Test Drive

Val contacted me to let me know that the steering and brakes were working fairly well and that he had test driven the car.  The ride was rather stiff and he wanted me to drive it myself and see what I thought.  He also wanted to hear my thoughts regarding the car’s ride height.  If we were addressing the ride by replacing springs that would be the best time to address ride height as well.  Val noted that the rear springs have an issue with spring wrap up on hard acceleration.  This came as no surprise to me as spring wrap up has been an issue with this car since I have owned it.  I already had a new set of springs ready for Val to install.

I looked my schedule over and chose a day to make the trip out to Val’s garage, which is about a 1.5 hour drive from my house.  After finishing with my appointments for the day I made the drive.  It ended up taking 2 hours because there was a traffic accident that stalled traffic for about 20 minutes.  By the time I arrived I was hot, sweaty, and tired.  Val was in the process of aligning the front end for the test drive.  The rims on my wheels were so bent up that he had temporarily installed another set of front wheels so he could get a fairly accurate alignment.  He told me that the camber on my car was way off.  Somebody had set the toe-in on the car without setting the camber.  This resulted in one tie rod shortened about as far as it could go and the other lengthened an equal amount.  He straightened out the alignment and installed my wheels back on the car.  He started the engine and backed the car out of his garage for me to test drive.

The first thing I noticed is that the steering wheel was a bit too close to my stomach.  Seems like I’ve gained a few pounds over the years.  Val had also warned me that the clutch was chattering and would need to be replaced.  I started the car forward and the clutch chattered like crazy.  It was hard to get a balance between not stalling the car and moving forward without shaking me to death.  But we were off.  The engine ran pretty well.  Val had fixed some vacuum leaks, and had warned me that the power brake booster sounded like it had a leak as well.  I could hear what sounded like the booster leaking a bit.  Looks like I will need a new booster as well.

I approached a cross street and tapped the brakes to stop.  Wow, those brakes are really sensitive.  The car had no problem stopping, but it required an extremely light touch on the brakes.  Time to turn on to the cross street.  Since the car has manual steering I knew my arms would be getting a workout.  There was a bit of play in the steering but it didn’t wander around.  I got a bit of speed up to see how the car was riding.  I didn’t want to go too fast as there were people walking around the neighborhood.  The street was fairly smooth so I couldn’t get a good feel for how stiff the ride really was.  And since the car has no interior there were all kinds of squeaks and rattles.  Since the car didn’t have much gas in it I headed back to the shop.

When I returned Val asked me how the car drove.  My response was that it was not that great and that I couldn’t believe I used to drive the car like that.  My answer was really more in response to the chattering clutch, touchy brakes, whistling brake booster and all the squeaks and rattles than to how the car drove.  I think that after Val has made some progress I will try another test drive and try to look past the squeaks and rattles.  I think I was just overwhelmed and tired from the long ride out to the shop.

After my test drive Val and I looked underneath the car for rust.  There was a strange hole cut in the frame that neither of us could explain.  Val pointed out a few areas that would require patching.  The exhaust system was rusted and would need to be replaced, which I was aware of.  We decided to install the springs I provided and address the ride height after the car had a full interior installed, as that would affect the ride height anyway.  Val agreed to look the car over some more and prepare an itemized estimate of what needed to be repaired and approximately how much it would cost.  I went ahead and ordered an exhaust system and new exhaust tips in the mean time.  Progress is being made, but there’s still a ways to go before I get the car back.