First published in the LCUSA members' magazine, the Specialist, April, 2008.
Many of us know of Vittoria Tessera. He owns Casa Lambretta near
One fine early Spring Friday I was at my office, doing my work thing here in
"No problem, lets see what we can do to help a brutha out," I replied.
Seems Vittorio had purchased a car that resided in
So, Alex called
I coordinated details with Alex via email and telephone and the next morning, Saturday, my wife Courtney and I were off to
And there it was, a 1963
The engine fired right up and sounded great. It needed brake fluid, but after that we slammed the hood closed, stopped at a gas station and then hit the highway back to
Not so fast. Seems our sweet Merc had other plans for me. While it was fun to drive (think low, floating suspension, lots of wind and road noise and a big, rumbling engine with plenty of grunt), what I did not know was soon to make itself known.
About half way to
As I slowed to a stop at the end of the freeway offramp then engine died. I gave the key a twist and got nothing. Absolutely nothing--not a click, a whir, a fart... nothing. It was as dead as dead. Okay, this trip just got a lot more interesting.
I jumped out, popped the hood and discovered that the alternator belt was completely slack. Since the alternator hadn't been spinning and providing electricity I had been running full-loss off of the battery the entire drive. And that battery was now D-E-A-D.
We were about 5 miles south of
The station didn't have any tools, of course. The attendant told us about a strip mall a few miles back up the freeway, so off we went to Home Depot. I brought back a cheap socket set and a large screwdriver and proceeded to crawl under the car, in the rain, to adjust the alternator belt. Courtney, meanwhile, sat in our car and supervised.
Once that was done I borrowed a set of jumper cables from the station, hooked the Merc up to the hatchback and let it charge for a bit. A half-hour later and three attempts to start the Mercury with no avail told me that the battery was too far gone. So, back up the freeway we went to buy a new battery. Good times!
As you might guess, in the end the new battery did it's job. The alternator was spinning, all systems were go and we were gone! Once back in
I picked it up on Tuesday evening to drop it off at the shipping company on Wednesday. I stopped at the gym on my way home and got in a workout. When I came out of the gym it was raining again--gotta love the
Now, most of us know that the gauges on our vintage vehicles aren't all that accurate. Seems the same is true for the gas gauge of the 1963
You guessed it... the car died on me. Again. This time in the city, one block from the gym. I pushed it (again) around the corner and parked it. I didn't have my cell phone with me so I walked the two miles home in the rain.
Courtney wasn't home. I stripped out of my soggy sweats, dried off, put on clean clothes, grabbed a can of gas from the garage, jumped into our car and drove back to the waiting Mercury. Well, it seems somebody either loved that car or saw me push it and walk away in the rain and maybe felt sorry for me, because there was a bundle of flowers under a windshield wiper waiting for me! I got a chuckle out of that and when Courtney got home later than night she thought I'd bought flowers for her.
The next day I dropped the car off at the shipping company and emailed a scan of my receipts for gas and a new battery to Alex (I returned the tools for a refund).
I hope Vittorio likes his Mercury wagon, because I'm not so fond of it anymore! I'm kidding. It's a beautiful car, but there are reasons I keep my vintage vehicle collection limited to two-wheelers: They're easier to push!
Vittorio, have fun! And whenever you're in