Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Taking delivery of the '88 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z

Upbeat Express delivered my '88 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z today.

Unloading the '88 Shelby Z from the open carrier.

Touchdown at its new home / garage.

The '88 Shelby Z in front of Casa de Shields

Pulling out on his way to Utah, he'll be picking up and dropping off vehicles along the way.  That's a long haul from Florida to Utah and back.

Stable mates ... the white '88 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z and the '91 Chevrolet Corvette.

Parked in the driveway outside Twin Oaks Garage.

At the Columbia courthouse ... getting the Shelby Z registered and a tag for it.  Right now it's going to get an antique tag as a place holder until I can get the "STOIC" tag transferred from my Vette to the Daytona.  The Vette will (eventually) get a more Lingenfelter specific tag once the 406 Lingenfelter is dropped in under the clamshell hood of the '91 Vette.

My favorite Daytonas are the 1986 Turbo Zs, the 1987 to 1988 Shelby Zs and the 1989 Daytona Shelbys.  I was never a fan of the generation that had the composite headlights even though the dash in those cars was what should have been in these cars from the start in 1984.

Headlights work, turn signals blink, hazards blink.  Front chin spoiler / ground effects are a little chewed but nothing some sanding and fresh paint won't fix.

Upon closer inspection the front cap is heavily pitted from road debris and appears to have been painted over MACO style (i.e. "pay and spray").  Normally I'd be disappointed in this type of discovery but since the Daytona is going to get repainted the right way before next summer I'm not even going to get mad.

A little bit of surface rust.  I'll sand it and treat it chemically which should take me to the new paint job when all of this will be quickly obliterated.  The hood lifts with a little back and forth wobble and it squeaks with the sound of tortured metal.  Some white lithium grease and a little rattle can Krylon paint should quiet things down.

The factory "crab" wheels.  I like these better than the "pizza" wheels found on my '86 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z or the "Ninja" pumper wheels that my '89 had.  The '89 wheels were larger but ... not as nice to look at and I don't think that the style of the '89 wheels really fit the car.  The '87 to '88 "crab" wheels were, in a word, perfect for the Shelby Z.

Rear crab wheel ... all four wheels are going to need refinishing.  I may have the wheels painted Bright White to match the rest of the car.  Wheel wells seem to have been sand blasted clean.  Those will get repainted black.  That thin line of rust at the body crimp is the only other rust that I've found on the car (so far).  That's just surface rust so it can be sanded and chemically treated.

Paint, overall, is effed ... but I can always get paint.  I can't always get a rust free straight body and near mint interior.  Finding parts for these cars really is a Grail quest ... which is what makes owning one of these cars so fun ... if you're the kind of gear rower that likes to drive something no one else has and you're the kind of pedal dancer that likes a challenge.

Yeah, paint is down to the primer.

Wheels will need to be refinished.  This is the rear passenger side wheel.

Factory louvers.  So many of these Daytonas came with factory rear window louvers ... I'd rather have a rear window washer / wiper instead.  3D emblems are going to need to be reconditioned and restored as well ... that is, if the emblems don't break apart while I'm trying to gently pry them off.

The tail lights are a little rough ... I'm going to just find another set and replace these.

"DODGE" emblem is looking a little sun-beaten.  Red stripe is, too.

Rear tail lights are bruised, scuffed and spider webbed slightly.  I'm going to try to get another, better set of tail lights for the Shelby.  "Daytona Shelby Z" emblem looks brittle ... extra care will have to be given to remove it and recondition it.

Close up of the "DAYTONA SHELBY Z" emblem.  Rough but maybe salvageable.  Some light sanding, some painter's tape, some spray paint and it should look as good as new.

Close up of the entropy that's played over the factory wheels.  This is the driver's side rear wheel.

More paint issues which really aren't issues.

Rear hatch area in spots the paint is down to the factory primer.  I seem to remember this being a common problem with these cars.

Paint issues on driver's door ... also the faded and peeling "SHELBY Z" decal on the door trim.  I can get a reproduction set of reproduction decals off of Ebay for about $20 so no problem there.

Front driver's wheel might be the worst of all ... brake dust buildup, rusty lug nuts ... I'm thinking I'm going to repaint the gray part the same Bright White as the Shelby Z will be repainted.  New lugnuts, probably in dull finish or flat gray will be on there soon.

