My recently completed dream garage, with its new gravity-defying storage lift, is a very impressive looking monument to my stupidity. Every single car that is parked on or underneath my lift is very broken — and these are the least urgently broken hoopties. I have at least half a dozen others in various stages of disrepair scattered all over the state — and while it does feel a little overwhelming, there’s been enough progress on a few major long term projects to give me some hope for the future.
Not surprisingly, the consequences of buying the cheapest, and often neglected examples of aging collector cars are the never-ending stream of repair bills. Still, after shelling out an average of $5,000 a month for parts and repairs over the past year, I wish I was farther ahead. My DeLorean has been a major source of frustration over the past year, as this stainless steel bottomless pit required $10,000 worth of repairs to make drivable — but it’s still nowhere near sorted. I’ve been reluctant to spend more, since I’ve already invested more than it’s worth — so as the Delorean sits in purgatory, its gullwing doors have become more symbolic of an albatross.
The daunting list of repairs becomes less daunting with the other cars, as my Mercedes 500E “only” needs a rebuilt transmission and a rear differential, my 1966 Imperial convertible “only” needs its transmission removed and taken apart to fix a leak, and my Mercedes 500SL “only” drains its battery after a few days — thanks to some weird electrical problem. After spending $4,000 last week sorting my newly purchased E63 AMG Wagon, it decided to bask me in the warm glow of the check engine light again — a malady that’s shared with my 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo.
Mercifully, not all the cars in my garage are broken, such as my 1990 Miata — which further proves that Miata is always the answer — and also my 2005 Rolls-Royce Phantom. I expected that car to be much more finicky, but as I detailed in my last Phantom update, it’s actually been a very solid citizen. Despite being owned by me, my Jeep Gladiator is too new to break — but there are plenty of other very broken cars currently with my mechanic, the Car Wizard.
I am reminded constantly by viewers how much money I could save if I wrenched on cars myself, but exhibit A in my argument against that is my 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo. I was not remotely qualified to remove the tightly packed twin-turbo flat-six from this car to replace the coolant pipes, so I needed lots of help from the Wizard and his assistant, Junior Mint, to achieve this. The problem with having three people doing different parts of an engine removal is none of us can remember how it all goes back together. I’m sure we will eventually figure it out, but looking at the hundreds of parts tossed about all over the shop has made it too daunting to start.
Thankfully, I didn’t touch my 1995 Toyota Previa during its engine removal for a failed head gasket, and my supercharged supervan is actually sort of drivable again. It’s waiting on a few parts, and final assembly of the interior — but I was able to drive it around the block while sitting on a tire, with the exposed engine firing away directly beside me. It was a little scary, but also very exciting to know one of my major projects will be finished soon.
There’s hope for my 2007 Maserati Quattroporte as well, as the Maserati dealer was able to successfully squash the transmission error warning message with some simple reprogramming. So I’ll be able to pick my bargain Maserati up soon, and probably end up doing what I normally do with my nice, sorted cars — and that’s sell it to help pay for the repairs on the broken ones. It’s an endless cycle of stupidity, but at least some of you remain entertained by it.
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