Is this thing on?
You may or may not have noticed that this blog does not contain the normally scheduled programming. Yup, guest blog. As far as I know, one of the few ever to appear on "A Month Of Thursdays". I'm Muttski and Vixen was gracious enough to invite me to write this guest blog, and amuse her devoted readers. So yeah, no pressure or anything. If you're wondering just who the hell I am, well I'm the guy from Texas she's mentioned in a few of her blogs.
Anyway, I'm new to blogging, and just started one of my own called "No Tally, No Clue", which is in desperate need of readers. So feel free to stop by and check it out if you like.
Please? For the love of God, check it out. I don't even know if the stupid comments thing works. It'll get better, I promise.
Well now that the introductions have been made and we all know a bit more about each other, let's get on with this trainwreck, shall we?
Oh, and for the record, Vixen's feet are still quite pretty, even with all the running. Just sayin'.....
"How Much Is That Car In The Driveway"?
I'm a mechanic by trade and a tinkerer by nature. I loved taking things apart and putting them (mostly) back together again when I was growing up. Over time I went from my childhood toys, to the parent's VCR and eventually cars. Yeah, I'm a gearhead. I've had a shit ton of cars in my time. Well, not as many as some people I know, but for a guy who's never been married , way more than is really healthy. Since starting to drive at the age of 17, I have owned over 35 different vehicles over the past 24 or so years. I'm not sure if there's a hoarder type thing going on, but I've always had a problem with picking up basket case, shitbox cars to mess around with. I'd throw some money at it, do some work on it, drive it around for a bit, get bored and then sell it to get my next project. It's a vicious cycle. Some people rescue dogs (like my beloved Vixen), and I go and rescue old beaters from going to the scrapyard. Definitely not as noble a cause as animal rescue, but hey...it's what I do and I stay out of trouble for the most part. Win, win.
Sometimes though, a car just doesn't fall into my lap. No my dear captive audience, sometimes, I would have to go out of my way to acquire my treasures. Or in this case, 14 hours out of my way. This is the story of one of those times. A story of 2 men, junk food, no vacancies, energy drink induced hallucinations and a 21 year old Japanese sport sedan that 99% of the population has never even fucking heard of.
I have quite a few automotive "unicorns" that I always said, that if I could find them.I would plot, scheme or connive some way to get them. One of these cars is the 1991-1992 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. Did he just say...a GALANT? Yes, you read that right..a damn soccer mom Galant. However, the VR-4 Galants were no ordinary econobox grocery getters, oh no!. This car was a dominant force in the World Rally Championship series in the late 80's and early 90's. Equipped with All Wheel Drive, the incredibly over engineered Mitsubishi 4G63 turbocharged engine, 4 wheel steering and 4 wheel independent suspension these cars were the proverbial "wolf in sheep's clothing." They responded well to modifications and could achieve performance numbers that shamed some so called "sports cars". Even today these plain little cars show their ugly taillights to more than a few performance cars with just a few simple mods. Only 3000 of these little gems were imported to the United States for two years and since most Americans had never even heard of the WRC and only associated automotive "racing" with stock cars going "roundy round" on some NAS-Crash track, these cars were the perfect sleeper. The perfect car to build up and hoon around in, yes?
"Stupid, Stupid Human Creature"
This would not be the first Galant VR-4 I owned. My first one was a 91 (1954/2K) in "Belize Green", that I sold in a moment of extreme stupidity. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do, but then so do most "good" ideas. As I watched the car drive off with its new owner, I realized that I had just completely and utterly fucked up and I would probably never find one that was in as good of shape as the one I just sold. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. I told myself that if I could, I would get another one. Good luck with that one, since I had kind of lucked into the one I had just sold. Seriously, I'm kind of ashamed of the deal that I worked to get the car originally. I pretty much stole it from the owner, who was in a bit of a jam and I worked that deal to my advantage in a rather shameless manner. However automotive karma is cruel, a bitch even and never forgets. So this second one, well I would kind of have to earn it.
"Well, Hello There"
I kept an eye out for another one over the years. Kind of like a junkie fiending for his next fix. After searching for one in the Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma area and coming up empty nearly every damn time, I was ready to give up. The few I found were either too modified, too beat up, or I knew the "mechanics" who were selling them. Not really interested in unfucking someone elses hack job, I had to pass on...all of them. Yeah, pretty much all of them. CRAP. Well, so much for "Plan A". After awhile, I stopped looking and gave up on the idea. Guess it just wasn't meant to be. Pisser. Until I happened to be perusing the classifieds section on galantvr4.org and found the perfect candidate for my sick and twisted attention. It was a 92 in Kensington Grey, and had very minimal mods. Hmm, mostly unmolested, Kensington Grey, straight,clean and reasonably priced. Just what I was looking for, but it was in Colorado.
