Tag Archives: ford

2019 PNW Contour Group Annual Meet

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I’m at it again…tossing my suitcase in the trunk and hitting the open road across the country in an old hooptie — with a AAA card handy.

This time though, things are a little different. I’m going to a car meet. I’ve been a member of many car clubs over the years (Bimmer Forums, ZHP Mafia, Club RSX, Drive Accord, Acurazine, Mazda6 Forums, NPORA-Nissan Pathfinder off-road Association…to name a few), but I’ve never attended any of their annual meets. Proximity, time and frankly, interest have gotten in the way of me making the jump.

Ever since the PNW Contour Group reached out to me earlier this year, I’ve been hooked and never met a nicer group of folks. This is one meet I’ll try out. It was going to be hosted in Portland, Oregon, and that was just the ticket I needed to get away from the summer heat.

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So, I hopped in the creaky old Ford and set out on a 3,500 mile drive to the Pacific Northwest. Aside from taking delivery in Colorado earlier this year, I haven’t had the Contour on the road for such a long journey. This would be a good test of the 21 year old cooling system in addition to all the other parts I’m unaware of their originality. Some call it crazy, some adventurous. I’d leave it as living on the edge. My route was as follows:

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Maintenance and repairs for the Contour have luckily been minimal thanks to the care it’s received in the past. I’ve only had to change out the transmission fluid, recharge the A/C system, alignment, tires, and resurface the brake rotors. All my other costs have been largely cosmetic. In anticipation of this annual meet, I made sure every inch of this car was as clean as it could get and what’s left of the original paint polished and sealed.

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The rear bumper needed a little buffing as the clearcoat on my DIY job hadn’t retained the luster it had. I might have to have this professionally resprayed at some point. This should hold me over for now.

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The interior, though a little warped and brittle from 21 years of sun exposure, cleaned up pretty nice.

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And I managed to stow everything in the trunk leaving the backseat clean and clear. This stash even included two buckets full of detailing supplies and some random car parts I planned to give away at the meet.

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I hit the road on a Wednesday afternoon and planned to return the following week around the same time. This meant a fairly tight schedule of only two days driving to Portland and two days back. That was an average of 800 miles/12hrs a day. You never realize how big our country is until attempting stuff like this. My stops along the way were minimal as I’ve been on this route many times in the past.

Colorado state line

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Utah state line

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Things started greening up near Price Canyon, UT.

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Welcome to Idaho!

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I’ve seen this road many times in the past, but never tire of the lovely grassy hills of southern Idaho.

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First night’s stop in Twin Falls, ID. All my work on detailing the exterior went out the door due to rain showers outside of Price, UT. No biggie, that’s where those detailing supplies will eventually be handy.

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Next day, a short stop to view the Snake River Canyon.

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This is the I.B. Perrine Bridge which hangs over the Snake River. At 486 feet above the canyon floor, it’s a popular location or adrenaline junkies to jump off with parachutes.

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View of the Snake River from under the bridge.

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Several hours later, I finally arrived in Oregon!

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I was impressed by the determination of this little Contour. Not one issue so far. I was getting a solid 27 MPG on premium fuel even with steady 80 MPH speeds and the A/C constantly blowing.

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Driving along the Columbia River with Mt. Hood in the distance.

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Arrived in Portland. The meet was going to take place here at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport.

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As I arrived a day early, first order of business was cleaning off the grime I accumulated over the last two days. The plan was to complete some photo ops prior to attending the actual meet on Sunday. A quick Google search for a credit card friendly, self-serve car wash led me to one about seven miles over the river to Vancouver, WA. Check out that insect homicide scene!

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This is where bringing my own detail supplies came into play. I only utilized the high pressure water.

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Dinner at Shari’s where I gorged in breakfast for dinner…a chicken fried steak with eggs.

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The following day was going to be mine to explore. The boys had an autocross event 90 miles away, but since I have neither the reaction time or any desire to put that kind of stress on the Contour, I chose to head west and enjoy the PNW in all its glory. Here’s a photo one of the members sent me. I have to admit, I did feel like I was missing out!

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However, I did have the beach and rain forests calling my name, so I proceeded with the plan.

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I caught highway 26 leading out of Portland to Seaside.

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Entering rain forest territory. This is what makes this desert boy happy.

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Short hike on the Four County Point Trail.

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Then, I drove until I ran out of land. This is Sunset beach outside of Seaside, OR where I’ve taken my Accord and Mazda6 for similar photo shoots. Now, it was the Contour’s turn.

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Of course, who could resist a few little innocent donuts in the sand?

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Lunch was in Seaside at Ruby’s Roadside Grill. I tried their albacore tuna fillet melt which was out of this world!

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After my day of clowning around the beach and trails, I headed back to Portland where the gang was starting to trickle in for the night. We had a roped off parking area behind the hotel. This was my first time meeting everyone in person, and I couldn’t have asked for a more warm welcoming.

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A look from my hotel window as I was winding down for the evening.

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The morning of the official meet. Many of us were out at the crack of dawn vacuuming, polishing, dusting, and staging our cars. I live for this kind of stuff.

