Monday, January 2, 2012

Introducing Shawlette.....

So it's night and the house is quite. Everyone is in bed and I am thinking about Shawlette. Alright, I need to back up.  I have so much to write about and so many things moving around in my mind about this darn car. That seems to be the issue at hand, to much going on and a minimal amount of progress. Just a lotta ideas that haven't even become reality. This progression of greatness, or total insanity, seems to be the "Norm" for my 1st project car since I was in my teens.  

Shawlette (a noun) - 1) A small shawl 2) A name for an ugly fat girl 3) the name my wife gave my 1988 IROC.

My need to build a car has been brewing in me for sometime now. Years actually. I would get my wrench turning-car building fixes every now and then working on our everyday drivers. However, deep down I always wanted a "project car" of my own. I am one of the lucky ones as my wife condones and almost encourages my need to turn a wrench, get dirty, and cuss in the garage. Nickey would say, " Just do it. Find a car and make it happen." My family is just like many other families. We are not rich. My wife, Nickey, definitely didn't marry for money (or looks). Don't get me wrong. We are ok but money is a factor.

At first I was thinking about doing a flip. Buy a car that needs something, fix it and make a little cash. I found Craigslist to be the best place for this. All you have to do is search NEEDS in the for sale sub listing of Cars & Trucks. I had the Craigslistings sent to my phone. I was always looking at updates ; seeing many a 200K Honda or Toyota or Volvo with blown head gaskets or transmission issues. Something always seemed to keep the deal just outta reach. Money (usually) or timing as in not having the money at the time the car was for sale. I'd have a stroke of luck every now and then too, I had the money and the deal was good, but then the car was sold. 

This went on for sometime, I am the strange breed of wrench turning-car loving fool that would actually go to Pick a Part or U Pick Parts, whatever variation of the name some one could make, just to wander around and look at the cars. I sometimes had a "Reason". I was looking for a something or another for my 1999 Suburban. That truck will be a blog post of its own someday, or make  a guest appearance on the Shawlette show. I digress.  I was really just wandering around looking at cars., my mind piecing them back together and finding parts to fix the cars with other cars in the yard. Now don't be foolish. I didn't actually perform repairs on the wrecks in the yard, tho the idea had crossed my mind many times. I wanted a car to work on. As time passed I started daydreaming of a cool car to fix up. Oh so many passed through my minds eye, trucks and cars; all GM.  I love to wrench on a GM products. I like just about any car with a soul and every car seems to bring something to the table even if it is a grand example of what not to do. So as the time passed and my research started I found that the cars of my youth, well the cool cars of my youth, are now the collectors prize possessions! The Camaro's of my past my favorites 68's or 70-73 split bumper, I know I could buy any 70 to 73 and make it into a split bumper. These car were waaaaay outta my price range. I mean even the one I wouldn't even have considered as a kid, meaning in so poor shape, I couldn't even buy if I wanted. That started the juices flowing tho, you can buy every part for those cars as reproductions for companies like year one. Pricey very at times but well, the idea was buy a uni-body the front K-Member and well build from there. Heck i would do it one piece at a time (thank you Johnny Cash RIP). The Camaro front sub frame was the same as the nova so???? Well, it didn't go that way either. 
What did happen was weeks and even months of Craigslist and eBay searches of so many but pretty much the same type of car. Old El Caminos Novas C-10's and yes Camaros with a few old old Malibus or Chevelles.... You get the idea. The thing that ends up happening is people on Craigslist are flakes! yes a few I was too slow on the trigger, but mostly they never answer calls or emails and or I was just never able to see the damn vehicles!

In this mess of trying to find a car, a friend of a friend was going through a rough break up and well I reached out to him as a buddy should do. The only thing that he and I had in common was that he owned for the most part a one owner IROC. I say for the most part because his grandfather bought it new? I am not 100% on the whole story but I do know it has been in the same family since new. 

