Visitation hours

For the latest repair update, I swung by the shop to pay the Fića a visit in person.

Here is the latest news, accompanied by a photo album of the progress.

What's the difference?

"Look, it's a Fića! You have one of these, don't you?"

Nope on both counts – this is why.

BMW vs. The Final Thoughts

Once we finished our laps, the race car drivers had a go...with us in the car. I'll tell you this: the grab handles on the doors are very sturdy.

Also, the way the race car drivers explained what we were about to do on both tracks was perfect: one talked to the group of us as another was in a car demonstrating.

BMW vs. the 335i xDrive

I'll just get right out and say it: the car you see above is a monster.

If you have any troubles in life, some time behind the wheel of this will erase them from your memory. It summons the endorphins as it accelerates and accelerates and accelerates, then provoking a smile out of you as you notice that you can take a corner without slowing down at all.

But the best part is, this is not the car for oblivious guy.

BMW vs. the 328i xDrive

High expectations abound for someone who hosts an event. People expect that the TV show is worth watching, the party worth going to, or the food worth eating. The host takes this burden of expectation on their shoulders so that their guests leave satisfied – ideally not because they are leaving.

It gets even worse when someone is hosting a competition in which they themselves are participating. Not only is one expected to put on a good show, they are also expected to win.

So what happens when they don't?

BMW vs. Acura TL SH-AWD Tech

We all knew one of these: the bigger, older kid that was rejected by children his own age, and thus insisted on hanging out with younger kids to feel superior.

In some cases, it's since he couldn't keep up with his peers, mentally or physically. Other times, it's because he became too annoying and immature, so his age group didn't like him anymore.

Either way, the fact is he ran after a group in which he didn't belong. In this comparison, the Acura TL was that guy.

The 3-series was the last of the compact sedans that was actually compact. Now with its 2012 re-design, every new respectable compact car on sale is now officially the size of a bus.

But that doesn't mean that a five-meter-long Acura should play in the same sandbox.

BMW vs. Infiniti G37x

We are about to enter a mystical parallel dimension, one not known to the common man, which lies between modesty and materialism, between fantasy and supervision.

Here, badges symbolize nothing at all, yet many cars carry not one, but two. Firms make six different cars for one single market segment, and all of them find homes easily...

This is a place where the commercial vehicles and people-carriers of choice are barely big enough to use four wheels. Robots, instead of signs, show you the direction of travel. Police cars are black and white, but you'd never recognize them.

Here, emergency vehicles and race tracks have an enforceable speed limit. Here, used cars are more expensive than new cars. And yet, this place does exist – on this very earth.

BMW vs. Audi A4 quattro Premium Plus

Despite Audi's unbearably irritating salesman, I should technically be biased towards this car. I myself rely on a quick Volkswagen for regular transport, and find it to be the best choice out there. I also adore the B7 Audi RS4. By all logic, this should be my favorite.

Regardless, I was convinced that this would be an epic car before I even came: their interiors are second-to-none, quattro is second-to-none, their engines are second-to-none, and their value-for-money is second-to-none.

This one in particular has the S-line package as well, bringing good sport seats, 19" wheels, sport suspension, and some trim details to the boxing match.

BMW vs. Mercedes C300 4Matic

What else could possibly come to mind first when you think of the automobile?

Mercedes-Benz: the inventor of the automobile; the black-painted ambassador of dictators; synonym of quality, solidity, post-apocalyptic reliability, and badge prestige; the imported pride of Albania... The list goes on and on.

Vehicles with the three-pointed star are coveted by practically everyone, having verified their bank-vault-like reputation with a matching solid history. Nobody, ever, will laugh at you for showing up in a Mercedes. They'll laugh at you when they see the crocodile-skin shoes you're wearing.

But I digress. I'm here to talk about the Benz in a certain context, as BMW's historic rival from Stuttgart.

BMW vs. The Event

The idea behind this event was to spend the morning testing out all the players in the sport compact segment for yourself – it just so happened that the event was organized by BMW...

Indeed, laid-back and seemingly-independent race car drivers were our hosts. One did the compulsory (sales) presentation at the beginning, and the rest took us out to the tracks, demonstrated the courses, and oversaw our shenanigans.

BMW 3-Series Comparison Drive

The weather's been unusually good lately – so good that September and October have been, save for nights, better than summer itself! I'd rather have had summer weather when there was time to do summer things, but I can't complain too much, either: at least fall brought the vitamin D that could have been absent altogether.

Had the usual sky-borne motley crew made its traditional appearance, then perhaps the event I attended would not have been as pleasant.

I'm talking about the BMW 3-Series Comparison Drive, where we got to (attempt to) flog a group of 2012 328's and 335's, as well as some of their competition, on a closed section of Cypress Mountain.

Mechanical relatives

This is the Zastava 1300, the biggest, most upscale passenger vehicle that shared the Kragujevac assembly line with my Fića. Just as the case was with Fićas, this was the "domestic" version of the Fiat 1300 and 1500, differing only in badge and certain equipment.

While not as historically significant as the Fića, the 1300 has a story of its own...especially the one you see here.

Šta će ti Fića?

The title is Serbian for, "What do you need a Fića for, anyway?"

A cream-colored Zastava 750 once made an appearance in an old movie, which I happened to watch as a kid. The little car had suicide doors and an engine that sounded like it was reversing when it was actually going forward.

This unusual beast grasped my curious mind instantly. My parents then mentioned that it was a domestic car – I was hooked.

I now remember nothing about the film, but the car never left my memory. 'Googling it' at the time didn't exist – from Canada, then, there was no way to completely satisfy my curiosity. And so, I slowly began to forget the strange little car.

