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About Rob the SVX Guy

A student studying industrial design, Rob Podell is completely obsessed with all things automotive. Starting at an early age, Rob was mesmerized by shows like the Dukes of Hazzard, igniting his love affair with Detroit muscle and inspiring his first car purchase--a 1968 Dodge Charger 383. He sold the Charger shortly before the boom in muscle car prices, and then moved on to the sport compact car scene with a 1997 Dodge Neon Coupe. After eventually growing tired of the Neon's rattling interior, Rob then moved on to the love of his life, a 1992 Subaru SVX. When Rob isn't debating the merits of some obscure vehicle over the internet, he's usually working on industrial design projects, playing with his dog, or tinkering with his vintage audio gear.

Posts by Rob the SVX Guy

How to Polish your Glass Headlight Lenses, Step by Step

400gritAfter searching the entire Internet, I couldn't find any information on polishing glass headlight lenses, so I decided to share my adventure in glass restoration.

I'm currently embarked on a now 5-month restoration of my daily driver, a 1995 Audi S6 Avant. I like doing almost everything I can myself for a number of reasons--I gain new skillsets and knowledge, save money, and have a lot of fun.

Some things, however, like the actual painting of the vehicle itself, are best left to the professionals. To be able to afford my paint job, the guys over at Rose Custom and Collisions allowed me to disassemble the car myself and deliver it to them in pieces. This saved me thousands of dollars in labor and allowed me to get extremely intimate with the assembly and construction of a mid-1990s German super wagon.

Continue reading "How to Polish your Glass Headlight Lenses, Step by Step" »

The End of the Lake Superior Pro Rally

Capri1Real cars.  Real roads.   This has been the premise of rally racing, and the two main reasons I feel that this genre of motorsports eclipses all others.  Nascar is definitely the most popular form of racing here in America, but it just doesn’t appeal to me at all.   The idea of watch a tube-framed 500hp V8 RWD version of some boring domestic sedan (that in production form is actually FWD, has a 200hp V6, and drives without any connection to the road) go around in endless circles just numbs my brain, and makes me ponder about the intelligence of the average American and our nation’s future.   F1 has always been interesting, but the unbelievable engineering, mind-numbing skill, and ludicrous amount of money poured into it also make it incredibly distant.  I’m never going to be an F1 driver; I’m never going to have an engine that redlines at 20k rpm; I’m never going to spend 8 million dollars on a car.  It’s a spectacle to be sure, but completely unattainable and alien from my daily life.



Continue reading "The End of the Lake Superior Pro Rally" »

Repairing a Decade of Neglect: 1991 Honda Civic LX: Part Two

After a year-long hiatus, I’m back to CarLust with a lot of new content.  The first task at hand is to finish the update on my 1991 Civic LX.   In my last post, I hinted at the horrible mechanical condition of the car, but this time I’ll delve into the details, as well as touch on a new form of vehicle modification:  Eco-Modification . Front

After signing the paperwork, exchanging the money, and driving the vehicle home, I noticed a lot of things that needed immediate attention.  The brakes were pulsating badly due to worn out rotors and pads, the paint was more of a scientific experiment on mold and lichen growth, and the trunk wouldn’t stay shut and reeked of moisture.

The trunk turned out not to latch because the latch itself was pulling out of the chassis.  Luckily, my roommate had a welder handy, and a few minutes later with some white spray-paint, and all was well.  However, it still smelled horrible and was full of moisture, so a complete cleaning was necessary.  After pulling out the carpet, we found worms.  Lots of them.  Apparently, the previous owner was a fishing enthusiast, and never bothered to check how many were escaping his tackle box.  After cleaning that out, the taillights were pulled, a healthy dose of silicone sealant applied to the dried out taillight gaskets, and reinstalled.   Later that night, I ordered a lot of parts; rotors, pads, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs, and a distributor cap and rotor set.

