Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Can't stop thinking about it!

I felt the need to post an entry here. Not because I am going to be working on the car, after all, but because it is that time of year when it's all in my face. There are classic car shows everywhere, and even if you don't go, you see them on the roads. (This is not me complaining about the's me being sad.)

The 'project' got as far as us getting the car covered and then, once the ice melted, getting all the pine needles and sticks that had frozen to the car's windshield and roof. Then, as soon as things were falling into place -great work schedule for afternoon grease fests, warm weather approaching, everyone getting along- things took a terrible turn. It's all in my last entry, it's just so upsetting!

So you'd think I'd just delete the car blog and facebook page and get on with my life. Well, I did get on with my life, sort of. I've been making dresses. In actual fact, I've been TRYING to make dresses to feel like I am doing something productive with my days. The dresses are poorly constructed out of old sheets, but they definitely have kept my mind off the car.
That is, of course, until I am driving home and pass some beautiful old Charger or Mustang and want to go shake my father and ask why he insists on pissing everyone off all the time!
I couldn't resist the urge to give a big 'thumbs up' to a guy in his classic muscle car as I drove by him in my 2000 Cavalier. He waved, but likely thought, 'hey, crazy. Nice car'.
I know absolute jack about cars. I am so terrible at driving a standard that I used to need a half hour to work out the adrenaline overload from the stress of driving my dad's car years ago. But, my dad's love of cars, his history of drag racing, and this one glimmering hope of actually being able to learn something gave me a feeling of belonging to this unique group of people who don't merely appreciate cars, but know WHY they appreciate them. Sure, you can love something based on looks alone, but it's a much deeper connection when you know what's going on inside...when you connect with it's 'soul'.

So I was about to delete all my barracuda stuff when I thought, maybe there's still a chance? I reached out to dad to try to bridge the gap between him and my sister. They spoke, but they are not 'speaking'. I kept the lines open with the hope that we could get this going again. I even toyed with the idea of just doing it myself. I mean, not by MYSELF, but probably with out Steph. I considered trying to convince my dad to let me have the car towed to my house, but knew he'd never go for it. I just didn't know it's future, with my dad talking about selling the house and moving 'in 2 years'.
But then I got more bad news when I called to check in on brother had moved back in. I guess it's good for dad to have someone there, but two guys who can not take care of themselves really shouldn't be relying on each other. But that's just my opinion. I have not seen my brother in several years, and it doesn't bother me. I don't really want to run into him again, simply based on the fact that his life is filled with drama that I just don't need to be involved in.
Okay...wait...I'm getting off subject here...
The point is: I will not be going to my dad's house for any reason, any time soon.
So that's it. I believe any hope of getting this project back in motion has been shot to hell. I know that if I wanted to go ahead, I would be dealing with my brother and it was already going to be hard enough dealing with my dad. I would not get to do anything and it would not be fun.
Maybe brother will finish what he started when he put the new engine in?
Maybe uncle will come out for a visit to help with the car and then take it back?
Maybe dad will be able to find someone who wants to deal with the hassle of getting the car out of the yard (since it is trapped by the wheelchair ramp that was built right behind it) and get rid of it?
Maybe, probably, he'll try to sell it for an outrageous amount of money, no one will buy it, and it will sit in the yard and rot away as I have seen happen many times throughout my childhood?