Progress is being made

(Which gear would this count as?)

It's getting there. The arduous task of re-wiring the Fića can't be completed in a few days, or even a few weeks. When a car's wires are thrown about in all the wrong directions, one's brain has to work overtime to sort out all the permutations.

In this case, it's taking three different wiring diagrams (two "sixes" and an "eight") to find where the wires were (incorrectly) connected to begin with, and then extensive testing on top of that to confirm that everything is where it seems to be.

Only then comes the part where you actually connect the wires properly.


Saying that your car is the first of anything is nothing short of ambitious. How can I be so sure that mine is the first in Canada?

Well, the group of owners is fairly centralized – i.e. there's very little that goes on in the world of Zastava 750's that the owners' community isn't aware of. Nevertheless, there is information to be found outside the realm of home-market enthusiasts.

Through my own research, I have found the only known stories of Fićas with a transatlantic trek under their tires.

Not so fast

(How does one untangle the consequences of half-assery?)

It's been a couple weeks since my Fića was taken to its doctor. What has happened since then?

Well, in between tending to the vast array of other cars that also require his expertise, my mechanic has 'assessed the damage,' so to speak. As expected, things don't look so good...

Review: 2013 Ford Taurus SEL

Large companies are usually not the best examples of how to do business – despite all logic.

For decades, Ford Motor Co. struggled to understand the practical definition of teamwork. There were teams of chassis engineers, suspension engineers, interior designers, exterior designers, and so forth, working on the same car separately from one another. The teams never talked to each other, delegating middlemen called “product planners” to do this for them.

The outcome of all this was an automobile designed in chunks collected by carrier pigeons.

Time of the Gremlins

(Good company.)

I've sent my Fića to get its wiring fixed!

Last week, I arranged with the same mechanic from before to wire the Fića to an eight-fuse-box. The plan is to fix the electrics problem once and for all (and install the new handbrake cable while we're at it).

As you'd expect, driving the car to the shop is not possible, hence it had to get towed. Much to my delight, the Fića got there in a big, enclosed car trailer. But that wasn't the extent of the nice surprises...

The little Saturn that couldn't

There's no such thing as a bad experience. Every experience teaches you something good – the difference being in how that teaching is executed.

You will take away something positive and useful from everything that happens to you, no matter how much difficulty it's tied to. Take for instance the onerous situation that is my Fića, post-bad-restoration.

At the end of all this, I'll basically know how to put one together blindfolded.

Nevertheless, certain "good experiences" inevitably leave their mark on you, and you seem to remember more than you learn. In that spirit, here is my automotive horror story.

Definitive diagnosis

(Making sense of the mess.)

Let's see if I can't fix the Fića's wiring myself...

I had a theory that the car was wired for an eight-fuse-box, but that said wires were forced into a six-fuse-box.

The time came to put this theory to the test.

Review: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The recent history of Detroit is a fascinating one.

The city is known for its strong tie with the US automobile industry, and for good reason. It all began in 1899, when Henry Ford’s first factory appeared in then-greater Detroit. By the 1920's, the US automotive industry dominated the whole city.

And so, Detroit became labor-hungry – an influx of middle-class workers, largely European immigrants, multiplied the population by six by the time said factory was 30 years old.

The drawing board, again

(The only way to sort out the mess.)

When the universe forces you to wait – be it for a car part or for the expiry of a penal sentence – you have time to think. For the simple reason that you can't possibly do anything to make the end goal arrive any faster, you have the (ironic) luxury of thinking about alternatives, and working the possibilities that they bring into your current dilemma. Perhaps there's something else out there – an undiscovered alternative solution – that can bring results when the current strategy seems to be doing anything but.

In the interim of waiting to find a six-fuse-box, I contemplated the option of converting my Fića to an eight-fuse-box instead. Which could be complicated – or not...

Daunting doors

(Spot what's missing!)

After consulting the knowledgeable regarding the replacement of the window mechanisms, I found out some more info as to the presence of that plastic on the left door.

It turns out that car factories did fit them to cars (Fićas and otherwise), just not in the way that the restorer did.

Status update

(Not seeing double!)

Small news, but good news nonetheless!

That missing window regulator was missing out of error: the seller sent it over a few days after I mentioned it, and indeed, here it is. I can now say that I have a reliable source of (certain) new parts.

Also, given the dry weather of the day – and a little unexpected free time – I took advantage.

Review: 2011 Ford Crown Victoria LX

I’d be willing to bet ten thousand dollars at the roulette table (on zéro, naturally) that you know of a man called James Bond. I may even put down a few chips more when contemplating whether you – during childhood, of course – have ever presented your own name in reverse order.

And because I’ve just won ten thousand extra dollars, I’d further go out on a limb and affirm that you’ve seen a film called Diamonds are Forever – the last time that producers confused Commander Bond for a “Mr. Connery...”

Even the mail is a tease

(Anything missing?)

That big parts order I mentioned has arrived! Understandably, I didn't wait long to open the box once I got hold of it.

At the time, little did I know that I was in for yet another surprise. However, this surprise is unique in the fact that it should have been completely expected as well.

The box contents are in the above photo; notice anything missing?

Hanging by a wire

(Many maps to one target.)

More progress is underway on getting the Fića to the stage it should have been a year and a half ago. However, the further along I go, the more things complicate themselves.

Some weeks ago, I set to erasing all traces of that cheap, peeling, and haphazardly glued-on gutter trim. Taking the unworthy plastic off proved incredibly satisfying – not unlike liberating a parasite from its undeserving host – and culminated with a swift toss of the wannabe-shiny-stuff into my trash can. It was so swift that I forgot to take a picture...