For better or worse...  Let's talk a little about the whole 3rd generation F body thing. I have had in my possession three of those cars well four including Shawlette. One was an 87 5.7 the blue with saddle interior, this was in..... I would have to say 89 or 90. At that time I owned a small car lot and my rule was nothing older than 4 years unless exotic. My memory of that car was, I bought it with my heart instead of my head and I paid through the ass!! It was a nightmare!!! The cars I bought back then were insurance salvage and this IROC was a theft recovery with water damage. In Florida it was popular to dump stolen cars in canals or lakes. I remember seeing cars at auction and in yards that had boat propeller damage on the roofs or roof and hood damage from being hit by another car dumped on top of them in the same lake. Anyhow it was fresh water, but people are still stupid as was I for buying it. No No No not electrical problems, everyone says that, it was the engine and transmission along with the stuff they stole and the damage form the towing company. See back then it was the Mass Air Flow and the Y air intake (because body shops bought these when cars cash it usually is the front end that gets damaged) along with the wheels and T-Tops. So then the towing company pulls it on the wrecker with no wheels, you get the idea. I brought her home that way. Longer story short I put a crap load of time and money into that car. Rebuilt the motor myself (well the machine shop did their part I assembled it) Trans was redone at a shop and wheels and other stuff. Finally got it in the paper, and yes it was stolen from my house only to be found almost dumped in a canal without wheels and ect!!!! So yes bad memories. Also just a personal opinion the 3rd & 4th are the ugliest cars ever! and built like crap! Before I get hate mail for my first long drawn out blog. I grew up in Van Nuys I love GM and have always had a soft spot for the Camaro and a love for where they were built and the people who built them, what I am saying is opinion but really look at them its fact!!!! And lets not talk about the handling.

I am wandering from my point. No I didn't buy my buddies car, but I did get to follow him as he dropped it off at a shop for something or another. So when someone says IROC I conger up pictures in my mind of some P.O.S. from the bad part of town. The ones I see on the street everyday are just roaches! But my buddies was well???? Gosh dare I say nice, I mean in all honesty it wasn't a show car, but it looked like a three old IROC and not a 23 year old car. OK it was really really nice and well brought back some kind of good feeling. What really sold me was when I actually walked up to it at the shop and you get up on the car and see those wheels and that wide flat hood. Gosh when they are well kept they really look nice. So I started looking for one myself. And gosh did I find them!!! And CHEAP!!! I spend a weekend driving around looking at IROCs and Z28's and even some RS's. then on my ride home my DROID alters me a new Craigslist listing for IROC and OMG!!! in my neighborhood actually a few blocks away. A phone call and that weekend I was to go by and see it. He was parting it out. He had bought it from some guy and was basically cannibalizing it for parts for his two other Camaros. And well some other person was going to be there buying the engine from the car. My step son and his friend went with me and my wife waited in the truck as I looked at this basket case of a car. I paid the guy $300 and another $100 next Saturday when I would pick it up. I wasn't interested in the engine or the transmission. the car was poorly painted black over the original Medium Orange one of the least popular colors that year, or you could say rarest. My kids had lost interest in the car very quickly and went back into the truck with my wife as I stayed on talking car and what I was exactly buying. When I returned to the truck and spoke to my wife she asked "So how'd it go? What you think of the car?" I said plainly I liked it I bought it. She replied "No really, the kids said it was a piece of junk and they thought it was in a fire." I really cried, well not balling like I skinned my knee, but a tear did squeeze it's way out. Maybe from the thought of all the work that will have to be done, or cause the long journey of the search was over, or maybe it was just cause I was so happy to have something I could build again. My wife then told me it was our anniversary. 

What did I buy? I posted a picture of the day Shawlette came home. She is a low optioned 1988 5.0 IROC automatic with a dog leg , rear drums, factory T-Tops, 16" wheels, whose original color was Medium Orange. She is nothing special at all. What she lacks in beauty she sure does make up for in history and I like that. Not salvaged even though she has had a life. My wife would say, " Not salvaged but haggard. That car is a hot mess." "Hot-mess" is an understatement and one of the nicer things Nickey has called the car. Most of the car was not attached and was in boxes haphazardly tossed inside the car.    I ran the VIN and researched as best I could with no happy surprises, actually no surprise at all. I am planning Orange for the paint, which was her original color and another reason I purchased her.

Finding the car is just the start on a long  long long long road. Next up? Paint...

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