: Taking a road trip in a Craigslist car is like...



Jesda
10-14-12, 08:32 AM
...marrying a hooker that you just picked up from a street corner.

But that's exactly what I did (the former, not the latter).

I've been all over the west the last few months. I went to a wedding in Washington, went to LV and LA for the Japanese Classic Car Show, then went to LV, Phoenix, Tucson, LA, and Santa Maria/Lompoc CA to help Ian shop for resale cars and serve as co-driver.

Originally, we flew to Phoenix thinking we'd pick up a 2010 Mercedes CL. List price was about $49k but the paint was in poor condition. We stayed at a friend's house for a couple days and ate like gods while we shopped around for luxury cars to buy at wholesale. Almost pulled the trigger on a pristine 2008 S-class but the salesman was a douche, so we headed to Vegas to enjoy some shows, gamble, and look around Nevada for cars.

And like some magic coincidence, friends of mine from Washington were flying to LV while I happened to be in town. :alchi: I also saw David Copperfield. Great show.


After LV, we went back to Phoenix to return the rental car (Passat) and pick up another one (Fusion), drove to California, and ended up in the central coast to look at a BMW 7-series. Everything on the car was fine but a better option came up back in Missouri. Also, Ian's business partner decided he wanted a 1970s BMW 2002 tii, so we inspected a couple of them for him, one in LA (owned by the guy who runs socalvintagebmw.com) and another in Tucson AZ.
To put it briefly: They drive like four-seat Miatas. Gobs of fun.


ANYWAY, LONG STORY SHORTish:
After not buying any cars, we had to find an alternate way home. We were about to get on Amtrak in Maricopa AZ and take the train home to St Louis when I got the wacky idea to buy a Craigslist car.

I looked at a 1979 Ford LTD for $1000. It had 69,000 miles but didn't hold an idle, so I had to pass. The AC, radio, and power accessories still worked! LTDs arent very desirable, but I figured there's always some wacky person out there who has a peculiar fondness for particular cars from particular eras.

Then I looked at a 92 Buick Riviera that a guy acquired from his deceased uncle. He had been driving it for the last year or so to and from work an the car had never been outside of Phoenix, which meant no rust. It was also kept in a covered space so the paint was in nice shape.

The AC, unfortunately, didnt seem to work but at least the compressor wasnt seized. The 3800 V6 put the torque down like a little velvet hammer and shifts were crisp and precise. It even came with new tires, fresh coolant, a new radiator, new t-stat, new coolant hoses, and fresh motor oil.

He wanted $1100. I offered $800 and we settled on $860. After exchanging paperwork and cash, we tossed our suitcases in the back and hit the road in a completely unknown car with 1500 miles of mostly desolate AZ, NM, and TX highways ahead of us. [Amtrak refunded our train fare.]

I then called my friends in Phoenix and said, "You won't believe what I just did..."



So far, we've made it to Abilene, TX. It's another 800 miles from here to St Louis.


This old Buick had a pretty soft suspension from the factory, but 20 years and 119,000 miles have turned it into total mush. It bounces over pavement undulations like a speed boat jumping over the water. I accidentally smacked the undercarriage on a speed bump in El Paso not because the ride height was too low, but because the springs were so worn that it very easily bottomed out.

My original plan was to take it home and flip it for a profit as-is but I've found myself getting attached. The beige velour is plush, clean, and in surprisingly good shape and the excessive use of plastic "wood" simply oozes pure Americana.

You know that feeling of child-like satisfaction you get when you bite into a McDonald's Big Mac even though its mostly made of soy, wood pulp, and plastic? Same goes for this old Riviera. It's not the greatest thing on four wheels, but it satisfies like Velveeta poured on steamed broccoli.

http://i.imgur.com/RIAzd.jpg
I say, it's actually a darn good looking car. The original metal wire wheel covers were missing so we stopped at a Wal-Mart and picked up some plastichrome replacements. Very "klassy."
Also, the Riviera "R" badges on the C-pillars still light up at night.

http://i.imgur.com/aAh14.jpg
Bonus: The all-digital dash still works! The dimmer is broken so its obnoxiously bright at night while none of the buttons on the radio or climate control panels light up. I have to flip the dome light on to change stations or adjust the fan.


As we wafted down the road at 80mph with the windows open (broken AC) and a single rear speaker blasting painfully sh*tty Mexican polka on the radio (all the other speakers are blown and neither of us brought an iPod adapter), I said to Ian, clearly disappointed and seated next to me, "Don't be sad. You still got to take a road trip in a luxury coupe like you originally planned." :histeric:


I'll post more photos and updates in a bit.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
10-14-12, 09:34 AM
Welcome to the early '90s beater Buick club! :) My LeSabre, much like your Riviera is a grossly satisfying car in an odd way. It's not fast, it doesn't handle worth shit, it's not stylish and it's not trendy, but it's satisfying in a much simpler sense. It takes anything you can throw at it, is wonderfully reliable & simple, gets GREAT mileage (21-23 around town) and drives like a waterbed. Overall, it's a very relaxing car, in the way it drives and how it requires little maintenance and upkeep to get you around.

