Where Oh Where Can My Little Car Be?
While the car was there in Hagerstown the Vette-guy offered to alter the front fenders so the tires would fit, I said okay, he CUT OUT the fiberglass. But he did make it work. Not what I had in mind. I also needed two new tires since the scraping had rendered them dangerous. He also replaced the steering coupler. Remember the part about the 50 miles of curving mountain roads? Wow. He repaired the underdash cables, and installed the new instrument cluster I ordered and had shipped to him. He also cleaned up the interior, painted the leather seats, and headliner and door panels. Road ready I took delivery in December. Drove her home to Maryland.
I talked with my go-to mechanic and he tells me he used to work for a Chevy Dealer and his job was body work on the Corvettes. He agrees to take the Vette. I bring her in, he looks at her and says this: “Did you see the stress cracks on all the wheel wells? And who put the front end on that. Oh, and the rubber front nose piece is a mess and filled in with BONDO! You never put Bondo on rubber, it will crack off.”
Surely enough, within days of arriving in his garage, he parks it out back and the sun heated up the rubber bumper and the Bondo started to crack like an egg. He handed me a palm-sized piece of paint and primer that had cracked off the bumper. He played with the engine, tuned it up (the timing was WAY off) checked out the frame components and tells me this: “Your frame is cracked on one side, and bent on the other. I can straighten out the left, and weld the right side, but since BOTH TRAILING ARMS are seriously bent, they will need to be replaced.”
Every so often I would stop by as winter turned to spring and he put it on the lift took off the wheels and started working on the bodywork. Returning the contours of the fender that were cut away was first, then rebuilding the front end with a brand new rubber front I ordered. Spring turned to summer and summer to fall and winter and he worked on rebuilding the front end. Pieces were missing, parts cobbled together, the more we dug the worse it got, but progress was made as months turned to years. YEARS? He had so much trouble trying to fit the new front end on the car; he told me, “I have had the front end on and off fifty times, it is still not right. I have to keep trying.”
I liked the guy and he seemed to be working on it and every so often I would throw him a little money for this or that. It was always, “I am close, I will have I done in a few weeks.” So January 2011 turned to January 2012 and 2013 and 2014. Four (4) count ‘em years with slow but curious progress. When someone tells me, “You hear that your guy had part of his roof collapse from the snow?” THAT is when I told my guy, I am going to have to take the Vette off your hands. He needed time. Why, well the lift was raised so long it rusted, and when he went to lower it, the rust tore out the rubber gaskets and all his fluid leaked out. He needed to repair the lift to get the car down safely. And he had to move all the transmissions and tool chests and buckets and ….stuff gathered around the car over four years. I finally had to give him a drop dead date; “On Tuesday next week I am sending Lester over with his rollback to get the Vette. It needs to be ready to roll. And I still felt bad taking the car out of his care.
Lester picked her up and took her to his garage where they did a major tune up and checked the brakes and steering components and transmission, all which seemed to be in good shape. After all the car had sat for 8 months in Hagerstown and 4 years on a lift in Denton. Since I had been PAYING INSURANCE AND REGISTRATION FOR FOUR YEARS (2010-2012 2012-2014 2014-2016 I finally cancelled the insurance and returned the plates. They brought her home on a flat bed, and we rolled her into my garage. When I called to see what I owed and get an idea of whether Lester thought it would run after SITTING for all that time, he said this: “Why sure. We started her right up and drove her from the back lot right up to the rollback. She runs just fine.” Hearing this I thought I would give her a try. I got in, turned the key and she roared to life. Put the transmission in Reverse and the torque was amazing, like a quarter horse on a tight rein I eased her out of the garage and down the driveway down the gravel road an turning right onto the hard road gave her some gas, and away we went. Tight, solid, no squeaks or rattles, took turns like she was on rails. Now all I need is to find someone to finish her up.