Saturday, September 1, 2012

Reviving the Car from My Past - The '91 Sable

So, as my family will find out when they get around to reading my blog, I bought a car Thursday.  The means of how I got it are odd and don't need to be posted online, but suffice it to say, "I have my old car back again."

The car in question is my old '91 Sable LS that I drove from August of '08 until the winter of '09 and it sat until '10 ( I think) when I sold it to a friend in need of some wheels.  The car has worn quite a bit since I sold it, but I needed to buy it before he traded it in for Cash for Clunkers.  I've been through a lot of crap with this car and lived to drive it another day, and I just can't see it (or any of my cars) go to the crusher.

So, I know this car isn't impressive or cool or classic or even desirable, but I have always liked this car, and it's mine again.  It's not so bad...
This car is loaded with options; it was the Taurus that all first gen Tauri longed to be.  (I feel I should stop myself, and mention something that I don't know if I've mentioned before.  My dad used to buy Tauri so when they died, we'd have parts cars.  Including my '00 and my sister-in-law's '96, We've had roughly 15 Tauri, but most of them were first gen wagons, so I know the line fairly well.)  The best part that made it an ultimate Taurus is the fact that it's a Sable!  This thing has "bucket" seats, console, floor shifter, moon roof, alloy wheels, fully digital dash board, fake wood trimmed interior, four wheel disc brakes, 3.8L V6, full power everything, and even an aftermarket stereo.  I always thought this car handled way better than my previous Tauri (especially considering I went from a '90 Sable GS with a middle of the road trim level to this fully decked out car).  I thought this thing could be easily road raced with a few tweaks, but I never got that far.  The handling is hard to gauge right now due to worn out steering components, but I think we need to do some reconditioning on this car to get it back to how it was when I first drove it.

Who am I kidding?  It's pretty bad...
I really didn't want to get rid of this car.  I loved how the car felt and drove.  It was a really fun car.  Plus, I have a lot of history with this car!  (I think I'll save the stories for the comment section, so check those out if you want!)  Another thing is that this is the last car my dad bought for me to use.  I recently read a comment on the Taurus Club forum, and it kind of struck a chord with me:
     "That's a really nice ride! I would drive it and enjoy it, but don't abuse it or beat on it. If you do and you wind up scrapping it one day you will find yourself saying "man I wish I had treated that old car better so it'd still be around"...especially if it's something that was passed down to you by your parents. I had a 1994 Chrysler Concorde that got passed down to me by my mother. I gave my parents my 2004 Impala when she needed something more reliable to get to and from the hospital in. The Chrysler was the last new car she ever bought and it was sharp and really clean, but had some mechanical issues that needed sorting and they could not afford to do it. I spent a few thousand fixing little issues over the course of a couple years then I traded it in because it had a broken motor mount and I didn't want to fix it...and wanted something new(this was in 2006/7). Now that she has passed away I really hate the fact that I didn't keep it to hang on to. Not to get all downer on a subject or whatever. I'm just's nice to keep something that someone in your life passed to remember them by one day. In a way it can help to keep them alive for you long after they are gone."
That is also why we will never sell my Mom's F-250 which was the last car my Dad ever bought, but that's a much later post when we start to restore that one too.

Check out the digital gauge cluster!  Oh, right; it's off...

 So, this car is in rough-ish shape, but the body is still pretty clean, except for the rear wheel wells and a little on the doors.  I'm thinking I should try to inhibit the rust, make the interior more awesome, and fix the suspension issues.  Then, I hope I can fix the rust that's there, the bad body work from the previous, previous, previous owner (before I ever got it), and at some point, paint it.  By that point, I will be well into the debate of whether or not I build a bored out SHO motor to go in it and beef up the trans to transmit the extra power to the roadway.  At this stage in the game, I'm thinking yes, but the motor in there right now is big and still good, sooooo...  We'll see, I guess.

As of right now and as far as I know, the car needs tie rod ends, at least one strut, body work, new rear bumper (from last time I owned it), muffler (or not), AC, steering rebuild, tires, alignment, possibly a wheel bearing, and definitely some weather stripping (also needed before I originally sold it).  I drove it across town with no title, expired out of state plates, and shaking, loose steering, and it is a bit of a handful right now.  I'll need to at least do the tie rod ends, alignment, tires, and possible wheel bearing just to make it road worthy without risking life and license every time I go places.  Once that is done and the moths settle back into my wallet, we'll be able to make a game plan and see what else needs to be fixed after that.