The original reason for purchasing this car was to save money on my commute, which totaled about 150 miles daily, so I immediately began commuting in it.  Gas was peaking at $3.89 a gallon, so I calculated the mileage and discovered it was only getting about 29mpg at a steady 80mph.   Not good.  Once the new parts arrived, I started installing them and found the car’s mechanical condition matched the stunning exterior:  absolutely ignored for years.  When I climbed under the car, I noticed a blue Honda OEM oil filter.  Uh oh.  This car hasn’t seen a dealership for years.  When was the last time the oil was even changed?   Once I pulled the plug, things got worse.  Instead of a golden honey color and even consistency, instead I was met with a black, lumpy liquid filled with a mix of golden and silver specks and shavings.  Ignoring that and hoping for the best, I installed the rest of the parts, with an end result of 33mpg.

The interior was vacuumed, wiped down, and sprayed with an odor neutralizer.  As an industrial designer I really appreciate a basic, useful interior with intuitive controls that last not only mechanically, but also cosmetically.  Unlike many supposedly “better” and more modern vehicles, Hondas of this vintage have interiors that are a great example of honest use of materials, which means that once they’re cleaned, they basically look new.   The paint, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well.

31211_507135724856_107500324_30253011_5304735_nIt seems like the car was left outside and never washed, as the paint looked dry, and felt rough and porous to the touch.   Since it wasn’t sealed, moisture sat on the finish in a big film, eventually leading to mold and mildew that etched its way further into the paint.   No amount of mere soap and water could remove this film; it called for something far more aggressive.   Using 3m’s most abrasive compound, the car was attacked with a buffing wheel, and even then, you had to go against every sane piece of buffing advice.  You had to push down hard, and dig into the paint, to remove all the damaged, mildew stained paint.

The roof was even worse.  On top of the paint damage, it looked as if someone had thrown a dance party on top of the car.  The roof was caved in to the point where the headliner inside the looked as if it didn’t fit right.Roof   We ran to the fabric store, spent $13 on some very retro 1960’s diamondseye print, and a can of 3M Super77 Spray adhesive.  Lacking a decent area to work on the car due to high winds, I drove downtown into an empty parking lot, and headed for the basement.   The sun visors, lights, “Oh Sh*t” handles, and dome light were quickly stripped, and the headliner was removed.   After putting a very liberal amount of adhesive on the headliner, we then applied the fabric.  Before reinstalling, we laid in the backseat and used out legs to smash the roof and support beams back into shape.

Lastly, the hour long commute was painful with the rotted-out, 20 year old speakers and tape deck.   After picking up a few sets of the cheapest 6.5” speakers I could find and throwing in a spare CD player, the car was reborn.  With glossy white paint, a respectable interior, a decent sound system and achieving 33mpg, the car was once again a fantastic commuter vehicle.  Stay tuned for Part 3; Eco-Modification.

Unintentional Car Lust: 1991 Honda Civic LX: Part One

P1050273Hi. My name is Rob, and I am an addict. I have car lust. When I purchased the car pictured at right, I wasn't exactly looking to buy another car. I already own a 1989 Honda Prelude Si, one of the best handling cars ever produced, and a 1995 Audi S6 Avant as a fantastic daily driver. But sometimes in life, a car finds you.

I'll preface this article by explaining my current employment situation. After experiencing the joys of graduating in the worst recession in the past 70 years or so, I learned to take work where I could get it. Currently, I am working about 75 miles away from my residence, which means I commute, quite a bit. This is all well and good, but my daily driver S6 Avant is extremely rare (one of 300 in North America) and last year alone I piled on almost 30,000 miles. Clearly, something had to be done. My roommate also happens to work at the same place that I do, so we toyed with the idea of getting a car together, purely as a commuter. We weren't dead set on getting something, but we kept our eyes open. And like I said, sometimes cars find you.

Continue reading "Unintentional Car Lust: 1991 Honda Civic LX: Part One" »

Car Disgust--1969 Chevrolet Camaro


Wait, Car Disgust? Say again?

Yes. The Chevrolet Camaro, one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time, is a car I loathe. In fact, it's one of my all time least favorite cars.

