Project 2002 – Part Two…

Rooting around underneath the Inka 2002, I’m wondering if maybe I’ve bit off more than I can chew. Nah. What better thing to do when you have one ratty project car than to pick up a parts car, right?

Facebook to the rescue again. The guys at Baker and Baker towing, just happened to have a faded blue 75 that they dragged into their towing lot, and weren’t really sure what to do with the darn thing – it came as part of a multiple tow situation. When I’m at my desk editing photos, I’m always on the lookout for cars and parts. This was about to be a major score. The car in question looked really rough, but from the pictures I noticed a great steering wheel, a clean dash, and some vintage Recaros.

Unfortunately for the fellow selling the car, he was getting grilled by the audience. Though he said repeatedly that he “wasn’t a BMW guy” and just wanted to get rid of this thing, the granular questions just kept coming. Sensing his frustration, I offered him a low, but no hassle bid and by the next morning there was a message, “it’s yours if you want it.” Hooray.

Being a towing company, they were a bit outside of Salem, Oregon (that city that’s engulfed in flames this week) so I hopped in the Z3 coupe, zoomed out to sign the papers, and they promised to deliver by the end of day. Things move fast around here. The car was definitely nasty – and I mean nasty, but I also saw an undented hood, some more trim bits I could use and an unwrinkled nose that I can easily remove.

Then he appeared

About three in the afternoon, the tow truck shows up – again. I don’t want my neighbors to think I’m starting a wrecking yard, so it was nice for it to show up during “business hours,” if you know what I mean. While the friendly tow truck guy (this is the Pacific Northwest, people are by and large really nice) is pondering how to get this car with four flat tires off the truck, he says “Make sure and get a few bug bombs to kill the bees. This thing is full of bees. We pulled it out of a barn where it’s been for about ten years.”

He’s not joking. As I poke my head inside, a few big wasps zoom past my head. I have a love/hate thing with bees. I know they are great for the environment, yada, yada, but I am a little bit allergic. Not epi pen, dash to ER allergic (that would be macadamia nuts) but swell up and be really uncomfortable for a few days allergic.

I suggest firing up the compressor, inflating the tires, and just rolling it off. “Nope, that won’t work these tires have been sitting for a decade, they won’t hold any air.” But this guy’s good. He has the finesse of a Steinway mover, and with a few angle changes, he slides the gnarly, faded blue car into the driveway so I can start the salvage process. All done, he laughs and says, “do you know how many of these I’ve towed to the crusher over the years?” My heart sinks, thinking he’s probably taken more than one Tii to the slaughter, not even knowing. Sometimes we just do our jobs.

Sifting through someone else’s past

Opening the trunk, I remember the tow guy’s other comment; “I think someone was living in this car, so I’d suggest an N95 mask, and some thick gloves. Sometimes we find needles and such in a car that’s been lived in.” That kind of sucks the fun out of the driveway.

Of course N95 masks are still nowhere to be found, so I start with a cursory wash, and after stopping by the hardware store, I grab some heavy duty gloves and a pair of big barbecue tongs. I play it safe, and remove what becomes three 33 gallon garbage bags of shoes, vintage porn, and some weird postcards out of said trunk.

My neighbor Bob pulls in the driveway and stops over. “Another one?” I assure him that this one is going to go behind the gate and not to worry, so I get a nod after he checks out the wacky stuff in the trunk. Lots of shoes. Lots of shoes with high heels and quite a few copies of Exotic magazine.

(Portland’s original swinging porn mag) Yes, the pages are all stuck together, and just as I’m tonging these out of the trunk, Pam pops out of the house, sees this in the driveway and gives me that raised eyebrow that I know means I’m going to hear about this again. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I say “hey I think your ex is on page 95.” This does not provide the levity I thought it would.

Back to cleaning

Curiosity gets the best of me and I can’t resist trying to inflate the tires, on what might just be some vintage 14” wheels. The rears seem to be ok, but the fronts are leaking fairly bad around the rims. However, it is enough to roll the car back in behind the gate when I’m done washing.

Getting the first layer of major scum off the car, we’ve got an incredibly dent free hood, along with an incredibly dent free nose piece. The trunk after washing turns out to be just as dented as what’s currently on the orange 2002, with a hole in the trunk, no doubt from a vintage car phone.

The biggest bonus is the crack free dash and an ignition switch that turns freely. I find out in the middle of this project that ignition switch assemblies are no longer available, so this is great news. Underneath the heavy metal seat covers lurk a pair of vintage Recaros – the striped ones that go from dark to light orange in the middle. Perfect for the orange car. A quick call to our pal Steve at Beaverton Upholstery assures me that they can get the right material and rebuild these seats to new.

Finally, there is a much better steering wheel, and this is going to come in handy in a few weeks, but I don’t know that yet. Pretty soon, I’ll roll this back out into the driveway, now that a few bug bombs have gone off and an N95 mask has been procured. Someone once treasured this car, and it’s a little sad to see it in this shape. It will either be brought back to life, or it will give its good remaining parts so that two other 2002s can live.

Either way, a noble cause. Stay tuned.