This is just SOME of the unintentional body customization I did last time I owned it!

This will be a fun ride!  (In more ways than one!)

P.S.  I just got this picture sent to me from my mom tonight.  This is a view of my mechanic's yard right now.

These cars just refuse to be separated from each other.
Some things will just always have to be in my garage...


  1. So I got this car in August of '08, and in October, it was brought to my attention that the alignment was off in the back causing excessive wear and balding on the insides of the tires while the outsides look brand new, mostly because they were. At this time, I was also contemplating selling my '64 Fairlane wagon, but we'll come back to that...
    The alignment issue was brought to my attention via an on ramp to hwy 45 south at north ave on a rainy day. I was enjoying myself with my brother in the car, and I didn't suspect a thing. My car handled better than any previous Taurus I'd had, my tires looked good, and most of all, the rain was light and hadn't really begun to pool at all. This particular on ramp has an "S" shape and a slight down-hill grade. On a scale of 1-10, I drove into the corner at about a 6.5. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, the back end let loose, and I was trying to counter steer a drift. I let off the gas and put it in neutral on instinct (later, I wondered if it would've reacted better had I slammed the gas down like a rally car driver). The front couldn't keep up, and the back swung around. I wound up slamming the curb while positioned almost exactly 180 degrees the wrong way. I could feel the rims hit the bead to the curb as it bounded over toward the embankment and wall for the cloverleaf off ramp next to us. Right as we stopped, we just kissed the stop-and-go light for use under rush hour traffic. It wasn't enough of a thud to hurt the body, but it was enough to take the bumper cover off. After a moment or two and waiting for a gap in the now oncoming traffic, I pulled a three-point turn back onto the roadway and hauled [donkey] out of there, dog tracking the whole way home.
    About a week later was a four-day weekend at school, so I got the dog track sorted out at my newly found frame straightening shop, charged it, and drove the 500 miles home. I noticed some odd noises on the way, but forced my car to make it. It turned out that the odd noises were the rear wheel bearings, which after those 500 miles, now needed to be replaced, along with a bent strut, rear knuckles, and a whole host of other parts which totaled around $1500, or in this case, since I was broke, one '64 Fairlane to my parents who paid for the repairs, and traded the car to our mechanic for outstanding debts on my brother's Windstar (or as our mechanic calls it, "the van that shall not be named").
    When I heard that the guy I sold my Sable to was considering scrapping it, I had to buy it back because I liked it, and I missed my Fairlane too. It seemed like if the Sable caused me to lose the Fairlane, and not on my terms, if that Sable got crushed, the loss of the Fairlane would have been a futile effort. Thankfully, my mechanic tells me he'll feel bad if he sells it to anyone but me, and I think I will only have to pay him what he has in it too! So in the end, I'll have all my cars back!

  2. In November of '08, I went home for Thanksgiving break, but I had a band concert for school the Sunday afternoon. I mentioned Friday, after Dad got home from work, that my brakes seemed a little cushy on my way home. I didn't think it was anything, but I thought he should at least take a look at it. He agreed that they weren't right, and we setup an appointment for Saturday morning. The mechanic lifted it up, and found that the right rear brake line had rusted open. He didn't have the time to fix it that day, and I needed to drive back to Milwaukee that night due to the poorly planned concert timing, so he said he'd crimp the line off, so it wouldn't leak, and then I could get if properly fixed when I got back to Milwaukee. We seemed to think this was a good idea, and went on our way.
    The only downside to this overall plan was that after about an hour of my 8.5 hour trip, it started to rain. Then snow. Then sleet. Then freeze. By the end of the afternoon, it was a full-on ice storm. I stopped after 2 hours to grab some fresh wipers and to check my brake fluid. Let's just say, by the end of my trip, I had used 4 quarts of brake fluid, and it was needing to be filled again. Clearly the crimp didn't do its job very well.
    About 4 hours in, I decided it was too dangerous and stupid to be driving through the ice, sliding past stop signs and turn, and pushing your brake pedal until the ABS sensors kicked in and stop you. I called up one of our relatives who lives along the way near Rochester, and I stayed in their old creamery that they turned into a bed and breakfast. I spent the night, they made me an entire loaf of french bread french toast for breakfast, and I drove the rest of the way to Milwaukee without major incident. I even got to the concert on time!

