I have come to the sad conclusion that my '72 Cutlass, Number 1, will not run forever. So what if the engine has over 360 thousand original miles? I have heard stories of Olds-mo-bubble engines living to half a million miles or more. I guess it's more the body and interior that is giving out then the actual engine, as it does still run pretty good. Although I have noticed a deep knock down in her bowels when she first fires up in the morning, but it only lasts a second. Still not a trace of smoke and she only uses about a half quart of oil every 4 thousand miles or so, but all the tell-tail signs are there. More oil leaks - check. More squeaks and rattles - check. More random problems - check. Getting uglier by the day - check. Basically Number 1 is giving up the ghost, throwing in the towel, cashing in her chips, heading out to pasture... I think you get what I'm trying to say.
Of course all of this just did not happen at once, it has been building up over the last couple of decades or so, and has been steadily getting worse. I guess my plan of using an original 37 year old car as a daily driver is coming to an end. I have been down this path before, as I tried to retire Number 1 about 3 years ago. Back then I had plenty of cars to drive so I stopped using the Cutlass as my daily driver and just let it sit. Big mistake. It rotted outside for about two years when all of a sudden I found myself out of cars, cash, and a daily driver. You can find the story of Number 1's resurrection here. There is even a video I made of me firing it up after sitting all that time.
This go around I have a plan. First, I had to find a new daily driver. This was no easy task as my budget to buy another car was almost non-existent. I also wanted to find something that got half way decent gas mileage because we all know that the slightest hiccup in our world (like a hurricane, stock market slump or swine flu) will cause the price of gas to go through the roof again. I can't afford a new vehicle and really don't care for any of the cookie cutter cars (Honda, Toyota, etc), I just can't see myself in them. So I found myself gravitating toward older makes, only the prices of any decent older ride was still out of my league. Although I am a big fan of the carburetor era, I love the reliability of fuel injected vehicles. I really like the late '80s to early '90s GM trucks because they are easy to work on, fuel injected, and last for hundreds of thousands of miles. I also discovered that they are dirt cheap, which is the category where my budget is located.
So what did this finite category lead me to? I found a super clean, single family owned '87 GMC S-15. It is equipped with the "4Tech" fuel injected four cylinder engine and a 4-speed trans. Great gas mileage? Yes. Stump-pulling torque? No. Nice, clean daily driver? Yes. Turns heads wherever it goes? No, unless I filled the bed with bikini clad women in an effort to re-create that famous 80's poster "Haulin' Ass"! As for the rest of the plan that includes my Cutlass, as usual, I don't have a plan. I really like the look of the pro-touring cars, but I also like street/strip cars. Do I build a track car or a drag car? Drifting or drag racing? Ovals or quarter miles? Maybe I should just do a concours level restoration, complete with assembly line chalk marks. Yea right, how much fun would that be to drive? I know, how about a retro NASCAR look, complete with 10 inch wide steelies on all four corners and flared fenders? A low rider with tru spokes and hydraulics? A sled with satin paint, white walls, and an air ride system that can lay the car on it's frame? Decisions, decisions, decisions! I did manage to actually put Number 1 in my garage, and I even disconnected the battery! Damn, I must be getting serious...