Thursday, June 16, 2016


Sometimes you need to celebrate the relationships you have in your life.

Feel the love.
As of May 22nd, I have had my '02 Crown Vic for two years, and because I've never written it down, and my brother says my blogs are better when I talk about trips I did as opposed to car build ideas, I figured I'd tell you about the day I bought my car because I had a very Roadkill experience.  I'm also going to do a post where I tell you all the things we've done to make it better, and Ben will just have to deal with it.

This is almost as far apart as we've had it.
Back in 2013, I was really wanting to get back into a Crown Vic, and I was very vocal about this fact.  I would talk to my coworkers about it, I was always looking at them on Craigslist, I had a whole plan on what I would do with one, and I had even figured out a nickname for it (which I now don't agree with).  The only thing I hadn't done was started to save for one.  Going through the winter and spring of 2014, I had scraped together something like $600 or $800, and I was watching again, looking for the '03 that was just for me.  Eventually, in March, I found a sweet deal on a car I didn't want.  It was an '02 LX Sport for $1,150 down in Indianapolis that had some unintentional body modifications performed by another driver.  It looked like someone backed into it in a parking lot.  I thought about this car for a while only because it had the Marauder interior, and I could buy all the parts separately online for just about the same price as buying the car, but I'd get a car too.  It was a deal too good to pass up.

Why wouldn't you want to buy this?!
See the console?!
And it has leather!  And the kid doesn't come with it!
After about two weeks of lusting over its pictures online, my mom basically said "either buy it or shut up."  She could've just as easily said, "if you like it so much, why don't you marry it" because that's pretty much what happened.  She spotted me the difference, and I setup a plan to go get it.  As usual, I disregarded all her "don't have rose-colored glasses," "just because we drove this far doesn't mean you have to buy it" warnings and jump head-first into the shallow pool that is Crown Vic ownership and customization.  We had it scheduled to go down and pick it up on my day off, a Wednesday.  Not only that, a Wednesday whose Tuesday I closed at 9:15 and whose Thursday I opened at 6:45.  I've since learned not to do that again... I think.

It's only a 6-ish hour trip... there...
I made a list so many times in my head of all the things we may or may not need for this trip.  I bought a headlight to go in the open hole where the old one used to sit.  I had tools, two spare tires, air compressor, two I-passes, tow strap, 3-tom floor jack, electric impact, and so much more I can't even remember.  (It would help if I could find the picture I took of all the stuff I was bringing on our excursion.)  I packed everything up in my Mom's Forester, and we hit the road at about 9:30.  I had forgotten the time change, so we were basically two hours late by the time we left, but nothing could get me down today; I was buying a car!

Day-of passenger selfie
As we drove South through Illinois, I was becoming more and more giddy in anticipation of what was awaiting me in Indy.  We got to Bloomington-Normal, and turned East.  Somewhere around Champagne is when things started to turn.  We were driving along seeing some nice puffy clouds when they started to get darker and thicker.  It wasn't long before we were driving along an angry front that came bearing gifts for everyone in Southern Indiana that day.  We dodged the rain most of the way into Indy, but once it was time to be outside, that's, of course, when it struck with most of its fury.

We left Wisconsin in this... 
...which changed to this...
...which changed to this out my side...
...this out the front...
...and this out the left.
Inevitably, this is how we entered Indy.
We drove through a fairly run down and ghetto-ish area and pulled into the last driveway on a dead end street next to the freeway (I remembered today that it lived on Bacon St).  There it was, in all its dents, scratches, falling off paint, and sagged out suspension.  I walked up and knocked on the door.  Due to our tardy entrance, the owner was currently away picking up her kid from school, but she soon returned, and we got down to business.

We discussed the car inside it while it down poured, hailed, and dropped small bits of tree all over it.
The vehicle was kind of rough, but it was good where I figured it mattered.  We fired up the car revealing an angry tone due to several exhaust leaks.  As the air ride got up to what I've taken to calling "Attack Mode," the rain chased us into the car... and then was followed by hail.  Eventually, I took it for a quick spin.  I couldn't stop smiling.  It drove like a stuffed chair on a waterbed, the check engine light was on because of a bad coil and a failing dpfe, the torque converter shuddered, the steering was sloppy and worn out, and the blend door motor was shot rendering any temp control useless.  That combine with bad wipers and one yellow headlight would strand me later that night out of sheer fear for my life.  The car was a pile, but it was my pile.  They don't call them "Charlie Cars" for nothing, and this would prove to be simultaneously the best and worst one to date.

Everything's better when wet
I got back, and we talked money.  I was nothing but smiles and butterflies.  I basically said, "take my money" and walked outside with a title.  I backed as far as I could into their garage and got to work.  The car came with two flat tires and a space saver donut that didn't fit the car unless you installed it backwards.  I had brought two spares that were the wrong tier size, wrong backspacing and offset, took the wrong style lug nut, and were the wrong make.  They were the right bolt pattern, and I was determined to make them work.  It looked stupid, but I didn't care.  We went to find it gas and then us some food.

I could just fit the trunk into their garage enough to swap tires around to limp it home... 400 miles
At Speedway, not far from their house, I aired up the tires because my spares were kind of flat, and we topped off both cars.  We opted to attempt to ride the storm out at a neighboring Steak n' Shake for a bit and celebrate what we'd just done.  I couldn't stop looking at it out the window.  We soon decided to press on and retraced our route from that morning as the light went away.

Fuel stop.
These Buick wheels look like crap on here.
I'm obsessed...
Rockin' down the highway
Things were going well as I drove in bliss into the sunset in my new, bitchin' Marauder wannabe.  I was listening to some tunes with the window down and having a blast waiting for my time to fall off and kill me.  I was really unsure whether my lug nuts would stay tight because of how I massacred the Buick Regal wheels with my acorn lug nuts that effortlessly dug their way into the aluminum of the wheels to force their own countersink.  I'm a bit of a gambler, so I just drove 70 and waited for death.  Once we got back into Illinois, the rain came back and hard.  Between one junk headlight, terribly worn out wiper blades, too much rain, no good defroster, and worthless tires wanting to hydroplane (which felt even stranger with one tire not matching the height or placement of the other three), I couldn't see the lines to stay in my lane or even follow the road, and after a couple semis passed me, I made the call.  We pulled off in a tiny town at a tiny truck stop and waited out the heavier rain and talked strategy.  My brother also called to see how things were going, and I took the opportunity under the canopy of the fuel pumps to install my second headlamp.  It was perfectly zip tied in place right up until I tightened them down.  The rest of the trip that light was used to illuminate the undersides of trees in the median as I drove, but I was legal!

How it came, but I brought a headlight just for this reason.
But the mounts were all broken...
Back on the road again.  Next time, I'll bring wipers too.
The rain had lightened up, and by the time we turned Northbound again, it dried up completely.  I rolled my windows down and basked in the lap of luxury... poorly maintained luxury.  We topped off the cars again just on the south side of the WI border in Loves Park, and I had gotten 23 mpg highway!  This car was clearly too good for me, but yet it was perfect for me.  We arrived home at 2 AM.  We were exhausted, and I had to be to work by 6:45.  It was a short night, but a good day.  I walked out the door the next morning completely comatose, but I couldn't stop smiling when I saw my new Vic in the driveway.  It was a long day of dragging my tail at work, but it was well worth it.  It wouldn't be for another 10 weeks before I actually got to drive it to work, but was all in on this car.

This was 6:30 the next morning.  So worth it.
Next time, I'll tell you what all we did to the car.  Then, I'll tell you about our big road trip on Hot Rod Power Tour 2015.  See you then!

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