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March 28, 2005
Almost all of my life I've ridden motorcycles. I've had over 50 of them since my first one when I was 14 years old and I've pretty much lived for motorcycling. Because of the pain and loss of strength in my legs about 8 years ago I started switching to sidecar rigs and since that time I've often wished that I'd have discovered them many years ago. They are a blast. I've had three Russian Ural rigs of which two where two-wheel-drive models that were wonderful in the winter, and I now have a 2002 Moto Guzzi Stone Metal with a Russian "Sputnik" sidecar frame and a Chinese "Flying Tiger" police sidecar. The rig is quite customized and is an incredible machine but of late it has even been getting harder and harder for me to ride even that. Even a 100 mile ride affects my legs and shoulders to the point that it takes me several days to recover so it won't be long before I'm not able to ride a motorcycle at all. If you are interested in reading my diaries about those rigs go to the main page at http://www.sheldonaubut.com and you will find links to all of them.
For some time I've known that my riding days were numbered so I've been looking around for something fun that I can get that won't require a great deal of work to make a runner and that I can have fun with. I've looked at Subaru SVXes, Mitsubish 3000GTs, even Mercedes Benz SLK 230 sports cars and of course SX/4s. I've really wanted something that Patti and I could use for TSD (Time, Speed, Distance) road rallies as I used to do many of them and I think she would really find them enjoyable. I've also been intrigued of late by the fairly new sport of "RallyCross" which is pretty much doing an autocross timed event on a MotoCross dirt track and the SX/4 seems like it would more than meet my needs and at a relatively low price. I've been watching the ads but have seen few SX/4s and most of the ones I've seen were automatics. I've an aversion for automatic transmissions and have hoped to find one with the four speed, a "Sport", six cylinder in either maroon or black so I was pleasantly surprised to find this one. Luckily my left leg has quite a bit of strength left so working the clutch shouldn't be a problem for several years.
Saw an ad at http://www.autoextra.com for a SX/4 located in Missouri. Gave the guy a call and found that it has 112,000 miles on it and has been parked for most of the last two years but the owner takes it out once in a while for a drive around the block. It is in pretty good shape with only a few dings on the doors and some rust on the back hatch near and under the spoiler. There also seems to be a little rust under the door sills, but that is about it. It has after-market wheels but they don't look too bad. The seats have tears in the cloth and there are a few scuffs on the console but it does have the optional gauge pack. A rebuilt engine was put in at about 95,000 miles.
April 20, 2005
April 27, 2005
I should have the car some time next week.
April 29, 2005
May 1, 2005
Once the car warmed up it ran great. It was in four-wheel-drive
and all seemed tight and working fine. Seems to shift nicely, clutch seem
pretty good, suspension seems tight, no clunks or thumps at all. Tire are
good but there was one problem that showed up the moment I turned on the heater.
It was 35 degrees here so I turned it on and the windshield immediately
fogged with that ugly greenish fog that comes from a leaking heater core.
I looked in the passenger foot-well and sure enough it was leaking pretty good.
I guess that after the carburetor that will be my second project. I have a
Chilton's repair manual for this car and I looked it up and it looks like it is
quite a big job to swap out a heater core, it being behind the dashboard. I'm not looking forward to it
but it is part of the price of getting a 22 year old car.
The interior is pretty good except for the driver's seat which is quite torn up. I'm probably just going to put on some seat covers for now until I can find an auto upholstery shop that can replace the torn seat panels. I need to find the end cap for the seat mechanism which is broken and gone. Also I'm trying to figure out what the broken-off knob is to the right of the steering column.
I can't figure out where the hood release is on this thing! After I post this stuff I'll go back out and try to get it open so I can check the oil and other fluids.
Originally I was going to try to find a set of original equipment aluminum wheels but once I saw these in person I think cleaning them up and repainting the centers will be all it needs. They actually are pretty sharp. Another early project will be to re-do the trailer hitch. Rusted and really ugly but it is just a bumper hitch and I doubt that it would be strong enough to pull my double snowmobile trailer with my Moto Guzzi sidecar rig on it.
Good news is that my wife, Patti, took a look at the car and loved it. I always buy such weird vehicles that I was sure she was expecting it to be some kind of ugly monster but she was very impressed. Of course I've been talking of getting a SX/4 for about two years and I've shown here many photos of them so she was probably prepared for this one.
12:45 Jim Blair on the AMC_Eagle list told me that the broken handle to the right of the steering wheel was the hood latch. I'd tried pulling on it thinking that might have been it but once he told me then I put a vice grip on it and pulled and popped the hood just as the heavens opened up with SNOW. I decided to wait a bit before crawling under the car to take photos until the snow stopped. Also he and the previous owner now assure me that the oil pressure gauges in these things are "for entertainment purposes only." I'm told the only way to know for sure is to hook up a mechanical gauge.
1:15 Snow stopped and the sun came out. Strange weather. Went out to take some more photos, check the oil and other fluids. Oil seems to be at full so now my hope is that it is the gauge. I'll have to go pick up an after-market gauge and check the pressure. I also need to change oil and filter right away. Got a chance to crawl under the car and look for rust. The front of the frame rails are rusted pretty bad and the rocker panels are gone but other than that it looks pretty solid under there.
One thing that has kinda been bothering me: When I bought my new 81 Eagle I remember one of the big selling points was their alliance with Ziebart anti-rust coatings. That was one of the Eagle's best selling points. Supposedly the bodies and frames were dipped in big vats of Ziebart before they were painted. Sure didn't seem to help this car.
May 24, 2005
April 16, 2006
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