As you read in Chapter 1, we found our race car. She was a beauty. She was ready to soar through the kink at CMP at track record speeds…well, not really… it doesn’t actually do anything a car should do (such as propel itself and stop). We started making a list of problems to fix, and promptly decided we should stop making lists. Some discussion was had about how to proceed with a cage and seat but the main questing lingering in the room was “What is going to power this thing?” The veteran lemoniers say to go with a drivetrain you are familiar with… or an iron duke. We determined we have experience with CRX’s (1.6), MGB’s (1.8), Kia Sephia’s (1.8), and Ford Contours (2.5). Bigger is better right? We set out in search of a Contour…
After a few weeks of searching we found a non-running SVT Contour “parts car” listed on craigslist for $400… and it was only about a 4 hour drive from us! We convinced our female companions what a great deal this was and started hooking up the trailer. In exchange for bringing another junk heap into our yard, we had to also agree to take the ladies along for the trip and visit IKEA (about an hour from where we were picking up the car).
So… here we are, two couples nicely confined in a SuperCab F250, driving through the boondocks of South Carolina. Hour after hour, the roads kept getting more narrow and dirtier. The interstates were far behind us. The abundance of gas stations and businesses turned into fence posts with rusty barbed wire and trees. A few cows made up the entirety of life we saw for miles on end. After a few hours of listening to the banjos the GPS says “You have reached your destination!”…A one lane dirt driveway. We cautiously make the turn and instantly know we’ve found the right place. Cars…Everywhere. We’ve all been to junkyards…but this was different. There was no real rhyme or reason to what cars he had or where they were located… just…cars. We made our way down the car-lined dirt road to the “shop”. This shop was a slab of concrete with a couple lifts and a roof overhead. Awesome, right? The proprietor of this fine establishment, James, greeted us with a smile and handshake and showed us to the Contour. It was clear that James was a fellow gearhead; he had permanently black fingernail tips, grease streaked forehead, and red shop towel hanging from his back pocket. We explained our plans and gave him a brief understanding of lemons. His response? “Hell far, that sounds fun! Ya’ll are nuts.”
An SVT Contour for $400? Too good to be true? You’re right… It was. I’ll spare you the long boring details of piecing together the car’s history, but this is essentially what the car has been through. James had come to possess the car from his brother, who had bought the thing from another previous owner who we’ll call Paul Walker. Paul liked NOS, underglows, tribal stickers, and attempting engine swaps. The NOS obviously blew up the first motor. Paul tried swapping the motor and was in way over his head, so it sat in his yard for some considerable amount of time, not running. This is period of time is when tree fell on the car. The car got sold to James’ brother, all the Autozone ‘go fast’ parts were removed, and a few body panels were sold. This brings us up to date to the present state of the vehicle… Myself and Aaron were standing with James looking at this Contour with a nice tree shaped ‘dent’ in it, a motor that has clearly never run in the car, missing sparkplugs, missing hood, wires from missing lights hanging out of every panel, NOS lines still draped through the cabin, and a few boxes of random parts still unattached from the botched engine swap. So what did we do? We promptly make an offer and start loading it up, of course! James grabs his trusty Bronco II and a rope and pulls it out of the field for us. The Three of us started pushing it up onto the trailer and quickly decided the come-along was the better option. We paid James the agreed upon $350 and headed on our way to IKEA, where we were forced to spend two times more on cheap furniture than we had buying the Contour! On the bright side, the Contour made a great place to store our newly bought IKEA goodies.