Heap Of A Jeep

Jeeps are like the Chickenpox.  Its seems as if everyone has owned one (or a mid-90s Corolla) and everyone gets the chicken pox. unlike the ‘pox though you don’t just a get a Jeep once. Most people suffer from multiple Jeep infections sometime of various mutations (Cherokee, Wagoneer, Comanche) throughout their lifetime.

I used to think of Jeeps as rugged almost indestructible vehicle when i was a tot, but after befriending Jeepers and reading several of your submissions it seems otherwise. I’m sure most of them are great vehicles, but I’m not sure they would have the kinds of stories their beater brothers have.  You gotta love a Jeep!

This week’s Beater Feature comes all the way from Rockford IL. Tom works at a Jeep dealership, so naturally he has a Jeep. This one is a bit special. It’s pretty , not a rust bucket, but somehow keep breaking on him! If you’re anywhere near Rockford Illinois stop by Andersen Jeep and check out his heap of a Jeep:

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“My name is Tom Perrin and I come from Rockford Illinois. I drive a 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ that was purchased about a year ago with more rust than paint. This isn’t my first Wrangler, not even my first TJ. Call it a midlife crisis, call it reliving my youth, call it whatever you want. This Jeep stuck out to me on my quest for a daily wrangler. It was ugly, cheap, and pumped full of miles. What’s under the hood will make just about any Jeep owner cry, but I love it. The AMC based 150 cubic inch 4-banger that kinda can. Reliable, simple as all get out, and makes the most annoying sounds, especially at idle.

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My first car, a YJ wrangler, was also equipped with this iron paperweight, but it still got me around. As of most Jeeps of this era, she is a project. Cooling system has been upgraded a bit, 4in Skyjacker lift, some random “heavy duty” AutoZone clutch, 31in Cooper mud tires (yeah, I know), 1-ton steering components from Spicer, and a few other stuff tucked under the triple bedliner coated frame. No mid-life crisis is complete with a nice audio system. Kenwood head unit, overhead speakers, compact subwoofer and amplifier in the “trunk”, along with a 301 piece mechanic’s tool set just in case.


Since I’ve had her, and after sitting for 3 years prior, she has had her fair share of breakdowns. One of which was the water pump which let go on the coldest day of the year. Nothing like being stranded at 11pm at a gas station waiting for my very understanding girlfriend. After a fun day with our son, we thought a little missing adventure was in order. Well, being instantly sunk up to the headlights literally 6 feet off of the road wasn’t a fun time. $200 tow bill and way too many embarrassing pictures later, we finally got her out. I love my Heep of a Jeep and our family will continue to love her forever. This one’s a keeper. Well worth every penny.”


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A Lexus For Dad


Drift beaters are some of the coolest most pure forms of modern hotrodding.  Buy me a beer and we’ll debate it sometime.  Little cars, big engines, going fast, lots of tire smoke. See hotrodding in the dictionary and this is what you’ll get.

Don’s SC400 straddles that line between missile car and candy coated drift machine.  A line commonly blurred by many.  I’ve long said that a proper racecar isn’t that pretty to behold. It’s basic and purposeful. You find beauty in the engineering not necessarily tin the aesthetics. This one combine all those things, hot rod styling cues, stripped down racecar, and since it’s Father’s Day, a nice tribute to pops.

Check out Don’s butthole of a Lexus:

The car is a 92 Lexus SC400. It runs the factory 4 litre v8 through a Collins adapter kit connected Nissan KA transmission. The driveshaft is custom built and rear diff is out of an SC300 for better gearing and it’s welded.


When did you get your beater?

               I got the car about a year and a half ago, from a guy down in Philly. We were going on the info that it only needed a driveshaft put in it to be ready to run. That was way off and after tearing down and rebuilding most of the car between February and April we started drifting it with the IFD guys at the first event of the 2015 season. The whole year was basically a shakedown. The car needed way more work than we realized when we picked it up.

What do you like about your beater?

               Where to begin? The look of the car. And the looks the car gets. It’s a real love it or hate it kind of thing. There really isn’t a middle ground people either really dig it or get really butthurt by it. The look of the car was all done for a reason though. I chose everything sort of in honor of my step dad. He passed away just about the time I was really getting into drifting so he never got to come out to an event and have a ride with me. The guy was the king of making something work with whatever was laying around. So that’s kind of how we approached the car. The ultimate budget build. He would get bored and go to Kmart, buy a bunch of rattle cans and paint his truck for something to do. So when it came time to make the SC one color the choice was obvious. I get a lot of primer jokes, but it’s actually matte black rustoleum spray paint with red and chrome vinyl. Kind of a throwback to the old school hot rod days is where I was going with it.

               I also enjoy how easy the car is to drive. I’ve let a few people drive it and everyone is surprised at how easy it is to get sideways, and how responsive it is, considering the size of it. It’s a deceptively large car.


What do you dislike about your beater?

               One of the guys I drift with warned me when I told him I was looking to get an SC. He told me to be ready to have the most annoying issues I’ve ever had with a car. I should have listened. This car seems to really love coming up with new and exciting issues to have.


 What is the funniest thing that has happened in it?

