Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It wasn't meant to end this way ...

Monday morning on my way to work I woke up behind the steering wheel of my car, people are reaching into my car, telling me that everything was going to be okay, that I've been involved in a major vehicular accident and that they were about to cut the roof of my car off in order to get me out ... then someone threw a heavy white cloth over my head and I heard the jaws of life start to cut apart the metal roof of my car. 

Someone in a Chevy Colorado pickup had hit me from behind at full speed while I was stopped at the redlight at the intersection at the Sam's Club on Highway 98.  

I don't know how I survived and l was unconscious until the rescue personnel could get there and get me out of the car.   I'm currently at Forrest General Hospital but should be released in the next couple days. I had a laceration to my neck that took 20 stitches to close and another laceration to my left cheek. I told the trauma team not to worry about being neat because they couldn't make me any uglier ... even after an impact like that and going through all that I did I still had my dark sense of humor.

Multiple bruises, friction burns, mesentery bruising of my lower intestine, three fractured ribs and a fractured T4 vertebrae. I was wearing my seatbelt. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't been. Today's the first day I've been able to actually get out of bed and move around some though with a great deal of difficulty and pain.  It could have been a lot worse and I really don't know how I survived ... short of the grace of God.  

I'll miss the Daytona. 

Just when I got all the kinks worked out of it someone totals it for me.   I think I owned the Daytona a sum total of 5 months and everyone who has followed this blog knows how much effort and time I put into that little Dodge.  Life just isn't fair but the Daytona did her duty and sacrificed herself to protect me and I can't even imagine the forces or physics involved in the impact.

CT scans are good and neuro and trauma are going to sign off on me soon so other than being really sore for a few months I'll be okay. 

God is great and powerful!

Sadly, this is the end of the Daytona Diary.  What was to become a living blog about the restoration and ownership of a very rare 1980's Dodge sports car has come to a tragic end albeit one with a silver lining; I'm still alive.  It was a great little car that gave me a lot of fun and pleasure to drive and I really enjoyed working on it.  Like all of the cars that I've owned this one was an adventure albeit a short adventure.  The little red Shelby turned heads everywhere I drove it and I was just a few steps away from repainting it and restriping it back to factory original condition.

So ... I'm short a daily driver and I'll be looking for something to replace the Daytona, maybe even another Daytona but a Shelby like the one I had is a once in a lifetime find.  I'd have to be pretty lucky to find another '89 Shelby with T-tops and I think I've used up a good portion of my luck in the last few days.

Be careful out there.

That's looking from the back to the front of the car, that's the rear bumper and tag shoved all the way into the rear seat.

From the rear bumper forward the only part of the Daytona that was not crushed was the space immediately around the driver's seat (me), the dash and everything else forward of the windshield.  Rescue personnel basically just cut what was left of the roof of the Daytona off and pushed it off the Dodge before extracting me.

It almost looks like a Smart Car here ...  The entire rear suspension is twisted the wrong way and the spare tire is now part of the back seat.

Twenty stitches in my neck.  Just a little bit difference in location and ... yeah.

The Daytona as she sat on Thursday when I was released from the hospital.  My wife drove me over to look at the Dodge and take pictures because up until that point I'd only seen the pictures that she had taken on her phone.  Seeing it in person, what was left of it, was a really eye opening experience.  The impact energies must have been almost unimaginable.

There's the driver's seat.  I'm guessing that they cleaned everything up at the scene of the wreck and just shoveled it in but that's where the EMTs and rescue personnel cut me out of.  Everything else was crushed.  If my wife and two daughters had been with me in the car they would have been killed instantly by the impact.

Again, looking back to front.  What a waste of a rare car ...

There's where they cut the roof off and another view of the driver's seat where they cut me out of my womb of twisted metal and plastic.

Me in my sweats ... the only thing that felt comfortable enough to wear out of the hospital.  That's just a size shot showing you how compressed the Daytona had become in the wreck.  Imagine me sitting in the driver's seat, belted in, and having to be cut out of that wreck.

Another shot of the damage.  The interior basically folded in all around me.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Memories shared with a stranger

I was pulling private security yesterday morning when an older man with his wife, say both in their early '60's, walked up to where I was standing by my Daytona Shelby.  He was wearing a black leather jacket like me and he looked the Daytona over with a sharp eye.  

He told me that he hadn't seen a Daytona in decades and couldn't believe he was seeing one now.  

He asked me if I remembered when Dale Earnhardt had once raced Daytonas in the IROC race series and I told him that I remembered that ... early 1990's when Chevy lost the IROC series to Dodge and the Daytona replaced the Camaro as the body style / car that the champions raced in.