Friday, June 4, 2010

It just wasn't meant to be, I guess

Sadly, our project has ended before it began. What was to be a bonding experience for a couple of sisters and their ailing and emotionally distant father, turned into a typical (for us) family explosion.
Things were working out great. Steph was even gaining more 'family' time with Dad by easing off the 'caretaker' role. Now, it may sound cruel for a man's daughters to not want to take care of him, but trust me, it's not. Anyone who has known a father that has never been much more than a man who likes to argue for the sake of arguing, knows that he's not an easy person to get along with. The stress of taking care of Dad was too much, and it's understandable since she also has her own life and full-time job. There are resources aplenty for a person needing to get around out here. Steph was even going to make arrangements for home delivery of groceries. Surprisingly, Dad was cool with Steph's decision. Until about 3 days later when suddenly he felt jilted (and, not to air dirty family laundry, but this wasn't really a surprise that his mind changed so suddenly). When she told him we'd be coming over to start working on the car he said, 'don't bother. As you have changed your mind about taking care of me, I have changed my mind about the car and am going to sell it.'
With that short conversation, he killed any hope of a normal father-daughter relationship with any of us. And, sadly, he crushed our hopes of learning something fun and interesting from our father.
He will not sell the car. He just doesn't want us to touch it. I thought, with his mortality so 'in his face' that he was truly trying to change and be a better person. But this tiger can not change his stripes. He will be a mean and spiteful person until his last day.
I am sorry to say, unless there is some miracle of miracles, these 'Barracuda Sisters' are merely 'Plain 'ol sisters' and this diary has ended.
(I feel that, since this is a 'diary' I will be forgiven for the highly personal tone of this entry.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just an update

Unfortunately I don't have any photos to accompany this post. Yes, a car blog with no photos is a bit dull, but this is just an informational post.
Since it has been quite some time since my last post, I thought I'd check in.
Steph and I hit a snag with some family issues that needed tending. I wasn't sure we'd come out of it all with permission to go on with the Barracuda project. I wasn't even sure the car would still be available. But, after a couple 'meetings' with Dad, and getting all the 'rightful owners of property' figured out, the car still resides at Dad's house which he is planning on staying in for at least a couple more years.
That has turned cold again, here on the East Coast. We had GORGEOUS 70+ degree weather for about a week, then more frost and 30 degree temps came back.
The good news, Dad also still wants to work on the car with us and wants to get a portable car port. I had wanted one, don't have the money to spend on one, and had decided to rig up some tarps. This will be better, though, sometimes Dad just likes to spend money until it's gone.
We are eager to get a move on, and with my schedule these days, I am excited the actually have the time to do it.
Until next time...when we will hopefully be doing some actual work!!...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I haven't been playing Bingo...

I haven't posted in quite some time. Snow storms, new 6-day work schedule, and a whole slew of other day-to-day hassles getting in the way, I suppose.
But...the past couple days here have been sunny and in the 60's! I hear there's a bit more of the cold weather on the way, but that's to be expected since it IS still just March.
I'd love to start some work, but Steph's been working mid-shifts at her job, so me getting out at noon doesn't really count for much yet. Then she's off for a long weekend in Boston with our other sister, so it looks like we're looking at maybe starting some work early to mid-April.

In other good news, it looks like Dad's foot is healing since his last surgery has opened up an important vein in his leg. That means, maybe out of the wheelchair after some physical therapy, and more help to his knowledge-less daughters!
I'm not sure how it will be to work WITH Dad, though. He's a very aggressive personality, and I am sure his short fuse will lead to some serious frustration the first time he says something to Steph and I, only to be faced with two blank faces and shrugging shoulders.
My hope is that in my adulthood, I will not shed tears out of my own frustration with him. The DAY he taught me how to drive a standard (in a lovely Ford Probe!) I cried. Maybe it was because of me, but my memory of it begs to differ. I remember him becoming frustrated when I would stall in first, and say, 'Just do it like I said! Let up on the clutch and press the gas at the same time!' Which is what I was doing but 50% of the time my timing just wasn't right.
After that day, I swore I would never drive a standard. Then my mom's car died and we were down to the one car...for the 3 of us. And I was back from school (one year was enough for me at the time!) and working full time, too. The Probe! I went out driving with Mom a couple times, because she put me more at ease, but I just never got comfortable driving that car. But I had to do it. My job was a five minute drive from my house. I left 30 minutes early each time just so I would have time to calm down after the stress of driving! It was awful. After a couple weeks, I bought a bike!

