MotorCult is now Carbitrage

We are back with our new name! I do have to say sorry for the radio silence while we have been on during the change over but we needed to adopt a new name before we grew any further. This affected the website because I wasn’t able to upload any original photos until after we were done with deciding on our new name.

MotorCult to Carbitrage

Carbitrage will continue delivering on the mission we originally set on. Our mission, if you’re new to the site, is to explore automotive culture at large and to deliver automotive news both on a national scale and a local Minnesota scale.

While the website is a supplement to the podcast. It will continue to grow into an entity in of itself with added emphasis on the Minnesota automotive community.

We are excited to see Carbitrage continue to grow and welcome you along for the journey. Thank you so much for helping support us and we appreciate all of you.

Welcome to Carbitrage

BIR OWNER, JED COPHAM PASSES AWAY

We are a little late here at MotorCult with the news of Jed Copham’s passing while in Florida. While most outlets are reporting it simply as news, I was looking for the right words to say about him. The details of the incident are all over the news right now, I don’t want to concentrate on that. Rather, I want to concentrate on Jed as a person. It’s hard to describe a person who has had such an impact on the community here in Minnesota, not all of us knew him personally but we have all been affected by him.

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We are a little late here at MotorCult with the news of Jed Copham’s passing while in Florida. While most outlets are reporting it simply as news, I was looking for the right words to say about him. The details of the incident are all over the news right now, I don’t want to concentrate on that. Rather, I want to concentrate on Jed as a person. It’s hard to describe a person who has had such an impact on the community here in Minnesota, not all of us knew him personally but we have all been affected by him.

For us in the car community, and more directly the Minnesota car community, this is a little more personal. Jed and his family have been the owners of Brainerd International Raceway since they purchased it in 2006 from Michigan based Sports Resorts International. Throughout their years of ownership the Copham’s opened up BIR’s doors to grassroots racing with events such as Proving Grounds, Chump Car and Wednesday Night Street Drags.

Jed started out as a race car driver and never lost sight of his roots, it was an absolutely wonderful thing. It was directly because of Jed that many of us in Minnesota got our first chance to take a car out on an actual race track. Without the Copham’s keeping the doors of BIR open to us, many of us would not have had the chance to expand beyond racing video games and street racing.

The Copham’s have done a beautiful job not only preserving Brainerd International Speedway but improving it in a way that only a fellow car enthusiast and racer could do. Jed was responsible for separating the drag strip from the road course so simultaneous use was possible. You could feel the special care that the Copham’s took with BIR, to many it was a home away from home. Paul Newman once said that BIR was his favorite racetrack and, although that was before the Copham’s took over ownership, their care made it easy to say that it is our favorite too.

The difference between BIR and most other race tracks came from Jed and his outlook. He wasn’t the kind of track owner who would sit in an office counting admission money but rather was the kind of person to wander the crowds and racers making sure everyone was having a good time. He would be helping wherever he could and having a great time doing so.

After the 2015 storm that destroyed half of the bleachers at BIR and ripped roofs off of buildings, Jed put out a call for volunteers to come help clean up the track prior to NHRA Nationals. Due to the love and support of the community they were able to get the track back to functional use within a month, just in time for NHRA Nationals 2015.

Jed leaves behind his wife, Kristi, two children, his parents and throngs of beloved friends. For Jed’s family, our hearts go out to them. I hope that they know that they are not alone and that everyone in the Minnesota car community is there for them.

The Copham’s have given the Minnesota car community a common place for us to not only race but to strengthen friendships and forge new ones. Jed’s affect on our community could not possibly be overstated. For that, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to Jed and his family for opening their doors up to us. Jed Copham will be missed by all of us but we should be happy that our lives were graced by such a wonderful person.

TOP 5: BEST 4X4S FOR UNDER $7,000

Winter has arrived in Minnesota. I myself was made aware after my half hour commute became a three hour snow blind odyssey last week. This makes it a rather pertinent time to start our new reader poll series where we ask you, the reader, to help us determine what you view as your favorite cars for various topics.

