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Since taking ownership of my ZR-1, I’ve created a habit of taking at least one extended cruise a year, designed to drive on interesting roads and explore this new continent I now inhabit and also just to glory in driving around in this incredibly rare and special ‘vette so that all can see. (Actually, I don’t think anyone much notices or cares, but it helps feed my starved ego to think they do.)

Traveling this way is a little bit like royalty trying to slip the paparazzi and move around incognito. King he may be, but to most people he is sadly just a generically labelled “Corvette” judged on the quality of his paint (and current state of cleanliness) rather than the unique Lotus-designed heart that beats beneath the hood.

Coastal Road to Marquette

Coastal Road to Marquette

While no Corvette is ‘ordinary,’ Dave McClelland et al. made a very deliberate decision to run the King of the Hill in discrete clothing. Some ZR-1 owners I believe find this a source of frustration and bemoan the fact that the ZR-1 wasn’t given more distinctive features. I certainly sympathise with this when I find myself at Corvette shows and even other Corvette owners seem to not understand what they are looking at; but for the most part I actually find the relative ignorance amusing.

The first of these extended cruises was a drive around New England two years ago to take in the coastal sights. For this year’s trip (we skipped last year as my wife and I had an important wedding to attend – our own!) we decided to do a coastal trip of a different variety – the ‘Circle Tour’ around Lake Superior. This involves following the roads that skirt around the lake and had all the hallmarks of one of the most memorable journeys “on our doorstep”. The tour is 2100 km (1300 miles) around and the quickest recorded circumnavigation is 18 hours on a motorbike (driven at legal speeds).

In our case we planned to spend the first night in Paradise, MI, and then go around the southern coast of the lake, up to Duluth, cross back into Canada and stay at Thunder Bay, before curling back down the eastern coast to hit Wawa and finally Sault Ste. Marie.

The first day was the usual mix of rush and relaxation. This was our first real vacation of the year and with the world economy in full-on meltdown we were more than ready Continue reading

I’ve wanted a decent garage for years now and there’s always seemed to be reasons why it wasn’t possible. Not least of which being the difficulty of finding a contractor prepared to work with us where we’re located. (We hear “you’re too far out a lot – despite the fact that it’s only 20 mins from town).

We’ve also had challenges on location of a garage. Our lot is big (an acre) but the majority of it isn’t really useable as we back onto a rocky hill. While going through the last round of “can we/can’t we” we happened to be lunching with one of the other members of our local ‘vette club and as it happened his son has just set himself up as a contractor doing this kind of work.

Mike came around and looked at our situation. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic, I thought I’d been through every permutation of what was possible. But he came up with a different proposal that should work just fine and doesn’t require anything fancy on the permit side of things. After several discussions and running ideas back and forth the plan looks like a go and we signed the paperwork last night to get the ball rolling!

I don’t feel “excited” as such yet. I’m definitely pleased that we’ve finally got some movement in the right direction, but it still feels too far off to get really pumped by it. For now the work will be prepping the site, leveling etc. with the actual construction happening next year once the weather breaks.

The plan is to build an oversize double in size. 24 by 32 with a 10 foot roof. This will give me good parking for two cars and the space to put a car hoist in there down the line as well as a bit of a “shop” area for working on projects etc. We couldn’t afford to go any bigger really and I don’t think we’d have room without starting to hit the rock and bumping the price up dramatically.

Mike is coming round to do a site survey and mark up the location on Wednesday and then do the leveling on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how it looks. I must remember to take some “before” now.

After much thinking about the problems, the only way that I could think of was to get rid of some of the wire to allow it to be tucked inside the passenger side kick panel. Cutting down the ignition and other wires was not a problem but the RCA leads for the speakers were a bit more daunting being a central wire surrounded by a conductive sheath. I got some new connectors and tried to solder those but after I messed up two (and got some rather painful burns on my fingers!) I decided that it would be easier to cut and splice the original wires and connectors.

That proved much easier (for my skill level at least) and after the necessary modifications were complete I reinstalled everything. This time I manged to tuck the wires inside the kick panel and close that up properly. The head unit was still a pain Continue reading

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