responsibility to debunk some of the myths and misstatements being made. I don’t want to alienate the buyers or sellers of these cars in dong this but very few feature cars are any more than that; feature cars. There might be an odd Saleen or pace car version out there but you really have to be wary of these claims.

Lastly, when I first read about this car and its new owner in Mustang Monthly, I made this comment:

The car is owned by a convertible enthusiast and car collector who is not necessarily just a Mustang guy. It’s interesting that the owner, who is described as liking “primarily little foreign jobs”, picked this particular Mustang. Perhaps, that lends some credibility to its status as a collectible.

At least I was right on about the assessment of this owners view of collectibility. The car was listed on KAR Mustangs for $13,900 back in 2004 when he bought it. Now the asking price is $18,000. If he gets that much, that’s a pretty good ROI. Oh well…easy come, easy go.

Keeping the old Compaq Aero running as a lighting controller

A few days after I setup my home automation/lighting controller (FireworX-10 running on a Compaq Aero 4/33c) and wrote the first entry on my setup, the hard drive on the Aero experienced problems. I figured I would write an entry here about it even though it is on some really old technology. One of things that encouraged me to convert my online ‘journal’ on Mustangs and FireworX-10 into a more general blog was an opinion I read from Dan on edbrill.com that it could serve as a “brain dump or artificial memory for knowledge you pick up.” In that light, I thought I would add this here for myself to remember from and possibly others to learn from.

The original hard drive was still in operation on the 12 year old Aero. It was 256 Mbytes in size so it had to be running DriveSpace compression in order to fit everything. It was DriveSpace that began reporting problems. Rather than try to fix the problems, I decided to rebuild the thing from scratch. Luckily, I found that I had a 6 Gbyte IBM Travelstar drive lying around and it fit in nicely.

It took a couple of reboots to get it to recognize the new drive. There were a few minutes where I couldn’t even get it to power on with the new drive. I was able to get it to recognize it by removing the drive from the BIOS settings and unplugging and reinstalling the drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t write this immediately after I did it so I don’t remember the exact sequence of steps. The important thing is that I got it to work and was able to install the setup and diagnostics software.

The challenge with loading an operating system on this little machine is that it comes with an external floppy drive that plugs into the single PC Card slot which is the same slot that the network card uses. Also, it has no CD-ROM drive. Since the newest Windows OS it can run is Windows 95, I needed to get DOS on it first. I used to work with these laptops in a desktop support role and at the time I had plenty of boot disks with correct drivers and so on. Now I have nothing since I bought this unit used on ebay. Of course, I own licenses for DOS 6.22 and Windows 95 from a long ago PC purchase so I just needed the media. I found the web site bootdisk.com had what I needed to generate a DOS 6.22 boot disk.

After installing the hard drive, I booted from the floppy and I partitioned and formatted it. I then needed to get it on the network. I have an old 3COM Etherlink 3C589 for it. Again, hardware but no drivers. In order to do get it working, I found MODBOOT a ‘Modular Boot Disk’ solution. I built the standard MODBOOT disk and then made the network version of it with the driver for my network adapter. Since I could not boot from the floppy onto the network (due to the single PC Card slot), I copied the MODBOOT disks contents to the c: drive maintaining the file folder structure. After several attempts (I found that I could not allow EMM to be running) I was then able to boot the laptop and get it on the network. I then copied the contents of the Windows 95 CD across the network to the hard drive of the laptop and installed it from there.

The Aero is not a perfect solution since I cannot remotely control it via VNS so I hope to replace it with something a little more advanced in the future. I definitely need a small footprint solution and the Shuttle PC looks interesting. I have seen some older ones on ebay. A Pentium III with Windows 2000 should be quite enough for my needs. For now though, the Aero seems to be working fine.

I think I found a better insurance option

Quite a while ago I commented on my search for better insurance options for my feature car in order to solve the issues of using a conventional auto policy that would pay based upon book value when that is likely much less than what feature cars with low mileage can realistically be purchased for. I am happy to report that I finally made some decisions and changed my insurance carrier to someone who seems more appropriate for covering my car. Although the coverage is not perfect I still consider it better than what I previously had.

My search was difficult because many of the well known classic car insurance carriers won’t insure a car under 15 years old. That’s due to the view that cars younger than that are still depreciating in value. Additionally, even places that insurance newer models won’t cover the Mustang for a variety or reasons or will cover it but only under very restrictive conditions such as it being part of a collection. I described that situation in the forums.

I had given up on the search until I read an article in the January 2006 issue of Mustang Monthly. The article titled “How To: Insure Your Mustang” covered insuring Mustangs of all ages and had a side bar specifically on late models. It had a quote from someone from Parish Heacock that said that they would cover late models once their owners had decided that limited use was OK even though the cars were in a condition to be used as daily drivers. I requested a quote through their Web site (which arrived very promptly via email) and was pleasantly surprised that I could save more than half of what I was currently paying.

Since my car is under 15 year, it is not yet eligible for an “agreed value” policy which would, not surprisingly, pay the amount agreed upon. It is a “stated value” policy which can be affected by depreciation and is largely defined by the current cash value of the car. So, although it is possible that the policy would still pay no more than my traditional auto policy did, I feel better that I am using an agent and insurance carrier that understands the collector car market and theoretically should be more open to being flexible when determining replacement cost. The policy saves money in return for imposing limitations on mileage driven (3000/year) and use of the car (pleasure only). It does require keeping the car in a locked garage when not in use but, unlike some companies, they will cover me if my car is left outside in scenarios such as when I am traveling and staying overnight related to a show event. I plan to reevaluate insurance again once my car passes that magical 15 year mark.