That's when the Chevy Camaro IROC-Z stopped production and the Dodge Daytona IROC began production.  For what it's worth, the Daytona IROC is rarer than a set of balls on a democrat so if you find one, grab it (the Daytona IROC, not the democrat's balls ...).

The man asked about the history of my Daytona.  I told him that I was restoring the Daytona and that it was probably the only Shelby in Mississippi.  He agreed, saying he hadn't seen another Daytona let alone a Shelby in a long time.  He also told me to restore the car and that judging by looks alone that I had a good start on the project.

Still loving this Daytona and no problems since the fuel line so ...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Super Happy Fun Time! Geyser of Death!!!!

The '89 Daytona Shelby in the parking lot of my wife's school.  I love this car.  So much fun to drive, so much aggravation (sometimes).  Every day you learn something new about it like how to set, arm and disarm the factory alarm (see previous entry).   

Every day, something new is learned like take for instance the fact that little did I know that right after I shut the Daytona off the Underwear Gnomes from "South Park" magically appeared under my hood and took their little gnome knives and cut one of my fuel lines.

"Phase One: Cut fuel line."

"Phase Three:  Profit!"

Uh ... What about Phase Two?


Phase Two ...

Phase Two: Fireball!

Not only do these little guys steal underwear but
they also cut fuel lines when you're not looking.

Yes, unbeknownst to me (that's a big word not often used), a high pressure fuel line had just cracked under the hood and as soon as I restarted the engine high pressure fuel would just spray all over the underside of the hood and all over the engine.  I learned this.  The hard way.  This was the lesson the Daytona taught me at 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon at my wife's school.  

Life is funny strange like that.  Yes, it is, which is what keeps life interesting.

My '86 Pontiac Trans Am and my '89 Daytona Shelby have two different mechanical personalities.   

The '86 TA is like "Well, I've run perfectly for a whole year now. I wonder what 28 year old part I can break that will strand Christopher on the side of the road?"

The '89 Daytona is like "Well, I've run perfectly for a week now.  I wonder what 25 year old part I can break that will strand Christopher on the side of the road?"


Like, for realsies.

So ... I'm off on Fridays.  I drive the Daytona to my wife's school to pick up my two daughters after school.  I park the Daytona, take the T-tops off, roll the windows down and wait on my daughters to come out so I can take them home early.  After about thirty minutes, my daughters come out, I pack their school gear away in the hatchback and we're off to get an after school snack.  I get my girls in the Daytona, I get their school packs and band instruments stowed.

I start the Daytona.

I smell gas.

I really smell gas, fresh gas.

My oldest daughter comments on this.

I drive out of my parking spot and two parking spots away where my wife is loading her things into her car.  The gas smell is still there only not as strong.  I'm thinking what it could be ... my daughter comments on the gas smell and my wife says she smells it as well.  Then my wife looks back to where my Daytona was parked and says that there's a dark spot where I parked the car.  I drive two parking spots back over, park beside the spot, get out and look at it.

Greasy, dark.

I run two fingers through it, greasy, dark.

I smell it.


I go to my knee and look under the Daytona.

Something is pouring out from under the right front passenger side of the engine bay, puddling below the Daytona.


I reach in, pull the hood latch and pop the hood and this is what I get to see ...

So, yeah.  Glad this fuel leak happened in the parking lot and not at 70mph on the highway after some spirited driving.  Spraying raw fuel on a hot engine, hot exhaust or a red hot turbocharger is not a good thing ... it's more like a recipe for a fireball.

That plastic braided line is one of two high pressure fuel lines.  You don't see the other plastic braided line because I've removed the cracked line.  That's fresh fuel spray all over the strut tower, valve cover, intake manifold, fire wall, dash cover, etc. etc.

Cough, please.  The fuel line that ruptured is in a pretty tight place.  Not hard, just ... tight.  You have to worm your way into it with both hands and use just your fingers to try to wriggle the rubber fuel line off of the hard line.  Get out your big box of 64 Crayola Crayons and color this "Tedious Chore".

Yours truly hard at work on one of his toys.  My oldest daughter has gotten my iPhone 5c and is just snapping away with the pictures.  It could have been worse.  A lot worse.  This is an easy fix.  I probably could have done it with my Gerber multi-tool on the side of the road but I didn't want the aggravation so I ran home and got my small ratchet set and a small pry bar ... and a roll of shop towels and a bottle of Fast Orange hand cleaner.

Fresh blown fuel and old engine grease makes for a wretched mess on your hands.

Cleaning up afterwards, best I can with some Fast Orange and shop towels.  

