#DailyDriven

10649840_626122170887755_6150889051468045390_nA couple of years ago, in 2013, while I was still working on race cars for a living, a friend and I came up with the idea to start a blog and lifestyle brand that targeted the motorsports enthusiast and general car enthusiast communities.  We didn’t want to be some old website and blog that sold stickers and T-shirts.  We didn’t want to write posts about overly modified cars with girls on top of them.  We wanted to write stories about the normal cars we see everyday.  We wanted to write about beaters!

That dream went stagnate as life continued on. Cody and I separated ways and lost touch with each other.  About 2 months ago (2/’16) I got the bug to finally start BeaterLife.com while helping some old friends build a van for their year long road trip. I contacted Cody and things were off and running. It took guts drive and determination to get here to our 2 month mark, especially considering I’m working another full-time job and going to school full-time while running BeaterLife.com.  It’s taken drive to get here. We’re growing though!

Every week we have a new story. Everyday we have new likes on our Facebook page. Everyday there are new challenges, and with those challenges come learning opportunities and eventually successes.   Everyday takes “Drive.”

Aside from having to develop my previously non-existent photography skills, I had to learn a bit graphic design. We’ve been designing several new logos and graphics that we can use for merchandise in the coming months and my favorite thus far, the one I really wanted to share with everyone, is our #DailyDriven graphic.  #DailyDriven represents so much of what has brought BeaterLife.com this far and will continue to inspire us to keep going long into the future.

#DailyDriven represents the drive that keeps us going, the drive to keep your beater running long past its expiration date, and the pride that comes with owning something that lasts.

Thanks to everyone for their ongoing support of our dinky little blog.  “Your Cars. Your Stories.”  That is what we want to share.  That is who we want to connect with.

 

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and of course submit your stories and we’ll get them posted!

 

Keep ’em running and #DailyDriven,

-Mike Miessler

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I Wasn’t Ready For The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance

300Since starting this blog a couple months ago I told myself that I’d use it to help me check off some items from my personal bucket list. I do admit that going to Amelia Island to cover the concourse show and reporting on how the other half lives is a stretch, but I wanted to share this iconic event with you guys, beaters or no beaters. I have been processing everything I saw for the last several days and nights and the one thing that I took away from this was just how unprepared I was for the weekend. I was completely overwhelmed by the event, the setting, the people and the cars.

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The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance has been around since 1996 and has been held at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in Amelia Island Florida ever since.  It has become one of the premier rare and luxury car shows in the United States second only to Pebble Beach.  I had gotten excited about going this year when I heard a report that Jerry Seinfeld would be auctioning off some of his rare Porsche’s.  I pulled some strings, called begged some friends and eventually was able to raise the funds to buy a ticket and go for the Sunday show (I missed the auctions where a 1961 Ferrari 250GT California SWB sold for $17m and an old Beetle sold for $120k!).

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After wondering how I could spin this into something you all would like to read about, one of our followers gave me the idea to use #notsobeaterlife while I flooded our Instagram account with up-to-date pictures of what we were seeing at the event.  Maybe next year we’ll see about live streaming video which, as it turns out, would’ve been easier.  I knew I’d be seeing better than museum quality examples of the finest automobiles ever made, you expect that. The sheer quantity and quality of vehicles present, though, was dumbfounding.  Once through the gate, the first display was a Lamborghini celebration of the Miura. Six of the best examples, including chassis #4846 of what is arguably Lambo’s most beautiful car just siting there with matching Italian booth girls ready and posing for my pictures. It was like diving headfirst into cold water. I was shocked, I couldn’t breathe, and I stood motionless for a second.

The shock and awe kept going for the whole of the 7 hours we were there. One rarity after another, rare Mercedes pre-war race cars, MG’s, A TALBOT-LAGO T26C! and Rolls’, Bugattis, and Bentleys all over the place.  After a while you build up a tolerance to such beauty. I’m not saying that I stopped appreciating them, but after a while it was just work looking at them through my camera. It wouldn’t hit me until later in the morning while admiring some of the most pristine Packards in the country I overheard a conversation an owner had with the class judge. “This is only one of six cars with this coachwork done the we know to exist…in the world.458

There I go again. Back to reality.  In a true Wayne’s World moment I was instantly unworthy to be walking around the fairway that held such iconic machines. I was sharing a fairway with Jochen Mass for Pete’s sake! Making my way through the Rolls Royce line up was humbling. This clearly was a “No Peasants Allowed” area. Limousines and coaches for former statesmen all lined up and glimmering in the light with window curtains drawn open displaying their rich leather interiors. Their owners scoffing a the Alfa Romeo display just behind their precious coaches and overshadowed by the Bugatti’s across the aisle.

This is only one of six cars with this coachwork done the we know to exist…in the world.

