On HotRods, and NotRods.

The thing is, sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.

I’ve talked about my first love before. That truly beloved Pontiac Parisienne. There’s a lot of good stories about that car, and one day, I’ll tell some more. But today, today is about how that car got me into tuning and modification, while never being modified at all.

I got that car, as you already know, cheap. I put very little money into it, and it rewarded me by being, if not always reliable, predictable in its unreliability.

I kept fuel pumps and starters in the trunk. They were cheap, and they would almost definitely quit when I needed them most.

I turned a lot of wrenches on that car. It spent a few weeks in the garage getting the water pump done, because I simply didn’t know how to do it: I broke some stuff, I replaced more. It spent a few more weeks in the garage the following winter to have the entire brake system replaced: again, I broke some stuff, I replaced some more. Steel brake lines rot. I know this to be true. I got drunk and painted the damn car.

And all the while, I bought HotRod Magazine, and similar publications.

And I dreamed.

I dreamed of a 1980 Pontiac parisienne, with a 455 Olds rocket big block, 850cfm Holley QuadraJet carb, and a 700R4 transmission, with a positrac out back. True dual exhausts through an x-pipe and cherrybomb mufflers, lowered on drop spindles and rockin’ sixteen inch wheels with big, fat, Mickey Thompson radials. A staggered fitment before I knew what that was. The door handles shaved, and the roof chopped three inches.

It started with the drop spindles. Seriously.

At the time, I couldn’t figure out what a spindle was. This was before the internet could tell you everything. I knew it had something to do with the front suspension, and I was fine with dropping the front end, and leaving the back sitting up high, muscle car-style. Fuck, I was not just “Fine” with it. I fucking loved that idea. Just thinking about a good set of traction bars and the wheels to match that muscle car stance, and I got a chubby.

But I didn’t know what a spindle was.

And I didn’t really hang out with car guys then: they were all back home. And I’m not certain I’d have been comfortable inviting the ridicule that would have come from asking what a spindle was, and how you drop it. So I kept buying magazines, in the hope that not only would there be an article about lowering a GM B-body, but that it would be a project involving spindles, and even more, there’d be a damn picture of one, along with where and how you install ‘em, and what came off to put ‘em there.

I mean, now, you’d just google it, right? Hell, everyone’s running either a Corvette suspension, or custom coilovers, or airbags, or hydraulics now, anyway, because the old school suspension set-ups were well, just so damn old school.

A drop spindle is designed to lower your [vehicle] by moving the shaft of the spindle up from where it would be on a factory spindle.

See? Took me ten seconds to find a description and picture of what I wanted to know, with google, something I couldn’t find in YEARS of scouring hotrod magazines in the nineties. Part of the reason, of course, is that there’s a minimum knowledge assumed. And that was a level of knowledge I didn’t have at the time. I loved cars, I wanted to know about ‘em, and I’d picked up the popular stuff (engines, transmissions, etc, especially for GM products, as the majority of my high-school friends were GM guys). But even slightly more esoteric information, suspension and all its infinite variables, that was myth and legend for me.

The magazines didn’t help. They assumed knowledge of, to continue a bad analogy, the pantheon. Which I didn’t have, and couldn’t find.

And then the car went away, the boy ran out of money to keep it up, and the times changed. But always, it was there.

The second time, I went further. I bought a beat-up Pontiac Firebird, and, after getting take for a ride when buying it, had to replace the engine six weeks later (I totally got ripped off). That’s a fiasco of a story for another time. We got close though, with a TON of help, as always, from Jay.

By the time the Grand Marquis came along, in 2002, I was internet savvy, and things became different. I signed up on CrownVic.net and started to really learn things about the cars. Again, the plan started to form. Headers, dual exhaust with (again) an x-pipe, hi-flow catalytics, airbag suspension, 19” wheels and big, fat, 285 width wheels out back. I was following, with great joy, the V10 conversion that a guy was doing on his 1999 P71 Interceptor.

I ordered my first ever ebay purchase: the ECU (Engine Control Unit) from a 1994 Texas State Police P71 Crown Victoria.

Then, laid off work. Expenses grew with my living situations, and the car was neglected. Lost the catalytic convertors to a $50 PCV assembly I couldn’t be bothered to replace, and the heat from the catalytics rotted out the floor: from there, the carpet caught fire. I patched the hole, the carpet, and replaced the exhaust, but from that day onwards, the Grand Marquis’ was looking towards its retirement.

Which brings us back to my little dream world. There’s two or three ways for that dream world to work out: First, much like all the efforts before, nothing happens. Second, the Genesis Coupe (aka “Blue Meanie”) is the hotrod project, and I go modern muscle with it. Third a true project car appears.

And I have no idea which of those situations will happen. First is undesirable, but until we’re a two-car family, it’s probably going to be this way, with the mild modifications I’ve already done to the ‘coupe. The second is most likely, but the bigger stuff, the real power, will wait until the warranty runs out on the drivetrain, and there’s a second car: either @dogandgarden’s when she gets her license, or a second/winter/beater car of my choosing. The third could be incredibly fun: buy a project as a project, but that’s also dependant on moving houses, and having a driveway and garage.

Dammit. Reading and writing about this stuff again really makes me want to do it. Anyone wanna throw me an old, beat up, B-body? I think the Land Yacht needs resurrecting.


One Response to On HotRods, and NotRods.

  1. Pingback: Car Guy Recap: 2010 Genesis Coupe | Life, the Universe, and Everything

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