The next few pictures can only be described as ... "Sigh."




Back running and only half the vocabulary of a drunken sailor on shore leave used while replacing the fuel line.  Just another entry in the 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby diary.  I love this car.

She hates me but I love her.

It's almost like a marriage, with kids.  Yeah, if they made a sitcom about me and my turbo Dodge it would have to be written by the same people who did "Married.  With Kids" and it would follow along the same lines only I'd be "Al Bundy" and the Dodge would definitely be "Peg Bundy."

Shelby valve cover

It has arrived.  It will be installed, soon.

As it sits now.

With the Shelby VC set against the firewall for show.

The Shelby VC.  The oil cap is a bit loose so I'll just use mine.
I'm going to clean up the VC soon.  It could use a little TLC.

What's a little bit sad is that these valve covers only came on Shelby America modified cars or cars that were purchased through MOPAR dealerships then taken to Shelby America to be extensively modified and then returned to the customer under warranty through the dealership.  Having one of these valve covers means that one of the Shelby America cars, sadly, is no more.  You have to junk one of those legendary cars to get its valve cover.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1989 Dodge Dealer Product Manual

I scored this on Ebay for $13 bux ... rare 1989 Dodge full line product manual with extensive chapters on every model offered showing all colors, options, etc.  I have a complete set of these types of dealer manuals for the third gen Pontiac Firebird (1982 to 1992) and I didn't even think about these existing for the Daytona.  When one for 1989 popped up I knew I had to buy it because face it, this is a 25 year old dealer manual that was probably considered disposable at the end of the model year way back then.  Finding one today is rare so it's going to be nice to have to display with my 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby.

Next up ... the complete shop manual set for this car.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A strange compliment and ... stranded again.

I took a short lunch at Floyd's Grill in Hattiesburg (over on 4th street, I recommend it) and when I was leaving a sandy haired kid in a PT Cruiser pulled in right behind the Daytona, blocking me from backing out.  I was just opening the door to the Daytona to get in when the kid rolled down the passenger side window of the PT Cruiser and shouted "Hey, man!  You're driving something you don't see every day!"  Then the kid rolled up the window of the PT Cruiser and drove off.

Strange but ... okay.


After lunch the Daytona stranded me at the Walgreen's Pharmacy on Highway 98 west near Turtle Creek Mall and ... I can't blame anyone but myself.  It's not the Daytona's fault, no, it's my own fault for not understanding just what I had and what she could / would do.

Let me explain.

The reason that she stranded me is the factory installed optional alarm system.

I tripped it, by accident, and I didn't even know that I'd armed it or tripped it so, yeah, stranded.

When I bought the Daytona, John told me about the alarm system that he had the factory install before delivery was taken at the dealership and he gave me the remote to arm / disarm the system.  When I got the Daytona home I never used the alarm system ... that and she was always in the shop for the better part of the summer getting the gremlins worked out ... I just put the alarm remote in a tray in a drawer of my endtable by my bed at home and forgot about it.  Well, I mean I knew where it was if I ever needed it but I figured I'd never need it.


So, there's a tiny sensor / control unit on the dash ... just to the right of the jerryrigged horn button (because the steering wheel horn buttons don't work anymore) and to the left of the factory stereo.  Yeah, that little piece above the glass break sensor is the arming switch.  It has two lights; green for valet (alarm deactivated) and red for alarm (activated).  There's a tiny, tiny, very touch sensitive micro switch next to the green LED light ... you'd almost think it was just a ridge in the design.  

It's not.  

It's a micro switch that arms or disarms the Daytona's factory installed alarm system.  Touching that switch, breathing on it lightly, moving your hand near it within 2 feet or looking at it wrong switches the alarm from valet to active.  Activating the alarm will make the Daytona bark loudly and strand you with a quickness.

This is good and bad.

Good if someone is trying to steal your rare '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby.

Bad if you accidentally trip the alarm yourself.

Somehow, I switched the alarm on and didn't know it.  

I got out of the Daytona at the pharmacy, walked in, got two Altoids tins to build urban survival kits for my bug out bag and when I walked out I stuck my key in the door, turned the lock, opened the door and all hell broke loose.  At first I couldn't believe it was my Daytona that was making all the noise but it was.  The alarm has a separate horn that is really different in pitch than the factory horn which is why I probably spent ten seconds standing there next to my Daytona wondering which car in the parking lot had an alarm that was going off (it's a really busy / loud intersection so it wasn't immediately apparent that it was the Daytona's alarm that had been tripped, especially since the alarm horn sounded completely different than the Daytona's horn that I was used to).