Winter has arrived in Minnesota. I myself was made aware after my half hour commute became a three hour snow blind odyssey last week. This makes it a rather pertinent time to start our new reader poll series where we ask you, the reader, to help us determine what you view as your favorite cars for various topics.

Let’s start with what your favorite cheap 4×4 and AWD vehicles are. While 4 wheel power is not a prerequisite of a Minnesota winter, it often gives us an excuse to buy some sort of awesome 4 wheel drive vehicle we otherwise couldn’t justify. Our rules for this were simple, it has to be 4WD or AWD and has to be under $7,000. That price point was chosen because you aren’t forced to find a zombie of a car but it’s a price that can still be feasibly bought by most people as a daily driver. We will list our staff picks, honorable mentions and then finally the Top 5. In this list we are also including pricing. While this is not exact, this is the expected price for an example in reasonable condition but you can certainly find a deal for less than we’ve listed.

Staff Picks

We will start off with some staff picks for what would be a good option, these are cars we personally would choose but might be a bit out of other people’s wheelhouse.

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Ryan: 1985-1994 EA82 Subaru GL/Loyale ($200-$6,600)

I chose this car from personal experience with my EA82 Subaru GL-10 Turbo at home. That car is dreadfully unreliable, a simple trip down the road is a question of if you will even arrive or not, all to often resulting in the latter option. That being said, if you get one of the non-turbo models, you have one of the most capable AWD cars around. There are times in the dead of winter where, if my GL-10 is running, it can get through snow that nothing else in my stable can handle. The standard drive mode is FWD but it has a push-button 4WD for low speeds, when an EA82 is in 4WD you can get through anything your tires can grip. With any of the EA82 cars, they will be very slow, making at most 90 HP or 110 HP on a turbo model at a high cost of reliability. However, performance can be had since the car only weighs 2200 lbs and it has engine mounts and an ECU location that fit a more modern EJ series engine without issue.

The EA82 can either be an avant-garde sleeper or a mountain goat that can get anywhere at it’s own leisure. With the rarest variant in concours condition being worth $6,600 on a good day and driving examples being literally given away, it’s great value for money. The major killer of these cars is rust, the bodywork on this car is about as thick as aluminum foil and can rust very quickly. Mechanically, almost every EA engine left in existence has cracking between the valves on the head, in the majority of cases this is no issue but if they’re overheated too much, the cracks can enter coolant galleys and it’s game over for that engine. If maintained though, an EA82 can drive indefinitely and through anything.

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Erik: 2003-2010 E83 BMW X3 ($2,500-$7,000+)

For Erik’s pick, the first generation of the BMW X3 is hard to beat. I will admit, at first glance, hearing Erik say a crossover is his winter warrior weapon of choice made me question his mental health, but after some research I see what he is getting at. These cars, to the average person, are just old luxury crossovers and have the danger of being a depreciating maintenance nightmare but there’s more to them than that. The depreciation of this truck is it’s greatest ally, while it’s hard to justify $10,000 for a crossover of any sort, when you’re comparing something like this in price to a mid-2000’s Accord, it looks really good.

Mechanically the E83 X3 is just a lifted up E46 325/330Xi, with how good the E46 was, suddenly, the E83 X3 looks really appealing. Better yet, there was a manual version of the X3 available which is a huge boon to the allure of this truck. When you look even further it actually has a beefier transfer case than the standard E46 and, with that inline-6, it has some decent grunt to it. The creature comforts like heated leather seats and all the fixings you’d expect from BMW really beat out what most other manufacturers offer and it honestly looks really good, especially for a crossover. One of the most overlooked parts of a truck like the X3 is that it has parts availability, while my pick would leave you in your driveway while you search for the world’s last EA82 distributor, these trucks are a dime-a-dozen. This truck is actually a really good idea if you’re looking for something German.


Audience Picks

Honorable Mention:

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There were a number of interesting picks that I would have loved to have make the cut but unfortunately only got one or two votes. The first honorable mention comes from Ben Hsu at Japanese Nostalgic Car with his vote for the Isuzu Trooper/Acura SLX noting that they’re hovering around $2,000 so you have $5,000 left over for repairs you will indelibly have. Suzuki seems to have had more votes than any other brand other than Subaru but no single chassis got over two votes, cars like the Kizashi and the SX4 are great buys for cheap.

