A tale of luck and struggle, now with an updated ending.
It started with a beat up Lexus and a very generous relative (who lives 200 miles away in the bay area) asking what needed to be repaired on my blue SC. I replied with a scroll of parts that would daunt seasoned mechanics, and cost much more than the car was worth. Needless to say a few days later shes telling me that she’ll help buy a,”parts car”. So I travel down and start combing craigslist, eventually stumbling upon a 6 speed swapped sc400 for $2800 that had been on for at least a month. It was the holy grail because my transmission had been getting rough and a manual sc400 is about as good as it gets in the sc world.
I got in contact with my brother (who also lives in the Bay) and we devise a plan to get both my cars home and him back to the Bay. It involved about 800 miles of driving in a car that had a monumental rear main seal leak and a driveshaft that could fall off at any given moment (The driveshaft bushings were quite cracked).
I would drive down to my relatives house, find a car. He’d drive me to the car and we’d drive the cars back to said relatives place. From there we’d take the new car and the sc 200 miles north, drop one of them off and drive back to the Bay to get my brother home. Then all I’d have to do is drive north again. It was clearly a great plan.
Fast forward a couple days, somewhere around Oakland; I’m sitting in a car that’s slammed within an inch from the road, theres no shiftknob, it hits the center console going into most gears, the car feels/smells like it’s sat for a while, and there’s the stock rims crammed into the rear seats. After looking it over and noting the braided P/S line nearly touching the ground and significant body damage, I reluctantly take it for a spin. The owner has to get the car onto the street for me(-throwing my pride out the window-) I stall it a couple times and then drive it around the block, whilst struggling with the clutch. I’m telling the owner that the cars too rough, and I cant buy it, when my brother takes it for a spin and comes back telling me,” YOU NEED THIS IN YOU’RE LIFE.” I buy it on the condition that he lends me his foresters shift knob until we can get somewhere that sells them, we set off $2300 lighter.
260 miles from home, 17, and driving a manual, I’d only driven manuals on dirt roads with no traffic, hell when I’m home the nearest stop light is literally 40 miles away so my city driving experience is limited. Stopping at AutoZone and getting out of Oakland was all well and good until my brother and I got stuck in rush hour traffic/gridlock on the highway. Normally this wouldnt be so bad but I had no idea where I was so I’m following my brothers Forester, but he’s used to the city and drives agressively switching lanes all the time and jockeying for positions. At this point traffics doing 5-20mph. The learning curve was a little steep with a clutch rated for 600hp in stop and go trying not to stall and or fry the clutch. Eventually Its dark, and traffics pace has gone up considerably. We come to a toll section and as we’re rolling into a line he switches to a booth with a smaller line. By the time I’m out of the toll he’s gone I try in vain to find him in the traffic up ahead, but its dark and Foresters dont stand out. After about 10 minutes I give up.
At this point Ive done enough driving and the traffics thinned enough to start having fun. Until that point highway driving was never fun, but the close ratio 6 speed and slammed-ness made highway driving feel much faster. I decide to keep driving until I recognize an area or see a place that might be decent to pull over into, this ends up be 30 miles or so. Along the way I see an R34 gtr for the first time, followed by ripping past it.(naturally) The city starts to clear up and I pull over to a Starbucks using the internet to finding the way back to the relatives house.(at the time my phone service wasnt active)
Somewhere around 10:30 we leave in both SC’s (I forget the reason for not taking the forester but it must’ve been good). We end up being next to each other on a straight away with a few stop lights, that goes predictably. We decide to take Napa wine country roads to bypass Santa Rosa and quickly realize that the new car is eating it’s tires around corners. Its touching the frame on any sort of bump or turn, which leads to the pace being severly cut down on the twisty road. It had also been on off raining and the car had been sliding around for no real reason so the reduced speed was welcome. We come into a small town amd begin asking random people if they have a jack we can borrow, a very generous person helps out. A little rain, and two stock rims are sitting on the front, all rubbing issues were fixed. We also meet this guy with a 350z and we talk about cars for a little while.