  3. Other, smaller anecdotes include a time when I lost traction for a moment going uphill on ice while trying to accelerate heavily even though I was already going 70 mph while it was snowing and I had two girls in my car catching a ride back to school. Later on that night, I started weaving in and out of the two lanes on the interstate because there was no one else around.
    I bought the dashboard SHO logo insert on eBay for $5, and replaced the one that said Sable with it because I thought my car was the Mercury equivalent of the SHO.
    I only got stopped for speeding once in the Sable, and that was a warning for 5 over. It was in an area they suspected for drug running, and they stop you for anything just so they can check out your situation to see if you're hauling.
    We went to Wisconsin Rapids one day, and I almost got in a few accidents that day from careless driving and reckless abandon/endangerment. One of the people on the trip had to go back from something that night, and we decided it would be an awesome idea if he drove back alone, did his thing, and then came back for us later. My car was busy that afternoon...
    As with most Hohenstein cars at some point, my rear view mirror was broken off for a while, and I kept it under the armrest where they expected me to put my cassette tapes. I also liked to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers during that time. Frequently when riders were in my car and the song Aeroplane was on, I would like to hold up my mirror and sing along. "Looking in my rear view mirror. I can make it disappear!" My buddy Derek still thinks it was funny...

  4. I realized something yesterday. I sold my car to this guy for $800. He used it for two years, got a $500 discount on his new car by proving he drove a non-Toyota vehicle, and then sold it back to me for $300. This guy totally recouped the purchase price for this car! He's really only out the money for repairs that he needed to do over the course of his ownership. I'm a little jealous of this fact...

  5. So, I'm kinda thinking I should do a full restomod on this car. It needs some suspension work already (the back sags and unevenly at that!), the body is getting some rust in and around the rear wheel wells (the one side had an accident before I owned it the first time), the interior is fading in the back, the weather stripping was starting to go bad in spots when I sold it, the rims are dated, the paint is oxidized and looks horrible, the stereo sounds really bad, the bumpers are broken in chunks (also my doing), and the light housings are aged or cracked.
    My thought is to recondition it, and bring it back as a ricer killer. I would get the rust fixed and rhino line the under-body so it doesn't rust again. I would beef up the suspension with new, race minded parts. Then I would get some rims from a 4th gen Sable (the 7 spoke ones) and get them redone in black chrome and wrapped in good grippy tires. There's an upgrade where you pull off the bigger brakes from a 4th gen Taurus to replace the brakes on a 1rst gen Taurus, and I think that would be awesome to do. There's also a part you can get to give the brakes a 50/50 power split. It doesn't really make sense to not do that on a front wheel drive like this. I'd fix what needs to be with the interior and tint the windows to prohibit any further fading. I'm still debating the pros and cons of a stealth roll cage, but we'll see if I end up racing it. The stereo is pretty high on the list of first things replaced, and I'm thinking about a head unit that does HD radio, Bluetooth with hands free phone capabilities, obviously mp3 cd playback, and maybe satellite radio ready. I am fairly certain I'd repaint the car in the classic dark green that they made the SHOs in because they always look awesome. I am seriously considering replacing the bumpers, rocker covers, and front lights with SHO parts. I think a SHOble would be an awesome thing to have. In the end, I would find someone to beef up the stock transmission to hold up while more power is shot through it, and when the 3.8 blows, I hope to have a rebuilt, bored and ported 3.0 DOHC to take its place, completing this SHOble concept. May all the Hwy 100 Civics beware when I get this out on the road!

  6. There is a barely noticeable break in that last post. It's not all one paragraph, but two.

  7. Just got the car back from the mechanic last night. It's still got a few issues, but it is now my sole ride due to selling my '00 Taurus SE which sprouted a new problem every week for the last month. The only major issue with the car now is a strong pull to the left. That, bald front tires, and broken door handles on both back doors...
    Baby steps, people.