Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rabbit Stories Part 3 Drive It Like You Stole It

While Allyson and I were dating she called and wanted advice on buying a new car. She was at Chatwin Motors in Provo talking with a salesman. She told me that she was going to trade in her Rabbit on a Toyota Tercel. I told her that they would probably inflate the price of the car by $500 and then turn around and give her $500 for the trade. I told her that she would be better off just keeping it and selling it privately if she really wanted to get rid of it. She finished up the paperwork and drove home in her new car leaving the Rabbit at the dealership. Later that night she went back to the dealership after they closed and picked up the Rabbit.

A few years later I was cleaning out some old files and ran across the paperwork from when she bought the Tercel. Curious as to what kind of deal she got on the car I started looking through it. One line item really stood out to me. It was the one that said trade in and had a $500 credit for a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit. I added up the figures just to make sure I was reading it right and sure enough the price of the car had been reduced by $500 for the trade in value of the Rabbit.

I called Allyson into the room for a little explanation. The conversation went a little like this.

Me “Looks like the dealership gave you $500 for the Rabbit”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “But you still have the Rabbit?”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “But they gave you $500 for it”

Allyson “Yeah”

Me “How does that work?”

Allyson “I don’t know”

Me “How did you get the Rabbit back?”

Allyson “I just went and picked it up after they closed”

Me “You stole the car?”

Allyson “No I had a key. I just went and got it”

Me “But you traded it in”

Allyson “Yeah?”

We went back and forth with this for a while and in the end we both stood our ground.

Me “You stole the car”

Her “No I did not”

To this day she denies stealing the car.  I know that she didn't intentionally do it.  It was just a little misunderstanding between her and the dealership.   But that being said it’s a fun little story that I will hold over her head for the rest of her life.

Well it was pretty obvious that the dealership really didn’t want this car and I am pretty sure they never reported the theft to the police. Since then I have been pulled over a couple of times in it and never had any problems so I guess she got away with it.

Tonight the Rabbit went to a new home, not including Chatwin Motors this is its second owner. This is probably something that I should have disclosed prior to selling it but hey if you can’t live with it being stolen bring it back for a full refund.
Warning not as innocent as she may appear
Love You Sweetheart

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rabbit Stories Part 2

I worked for Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale California right out of school. They hauled both of our cars and all our belongings down there on their dime. It didn’t matter that the freight bill was more than the cars worth. It was amusing to see the faces of the movers when it came time to load the car.

After a year it became obvious to us that we would never be able to buy and pay for a house in the San Jose area so we made the move back to Utah. I filled a moving van and trailer with all our personal belongings and a 55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. There was just no room for the Rabbit, we left it behind. I thought hard about getting rid of it at that time since I was fairly confident that it would not make the trip home under its own power. It had a blown head gasket and was overheating.

I was feeling lucky and had a fool-proof backup plan in the form of a 1988 Bianchi road bike strapped to the back (It has downtube shifters how can you go wrong with downtube shifters?). I figured between San Jose and Salt Lake there are no towns farther than around 100 miles from each other and knew if I needed to I could abandon-car, ride to the next town and buy a Greyhound ticket. The perfect plan…

I bought a one way plane ticket and headed out. From the airport I took the train to the station nearest our old house and walked the last few miles. We still had a couple of days on our rental contract so I slept on the floor and woke early to start preparing for the trip. I bought seven gallons of water and a roll of duct tape from the grocery store and a couple new coolant hoses and hose clamps from the parts store. My last stop in San Jose was Taco Bell. I always order a 7-Layer and a bean burrito. I try to stay away from the meat there.

One eye on the road and the other on the temperature gage I made my way East. Slow and steady. I left the cap on the coolant tank loose to bleed off the excess pressure that was blowing by the head gasket and filling the coolant with exhaust gasses and oil. I had to hit the sweet spot on the cap not to tight and not too loose kept the coolant in and let the pressure out. I played a mechanical balancing act with the car until the temp gage approached the red line at which point I would pull over and refill the radiator with the life giving water (approx every 40-50 miles) and resume. It was like we were working as one, I was intimately connected to the car I could feel its pain. I could feel where I could push, where I needed to ease of and when I needed to give it a rest. It was a mentally exhausting trip, instead of listening to the radio I listened to the motor. I refilled my gallon jugs of water at every town as we limped our way through the Sierra Nevada’s and across the Nevada desert. When I couldn’t take any more we stopped at a rest stop and I spent the night sleeping in the driver’s seat.

When the sun rose the little diesel miraculously sputtered to life. I was like Cramer driving on empty; never had man pushed the limits of a machine as far as I did that day. As we passed through Wendover then across the salt flats I got a little misty eyed as the Wasatch came in to view. This is my home and I had been away far too long. I felt whole again, everything was going to be ok.

Tonight prospective Buyer #2 came to test drive the Rabbit, I like this guy, like me he enjoys working on cars and knows and appreciates the beauty that is just a little more than skin deep on this car. While he was out on a test drive I got a call from a lady who found the car on KSL obviously by searching by the maximum amount she could afford. She had no clue what it was. She asked if it would be a reliable 50 mile a day commuter. My response, “Absolutely not, one thing that I can guarantee is that something will always break on this car.” And that was the honest truth. The good thing is that it is cheap and easy to fix when it does and all the hard stuff has already been done.

Buyer #2 returned with a smile on his face. He took it to a buddy of his who is a professional Volkswagen mechanic and told him what I already knew and that it was a JEM worth every penny of the asking price. He is going to come and take it tomorrow.

I think I am going to be ok.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rabbit Stories

While I was in college I saw a guy who ran his Diesel Mercedes on waste vegetable oil from restaurants. When it comes to cars dull normal is just not my style.  I bought a book and spent a month gathering parts from eBay and the hardware store then assembled everything together to make a second fuel tank and heat exchanger system for my alternative fuel system.

At the time it was a $500 car if I broke it by running doughnut oil through it I would just haul it off to the junk yard and collect my 50 bucks. No big loss.

The problem is that it worked. How much simpler would my life had been if it had seized on the side of the road never to run again.

I started working early one afternoon putting all the parts together. Everything was going great I was in the zone. After working for a month on the project I was buzzing with excitement. I finished and looked at the clock, 2 AM, I couldn’t not try it out.

I pulled out of the neighborhood and headed down the road to heat up the heat-exchanger. After about five minutes I determined that old doughnut oil from the Provo Bakery was ready to run through the engine. As I flipped the switch I thought “Allyson is going to be pissed when I give her a wakeup call to come get me because I blew up her car doing something stupid and spent a bunch of money we didn’t have doing it”

I drove up the Alpine Highway, turned on to the Highland Highway and headed for the freeway back to American Fork. When I got to the 5th East exit I got of and headed back home. I flipped the switch back to Diesel, drove home and went to bed.

This is the first in a series of posts entitled Rabbit stories. I just posted my baby up for sale and this is my way of coping with the loss. I know it is a little off topic for my blog but hey it's my blog and I can do what ever I want here.