When Hubby and I started dating, he drove an old Volkswagen Fox. Standard. (I had an '84 Cavalier...p.o.s. but I loved first car!) My car died and he helped me pick out my next car, Acura Integra (loved that one, too, but the body rusted, someone hit me, I took the money and bought another Cav!). All the car shopping had him looking to get rid of his car. He found a blue Toyota MR2 ('89?) and tried to get me to talk him out of buying it, but instead I said, 'You like it? Get it!' And that was the second car with a standard transmission that I tried driving. This time, I had a more patient teacher, but bigger hills. It ended with a couple cars lining up behind me at a stop sign at the top of a small hill. After stalling a couple times, I threw on the parking brake, got out of the car and he had to drive us home.
Good thing this Barracuda is an automatic, or I would probably have ignored it like everyone else has lately.
I don't mean to keep writing 'reminiscence' blogs, but it seems they always turn that least until work actually starts.

(The sun is shining...that's a start, I guess?)

Friday, February 12, 2010

That's life on the East Coast

Well, my plans for the car this week were once again thwarted. The shortest snow storm ever was enough to make working on the car impossible.
The storm only dropped 2-4 inches, but it was heavy and wet and it all came down at once. I was lucky enough to leave work about 45 minutes early so that my Cavalier didn't end up on the side of the road or wrapped around a pole somewhere. Surprisingly, people were actually driving cautiously...we were able to get up around 24 MPH on some sheltered sections of road. The most annoying part of storms out here is that they seem to not bother doing any cleaning of the roads until the snow has stopped. Now, this would be logical if everyone was also ordered off the roads any time it is snowing, but that's not how it works. Everyone is still driving home, or to work, or just feeling like a snow storm is the prefect time to shop. So the roads are covered in wet snowy slush and there is zero visibility as it is the kind of snow that, no matter which direction you are driving, it is snowing at you and swirling all around you, and it appears that you are constantly attempting hyper-drive or warp-speed. As I said, luckily people were driving cautiously, instead of the usual 'I have 4-wheel drive...get out of my way so I can drive 60mph down a side street'. Not the point...

Dad had a doctor's appointment yesterday that I was going to drive him to since Steph's car was supposed to be getting worked on. But, because of the snow, her friend was not picking up her car so she was available for dad after all. Since, by then roads had all been cleared, I decided to go hang out (and play Rock Band) for a bit, even though we could not work on the car. Again.
I knew I wanted to fix the tarp though so we went over early. I was hoping to get some better pictures, but she was covered in snow. Heavy wet snow that I cleaned off as best as I could before putting the tarp back on. Again. The tarp was buried in the snow, of course. This time I brought bungees and secured the tarp so that, I hope, it won't blow off again.
Trying to maneuver around the car I realized I also need to clean up the piles of wood and other random debris surrounding the car. I just want to get started. I've started doing my neglected home improvement projects to get me through, but now I'm just itching to try something new. I mean, drywall/painting/floors...I've done that already!

As a side note: I told my dad about the car being built in Hamtramck. He said, 'I know.' Which is a typical response from my dad. But then he also told me that his dad's dad (who died of TB when he was 33!) worked at the Dodge Main plant. AND when his dad's mother re-married, he new dad (my (step-) great-grandfather who lived to be 92!) also worked there. As if that wasn't enough...I never even knew my great-grandmother had been married twice!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm so surprised

Steph and I had made plans to do some car stuff this week. Minor, fixing the tarp, removing the battery. So, of course, we are getting a snow storm Wednesday. The planned meeting is Thursday, as Dad has a doctors appointment a we both have the day off, so maybe we will get lucky and the snow will turn to rain and we won't just be left with a car covered in snow...again.

Hoping to get some better pictures, but I would really like to get some shots without snow!

