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For the Free Spirit in me

Guest imported_Thriller

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Guest imported_Thriller

Well, I've done a relatively poor job of keeping this under wraps, but it's about time I made sure there was a public announcement.

Last winter, one of my co-workers was watching a variety of web sites offering local cars for sale. He kind of got me hooked as we found Buicks. In the spring, I made arrangements to see a '54 Special and a turbo Regal...it turns out he didn't actually own the Regal...anyway, he also had a '76 Century Free Spirit Pace Car replica. This car was a complete project and he wanted about $5k for it, although the price has bounced around. Anyway, that got me started...he figured he could command such a price as there was one for sale near Edmonton with an asking price of basically $20k. I communicated with that fellow as well. That car was significantly overpriced too, considering there were several runs in the paint and it had a couple failures of the magnet test.

So, by this time I was hooked and did some searching online. There was one for sale at a used car dealer in Canton, OH. Matt Harwood checked it out twice for me - the first a general one since it was in the showroom and the second time to take for a drive. It needed (and still does) some stuff, but ran strong.

So, with many thanks to Matt, I called the dealer and made an offer. The next issue was getting it home - I wound up having SeaRail ship it and used their affiliated brokerage, Livingston, to deal with the customs paperwork. It cost a fair amount, and I'm not entirely happy, but they got the car here in early July (it was delivered the 11th). It went to the shop for the Manitoba certificate of inspection...a body shop needed to do some work on the trunk and floor...all sorts of little problems existed...this "safety" inspection is something of a pain. Anyway, with a chunk of cash put into that, I was able to license the car and start having fun.

Aside from some issues, particularly in the interior, the car is decent. It has the wrong wheels (Centerlines), but they have some value, so I should be able to sell them to help finance the purchase of proper wheels. I need to get busy to check some of the wreckers to see if they have some of the plastic interior pieces I need.

I spent some time corresponding with Alan Oldfield and too many photos of his car in Flint this year to help out.

One hope is that perhaps the project car nearby gets inexpensive enough to become a donor of wheels and a few other odds and ends...we'll see after the winter perhaps.

Anyway, here's a couple photos. I don't have that many as the camera lost its focus this summer...it's been replaced, but haven't gotten the car out much.

The first is at a local Sunday night cruise:


This one is the oldest and youngest cars in my collection now after moving the '29 home today.


I guess now I need to work on changing my signature.

Oh, the car has been somewhat modified. By the VIN, it's supposed to be a 2-bbl car (not available in CA)...it now has a Quadrajet and has been painted red (wrong!), but has seen some work. There's a stall converter on the transmission as well. The car really rumbles through the dual exhaust and with the relatively wide tires, has good traction...it's been fun to drive and is scratching that mid-life itch a bit.

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H'mm Derek, I think I can feel a " Free Spirit " coming on.

Pity the Aussie $ has crashed, I could see myself playing with something like that, there sure aren't any in this neck of the woods.

Bloody nice car, that's one hell of a collection you're putting together, well done.

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Guest imported_Thriller

Stuart - the Canadian dollar has pretty much crashed too...we were at parity with the US dollar this spring and now it's just over 80 cents US. The collection contains a bit of an eclectic mix, although it is getting a bit too large to actually enjoy driving...the cars don't get exercised enough and it's almost like work deciding what to drive grin.gifsmirk.gifcool.gif

Lamar - I haven't given it a real test...I did chirp them from a stop sign, so it should be possible. Besides, smoke is putting tires (therefore dollars) up in smoke...I'd rather turn the power into acceleration than money out of pocket.

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Congrats on the new acquisition. You have your driving dilema solved if you look at it objectively--- If I counted right in your vehicle listing, the 76 Century makes nine--- 2 ways to go---1) If you figure 3 really bad months of winter that nothing comes out-- you drive one exclusively for a month, park it, then switch to another for the next month, and so on until all 9 have been driven over that nine month period, or, 2) you are still on a quest for 3 more so you can drive a different one for each month of the year. Or you could get creative by driving one exclusively for a week and go into the rotation mode with the other 8. That way all the cars get driven equally on a shotened rotating basis and don't sit so long in between use of each. Just some suggestions== And, As the kids get older and obtain their driviers license - you will be able to bring out a sizeable fleet to future BCA Nationals. During the winter you can host your own car show in the barn. Just some ideas to cure any boredom that may occur. LOL!!!!

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Guest imported_Thriller


Well, unfortunately, we have more than 3 months of winter here...October is iffy for driving as we definitely get into frost and possibly snow. March is still pretty poor...can usually start driving in April some time, although snow is still possible into May (had a big dump May 11 a few years back). As for city driving, I prefer to wait until the salt and sand start to go away.

You did count correctly (see, the Chicagoland guys aren't so bad wink.gif ). At present, only 5 are drivers though, so your idea could work for May - September. The added complexity though is that Suzanne occasionally drives. Right now the '41 is out with the column-shifted manual...she drove the Wildcat to Rochester with the kids (seat belts) while I drove the '62. She'd like to drive the baby Buick to work and such, but it has some quirks and reliability issues...if I can teach her how to deal with the car, I suspect I won't see nearly as much of it. I'm not sure how happy she will be when it becomes white again like it is supposed to be instead of its current resale red.

The other dilemma is that we can park the modern vehicles outside in the summer months and have two drivers in the garage here at the house, but three would have to be at the farm. Sigh. I guess I'll have to make more trips out to the farm to swap vehicles is all.

We did have something of a show there already...September 21...the local club had a Fall Foliage Tour and visited two garages, one of which was our shop. I'm also starting to work on a "Northern Exposure" tour for the Gopher State Chapter for Labour Day weekend 2009...to date, 3 of my cars have been to BCA Nationals, so the GSC members would get an opportunity to see the other 6, not to mention taking in a museum, hopefully another collection of neat old cars, and some of the local cruising scene. I need to write something up for Marge to put in the Porthole.

The eldest will be turning 13 in January, so we're closer than I'm prepared right now for a Thille family convoy. Of course, I can't let her drive Spirit on her own...that would attract too many of the boys shocked.gifcrazy.gif Hmmm...a nice sedate sedan should do it...perhaps the wagon, but that attracts a lot of attention too...sigh.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest imported_Thriller

Just in case anyone wanted to see more, here are probably the last photos taken of the season. Today I swapped the '76 and the Wildcat to rearrange the space we have in the two garages. So, it is effectively a matter of winterizing now...wet snow is a possibility for Sunday, so our season is pretty much done. If the weather gets nice, I'll still have the Wildcat here at home to play with.


Note how much more faded the passenger side is compared to the driver's side.



And a 10 MB 30 second video demonstrating the rumble.


Note that the above photos are thumbnails - click on them to load up the bigger images.

Matt - thanks again. The car isn't perfect, as I knew, but it is downright fun and is a real attention-getter.

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