Is the Lotus at Fault? Or Possible Russian Collusion?

Be careful of the deals you make with yourself!  Or deals with Russians; however, enough on that: truly, beyond enough.  Why haven’t I wrote a car blog since March?  Because in March I’d decided that in my next blog I’d show the world my (fake) Lotus Seven (Locost) sitting on its own wheels: and that still hasn’t happened.

Actually, I’m lying.  It did happen, but not in a way I can be proud of.

Flashback: it’s March and I’ve just put the front wheels on the Locost, and a rear axle is laying beside the car.  I should have it up on four wheels in days.  I write an excited blog. Progress is being made! Hear ye, hear ye! 
Then I walked into the garage and looked at where the rear axle will mount to my frame.  I may not be an Arthur Conan Doyle character, but I was smart enough to realize that my axle/roll bar mounts appeared to be held together by a strange combination of a blind-man’s welding, black magic, bondo (or toothpaste) and possibly chewing gum.

So I chopped the entire rear-end off the car/frame and started over.  Goodbye one month (or two).

Once the frame looked as though it might hold the weight of a small child, I moved forward with building the axle’s mounting brackets.  

The brackets required some larger holes drilled.  For an average man that would be no-big-deal, but I’ve stocked my drill bits with a certain discount store’s inventory; whether these drill bits were ever meant as hole producers is in question, as they often sacrifice themselves to the power of the drill, even occasionally stabbing me and drawing blood in the process.

If the drill bits didn’t break, they would go dull instantly, and when pressed into metal the drill bits screamed like banshees flying to a particularly heinous potato famine; if only they’d take away some metal, but their powers appeared lacking despite their horrendous clamor.

Finally came the big day; the axle was ready to slide into the car.  Soon the Locost would be sitting on its own wheels, free from the help of any wooden 2×4 aids, jack stands, clever picture angles, etc..

I slid the axle in.  I bolted the shocks on.  I jacked the rear of the car up in preparation to accept the fancy BMW M3 wheels.  My confidence brimming, I slid a wheel into position and “thunk”…

Something was wrong.  I couldn’t push the wheel on.  The ends of three inch racing studs mocked me as they barely reached through the wheel’s holes.  I pushed harder.  Nothing! I couldn’t slide the tire on.

Then I realized the other side of the tire was hitting the frame of the car.  I’d bought too narrow of an axle! I could get a wheel nut on the two threads poking through, but all was not well in Denmark (or Dundee, the Dutch having little to do with it).

So there you have it, car was sitting on wheels, but nothing I could take pride in or blog about.

Back to the junk yard!

The good news is, God doesn’t appear to be smiting the project.  The first truck in the gates of the U-Pull-It junkyard had the same axle, but four inches wider, with disc brakes and a locker.

For those that don’t care: a locker is a device that helps the axle deliver power to the wheel on the ground when I’m going around tight corners with the other wheel in the air. For example, in corners, my little MGB would spin the inside wheel up in the air and wouldn’t go anywhere.  This one shouldn’t do that.


And I even had a buddy show up to help me pull the axle: he was on his way to Mt. Hood to climb it that night. That’s a great friend.  I wonder if he’ll forgive me when I steal the battery powered impact wrench he brought.  That’s a great tool.  And I need to pull a Camaro transmission now.

Why a transmission?  Well, I found a motor. The family eight miles up Wildcat Mountain Road, in the mountains behind Boring, Oregon, had a 2.0 Ford Zetec engine for sale, “running”, for $300 on Craigslist.

Which wasn’t shady at all.

Neither was the fact that when I Googled their address several convictions for meth came up in the search results; although I could never make a definite correlation to the address. “Why Google, why?  I’m dying to know.  Possibly literally.”

Or that when I arrived there was no home, just a barn and a series of trailers connected by tunnels made of particle board 4x8s.

Or that a bloodhound/great dane mix jumped up on my door and stuck his head in the window of my SUV as I drove up the driveway.

It was also strange that none of my friends were available to join me for this adventure.