Driver's seat is the "enthusiast" seat - power every which way.  Seat back is kind of loose, won't lock and the switches either need to have their contacts cleaned or the seat motors are getting lazy.  That's a heavy seat ... I prefer a full manual seat for the driver's seat and if I can find a manual seat in Bordeaux or a full set of seats in black I'm going to get them and swap out the existing seats for the different color seats.

28 years of wear and tear on the driver's seat ... but it hasn't split or come apart yet.

The back seat and cargo area are full of boxes and individual pieces representing some pretty rare parts.

Grrrr.  Cracked dash.  I hate cracked dashes in older cars.  Oh, well, I'm either going to replace this piece with a Bordeaux colored piece or go with a black colored piece for some contrast.

There's a crack running more than halfway across the windshield.  Time for a new windshield.

Overall I'm happy with the '88.  It's going to need some TLC but it seems solid enough.

When I drove the Daytona I immediately noticed that it really didn't want to go into gear.  Steve had mentioned that the shifter bushings were done recently but that the linkage was about adjusted out as much as it could.  A new linkage was included in the spare parts.  So ... getting the Daytona out for an initial drive was ... frustrating ... and disheartening.

I put the Daytona into reverse and left my driveway then had the hardest time finding first.  I threw the shifter left, right, forward, back, and finally found first.  Taking off in first gear I took it slow, letting the engine build in RPM, listening for any troubling sounds ... and then at about 4000 RPM I rowed the shifter from first into ... neutral.

Where's second gear?

No second gear.

No ... any gear.

Long story short, I got the Daytona to the courthouse with a mixture of first gear and sometimes second gear ... never anything above that.  Steve had said that the week prior he had the Daytona in every gear without a problem.  So why was I having this problem now?

From the courthouse, paperwork in hand, I put the Daytona into reverse and ... neutral.  Engine revs.  No reverse gear.  Grrrrrr.


I fight the shifter for almost three minutes, lifting the shifter ring, putting it into gear, neutral, no reverse.  Finally I manage to find reverse, back out of my parking spot ... and then I can't get the Daytona out of reverse!

I'm laughing now because my original plan was to take a friend / coworker down to Florida and drive the Shelby Z back to Columbia in a day and a half.  Man!  Experience and wisdom told me it was better to just get the Shelby Z shipped from Florida to Mississippi and my gut instincts were right.  The transmission seems fine ... it's the shift linkage that's all fubar.

So, I manage to sit there, Daytona stuck in reverse, with an elderly woman in a Yukon sitting behind me waiting on me to go and oblivious to what the universal hand signal, held out the window, for "go around me I'm having car trouble" means.  So, eff her.  I throw the shifter around, work the clutch, and finally feel the Daytona go into first gear.


Time to drive two blocks to my insurance agent and get more paperwork.  The Daytona is covered by my insurance but I want to make it official.

Columbia did away with all of their main street stop lights and instead just went with four way stop signs.  I pull up to the first stop sign, in first gear, and out of habit I push in the clutch and row out of first gear into infinite neutral land.




I work the shifter again ... can't find a gear.  I throw the shifter around, up, down, left, right ... nothing.  Maybe the linkage has finally broken or given up at which point I'm going to find myself stranded on the main drag on main street in a '88 Shelby Z which won't go into gear.

Not a good scenario.

So, I'm sitting at the stop sign, traffic all around me, five cars behind me and I can't find a #$%&@*!$ gear!

I know that the guy in the pickup truck behind me is looking at me throwing my shifter around and he's got to be thinking ... "Can this guy drive a stick?"

Yes, I can drive a stick ... if the stick will ever go into an actual gear.

I'm rowing the shifter, clutch in ... and I find ... second gear!


I'm going to take this Shelby to my mechanics to have it gone over.  I give the Shelby Z gas, spooling up the turbocharger and leave the stop sign in second gear under light boost.  I don't take it out of gear for the rest of the three miles distance to my mechanic though I do, amusingly, row the shifter back and forth, left and right, with no effect at all while I'm driving.

Man, this shifter linkage is really loose or broken or just ... worn completely out.

Over at my mechanic's place he sees me walk in, looks past me at what I just drove up in and asks me "What have you brought me now?"

"1988 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z." I say.

He puts his head down on his desk.

"You must really hate me, Shields." He moans and I laugh out loud.

"Do you want to see the world's most useless shifter?" I ask him.

He follows me out, sits in the Daytona, rows the shifter back and forth and laughs.

"That linkage is gone!  Gone!" he said, laughing.