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Some minty seats I bought off a fellow member to eventually replace a few of mine that are pretty well weathered.

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This silver beauty next to me belongs to JD out of Phoenix, AZ. What are the chances we share the same vanity plates?!

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Alex (in blue) had his car featured in The Smoking Tire SVT Contour review

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All polished up and ready. See that gent in the cowboy hat? That’s Greg from California. He’s a proud owner of 11 Contours! Much respect.

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Some of the interiors were pretty wild. This SVT had the dash and console swapped from a Mercury Mystique to add a touch of luxury.

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Fully decked out here with red pipping, carbon fiber, and Momo steering wheel just to name a few…

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Next item on the itinerary, we headed indoors to our reserved conference room.

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A lot of action in here. This is where t-shirts were distributed, member story presentations given, raffles, awards, behind-the-scenes of the club and a game of Jeopardy!

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T-shirts.

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Chicken fajita buffet for lunch.

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Back outside for voting.

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Hoods up if you want consideration for best engine bay award. I left mine down.

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Rearranging the cars for a group photo.

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Photo credit here: Alexander Davis

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Totally unexpected, but I managed to bring home two awards, Best Exterior and Farthest Traveled.

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Going Home:

The meet was over around 3:30 pm which provided ample time to gain some ground for that night’s scheduled stop in Baker City, OR. I then continued on the same route where I’d spend the last night in Green River, UT.

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Quick stop for lunch with my buddy Josh in Bosie, ID.

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Views near Moab, UT

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I tried something different for my last night on the road in Green River. I swapped the comfy hotel accommodations for a more primitive, yet charming KOA cabin.

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Good thing I brought my own blankets and pillow! Luckily, KOAs and most other camp grounds have wifi these days. My sanity was preserved.

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Back in New Mexico!

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Continental Divide at 7,275 feet above sea level.

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Last leg of the journey.

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Home safe and sound! Aside from having to add a little oil, the Contour was very well behaved on the trip. It didn’t skip a beat even with some 100+ degree heat, heavy cross winds, rain, bumper-to-bumper traffic in Salt Lake City, or steep inclines I encountered. Thank you for coming along for the ride. Notice a little garage preview here of what’s to come in the next post. Stay tuned!

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Breaking Bad, Ford Roundup and Garage Lighting

91VRA8kjYXL._RI_I’m back at it finding old Breaking Bad filming locations. This particular location is the first “cook” site in Season 1 and the many action-packed scenes in Season 5. Finding this location is a bit tricky as it sits on Indian reservation land in a remote area only accessible by dirt roads. After some digging around the internet, I found the approximate area northwest from Tohajiilee, NM (about 46 miles west of Albuquerque). So, I set about scouting in the freshly detailed Mazda 6.

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As I’ve seen the Breaking Bad series quite a few times, it was easy to spot the landmarks. Found it!

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Those of you who’ve watched the show know this is a very popular scene.

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Here’s my try.

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I was a little off lining up this one.

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Walter White’s Chrysler vs. the Mazda 6

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Road leading to the “cook” site.

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Never hurts to flex the suspension a bit. Luckily I didn’t get stuck in sand. No cell reception or other vehicles for miles could have been bad.

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Ford Roundup

Back in April (2019), I participated in my first ever local car show, the 16th Annual Ford Roundup. This was hosted by the Alamogordo Mustang Club and all American made cars were welcome to attend. Aside from a newer Buick Regal GS hatchback, I probably had the smallest displacement of the bunch. Lots of fun overall and quite a few spectators were amused by the Contour. I had two different groups: those who said they hadn’t seen an SVT Contour in person, and those who didn’t have any idea what it was. More photos can be found here.

I spent an entire day prepping for this show. Cleaning, Hoovering, dusting and polishing to try and get the Contour decent looking. By request of some readers, here’s some interior shots.

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Forgot to mention earlier, I had the roof resprayed.

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Here she is in the show with my homemade display sign.

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Other photos from the show…

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These folks next to me won the prize for best 1990-2000 in the show. Well deserved as their ’99 GT with 30,000 original miles was concours-ready despite traveling from Amarillo, TX.

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In other Contour news, I took it in for its first oil change since it’s been in my possession. “Where did you find this?!!” from the service advisor. I also had them recharge the A/C and do a through inspection. All should be good now for Portland in July!

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Also got the wheels refinished as the factory clear coat was pretty much all worn off.

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Now, I can say the exterior is about as good as it’s going to get within budget.

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Garage Updates

One major garage upgrade that was long overdue is lighting. This photo that was taken shortly after I moved into the house shows how much of a joke the single light fixture was. I can’t believe the builders considered this sufficient. I’ve gotten by over the years with plug-in halogen shop lights and headlamps for working on the cars or detailing. This year though, enough was enough. I needed to fix this.

