Thursday, June 15, 2006

Together Again

It took a while, longer than I’d hoped, of course, but finally, after several years of work, trouble, effort, planning and logistical mazes of difficulty, all three of my cars are finally together, running and driving. Side by side they now sit, each awaiting their turn on the road (too bad there wasn’t three of me), but I’m lacking current registration and insurance on one of them. Despite of this, you don’t understand how delighted I was to bring home the 67 Beetle today (named Sally because of its color, which is like the dress of Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally), start it and drive into the garage under its own power. It was like turning to the last page of the best book ever written.

Natalie and I spent about a hour washing it, and she was such a big help, putting soap all over the fenders and making sure I rinsed off everything, especially the tires. Washing it is something I hadn’t done to the car in a couple of years. It had a nice thick layer of dirt on the paint, countless smears of oil and grease on the cream colored upholstery and dust all over the insides.

The engine is new and it sounds great, with a rumble that only a Volkswagen can produce, and the tires and wheels are also just as new. In fact, the whole car, since I refurbished it in 2001 (I restored the Super, refurbished Sally), only has about 1100 miles on it, and the vast majority of those miles were towed instead of driven. Since the last engine never ran right, thanks to the turbo kit on it, so I never drove it. Imagine sitting in traffic having to keep one foot on the gas or it will die, one foot on the brake or I’ll smash into the car in front of me and one foot on the clutch to keep it out of gear when stopped… that’s a lot of feet. It just wasn’t fun to drive, so I didn’t.

The Single Cab (which still doesn’t have a name) never could start properly, ever since I brought it home. I bought in October 2004 and didn’t start really driving it until about two months ago. Before that, it was an albatross that darkened my doorstep, and I threatened to sell it several times, as there comes a point when you just run out of options. You try everything you can think of to fix it and it still wouldn’t start.

Thanks to Rafael Gutierrez, I am finally able to drive it. He pulled out all of the wiring from the starter to the ignition and rewired it for me, and now it drives and runs perfectly without any complaints. All for a case of beer. I like those kinds of bills.

The Super Beetle (which is named Betty…though I thought I was naming her after Davy Crockett’s musket, Betsy) runs great now to, despite an occasional fuel issue. Sometimes I smell a fuel leak while I’m driving it, and it sometimes stalls, but I think that is because I know I’ve got a small block in the lines or the carburetor jets. It’s an easy fix, but finding the time to sort it out isn’t high on my list of things to do. The rest of the car is immaculate, a complete ground-up restoration, as every nut, bolt and fastener is chromed, nickel-plated, painted, powder coated or ceramic coated. I’m really proud of the way it turned out, and I’m especially proud of the fact that I did most of the work on it (aside from paint and the interior).

So that’s it. I’m happy to see them all together, Sally, Betty and whatsitsname. But, as happy as I am, there’s always another chapter to the story, as there is always something to do to each of them. Sally needs her backup lights returned to her bumper. Betty needs her fuel problem sorted out and some air in her tires. The Single Cab, on the other hand, needs a lot. It runs and drives great thanks to the new transmission and new brakes, but it needs a paint job, a new interior and all of the literally hundred of dents knocked out of the bed and the drop gates. That’s a lot of work for anyone, and I don’t have the time to do it nor do I want to pay the expense, so I think I’ll grind off the old lettering and give it a coat of white primer which will, at least, clean it up a little.

I’ll keep you posted on what develops, of course, if you care. I do, and since you’re somewhat a captive audience and I hold the floor, I’ll keep you posted.

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