Tuesday, December 14, 2010

American cars

My father was a Chevy guy so, I ended up spending a lot of my youth around them and NOT around Fords. I really could care less about the Ford/Chevy debate. I can appreciate any car that's tastefully done although I have always liked foreign cars and particularly 4 cylinder turbos like 1.8t VW's and, now, the Subaru Horizontal 4 but...whatever.

My latest auto project has been trying to get a 2002 Chevy Impala to start. This thing cranks fine but that's it. There's no noise from the fuel pump and zero pressure at the fuel rail. The pump fuse and relay both are good. So...I'm pretty sure the fuel pump is bad but I hate to throw $150ish at this car and then tell the owner (a friend) that it still won't start. I really like tinkering on cars and maybe should have been a mechanic but I like working with young folks. There's a handful of people that ask for help and I like to help my friends and I know that the ones I help know that I am strictly shade tree. Most of the time I would not jump at the chance to do this kind of repair as the gas tank generally needs to come out but Chevy actually had the foresight to put a little access panel in the trunk so that you can get to the pump. Tomorrow I'm going to disconnect the wires to the pump, locate the hot wire and then use a jumper cable off another battery and feed the pump 12 volts directly and see if it works. If it doesn't (which I think will be the case) than I'll go spend the owners cash and throw it in and hope that it solves the problem.

Speaking of Chevy. Today at work I found a picture of my first car. I located this car in the paper. It belonged to an older gentleman who lived in St. Louis. The car originally belonged to his son. His kid was an airline pilot and no longer lived at home and the car was basically just sitting there. I originally was looking for a 69 but, as a kid, it's hard to pass up a 5 cent gum ball when you've got the coin. I went out to look at it by myself and told the guy all my plans for the vehicle. We hit it off pretty well and after talking for a while, I told him that I really wanted the car but I only had about 500 bones and my good looks. I think the guy wanted a bit over 2 grand for it. Amazingly, this guy tells me that he likes me and, while he's had others with cash in hand knocking on his door, wants the car to go to me. So...I gave him every penny I had and he gave me the key. I also shook his hand and made a verbal agreement (at 16) to pay him every last cent. I took the car and the title home, parked it and put a cover over it. For 6 more months, I made slow payments. I was nowhere near the final amount and, one day, got a letter from the guy stating that because I had upheld my end of the bargain that he wanted to call it a done deal and told me to enjoy the car. It took me a few weeks to get the insurance money together but soon I was driving it. 2 weeks after that, a valve spring shattered in the head and ate up a few valves and a piston. It was down again for a whole winter while I pulled the motor ( I was originally told it was a 350 but would find out it was really a 327) and rebuilt it. My folks had long been divorced and all I ever wanted was a relationship with my father. He was an excellent mechanic but he was an even better drunk. Eventually, when I realized that I would never be as special as his alcohol, I decided to try and piss him off as much as he had pissed me off. What better way to piss off a die hard bowtie lover than to sell a classic Camaro and buy a foreign car? I ended up selling the car to a kid in the Air Force for 2700. I bought a Datsun 280ZX with the straight 6 turbo motor. My father was furious. I was thrilled. Haven't spoken to him since. I miss that car.

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