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Lots of research went into what type of lighting I should use. The first consideration was my overall intension for the garage. Am I going to make this into a mini-showroom or workshop? Two completely different lighting needs there. As I often do, I made things more difficult for myself and decided the goal was to have a mixture of the two. Track lighting would provide some dramatic effects, but not so useful in detailing or working on cars. Fluorescent fixtures seemed to be the best choice overall, but wouldn’t give the premium feel I was after. Final choice, 6″ recessed LED lighting.

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Many hours of research went into how one does this retrofit himself. The process ended up being pretty simple, just time consuming and frustrating working with what little light I had available.

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The efforts paid off in the end. Let there be light!

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Next, the back wall needed a facelift.

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I added some wood planks to an accent wall to give some warmth and visual interest.

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Then I swapped the shelves with cabinets to avoid a cluttered look.

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Lastly (at least for this post), I made a small workbench and added a pegboard.

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This is how it looks today. I already made an appointment for an epoxy floor coating in June and later down the line I may add some sort of sound system with speakers in the wall. Stay tuned!

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Bringing the Contour’s Paint Back to Life

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Time to strap on the latex gloves and bring out the detailing gear on the Contour! As I pointed out in the last post, much of the car is in decent condition, and only needs a little superficial TLC to make it pop. That’s where I spent my energy these past few weeks. It’s been a long process, and I’m no where near finished. A few hours here and there after work is all I’ve been able to devote to this project. However, I’m seeing some good results.

First off, let’s talk about that flag you’ll be seeing in the background. Since there’s a Ford in the garage now, I found it fitting to get something for it.

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Personalized plate arrived too!

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Okay, now on to the paint. I first tackled the rear bumper. Aside from the roof, which I’ll get to in March or April, this is the biggest eye sore. I used my Porter Cable buffer with a yellow cutting pad and Meguiar’s Ultimate Cutting Compound followed by a black pad and polish. The paint here looked to be original with very heavy oxidation and bad clear coat failure at the very top. My plan of attack:

  • Compound the entire bumper to take as much oxidation off as possible
  • Level/sand down the blistered clear coat areas
  • Spray paint the bad areas using a two-step process of base and top coats
  • Compound again to blend and level it all out
  • Finalize with Wolfgang polish and carnauba wax

The original plan was for a body shop take care of this while also doing the roof. However, the bumper is a little warped in some areas and there’s a small corner broken off that bugs me. I’m unsure if I’ll keep it or seek a replacement. So for now, I’m just doing a cheap fix. The above steps should hold me over for a year or so.

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Even at the highest RPM on my buffer, this took some time to see decent results. Here’s a 50/50 shot.

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I also attacked some of the quarter panels. These weren’t quite as intense. Still plenty of scratches to be removed.

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Check out that shine and metallic flake! This is why I love Ford’s Toreador Red Metallic.

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I also went down the driver’s side.

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Though I plan to replace the current exhaust setup, I couldn’t let it go without a good cleaning too.

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Examining the bumper in sunlight. You can see a tremendous improvement, though the failed clear coat is still apparent. Time to address that…

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This is my first time doing a cheap rattle-can paint job, so the whole thing has been a learning experience. I first dry sanded the rough areas to ensure a smooth finish and good adhesion.

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I then removed the bumper to see if I could improve the alignment and tighten the panel gaps. Doing this prior to painting would prevent the new paint from blistering from all the flexing and bending.

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Back on the car with minimal improvements to the fitment. I emptied an entire 8oz can of Dupli-Color BFM0344 base coat and topped with another 8oz of Dupli-Color EBCL01257 clear. This is cheap stuff, but went on effortlessly.

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The results as of this posting. There’s plenty of orange peel, but the color match is pretty spot on. I’m waiting for the appropriate cure time before hitting the whole thing with compound again. I’ll report back with the results.

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You may notice that I extended the paint down pretty low to cover up the compounding job I just finished. That was to help with blending.

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On another topic, I’ve been revamping my car record binders. Adding the Contour made me realize that a fresh, consistent look was needed. The gray 6’s binder was getting so full that I had to create a Volume II. With over 264,000 miles, those records really add up.

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Here’s the Contour’s documentation and promotional material, some of which I’ve added. Not pictured here (from being hidden somewhere in storage) I have a VHS tape of the SVT Contour debut. That will be fun to find again though I won’t be able to play it. Anyone still have an old VHS player to loan?

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I was able to find that video on Youtube (Warning: hardcore 90s content here). At 0:58, you can hear how aggressive it sounded even in stock form.

The first owner must have been an enthusiast as there were plenty of SVT news printouts. I’m also lucky enough to have the original sales contract.

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Given my new branding of, “Pawela’s Garage”, it was time to give the old garage a little love too.

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New artwork and displays on the east wall. Next on the list will be performing lighting upgrades.

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And included with those displays, I added window stickers for each car. Both the Mazda’s needed to be recreated which I painstakingly did in Adobe Illustrator.

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Though the attention as been mostly on the Contour, the Mazda’s aren’t forgotten.

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Sunset shot of the daily…

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And the “i” got a bath to clear away the dust. I’ve only driven this 200 miles within the past 3 months.

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That does it for now. Until next time!

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