Youth = Stupid
When I was in high school and hand just turned 15 I bought my first car for $150. It was a 1953 Plymouth two door, flat head six with three on the tree. It was rusted any place it could rust but I was proud of it and loved that car. Like any red blooded American boy interested in cars, I wanted to make it as cool as I could. Money was a real problem, I didn’t have any!
I made regular visits to local junk yards and eventually added a 54 Chevy grill, baby moon hub caps. I also nosed and decked it and molded the rear taillights into the rear fenders. Next came a $25 custom Corvette blue paint. Unfortunately, the Engine and drive train remained absolutely stock and tired. I was more into looking good than being fast. That is the result of no money and is likely the only reason I am still alive today!
However, I still wanted more and to be cool your car had to have a rake, high in the rear and low in the front. Because the springs were worn out and weak the entire car set low. That is cool today but back then the rear end had to be high. I had to be cool and that meant I had to jack the back end up. Well, air shocks were out of the question because they were way to expensive for my fifty cent an hour part time income!
My buddy, Al, worked at a gas station so that made him a car expert. Late one night I was hanging out at the gas station he worked at and mentioned I really wanted to put a rake on the stance of my 53. Al said no problem, put it on the hoist!
Ok! On the hoist it went and up in the air the 53 went.
Next, was where the stupid part starts. Al suggested the best way to put the back end up in the air was to simply move the rear spring shackles from pointing backwards to pointing forwards. This would give the leaf springs more spring and lift the rear end in the air. Fine, but how do we do that?
Al suggested we get a long 2×4 from the back room and place it behind the shackle for leverage and he would lower the hoist slightly to take some weight off the axle so I could push the shackle forward. Sounded good to a young gearhead!
This is where stupid really kicks in. Two stupid kids can be really dangerous! The car went up in the air and I placed a long 2×4 in the correct location. All was good but it seems Al was not real good about remembering how to stop the hoist once it started down!
He started lowing the hoist at a rapid rate, it went down, the long 2×4 immediately hit the floor and wedged under the car on the driver side rear sprint. I could not move it. The result was the 53 Plymouth’s driver side stayed in the air while the hoist and the rest of the car continued down hoist. Before the hoist could be stopped I was balancing the right rear of the car well off the hoist! The car was leaning drastically towards the passenger side.
My fear wasn’t that the 2×4 would break but rather it wouldn’t break! I feared my car would quickly rollover sideways and fall off the hoist into the wash bay.
I have read that some folks say your entire life flashes before your eyes just as you are about to die; I don’t know about that. However, I can tell you that the image of my $150 pride and joy Plymouth resting on its top in a gas station wash bay flashed right before my eyes at that moment!
That image quickly grew to thoughts of trying to explain to my Dad, the Police and the gas station’s owner how I rolled my car inside the wash bay! Then, there was question of: “How in the hell will we get it out of there?”
Oh, and then it hit me I would have to explain to my steady girlfriend’s father that I no longer had a car. He would likely be relieved but only until I told him why! I envisioned losing my car and best girl all in one flash of stupidity.
Suddenly, in slow motion which seemed like hours, while the car swayed back and fourth on the 2×4, Al remember how to stop the hoist and then reversed it. The car did not fall and the shackle was reversed; on one side. Success!
Now, wouldn’t you think there would be something learned here? Just maybe this is not the best way to do this? Nope, we went on and did the other side the same way! The second time was much less exciting.
Sure enough, the car did sit with the rear up in the air. Unfortunately, every time I turned a corner the weak and worn outside spring would return to its natural state and the car would drop down on that side. That car drove horribly and looked like a low rider with someone playing with the hydraulic switches all the time. I managed to make a couple of quick turns in opposite directions and the car was flat again.
It was the last time my friend Al ever gave me advice on a car repair!
Watch this Jay Leno video for a great story about picking up two LA Gang members in an expensive sports car!
Jay Leno is a hero to many of us. He has an unbelievable collection of cars. He is a rich and famous celebrity. He is obviously very intelligent. He too can do stupid car related things! This video is from the highly recommended TV show Top Gear . It has recently been redone and is now known as Grand Tour