I decided to title this entry in homage to an excellent Sir-Mix-A-Lot (warning, his site has way too much Flash) song, since I once again own a fine Hooptie product. The story goes like this: my Honda has been suffering a bit of bipolar disorder; sometimes it runs fantastic, and sometimes it runs so poorly I can barely climb the hill on the road to my house. It's carbuerated, which adds to the confusion because the late model Honda carbs are some of the most complicated things I've ever seen, period. To really troubleshoot it requires more specialized tools and expertise than I really have. So I'm going to turn it over to someone who does. The problem though, is that I can't get the problem to reliably repeat itself. Originally Ed and I traced things to a stuck choke, but now the problem is occuring with the choke operating properly. We thought we were sly when we replaced the fuel filter and the car ran great, but alas, later that night I went over to help Greg try to recover some Linux partitions and I almost didn't make it there.
Since I start at Evergreen on Monday, and doing so involves a 60+ mile commute in each direction, and I currently don't trust the Honda to take me out of the county (let alone band practice), I decided to pick up a cheap beater car that I do trust to do so. I know, I know...many of you are going, "how is a crappy car going to be a better solution?" The idea is not that it be perfect, but that it has manageable problems that are not suddenly crippling. Small oil leaks or whatever are OK. After talking Lisa out of a few hundred bucks, I hit Craig's List up and started looking. Options were slim. Eventually I found a sweet 1982 Chevette diesel for $250. (Getting a chance to run on Biodiesel sounded pretty cool, as well as 40+ MPG). Unfortunately, the car was being picked up. It turned out that the guy represented a fundraising organization that worked for United Cerebral Palsy, that accepts donated cars and resells them, and he had several to sell. I had my choice of a 1984 Toyota Camry with an automatic with no second gear (which the guy assured me didn't affect driveability), which I shied away from, an Audi 4000S which I stayed away from on my hard learned lesson from driving Volkswagens that German cars are expensive to work on even if you do the work yourself, and a 1984 Buick Century. So I asked about the Century a little bit, and as it turned out, he was coming up to Kitsap County, so he brought it up for me to see. What was better, he said he'd sell it to me at the Chevette price if I wanted it.
When he showed up, I was pretty impressed. The car has a near-perfect body: no broken lights, no dents, and very little rust. The catch? The Engine didn't run particularly well. After driving it around, it felt like it was running on three cylinders. Not fun to drive around in town, but on the highway, it does pretty well. I decided to buy it, and I got it for $220. This is one of the things I do love about America; the fact that you can buy a car (even if it is a crappy one) on about two weeks of minimum wage job income. Top that! Brian, the guitar player in my band also tested this theory last week when he bought a pretty decent Tercel for $225.
One thing I love about GM cars: ergonomics. My friend Stephen and I were discussing this, and apparently GM creates its dash and interior ergonomics to a different model than a lot of other manufacturers use. Whatever the reason, all I know is that every GM car I've ever had fits me like a glove; I can slouch just right and the center console, door, and steering wheel are in the right places. It's been the same in my crappy 1982 Pontiac Grand Prix, my crappy 1983 Camaro, and now, my crappy 1984 Buick Century.
I've put a set of spark plugs in it, and I'm changing the ignition wires; I'm hoping that will get me running on all four cylinders again. Aside from that, I'm not putting money into it, aside from fixing cheap things to fix (vacuum leaks and such). If it makes it through January, I might change the front wheel bearing that's making noise. I'll get some pictures up on it when I get my digital camera back, which is still in Lisa's car.