To complete the comparison the event organizers lined up the American luxury sedans next to the best that Britain has to offer, with old Caddys, Oldsmobiles and a plethora of Deusenbergs flexing their biceps at the Brits.  It easy to forget how great American luxury sedans were back then and how competently they stacked up against what the world was offering. We’re only now seeing a resurgence in American luxury autos.  Cadillac has stepped up their game from high end Chevy’s to true world super sedan contenders.470

Everything at the show was perfect. I still find it weird that I became so desensitized to what I was seeing.  In any other setting just one of the cars at the show,  any one of the Pegaso’s, any one of the Astons, Allards, or even the MG’s would’ve held my astonishment for hours. Here, though, it was a different story. They were just another rare car. Much like after being in a museum, that priceless sarcophagus is amazing the first time you see it, but after the 3rd walk-through it becomes just another artifact.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still appreciated them and their significance, but my attitude shifted from “Oh wow!” to”Oh, wow.”

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The day ended with the reveal of Best in Show, which turned out to be a yellow 1952 Pegaso Z-102 Cupola & 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom II. There was airborne champagne, lots of pictures and very excited and proud rich people.  So, it was pretty great.  I had to rush over to the showing stage to get the few pictures I could of the show winners. This was the first time I felt like a photographer. Surrounded by press passes and elbows, I wrestled my way through the crowd and grabbed a few quickies of the now ribbon laden grills of both cars.

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I was unprepared. I thought I knew what I was going to experience, but much like the first time you visit the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, you walk away trying to understand and process things you’ve only seen pictures of and read about; things that have now become reality.  The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance is like a zoo that only cares for endangered and near extinct species. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for a place as special as that.

Be sure to check out our gallery from the show

Saab Story

I’m currently working on a series of essays that explore why it’s the oddball cars that are the best.  It’s the wallflowers that you really want. In the series are a bunch of analogies to supermodels and how they’re great for a quick ride around the block (see what I did there?) but, in the end, it’s the girl next door, the cute one that always been there, that you want to marry.  She’s reliable, understanding, your parents love her, yadda-yadda etc. I’ll stop there in case I use one of them for a later post.  You know, no spoilers right?

One of these wallflower cars that I spend some time talking about is Saab.  Yes, Saab.  I like a little bit of quirk; a little bit of different in my routine every now and then keeps life interesting. I think Saab did that for the auto industry, it added a little something interesting.  They did things their own way, like an ignition switch in the center console instead of the steering column or dash, or that whole early 2-stroke phase. This Saab, belonging to long-time friend Jim, is one of those cars that does things a little left of center.

I think one of the first actual conversations I had with Jim, while we were both living in Connecticut and working at Lime Rock Park, had something to do with Saabs and Volvos being underrated and under-appreciated.  Sure, they aren’t sexy but they’re fun and well, they can really move!  This week Jim was kind enough to tell us a little bit about his beater.  A car that, as long as I’ve known it hasn’t been the most reliable thing on the road, but it might possibly be one of the most interesting and unique things on four wheels. It definitely comes with its own unique personality.

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I have a 1994 Saab 900se. 2.0 turbo w/ a 5-speed gearbox. 1994 was the first model 90 after GM acquired Saab and also the last year of the classic 900. Because of that, it was incredibly difficult to buy parts for my car back in 2011-2012. Parts stores would think I had a classic 900 or they would tell me my car didn’t exist. That problem has long been resolved thanks to Eeuroparts.com. They are a great parts supplier for German cars based out of my home state of Connecticut.

I bought the Saab in October of 2011 for $2600. I don’t remember the mileage it had, but if I had to guess then it would be 100,000 miles. I bought it from a guy in Massachusetts who bought it at an auction. I bought the car because no one I know had a Saab, and well because it was turbocharged (who doesn’t want a turbo?).

I didn’t have it barely even a month before I had to replace a transmission mount that split in half. After I fixed that I went to a Volkswagen and Audi event in New Jersey called WaterFest. The drive there was nice and smooth, but the drive back was a nightmare. The car was stuttering and wanting to shut off under load. Then when I shut the car off at a gas station, it did not want to start back up. I was 2 hours from home and did not have money for a tow. I waited 30 mins and luckily she fired back up. I didn’t want to break down on the interstate so a 2-hour drive on the interstate ended up becoming a 4-1/2 hour  backroad drive

As soon as I made it home I hit the forums hard. I got a bunch of answers on what it could be but no one was close on the issue. It ended up being a crank position sensor. That was my worst memory with the car.”

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“My best moment with the car would have to be when my friend  (and Beater Life contributor) Dakota and I went to the Tail of the Dragon up by Deal’s Gap just to drive around, have some fun in our cars and then go home.

The thing I like the most about the Saab would have to be that it stays fun to drive and it is a car you don’t see often. It being a car from the north, it has seen a lot of winter driving. So there is rust and spots of rot in the underside and the chassis isn’t in the best of conditions.

