Today, the car arrived. The driver of the carrier called ahead of time, fairly early in the morning, and since getting down my circuitous driveway would be impossible for a 40′ trailer, I told him where to park the truck near my house. Since I live in a very small town that swells to almost 3X its population with vacationers this time of year, even finding a place to turn a truck around is difficult. Unfortunately, he missed the parking area (the high school) and called me telling me he was parking on the street in the center of town. Really? I hopped in my car and headed over there.
Sure enough, he was occupying about 6 parking spaces on the side of the two lane main street. In about 20 minutes, there wouldn’t be any parking spaces in the center of town. OK, no room for error here. I watched as he opened the big rear door and saw my new 1964 Lincoln Continental for the first time. Well, I saw part of it anyway. It was parked on the upper deck and the top was down. I asked the driver why it was down, fully expecting him to tell me the top didn’t work. Instead, he told me that the car was so wide, he couldn’t open the doors to get out of the car after driving it into the truck, so the top was never closed so he could get out of the car once it was in place. Hmmm. I got it, but it didn’t feel right . . .
I rode up on the rear door (the door swings down and turns into the elevator for the upper cars) and walked to the car. It looked very clean. The paint looked good, the interior looked nice and I breathed a sigh of relief. The driver then told me I would have to drive the car off the truck while he unlatched it and guided me out. Great, The car had about 6 inches of clearance on either side of it and I had no idea how the brakes were going to work.
On the bright side, the engine started right up. Right away I could tell there were problems with the exhaust manifold, but dying of CO at this point was the last thing on my mind. The brakes were, in fact, supremely mushy and it turns out that car carriers do move when you shift 5,400 pounds of vehicle around inside them. Additionally, the steering has about 20 turns lock-to-lock and the power steering pump was wailing away just trying to make small adjustments in the direction of the car. The list of potential problems was growing quickly. Not good. But all that pales in comparison to my apprehension about backing the big car onto the door/elevator that has no rails or any indication of where things start and end.
The car reached the ground just fine and I drove it off the door/elevator. I then got out to inspect things in the light. I became immediately less happy. The paint, which looked fine in the darkness of the carrier, looked decidedly less nice in the light. There were bubbles and drips that were completely noticeable including a huge bubble – 4″ X 2″ – behind the passenger side back door handle. A handle which did not function, by the way. I inspected the car for any damage that might have been related to transport and it looked clean in that respect.
The driver asked me how much I paid for the car. I told him. He laughed. I think that’s a bad sign, no?
I signed all the paperwork and tried to guide the driver verbally to a place that he might be able to turn around. I then got in the car and headed home. Immediately, people started waving, giving me the thumbs-up and honking at me. Instant recognition of the car. I was afraid of waving back because that would have required me taking my hands off the wheel. The steering was so lose and the brakes so soft that I wondered if I was going to make the three mile journey home. I felt elated and disappointed at the same time, but I had the piece of automotive history I wanted. It was a long journey.