There was a strong argument for the Audi Quattro AWD system and it was in 6th place for total votes. American offerings like the Jeep Cherokee XJ, Chevy Tahoe and Ford Bronco II were mentioned as well. The most interesting car that didn’t make the cut however was the Camry Alltrac, which was made from 1988-1991 and has an interesting story in-of itself that you can read here. Finally, you can’t name the Camry Alltrac without also mentioning the Previa Alltrac, so it is worth name dropping that van too.

Top 5 4×4 Vehicles Under $7,000:

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5.) Mitsubishi Montero ($800-$7,000+)

If you looked at almost any Mitsubishi from the 1980’s and 1990’s, you would never imagine how they could have put themselves in the position they’re in today. The first two generations of Montero particularly stand out among Mitsubishi’s products. Known internationally as a Pajero or as the Dodge Raider, the Montero quickly gained a name for itself on par with the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Nissan Patrol during the SUV boom. The mechanical stoutness of the Montero can be seen with it’s rally victories at Paris-Dakar, Australasian Safari and Northern Forest during the 1980s.

When looking for a Montero, the 5-door models are the most common however some digging can source a significantly more aesthetically pleasing 3-door model. At a price point where you can find a just-shy-of-concours model within our range, this truck gives you the ability to go anywhere in 1980s style. The vast majority of Monteros have been beaten back into the earth however, so be diligent looking for any signs of rust or poor maintenance. Some of the most common issues include cracked cylinder heads, head gasket failure and damaged valve seals. As great of a truck as it is, the endangered nature of the Montero is one of the causes it ranked so low on our list.

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4.) Jeep Wrangler ($1,500-$7,000+)

Birthed from a need for basic wheeled transportation for the military in the 1930s, what we know as the Jeep Wrangler originally was sold as the CJ which stood for Civilian Jeep. The original designs for the CJ date back to 1944 but it’s first production was July 17, 1945 and it continued under the CJ moniker until Chrysler acquired production rights in 1986 and gave it the new name “Wrangler.” Although it has gained creature comforts and evolved immensely in the last 70+ years, the Wrangler still does offer a very good off road vehicle and you can even get the original CJ-2A design as the Mahindra Roxor ATV today. With the vast quantities on the road today, the Wrangler might be the most attainable single vehicle on this list. A flawless or heavily modified Wrangler can run you north of $20,000 but a drivable example can be found for as little as $1,500.

That being said it can get through most snowy situations with very little trouble but that comes at a cost. The short wheelbase and tall center of gravity of the 2-door Wrangler makes the truck unstable in some situations. When you combine that with amateur drivers, it explains the vast quantities that you see stuck on the side of the road. Another issue in older Wranglers is that they are notoriously drafty with a canvas top that isn’t the best at keeping in heat. With Minnesota winters being colder than they are snowy, this creates a large issue in our climate. If you don’t get over confident and can keep it sealed up, a Wrangler can be a very good option for winter. The biggest killer of these trucks is rust, especially at the leaf spring shackles. Mechanically, the 4.0L L6 is one of the best American engines ever designed and can run indefinitely assuming it has been properly maintained. For transmission, as always aim for the manual option.

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3.) RD1 Honda CRV ($1,000-$4,500)

The first generation Honda CRV was Honda’s first in-house designed SUV after they had a handful of rebadged Isuzus previously. Powered by a bored and stroked out Integra B-series engine, the RD1 chassis CRV is extremely reliable in stock form but it also has room for additional performance as well. The main failure point of this engine is cracked cylinder walls due to their thin nature, but this is rare outside of aftermarket turbocharged form. While available in FWD, it is not recommended since a manual AWD version was sold stateside. The Real Time AWD system of the CRV is bulletproof with failures resulting only from extreme neglect.