"Well, she did come with a bunch of spare parts ..." I say, going to the hatch and opening up the rear.

Amazingly this is the first time today, the first time since I've owned the Daytona, that I've opened the rear hatch.  Normally on these cars when you buy them used you hope the previous owner either changed out the lift assist gas struts for the rear hatch (that hatch is heavy!) or they were kind enough to give you a stick to hold the hatch open until you can go and buy some new gas charged lift assist struts.  To my surprise the hatch goes up and stays up on its own!  Inside the rear hatch area are a bunch of boxes of spare parts.  I'm drawn to a large square box about the size of a box that a motorcycle helmet would come packaged in.  I look inside and ... 

Almost new shift linkages!

I show my mechanic.

"Is this what you're going to need."

He pulls the cables out, looks at them and nods.

"This just made my job a lot easier." he said, putting the cables back in the box.

"Okay.  Swap in the new shift linkages, check her out front to back, tell me what I've got and what I need to fix, check the AC, swap it out for the new stuff if it hasn't already been swapped out and ... give me a call."

A day later my mechanic calls ... the shifter is fixed and he didn't even need to use the new shift linkage.  Apparently there was a bracket on the transmission, held in by two bolts, and both bolts had almost worked their selves all the way out.  The bracket held the shift linkages and with the bracket almost about to fall off the linkages didn't work.  He put the bolts back in and the shifter worked fine in every gear.


I had a minor leak in the heater core control valve ... the part he could get no problem ... about $15 bucks.

I had a pin hole leak in my radiator ... the problem was that apparently no one made a replacement radiator for a '88 Shelby Z with the intercooled turbocharged 2.2 liter SOHC motor.


That's crazy!

He says his biggest supplier doesn't even list a part.  I tell him that I'll find a radiator and get back with him.  I find a radiator on the Internet but it's not the same part number as listed for the 2.2 Turbo II engine.  Grrrrr.  Just as I'm about to get on the forums my mechanic calls me back and we discuss options.  I ask him if I can just epoxy the pin hole and he thinks about it.  He's got a golf car with an electric battery, says that his battery cracked and he put some Gorilla Epoxy on it.  That's tough stuff since he's been using the same battery for three months now, epoxied, and the battery acid hasn't broken the epoxy yet.  I tell him I'll just epoxy the radiator until I can find a replacement and he says that should be fine.  It's a pin hole leak, barely anything, but it's going to get worse if I don't treat it.  I guess I'm going to have to find a radiator sooner than later.

And ... that's where it stands now.  The Shelby Z went into the shop the same day I received her and hopefully, in a few days, I'm going to get her back and start working her kinks out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Getting back on the horse that threw me ... sort of.

Well, it's been almost two years since emergency personnel, firefighters and EMTs cut me out of what was left of my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby thus ending the shortest time that I've ever owned a car.

With the destruction of the '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby I fell back to a '91 Chevy Corvette (L98, 4 speed automatic, FX3 suspension) as my daily driver and was pleasantly surprised at what an automatic C4 Corvette was capable of.  However, that Vette never quenched my passion for turbo Dodges or my desire to own another Dodge Daytona.I've been looking for something more economical to commute in than my '91 Chevy Corvette ... a cold weather / bad weather car for times when I couldn't ride my '04 Honda CBR600RR.  

I looked at several different types of commuter cars ... thought about getting another thirdgen Pontiac Firebird Formula (T-tops, WS6, maybe even another TBI car but I really wanted a stick car and a yellow one at that ... no luck finding one of those).  I wanted to spend about $2500 cash, more or less, and get a daily commuter / beater that I would get me to work and back and something ... fun.

Cars, at least for me, have NEVER been "just" transportation.  Life's too short to drive mediocre cars and I'm just not the kind of man (nor do I have the personality) to drive anything even remotely boring.

I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't miss my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby.  I miss my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby badly because not only was that car was amazing but it was a hell of a lot of fun.  It was economical, powerful, it handled well, it had some of the most bad ass non-ABS brakes on it that I'd ever stomped a foot on hard and I enjoyed the hell out of it.  That '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby turned heads wherever she went and she was taken away from me way too soon ... five months to the day that I bought it.

You can't tell it from this picture but that's me, with 20 stitches in my neck, a fractured T4 vertebrae, three fractured ribs, a concussion, cuts, scrapes, bruises, friction burns, a lot of pain and just out of the hospital after four days spent in a world of hurt.  Yeah, God was with me that morning and apparently it was just not my time to go swing wrenches in the Great Big Garage in the Sky.