Sure, it has a prominent place in muscle-car history. Yes, it has quite attractive proportions, and classy yet aggressive styling. And yes, it can be quite the performer, depending on what lurks under the hood. All of these qualities made it huge success for Chevrolet, and to this day it remains as one of the most popular sporty cars in history ... which is why I can't stand the thing.

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Our Cars--1978 Mercury Marquis Brougham Sedan

MercCookie's post on the LTD inspired me to write about my own experiences with a similar beast:  A 1978 Mercury Marquis Brougham Sedan, pictured below. 

 I originally purchased it for $300 when gas was $0.98 cents per gallon, purely because it had working air conditioning. That summer was extremely hot and humid, and my other cars (a 1968 Charger and a 1997 Neon) lacked that feature. I had the room for it, so why not? Over the course of owning it for a year and a half, I learned a lot about how people give you a lot of respect when you are driving a gigantic, rusty battletank with dings, rust, and missing hubcaps. Merging onto the freeway was like the parting of the red seas; everyone saw me coming and seemed to think, "Oh crap, this guy doesn't care at all! Get out of the way!" Then again, perhaps it was my sticker. My Uncle works for Raytheon, a missile defense company, and he'd given me a sticker that adorned my rear bumper. It read, "Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle: Discriminate and Destroy."   

Continue reading "Our Cars--1978 Mercury Marquis Brougham Sedan" »

Isuzu Impulse RS

Rsidx1aAfter hearing the news that Isuzu is leaving the North American market, my first instinct was to shrug it off.   I mean, really, who cares? Isuzu hasn't produced anything worth remembering or lusting after in quite a while, and its withdrawal really isn't a big deal in the automotive world; especially compared to other news. 

However, even companies as boring and derivative as Isuzu occasionally still make wonderful vehicles, and to bid Isuzu farewell I thought it necessary to write a Car Lust about one of the greatest hot hatches ever--the Isuzu Impulse RS.

Continue reading "Isuzu Impulse RS" »


Seriously.   If you have a severe case of carlust, chances are you live in the country that made the automobile what it is today.   Get out and vote.Flagcar

The 57 Chevy with it's insanely patriotic paintjob is about as "rah rah America!" as I could manage, and was found in a gallery of pictures from the Carlisle GM Nationals in 2007.   Whoever owns it, props!  That's pretty ridiculous.


- Rob the SVX guy

Salt + Cars = Stress

Ever read Sophie's Choice? Because that's kinda how I feel right now.

Growing up in the Midwest, I've had the pleasure opportunity to experience all the joys of winter, in full. Playing in the white powder is great, as John DeLorean could attest (the charges were dropped!--Chris H.), but I'm talking about snow.  Lots and lots of snow. Snow is generally pretty great. The reduced traction allows you to drive like a stunt man; sliding sideways around corners, doing donuts, J-turns, and pretending to be a rally driver. However, it's not really the snow I'm concerned about. Seeing as how our country caters to the lowest common denominator, we cater to people who don't have snow tires by salting every square inch of the roads.

From an auto enthusiast's perspective, I hate this. The salt corrodes everything on my vehicle, and half of the time my entire car is covered in white haze. Milwaukee is even worse than usual. They use double the amount of road salt per mile than most cities in the Midwest. Ignoring the whole concept of the government demanding your money to pay for salt that ruins your vehicles, I'm now faced with a choice:   What to drive this winter? I've been so stressed about this choice I figured I'd ask for your advice.

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1988-1991 Honda Prelude 4WS

Img_4108 About a year ago, I was searching for a car to replace my unloved 1992 Accord (AVOID), and I needed something reliable, relatively cheap, and easy on gas. Since I've had an extremely good experience with my 1989 Accord, I set out to find a Honda product that was made in that same time period.

Hondas of this vintage are cheap to run, reliable, and efficient, but what really makes them desirable is the fact that almost all models, from the base CRX to the larger Accord, have double-wishbone suspension.

While browsing the local classifieds, I came across a car that fulfilled all of my needs, fit within my budget, and shattered my expectations of just how good a small, older car could be.

Continue reading "1988-1991 Honda Prelude 4WS" »

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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