Super Piston Slap: Wish You Were Here, Herr Johnson!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
super piston slap wish you were here herr johnson
Perhaps you’ve read about Davey G Johnson, the pioneer online car scribe that never lost his “voice” as he rose up journalism’s ranks. He was a sounding board for my autoblogging career (at it were), a TTAC well wisher and a willing partner in the Mehta brother’s looney misadventures. And now, every time time I see the red lights on TTAC’s Yoast SEO plug-in, I’m reminded how his SEO-unfriendly ledes weaved a story with seemingly no connection to the automobile covered, but he made it work before you had to click to see more. Nobody did it like Herr Johnson: making my last face-to-face with the legend even more bittersweet. Because the finale to our conversation is so suitably Davey… Upon his last visit to Houston, Davey cut my brother a check and drove back the very same 6.9 Benz he delivered years ago. It was a proud moment for all of us, especially me: I grew weary of the issues plaguing this particular W116 Benz.Since Davey always [s]tolerated[/s] appreciated my musings, I went down a bizarre path: noting TTAC’s Ford GT V6 Pilot Fish (i.e. my 1989 Lincoln Continental) shall, when restored, perform shockingly close or better than his 6.9 Benz (acceleration aside, ‘natch). He was far from impressed with the little blue Continental, aside from the fact it saved him an Uber to where the Benz was stored.But my musings aren’t wholly marinated in moron-juice: there are three cars I’ve found that strike the perfect balance of aggressive, independently-sprung cornering prowess with the pot hole oblivious ride present via tall sidewalls, soft springs and a tight chassis:
  1. W116 Mercedes-Benz with the Hydropneumatic Suspension.
  2. 1989-1992 Lexus LS400 with tiny 15″ wheels and optional Air Suspension.
  3. 1988-1989 Lincoln Continental, even after the dual mode dampers within air-suspended bladders met their demise.
(Perhaps the 1986 Cadillac DeVille Touring Sedan passes muster, but I’ve never driven one.)But the Lincoln does it all (except accelerate) and overlooks the Teutonic brilliance of the W116’s barely-there HVAC, flat audio systems, and painful part/labor costs.How did Davey take my notion? He was somewhat speechless, yet clearly relished the sheer lunacy. That’s how caring and supportive he was to his friends.
That said, when Davey saw it, the pointy-nosed Continental was an ugly duckling, inside and out. If you’ve ever stripped a car to save cash on paint work, you’ll appreciate the fact that everyone starts at “let me get this adhesive residue off.” Then optimism turns into “Man, this a pain…screw it, I’ll pay someone to take it from here.”
Glad I did: the shop did a fantastic job shaving the ungainly bodyside moulding, oversized emblems, while laying down a fat layer of Twilight Blue. The Conti was looking good……and I was pretty sure I’ll out-Davey any other automotive journalist.
I’ve lost count of how many lunch hours I spent on eBay hunting down NOS Continental parts. But it was a worthwhile treasure hunt, since everything is unwanted and cheaper than dirt. Can’t say the same for the loyalists who won’t scrap their stupid-precious Lincoln Mark VIIIs.
To wit: these slick Ferrari Testarossa-alike mini-blind lenses were $105 shipped to my door. Which is just the tip of the iceberg of Ford factory fresh ignition tune up bits ($35) EGR valve ($25) window regulators ($60 each), etc. But I digress…
The singular thorn in my side, rivaling our departed W116’s hydro-pneumatic suspension?Finding someone to fix my wonky digital gauge cluster, without requiring multiple trips across town (during office hours!) to prove warranty work was needed. And still is, sadly.
With all the effort saved with buying 3.8L Ford Taurus bits (on clearance) from Rockauto, there was energy left to polish the intake manifold’s bare aluminum bits and cash for a fresh emissions decal: $5 shipped from eBay. I still can’t believe Ford tuned a 90-degree V6 so buttery smooth and shockingly quiet: perhaps there’s a certain pride you get from performing a disturbingly cheap restoration with readily available parts. Especially if you’re an easily excitable automotive journalist.
And when you finish, you get something only an obscure automotive journalist could love: be it in Houston or San Andreas!Sure, my fully-restored Nebula shall never get the clicks of a Million Mile Lexus, but Davey G. Johnson encouraged me to wave my freak flag. We coulda had an amazing Continental vs. 6.9L Ride/Handling battle royale, but he left us too soon. So perhaps now I need to take my whip to Las Venturas for more photo ops.Because Davey woulda been like, “Jeevo you gotta make this happen.”[Image: Davey’s Public Facebook Page, © 2019 Sajeev Mehta/TTAC]
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