So ... not finding a third gen Pontiac Formula, I started looking at maybe a Pontiac Grand Am ... a four door Ram Air sedan, white with a black or gray interior, again just a fun car but Pontiac's build quality (or lack thereof) is something that I'm familiar with on a personal level, especially in the vehicles that Pontiac built from about 1997 to the time that Pontiac went out of business.  All of the Grand Am GTs that I looked at were basically ... junk ... and while many of them were in the price range that I'd set for myself most if not all of them were ragged out or worn out.

Then I looked at the 2001 to 2004 Ford Mustang ... at first just a plain base model, again, a beater with a V6 to get me from Point A to Point B and back to Point A.  Then I got a wild hair and started getting a hard-on for a 2004 Ford Mustang Mach 1 with a stick (a nice red one) and I started putting plans in motion to get a 2004 Mustang Mach 1 ... but then I didn't want to spend that much out of my reserves for just a Mustang ... even a Mach 1.  

I loved the Ford Modular V8, especially the DOHC variants.  I played around with the idea of  owning a Mach 1 as a daily driver, read all the articles, watched the official and amateur reviews on Youtube, tried the Mach 1 on for size, looked at the mods that I could do ... and then one night I found myself back on a place that I hadn't been in almost two years; the Turbo Dodge message forums.

Why I was there ... or how I got there ... I don't really know.  Something drew me back to the ever dwindling population of the turbo Dodge tribe.  There I was looking at 5.0 liter TPI 5 speed Pontiac Firebird Formulas, Pontiac Grand Am V6 GTs, Ford Mustang coupes, Ford Mustang Mach 1s (not really a lot more fuel efficient than my '91 Vette but it was newer ...) ... and here I was in the shadows of the hallowed ground of the turbo Dodge tribe.  I looked around a bit, lurked a lot, found a few Daytonas that I liked, pursued a few in secret and lost out on three that I was following ... and was just about to give up and just accept that driving the Corvette was going to be something that I'd have to do for a commuter.

I guess I left something out here ... you see, in my garage I have a 2004 Honda CBR600RR super sport motorcycle (bone stock) that gets 42 miles per gallon, more or less, and a 1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (black and gold, Recaro factory interior, 5.0 liter TPI V8, four speed automatic, 9 bolt Borg Warner rear end, WS6 option, 16x8 aluminum wheels and T-tops).  At the time the Pontiac was my daily driver because the Corvette was in the shop getting some problems fixed.  Namely the Vette had started losing power, running rough and giving me a lot of problems.  Self-diagnosis pointed to a bad fuel filter or a failing fuel pump but once in the shop the problem was tracked down to a dead cylinder (courtesy of a clogged fuel injector) and two additional fuel injectors more than halfway clogged.  Tearing the fuel rail apart and replacing all the problematic Multec injectors with new Bosch III units meant that the Corvette was torn down for the better part of about three weeks.  During that time I drove my '86 Pontiac Trans Am almost daily.

I didn't like doing that because that TA is pretty much irreplaceable and each time I take it out in heavy traffic is another chance for it to wind up like my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby did.  I had a choice to make ... keep on driving the Corvette once it got back or park the Vette, the TA and the CBR in the garage and get me a beater ... something cheap that would keep me warm in winter, cool in the summer and dry when it was raining.  Something with some kind of trunk, some spirited performance, good handling, air conditioning, cruise control and better fuel economy than either the '91 Vette or the '86 TA.

And ... that's how I wound up on the turbo Dodge message forums looking for another turbo Dodge to replace my wrecked '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby.  I found another '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby, silver in color, T-tops and 5 speed but it was a little rough and by the time I got serious about it the Shelby was sold which was probably for the best.  

There was a '86 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z down in Florida, silver, black interior, digital dash, T-tops, automatic, Turbo I engine, and the rare C/S option (with some really funky blue color accents) but I just didn't want to pay $4500 for the car (I could, easily, I just didn't want to) and besides I really wanted a red '86 if it was a T-tops, black interior, C/S optioned Turbo Z.  My wife has owned two silver cars in her life and she hates the color silver.  I can't say that I'm fond of it either on a first gen Daytona so ultimately, nice as the '86 silver Turbo Z was I decided not to buy it.

There was another Daytona Shelby Z that I'd followed shortly after my wreck ... this one in Canada ... but the more I looked at getting that Shelby across the border the more trouble it seemed like and ultimately I told the owner that I was going to pass mainly on the sheer amount of red tape and paperwork.

