… or at least she was supposed to…
Many of you will remember Dave’s big white ’67 Bonneville.
She’s one of the reasons we bought this particular house – it had a garage that could easily accommodate it’s width (8 feet) and length (19 feet), as well as his other classic car (a ’67 Charger).
While we lived at the townhouse, she was stored in the underground of Dave’s Mom’s condo. He’d being her out regularly during the summer (as above when we took her to his uncle’s wedding). At the end of last season, we decided that she couldn’t really go another year without a new top. It was still original, and was developing holes that were beyond patching (most convertible tops don’t see 54 years like our girl!)
In January, he put the wheels in motion to get it done in a shop an hour east of the townhouse. She was supposed to be done the month before the move. But due to COVID and supply issues it got delayed.
Two days before the move weekend, we got the call that we could bring her in the next week. We ended up rescheduling it to this past Tuesday, because things were just so chaotic for us.
Now we are 2 hours and 15 minutes from her storage location, which is an hour and a half from the shop that will replace the top, and that shop is now 3 hours from home.
So, we planned to get up at 4:30 am. Pick the car up by 7:30, drop the car off at the shop by 9, and be home around noon (and I would work late to make up for the hours missed in the morning.)
At first things went as planned.
We got to the underground on time. As it had been 2 months since he’d last driven her (because of the move) we’d brought booster cables just in case. He got in, and she wouldn’t start. But there wasn’t even a click… like there would normally be when you turned over a car with a dead battery. There was just nothing.
It was ominous… but we decided to try boosting it, just in case. Still nothing.
As we were standing there with booth hoods open, we heard a “pssssssssssssssssssssss” noise coming from my Dory. I turned to see a small stream of coolant pushing out of a crack from the overflow tank.
Greeeeeeeeat. I had a jug of coolant in the back, and as soon as the level got to the bottom of the crack, it stopped. It wasn’t an emergency (we could still get home with her) but it wasn’t an ideal time.
We pulled the battery from the Bonneville, closed up both vehicles and headed to the parts place (just a block from the condo). We tested the battery (it wasn’t toast, but it could do with replacing), got a new battery, and ordered a new overflow tank for Dory (it would be in within an hour or so).
We went back to the underground, put in the new battery… still nothing. I sat in Dory while Dave poked, and prodded and swore at the Bonneville for an hour.
Finally, he gave up. He was pretty sure it was the starter. But without his tools and a jack, he couldn’t do anything. And even if he’d had them, he’s not supposed to work on cars in the underground (His mom can get flack from the condo board).
We called CAA. But there were two problems:
- The underground is low – exceptionally low, even for an underground. Clearance is just 6’2″. (Dory’s antenna smacks things as we go through)
- The car is loooooooooong – exceptionally long for a car, even by 1967 standards (apparently only Cadillac made a longer car). It should be towed with a flat bed.
CAA had this solution. They’d send a small truck to get it out of the underground. There may be a few small bumps, but once out, they’d send a flat bed to take it to the shop.
Without other options, we sat to wait for the first truck. After 40 minutes, he arrived. Only one problem. His truck wouldn’t clear the underground. It was about an inch too tall.
So he backed it down the ramp as far as he could. With the help of the superintendent of the building, he and Dave pushed the car from it’s spot to the ramp so he could hook it up. As I said, this is not your average car… it weighs about 4,000 lbs. Yikes.
They got it hooked and up the ramp with just a small scrape the the exhaust.
Then we sat and waited for the flatbed. As we weren’t stuck on a road or highway, we weren’t considered a priority call. It was a long wait. And I had no knitting! It was however, a decent day (warm but not humid) so we sat on the curb and I crafted myself some new jewelry with the materials I could find around me.
After a little less than two hours, the flat bed finally arrived.
The old girl got towed to shop nearby. While Dave and the mechanics poked her some more, I went and got us all refreshment. (The guys at the shop set aside another vehicle to work on ours right away).
By the time I was back, they’d determined it did, indeed need a new starter. But… being the diva she was… it’s not a normal starter. Years ago, when we first started dating, we spent many hot days waiting in parking lots for the starter to cool down. When it was cool enough, Dave would whack it with a hammer, and we’d be on our way again. He eventually got tired of this, and put in some fancy performance starter. This is what we now needed to find. After a few phone calls, he found one at a performance shop in Toronto. In theory, only 20 minutes from the condo. But it’s Toronto – where 20 minutes away can really mean an hour. We had to chance it anyway.
We hit the road in Dory again. Amazingly, traffic wasn’t bad – in either direction. We had the starter in the hands of the mechanic in under an hour.
We popped over the Dave’s Grandma’s to take a break and wait. By 4 p.m., the car was ready. We picked her up and put her back in the underground (Top replacement has been re-scheduled… again!)
We picked up the part for my truck on the way out. She was too hot from all the running around to replace right away, so we took it easy going home. We stopped for dinner along the way and were home by 7:30.
You can bet we didn’t stay up much later (not with a day like that started at 4:30 am), and I was VERY happy to see my bed!
Hopefully, next week, the big white Diva will get her new top and FINALLY be brought home where she belongs!