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Chapter 2 - Aug 1, 2006

This guy was the third owner. An older guy bought the car new in San Francisco. Drove it until he died. The second owner who is the third owner’s buddy bought it and promptly blew up the engine. How does that happen? He was a mechanic for SF’s transit authority MUNI and either rebuilt the engine himself or had it done. From then the car was driven little and then sat for 2 years in his father’s driveway. Finally his father told him to get rid of the car. He got the car painted and sold it to his buddy, the current owner. The car most likely had spent its entire life in the city with the remains of the dealer frames still on its original black plates.
I had never driven a 3 on the tree before so I was going to get a crash course. I had a definite problem getting the car into gear but it drove fine. The guy kept saying “Don’t try to force it. Just ease it in and you’ll feel it drop into gear.” Every time I hit a stop sign (and there were several) I couldn’t get it to shift without some sort of grind. Finally I pulled over and had him drive it. I watched him shift and he was able to get it in gear with a little less effort but still not as smooth as I‘d hoped it would be. He said the shifter linkage needed an adjustment.
I thought about everything and wondered how much time I had before the rust had to be dealt with. Lynn thought the car looked nice. I offered the guy $2800. He said he couldn’t take anything less than $3000. I said I didn’t want to pay that much. There was a silence for a moment and then the guy said he’d take $2900. Sold.

Now I own a station wagon. Something I should have bought a long time ago. Lynn had something she wanted to do in the city so no big deal, I'll drive it home by myself.

Driving south on 280 checking out its power. The 6 had decent passing power for a small engine. I was impressed. It seemed like it could benefit from another gear or an overdrive of some sort because the RPMs were kind of high on the freeway.

I had driven maybe 5 miles and was entering Milbrae when the engine started backfiring. What’s this? What did I get myself into?
I moved over to the right lane to find a place to pull over. The engine recovered and started running normally again. I recognized this as a pattern of running out of gas. It had been on E the entire time and the guy said it "didn't work". Ha ha. I took the first exit I found and pulled into a residential neighborhood. Oops!
I wondered if I could find a gas station before I ran completely out. I hung a u turn and the car died before I could finish. It came to rest next to a house with some gardeners working in the yard. I explained my situation, gave the guy a $20 and I dumped a can of his gas into my tank. He said there was a gas station a few blocks up on the main road. I drove to it and found it was the most expensive gas station around. I was in no position to complain so I put $10 in and drove home.

I took some pictures of it and neighbors came over to check it out.
Two of the first things I bought for it were a seat cover and a rear view mirror.
The car originally had two mirrors mounted on the fenders but they were gone now. I bought one for the driver’s side. It looked so nice that I bought one for the passenger side too.
I eventually found a stock air cleaner and a valve cover minus the elbow port on Ebay.

After driving it for two weeks or so I decided that the shifting really needed attention. I dropped it off at Earl’s Automotive.
After a couple of days Norm called and said I needed a clutch. I was afraid it was that. He explained that the springs which pull the clutch away from the flywheel were weakened by heat and normal use, no longer doing their job.
A couple of days pass. Norm calls and says the clutch he bought doesn’t fit my flywheel and he’s not sure why. He ordered another one and that didn’t fit either. He said he’d been in business since 1959 and knows these transmissions and clutches like the back of his hand but he’d never run into this before. He eventually discovered that my flywheel had been cut to accommodate the clutch it had. So rather than charge me $200 for a new flywheel (which could lead to other issues), he felt I’d be better off having the clutch rebuilt. While I was at it I figured I’d better get the turn signals working too. So about a thousand dollars later I started off 2005 with a better driving/legal car.
Lynn and I had just gotten married a couple of months earlier and we had started looking at buying a house. I bought a few things for the car and worked on it when I could.
We bought our house and moved in the second week in June.

One of the things Dorris said during our orientation was that there was “no working on cars”. This was going to be a problem anywhere we looked so I figured I’d fix the car at a friend’s house or just pay someone to fix it.
In the storage lot where I kept the truck I found people working on their RVs. They didn’t care. And besides it was out of view so nobody would complain.

In the middle of July, two weeks before my trip to Reno for Hot August Nights the second gear shift arm broke. I was on my way to the wrecking yard with another car buddy, Steve Heeter during lunch to see if we could find anything for his ’66 Barracuda. The yard was a bust so we limped back to work in first gear. I called around to different places, even other states to see if anyone had this shifter arm. Kevin at All Standard Transmissions in Campbell did some digging and found one in his multiple bins of spare parts. I went back home to the storage yard and put the arm on. I got it on the shaft without too much trouble but I couldn’t get it aligned right to shift. The linkage arms were binding up and I’d end up stuck in first.
I eventually gave up and drove it slowly to Earl’s in Campbell.
They got it aligned right and I drove it home. About a mile from the house the linkage hung up and I couldn’t shift out of first gear. I took it back to Earl’s the next day. Carl fixed it and I picked it up the next evening. This time it shifted the best it had since I’ve owned the car. I could shift into neutral without having to check it multiple times before releasing the clutch. Carl the mechanic said the column needed a rebuild and is the reason I’m having all of these problems. I had other plans for it.

I drove it to Hot August Nights without a problem. Before the trip I installed a cheap mechanical temperature gauge so I’d at least be able to know how hot it was running. The hottest it got around here was 180 degrees. Climbing the Sierras It crept up to 210. I got about 20 mpg on that trip. Not bad.
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