Monday, May 24, 2010

Back Down to Five

Old Betty was literally a shell of her old self as I rolled her down the driveway and into the street Sunday morning. She had been stripped of nearly everything I could ever need, and was ready for the journey to her final resting place. First though, I needed to load the back of the Suburban with the tools I hoped to use that day. I was going to search the Ranch’s field of EMs for some solid valance pieces I could cut off for Heidi and Lucy. I had borrowed a nice battery powered Hacksaw and that went in with an extra battery. My cordless drill joined the party. Plastic to lie on, gloves to protect skin, and a face shield to guard eyes went in. Finally, the lug wrench, jack, and socket set to remove wheels and bumper were added and it was time to hitch up Old Betty. The well-used towbar was again pressed into service and I was Corvair Ranch bound.

I won’t go so far as to say this trip was akin to taking an older, ailing pet to the vet for the last time, but I did have mixed emotions. When Old Betty was gifted to me by a generous fellow Corvair club member, I immediately began formulating big plans. She would be my autocross car to complement Lucy, my track car. I felt the torquey 95 HP engine and Powerglide would be a great starter car for my hoped-for parking lot escapades. Then, when an engine-less 4-speed parts car showed up on Craig’s list, the plan changed to converting her into a manually shifted car. Finally, when I discovered her floor and door frames were mostly fiberglass and Bondo, the parts car became New Betty and this car became the donor vehicle. I really struggled with that last decision because I hated to cut up a complete car, but honestly, I couldn’t afford not to. I needed patch panels for Glinda, and I didn’t have the money to buy new ones or source used ones from a vendor out west.

I arrived uneventfully at the Ranch’s parking lot drawing stares from the early arrivers to the Open House. Proprietor Jeff directed me to a spot behind his shop where I unhitched the car and removed the front bumper. Within minutes Jeff’s son, Luke, was there starting up the forklift that he then used to lift Old Betty off the ground so we could remove the wheels I needed for New Betty. Moving the car and forklift out of the way, he lowered her to the ground. At some point she’ll be moved out into the field and I’ll go searching for her the next time I’m there.

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