45 minutes later A cop starts trailing us for a few miles, my brother and I pull over he then turns on his lights and pulls over too. After talking to my brother and I he eventually says,”Aftermarket exhausts are illegal you know” aswell as telling me that my third brake lights out, and leaves. The whole time neither car had insurance and one of the cars had an exhaust that straight fell off before the mufflers.
From there everything goes well and we get (almost) to my house. With the new car being slammed their was a section the dirt road that it physically couldnt climb.
With the sun coming up and no sleep we leave to go back to south to the bay. That goes uneventful besides the exhaust leak and midnight food poisoning from Jack in the Box. I spent most of the 4 hours being sick in the passenger seat while my brother drove.
I’ve got that 200 mile drive home again, some important facts about the car; the pcv was vented into the air and the rear main leaked so much that it got on the exhaust and smoked, coupled with the exhaust ending at the rear axle it was a recipe for headaches and bad times. But the drive home wasn’t all that bad besides being sick and immensely tired.
About 40 miles from home I take a dirt road that bypasses the highway just in case I, A.) Vomit while driving or B.) Fall asleep at the wheel(which I’d been battling since that morning). This plan works well and I end up puking violently on the side of the road, then proceed home.
After owning the car for a couple weeks, I’d decided that swapping everything over to the old blue SC might be unnecessary and too difficult. So all the good parts slowly migrated onto the new car.
The blue SC was in a sorry state and sat for months unloved.
As time went on I did a bunch of subpar body work and spray painted the red car grey while fixing whatever happened to break that week. But I began getting fed up with the random limp mode issues, rust, and body damage. It was an uphill battle trying to make it look as though the entire quarter panel wasn’t tweeked out of shape on both sides.
Eventually I snapped and started the process of swapping everything from one car to the other. (Drivetrain, front and rear subframes/suspension, seats, brakes, and manual specific modifications)
It took a couple days to transfer the drivetrain and the photos illustrate why.(wrong equipment and workspace) The rest of the work was comparatively easy and the blue car was driving again within a week.
The idea was to have the car ready to take a trip to Mt. Lassen with family. I’d drive the SC taking all the back roads and meet them at the rental. That ended up not going well, 15 miles into the trip I caved the front z rim with a pothole. 20ish miles after that the car stopped working and wouldn’t start(it turned out to be a problem with the wiring harness which took quite a while to figure out)
I signed up for AAA that day because the tow company wanted $800 to get the car home (yes they wanted that much to tow the car less than 50 miles). The only catch was I had to wait 3 days before it could be AAA’d. So I rolled the car into a nearby post office parking lot(the car had died a few hundred feet up the road) and hitched a ride with family. Lassen was great.
I got back and this was my car. It had been ransacked of valuables, of which there were plenty of supplies I stashed in the trunk. They took the rear wheels that had new tires, battery, small Jack, full tank of 91, and various little things. Lucky for me the quarter window was missing so they didn’t break any glass to gain entry and nothing was damaged on the car(for the most part)
After getting the car home and fiddling around I realized it was a melted wiring harness. I replaced it and went on to use the car to commute 120 miles a day to college classes for two semesters. The car didn’t get much love in that time because all the money was spent on fuel and tires, so for the next year it rolled around on mismatched wheels.
Skip to July 2017, I’d just been dumped, realized I couldn’t afford school for a third semester, and had no job. In a very fuckit mood I took an angle grinder to my fenders and start welding them back together. At the time the main objective was to keep my mind off everything going on so quality was not the main concern. I spend a couple days cutting and welding than a few weeks applying and sanding Bondo to a fender-ish shape. It’s been more than 6 months and it’s still not perfect but it’s one of those projects that’s never complete.
There are more projects in the works. The sc400 saga shall never end!