(Internal Monologue Mode: Engaged)
*Colorado! Fuck, I live in Texas.*
*But it's so perfect!*
*But it's IN Colorado! There's mountains and shit up there!*
*Yeah, and how many winners have you found around here genius?*
*You suck! Ratspit!! (I hate you internal monologue voice). Colorado it is then.*
"Road Trip (or "How I Drove Through Colorado And Didn't Get To See A Damn Thing)"
I was ready to do this thing, and it was GO time, lest my prize be snatched away from me! But I needed an accomplice, or a henchman if you will to successfully pull it off. Said candidate would need to be fearless, cunning and available for a little automotive inspired lunacy. Settling for just one out of three, I called one of my buddies and asked if he was up for a road trip to pick up the car. Amazingly, he agreed to come along as long as I paid all the expenses for this little excursion.. After promising his wife that I would return her husband in the same condition as he was received, we loaded up my trusty Nissan Frontier pickup with a variety of spare parts and tools. The plan was to drive up in the truck, take a look at the car and drive both vehicles back to Texas if I decided to buy it. If the Galant broke down on the way, we could disconnect the driveshaft and use a tow dolly to get it home. A simple and cunning plan. What could possibly go wrong?
"On The Road Again"
The trip up to Colorado was made without incident. Miles and miles of sad little sleepy, one stoplight towns in the Texas panhandle and New Mexico blurred into the glorious sight of the Colorado state line. Or I think it was, since it was dark and stuff. We continued driving straight through to Littleton, and gained a new appreciation for the wonderful properties, of Vault, Monster and Red Bull energy drinks. We arrived in town at about 6:30 AM and had planned to grab a hotel room for a few hours of sleep after driving 12 hours straight. Afterwards, we would go and look at the car and start the drive home depending on how we felt. Simple, right? Unfortunately, the only hitch in this finely conceived plan, was that there were no hotel rooms available in the Littleton area. At all. Nada, zip, zilch and "are you fucking kidding"? Middle of June, nothing special going on in the town and it's booked solid for whatever reason. Seriously? I was really beginning to develop an extreme dislike for the state of Colorado at this point.
After trying to find a place for a few hours and coming up empty, we decided to "crash" in the parking lot of a state park and try to get some sleep in the truck. After about 14 hours in the truck, consuming truck stop food, vast quantities of energy drinks, and driving like madmen to get to the town, the truck had taken on the distinct odor of feet, ass, car parts and tools. It wasn't terribly hot but the truck was getting warmer by the minute since the windows were closed. Why were the windows closed? Because of the hot air balloon crew setting up their equipment in the field right next to our parking spot. Between the noise, heat and sweaty man stench it was hard to get any sleep in the truck. After about 30 minutes of this, I called the owner and asked if there was ANY way that we could come and take a look at the car RIGHT THE HELL NOW! (Please?) He owned his own business, so it wasn't a big deal for him to cut loose for a few hours. We fired up the truck, rolled down the windows and made it to his place with a quickness.
"You Drove All That Way, For This?"
The car was exactly as described, both on the interior and exterior and included a complete set of factory Galant service manuals. Fresh snow tires, 3 in catback exhaust, 2nd Generation DSM exhaust manifold, VDO boost gauge and a EVO 8 oil filler cap were the only mods. Unbelievable. Most of these cars are sold with a sign that says "Please Fuck With Me!". Finding one in a truly unmolested condition is almost unheard of. After a final look over, test drive, and compression check I decided to get the car. We hopped into the owners new WRX STI and headed off to the bank and DMV to finalize the deal. After dealing with the bank and the lovely folks at the CO DMV, We returned to his house at about 10:45 and I was a GVR-4 owner, again. Why do I do these things to myself?
Proceeding back down south, we drove about an hour before we finally found a hotel with a vacancy. Got in the room and I was asleep before I hit the pillow, literally. My buddy said he had never seen anything like it before. I had been awake for pretty much a day and a half straight. All of this for a 21 year old Japanese sedan that might not make it home under its own power. Brilliant, right?
How She Looked On The Day I Bought Her:
"Head 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out..."
The Galant didn't have a CD player, which wasn't a big deal at first. The radio picked up stations just fine while we were in Colorado, but once we got to the more "remote" (BFE) areas of New Mexico, I couldn't be as choosy about what I was listening to. Eventually, I was only able to pick up one AM oldies station..playing a Patsy Cline marathon that night. Awesome. About 300 miles into the trek back home, the car decided to let me know it wasn't happy while I was trying my best not to fall asleep listening to old Patsy wailing on the radio, It started as a mild "stumble" at cruise. "Hmm, might need new plug wires. No big deal." Then the stumble turned into a full on bucking and surging. "Oh shit, I think this is how horror movies start." Flooring the gas would cause the condition to clear for a second or two, but then it would come back. After about 5 minutes, the car started to run normally again. Which was weird and stuff. At the next gas stop, we took a peek under the hood and checked what we could. I had brought a few things with me like a spare ECU and alternator, but no ignition components. The car would drive, but it would intermittently cut out. Again, weird. We decided to press on since it was still driving under its own power and we really didn't have much of a damn choice. Bah!