CadillacLuke24
10-14-12, 09:43 AM
That is AWESOME! And it looks like you got a REALLY nice car too, for the money!

Oh Jesda, what would we do without you?

The-Dullahan
10-14-12, 04:23 PM
Experience has taught me, this is the way to live life. That's exactly what I qould have done (Albeit, I would have been looking at slightly different cars)

Trains are fun too, though.

greencadillacmatt
10-14-12, 09:01 PM
I've always wanted to do something crazy like that! Jesda, you remind me of the two main editors from Hot Rod Magazine. You always have the coolest stuff going. Keep us posted! :thumbsup: :cool2: :thumbsup:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOYlloxcRZA

77CDV
10-14-12, 09:47 PM
Very cool, Jesda! Reminds me of what I did when I bought my 69 FWB in Tucson and drove it back to LA with no prep at all. It's amazing what these older cars will tolerate! And you really can't quibble about the price! :D Hope the balance of the drive is uneventful. One question, though. Why not stop at a Wal Mart along the way and pick up a cassette adaptor for the ipod? Unless you and Ian really like rancheros! :lol:

cadillac kevin
10-14-12, 09:53 PM
Very cool, Jesda! Reminds me of what I did when I bought my 69 FWB in Tucson and drove it back to LA with no prep at all. It's amazing what these older cars will tolerate! And you really can't quibble about the price! :D Hope the balance of the drive is uneventful. One question, though. Why not stop at a Wal Mart along the way and pick up a cassette adaptor for the ipod? Unless you and Ian really like rancheros! :lol:
I agree. Also, you probably could have found a thrift store and picked up some tapes, for a more "authentic experience."

77CDV
10-14-12, 10:11 PM
That video Matt posted was way cool, mostly because I've been everywhere they went! I can vouch that Bisbee is way cool. :thumbsup:

Playdrv4me
10-14-12, 10:24 PM
LOL, between Jesda and myself we have probably contributed a significant amount to Philips Corporation's annual earnings report buying those damn tape adapters everywhere we end up going. For the first time ever, EVERY WAL MART within a 200 mile radius was COMPLETELY sold out of those things. Jesda finally bought one somewhere in TX, but it still didn't help me much since I forgot my XM radio to listen to talk (which is about all those speakers are good for).

ted tcb
10-14-12, 10:44 PM
You boys certainly enjoy life, no denying that!

Next time, why not pick up that hooker on the corner and write up a review on that road test?

gdwriter
10-15-12, 01:17 AM
I love this story. And that you stopped in my hometown. I should have given you my parent's address so you could knock on the door. My Dad would have definitely been surprised.

Playdrv4me
10-15-12, 05:16 AM
You boys certainly enjoy life, no denying that!

Next time, why not pick up that hooker on the corner and write up a review on that road test?

I've been to Las Vegas *plenty* of times in recent months. I'll just leave that right there. ;)

STS_Seville_Hunter
10-15-12, 05:36 AM
So much win.

Johnxlrv
10-15-12, 08:48 AM
You boys certainly enjoy life, no denying that!

Next time, why not pick up that hooker on the corner and write up a review on that road test?

That would have been a mistake...he was in the perfect pimp car...might have offended the local business leaders...

I read part of the story to my wife...she just shook her head...no sense of " adventure" ! Personally, I love it!

orconn
10-15-12, 12:33 PM
The problem with Jesda and hookers is, if my memory serves me right, that the hookers always seem to end up in the trunk!

77CDV
10-15-12, 04:10 PM
The problem with Jesda and hookers is, if my memory serves me right, that the hookers always seem to end up in the trunk!

They had to base Dexter off something. :lol:

Kev
10-15-12, 04:33 PM
Jesda is our own resident "Uncle Buck", free of the many conventional domestic responsibilities many of us are bound to. It allows him the freedom to roam our great land at will (somewhat) and his generous reporting skills allow us to accompany him vicariously in his varied adventures!

Thank you Jesda!

:coffee:

Aron9000
10-16-12, 06:37 AM
Jesda is our own resident "Uncle Buck", free of the many conventional domestic responsibilities many of us are bound to. It allows him the freedom to roam our great land at will (somewhat) and his generous reporting skills allow us to accompany him vicariously in his varied adventures!

Thank you Jesda!

