Go Back John Clare's Personal Website Monday, September 25, 2023
Cars I've Owned
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  I've always liked driving. Didn't matter if it were just the family station wagon, or an imported sport sedan. I knew when I was a kid that I loved to drive. Still do. These are the cars I've owned since then.

1976 Pontiac Firebird
Summer of 1981, working full time at at McDonald's to save for that very first car: a 1976 Pontiac Firebird. Over the next few years, I had it painted orange, bought some gold & chrome Cragars, and stuffed it with all kinds of stupid car-gadgets. In hindsight, it was very tacky, but it was also my hobby and I was into it. And I will admit to being more interested in image than speed...
1976 Pontiac Firebird
1983 Pontiac Firebird

1983 Pontiac Firebird
...which explains my second car - a brand new 1983 Firebird. At 19, I came into some money and did exactly what you would expect. It was stupid, and should have been better spent, but I really wanted this. The 3rd Gen Firebird came out in '82, and was such a futuristic design for the day. So beautiful. But after 3 to 4 years of gutless little engines with slushbox transmissions, something was lacking.

1982 Pontiac Trans Am 4MT
What was lacking was power, and a manual transmission. This was my 1982 Trans Am. I drove this car for almost four years, stored it every winter. Sunk an untold number of dollars into this car, with all kinds of power upgrades, some better thought out than others. By the time I was done, this car could move (in a straight line).

1982 Pontiac Trans Am
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1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
After college, the Trans Am sat on blocks for a couple years, eventually getting sold off. When I moved away from home, I was driving a much more mature-looking '83 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. And the Cutlass was no slouch, with a 307 4-barrel V8, and looking pretty tough with the Keystone Classics left over from the Trans Am.

1988 Honda Civic DX 5MT
Two years later, I traded in the Oldsmobile for a '88 Honda Civic DX Sedan. I very much needed a reliable, high-MPG car, and that meant a Civic. No bad choices there. Truth is, the car was contemporary, fun to drive, easy to chuck around, and had a playful 5-speed manual.
1992 Nissan 240SX
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 1992 Nissan 240SX 5MT
In 1992, I bought this brand new Nissan 240SX. It came with one engine option: a 2.4L I4, rated at 140hp. This car had incredible balance, RWD, and a 5-speed manual transmission. Drove it daily for 7 years, with zero problems or repairs. The only modifications were an upgraded exhaust and air intake, but that was it, nothing crazy. The 240SX is the one car I regret letting go.

1999 Nissan Maxima SE 5MT
In 1999, I traded in the 240SX for something more mature, but still sporty - the 1999 Nissan Maxima. This was Nissan's flagship. And the SE model was pretty impressive, with a 5-speed manual transmission, sport suspension, 16" aluminum rims, and a 190hp 3.0L V6 engine. This car was genuinely powerful, and felt pretty damn upscale while doing it.
1999 Nissan Maxima SE
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2000 Volvo S40
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 2000 Volvo S40
After our first child was born, we kind of went into Protector mode with Gail's car, and traded in her '93 Civic Coupe for this new 2000 Volvo S40. There was a distinct sense of security with the Volvo, and the heated seats were kind of nice. All in all, it was a pretty nice ride.

2003 Nissan Maxima SE 6MT

2003 was the last model year for the 5th gen Maxima, and I think the best Maxima of any year. It was lightweight, full-sized, and luxurious, with a 3.5L V6 making 255hp. After a few years, I started modifying the car, and by the time I was done, it was kick-ass.

2003 Nissan Maxima SE
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NWP Engineering Phenolic Intake Spacers
Progress Engineering Rear Sway Bar
Racingline Performance Front Strut Tower Brace
Stillen Rear Shock Tower Brace
Energy Suspension Torque Mount Bushings
NWP Engineering Engine Torque Link Connector
(Free) Short-Throw Shifter mod w/ES Bushings

Apexi Pop Charger
Frankencar Short Ram Intake
Cattman Performance Y-pipe
Cattman Performance 2.5" Cat back
Unorthodox Racing Crank Pulley
NWP Engineering VIAS-delete block plate

Centric Rotors
Tokico HP Blue Struts
Hawk HPS Brake Pads
Goodyear Eagle F1 Tires
MOOG Strut mounts
MOOG FSB End-links

2003 Mazda MPV

2003 Mazda MPV
With another child on the way, and fearful to owning an out-of-warranty Volvo, we decided on a minivan - The 2003 Mazda MPV. Ours was sheer green, with a tasteful beige interior, and was an excellent family vehicle all around. It also had a 200hp 3.0L V6 engine, 16" aluminum wheels, and was probably the most fun to drive minivan on the market.

2008 Honda CR-V EX
After 5 years of mini-van life, we called it quits and bought another Honda, this brand new, 2008 Honda CR-V EX. This was the mid-range model, loaded with lots of safety features, and a 2.4L I4 FWD engine. Not too shabby. Fun family car, even if it wasn't that engaging to drive.

2008 Honda CRV EX

2011 Infiniti G37S 6MT
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2011 Infiniti G37S 6MT
After 9 years with the Maxima, it was time to find a genuine Sport Sedan, and the 2011 Infiniti G37S Sedan 6MT was the perfect fit. With 328hp in a smooth 3.7L V6, a proper 6MT, limited slip RWD, a sport suspension, sport brakes, sport steering, sport seats, etc. I started modifying this car immediately. It's uncommonly rare, and simply the best car I've ever owned.

EcuTek Remote Tune by Eugene Turkov
4.083 Final Drive Rear Gears
Fast Intentions Resonated High-flow Cats
Fast Intentions 2.5" Cat-back
R2C Air Intake Kit in Black Nickle
R2C Black Hex Series Air Filters
Vossen 19" CVT Wheels, staggered

TWM Short Throw Shifter
RJM Clutch Pedal Assembly
Z1 Motorsports poly Transmission Mount
Z1 Motorsports poly Motor Mounts
Z1 Motorsports 2-piece rotors
Continental Extreme Sport tires
Akebono Performance Ceramic Pads

Whiteline Differential Bushings
Eibach Front and Rear Sway Bars
GT-Spec Front Shock Tower Brace
Swift Lowering Sport Springs (front)
Tein Basis Coilovers (rear)
SPC Rear Camber & Toe Kit
G37 Convertible Engine Cradle Braces

2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring Edition
The Honda served us flawlessly for 10 years, and then we bought our first AWD car - the 2018 Suraru Forester. The top-of-line Touring Edition came loaded with more high-tech and safety features than I ever knew existed. It has a sturdy, 2.5L boxer engine, and full-time all-wheel-drive. Plus there's a panoramic sunroof, premium sound system, this beautiful Saddle-Brown leather interior, Navigation, on and on. Pretty amazing little Crossover.

2018 Subaru Forester 2.5 Touring Edition

1967 Plymouth Fury II

This gorgeous hunk of Mopar was my winter car when I was young. It was bought new by my Grandfather long ago, and passed on to me when he became too old to drive. There was a 318ci small block with a 2-barrel carburetor, bench seats, and nothing but wind for floorboards. I kept this thing running on a shoestring budget, with soup cans and wire hangers.

1967 Plymouth Fury II

Ken Carlson's Jaguar

In the early 90's, my buddy Ken and I got together one morning and did a photo-shoot of our cars. We took a number of stills of his Jaguar, intending to creating an animated GIF of the car coming around the bend. (Remember, this was the early 90's.)