V6 Vandals - D3 2-4p - “On The Road Again”
Cody looked out of the rear window, then said, “Looks like we’re back to normal. Just light-blue oil smoke. Not that heavy crap we had when the O2 sensor went.”
“Good. I’m fine with that. We’ll just have to make up for this with our next run.” Luke said.
“We’re not even done with this one, and you’re thinking of the next one?” Jake asked.
“Of course he is. Didn’t I tell you about our first run?” Amy responded.
“A little, but… The last I heard about was you crossed the finish line coasting.” Jake replied.
“Shall I tell it, Luke, or do you want to?” Amy asked.
“I’m currently a little occupied with driving, and you’re better at the whole story thing anyway.” Luke said.
“Ah, that’s okay. Shall I start from the beginning?”
“Yeah. Cody’s never heard about it, and about the only thing I told him was you’ve been in two of these. That was when you told me about it, and got me interested.” Jake said.
“Fair enough.” Amy said. “So, starting at the beginning here, Luke heard about some beater-bash we could participate in, and bought us a car to work with. A 1977 Sinistra Savage, with the factory Twin Turbo 662 cubic-inch V8. We had to replace the intercooler with one from the Rally Knight because the factory one had kissed a tree branch, but it wasn’t bad for an old beater, let alone a $500 car. We patched up the worst of it, but there was a transmission fluid leak we didn’t fix.”
“Didn’t, or couldn’t?” Cody asked.
“Didn’t. It’s not in the spirit of this to buy a $500 car and then restore it to better-than-factory conditions.” Luke responded.
“Thank you. Anyway, we had our car, and the first run was this off-the-beaten-path run, old forest trails, dirt roads, gravel, the kinds of things that we’ve been avoiding in this truck. There were also a couple over-land sections on Day 2 that, well, were completely off-road. The format was a little different, more like a rally than a race. We stopped after each ‘stage’ and waited for the others. Well, it didn’t take long for our brakes to get damaged, and yet, Luke had a plan to ease the problem. Then we patched up the car, dragged it through Day 1 mostly in one piece, and through Day 2 losing a muffler, crumpled the side-skirt, brushed the sides with tree branches, and broke the mirrors off of the car.” Amy said.
“So, wait, you took a 1970’s convertible off-roading? And the only things you broke were superficial?” Cody asked.
“Pretty much. It wasn’t like it was serious off-roading, other than two parts on Day 2. And the Orchard Run, but nothing bad really happened.” Amy said.
“Scott would disagree with you.” Luke replied. “He got stung by a wasp in one of those apples that fell in the car.”
“Scott was always a light-weight who would complain about a paper cut for weeks, Luke. So of course he complained about the wasp sting for two months.” Amy said. “Anyway, Luke got us to the finish in 8th place, and no sooner had he parked the Savage, he was looking for a trade-in. While we were busy pigging out on steak and beer, Luke was busy trading what was left of our Sinistra Savage for a 1998 Minerva Midnight. Which, of course, we ran in the second one of these little challenges, and did terribly in. We should have turbocharged it.”
“It probably wouldn’t have helped. That car threw every problem at us that it could without putting us out. Dirty throttle bodies, bad brakes, shitty radio, not enough comfort. More horsepower in that car probably would’ve blown up the 5 speed automatic. Keep in mind, this was the car I traded a car to get, and it had a misfire when I got it. Yes, we fixed the misfire, but that gearbox was a problem looking for a time to happen.” Luke replied.
“So, what, Luke traded the Savage for… Oh, I see! A 500-dollar car being traded one-to-one with another car makes a 500-dollar car. He was avoiding doing maintenance work to fix the damage he did.” Jake said. “So what exactly happened with the Midnight?”
“Engine seized in the parking lot at the end of the run. We changed the oil, drove to the starting line, ran the whole race without checking the oil. Had plenty of oil-pressure. Light kept coming on for high-oil pressure, so I think it floated a bearing, spun the hell out of it, and then destroyed the engine.” Luke replied. “So we decided to take a break for a while, especially after Scott made us drive home in a Storm Serenity he bought for $225.”
