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Friday, September 22, 2023

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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March 14, 2006

You know what they say about the "best laid plans". Well, that's what went through my mind soon after my car's front end gave a love tap to a deer one night a couple weeks ago. Thanks in large part to the car's phenomenal brakes, I was almost stopped at the point of impact and the damage was minor. Unfortunately, it still means another trip to the body shop at a most inconvenient time. The E46 isn't here yet, I no longer have the RSX as a backup and I'm too cheap to pay out of pocket for a rental car, so I'm driving one of my brother's many spare vehicles.

Because of the manner in which the car was (poorly) painted by the previous shop and our need to blend into the surrounding panels this time around, I'm planning on repainting the front of the car again. To reduce the time & materials required to strip, prep, and prime the originals as well as to decrease the chance for adhesion problems, I'm using all new parts -- hood, grill support, and lower fascia. And while I'm at it, I'm replacing the grills and trim components on the front of the car. It should look like new when it's done -- which, of course, is the point.

My insurance company naturally won't pay to do everything I want, so I will be dipping into my wallet for a considerable sum this time. This will make it nearly impossible to recover any reasonable approximation of the money I've put into the car over the past few years in any kind of sale or trade, so the plan now is to keep the car and run it alongside its younger brother. But trust me -- aside from the unanticipated expense, I'm not shedding any tears here. I still love the way this car looks and drives, and I'm actually looking forward to making it a project car and possibly autocrossing with it to build my mechanical and driving skills.

And speaking of driver skills, I felt that I did what I could to avoid the majority of the deer, but like most good pilots do at the end of every flight, I spent some time thinking about whether I could have done anything differently. While I know the car pretty well in all normal modes of operation, I'm decidedly less familiar with it near the extremes of its performance envelope. For this reason, I'm considering taking a short spring vacation down in Spartanburg, South Carolina at the BMW Performance Center and enrolling in the 2-day driver's course. Should be fun. Now all I need to do is find the time to go, and because I'll be flying myself down there in the Skyhawk, reasonable weather as well.

The car was delivered to the shop last night and they are expected to begin work today. If all goes as planned (and as long-time readers will attest, it never does) I should have my baby back in about 2 weeks. Until then I'll be slummin' in a '97 1500 pickup with a bad steering rack and squeaking belts. As Stimpy would say, "Joy!" :-)