If you can’t leave well enough alone, there are plenty of aftermarket parts available for the RD1. Not only were there different versions available around the world with unique parts but Honda’s factory tuning division, Mugen, had a catalog for the RD1 including bodykits, exhaust and suspension, among other items. With a B-series engine that was evolved from a Non-VTEC Integra, it is common to see the “CRVtec” swap done with B16 or a B18C cylinder head and ECU. There are over the counter conversion kits available for this swap, which takes out all of the guessing work and creates a sizable bump in power. The main detractor that keeps the RD1 out of second place is the worry of theft. With a sought after B20 engine and extensive parts that have cross-platform fitment, the RD1 can attract thieves like most other 1990’s Hondas. That being said, if you keep comprehensive insurance on the truck, it will get you through nearly anything.

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2.) Modern AWD Subaru Platforms ($1,500-$7,000+)

Every Subaru sold in America and made by Fuji Heavy Industries since 1997 has been AWD so it is very hard to exclude them from this list. The WRX is arguably one of the best AWD platforms in history and it’s racing pedigree doesn’t lie. Another positive of the Subaru AWD system is a native 60/40 split, none of that “Active AWD” garbage that goes 100/0 then turns on AWD once you’re already flirting with disaster. You don’t need to look towards the bottom end of Subaru’s performance catalog for a good car in this price range though, nearly every modern Subaru platform will do great in winter. Something as simple as your standard Outback has the potential to be a great car or, if you want something more unique, try something with an H6 like an SVX or an Outback H6. Unfortunately Subaru hasn’t made an manual H6 since the 1980s, so it would require a manual swap for good measure.

When looking for trouble spots, these cars can very easily succumb to rust if not cared for correctly, if possible find one in Colorado or the pacific northwest. Those areas are lousy with FHI products and they don’t salt the roads so it is much easier to find a clean example for pennies on the dollar compared to Minnesota. If you’re mechanically inclined, finding one with a leaking head gasket that is still running could be a chance to save a lot of money if you do the job yourself. Make sure the car has even tire wear as these are fulltime AWD and the transmissions can shred themselves to pieces relatively quickly with mismatch tire sizes and wear. These cars are lego kits, engine swaps and manual swaps are fairly simple and there is an extensive aftermarket for nearly every modern Subaru.

 

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1.) Toyota 4Runner ($2,300-$7,000+)

For our first place pick, choosing anything but this truck would be a crime. The Toyota 4Runner, regardless of what generation you get, has always been an extremely capable off roader. Based off of the Hilux pickup, this truck is endlessly reliable with it’s most common killer being rust. You can also get just about any combination of powertrains you want; manual or automatic, 4 or 6 cylinder, NA or turbo, solid front axle or independent. Diesel variants even existed outside of the United States but procuring one of those would blow us out of the $7,000 budget. The highway driveability of the 4Runner outperforms it’s competitors by leaps and bounds with minimal sacrifice to performance. These reasons firmly put the 4Runner into first place for the best 4×4 under $7,000.

The most sought after 4Runner generation is the original N60 generation. These had a removable fiberglass topper for summer fun and early models had a solid front axle which is sought after by off-roaders. This is the generation built off the Hilux that Top Gear famously tried, and failed, to kill. The second generation is a good pick as well but is slightly more issue prone than the original, not that it’s a low bar by any means. If you do find yourself a second generation as these will be the most common in this price range, watch out for head gasket issues on the 3.0L 3VZ V6 and make sure the rear electric window works otherwise the tailgate won’t work. Regardless of what 4Runner you buy, these come from Toyota’s golden age when they had their finger on the pulse of how to make a good vehicle and it’s hard to go wrong.

If you missed the poll on Facebook and have a vehicle you think would be good for this, feel free to tell us in the comments.

40 SHADES OF GOLF

VW has gone all in with their new Spektrum Program with 40 new colors available to the Golf R and only 10 of them are variants of silver or grey.

