[“Nut Driver” is a new series that will feature updates on Dave Nutting’s attempts to daily drive his 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in Massachusetts 365 days a year]
“Forget this nonsense, I should just buy an old car”.
It’s a thought that’s crossed every gearhead’s mind, more often than not while performing a tune-up on or diagnosing the cause of a dreaded Check Engine Light for the rolling appliance that many of us use to get to and from work during the week.
If you’re like me, this initial sentiment then results in the following ritual:
– Twenty to thirty minutes of day-dreaming about how awesome it would be to drive a classic car every day
– An hour of cruising the local Craigslist, which always turns up “The Perfect Car” (I typically find this elusive beast five to six times per week).
– Another thirty minutes of rationalizing why this would be a good idea and why I should do this: “I can fix it with a ⅜” ratchet set, a flathead screwdriver, and a medium-sized hammer!”.
– Face the grim reality that I live in New England and commute forty-plus miles a day, which is why I bought a modern vehicle in the first place; begin drinking to drown my sorrows.
– Finish the maintenance/repair on the now-despised econobox and return to the house, where my wife asks me such difficult to answer questions as, “How does it take three hours for you to change the oil on that car?” and “Why do you reek of booze and defeat?”.
In reality, my wife is actually reasonably understanding of my automotive obsessions, and we’ve always had an agreement in place stemming from her absolute loathing of my Subaru WRX (A story for another time): I could buy any car that I wanted for a daily driver provided the following stipulations were met: A) I’d have to sell my WRX, B) The car could not cost more than the selling price of the Subaru, C) It had to be reliable enough to commute with daily, including in the winter.
There have been a few close calls, but I had never seriously considered taking her up on her offer until the weekend before Labor Day, when I again spotted the Perfect Car. This time around, the Perfect Car surfaced in the form of a stock 1987 Chevy Monte Carlo Luxury Sport with 125,000 miles, located ninety minutes away in New Hampshire.
I mentally went over The Agreement outlined above: Could I sell the Subaru? Yes. Is the asking price for this car less than the proceeds from the sale of the Subaru? Yup. Would it be awesome to drive and I could fix everything on the car with duct tape and WD40? Oh yeah! (I may have taken some liberties with the definition of reliable, but I obviously felt it fell within the spirit of the agreement).
Of course, there were the minor details that I hadn’t yet sold the WRX and that we were going to Maine for the long weekend. Being well aware of the wisdom that it’s better to act and ask for forgiveness later, I emailed the seller and set up a time to come look at the car in the afternoon on Labor Day. Surprisingly, my better half agreed to my crazy plan, I bought the Monte that Monday, and sold my WRX later on that month.
Enough of the feel-good backstory, here’s the deal: This is the only vehicle that I have at my disposal unless I pull my ‘87 Monte Carlo SS out of winter storage. Thanks to some questionable past decisions made by my then-nineteen year old self, the SS lacks a heater box/defroster and has a tendency to leak from the t-tops when it rains, so that’s a non-option. My wife needs her car to get to her job, so if the Monte isn’t running I’m not getting to work, which is twenty miles away and requires me to drive in stop-and-go MetroWest-Boston traffic every day.
My wife has a standing bet that I will be back in a commuter car within a year, possibly sooner depending on how this winter goes as we’re predicted to have a good amount of snow.
Wrapping up this introductory article in typical Bangshift fashion, below are photos and additional details on the Monte, all taken the day that I brought the car home:
I do have a few budget upgrades planned in regards to wheels, tires, and brakes, but otherwise the car will remain stock for the foreseeable future.
So Bangshifters, what are you thoughts? Am I living the dream, or should I be renewing my AAA membership and shopping for favorable car payment terms?