Saturday, October 22, 2016

The big cat takes cover to ensure it's survival. A wild animal knows that when it is sick or injured the best strategy is to lay low. Even a king predator knows when it's best to hide out for awhile.

There are so many things going on at my house with my automotive fleet. Last post I shared how I bought an old Ford Explorer. My Daughter needed a vehicle so that she can do her craft sales events. She needs to be self contained, carry her stuff and set it up. She has started to be really busy with this, and while I will always lend a hand when needed, it's time for her to pull her weight with her business. This Explorer is supposed to replace my '96 Mustang. I thought that the Mustang would sell quickly, but it's been on Craig's List for several weeks with a couple of weak nibbles. That means that I now own six vehicles! I have to clear out some room so that I could bring the Explorer home.

Luckily there is a 10ft. sideyard alongside my garage. It is accessible from my driveway. I made a big gate to gain access years ago when I picked up a free 240Z from the owner of a local gas station. Since then it has been the home of a '75 280z that I bought for my son, along with a '22 Dodge hot rod project,( two cars at the same time!) a '78 280zx Turbo, and now my poor old XJS. The cars are completely hidden from street view and I'm still able to get past them as well as keep the garbage and recycling cans there.

I had already moved some items from the garage to the sideyard and there was stuff waiting to go to the dump and to be donated. I moved a whole bunch of old windows to a spot in the backyard. A trip to the dump got rid of a bunch of stuff and I had my sideyard clear.

The engine in my XJS runs fine, but the transmission slips in drive. First gear and reverse work and I can move the car when needed. I moved the car into the side yard and freed up a spot in my driveway. With the Explorer parked there I just have the normal four cars in front. Normal in who's mind?

I haven't even mentioned my F150. I used to keep it parked three blocks away on a very wide street where the houses did not face the curb. Now, I do use the truck occasionally, usually once every week or so. I had been busy and out of town and it probably did sit there for over two weeks. It was really dirty. I used it all day one Friday and parked it back at the same spot. I really had thought about getting it washed, but I just didn't have the time. On Saturday morning I went to get the truck and found that it had been red tagged. Why was it tagged? There were other cars on the street that were equally dirty? I'm guessing that someone called and complained about my truck, it certainly did look abandoned, even though it is a later model and the plates are current. I think the PEO (parking enforcement officer) ran the license number and found that it didn't return to either nearby street. They figured that an unused car was being stored on the street, which it kind of was. Aren't all cars parked at the curb technically "unused?" The problem is that once the PEO has spotted a violation they will have you on their radar. I once got three parking tickets at once for my cars parked at my house. I had my cars parked two deep in my driveway, technically blocking the side walk. Okay, that was true, but I wasn't the only person doing that. I had also parked my truck nose in, at the curb in front of my house. It was clearly visible to anyone driving by the court.There was space at the curb across the street, but I just went in with the intention of talking to my wife for a minute. Well about 15 or 20 minutes later I went outside and found a citation on my truck. Then I noticed a cite on two of my cars in the driveway. Jeez, we are talking about 150.00 in fines I accumulated in fifteen minutes! Boy did that sting. But to be honest they were righteous tickets. I had violated both statutes. I wasn't planning to get burned again. I always wondered if one of my neighbors had called in a complaint. There had been a bit of an issue with a new neighbor that had been causing a parking problem. I had never complained on them, but maybe they thought I had, and this was payback. I became very paranoid and very careful on how I parked.

Now I had a dilemma, even if I used the truck and parked it there again, how would the PEO know that I had been using it? The tag said that there was not a requirement to re- tag the vehicle before it was towed. So I ran the truck through the car wash and parked it two blocks further away. This was getting a bit ridiculous. The reason I chose to park on that street is because I thought that it was safer. There is plenty of parking along the street at the end of my cul de sac, but the street is narrow and drivers using it seem to go mighty fast. Well, that is where I'm parking my truck for now. Just ahead of three cars that have been sitting there covered with dirt for quite a while!