Here's hopin'!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Waiting for Spring: part 2

It gets closer, but it's hard to look forward through the snow. I'm encouraged by the fact that it snows, but only a little at a time these days. And it seems to be melting at a pretty swift pace. So, although it's still just around 20-25 degrees these days, with a flurry here and there, I am still keeping my hopes high that once spring is can start. No waiting for mounds of snow to melt...just waiting for a nice day.
I wanted to get out to Dad's this week while I was 'blessed' with yet another 3-day work week, but caught that cold I have been avoiding all winter and having been feeling crappy. There's also Dad's compromised immune system and me going over with a cold wouldn't be a loving daughterly-type thing to do. Of course, I probably make him out to be more frail than he actually is, but that's me...the great exaggerator.
Possibly this next week I can get out there. The list?
1. clean the interior...carpets, dash, seat. Steph says she's done some cleaning, but I'd bet that was a year ago.
2. remove the battery. A friend of mine AND a friend of Steph's both said to do it. So we'll do it.
3. maybe try to get better answers from Dad concerning insurance, title, and registration. The car has plates and a registration that expired last March, yet no one can actually remember getting plates for the car. It's a mystery I am determined to straighten out ASAP.
4. fix the tarp. Including the addition of bungees to keep it on the car during the windy days.
5. scope out the layout of trees and such for the placement of a series of tarps for rainy workdays.

A short list and certainly things that can be done in almost any temperature. A few things to keep me busy until the day I have a reason to sit in this chair!
Not quite sure of it's purpose, but it has a little tray for tools and it's on wheels so I assume it's for rolling around the 'shop'...
Oh, and we'll have to check out the shed and basement to see which tools our brother left for us when he picked up 'his' tools.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


The internet is going to be my new best friend, I think. There is so much information it's silly.
I promise this blog isn't about how it's so cold here that I can barely keep it warm enough to have functioning fingers in order to type out a blog post. And I promise not to go on and on about how the intense cold is making it even more impossible to get started on the 'Cuda.

Unfortunately, I can only post about what I've read or heard lately.
And once again, this one is courtesy Mopar Motorhead's latest post.
I had seen a few sites for Valiant-Barracuda clubs online. That was when I first learned about their history as kin. But, the first club I saw had a membership fee that I couldn't really see paying at my experience level. I mean, I sort of pushed myself at my sister and father saying, 'let's do something with that car!' With my inexperience and lack of automotive knowledge, I'm flying by the seat of my pants with this...with virtually no cash...and need all the FREE help I can find at this stage. Thankfully, there is a ton of info online, and I have access to great knowledgeable friends...and I'm counting on my dad, since he's done this before.
But, I was curious (of course) to see if the club that was referenced in his latest blog was the one I had stumbled across earlier. And it wasn't. This one's free...surprisingly. I will likely join once my hands are covered in motor oil and I have a dirty rag hanging from my back pocket (yes, this is my image of a successful mechanic). But for now, I poked around and have already found an interesting tidbit.
There is a link to decipher your car's VIN. So I was curious. I had no idea that number held so much information!
The very interesting thing I learned? Well, it's probably only interesting to me, but I feel it takes me one more step toward feeling this car is more than just a project. I am beginning to feel like this car has come into my life for a larger purpose than a simple bonding project for my sister and I. I already feel closer to my dad and we haven't even started the work, yet!
Anyway, part of the VIN number will tell where the car was made. Ours is a 2. Which means the assembly plant of our precious was 'Dodge Main, Hamtramck, MI'!
As I stated in my very first fathers family is Polish...100%. His parents 'came over on the boat' as children. I never spoke to my grandparents parents because I did not speak Polish. But I have memories of going to Hamtramck to see my great-grandparents as a very small child. It was, and judging by their website, remains a fairly Polish town.