:coffee:

Wish I had a job that let me just pack up for a week or 5 and drive out west aimlessly. Seriously envious of that type of freedom Jesda and Ian have lol.

As for the Riveria, what color is the interior??? Buddy of mine had a MINT Riveria of similar vintage about 10 years ago, his was pearl white on blue leather. Had like 40k miles on it. With the right wheels(ie not those dorky wire hubcaps like his had) they can look pretty cool.

BTW this kind of reminds me of a "british" Top Gear Challenge. Except they always manage to buy THE WORST car they can find on their given budget(sometimes I think they do it on purpose).

orconn
10-16-12, 01:55 PM
What the hell is a "Riveria?" Kind of sounds like a Buick with digestive problems!

Jesda
10-16-12, 10:01 PM
Made it home. Averaged 23-25 mpg at 75-85 mph.

The weather got a bit warm on a few stretches so I wore basketball shorts and a white t-shirt to avoid getting hot.

The upper rear passenger side of the engine has a top-end tick. It sounds like a pulley or maybe an exhaust manifold gasket. It's a consistent tick that you can't hear inside the car but if you're driving past a building or concrete barrier with the passenger side window open you can hear it. Having a shop look at it tomorrow.

I just pulled out the rear speakers. Buick installed these 6x9s in thick plastic enclosures with dense padding inside to prevent rattles. This car doesn't have Bose so it'll be easy to pick up some Pioneers at Wally World and plug them in.

I hate to say it but this old Buick seems better-built than my 2001 Seville. There are no rattles or squeaks at all. The most significant flaw is the missing headliner. The last owner simply tore it down after it started sagging so all that remains is orange foam. If I keep the car, I plan on getting creative and refinishing it in plaid or argyle. Whether or not I keep it depends on whether this ticking noise is serious.

drewsdeville
10-16-12, 10:20 PM
I hate to say it but this old Buick seems better-built than my 2001 Seville.

I agree.

I recently owned a 100k mile '99 Eldo for a few months. Bought it cheap with some troubles. Repaired and drove it around for those few months.

I just sold it, as I favored my 200k mile '90 Eldo over it.

There were multiple reasons for that - in the way they drove, their size, their comfort levels, and the fact that the '90 refuses to give me a reason to bail on it - but this comment you made was something that also stood out to me. These old E-bodies feel way better screwed together than their heavily related k/g body successors. My '90 is old, high mileage, and not that great looking anymore, but just like you mention with the Riviera, there's not one squeak, rattle, creak or groan, and sitting/driving in it, I still get that solid and secure feeling that the later models somehow lacked.

To go even further, for me, the entire driving experience is more pleasant in the '90 than it was in the '99, despite the lack of horsepower. Kind of bizzare as the '86-'91 generation was highly criticized through the years, yet the '92-02 was praised - but that's just the way it is for me.

Not surprising as they were heavily related, I felt the same way about my '95 Deville as I did the '99 Eldo. My old '90 is a whole lot more car than either, in my opinion.

cadillac kevin
10-16-12, 10:33 PM
Jesda, if you want to go cheap on the back speakers, I got a working set of 4 ohm delco 6x9s from a '90 deville. I also have a set of decent kenwood 3 way 6x9s that are about 5 years old.

Kev
10-17-12, 01:06 AM
Sounds like you may need to invest in a good set of shocks too, if you keep it.

Jesda
10-17-12, 02:42 AM
Jesda, if you want to go cheap on the back speakers, I got a working set of 4 ohm delco 6x9s from a '90 deville. I also have a set of decent kenwood 3 way 6x9s that are about 5 years old.

Price for either pair? Send me a message on FB. Thanks!


Sounds like you may need to invest in a good set of shocks too, if you keep it.

I'm annoyed that I missed out on meeting you. I found your PM after I got home (for some reason I no longer get pop-up or email notifications) and sent you a reply with my phone number in case I head that way again.

I was bored out of my mind in Lompoc. A mini-meet would have been awesome.

greencadillacmatt
10-17-12, 09:40 AM
Glad it got you back home man! Congrats on your $860 Buick. Keep us posted, it'd be hilarious if you kept it.

Kev
10-17-12, 10:54 AM
I'm annoyed that I missed out on meeting you. I found your PM after I got home (for some reason I no longer get pop-up or email notifications) and sent you a reply with my phone number in case I head that way again.

I was bored out of my mind in Lompoc. A mini-meet would have been awesome.No worries, next time! I know what you mean about Lompoc, we lived there for 18 years (Vandenberg Village). Got your message too. Now that you know what area I'm in, feel free to give me a heads up next time you come this way. We'll have some famous Santa Maria style BBQ. Heck, I may have to cook it for you myself!