I have not moved very fast in fixing my XJS. I have been wondering if I really need this car. It isn't a very practical car, but probably no worse than one of my Mustangs. I wrote in a very hyperbolic fashion  awhile ago of how much I wanted to own this car. It is a fantastic car, a near exotic. I actually like it better than an XK8, which I have thought about replacing it with. I know that I would regret selling this car. It is in pretty good shape, and I don't have very much money tied up in it. I wouldn't get much for selling it, provided I could even find a buyer. I really do believe that these cars are going to start going up in value, eventually. I just need to hold onto it for a while. That's all. And that is enough. Isn't it?

I just went to seek out a machine shop in Santa Clara that was mentioned on the Occhio Longo web site. It specializes in working on antique, as in one hundred year old, motorcycles. The owner, Tom, showed me the Excelsior V-twin that he had owned for around forty years. It was his first antique bike. The bike has been restored for years. He has ridden it in many meets and runs over the years. He told me that it was weathered, worn, and partially dis-assembled when he found it. He was a little short on cash to make the purchase and the "Bank of Mom" helped him seal the deal. How many of us had a Mom or Dad who would step up so that we could realize our dream? Luckily I did too.

I think this is the same bike. How many of these are around?

He had a bunch of antique motorcycles and a few antique cars sprinkled in. This is a fully equipped machine shop and there were partially disassembled engine parts being machined.  Wow! what  a place. Still I know that you have to bring in enough money to keep the enterprise running. I really don't have any illusions about business. I am trying to make a connection to the antique bike community. I hope to attend some of the local events. It appears that the price levels of these antique machines has risen from  the the mid twenty thousand mark to much higher. Maybe an unrestored bike might be reasonably affordable? Maybe. I don't know if there are any barn finds left to be found.

Faded and unpainted, Nothing hidden here!
Speaking of great finds, this car just came up on Craig's List, again. It's a 1954 Jaguar Mark VII. A manual transmission car that is running and driving, according to the seller. He drove it from Riverside County to the Palmdale area. The car appears nice and straight. but it needs "complete restoration". The seller reports that it doesn't have any big rust problems. I have contacted the seller and he really needs to sell the car. He told me to make a serious offer. He would really like to sell the car to someone who would appreciate the car and restore it. Like me. He said that he has been contacted by a couple of parties that want him to part out the car, or would buy it to use for parts. The motor and manual transmission are basically the same as those used in the XK140 which is the Mark VII's contemporary sibling. This is my opportunity to buy into the history, romance and adventure of the Classic Jaguar XK experience. This is as close as I'm ever going to get! The XK140s prices are into the stratosphere already. Mark VII's are not very high priced at this time. This will lead to most of these cars being parted out instead of being restored. I've seen pretty nice older restorations selling for around twenty grand, decent looking, running project cars for way less than ten grand. I'm thinking that I could get this car for around two grand, my favorite sweet spot for car purchases. It would be easier if I could sell that darn Mustang! I've started laying out the groundwork, dropping hints to my wife. I showed her a restored example at the Clovis British car show. I showed her  some photos in a nice picture history book of Jaguar cars. She has been supportive and understanding. She does think that it is kind of crazy to buy another car. I know that it is crazy to try to buy another project car, where would I put it? Still, I could acquire another affordable Classic right now, when it is still affordable! I guess that is how a working guy accumulates his collection. I don't have much money tied up in my old cars, I have much more square footage of parking space invested!  There were lots of guys buying cheap muscle cars that they held onto until they could afford to fix them up. Values rose and that crazy idea didn't seem so crazy, after all.  I don't really want an entire stable of cars, but a couple would be nice. Maybe I'll just do it. Maybe I can find a way to live the automotive "Vida Loca!"

Man, I really want this car!
So the lesson to be learned is that if you acquire a great find, hold onto it! Even if you don't have the time, money, or space to do anything with it. Just try to protect and preserve it. Especially if the car didn't cost very much and is currently worth very little. Truthfully my XJS isn't really worth any more than I paid for it. Selling it wouldn't give me much money to move my other projects forward. I would really like to have a pre- smog manual transmission Jaguar. It's not that I want to pollute the air, it's just that it removes an impediment to ownership. For example. My XJS requires a bi annual smog check, and a smog check before sale and transfer. I bought it without a smog check and since it needs the transmission fixed, it hasn't been smogged yet. I've paid all the transfer, and registration fees, even for the upcoming year but I still don't have the title in my name. That is a problem. Anyhow, the lion sleeps tonight!

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