Is it strange that I feel a closer bond with this car because it was born in the town were my great-grandparents lived? Maybe, but maybe not so much.

oh, and in case you were wondering...Mitch Ryder was born in Hamtramck. Later, while living in Detroit, he played street ball with my parents!
Perhaps our 'Cuda IS the 'devil with the blue dress on'??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Working girl, again

Well, it's back to full-time work for me.
Still working Mon-Tues at the veterinary office. And studying my technician stuff so that I can do more than pick up poop. Today I start my second part-time job at our local Trader Joe's market. I have no idea what kind of schedule I will have, but altogether I will be back to working 40-45 hours a week. Not that I'm not grateful to have money coming in again, but it's really going to cut into my 'restoration' time.
I think if Steph and I had a better idea of what we are doing, the time wouldn't be such an issue. But I see us getting together and just looking at 'Babe' and saying, 'well, what now?'
I think (if it doesn't snow) in the next couple of weeks I am going to make time to go out and start cleaning up the interior. That is something we can at least do while the weather's kind of cold. I also want to see if I can use the shed placement and the surrounding trees to rig up a tarp, since I don't want to spend repair money on a car port. Not that we really have any specific funds set up, but anything I spend, I want to go directly into the car.
Hopefully, I'll have more pictures soon, too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I am really getting tired of Winter, this year.
It's not due to snow. We had one big storm, which was all pretty much washed away by rain a few weeks later, and then minor dustings here and there. But mostly...rain.
It's not because I love summer and the hot hot sun. Because, quite frankly, I don't.
It is simply because I want to get moving on this car! I'm tired of sitting around wondering what we should do. Being semi-unemployed the past 4 weeks, it would've been the perfect time to get out there and do some work. But, instead, it's been fridgid, and Dad has had doctors appointments like nobody's business. I'd love it if we had a garage for that car, but we don't. So we wait. For warmer weather.
I have been considering putting a little money into one of those 'car port' things. Just a little tent in the event that Steph and I are available to do some work, but then it rains. I have a serious curse. I wish it was a joke, but it's not. I live in a town about 30-40 minutes from where the car is (at Dad's house). That is also the town where Steph lives, and also other friends that I used to visit more frequently. I would say 90-95% of the time I would visit, it would rain. Whether it was predicted to or would rain. And for that reason, I believe I have talked myself into springing for a car port thing.
I sent along a little email to the CarTalk guys. For anyone who doesn't know who they are, they are brothers from Boston who know everything there is to know about cars. Well, as far as I can tell, anyway. They are hilarious. I just wanted to see if I should wait until all danger of frost and cold were gone before starting ANY of the work on our car. We'll see if they reply. Hubby thinks I should call them about the car and get on the radio.
"Hi, what's your question?"
"How do I restore this car?"
"Get someone else to do it!"

In other news, since I have none as far as actual restoration yet...
I read a blog post about a '65 Barracuda model, from Mopar Motorhead. And it made me realize...I thought Dad's Barracuda was a '67 and Mom's Mustang was a '65. But, I may have been wrong...Dad's 'Cuda may have been a '65, too. I'll have to research it. I can't really tell by looking at pictures online because all I have to go on is my memory, so I'll just have to ask Dad. Actually, maybe he'll be able to give me some photos of him at the dragstrip or even old pics of Mom's Mustang.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting for Spring: part1

I didn’t want to post and run with this new blog. I would love to be able to keep up with fairly regular posts until the time Steph and I actually start working on the car. We're just waitigng for Spring.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much car knowledge or words of mechanical wisdom to share in the meantime. I have been doing a little research and reading about others who have successfully restored classic cars. The more I read, the more anxious I get. It’s that good anxious feeling you get when you are eager to get down and dirty; but, also that feeling…the KNOWING…that I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.

I have learned a few things.
**There are plenty of people out there restoring cars and they seem to want to impart their knowledge. And I’ll take it!
**The 1967 Barracuda was the first of the ‘second generation’ of Barracudas. It was the first year of the Barracuda that no longer shared the same sheet metal as the Valiant. Now, this means nothing to me in terms of the metal, but I actually had no idea that the Valiant was the pre-curser to the Barracuda. Most Barracuda ’clubs’ are ’Valiant-Barracuda’ clubs. They made it bigger to fit in a bigger engine…hot rod, anyone? And, starting in ‘67, they began offering the Barracuda in convertible, fastback (which is what Dad had), and notchback (which is what we’ll be working on). I am in love with the fastback. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my childhood memories of Dad’s car; but, I also like the sporty look of the fastback compared to the old lady feeling of the notchback. But, since it’s me and my sister with our “Happiness is yelling ‘BINGO’” front plate, I guess it’s perfect! (I’m certainly not complaining!!)
**And lastly I learned that the drag strip where my dad used to race is STILL running! Looking at pictures on their website, I feel all warm inside. Ubly Dragway…check it out.

