Car Talk Confessional

From: Harry Rose

Several years back I was standing in my driveway admiring my brand-new 20-year-old Porsche 912.

As I looked into the engine bay, I noticed two disks the size of jar lids, on each side of the engine, with rubber donuts sandwiched in between them and a bolt running through the middle. The rubber donuts looked a bit worn and cracked.

My thought process went like this: I'll take out the bolts, take out the rubber donuts, clean them and replace the bolts. Out came the ratchet (these were big bolts). Out came the bolt.

The other bolt came out just as easy, until the very end when it resisted. No problem. I stepped closer to the job, firmly planting my feet under the car for leverage and continued to turn. When the bolt finally gave way it stopped doing what it was supposed to do, which was to HOLD THE ENGINE IN THE CAR. The back of the engine fell on to the driveway and on my FIRMLY PLANTED FEET.

Screaming was out of the question because of my reputation. Once free I hobbled to the garage, retrieved my jack and performed the two-man job alone.

"Brain Damaged Teenager"
From: Harold Lewis

I owned a 1968 Dodge (this was in 1969), with a 318 V-8. A friend of mine told me that if I turned the ignition off, and then back on, it would reset the points in my distributor.

One day at about 70 mph, I did just that. Turned the ignition off and, then, right back on. It backfired, blew off the muffler, and caught on fire.

From: Bob Porter

I once had an appointment to have lunch with a top executive at a big company. I was to meet him at his office, but I didn't want him to see the miserable heap I was driving, so I parked it a block away and walked to the fancy office building, where we met in the lobby. Assuming he would drive, I walked with him back out to the sidewalk, where we sauntered up to a really nice looking and obviously expensive late model sedan.

After we stood there talking a while, he suggested we get going so we could make our reservation at the restaurant. I agreed, but neither of us moved. Finally he asked, "Aren't you going to drive?" And I said I thought HE was going to drive. "Oh," he said, "but isn't this your car?" When I said no, I thought it was HIS car, he said, "Oh no, my car is over there." He pointed to a heap down the block that looked nearly as bad as my own. "I take a lot of kidding about that beater," he said, "so I was hoping you would have fancier wheels."

When I told him I was so embarrassed by my heap that I parked it on the next block, we both had a great laugh and a breezy ride to the restaurant in his car with windows that didn't quite roll all the way up.

From: Patrick Okey

The setting was the middle of summer in the mid-60's in my best friend's garage.

As with all 13-year-olds with nothing to do, we spent the summer fidgeting with our "toys." The toy de jour of this escapade was my Del Taco mini-bike.

As is typical, the "summer job" of the smaller kids in our neighborhood was to bug the heck out of the older kids. They were hanging around our shop and being a total annoyance.

This particular day, the urchins were at their all-time worst: 4,000 Questions per minute and hands clambering on every single tool in sight! Something had to be done to clear the shop of this infestation.

Here comes the BRILLIANCE: Having reached the breaking point, I told the little varmints that we were about to perform a most critical adjustment on the engine and its success was based on their physical assistance. With the groundwork meticulously laid, I found the largest set of vice grips in the shop and clamped it on the exposed top of one of the spark plugs.

Once they all had both hands tightly clenched on the vice grips, I gave a little wink of approval (to myself) and gave the pull-start a full and rapid yank.

Ka-Vroom! Urchins flew in every direction, not to be seen or heard from again all summer long.

It was truly one of the highlights of my early mechanical career: the day the urchins hit the road.

From: Bryan Anweiler

Winter had clamped its icy hooks upon Akron, Ohio. I was working the third shift, 1am to 9:30 am, and it wasn't quit agreeing with me. I had been operating on only a few hours of sporadic sleep every night I went to work.

So, it was 12:40 am, 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and I hopped nearly directly from bed to my car, dressing somewhere in between. The leather seats nearly cracked when I sat in my '91 Mercury Sable Wagon.

The heater normally would not commence heating until about the time I got into the parking lot at work. Driving to work in a freezer chest has the affect of turning my nose into an icicle, making it run, and fosters other things to leak into the far regions of my sinuses. I could have just taken a few deep frigid breaths and let it all freeze inside. But being the man that I am, the decision to expectorate the offending gunk was made. My only dilemma was that I didn't want to create an arctic blast rolling the window all the way down to fire my shot.

I did the only thing any sensible man would do, and pushed the button to roll the window down just enough far enough to crane my neck, tilt my head sideways, watch the road with the peripheral vision of my right eye, and purse my lips against a one inch gap and lean over just enough to hit the button with my left forearm and role the window up on my nose! I didn't wait to try and relieve the pressure I just yanked the sucker right out, a bridge of goop from the window to my chin trailing, blinding tears welling up, and a metallic task growing from high in the back of my throat, as blood bloomed from my nostril.

From: Bob Pickett

I once got out of the car at a stoplight to check the trunk lid and then got into the back seat in a rush to get started when the light turned green. Guess what, someone had stolen the steering wheel!

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