I bought a new car. This car has (or can have) just about everything I want in a vehicle. After working in the automotive industry since I got out of college I have become intimately familiar with the inner-workings of modern (and as of yet unreleased) vehicles. I can personally attest to not liking them at all. I like the cooled seats and heated steering wheel in the current production cars I have driven, and have never had them on a vehicle I owned. I may be able to aftermarket them in, but I haven’t tried yet. The things I like that I have had in my vehicles are: compass, bluetooth and aux input stereo, voltage meter, MPG meter, trip meter, I’m sure I’m forgetting things here but you get used to conveniences like that. The things I want in a vehicle are very specific: 4wd, hitch, small (smaller than my 2000 explorer), very small A-pillars, and an always-on cigarette lighter. The A-pillars in some modern cars are nearly a foot wide these days! They hold so many air bags… that wouldn’t need to deploy if I could see the road they’re blocking. When my phone is dead and I go in to the store I should be able to come back and it has been charging (yes, I know it could drain my battery, but it’s my car so fuck you I do what I want).
It rides nice and high
The vehicle I have chosen to build out is a beautiful 1984 AMC Eagle wagon. This car uses the legendary AMC straight-six engine that lived all the way through the mid nineties in Jeeps and is basically indestructible. I wanted the wagon because it’s just cooler than those Jeep Cherokees, you don’t see them around basically at all and they’re nearly as capable. The car I bought has been re-painted, sat for some time, had a strange third tail light installed, aftermarket fog lights, an exhaust leak, a broken driver’s seat belt buckle, and a bunch of other little things. It did just get a new battery, four new tires, and a four-wheel alignment a month before I bought it. There are some problems to be sure, but overall this car has been pretty well taken care of and I intend to do the same.
On the drive home I had a couple problems, first of which was that the car would have trouble with stalling when going into gear from park or neutral. I gave it some extra gas and was able to get it to move, but this seemed like an issue that needed addressing. When we opened the hood Matt was able to track the problem to some old cracked and broken hoses going to the carb. I ave indicated the hoses here on this diagram:
Replaced hoses and clamps marked in red
We popped by a convenient Advance Auto Parts and picked up a few feet of 3/8″ fuel line (which was what was already there and cracked). We also got some nice clamps to replace the spring clamps that were on there and a pain to get off. There was also this other… thing that broke off. The rivets holding it to the intake seem to have sheared right off, so I reattached it with some gorilla tape and we were on our way again.
Under the tape is a vacuum actuator, if you know what it is please comment so I can read up on it
By the time we were done repairing all this stuff it was dark so I had to try the headlights. The car was doing as woody said: “Reach for the skyyyyy”. Not all that useful a position for headlights to be in. A few shots with the Yankee and they were aimed down enough to drive by. This lasted until we hit the park-n-ride at exit 11 on I75 in Michigan, after that for the next mile whenever I got the car above about 35 it would start to shake to the point where it was so violent at 45 I felt I had to get off the freeway and take a look. All I did was let the car sit for a few minutes and drove it again, it was fine for the entire rest of the trip home after that. The best explanation for that problem came from that week’s episode of Car Talk: Carburetor icing. I will have to become familiar with these once common engine issues because the mechanics behind that were news to me.
I have plenty of entries in this series planned (and a few I’m going to write immediately after this one) so you can now keep up to date on the adventures of trying to daily-drive a 33 year old car.
Cigarette lighter to usb ports/voltmeter
Fog light removal
Windshield leak seal
Wagon cover end caps
Always-on 12v power
Third tail light upgrade
hood release cable
always-on lighter power
oil/fluid change and filter replacement (not Fram, maybe purolator pureone or wix)
fog light install
Door latch repair
fix fuel sender/gauge wiring
seat belt buckle
Ham radio (take two)
weatherstripping (everywhere, but mostly the trunk)
Valve Cover upgrade
hatch struts (strengthen/source replacement hinges first)
rear window wiper/washer
front window washers?
rocker panel/rust remediation
make mirror controls more responsive
remote power locks