“Why?” Cody asked.
“Ever drive a 1995 Serenity? They’re comfortable, but this one never got the SymTrak fixed. Luke drove us back to Chicago with that fuckin’ belt screaming the whole way home.” Amy said. “And we spent the whole journey praying that the belt wouldn’t snap, that we wouldn’t become ironic casualties of the previous CEO’s past.”
“So, you mean, you drove a Serenity, the old one, that had the belt problem?” Jake asked.
“Yes. Soon as we got it home, it got a new SymTrak+ unit out of storage, and we sold that sucker for $750. Worth it just to get rid of one more death-trap. Everything since '96 is gear-driven anyway, so no one has to worry anymore. But that’s why '95 Serenity minivans have absolutely no resale value. Can’t tell if it’s got a SymTrak+ unit, or a belt that hasn’t broken yet. And if the belt breaks, well… 99% of the time, you now have a front-wheel-drive minivan. That last 1%… Belt breaks, binds up the rear drive pulley. Rear wheels lock up on the highway, and this happens.” Luke said, printing out the newspaper article and handing it back to Jake.
“Holy shit. Those had to be dark days.” Jake said, passing the page over to Cody, who looked equally shocked and horrified.
“They were, but they were before my time. Thankfully, the previous CEO set things up to run smoothly enough.” Luke replied.
“So, before we get side-tracked with company history, what was that earlier about ‘the next one of these’ and what you meant?” Cody asked.
“Oh. I have a car picked out for the next available run already. Old company car of ours.” Luke said. “Also happens to be my daily-driver.”
“So, you bought it at full price. How do you plan to pass it off as a $500 car?” Jake asked.
“Rather easily, actually. It was made in 2004, and has 1,287,673.8 miles on the odometer, as of the last time I drove it. Yes, it’s nearly a 1.3 million mile car. Whenever someone needed to borrow a company car, I’d give them the keys.” Luke replied.
“So, what is it?” Cody inquired.
“Has an inline-3, 4 doors, 4 seats. We’ll make some changes, of course, but it’ll hopefully be good.” Luke said. “And it gets great gas mileage.”
“But you haven’t said what it is.” Cody said, staring at Luke’s reflection in the rear view mirror.
“It was built in 2004, number 1010 off the line. Had plenty of new paint colors over the years, and recently had the battery pack replaced. It’s my old Storm Surge 3XR.”
“Wait, you plan to bring a hybrid into a beater race?!” Jake and Cody said at the same time.
“Well, I kept bringing it up in the past. And it was on the list for this one as well, as well as that Ishu Myriad you guys wouldn’t let me drive.” Luke replied.
“Think they’ll let you do it?” Amy asked.
“I have my doubts, but it can’t hurt to try. Though before it goes on possibly the last journey it’ll ever do, I’ll be decking it out with the Road Rally trim pieces and paint scheme.” Luke said.
“Road rally?” Cody questioned. “What do you mean by that?”
“We had a special Surge set up for a road rally we planned to host, but never got around to doing so. Well, we had two paint-schemes to use for it, an Orange-and-Black one that everyone got to see at an auto-show, and a two-tone blue one that we’ve kept under wraps. I get the feeling Luke plans to use the two-tone blue.” Amy said.
“Orange-and-black would’ve been Race Number 00. Perfectly fine in a rally when you’re the benchmark, non-competing. Two-tone blue is Race Number 13. Luke’s got a bit of an obsession with that number.” Amy replied.
“It’s not an obsession. I’ve been trying to figure out why everyone thinks it’s unlucky. No one complains about a baker’s dozen of donuts, and that’s 13, so why is everyone worried about that number when it comes up? So I plan to paint up the Surge one last time, put the aero kit on there, and we’ll go run Lucky Number 13 on one of these.” Luke said.
All of the story telling and commentary made this particular two-hour stage fly by, and despite the glow of the check-engine light, the team was in a good mood.
MRL: +10 (NC)
FTG: +16 (+6)
OIL: 1 quart