Friday, May 13, 2011

The Fleet is Diminished Plus Some Good Stories

Yesterday, I made the decision to try and sell Betty. I put an ad in the local Craigslist - $250 for the car minus engine; another $50 for the hard parts to build an engine. I got a wide array of responses. I was surprised there was only one from an obvious thief whose red-flag phrases included, “I am quite comfortable with the condition of the item ... for you to hold it for me… I will be paying you by check ... I can have my assistant get the Money Order ready... I would like you to take the posting off from Craigslist today.”

Then, later yesterday evening, I got a phone call from a guy who stated he was just interested in the seats, but would buy the entire car for the asking price. I spent the rest of last night pulling out some boxes of stuff I had stored in Betty

This morning at 8 AM Lou backed his roll-up down the driveway. As he checked out the Betty’s seats he shared with me that he restores muscle cars, and currently has four VERY nice specimens under construction. After I showed him my ’65 LeMans, he told me he’s got a yard of about 60 vehicles including a ’65 LeMans convertible parts car with good, solid seat frames. So I may be giving him his money back when I finally get to restoring my Pontiac. With the conversing complete, he unrolled a couple hundreds and a fifty from a wad of bills, handed them to me, winched Betty up onto the platform, and drove away. That was way too easy.

With Betty gone, so goes my unreasonable dream of building a LM street/track car. Well, at least not any time in the foreseeable future. As I told Lou this morning, while we were admiring my LeMans, “after I finish with the ’61 in the garage, I’m gonna’ get this convertible on the road. “That’s the right choice,” he replied.

Since I was running later than usual, I entered the parking lot amongst a whole different group of employees. One of these drivers had not seen Betty before and had to follow me to my spot. As I got out of my car, he pulled up behind me and got out of his. “Great,” I thought, “this guy’s going to complain about my driving.” I didn’t remember cutting him off though, and when I saw the big smile on his face, I was relieved. He introduced himself and told me he grew up riding in the backseat of a car EXACTLY like mine. His mom had bought the car new in ’63 and drove it through his formidable years selling it in the mid-70s. He’d grown up in the Midwest and the salt stayed true to form rusting out the floors. Mark and his brother would tie plastic Army-men to the ends of strings, drop them through holes in the floors, and drag the tiny figures behind the car. They’d laugh as they watched them green men bounce wildly on the pavement. He went on to ask me if he could climb into the backseat, and of course I said yes. His first statement after squeezing in was, “I remember it being a lot larger.” At ten years-old, I would guess so. As we parted ways, he thanked me profusely for making his week.

I sent him an e-mail later in the morning telling him what a pleasure it was for me to hear his Corvair stories. He replied with one more.

“During the winter mornings near Lake Michigan, before she left for work, my mom would send one of us to out to start the car. Knowing what I know now (post auto mechanics school), I have an appreciation for "warming up the engine". I also have an appreciation for mom's strategy: think air-cooled engines' heaters, and/or the art of thawing frozen door locks . LOL!”

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