               That would probably be the looks I’ve gotten from my boys when they ride in it. My step sons are 13 and 10 and neither had ridden in anything like it before. I went off track with the 13 year old once and a big rock punched a hole in the floor between his feet. My memory isn’t great but I’m pretty sure his feet came off the floor so fast they hit the ceiling. The younger of the two apparently wasn’t ready for v8 torque and when I gave him a hard 2nd gear pull going into his first run his eyes were big enough to fill the opening in the helmet. He seriously looked terrified. Half way through the first turn he had figured out he wasn’t dying and was head banging in the passenger seat. Thank fully I had the go pro running inside the car and that is now on Youtube.



Do you have any road trip stories?

               The car has only been on the road for a couple months so it hasn’t had a proper road trip yet. Mostly just to and from drift days. I guess the best would be taking it to a car pride meet, covered in mud from the previous rain soaked drift day. The looks from the people with their beautiful shiny cars was fantastic.


Has it ever broken down someplace unpleasant/ sketchy?

               To date I’ve only had it break once outside of a drift event. I left an oil spot as wide as the car at the last meetup we took it to. It ended up being trailered home.


What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to fix or take it to the mechanic for?

               The oil leak that made the massive puddle ended up being caused by corrosion that was caused by a massive mouse nest hidden in the valley under the intake. The best part was the oil was coming out between the bell-housing and block so we did the obvious and changed the rear main and it didn’t stop the leak. Only after tearing it down the second time did we realize anything in the valley drains out 2 small holes in the back of the block and out the bottom behind the oil pan. Very misleading when it comes to diagnosing where a leak is coming from.

I have to give many thanks to my girlfriend Jess, who deals with me being at the shop more than home with her, my boys in the subtle crunch drift crew for dealing with my almost constant whining about how much pain this car causes my b-hole, and mostly my buddy Tim who is the co-creator of the car. Tim has more hours spent working on it than I do, and I never would have been able to make it anything worth owning without his help

Jumping A Datsun



There’s just something about Datsuns that makes you smile when you see. one. They’re cheap to purchase, cheap to maintain and cheap to get rid of. If you have gotten lucky and your Datsun hasn’t rusted out underneath you, they’re pretty stout little things. By no means are they an old Impala, but they’ll “Take a licking and keep ticking” as it were.

Old Datsun 720 trucks are a sort of guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve owned an old Z-car, and have lusted after countless 510 coupes and wagons over the years but something about the 720 and lesser trucks speak to me.  They were simple and honest.  They were a truck. That’s all they were. That’s all Nissan Datsun wanted them to be.

Without a doubt the pickup is the semi-official car of North America.  Like an old Toyota Corolla, everybody has owned a pickup at one point. You can still get a basic pickup but those are usually made for fleet auctions and bulk sales instead of the basic dealership consumer. That’s where we lose the simplicity of the old Datsun.  farmers truck are behemoths. They’re complicated, massive beasts that can run as much as $80k or more once you get trigger happy with with options boxes.

Have we lost touch with the simplicity of old trucks, old F-series, old Datsuns and Toyotas?  Jake’s short story about his old Datsun truck is a good case for simplicity and “cheapness” of old Datsuns.  Both values that are important to those that rely on a beater to get them where they’re going.

Jake has a Datsun and put it through its paces with his buddy Blake. Check it out:




I got my beater as a parts truck in a deal with another 720. They were gonna swap the motor into the 4×4 but I couldn’t let that happen she had to much character.

She has yet to leave me stranded anywhere, despite always giving it hell.

The funniest time I had with her is when I first got her and we went jumping speed bumps and blew the shocks out.

Well me and my buddy Blake had been out gooning around. Throwing some circles in field and tried some burnouts. As we were headed back to my house we saw one of our buddy’s turn into his neighborhood. So we busted a right and tried to catch him. The first speed table I hit kinda slow, It wasn’t to rough, so the second one i hit with more pep. We bounced in the cab and stopped at the stop sign,  and made the right turn. The next speed table was in front of our buddy’s house. I ran through first and hit second never backing out of it. Hit the bump bottomed out and flew at least half a car length. From there back home it felt like we were riding on a park bench on a skateboards. With sore backs.

Remember kids: “Just because it has to start in the morning doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in it.”



Meet Lotus’ Elisa!

Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious.

A true but unfair assessment of one of our favorite marques: Lotus!  Old British cars weren’t exactly known for their reliability. Although Lotus, Leyland and the like churned out some of the most iconic roadsters and saloons ever produced, most of them were built cheaply, broke down often, and at least here in the ‘States, were hard to find parts for.

Lotus seemed to hit it right on the mark with its Seven (now Caterham) and its Elan (what the Miata was based on) models early on.  “Simplify and add lightness” were the marching orders around the Norfolk, UK factory. They even had supercar contention in the iconic Esprit, but it wasn’t until the early nineties that its most iconic modern era car was conceived.  The awesome Elise.


