Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference.
In this week’s Ask Nathan:
- Land Rover Pickup Truck.
- Cheapest good used car?
- Lifting my Honda CR-V?
The first question comes from a fan who heard they may be building a Land Rover Pickup Truck in the near future,
Q: Did you see the news about there being a Land Rover pickup truck!?!?!? It would be based on the Defender!
Does that mean it would be a unit body pickup design like the Honda Ridgeline? I dunno. Does it mean that it would be capable of only holding 1,000 lbs or towing 5,000 lbs. I dunno.
Nathan! Help me with this!!!!
A: I had a look at the Autocar UK post about the Land Rover Pickup Truck. It looks like well thought out conjecture; however, the idea is pretty appealing. Considering the fanfare for the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the rumors of a Lexus Pickup truck and expensive American pickup trucks – why not?
There are a few things to take into consideration IF they do build a Land Rover pickup truck based on the upcoming Defender:
- JLR would have to build a subframe of some sort to add to the torsional rigidity once the rear section is exposed.
- It looks like it would be a four wheel independent suspension. They would most likely have to increase the capacity of the rear suspension.
- According to Autocar UK, they are only looking to make a single cab design. If this vehicle hopes to succeed in the United States, a multi passenger cab configuration would be needed.
- In our market, it would have to match or surpass midsize truck capacities at the very least. That means it would have to tow at least 7,000 lbs and haul over 1,700 lbs. Difficult with that type of design.
- It would have to maintain its off-road prowess.
I’m not saying these things are impossible, but it would definitely be a challenge. We’ll see what (if anything) JLR comes up with!
The next question comes from a long time fan who is in need for a very inexpensive ride.
Q: Hello, a really really long time ago I read a story you posted on another website. You were talking about the least expensive kind a look at the very best gas mileage.
At the time, you were talking about the Geo Metro. Actually the one you’re talking about was the Chevrolet Metro before they went out of production. I have very little money, and I was looking at one for $1200. It’s in very good condition with 30,000 miles on the new engine and clutch. The owner has detailed information about its past and all its receipts.
It’s the very cheapest good running car I can afford in Miami. I was seriously thinking about getting one so I can get back-and-forth to work for the next year or two for very little money. Running costs and licensing and insurance are pretty reasonable on this car and I will have a little bit of money left over to take car of any mechanical issues.
I i’m looking at a 1997 model with the 1L, 3 cylinder engine. It comes with a five speed manual transmission. Do you have any experience with these cars? I know they’re not very safe in an accident, but I’m desperate to get back-and-forth to work in something that has four wheels.
Can you help me out Nathan? I would really appreciate any insight you can give me.
A: Hi Carmen!
Thanks for reminding me of that one. Yes, back in 2006 I wrote about the virtues of a used Chevrolet Metro. It is very small, weighs under a ton and it puts out around 70 horsepower when new.
It’s not very quick, nor is it paticularry safe in a collision; however, it gets outstanding mpg. Also, it’s a simple, inexpensive and a quick car to repair. Parts are still fairly easy to source and basic maintenance is possible for novices.
I drove a few Metros in my time. When properly cared for, they can be very reliable. They are simple and fun to drive at slow speed too.
There are a few things to keep in mind:
- The front brakes tend to warp, the rear drums can lock up. Warped and locked brakes are dangerous. Fortunately, they are cheap to replace.
- Tires are tiny and can wear quickly. Fortunately, 13-inch tires are super cheap to replace. Spend a couple bucks and get good tires.
- The back seat has room for just two. If you haul passengers, steer clear of highways – your acceleration will be terrible. The car’s balance will be wallowy too.
- They are exceedingly easy cars to break into. Keep all valuables with you and out of the car if possible.
- Get a used service and repair manual. Chiltons or Haynes are good. These books can truly help with basic repairs and servicing. Also, you can be proactive and understand what goes into a repair before you’re charged by a mechanic.
- Check for rust before you buy. A little surface rust is one thing, but undercarriage and rust on suspension components can be a big issue.
- Join a forum like the GeoMetroForum – it’s a great way to have some of your questions answered.
- Check for oil leaks before and after you test drive the car. Check for smoke and funny smells as well.
- I like the Geo/Chevy Metro. It’s an honest, simple runabout that is remarkably efficient. They can be fun in slow traffic and they might be the easiest cars to park.
I was actually thinking about using one for a future video project.
There are other alternatives out there. Toyota and Honda have some older, inexpensive models that are more substantial and have more power. Still, if this is the car your heart is set on, enjoy it and drive carefully!
Hope that helps!
The last question comes from fan who wants to lift his Honda CR-V.
Q: Hi Nathan, this is my first time riding in. In fact I’ve been watching and reading your stuff for a long time.
I was wondering if you had any insight as to what it takes to lift a 2003 Honda CRV? Love mine so much! I was thinking about this because I want to do some light off roading but I don’t want to buy a new vehicle. I love my Honda, it’s very reliable and useful. But I was thinking about taking it to a couple dirt trails and having a little bit more ground clearance would be great. Do you have any perspective on this?
I have never lifted a Honda CR-V – although it sounds like fun. I have seen videos and watched a few lifted Honda CR-Vs bash around on the trails. It’s quite a sight.
I can tell you this: be very careful when you decide on a lift. If you go too extreme, you can damage and/or weaken many components. You transmission, suspension and 4WD system risk damage as they were never designed for that type of use.
If you go for bigger tires, you may have to upsize your brakes to compensate for the additional rotational mass. You may have to upgrade half-shafts, springs, shocks and suspension arms. You can also add extra stress if you go too wild.
With that being said, there are many CR-V owners in the community who swear that a one to two inch lift is easily sustainable and useful for the vehicle. Some say that as long as you keep it logical and avoid the temptation of adding massive tires, you may not have to do too much to lift your ride.
I recommend joining a few forums and talking to a few owners who have experience. There’s a YouTube channel called Honda Rescue Garage – and he seems to have some good insight along with installation demos. Definitely do some research before you continue.
Let me know how it goes!
Speaking of good crossovers to lift… maybe…
From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org.