Archive for 2001

Call me Mr. P-Body

by on Jul.03, 2001, under Automotive

I swore I’d never make a web page about my cars, but many have been perplexed
about my choices in automotive purchasing.  This page is for you, for other
people that are into cars, and also for people who are extremely bored and have
nothing better to do but read about other people’s lives and interests. 
Feel free to comment about it, but please only send funny flames.

This page is dedicated to my bizarre obsession with Chrysler’s P-body cars. 
These cars include the Dodge Shadow, the Plymouth Sundance, and the Shelby CSX. 
I have owned or currently own each of these at some point.  I don’t like
what Chrysler did to the P-bodies in 1989 when they changed the front grill
and headlight arrangement and the rear trim and taillights.  So, I stuck
with the ’87s and ’88s.  I got into this type of car because my parents
own two Chrysler turbo cars:  my mother has a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron GTS
Turbo and my father owns a 1987 Dodge Daytona Turbo.  I liked driving both
of them and even the LeBaron could hold it’s own in a few minor racing incidents. 
I learned a lot about the engines because of a semi-frequent head gasket problem
with the LeBaron.  We eventually figured that one out (see my
on it).  Other than that, these engines seem to run forever. 
The LeBaron has over 230,000 miles on it (as of 07/08/98) and the Daytona has
over 186,000 miles on it.  Both still have the original turbos.  They
both got a little rod knock at 180,000 and the LeBaron was rebuilt around that
time (but it still ran fine and didn’t burn any oil).

Though I was driving (legally) as early as 1991, it wasn’t until two years
later that I seriously needed to get car since I would be commuting to college
the following fall.  I wasn’t on the Internet back then (nor was anyone
else, really), so I didn’t have the resources we all have now.  I was checking
the Chicago Tribune and Auto Trader every week.  I liked our ’86 LeBaron
GTS, so I was interested in one of those, but the few leads I found were either
not in my price range or in pretty bad shape.  Then I saw an ad for a car
that I had read about while researching the various late-80s cars out there. 
I had never seen one up close, but I wanted to buy it as soon as I saw and drove

So, the first car I ever owned I bought in May of
1993.  It was a 1987 Plymouth Sundance Turbo 5 speed coupe, black with
the burgundy interior, sunroof, and power everything.  I had a blast driving
it around and I got plenty of speeding tickets doing so.  I was pretty
hard on the car when I owned it and starting January 1, 1994, it started taking
it’s toll.  That morning while driving home late, the car went into a spin
when I tried to avoid a car that was in my lane as I went around a curve of
a back road.  I was tired, but completely sober; but this guy, I don’t
know.  The ground was covered with rock-salt from a recent snowfall. 
I couldn’t recover the car and I hit some small trees while going backwards
on the opposite side.  He never stopped.  Anyway, the car had extensive
rear end damage, but somehow I got it out of the ditch and drove it home: 
rear-end smashed, bumper hanging.  Somehow, my father was able to straighten
out the panels (quite a feat) and I installed new taillights and fixed-up the
bumper.  I intended to bondo the panels the next summer and bring it up
to snuff.  Unfortunately, that May my stupidity killed the car for good
when I slipped in gravel and slid into a ditch while taking a turn a bit too
fast (read: way too fast).  As the car flew into the ditch, it hit the
top edge of a concrete retainer wall that was sticking out of the ground by about
12 inches.  The forward frame was completely twisted up and the transmission
had a hole in it.  I reported the accident to the insurance company (since
I had full coverage), and they totaled it (and promptly dropped me). 
Here are the only pictures I have of it, after the final accident:

You may notice that the left-front wheel (wearing the spare tire since the
original was completely bent up) seems to be further back than it should be. 
The entire left part of the K-frame and control arm was bent back about 6 inches. 
You can see why it was totaled, but I got $2200 for it, even with the unrepaired,
rear-end damage.

The rest of the summer of 1994 I spent looking for another
car to replace the Sundance.  I had $2200 of insurance money, but I was
running out of time.  I would have loved to find a Shelby CSX (I had read
about them), but I couldn’t find one anywhere.  The next best thing would
have been a ’87 or ’88 Shadow ES, but I couldn’t find any of those either. 
Towards the end of the summer I was getting desperate (the fall semester was
going to start), so I settled for a 1987 Dodge Shadow Turbo I had found. 
It was a red, two door with a light grey interior an automatic transmission. 
It didn’t have power windows, but it had “power everything else” and a sunroof,
which I like.  The auto trans made the car quite sluggish most of the time,
which was disappointing.  It was pretty good off the line, but after about
40 mph, it was pretty slow going.  But, it ran good and it got me where
I needed to go.

The following summer (1995), my sister was in the market for a car.  She
wanted something reliable with an automatic.  Since we’ve had so much experience
with these engines, she agreed that a Chrysler would be a good thing to get. 
I took the opportunity to look for a car again and she agreed to buy mine, if
I found one.

I eventually found a car and sold the Shadow to her.  She got in an minor
fender bender with it and so it ended up with a Sundance hood.  The car
also acquired some strange problems over time, including a blockage in the oil
line to the head because of a disintegrated oil filter (never buy Fram), some
electrical problems because of some corrosion under the dash from a leaky windshield,
and a perpetually blown fusible link, which has been solved.

Eventually (winter 2001), the engine got a terminal case of rod knock. 
The car always had a persistent pinging problem that we never resolved. 
The problem was tough to find because it would come and go.  This probably
contributed to the rod bearing failure.  Interestingly, she sold the car
for $200 to a guy at work. The car had at least that much money in tires on
it. Unfortunately, I never got a picture of it.  She now drives my father’s 1987 Dodge Daytona (2.2 Turbo I, manual trans, over 220,000 miles!).

Anyway, later during the summer of 1995, I found the
car.  It wasn’t the Shelby CSX I always wanted, but it was the next best
thing.  Through the Chicago Tribune Online, I found a 1988 Dodge Shadow
ES Turbo 5 speed coupe that a woman was selling in downtown Chicago.  The
information about this car has grown such that to read about it, you need to
have a look at my 1988 Dodge Shadow ES page.

I like my Shadow a lot, but I never satisfied that desire for a Shelby CSX. 
After being a member of the Shelby-Dodge Mailing List (SDML) for a couple of
years, I decided that it was the route to go if I ever wanted to get that CSX. 
Well, on June 24, 1998, after some negotiating and waiting, I committed to buy
the 1987 Shelby CSX #694 from a fellow SDMLer near San Fransisco.  I had
to have the car shipped to me in Illinois (quite an expensive venture), but
it was worth it.  To hear that story, visit my 1987
Shelby CSX

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