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May 2016 COTM

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5-may

Mark Burdick 1995 Base 3400/Auto  aka Black Betty  BAM BLAM

320,000 miles. Twelve years. Three engines.  Two transmissions.  One body.  Betty has been with me through good times and bad times.

I got her in 2004 as a 1995 Base Model with the 3100 V6 engine.  It was my Junior year of High School. My Pontiac Sunbird was giving me issues, so it was time to get something a bit more reliable.  The choices before me were a Chevy Beretta or a Ford Tempo, with dreams of a Lumina Z34 that would never happen.  I was not feeling the Tempo, so I started to look into the Beretta.

I stumbled upon Beretta.net and Bstuff.com, as well as a few cardomain pages.  A rudimentary Google search found me images of GTZs, GTUs, and Z26s.  After a night of browsing, I had to have this car.  $2000 and a few days later, she was sitting in my driveway.

Although I greatly appreciate the Base/GT body style, back then I was dead-set on the Z04 ground effects.  That led me to my first Beretta friend, Eric Custer.  I bought the whole Z04 ground effects from him, as well as a set of wheels and a gauge cluster.  Within a few months, the ground effects were painted and installed.  Another friend provided me with the sound I wanted via a Flowmaster 40 Series muffler.  A trip to a local junkyard, based of a tip from a friend that a 60k mile Cayenne Z26 was there, got me my Z26 seats.  And finally, an acquaintance in Iowa sent me a solid grille.  Betty was looking pretty slick.

In my Sophomore year of college, disaster, or at least what I considered a disaster, struck.  Betty blew a head gasket.  I brought the Sunbird out of retirement only to blow her head gasket just two weeks later.  I was now stuck driving my grandparents Mercury Grand Marquis and having no idea what I was going to do.

As luck would have it, a 3400 more or less fell into my lap.  I would later find out it was a result of some Beretta-world related drama, however I am still good friends with one of the parties involved.  Parts were gathered, and by the end of the year, I had my baby back.  Eric again helped me out by offering his place as the home of the swap, and my new friend, Scott0999 from the v6z24.com forums was a huge part of making this swap happen as well.  I cannot thank those two enough for everything they’ve done for me over the years.

A few years passed with no major to the car, but over that time I acquired little things like E36 headlights (from Mr. Jonathan Chmura), an MRZ flush-mount kit for my cd player, as well as an MRZ rear shock tower brace, LED side markers, and a set of 17″ Nexo wheels.  I also upgraded the upper and lower engine mounts with a set that came from McGavinZ26’s supercharged 3400 Beretta.  Thinking that she looked a bit goofy on 17’s with stock springs, I made a purchase from Mr. Eric Wood: Eibach lowering springs and KYB front struts.  These came off of his own ’95 Z26 that sadly had to end it’s run due to rust.  It was at this point that I started to develop more engine issues.

This time, I decided I wanted a newer engine, so I chose a 2004 3400 from an Oldsmobile Alero.  Having done the swap already, this swap was simply a plug-and-play.  Eric C. and Scott0999 helped me yet again to do this swap.  I also upgraded to a set of modified S&S Headers, and removed what remained of my A/C (I found out just how much I’d regret that during the trip to Bfest 2013) and my ABS.

I sold my old E36 headlights and upgraded to a set of DJ Auto reproduction units that are glass lensed with projector HIDs and angel eyes.  Simply put, I find this look incredibly sexy on a black Beretta.  I also had a good friend of mine ‘smoke’ my tail lights ever so slightly to pull together the back end of the car.

In one more stroke of luck, I finally destroyed my factory transmission at 280,000 miles. I replaced it with a 60k unit from a 1995 Buick Skylark, and proceeded to destroy an axle with it just last month.  To be fair, the axles made it to 292,000 miles =).

If you’ve made it this far in my babbling story about a car that I love to pieces (literally, you should see the rust), I would like to take the last bit of your time to thank all of the people who have been a part of this car’s life.  Everyone who I have met on Beretta.net, Bstuff, and at Berettafest and Nitrofest.  You all have been one of the greatest group of friends.  Without your help, I would have had not the slightest clue where to start.  I am so proud to own a car with such a unique following.  I was one of those folks who was always going to go to Berettafest, but could never swing it, until one year it was so close that it would have been dumb not to go.  I am now hooked and I will never miss another one if I can help it.  I’m sort of the quiet kid who takes a while to warm up to everybody, but even with all the anxiety I had leading up to that first Berettafest, I never felt unwelcome.