I stood there after ten seconds shaking my head and just softly saying ... "No."




Okay, denial phase was over so let's see ... turn the key in the door lock?


Lock the Daytona with the power locks.  Shut the door.  Use the ignition key to open the door?


Stick the key in the ignition?


Alarm has locked out the ignition.  Completely.

I'm not going anywhere and the Daytona is barking like mad.

I laugh because it's just part of the adventure.  Another aspect of the Daytona's personality that I've discovered, by accident, and at a totally inopportune time.

I sit in the Daytona and the alarm shuts off.  Thank goodness for small favors.  I open the glove compartment, pull out all of the documentation that John gave me and find the optional alarm information.  I start to read it, for the first time since I've owned the Daytona (going on 4 months now) and it tells me how the alarm works, how to activate it, what it does ...  Okay, green is good, red is bad.  I look at the indicator on the dash: red.  I play with the activation button, switching it from valet to armed and back.  Okay, that works.  I stick the key in and try to crank the Daytona.

She doesn't like that.

She disables her ignition and starts barking.  Again.

So I sit there, in a barking Daytona, in the parking lot of a local Walgreen's pharmacy, and I re-read the instructions on how to use the factory installed alarm system.  I now know how to activate it, switch modes ... but how do you deactivate it?

You use the key fob.

The key fob.

Which is in a small plastic tray, in the middle drawer of my bedside end table at my house.

35 miles away, due west.

I put my head back in the seat cushion and laugh to myself.

Okay, I've never used the factory alarm system before but now I not only know how it works but I also know that it does work.  Extremely well.  Verily it doth.  I jest you not.

I call one of my coworkers and explain the situation.  Twenty minutes later he's there in his car to take me to my house.  So far, my 30 minute lunch is turning into a 3 hour lunch.  My coworker drives me home, it takes me 3 minutes to go into my house, get my remote, and get back in his car.  We drive 35 miles back to Hattiesburg.  I'm still laughing because I'm thinking that maybe it's not the alarm but something in the electronics has shorted (the Daytona's alarm never went off before) and that thought does not give me any kind of happiness.  I begin to hope that it's just something simple like the alarm got tripped and the remote will fix all of the problems.

We get back to the Walgreen's and I hope that the batteries in the remote are still good.  I point the remote at the Daytona and press the button.  The remote has two buttons on it marked "1" and "2".  Amazing, the thinking that went into the design of this remote for the alarm system.  I press "1" and hear the power door locks engage.  I try the door.


Okay, wrong button.

I press the button marked "2" and hear the door locks disengage.

Fingers crossed (figuratively speaking) I open the driver's side door, sit in the driver's seat, put the key in the ignition, turn the key in the ignition and ... varrrroooom!


It was something simple after all.

I look down at the alarm indicator panel, touch the selector and set the alarm back to valet mode.

I will never leave the house without the Daytona's alarm remote ever again, especially now that I know how to work it.

So, another aspect of the Daytona learned the hard way but, despite the 75 mile extra round trip I had to make today to get the remote key fob, it was something simple so ... Hooray!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

MOPAR 2.2 / 2.5 FWD Book

Wow!  I finally scored one off Ebay, new in shrink wrap.  I look forward to receiving this just for the historical pictures and the background on these cars.  Lucky me.  If I hadn't bought it I promise you someone else would have and it wouldn't have been there this time tomorrow.

"This auction is for the Mopar Performance 2.2 / 2.5 FWD Performance book produced by Chrysler 's Direct Connection Performance Division. If you own a 2.2 FWD Shelby Dodge car this book is a must have. Packed full of turbo, 8 valve, 16 valve info besides the carb'd and tbi engines. This book also takes you thru the history of the 2.2 - 2.5 motors from the early 80's up to the early 90's including showing you the original performance racing parts from Carroll Shelby and Direct Connection.

Here's how Mopar describes the book: This newly updated and revised speed secrets and performance modifications book from Mopar Performance Parts is for anyone interested in modifying their Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge 2.2L or 2.5L FWD vehicle. Both turbo and non-turbo-charged versions are covered in great detail. This comprehensive book also includes performance strategies and technical information on automatic transmissions and torque converters, manual transmissions and clutches, axle shafts, front and rear suspension components, steering and handling, brakes, bodies, chassis and roll cages, shock/struts, springs, wheels and tires. Indispensable for serious 2.2L and 2.5L FWD racers and performance enthusiasts. Covers all types of racing. (389 pages) P5007162 2.2/2.5 FWD-4th Edition

This book is now out of print so don't miss your chance to pick up a brand new copy that is still sealed."