So, the next post is about an idea I had for a K-car buildup, but i got to thinking while I was writing that I should put into writing the reasons I like my old K so much and good memories I had with it.
It belonged to a lawn mowing account of ours, and I always liked the size and how it looked. I was probably about 13 at the time. [Note: I got the Maverick when I was 14, but this was before that came into the picture] Dad borrowed it to go meet the rest of us on vacation in Caloma, Wi [sp?]. He had been working and couldn't take the whole time off, and he didn't probably want to be there the whole time since we were on vacation with my mom's family, who weren't the nicest to him. His car also had problems that week after we left, which is why he arranged to use it. I found out later that he had made an agreement with the owner to let us have the car for $400 worth of lawn mowing, so it was basically free. The front seat sat like a couch, and I loved riding in it. The suspension just seemed to float; little did I know the shocks were just going on it.
Throughout our ownership of this car, it's condition went down drastically. The weather stripping started to go bad and pull apart or sag out of the door frame when the doors were closed. Dad had the Cat hollowed out because it got plugged, and it was cheaper that way. We also got the muffler replaced with a straight pipe when it went bad. It had the best sound with no suppression on it. If you revved it to the limiter and let of, it hd a great metallic engine breaking sound. I'm not sure if it ever backfired when I did that, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had. We put, as my dad called them, "rubber snubbers" in the rear coil springs to help re-level the rear end of the car. It got close, but never really got back to the height it was intended to be at. Once, Dad was washing the car in one of those do-it-yourself car washes, and the water pressure blew the pinstripe off the driver's door. We both stood amazed at what had just happened, but it was just a sticker to begin with. Dad used the car on the mail route until he let me take it to high school at the beginning of junior year. That made the car get completely filled with dust.
I don't remember how it worked, but I drove that and an '86 [oddly enough] Taurus wagon to school that year. It was an interesting year for me and that car. There was a massive downpour just out side of town on the interstate. I was going around a curve in a work zone where they re-routed the oncoming traffic to be in the left lane of our side and both directions only had 1 lane with little orange sticks separating them. It had been white-knuckle driving the whole way up to school that day due to my speed and the rain. I had a problem with always being late for school, and I was trying to maintain a fast enough speed that I would be close to on time. On the last curve before town, I hydroplaned over the center line taking our 3 or 4 of those orange sticks, which I had always wanted to do anyways, but luckily I let off the gas and regained traction returning to my lane before anyone could come from in front of me and plow into my little traction-less wagon. I was completely jacked when I got to school, needless to say. I told my car-guy friends, and they all thought it was pretty awesome.
I drove it to New Ulm one weekend for CoralFest, and on my way back to school I found out at 80 on the interstate that when all your motor mounts go bad, the weight of the engine puts excess strain on your CV joints and can cause them to bind up momentarily throwing your car wildly to one side for a split second. After about 4 of those I slowed way down and "limped" it back the last 11 miles at about 35. I realized later that I just had to go slower, but not really that much slower. We trailered it back from school, and it was fine after we fixed the motor mounts, but we had to check the CV joints first because we didn't realize the reason for the sudden pull. I honestly thought I was going to die from that car when it seized like that.
The following winter, I was driving to work in a snow storm, the first real snow of the year. I got to the SD border and found the road to be covered with little finger drifts on the edges of the road. No big deal, that's how those roads get in winter, but it was before the plow had made it out and all that, so what else would you expect? I drove along, and found that I could maintain 65 while the K would simply bounce over the little drifts; a slight counter steer on entry, and I was fine to keep driving. I had to stop for gas, and the road to get to the gas station was half way around a big curve. I hadn't gotten accustomed to winter driving yet since it was the first big snow, and I forgot to go into neutral when I stopped, so I locked up the breaks and hooked the front tires just over the edge of the ditch in such a manner that I couldn't get myself back out. I didn't want anyone to hit my precious K hanging out into the road while I went for help, and the ditch looked shallow, and I was a dumb teenager, so I thought it was a good idea to try to drive in deeper and see if I could go around and get back out, alas we all know how that ended. So, wallowing in my defeat, I went to the gas station on foot to call my dad, who was just getting off work, to come help me back out and to call work to tell them I'd be a bit late. The good news is that Dad was already going to the gas station, and work said to just stay home, and forget about trying to make it in. Long story short, we found several of our friends at the gas station along with a county sheriff who all helped to block the road while we pulled my car out via our first Windstar, a tow strap, and the now permanently pulled out, bumped deforming trailer hitch.
This car would take on anything and wouldn't care. You can't kill it, and it loved to prove that point. We got the rear door hinges "fixed" once, and the dome light wouldn't go off leaving me with a dead battery when I came to pick it up. This car started so well and so easily that we were running it with a lawn mower battery. That K was the only car I've ever seen a jump pack actually work on. One try and off we went. I continued to go home and take the bulb out to fix the problem and burned myself in the process, and I also broke the bulb in the end. Once, I was driving home from work in Milwaukee in winter, and I was coming up on my turn, but due to poor visibility, I entered the turn lane before the one I wanted. My car proceeded to lock the brakes when I tried to slow down and correct, and I just plowed over the massive drift that had been made in the median. The car bounded over it, and kept going like nothing had happened. I found out later that winter/spring that the "muffler" was broken most of the way off, and my brake lines were injured and later failed on the same trip. The tailpipe started dragging about a month or so later, and let me say, driving a car in morning traffic with no brakes is quite a thrill. [I also drove a '91 Sable 500 miles with a broken brake line that leaked like a sieve during the night and an ice storm. Also a white knuckle, adrenaline pumped ride!] No matter what I did, this K-car would just keep asking for more.
The thing I really loved when I moved to Milwaukee was that it was the perfect ghetto car. I fit in like I was s'posed to be there. No one is going to take a K-car wagon. There's no reason to. Plus the robber would kind of feel sorry or empathetic toward you if he did take it. I left the window open overnight for most of the summer, and nothing ever happened to it. I love that.
The best anecdote from my K-car days is one time when I went on a date with my girlfriend, and we were leaving the Watertown Mall after dinner. We had gotten in the car, and I purposely had left the armrest up when we got out. I explained to her (to remain nameless) that the bench seat is split into three sections: I was in the driver's seat, she was riding shotgun, but in the middle was the spot affectionately titled [female dog]. I'm guessing she didn't get it because she got hung up on the fact that I swore, but she cursed worse than me, so this is a bad excuse. I drove the car to the end of the parking lot so I could get around the building to the road, and I noticed that she hadn't moved. "Ah, I have an idea..." I utilized the body roll of my K-car, and whipped it to full right lock sending the car into a steep pitch with me at the bottom. Thankfully, she didn't wear her seat belt, so she rolled a complete 360 into the b*1ch seat while my arm was already set in place on the back of the seat. I drove away in the usual loud roar of the four-banger with a big smile on my face, my girl by my side, and I just thought, "Dang, I'm so frickin' smooth."
These are the only things I can remember as great anecdotes, but if I think of more, I'll add them to the comment section.