I had more fun with the massive dog when the owner went to find his tractor, in the fields conveniently out-of-sight, in order to lift the motor out of the barn.  I opened the back of my SUV, which was apparently a cue for this freakishly large yet strangely puppy-like bloodhound to “go for a ride”.  The muddy dog jumped in and started exploring the interior of my truck.  I was trying to push him out which he thought was a great game; he’d have probably called it “bite the stranger trying to push you out of your new truck”.

Long story short, I lived.  They seemed nice enough.  If they had a daughter I’d advise the local boys to leave her alone; cue “Wolverton Mountain”.

Why do I want a Chevy Camaro T-5 (five speed) World Class Tranny (such a fancy name) for a Ford motor?  Well, supposedly the input shaft is the same size, and I bought a boat bell housing which mates the Ford four cylinder with a traditional Chevy transmission bolt pattern.
My other option is the Pinto transmission, which is only a four speed.  I’ve done the four speed tranny on long drives, at 5,000 RPM going down the Interstate, in a MGA with a $2 swap meet Cherry Bomb exhaust.  While I don’t always mind not being able to hear people, it gets old; especially since you can’t hear them for a day after the drive.  I want a five speed.

What about fun?!  Aren’t these sorts of cars supposed to be fun?! This is all boring and whiny!

I agree.

My father and I took my BMW M3 to an open-practice autocross.  I needed it badly.  At one point, as the g-forces yanked at me, the engine revved sweetly, and the car pushed through corners like my steering inputs were mere suggestions; I brutally demolished a cone and I found myself laughing.  Naturally laughing.  Not that fake-chuckle-at-a-coworkers-lame-humor, but a deep laugh that was real.  And it felt good.  Really good.  I need more. Adrenalin; speed; challenges; slightly out-of-control; mix them together and I wake up.  And I can get a good laugh.  Most the time I’m wound too tight.  Ask my friends or my phone that never receives phone calls, “Google, do people call Isaiah to chat?”

I wonder if the Google voice is allowed to curse in response to questions.

I watched motorcross in front of a very big, almost theater size screen last night.  For a minute they played only the helmet cam view.  I got sick.  Not motion sick, but sad in my stomach sick.  I want to go riding.  I want to go racing.  And partly the Lotus is to blame (and, I’ve learned, Russian collusion is always to blame). 

I need to finish building the Lotus. I don’t like working on cars, I like throwing them around corners sideways.  This working on cars thing is a necessary evil because I’m too cheap to go buy a Lotus and beat on it like I plan to.  But is it necessary, or am I just not smart enough to figure out how to have fun without the maintenance? 

I mull this question often.


And I am cheap.  I woke the family up to go to our local Concourse de Elegance last weekend.  When we arrived we found $20-per-adult admission.  After a little discussion with Kellie (my wife), I begrudgingly handed The Gate Keeper my card.  She said, “That’ll be $45.70”.

Me: “What’s the extra $5.70?!”

The Gate Keeper: “Service charge.”

We had a nice walk around the outside of the Concourse; when the fence was low enough I could see a few cars inside.  I’d left my coffee on The Gate Keeper’s table when we retreated… my wife graciously went back to get it as I don’t think either I, or The Gate Keeper, wanted to see each other again.

And yes, I’m capitalizing The Gate Keeper as though it’s a name on purpose.  Reminds me of Zuul, the Gatekeeper of Gozer in Ghostbusters, and that gives me a little joy.

Cars and Coffee is free on Saturday mornings and some awfully nice cars show up to that.  I’m sorry if you need a little trophy because I don’t want to pay for it.  Although, at the last Cars and Coffee I noticed a group of men with shopping bags, holding out shoes and talking quite passionately about their purchases; this saddened me a little.

Maybe those guys’d let me play with their expensive cars while they go shopping in the mall.  We could both be happy.

My time is coming.  I will be laughing again.  For now, I bid my time and press on. Let’s get this next axle installed and find a tranny.  I’m dreaming of being sideways, slightly out-of-control, destroying course marker cones while laughing.  If the course Marshall talks to you it means you’re having a good time, right?  Pretty much how I play golf too.

This Looks Fun
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