A 33 foot stretch limo that was formerly owned by a
famous run down strip club in Miami.
Two small TV’s that dated back to the beginning of the Clinton era.
Cheap burgundy upholstery that I probably would never want to study with a forensic light.
104,000 miles, and a corded phone right next to the champagne glasses in the mini-bar. Oh, and it was a Cadillac. Not just any Cadillac. But the last of the old-school rear wheel drive Cadillac Fleetwoods with rear-wheel drive and the 350 V8.
Everyone screws up at some point when it comes to cars. But when I screw up… it’s something truly special.
This limo from Stripper Central had wheels that were (cough! cough!) begging for what most mother’s call “negative attention”.
These were 90′s era gangsta wheels that, here in Georgia, are the rolling equivalent of MC Hammer pants.
The reason why I bought this rolling showcase of 90′s era bling was the same reason why most car dealers and hobbyists end up buying this stuff.
We got drunk and saw it on Craigslist.
Now, in my case, someone from Alabama had already seen my own personal screw-up of a badly bought vehicle. A 2007 Crown Vic Police Interceptor that had been overhauled to a point of being practically brand new.
Transmission replaced recently? Check!
Suspension overhauled? Big check.
A stack of papers that made the history of this car look like a paperback book? A never ending stack of papers and check copies.
I paid a bit for the Interceptor since it was so new mechanically. About $2600 in total. Drove it for a bit around town just to revel in what was a good deal on paper.
And then… nothing… nobody wanted a gas guzzling police car. It sat for months on end.
So what did I do? Well, first I got the phone call.
“My name is Sherman K Wires June-yah! I have a Cadillac stretch limo and an old Inidan bike I’m tryin’ to sell. You want to do any tradin’ with that police car?”
My business is right near Deliverance country and, as such, I’ll pretty trade anything except chickens and tomatoes. I have a neighbor back a bit who raises both and I got all of those I need.
In the south, you get more than your share of folks who want to trade due to their own car’s mechanical issues. More times than not, you’re better off not doing it.
“Tell me about em’?” and thus started a 30 minute monologue I put on speakerphone while drinking bourbon, and going on Craigslist to look at the pictures of his two vehicles.
The first thing I noticed was that the Indian motorcycle was a fake. Fake Indians are as common as kudzu around here thanks in large part to a powersport auction that gets thousands of repossessed motorcycles every single month. The first play toys to bite the dust are always the phony ones. Yesterday’s Chinese scooters with Honda-esque names to them have largely been replaced with full-blown imitators of classic machinery.
So that Indian was out. But a Cadillac limo? Hell, I had never bought a limo before. May be worth at least checking out now…
I ended up falling in love with the old bastard. It had that perfect combination of retro-kitsch and “Look at me!” uniqueness to it. I drove the Crown Vic to central Alabama through winding one lane roads, and met the fellow halfway.
Within ten minutes we exchanged keys and papers. I was shocked to find out that this behemoth could actually manage right near 20 miles per gallon if you kept it going at a 50 to 60 mile per hour clip. Just don’t press hard on the accelerator. Ever.
My goal was to surprise my wife by rolling it up to our driveway.
Well I certainly did, and I managed to surprise a lot of neighbors as well who knew my regular work. Pretty soon, I was filling up the limo with folks I had known since forever and giving them a joyride.
There were lots of ideas hatching up in my enterprising little head while I took that drive. Most of them bad ones.
The Atlanta Braves will soon be coming to about 15 miles from where I now live. So why not create a party/limo service to that new stadium and back?
Well, there were liability concerns. Old car concerns. People potentially barfing in a 100 square foot space with only two rear doors for ventilation. All of these things conspired to keep me conservative with that use and abuse.
Then I thought about putting a big wrap around it and advertising it at the big box stores a few miles from my car lot. Other nearby dealerships use old military trucks to hang banners and pollute the aesthetics of the nearby Walmart and Home Depot parking lots. So why not do the same with a vehicle that people would actually want to ride in?
To be blunt, I just saw it as hokey, and this thing had a neverending assortment of electrical issues that required a battery jump if I let it sit for a few days… which always happened. $2000 for a wrap seemed like a lot. But I realized that a supersized magnet could be had for about a tenth of the price. So financially, that was in the running. I just never warmed up to it.
In the end, I just used the old limo as my own personal party and fun time vehicle. I took my wife and her friends to the movie theater when it came time for her birthday. I used it for my son’s birthday as well along with one of my mechanic’s kids. When Black Friday came, I was able to get a 32″ TV mounted on the wall behind the driver.
So now I had 3 TV’s. A ton of leather, and a vehicle that gets easily noticed wherever I took it.
That was the good news. The bad news was that like all novelties, I got tired of it after a while. It took up space. It required a lot of little things to be done which all soon added up, and this past week I finally sold it for $2800.
So now I have one less limo in my life. As for other automotive screw-ups, I have plenty to share. Dozens in fact. But what about you? Have you ever bought a fun vehicle that became a rolling mistake as soon as you were given the keys?