My First Parts Car Experience

What I thought was going to be a quick ride to pick up a parts car after work turned out to be anything but. Long story short, I bought dinner for the group that night.

At this point I already owned 2 Saabs, but I was still browsing Craigslist to see what other deals were out there. The latest blip on my radar was a pair of NG900’s (one turbo, one non-turbo) not more than 2 hours from my house. They were listed for $800 each, but after calling the seller to discuss a meet-up time, I found out he wanted $800 for the pair. I really had no interest in the non-turbo variant, but I quickly jumped on the opportunity to pick up a $400 car that only needed a new clutch.

I called Hassan and, with his “let’s do this sh*t” attitude, he didn’t hesitate to agree to come along with his F-150. We convinced his girlfriend and roommate to come along as well, with the idea it would only be a quick 3-hour round-trip. We chose a random Wednesday evening after work, the plan: drive to Toledo, pickup a tow dolly, load the car, drive back. Easy peasy.

It was roughly 4:30 by the time we got to Toledo. We arrived at the U-Haul location to pickup the tow dolly, only to find out the trailer plug was not working correctly on Hassan’s F-150, at least according to the worker’s tester. After much convincing, the worker allowed us to rent the dolly on the promise we got the lights working. We hooked up the dolly, and the lights worked fine; it was the tester that was broken. One hour wasted.

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Next, I met the seller at a notary to get the title signed over—even after I reassured him that Michigan does not require a notary seal. The seller paid the fees, so I went along with it. However, this was another half-hour down the drain.

We left the notary and headed to his “buddy’s” shop where the cars were being stored. I went over, gave it a quick once-over, and asked for the keys. He said his buddy should have left them in the car. No keys. The shop was closed, and the owner was no where to be found.

As many of you probably know, the NG900 cannot leave reverse without the key inserted. We popped the hood, disconnected the linkage, and shifted the trans by hand in order to get it to roll. Once we found neutral we still couldn’t get it to budge. A half hour passed before the seller offered to get a jack from his house to help troubleshoot, and there we waited, wasting even more time.

About 45 minutes later he returned with a jack, and much to our surprise, both front wheels spun freely when we lifted up the front end. We moved onto the rear where we found the passenger’s caliper completely seized up. We grabbed our laughable set of tools we brought and got to work. The first challenge was just getting the wheel off. Thankfully, the seller had the meanest donkey kick I ever saw (in flip-flops no less) and was able to knock the wheel off. Mind you, this was after we tried beating on it with a dead blow.

We didn’t have the proper tools to remove the caliper, so to remove the brake pads I used the claw end of a hammer to destroy them. Of course, it was the hand brake drum that was seized, so destroying the pads did nothing. Removing the rear caliper was another project because our adjustable wrench was too large, and we didn’t have any sockets or wrenches large enough. After some quick engineering, we managed to remove the bolt, hammer off the rear rotor, and finally had a rolling car.

Once the parts car was home, we began to remove the powertrain. Featuring: Frankie’s broken Aero.

It took a few tries, but we eventually got the car loaded onto the tow dolly. The seller and I strapped down the front tires, and we were off. We made arrangements that the seller would bring the key to me later that week. Hassan wanted to check the tie downs before we got on the interstate, but since it was already midnight, I persuaded him to just keep on driving.

We got back to Hassan’s around 1:30AM, and I got back to my house around 2AM. I attempted to reverse the trailer into the driveway, but as I began making the turn the front wheel came loose from the tie down and jumped over the front of the tow dolly. At this point, I did what I had to do in order to get everything into the driveway, which included forcing the other front wheel over the front of the dolly. I went to bed and decided to deal with it the next day.

The next day Hassan had one thing to say, “I told you we should have checked the straps.” I deserved that. Mocking aside, he still offered his assistance in getting it off of the tow dolly that night. It took a couple of hours, a handful of different ideas, but we eventually got the car off the dolly.

I had no intentions of using this car from the beginning, but thankfully the only injury sustained from the ordeal was a torn fuel line. This was in addition to the slipping clutch and broken wastegate that justified its $400 price tag. In fact, this parts car has long paid for itself, 3-fold.

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