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Photo Credit: Volkswagen Group

White, Grey, Silver, Black, Charcoal, Beige, then the same Blue and Red. Looking through the color pallet on cars from the last 15 years has been a slog. At one point when I walked onto the lot of a Mazda dealership while helping my mother look for a car, I called an optometrist because I thought I may have gone color blind. Do you remember back in the 1990s when you could buy a pink GMC Sonoma, a Teal Honda Civic, or a purple Ford Escort? Volkswagen even took it to the next level back then with their Harlequin Golf in Europe where it came in four different colors, at the same time.

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It was a golden era for car colors but it seems like everything else in the 2000s, everything got boring. Your Electron Blue Pearls and Pink Coral Micas were replaced with Desert Sand Mica and Seaside Pearl Mica, aka those generic earth tones Toyota had on everything. Yes, you could still get super cars or the occasional special edition sports car in an exciting color but that’s really where it ends.

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Photo Credit: Groupe Renault

With the exception of some Asian countries, this seems to be a very American phenomenon for buyers to stay within the monochrome scale as many European markets have wide ranging color palates available. Renault for instance has a bright blue, yellow and orange option for their Megane Sport and Skoda even allows you to have a light blue Citigo with multiple accent colors for the roof and mirrors!

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Photo Credit: Volkswagen Group

Since the recession we have seen a resurgence in exciting colors, luckily. The second generation Honda Fit had Blue Raspberry Metallic, which was arguably Honda’s best teal color and the Mitsubishi Mirage debuted with Plasma Purple, a loud retro 90’s pink hue. But even then, manufacturers have had one or maybe two exciting colors on their pallet lately but VW has gone all in with their new Spektrum Program with 40 new colors available to the Golf R and only 10 of them are variants of silver or grey.

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Photo Credit: Volkswagen Group

The new color palate has colors from Volkswagen’s past such as Ginster Yellow, originally found on the 1997 Driver’s Edition GTI, but also has new colors that pay homage to Volkswagen’s history of excellent colors. At the cost of an extra $2,500 Volkswagen will build a Golf R in any requested color on this list, they expect to have a two to four month build time until the car is ready for delivery.

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Photo Credit: Lamborghini SpA

Volkswagen also pulls some colors from their other lines like Viper Green, found on the Mk3 Scirocco and Lamborghini Huracan. With a company like Volkswagen with such far reach across the automotive spectrum, I like that they’re taking the effort to give enthusiasts the ability to choose essentially any color they want. Part of me wants to complain about the $2,500 up charge but I’m not terribly bothered by this since brands like Mercedes have been doing this for years.

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Photo Credit: Volkswagen Group

Overall it is a good thing that we’re seeing more of the color spectrum explored by automakers. Volkswagen could have very easily just said “silver, black and grey have the highest take rate so we won’t stray from that.” That is a fact by the way, that’s why you see so many non-car enthusiast people driving cars that are that color.

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Photo Credit: Volkswagen Group

I will say that this new color palate makes the car much more desirable. If I was in the market for a Golf R, I would absolutely spring for the Spektrum colors. Volkswagen will soon be updating their online builder tool for buyers to configure their own car. This is exciting to say the least and I hope more manufacturers stray from this whole monochrome plus red and blue palate scheme they’ve stuck to for so long.

EVENT: CARS & CRAFTS AUGUST 2018

If you live in Minnesota and have even a modicum of interest in import car culture you’ve likely heard of Drive Cartel x High Horse Club. Known mostly by their shortened name Drive Cartel, this is a crew that hosts arguably the best meets and shows in the state. Their organization and ability to seemingly endlessly attract fresh car builds has set them apart from the pack. But, what if you were to combine a Drive Cartel meet with one of the best craft breweries in Minnesota? It sounds like a match made in heaven.

If you live in Minnesota and have even a modicum of interest in import car culture you’ve likely heard of Drive Cartel x High Horse Club. Known mostly by their shortened name Drive Cartel, this is a crew that hosts arguably the best meets and shows in the state. Their organization and ability to seemingly endlessly attract fresh car builds has set them apart from the pack. But, what if you were to combine a Drive Cartel meet with one of the best craft breweries in Minnesota? It sounds like a match made in heaven. Continue reading “EVENT: CARS & CRAFTS AUGUST 2018”

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