So, after several false starts and having missed out on buying a few cars I resigned myself to probably never owning another turbo Dodge.  I took one last chance and went to the "Wanted to Buy" forum and placed an ad stating that I was looking for a 1986 to 1989 Dodge Daytona.  I wanted a Turbo Z with the C/S package, a Shelby Z or a Daytona Shelby model and ... well, here's the ad I placed on the WTB forum.  Not four hours later I had a response that would lead to my new turbo Dodge acquisition.

Steve, the owner of the '88 Daytona Shelby Z and I corresponded by private messages and emails.  I asked Steve to send me any pictures that he could and here's what I received from him.

There are obvious paint issues but paint isn't an issue with me (I can always get paint).  The interior looked almost mint ... and the engine looked clean enough to eat off of.  The Shelby Z had really high miles at 216k but my coworker said he had an uncle who had a 2.2 in a K-Car that got nearly 450k miles on it and this motor already had some engine work done to it like new rings and fuel injectors.  The Shelby Z came with a lot of rare spare parts including two spare engine computers, two spare navigational computers, rare interior and exterior trim, two pull shades, T-top bags, a full set of factory service manuals, an almost brand new set of shifter linkages and a lot of other parts.

The '88 Shelby Z was a pretty rare car given its options and color scheme.  Bright White with a Bordeaux (wine) colored interior put the '88 in the same color scheme as my first turbo Dodge that I'd owned way back in junior college in 1988 to 1990 ... my '86 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z.

Here's a picture, circa the summer of 1989, of my old '86 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z, Bright White with Bordeaux interior.  The only thing that kept this Turbo Z from being "perfect" was it was a hardtop car.  I can't stand a hardtop car ... gotta have my T-tops ... when the engine under the hood starts screaming I want some serious wind blowing through (what's left of) my hair.  I've always been that way ... but I digress.

Steve said that he would take $2700 for the '88 Shelby and a few hours of solemn contemplation later I told Steve that I'd take the Shelby.  The high mileage didn't bother me because if the motor goes to hell I can always replace it with a new motor from Forward Motion which is part of the plan for the '88 Shelby Z anyway ... drive it until parts start to fail then start replacing the parts with high performance replacements ... new engine, new head, new turbocharger, new intercooler ... etc.  FM told me that I could easily get 375 front wheel horsepower out of a daily driver ... and if you wonder what that kind of power will do in a Dodge Daytona Shelby Z let me show you my role model for performance, the Badass Performance Shelby Z.  For what it's worth, the red Badass Performance Shelby Z is running as fast, modified, as my '04 Honda CBR600RR runs stock in the quarter mile.

For the kind of performance these turbo Dodges are capable of with only a few grand thrown at them, check out the Badass Performance Shelby Z, a 29 year old four cylinder MOPAR K-car derivative, owning a brand new 5.0 liter Mustang GT ...

These G-body turbo Dodges have serious performance capability ... the 2.2 liter SOHC four cylinder under the hood flows some serious air and fuel and they are fairly easy to modify.  That and the turbo Dodge community was blessed with a really, really strong manual transmission, the A555, which I've seen in stock condition handle several hundred horsepower so I knew that if I was lucky enough to get another '86 to '89 turbo Dodge I could get some serious power out of it and still retain good economy and have a car that no one else had and have a car that was a blast to drive.

And then Hurricane Mathew hit Florida and it was a race to get my new '88 Shelby Z out of Florida before any storm damage could take my turbo Dodge out.  I used Upbeat Express to get the car shipped to me and the price was a very reasonable $575 ... much cheaper than the cost had been to ship my '91 Corvette to me just a year and a half earlier.  I can't recommend Upbeat Express enough ... courteous, fast and their deliver driver was about the friendliest and nicest guy I'd ever met that worked in that line of work.

So ... while I miss my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby greatly ... I've got another chance at turbo Dodge ownership with my third Dodge Daytona.

Gone but not forgotten ...

The '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby, the '86 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and my '04 Honda CBR600RR ... better days with a family picture taken in July of 2014.

So ... it's a new start.  Soon I'll have my third turbo Dodge and they say that the third time is the charm.

Fingers crossed.

Now it's all down to the waiting.  The '88 Shelby will get picked up tomorrow in Saint Petersburg, Florida and delivered to me here in Columbia, MS on Monday or Tuesday via Upbeat Express and open carrier.