Vermont or Bust

rusty-brat-leadWe finally got the upper case I key on the old Underwood typewriter fixed, so now is the time for a first person missive pertaining to recent developments. You may have noticed a break in the action around here at the mighty Clunkbucket. No, I have not sold out to clandestine publishing interests in Moldova. The bad news is I won’t be hanging out in California as much as I have been over the last 25 or so years. The good news is I have accepted the honorable position of Associate Editor at Hemmings in scenic Bennington, Vermont. Is this the end? Not at all. This is a new beginning. Clunkbucket will continue on, with the probable inclusion of vintage snowmobiles. [now, with bonus gallery – ed]

Has it been a fun ride? Yes. Is it over? No. Change is a good thing. One of the founding principles of Clunkbucket is to help find, fix, and drive your forgotten or unloved classic. There will be no massive core shift in this philosophy. In fact there will probably be more ramblings about fixing exquisite junk – quite possibly focusing on rust repair. It’s true. No longer will I be able to revel in the rust-free world of California desert climate automobiles. As so many have reminded me recently, New England has snow, ice and road salt. Since I grew up in Vermont, I already know that springtime means finding out that the only thing holding that old bucket together was the ice!

Change also means I will need your help. The first assignment for the vast readership of Clunkbucket is to answer this question. What car, truck, van, or personal hovercraft would you recommend as the ultimate Vermont winter beater? Snowmobiles  or Sno-Cats are excluded. My first choices of a 1977-79 Subaru Wagon or 1991 five-speed AWD Justy appear to have completely disintegrated on a global basis. I’m already researching the importation of 1991 Mitsubishi Delica Super Exceed Star Wagon turbodiesel 4WD. Please leave other suggestions for careful consideration in the comments while I steer a truck full of engine blocks and old car parts across our great land. Battlecar Galactica is in tow behind the truck, and the Starlet is getting shipped to Schenectady for pickup.

The Subaru BRAT shown here was photographed in a Vermont long ago, and has probably disintegrated.


  1. says

    First, congratulations, Mike. Hemmings will be better for it!

    Second, and less eloquent, OMFG DELICA RU SRS?!? DO WANT. I thought we were saddled with a 25 year waiting period on them, making the “newest” Delica you could get an ’85 or ’86. Fortunately, this was the beginning of the third generation L300/Space Wagon, but I think a newer model might score you a newer lump under the console. Such sweet rides.

    You might want to check out, as there’s a good group of Delica owners in the great white north who know a lot about importing, servicing, and modifying Delis.

    Finally, while a Delica might provide eccentricity and utility befitting a Clunkbucketeer such as yourself (it’s a conversation starter and there’s plenty of room for treasure found while wandering the yard), I’d like to point out that my good friend way up in the mountains of Colorado last night told me he needs to lock the hubs and chain the tires on his proper (read: Hilux) Toyota to get up his driveway, but a Galant VR4 will belligerently scratch its way to the garage in year-round trim.

    It would be a shame to see yet another GVR4 rot away in the salted north, but it is the executive four door, with a solid supply of DSM donors in every state. Might be worth considering.

    May the fall colors of Vermont comfort a soul missing the SoCal sunset.

  2. Jim Sorenson says

    Vermont, eh? We’ll miss you out here on the Pacific Rim. But the Hemmings deal sounds bitchin’.

  3. says

    may I suggest a high-miles example of one of the 1998/99 Volvo V70/XC70 twins (in AWD guise of course.) I happen to know of a lovely 99 XC70 with three different color body panels, but solid mechanicals available for sale on Craigslist in the Rutland area for a Benjamin over a grand. The seller is pobably negotiale… No, I’m NOT the seller but I was considering it as an adjunct to my candy red 98 V70 AWD. Oh, and say “Hi” to Kate Sulivan for me 😉 she’ll know who it is 😉

  4. LTDScott says

    Already knew the news, but congrats nonetheless.

    Having lived in SoCal for the last 22 years of my life, I’m not well equipped to make suggestions on Winter beaters. I’d say an early 1990s Subaru Loyale.

  5. DickT says

    Subarus make winter driving easy because you can get going on any grade provided the snow isn’t too deep. Saab 9ks have good balance and stop well but are hard to get over the top of the steep gaps. My all time favorite was a 69 Olds Delta 88 2dr hardtop with soft springs and 4 Mud and Snow retreads from E&E Tire in Burlington. Town and Country sandpaper tread.

  6. Brad says

    If you were in Europe
    I’d suggest a Series 3 Land Rover.
    But some how I think you’d have trouble finding one of those in the US.

  7. Patrick says

    Brad Said: “If you were in Europe
    I’d suggest a Series 3 Land Rover.
    But some how I think you’d have trouble finding one of those in the US.”

