Monday, October 18, 2010

The Sickness – taking care of unfinished business

To really understand this blog you have to first understand the disease that lived inside my dad and still lives inside me. And no it’s not the cancer.

Yes its cars, but not because of cars but for the love of putting something together. It really is a hyper-developed imagination combined with love of solving problems. Some of our ventures were in unison and some in tandem but all were shared and what brought us together.

Back in 1998 the ’64 Dodge 330 four door sedan was in tandem. I had purchased it for 300 bucks off a close friend of my uncles’. This friend liked the car but it had left him sour after the local college had botched rebuilding the slant six motor.

I liked it because it was a push-button automatic and radio delete. I needed a winter car and this seemed like the right car.

Within a few days I had the motor out. It was easy enough as there is enough room under the hood to host a barn dance.

I was at this point that dad started to get interested and somehow he go the local hot rod shop rebuild the motor – to stock. We do most things to stock. It must be the only slant six had ever rebuilt. I doubt there are many slants that have been treated to a rebuild. My guess they are more commonly dropped into lakes used for tethering boats near shore.

To make a long story short about a week after I re-installed the motor I got t-boned right in front of the driver’s side door. The car had less than 50 clicks since the rebuild.

The accident was my fault and dad did me a big favour by buying off the dude that I had pulled in front of with a crisp 700 dollars in cash. I remember this because the $1100 bill for the rebuild with “+ $700 for accident” sat on the bulletin board in the rear entry way my parent’s house for – at least – the next six years.

Since then the 330 has sat with a rebuilt slant six in it. Once dad and I looked at a front clip that was disassembled and in the back of a van in a field out west of Calgary. But it was sketchy deal, the price was wrong and it was uncertain if our frame could be straightened.

We always kept our eyes open for something interesting to drop that motor into but nothing came along.

Last week during lunch I was paging through (Craig’s List for Canada) and I found a ’63 Plymouth Belvedere 4 door sedan push-button auto. Turns out this car had been sitting since the mid-seventies and the slant six was stuck. My curiosity was peaked.

I got a hold of the owner via email and after a few exchanges two things were clear: a) I was dealing with a minor and b) the $500 dollars it was listed for (down from $1000) still had some room to move. I knew this because the owner related that he had gotten it for free and that his parents wanted it off the property before they would let him buy a truck.

I found out later that my grandfather owned the same model of car but with the big block 318 back in the early sixties. Dad would have been very interested in this car. He’d be my first choice to take with me on a trip to go see this machine – and, I know, I would be his. My last choice would have been my wife, Krista – as she views vehicles with the same passion that I view our toaster - but as it was on the way back from a weekend at the ranch I had no choice. There was a good 20 minute rant after we stopped to see the car.

The car is in rough shape – but not gone. After looking closely at it – it was clear that it was in un-molested rough shape. Most cars I see of this vintage have been pieced out for Wedge cars or taken apart and then neglected but this one was just parked. Parked in the early ‘70s but still just parked. She still had her yellow plates, insurance and registration and someone had even pulled the keys. The alternator is still there as is the starter.

Mice have claimed the seat but I have a seat. The trunk is a mystery as, like I said, we have no keys.

It seems that at one point a tree had fell on the roof but it’s repairable. There is rust in the two places I suspected rust: on the fenders behind the front wheels and on the back panel. Like I said a little rough but all there.

I looked at it as the completion of getting that motor into something that would run and drive again. Looking pretty? – maybe later – but it will run. A rebuilt motor is a terrible thing to waste. It is also something cheap to keep my mind busy while I wait for the TR6 to get painted.

So after a little negotiation we settled on $140 for the grocery getter. I’m fetching it this weekend.

It’s really not my fault I get it from my father.

Stay tuned…

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