Friday, November 30, 2007

About the car dear....

As I alluded to yesterday, I'll get a bit more in depth about the goings on of my car over the past couple of years. I figure it's better to update the past starting with the oldest and working forward so stay tuned for life with kids and I want to ride my bicycle.

OK, the car is still broke as of today. I had a double whammy happen in July of 2005 that pretty much set the course for it setting the past two years. I was on my way to the dealership to get a brake problem figured out. The rear ABS wasn't working correctly and would allow the rear brakes to lock up while the fronts were still moving. I figured this one out after nearly causing a coworker to soil himself when I went from full acceleration to full braking around 70 MPH on a side street by my work. Lucky the tail just stepped out to about a 45 degree angle, I let off, hit the gas and straightened it back out as if I had planned to do it. Checking the look on his face I swear I thought I was going to have to break out the leather cleaner for his seat. So, I never figured out the problem and was planning to take the car to an open track event in July so I figured it might be a good idea to at least attempt to fix the problem before the event.

I headed up to the dealer at the prescribed time and like usually hammered the car from a stop sign. Only this time I was greeted with an all too familiar sound of the engine coughing itself into oblivion. The car lost power and the engine died while I rolled to a stop about a mile from the dealer. Now I'm pissed and going to be late for my appointment. I hop out to assess the problem by looking at the motor, cussing, and in general just being pissed. After a few minutes I get the car restarted with some effort by applying the gas and getting it back to a rough idle. I'm so joyed at this point I shut the hood and jump in the car. Now for those really astute readers, you'll notice I left out a certain activity that MUST be done before taking off. Any guesses? OK, I won't keep you hanging, remember those fancy hood latches I installed, guess what, they need to actually be latched down to be effective, DOH! So at 30 MPH the carbon fiber hood decides it wants to see the world and attempts to separate itself from the evil bonds of my car. So wham, bam, screw you mam, and now I'm at the side of the road again with the hood flopping next to the passenger side of the car. It's only held on by a now pretzel shaped hood hinge and nothing else. Here are a few shots of the damage:

So, broken hood, bent hinges, dented roof, dented fender, various scratches, and some other damage from my own little oops. All told the damage came in the ballpark of $4-5K estimate from the body shop. Luckily my insurance covers stupidity and I only had to pay the deductible which is a small price to pay for being that dumb.

So I now flipped the hood back onto the car and hobbled my way to the dealership about a half mile away at this point. I cancelled my brake appointment and grabbed a ride back to work from the courtesy driver at the dealer. I hauled the car home later that day and there she sat while I stewed.

For those that know me, they know I have a bad history not just with this car, but with my previous Contour as well. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do at this point. Do I fix it again, sell it, pummel it to death with a sledge hammer and dance around the broken bits? Alas, I got the body work estimated and collected the insurance check so now it was time to figure out the fix. Through some good luck and a little work, I acquired all of the repair parts used or as blemished seconds for a song. I even had someone decide to buy the old hood and rework it even though it had a corner ripped off and several damaged areas on the main portion of the hood.

All of this left me with a pretty decent amount of money to sink into the actual body and paint work. I was driving around town one down and noticed an absolutely awesome set of flames painted on a newer SS Silverado. On the truck was an ad for a paint shop with a website. Curiosity got the best of me and after checking out their work, having the owner look at my project, and discussing finances, I decided to go with something new and exciting to redo the car, but still retain some of the original understated character. This was all happening in the fall of 2005. I finished up my part of removing the engine and various other pieces and delivered the car January of 2006. Work started and stopped numerous times along the way as I was in no hurry to get the car back and I pretty much knew that the price I was quoted was fill in work between higher paying gigs. As such, my car spent a year at the paint shop and I picked it up in February of 2007. Of course, with all things, it wasn't quite done at this point as the hood and bumper were still needing the final buffing. I just picked those up in November! Ahh well, at least the car is back together body wise now. I will post up some finished pictures, but not until the car has made it's debut at Spring Zing 2008 which is our annual meet for the Contour Enthusiasts Group (CEG).

Now that the body is done and together, it's my job to get the drive train back in operating order. The good news is that the most expensive and long lead time parts have been purchased and now it's pretty much up to me finding the time to put it all together. At least I have a mandate from on high (my wife) telling me to get the car done so we can hit Spring Zing this year after a 2 year hiatus. Now if I could just find where all my time went. Oh, that's right, it's being sucked up by my other mandate which is to have our basement remodel complete in time for Christmas. At this rate, I'll be frantically putting up our tree on Christmas eve in lieu of the frantic assembly of toys that most families go through. Stay tuned for our next installment of what the hell I've been up to for the past couple years.

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