Went a little further down the road and it started acting up again, only much worse this time. 5 miles went by, 10 miles, 15 and then twenty went by with me flooring the throttle, and then rolling out of it to keep the car going. At this point, I was getting pretty pissed.You know, vein throbbing in your forehead pissed. I checked in the mirror, there was definite throbbage. So the car and I had a "Come To Jesus Meeting", which went something like this: "YOU DIRTY, FILTHY, PIRATE HOOKER PIECE OF SHIT!! IF I HAVE TO TOW YOUR SORRY ASS BACK TO DALLAS, I WILL RIP OUT YOUR HEART AND PART IT OUT FOR ALL THE DSM VULTURES BACK HOME TO PICK THROUGH! NOW, WHAT'S IT GONNA BE? THE EASY WAY, OR MY WAY?" About two seconds after that, the car cleared up and drove pretty much normally the rest of the way home.
Sometimes, you just gotta know what to say.
The only other incident was the lack of sleep induced hallucinations on the "Hill That Would Not End" outside of Abilene. I was following my buddy in my truck and started seeing "things" coming out of the roadway. After a mile of this my buddy called me on the phone to ask me what the hell I was doing. It kind of went like this:
"Hey, what's going on back there? You alright?"
*"Yeah, I'm fine. Just trying to avoid hitting them"*
"Them? What are you talking about?"
*"You don't see them?!! The dragons, man! There's dragons coming out of the road!"*
"Are you high? Wait, don't answer that... Yeah, you need to pull over right the fuck now!!"
I pulled over behind my truck and decided to wake up and banished the dragons by slapping myself in the face and running laps around both vehicles on the side of the road until I felt like I was going to puke. The rest of the trip home was dragon free and basically a repeat of the trip up there. Bad food, "colorful" people at the truck stops and lots of one stoplight towns. The Galant got about 300 miles or so to a tank and made it home without further incident. Stopped by the house to drop off the car and some stuff. Drove my friend back to his wife and apartment. I came home, and passed out on the couch while I was waiting for some food to heat up in the microwave.
A few things I learned on this trip:
1. Colorado is beautiful. Or at least I think it is. We were driving at Warp Factor 9 in the dark, and I didn't see much of it during the day. My tweaking out because of lack of sleep might have something to do with not paying attention during the day. I was assured that there were indeed "mountains and shit" all over and I missed it all. Mind you this trip took place back in 2006 I think, so this is what I had to go on until very recently when I went with Vix to Colorado Springs and am happy to report that it IS pretty damn beautiful up there. Mountains, shit and everything as promised! Pretty enough, that I might be willing to even live there some day. Hey, it could happen.
2. Texas is damned huge. Some of you guys in other states, cant comprehend how big this state is. Hell, we were another country at one point. Just because you're back in Texas doesn't mean you're not 6+ hours from "home". The vast majority of our trip to and from was either leaving Texas or entering Texas and returning to the D/FW area.
3. A glitchy, barely running car in the Middle Of Nowhere, New Mexico at "O'Dark Thirty", does not make for a warm and fuzzy feeling...at all. Thankfully, I finally figured out that it was just the Engine Control Unit going bad a few months later. I'm just glad it didn't crap out on the way home.
4. You will see some freaky stuff on the road at night when you're running on 5 hours of sleep into hour 10 of a 14 hour roadtrip. At this point your blood is 90% Vault, Monster or Red Bull and anything can happen. Hence the whole "There Will Be Dragons" in Abilene incident. Some mild twitching may have occurred as well.
5. Anyone willing to drive 800 miles one way, and risk life, limb and sanity to bring a 21 year old obscure Japanese sports sedan home, has got a few screws loose. Just sayin'. I know this is a character flaw, and I accept it for what it is, so..deal. Because, I ain't changing anytime soon. It could be worse, I could kick puppies for fun or some sick shit like that. Seriously though, sometimes I need to be stopped for my own damn good.
6. If you like crying yourself to sleep at night and beating your head against a wall, then the Galant VR-4 is the car for you. Seriously, I could have just kept the 05 GTO I bought a few years ago, sold the Galant and been perfectly happy. The GTO was nice and a sweet ride, but I had no attachment to it whatsoever. I mean, I pretty much tore the Galant apart and built it completely the fuck back up, by myself. You can't replicate that bond with something you buy and just drive because it's already "good enough". It's got my DNA, all over it. Blood, sweat and a lot of tears. Mostly just that stuff.....I think. For better or worse, it's mine now, and I belong to it as well . Soul sucking, four wheeled abomination that it is.
Hell, I'll probably be buried in this car.
Or more likely die screaming in it while my death song is blaring from the speakers as I do something incredibly stupid in it.
Almost looks like a totally different car, eh?
Would I do it all over again? Drive, all over "Hell's Half Acre" to drag some obscure piece of crap home , so I can dump a bunch of time and money into it?
Probably, yeah. With a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
I mean, how fucked up is that?
Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot.....