As I sit writing this, we have 31 days until the start of the trip. My secret car is sitting in my storage unit awaiting pickup from the shipper, and as far as I know the trip is all in the green.
So, assuming all of that hasn’t changed, I am now at liberty to reveal my car!
Meet the Box Fan! My 1998 Volvo V70 XC. It has quite a story too...
To rewind a little bit, I’ll start with how I came to own this thing.
It was a particularly hot Saturday morning when I first set out to buy a car. George was out of town, so I had the whole weekend to look at some potentials and find what I needed. Admittedly, the trip was a long ways off, but there were some tasty options available and I wanted to see them.
First on the list was a 2006 Jaguar X-Type. Beautiful paint and a V8, this big kitty was 100% “on-brand” for me and I wanted it. Bad.
I showed up to the car lot, but couldn’t find the car. I asked the only employee where it was and was informed it was as their other location, about a mile down the road.
Hmm... not a great sign. The last time George and I went shopping we ran into this, with the “other” location essentially being the lot where cars go to die. Oh boy.
When I got to the lot, there it was, right in front. On the surface it was just as good as it looked in the ad. If it drove well, it was going to be mine.
Well... first I had to find someone. I tried the door, which was locked. I tried the other door. Also locked. I knocked loudly. Nope.
Finally I called the main number and was told they’d send someone over. While I waited, I hopped the barrier to the next lot over and see what they had to offer. An interesting couple of Mercedes, outside my budget, a Saab 93, which was too NG for an OG guy like me, and a low-mile Buick that might be worth coming back to look at if I get desperate.
Finally a sales guy arrives and while I break off communications with the sales person at the adjacent lot, I see the newly arrived sales guy jump out of his car and immediately try starting the Jag.
Not a good sign.
I guess he was hoping he could get it fired up before I arrived?
He didn’t manage to do that. He didn’t manage to start it at all.
Still not completely willing to write off this car, I offered to scan it. The scanner I bought for my Disco also happens to work on Jags, able to talk to all the proprietary ECUs and get the real story. The real story is the Jag was getting some random misfire codes, but also had some recorded transmission faults.
It was a pass.
Next up was a 1999 Audi A6 Quatro
Quite a lot of car for $3,000. The car lot advertised it as having working AC and “needing nothing”.
Both of these things were untrue.
To the salesman’s credit, he was pretty annoyed at the now non-functioning AC in the big German. I was more worried about the wooden feeling brakes, erratic idle, and inop center screen. Also, despite a V6 under the hood, the car felt slow and unwilling. Tired even.
Also a pass.
At this point I was hot, tired, and just a bit bummed out. Foolishly, I’d thought either the Jag and the Audi were going to be the one, but it was not to be.
I decided to go home.
What I actually did, however, was drive around aimlessly for a bit and collect my thoughts. Finally, I pulled up a couple of my backup ads and called the poorly advertised Volvo. I wasn’t going to call on this one, the sales text was sparten and the photos were bad, but I remember it being near my present location, so what the hell.
The woman who answered seemed more than a little annoyed, but told me the car was at the estate sale she was currently running and I should come take a look if I was interested.
I drove out to the sale and was immediately impressed with the neighborhood, house, and cars. A beautiful hillside property (we don’t have hill in Tulsa, so this is unusual) the seller clearly had taste, also owning a OG Saab 900 convertible (5-speed) and the Volvo I had come to see, a 1998 V70 XC.
Yup, we’re to the good part.
I went inside, located the right person, and went to take a look. Aside from a rough driver’s seat, little bit of missing interior wood (heyo), and some inop power door locks, it was in good shape. Very straight on the outside, good color, and the rear driveshaft was still present (I guess people remove them for... reasons?). It started right up and started blowing cold air.
It also had a check engine and service needed light. Crap.
Ok, I traded my Land Rover keys for the Volvo keys and took off on a test drive.
The V70 wasn’t slow, but it certainly lacked the low-end pep of my Volvo. Still, when I got on the gas I was pleasantly rewarded with a surge of power out of the 2.4L, 5-cylinder, turbo-charged engine.
Ok, so this thing could pull if you asked impolitely.
The AC worked, the heated seats worked, the automatic climate control... seemed to have some issues but manual controls worked fine. Hand brake and cruise control were inop, but that isn’t a deal breaker. The transmission was smooth enough, though tragically automatic. A once over of the engine bay revealed no surprises and a host of maintenance stickers. A rummage through the glove box yielded a fat stack of recent service. Tires also looked fine, with medium tread and no signs of dry rot.
This car might be the one!
I drove back to the estate sale and got down to business. I asked the woman what she would take for it.
Not taking the bait, she told me to name a number.
“Ok, how about $2,000?”
Fine, as long as it was today.
(A) Pretty sure I just left about $200 on the table and (B) how the hell was I going to find $2000 cash at 3PM on a Saturday? I’d brought $300 for possible deposit leaving, but not a full stack.
I googled the closest ATM and called my bank. Raising my ATM withdrawal limit was easy enough and thankfully the ATM allowed me to withdraw $500 at a time. Not ideal, but $16 in ATM fees later I had an impressive wad of cash and was ready to go.
As we counted out the cash, she told me a little more about the current, or I guess now previous owner. Turns out he is 84, still alive, and just moved to Costa Rica. He is (maybe?) an actor/author and his daughter was Kate Winslet’s stunt double.
Weird flex but OK.
Money and titles taken car of, I got the keys, a copy of his latest book, and was on my way.
Well... I mean I was 10 miles from my house with two cars to deal with... so there was still quite a bit to be done.
I opted to leave the Land Rover and take the Volvo, taking a ride back to get the Landy later in the evening. I decided to hit my mechanics’ place on the way home.
Yes, it was Saturday, but they usually hang out there on the weekends and today was no exception.
They looked over the car and noted a few minor problems, but overall were really excited. We booked it in for a little maintenance and they sent me home with a list of stuff to buy, including an aftermarket boost controller.
Because why not.
And that is pretty much it! I got it titled and then hid it away in my storage unit, only taking it out to get worked on and take the pictures to sell it on the other end.
Hopefully I can post about the other two shortly!