The Craziest non-Gambler Weekend I'll Have in a While

Fearing this weekend was going to be my last for wrenching, I decided to skip the Gobbler 500 and do a hail mary pass of wrenching. I also decided to do something for myself.

First up, I got a belt fitted to the smart 451 (Tucker). Unfortunately, afterward I discovered the alternator was only putting out something like 11V, so the battery light remained on. Replacing it involves removing a motor mount and lowering the engine, which brought my repair quest to a screeching halt. At least the car can now be driven to a shop without melting its engine.


Second, the Suzuki GS. Unfortunately, the clutch cable didn’t arrive and thus I wasn’t able to replace it.

Third, the convertible smart 450 (Laura). I got its alternator spinning again (it’s normal for them to seize) and performed the clutch actuator maintenance (remove, clean, lube, replace, adjust, run through dealership computer). Drove around the block, shifts great but alternator isn’t charging. *sigh*

Fourth, I turned van racks into door bars for the Festiva. Cops seem pretty okay with it.


Fifth, I performed maintenance on my 2005 smart coupe garage queen (Chelsea). Runs and drives well but the Optima battery is acting up.

Unfortunately, at the end of the weekend I was left with two cars that drive, but can’t charge themselves, a motorcycle that still can’t be ridden, and the best of the bunch being a Mazda engineered, Kia built, Ford badged econo car.


I drove the Festiva to my parents’ place and annoyingly they confiscated my keys. They refused to let me drive it home, demanding I take one of my garage queens instead. I was ready to go nuclear on my parents. The Festiva has snow tires so it actually is better in snow than anything else I own. It’s also not cold driving it. With the hatch back on it’s actually warmer to drive than my Goldwing and Suzuki are to ride. It’s really not that big of a deal. The car just looks like it’s uncomfortable to drive. It’s not, it’s really not. Before I burned those bridges I realized my girlfriend hated the Festiva and technically agrees with my parents. Fine, y’all win.

I wasn’t about to expose Chelsea to the salt (the 450s have terrible rust protection) so out came Phil to not see his shadow. As part of my new “avoid Illinois taxes and emissions testing” thing, the car got transferred to Wisconsin.


Admittedly, between Gambler 500s and my motorcycles, I haven’t driven this car in a year. I’ve kept the fluids and rubbers up to date, but it otherwise hasn’t been used.


I know some of you will be barking up my tree about how cars are meant to be driven or how I should spend my money but I just don’t care. My dream, my money, my choice. If it were another motorcycle it would be one thing, but it’s not. I think I’ve earned the right to a garage queen.

All I had to do was add it to my insurance then roll out.


Driving this car makes everything bad go away. Put it into Sport Mode and I’ll be giggling my way through each snappy gear. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a smart and it’s...perfect. I never really got to experience the new car feeling with my 2012. It was vandalized, rode hard, and treated like a daily from day 1. I mean, I ran out its 50k warranty in just two years. The fun thing about having a cheap car as a dream car is that you can have the privilege of having multiple copies of them. So you can have the garage queen, the workhorse, the project, or even the rally car.

I’ll continue to drive the 453 until the convertible 450 or 451 get fixed (due to the complexity of a 451 alternator replacement, it would be easier and cheaper to get the 450 back in action), then it’ll go back into its garage until Spring.


The GS will get its clutch cable, and I’ll get the Festiva back. Since everyone is apparently worried about me, my next Gambler car won’t involve taking doors off.

Still don’t plan on killing it, so it’ll go to Rainbow when I’m done with it.

I got my hair relaxed again for the first time in a year. With all the Gambler 500 stuff I’ve forgotten how important self care is. Amazing how some hair stuff can boost confidence!


And in a way, I’m happy the thing happened with the Festiva. If it weren’t for my parents taking my keys I wouldn’t have taken the 453, and thus, I would not have needed to get fuel. Thus, I would not have run into an old friend that I haven’t seen in many years. We’re hanging out tonight! I also wouldn’t have gotten that giggly experience of banging off the rev limiter in the little thing.


And finally, my girlfriend and I went on a Chicago adventure. It was only 40 degrees but that didn’t make the architecture tour any less amazing. ♥

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