    Not with the old-LR-parts-supplier Rovers North based in Westford VT: www-roversnorth-com

    There’s oodles of them in VT, CT, MA, NH and ME, findable through the Land Rover Exchange site, and often with bulkhead and chassis rust in the “just-enough-to-too-much” range to keep street cred from evaporating like a venti mocha latte. That their “heaters” are known as shin-burners is enough to boost them at least three spots higher up the list.

  8. Maymar says

    Since you’re only three and a half hours from the Canadian border, getting an ’85-’95 Delica is still feasible with some registration trickery. You’d just be stuck with Quebec plates, and all the stereotypes that brings about.

    This might be too mundane, but what about an AWD Previa?

  9. says

    You guys are the best. I’m leaning towards the Unimog. An AWD Previa would be great, save for the Citroën SM-like engine and accessory drive arrangements. Registration trickery!

  10. Brad says

    Congratulations on the gig at Hemmings. I enjoy the Hemmings publications.

    As for the ultimate Vermont beater, as a VT resident since birth, I’m going to have to go with anything 4WD, especially Subaru. I’ve only owned one Subaru (and it was a fast one) and I know too many people who own Subarus around here.

  11. jim says

    Something rear wheel drive would be fun – once a year I miss my S-10 when I try to break the Subaru loose for some ‘adhesion limits testing’. :-)

  12. Jason L. says

    May I humbly suggest a Honda Civic Wagovan 4wd or Expo/Colt Vista 4wd? Actually, any older Monteros/4Runners/Blazers/Expoders would be OK for a beater disposable 4wd. 90’s SUV’s are cheap here in LA, don’t forget one before you leave.

    Which part of LA are you from by the way? The salvage yards in Sun Valley are on my commute everyday, Toyota of Santa Monica is down the street from my ex, and I too went to the show at the Queen Mary. So long from Pasadena! LA will miss you, the people maybe not so much:] – Jason

  13. AlienProbe says

    Being a Native Vermonter myself I have these excellent suggestions:

    AMC Eagle. 1980-88
    Toyota Previa All-Trac with Supercharger 1995 to 1999 (to get Supercharger)
    Suzuki Aerio with AWD option (2001 to 07)

    Oh, and Subaru Justys are not all gone. There is a fellow that lives up the street from my house in Bellows Falls Vt who owns a silver one. That little car is insane in the snow and runs like a champ!

    Good luck with the Hemmings Gig!

  14. Swamp Yankee says

    Welcome back.

    Any drive arrangement can work well. In Vermont you’ll want snow tires regardless. But one thing is not negotiable in my book: manual transmission. Being in charge of the gear makes all the difference in the world, especially in nasty conditions.

    My top choice would be a Volvo 245 with a 5 speed (guess what I drive?). Most were automatic but the stick shifts are out there and seem to be concentrated in New England. You can pay 1500 for one in beautiful condition. Put good snows on it and some sand in the back and the thing will get through anything that comes your way. Easy to care for, functional as hell, and the later years seem to resist rust really well.

  15. Joe Btfsplk says

    Get yourself a decent RAV-4 or Honda CRV. As a resident of St. Lawrence county in northern New York, I’ve lived with the brutal cold, snow and wind for almost 60 years. One very important consideration (a top priority, in my book) is a heater-defroster that blows like a blast furnace. Good luck!

  16. says

    Ah…as a longtime follower of the blog that is Hemmings, it is wonderful to reply and post a comment here and note that all of the information previously provided to Hemmings pops right up….

    Also, as a longtime follower of Clunkbucket, this olelongrooffan hates to see you go but, alas, all things progress…

    Wishing you all the best at Hemmings and when you arrive, be sure to introduce yourself as the Clunkbucket dude so we all can check in.

    With reference to your Vermont based ride…while I agree with all of the previous suggestions…245, Previa, RAV-4, CRV…..naaahhhhh….get an Astro Van AWD…with the biggest motor possible…then you can be part of the road crew for the robins egg blue Hemmings roadster and equally handle the snow that will be thrown your way….just saying…

    But seriously…best of all the luck with the cool team you are heading off to work with….


  17. ErikT says

    1988ish Subaru XT. If you can deal with driving a coupe, made in FWD and 4WD. V6, 4cyl and 4cyl turbo engines were all options. Lots of character…the cockpit looks like a space ship.

    In reality, you probably don’t need 4WD in bennington if you live on a major road. Don’t forget the mid-80’s toyota tercel 4WD wagons…I used to drive one. They could handle highway speeds and even had an ultra-low granny gear when in 4WD.

  18. Pinto Paul says

    Mike – Congrats ( I think ) How about an old Cherokee, they’re cheap, plentiful, and easy to work on. The inline 6 will run forever, and the big plus, you can carry all your stuff with ya. Good luck on the east coast and hope to see you at the Lemons show next year.

  19. Ant says

    Best of luck at your new gig! You are really gonna miss rust free stuff heres my advice lots of kroil and bring a car from where you are instead of a rusty turd from VT.