What I wish I could learn: How can a girl with no automotive know-how manage to make this work? And why is it so appealing?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The backstory...

This is the beginning of a strange adventure. My younger sister and I will attempt to restore a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda that our father had bought for her a few years ago. I was not included in the original project. There’s no bad blood because of it. I am not really sure why Dad bought the car in the first place. It is my understanding that he wanted to bond with Steph, and this was something they could share. But then, our older brother got involved and 3 hot-tempered Polacks should never get involved in anything without supervision! And so, after some alterations, the car sat. Without any love. Without so much as enough respect for someone to put a tarp over it. Poor car.
So now, several years later, I have quit a job I hated and have way too much time for thinking. Of the things I think about, my ailing father and that lonely car are at the top of the list. Here’s Dad’s situation: he’s ill. Steph spends the most time with him, as she is responsible for him. Mom moved after their recent divorce and he is alone in their house. He is bound to a wheelchair due to problems with his feet and his near-blindness (he has something like 20% sight). He goes to dialysis 3 times a week and his ‘friends’ are the multitude of nurses he sees on a regular basis. These are complications due to diabetes and, apparently, his exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
Here’s the twist of this ‘adventure’: he’s our car guru, our sage advisor, our reference book! Yes, this will be an adventure, for sure. Steph has put some sweat into this car already. Brother has apparently replaced the original engine with a much larger engine, which we are, as of now, not sure will fit under the hood. My look at the car has been limited. It is covered with snow. I can see the hood is not closed (which is how I found out about the new bigger engine). I can see the seals around the windows need replacing and it will need 4 new tires. I’ve been told the brakes need to be replaced and the shocks need new springs or something to that affect. And the best part is that it is, right now, on a slight incline, boxed in by the trees of the back yard, the shed to the right, and our dad’s new wheelchair ramp directly behind. This is not going to be easy.
Whatever work Steph has already done, she will have to tell us, because as I said, I was not originally included in the project. This time around it was my idea that she and I try to give this beauty the life it deserves. Well…to give it life, anyway. I only hope we can do it justice!
What are our qualifications? I have none; she has done some work on it.
How do we expect to fix a car with no knowledge of cars? We have dad!
I don’t know much about cars, but growing up I was exposed to the AIR of car repair. The house was littered with Chilton reference manuals, race car magazines, and even NASCAR ALBUMS! If there wasn’t a race on TV, he could LISTEN to old races on vinyl.
My memories growing up included my mother’s baby blue ‘65 Mustang with the white leather interior. Her first car. It was a thing of beauty, and my father refused to get rid of it for many years, though I don’t remember it running past my 6th or 7th birthday. And there was Dad’s own ‘67 Barracuda fastback (dark green with black interior) that we would watch him race at the local drag strip. I have two specific memories of this car. The first was going to school and bragging to the boy that I had a crush on that ‘my daddy beat your daddy at the race yesterday!’ I think it was first grade. And in direct opposition to this memory was the day he drove us to school in that car. I was mortified when he drove up the bus lane! “Busses Only, Dad!!” That may have been third grade. Once it stopped running, it became a sad pile of car that slowly started losing parts, starting with the front side panels. I believe my father stopped being happy the day he could no longer drive that car.
So, I guess it is my father’s love of cars that I have inherited; but, also my odd desire to pay homage to him and HIS love of cars that drove me to suggest that little sister and I try to get that thing running. And I have to say, as of now we have not (well, I have not) put any work into this, but I am already looking at others’ classic cars…and I want another!!
So, until the Spring thaw, this is how 'BABE the blue Barracuda' shall bide her time.
Stay tuned for the crazy adventures that are sure to come!