Project Thoughts: Revival of Project Fireseal

I apologize in advance if this came out as nonsensical ranting and raving from sleep deprivation.

Many of my readers know that I am a very passionate fan of cars and modifying things. As odd as it is… I do miss my first car: A 1990 Acura Integra GS sedan in white. The car was a good car, but when it got up in the years… all sorts of things fell apart on it. While it fell apart, I still remember asking my father to help wrench with me to get things back in working order. I still remember the broken promises of my family titling the car to me when I lived under their roof so I could give my car a second chance… I was going to overhaul the car with a new engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, new wheels, a custom suspension set-up, and most of all… a brand new repaint to a bright and pearly white. But after a few catastrophes happened… My car became a zombie and was sold off to market. This sacrifice would give me a small offering to get my current MX-5 Miata. I love my Miata, but with it’s category… it does have some drawbacks.

Over this past Christmas holiday, I was actually partly to blame as a “killjoy” to my family for not owning a 4-door car because they had wanted to fly out to Orlando, Florida to attend the wedding of my cousin out there. They did not trust me to drive their cars as I am not insured under their policy. There have been times where I have wished I could have dragged friends along, but well, a 2-seater roadster can only hold one other human. There are times I have wanted to take Sol and my friends around… but well… I end up having to give first priority to Sol.

I have also had times where I have had to buy groceries for family and that ends up very poorly. Why? I end up playing Tetris when I have to cart up an entire month worth of groceries for my family when I do a 1-man run for my mother. I have had the “pleasure” of playing the game, but well… I am not a fan. Moving crap home in my roadster was both comical and a pain in the ass… When you make 8 trips from a 20 minute stretch, it becomes a failure. With the possibility of going to Texas A&M Commerce, hauling my initial move-in gear with my MX-5 is a bad move.

So I have considered a very reasonable plan… Picking up a spare sedan as a people and/or supply hauler. Which cars are on my “roster”? Just two simple and great used cars. A third generation Acura Integra GS-R sedan or first generation Lexus IS300. Reasons? Small, nimble, and agile but gas sippy to boot. The charms of these cars are that they are sharp in a timeless classical sort of way. I know, the Integra GS-R is “the wrong drive wheels” but front wheel drive can be a godsend for bad weather days in Dallas… like rainy days. The IS300 would be more ideal as it would keep me locked into the rules of rear wheel drive. Either choices would be great as they would be plenty reliable. Let’s shoot them out though…

Acura Integra GS-R Sedan (Circa 1999 – 2001)
My first Integra from 1990 proved to be plenty reliable when everything was in working order. The worthy B18A1 engine was a plenty throaty scream at 7,000 RPM but I never got much chance to play with the “sweet spot” of my engine from one crutch: the god-forsaken 4-speed automatic transmission that was a useless void of slushy gears. The lunky 14″ aluminum wheels provided a less than adequate traction patch and really left more to be desired. I got once chance to drive a stock GS-R sedan from 1996 and I almost fell in love with the refined experience. It was basically the experience that my car was SUPPOSED to be. The difference from 130 HP versus 170 HP with a far more refined gearbox and suspension proved how much more of a refinement the experience was. To get one would be a a fun ride, though the modification bug may bite me and then there will probably be thoughts of dropping in a bolt-on GReddy turbo kit with a TD06 turbo and push 220 HP to the wheels. With how the automotive market looks like… I could easily find one of these for cheap.

Lexus IS300 (Circa 1998 – 2005)
The first run of the IS300 has always charmed me. The slick chronograph dials for the essential functions and then the matter of its nimble handling have struck me as a fan. I was almost edging to get one until the “luxury” moniker made my young, accident ridden insurance record go beyond my means… The experience in the IS300 is not a raw, visceral, and untamed power like the Integra GS-R sedan, rather, it’s a more polished and posh driving experience without carrying an expensive German name badge. The IS300 holds its value rather well, but with how well the new and current generation is faring… the market resale value may have dropped on the car. The only issue is I want a 5-speed manual edition so that I can keep honing my driving skills rather than get sloppy from automatic driving, but the used market is flooded with overpriced “tuner” projects where the builder is trying to recoup their losses or too many automatic versions.

With those points mentioned… What are my “terms” for picking up something for Project Fireseal?

  • Cheap price – To prevent me from “needing” to loan money from my family
  • Manual transmission – So I do not get lazy and fool myself that I can multi-task and drive
  • “Quiet” Colors – This will prevent my purchase from attracting the attention of law enforcement or thieves.

The main purpose of Fireseal is to primarily be just a beater car with the ability to haul things. Later, I may seek to improve performance, but it is not a priority. If anything, it is more of a tribute to my first car. If anyone has suggestions of great, reliable 4 door cars that are great to drive and can be found for cheap with manual transmissions, feel free to comment. The Integra and IS300 are the only ones I know of that appeal to me.

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