This weekend, I have spent much time in contemplation and doing research with regards to restoring Cammie, and unfortunately, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that rebuilding the Grand Prix is beyond my means. Not impossible, mind you, but I had to evaluate several things and make some hard decisions. Fact is, the degradation and damage to the body itself is extensive. I blame the long-gone Rockhill Pontiac for that and the absolutely shitty job they did repairing the car after the accident it had when it was just four years old. The cheap metal they welded on there, unprimed, improperly painted, and so on is why there's a hole in the back passenger-side quarter panel. And though they replaced the front passenger-side quarter panel/fender, they didn't prime or pain it correctly, either, and that's why it's cracked and faded.
The scrapes, dings, and other rust areas only contribute to the overall problems. It comes down to the fact that the shitty job that was done... I did what I could with waxing and such, but all I did was prolong the inevitable. And when it became clear five years ago or so that, despite my best efforts, the shitty repairs were failing and holes started forming and such... Well, if I could have afforded to get the body work done then, then things would be different. But the rust is out of control. And since most of the mid-1980s cars were crushed and recycled, I can't just go hunt a salvage yard for new fenders and panels and such. New panels and such would have to be custom manufactured, which would triple the cost of restoring the body.
Then there's the engine. The reason why Gary put in a new crate engine is because factory manufactured engines have been phased out in favor of crate engines. Factory remanufactured are somewhat limited in how universal their applications, whereas crate engines can pretty much go in anything, but at the expense of having the same computer control that stock or remanufactured engines would have. The performance engine in Cammie had no computer feedback, other than an oxygen sensor and a sensor or two in the exhaust line. This may have contributed to her demise, as there was nothing to signal the loss of oil in the engine. Just knocking, and then seizure.
Looking around, Jasper has pretty much dominated the market on street-legal crate engines. And given how they screwed me on the current engine, I refuse to do business with them pretty much ever. When I was looking at Jegs and Edelbrock, they have nice, powerful engines that would fit the Grand Prix, but there's no way they'd pass street-legal emissions. As is, with the performance engine and having to trade the digital Rochester carb for the Edelbrock carb, it barely passed the fast-idle test. Now, I could have switched out the metering rods in the Edelbrock carb with a set that would lean out the mixture and give me better emission results for the inspection test, but, the Rochester could be set to have less emissions all the time. Alas, Rochesters have gone the way of the dinosaur. So, my options, even with trying to build one myself, for a decent engine for Cammie are more limited than I had thought.
Then there's the interior work, which would still be somewhat significant. Even skipping swapping the bench seat for bucket seats, getting rid of the idea of putting in a center console, and new digital instrumentation, the headliner would still cost a pretty penny, not to mention the vinyl part of the roof on the exterior. I could only find used/salvaged motors for the power windows and the door locks. The alarm system slowly died and became just a glorified keyless entry system.
Long-term storage would also present the problems of needing new tires which, this time around, had to be special ordered. I would need a new battery. Assuming nothing else rusts in major components, the radiator would still need to be flushed and replenished. The transmission would still need a fluid change. The brakes, though just done a few weeks before the engine seized, would need the fluid changed.
If I made about twice as much as I make now, then I could probably afford to restore the Grand Prix in a timely manner. Right now? Twenty years would be a best-case scenario, and that's assuming I can get the G6 to last that long without any major problems, like needing a new engine or transmission or whatever. Or without having to replace the G6 with a new(er) car or somesuch.
There's only so much work I can do myself with the tools and expertise I have. And without being able to keep it at home, where I could work on it for a half hour a night or something... Yeah, I wouldn't be able to do much and save money. Yeah, I can keep it at Henry's indefinitely, but, it's outside, and subject to further deterioration from exposure to the elements.
The final cincher is this: I'm trying to get back into dance and I need to start writing regularly. I can manage writing and dancing. Tossing in a car project that would also suck away money is just...too much. I can already see where I would have to make a choice among dance, writing, and car building. I can only do two of the three. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I want to dance more than I want a truly unique car that I would only drive on weekends and such.
That was another thing... I couldn't see doing all this work for a car I wouldn't drive much and would pay through the nose for insurance unless I found a garage to keep it in. At the new house, I don't think I'll be parking in the garage often at all, and with two vehicles? Yeah, no.
So, the plan instead is to keep the G6 in really good condition, pay it off in 5 years, then save up for a year or two, then go to CarMax and trade in the G6 and have money down, hopefully a couple thousand, for a Camaro. It has to be a V8, black, and with a sunroof. And some way for me to plug in the Sansa clip, either by USB or patch cord. I'm also thinking manual transmission, just to help deter theft, but, I worry about my knees sometimes and having to deal with a clutch, so, the jury's out on that. I've found that CarMax has three and four-year-old Camaros with 20k miles or less on them, practically new, for about $10k less than brand new. I'm thinking these were cars given to salespeople at a dealership or demo cars for test drives or somesuch, then sold to CarMax. Plugging in my criteria, I found a 2011 Camaro with a manual transmission for $24k with just 20k miles on it. Factor in the transfer fee (it was in Fairfax, Va), title, tax, and so on, figure $25k, which is still a little less than half what the G6 cost. Now, if I have a good G6 to trade in and a couple thousand down thanks to saving, I could come up with a decent enough replacement for the car I loved so much.
This is still a bit of a kick in the gut, though. I enjoyed having a classic that I had worked on, that at one point was one of the five cleanest cars in the state emissions-wise, that was truly unique, that had saved my life so many times. I feel bad that I just...can't return the courtesy. I suppose I did save her life a few times, what with transmission replacements, replacing that first engine with the 350 which lasted me 13 years. That engine served me well that summer I went down to Delmar every few weeks to practice with Holly, or going to Yardley every few weeks to practice with Kristin, or to visit Robin every other week in Milton for over a year... It got me through a LOT. And there was still that time the battery died on the way back from Milton, yet the car kept running until I got to Henry's. Inexplicably so. Whatever spirit inhabited the Grand Prix, I hope it found a new home in the G6 and will follow me into the Camaro in six or seven years or so. I hope Cammie is nestled somewhere in the G6 and may live again as a Camaro.
And I'll enjoy taking the cats to the vet for their annual check-ups in the Camaro, and going to TTL for dancing or lessons in the Camaro, and so on. For now, I'll enjoy doing all that in the G6. But I will miss the Grand Prix, and will treasure the memories I have of driving that car, of hearing the secondaries in the carburetor kick in and the free-flow thrumming as the throttle opened up and the car reared like a horse and took off like a shot. I am mourning its loss, and will probably do so for awhile.
I hate Jasper and I'm glad Rockhill went under.
On the plus side, I had fun dancing at TTL earlier tonight. I even managed to dance a full Viennese Waltz with Josie, and though a little winded at the end, I didn't need my asthma inhaler. Again, dancing with someone who knows what they're doing makes V. Waltz so much easier and effortless. Well, less effort, anyway. And I'm glad that some of the newbies I've been dancing with have shown some improvement as well.
For right now, I'm okay with social dancing, what with being busy with the move and all. But after we're in the new house and somewhat settled, I plan to get more involved with dancing.
Anyway, more later...