The Elise seemed to hearken back to the early days of light, simple, and nimble sports cars.  Things seemed to have gotten complicated during the reign of the Esprit and its wedge-shaped brethren. The Elise fixed all that.  We were lucky enough to get in contact with the woman whom the Elise was named after.  Her grandfather Romano Artioli was chairman of Lotus Group when the Elise was conceived, and sticking with the tradition of cars that begin with the letter “E,” Romano named the newest model after his beloved granddaughter, Elisa!

We got in touch with Elisa and naturally we had to send her the usual slew of Beater Life questions (and some others for fun too) to answer.  Here’s what Elisa had to share with us:


What is your current daily driver?

Well, my daily driver is the Elise, even if I don’t use it everyday because to go to the university it’s better to go by metro.

Why did you choose that car? 

I didn’t choose it, I received it as a present when I still was a child, but that does not make it less important. If I didn’t have one I would buy it for sure.

Why? Beside the fact that for me the Elise has a special meaning because of the story behind it, I love the Elise because it is simply perfect in all its imperfections.

It’s not just a car, it’s something more that gives you happiness and emotions.

I think everyone who has one can confirm what I say.


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What is your favorite thing about your daily driver?

Simplicity is what I like the most.

Functionality is an aspect that I really appreciate in everyday life. 

Even if many people see it as an unpractical car I don’t see it that way, the Elise is the perfect mix of aesthetic and functionality.

Of course there are more comfortable cars but that is something personal, I mean it depends on what you prefer.

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Have you ever had a break-down in a sketchy/weird place?

No, luckily it didn’t happen yet.

How are you connected to Lotus Cars?

Well my grandfather was the chairman when I was very little. Because of that we moved to England and there is where my connection to Lotus began. The Elise was designed those years when I was just born.

And since my grandfather wanted to keep Chapman’s tradition of naming the cars beginning with the letter E and also because he wanted to give to the car an international character, he decided to name it after his little granddaughter that was just born, Elisa.

Of course I can’t take the credit for it and I always say that I’m really lucky to have such a great story to tell and be connected to Lotus.

What kinds of Lotus’ have you owned, were they all Elises?

I have my Elise and my grandfather has an Esprit.



Thanks again to Elisa for taking some time to answer a couple of questions.

If you want to learn more about Elisa and what she’s up to these days make sure to check her out on Facebook and Instagram.

The Ugly MR-2


The Toyota MR2 is one of my personal favorite cars. The first two iterations of it were great! It started off strong with classic 80’s wedge styling on a budget.  The engine, although anemic, could come with an optional supercharger for “fuel economy.”  The jewel of the MR2 family however was the W20.  It has been dubbed the “Poor man’s Ferrari” by some and it kind of was. The styling of these cars doesn’t seem to date itself.  Even more so than ever these cars are attainable. Mid-engined, rear drive and with exotic looks akin to the Ferrari F355. You should go find yourself one on Craigslist somewhere for your daily beater like Cole did here:


IMAG0487When did you get your beater?
It all began with a DRZ 400 which I traded for a Ninja 250r which then turned into the MR-2. It was in August and I had no use for the Ninja and was just searching the interweb. Not really looking for anything in particular just someone that would do a straight trade. The owner was willing but there was a catch. The MR-2 was not running and the rear end and cross member was off the car. So the deal was for me to put everything back together and tow it out. The good thing about it was that he had all the parts organized. The bad was that I had to do everything in 3 hours and in 100 degree weather in his garage.


What do you like about your beater?
It’s a Toyota! I have been a Nissan guy all my life but this thing is weird and quirky. You don’t see much of these cars around anymore. The best part of the car is that is RWD and turbocharged with the engine built by Yamaha. This beater is all around fun.


What do you dislike about your beater?IMAG0508
I hate that it is 25 years old. That means everything is old on it that will break or is broken. Appearance on the thing is not bad but needs a little love in the paint department. The previous owner did not tell me what kind of service was done to it so i have to guess what needs to be done to the little guy. The pin has been pulled now I’m waiting on whats going to go next.


What is the funniest thing that has happened in it? So I am driving to the gym doing the speed limit with the t-tops off and windows down jamming the 90’s hip hop and rap station on Spotify just enjoying life. I get to the stop light and the guy next to me looks down from his SUV and starts staring. He then asks if I have my pinks? I look up at him and just laugh. told him I don’t do that anymore. I’m thinking to my self why would ask that? My car is ugly all the clear coat is chipping away and it’ doesn’t look a ricer car at all. It kinda hit me as soon as I move in my seat that I was in a race bucket seat with a 5 pt harness and a cage. He laughs and we both go back to our own business.

Have you been on any roadtrips?
No road trips yet. I don’t think my car is ready for a stress test yet. I am not trusting the reliability of the MR-2 just yet.IMAG0478

Has it ever broken down on you someplace unpleasant/sketchy?
The day I thought I had everything dialed in with the timing and all the boost leaks I decided to drive it to work. Even though my commute to work is 12 miles there is basically just desert in between. No houses or buildings just sand and fields. So everything is running fine power is good and then a little rubbing sound comes from the engine. The rubbing gets louder then I lose all power. Timing belt snapped 7 miles away from work. I had to call my co-worker to get the flat bed and pick me up. I was all alone in the desert waiting for a trailer to bring me to work.IMAG0748 (1)

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