Trip 2: Speridakis HQ to VSR: 70 miles.

May 18, 2007 by

Today I took the Dart up to VSR, where Dave’s mechanic has agreed to replace the ball joints and take a good look at the car. The car died twice at stoplights before ever reaching Memorial Drive… but then it seemed fine. Guess it takes a bit to warm up.

At 40, car drives fine. At 55, car drives fine. at 65! the car drives fine: predictable float, easy to pilot through a turn. There’s the little issue of the hood flapping in the wind, but I adressed that with a bungee cord. Speaking of wind, the exhaust out of this car is rank. People give it space.

there’s a passenger side rear-view mirror. it is useless.

arrival:

For Sale

May 16, 2007 by

UPDATE: The Dart is tentatively sold.

In what is either a fit of brash overconfidence or careful planning, we’ve listed the Dart for sale in New Orleans.

Of course, this assumes that we’ll make it.

But we have faith.

So if you’re going to be in or around New Orleans and need a shiny new set of wheels, the Dart could be yours!

All proceeds from the sale will go to Bonnie CLAC.

Enter the Good News Garage

May 15, 2007 by

Although Adam and I tend to be hopeless optimists; our advancing age has taught us that any big project we take on really requires some external sanity check. This days, that check usually comes from Christine and Bobbi Jo, who more often than not are wisely thinking and acting in their own naked self-interest.

But since we were planning on taking this trip on by ourselves, we decided to bring in some external help.

Fortunately for us, the help was literally right around the corner in the form of the Good News Garage. Ray Magliozzi, one of the owners, is better known as “Clack” (or is it “Click”) from Car Talk on NPR. Even better, they have a long, documented history of appreciation for early sixties Dodge Darts.

When we approached them with our project, they agreed to check the car out for free. Ray left a great message on my voicemail — listen to it in mp3 format.

In the end, they gave it a largely clean bill of health. It needs a couple ball joints, new tires, and as you can see from the slip below: “oh yeah — a new body.”

And they’re mostly right: the hood in particular needs some serious help. They opened the hood a few times, and through no fault of theirs, the hood was nowhere near closing by the time they were done. So they cut the hinges off, and bolted the hood down to the frame. Need some hood pins…

img082.jpg

Afterwards, Ray was nice enough to sit in the car for a photo:

How we got the Dart, and where we’re going in it

May 13, 2007 by

One cold November afternoon, Adam called me out of the blue. 15 minutes ago, he said, someone had listed a 1964 Dodge Dart for free on Boston Craigslist. It was in somerville, a 5-minute drive from my house, and would I mind going to check it out? Adam is no stranger to beautiful, horrible old rustbuckets; he and his fiancé own a 1963 Mercury Comet, and a 1974 Austin Mini between them. If he thought it would be a good thing, then it must need some serious love.

So I went to check it out. The owner, a museum exhibit designer, had owned the car for at least 10 years, and it had been in the family for at least a decade more. He had advertised it for several months at $2000, only to discover the twilight zone of selling used cars. Lots of nibbles, but no firm interest. Posting it for free seemed to change that fairly quickly, but it meant that only the craigslist diehards were going to nab it in time.

Enter Adam. In one of our periodic fits of group-delusion, we had decided we were going to participate in the BABE Rally. BABE stands for Big Apple to Big Easy; the “rally” part really has more to do with getting there at all than any kind of speed contest.

This is because you’re not allowed to spend more than $250 to buy your “rally” car.

The Dart, at a cost of $0, was a brilliant choice. Apparently I was the first one to arrive; his mobile phone was ringing off the hook while we went for a drive. Aside from some cracked tires and a hood in some serious disrepair, all seemed in reasonably good shape — at least, for a 43 year-old rustbucket from Somerville.

I drove it around the block in the pouring rain. The windshield wipers were terrible, the play in the unassisted steering made it a bit like piloting a boat. But it started, stopped and turned. “I’ll take it,” I said, and after a small amount of paperwork, the Dart was sitting in my driveway.

First post!

May 6, 2007 by

Welcome to rallydart! We’re driving from New York City to New Orleans as part of the BABE rally. Along the way, we’re hoping to raise money and awareness for a fantastic non-profit called Bonnie CLAC, which helps people transform their lives through financial literacy and low-cost car loans.

Our vehicle of choice: a 1964 Dodge Dart we obtained for free through a random craigslist ad. It runs, drives and stops, but as you’d expect with a free car, it’s not without its issues. We’ll be describing that over the next few weeks as we get it rally-worthy.

A few weeks ago, the hood hinges were so badly rusted that we had to cut them off entirely: