Sometimes when the bug bites its best not to scratch. Most times you just make things worse and wind up with an infection. After almost three decades and several piles of crap I still havent learned that lesson. Just once I want to walk away from a vehicle purchase without feeling like I just dropped the soap in a prison shower.
All I wanted was a simple, ordinary flattiejust like everyone else. When it was hip to own a Camaro I had an Olds. When 67 Bugs were cool I had a 72 Superbeetle (more like dung beetle). And even though everyone and their brother wheels a nimble little Jeep, Ive been bashing a land-yacht 85 Ramcharger through places it doesnt fit. Enough already! It was time to join the Jeep crowd.
You never realize how many people must be addicted to crack until you pick up a Los Angeles auto trader. After wading through a sea of way-overpriced garbage and CJ-2As that looked like someone puked chrome on them, we stumbled across an on-line ad that seemed too good to be true. It read: 1953 Willys CJ-3A, Chevy V-8 conversion, doesnt run, needs work, $400 OBO.
After soiling myself, I called the dude who said it had an auto tranny (bad but easily remedied), the T-case had been removed (OK, a little worried), and the front differential had been cut out and the axle sleeved (cool, its a sand rail). Dude also informed me that the seat fabric was gone from sitting in the desert for the last 20 years (bitchin) and that there was only a little rust on the doors (way-deep panic). Sure, anyone knows flatties dont have doors, but his description conjured images of cobbled Billy-Bob-made half doors (sold!).
Everyone knows youre not supposed to buy a vehicle at night, with a full moon, and with half a brain, but what the hell? After enlisting the help of Editor John Cappa (more specifically his trailer) heres how the evening progressed:
Find unbelievable deal of the century thats sure to be gone in 30 seconds if action isnt quickly taken. Get Dudes address, but dont tell him we may be coming tonight.
Put in call to wife and emphatically tell (beg) that I wont be home tonight because Im going to the middle of desert to look at (buy) incredible deal (piece of junk).
Think to call Dude back to check for registration, which he says he has. Still dont tell him were coming.
Grab Cappa and bail office. Go to pick up tow vehicle at Editorial Director Cole Quinnells pad.
Arrive at Quinnells and steal Sport Truck test vehicle to serve as tow rig (swank).
Arrive at Cappas and hook up trailer. Finally, think to tell Dude were coming but cant reach him on cell phone.
Take off from Cappas for desert not knowing if Dude is home or not.
Stop at ATM, which only gives up $280. Make Cappa draw his card and bum $120. 8:42 p.m.
Enjoy hearty dinner in parking lot of finest (only) Burger King in area.
Hit road for middle of nowheresville in the high desert of California.
Finally reach Dude after an hour of trying and scare the skids out of him telling him were on the way with a trailer. Were stupid.
Stop for directions from nice junkie at scariest gas station weve seen in a long time.
Arrive at Dudes pad but the Willys aint there. Follow Dude at way faster-than-sane speeds to his moms house with visions of getting whacked for $400 swirling through heads.
Arrive at compound housing Jeep. Turn corner and almost lose it to see the thing has actual doors. CJ-3A my ass, its a damn DJ!
10:23 p.m. to 10:48 p.m.
Look Willys over and dig on cool speedo and steering wheel. Continue to gag on doors and Continental kit. Decide to buy it just for the grille insert alone.
Barter with Dude over price. Apparently Dude is from magical land where or best offer means exactly what I asked and not a penny less.
With ass hurting from getting taken for $400, load Willys on trailer and bail before a shotgun mysteriously appears from somewhere.
11:06 p.m. to 11:55 p.m.
Have serious doubts as to what the hell I just did. Just wanted a regular old flattie but bought a DJ. Cappa makes first Dodge Jeep joke (bastard!) and I want to dive out of still-moving vehicle.
What, oh what, did I do? Stop at gas station and see purchase in light for first time. Theres something really wrong with me.
Back trailer into Cappas driveway and receive last of door Jeep, Dodge Jeep, dumb Jeep, dork Jeep comments for night.