The road to Kansas was smooth and scenic. Probably. I don’t remember. I was pretty freaked out because someone told me that I had to remove the driveshaft to tow the Chevy on a dolly, or I would roach the whole drive train. I knew that you can’t easily take the drive shaft off of an old Chevy because the rear end is a “closed” type drive train. We rolled into town around sundown to look at the car.
This brings me to another piece of advice about the car buying process that I’ll pass on to you. Two, actually. First: Never, no matter how tired you are, should you pay some surfer dude (who your wife likes because he is flirting with her) 3,900 bucks for an S-10 without driving it first. Second: Never inspect a car at night prior to buying it. Because that’s just stupid. And I know it’s stupid because I could ask any kid “Would you buy a car you can’t see?” And the kid would say “No. That would be stupid!” But by now I was in love. Also, I was in Kansas, so nothing short of a broken frame was going to have me driving off empty-handed. It was getting late, so we got a room at the local Knight’s Inn, and watched a Vikings game.
The next morning we went to the U-Haul (or BigUselessPileOfCrap-Haul, as I would later call them) to pick up the tow dolly I had reserved the week before. I stood in line for half an hour, only to find that they had not thought to actually keep one around for me. We went across town and found one. I just wanted to pick up my Dream Car and get the hell out of Dodge. We headed over to the owner’s house.
That whole morning had me feeling like I was dream-walking. Nothing seemed real, and as we pulled up to the house, I had a disjointed sort of feeling. I still remember that feeling, because it was like a Sunday morning I remember. I bet some of you also remember this same Sunday morning, even though you may or may not have been there with me Saturday night. I could summarize it best paraphrasing the great Willie Nelson, who said “I went to bed at two with a ten, and I woke up at ten with a two.” The owner’s father, Phill, was a nice guy but had been a little less than forthcoming with a few details.
The car was peppered with dings and dents, had a bullet hole in the windshield, and a pretty major crumple area under the passenger side headlight. The interior was rough, to say the least, and the floorboards were rustier than the owner let on. Overall, the car was fairly complete, and remarkably rust-free.
With the help of a little gas down the one barrel Rochester carb, I got it running, and we drove it up on the dolly. That was an adventure in itself, since the brake fluid had long since evaporated and the master cylinder had seized, so…no brakes!
We dollied the car (No thanks to U-Haul for the worst product and customer service of all time!) behind Dad’s GMC Jimmy, skipping from Cracker Barrel to Cracker Barrel, all the way home to Detroit. I thought that those 45mph warning stickers on the dolly were just a load of hooey, but lo and behold, we couldn’t go any faster than 45 MPH, or the whole rig would start to wave back and forth like it was being shaken by a giant unseen hand. It took us 24 hours, driving in shifts, to get back home. Boy! We got some dirty looks from people who got stuck behind us in construction!
Twice, we had to roll the car off of the dolly and straighten out the cradle because the pivot wouldn’t pivot back after a turn and the car would drag behind us sideways. Coincidentally, both times were in a Wendy’s parking lot. I liked their bowl-shaped pavement and hot chili. We would roll the car off the dolly, move the truck up a couple yards, and roll it back on. It never went on on the first try, and so we would have to push it back uphill and try again. Push too hard, and it could roll off of the end of the cradle, and then you’re really in a jam. But we did it. Next time, I’ll rent a truck! Thanks goodness for family.
Now all I had to do was get it road worthy, which would be really, really easy because I had recently subscribed to not one, but two hot rod magazines!
Next week: A Bargain at Any Price