Every time I meet someone new and they ask about my car or get in my car. They either don’t know what it is or they look at the center console and say, ‘Wow that is where your key goes in? That is so weird.’  It’s pretty funny

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WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!! Send your stories and some pics about your everyday cars to: BeaterLifeBlog@gmail.com.   If we like it. We’ll feature it!

My First Beater

  Ask most people what their first car was and they’ll tell you it was some beater that their parents got them during high school or worked all summer to buy.  It was the car they used to go to their first jobs with. They sped through the high school parking lot with it. It was what they used to go to parties. They used it to go on roads trips and to escape and hide from their crazy teenage world. My first beater wasn’t any of those things.  My first beater cost me $0.96 and I bought it in a grocery store.                                      I can’t resist glancing at those shiny little miniatures every time I go into the grocery store. Friends get embarrassed and people stare and smirk but I love every minute of it. Its how I hold onto my fleeting youth. If I look like a creeper hanging out in the children’s toy isle of a department store, your kids are safe as long as they don’t touch one of the cars I’m looking at.

“I don’t care if you’ve been saving all month for that boxed set I have more money and bigger muscles than you kid!”
    The Hot Wheels dealerships, known to outsiders as grocery stores, have been around since 1968. I’ve been on the market for these hot little rods since I can remember but for arguments sake let’s just be safe and say 1992. The story is a little different for my brother, father and uncles. I remember hearing stories (to this day even) about bending axles and waxing wheels so that my father or uncles could beat a rival sibling. I still have many of these original heirloom cars in a cardboard box somewhere in a closet all dinged up and chipped, signs of good use and unfair play on the racetrack no doubt.
My brother, the primary reason why I’m as auto-obsessed as I am, has probably the oddest collection of chipped cars in this aforementioned box of autotopia. During my automotive formative years, when most big brothers were thrashing and crashing there G.I. Joes and cheesy-made Matchbox cars, my big ol’ bro was stripping, sanding and painting his cars. In a sense he was showing me a different kind of appreciation for cars. Not an appreciation for their power and go-fast abilities, but rather an appreciation for their aesthetics.  There should to find out whether or not the die-cast car thrashing gene skips a generation or not. Although my big brother’s affinity for miniature auto body was respectable and should’ve been lauded, my 7 year-old self didn’t think so. I thrashed and chipped and “off-roaded” and crashed and dropped not only mine but his beautiful works of art all over the back yard and living room.
    Encouraged by my father, my brother and I had tracks and would build our dream garages out of Legos and/or wooden blocks in the living room that would rival Mr Leno’s collection and grandeur. There were afternoons that blocks, Legos and track weren’t needed to have a good time with our little cars. I would often use the outlines of the rug in the living room as a track and would let my imagination go rampant with the result being the red car winning Indy all of the time.
    My brother would sit in his room painting his cars up to whatever he felt was better than Mattel conjured up at the design studio. I still have one of his masterpieces, a 1970-something Chevrolet Van painted black with a big red “BULLS” painted onto both sides of the vehicle.  This was inspired by his obsession with the 3-peat championship era Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.
    Today I still buy these little cars mainly for memory but partly from addiction and partly because let’s face they’re really cool. Now more importantly though we need to share this love of cars with the coming generations and Hot Wheels is a perfect place to start. Every car-nerd, grease monkey, and gear head I know has some deep enriching (okay maybe not enriching) story of how Hot Wheels was the beginning of their love of cars whether that love be large or small. My family is already initiated my young nephew into this auto-club of Hot Wheels. The love of cars and beaters, much like Hot Wheels, is an heirloom that should be passed down from generation to generation. What are you doing to help spread the word?

Don’t forget to send in you stories about your beaters to: beaterlifeblog@gmail.com.

We want to hear YOUR stories!

Welcome To Beater Life!

 

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Every car has a story. Not just the pretty ones.

Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, and Porsche’s.  They’re all beautiful cars. They are considered to be some of the best marques in the world. They adorn bedroom walls, locker doors, and are plastered all over television. Magazines write ceaselessly about these exotics. TV shows are made exclusively for showing them off.  They are truly great cars, but what about the others?

What about the cars the every-person drives?  What about the cars you see every morning on your commute to and from work?  Certainly those have stories that should be shared! That’s where we come in.

Welcome to Beater Life!  A blog about the stories behind all cars; common and uncommon, clean and dirty, normal and abnormal.  We believe every car has a story.  Not just the pretty ones.

We will be searching for these stories about your daily-driver and your beater car, whether it be a 1987 Honda Civic, a 2004 Jaguar X-Type, or even one of those pretty exotics from Lambo or Ferrari.  If it has a story, we want to share it.

Please send us your stories about your daily drivers to BeaterLifeBlog@gmail.com.

If we like it. We will get it posted.