Old cars and grievances.

So this post will be part adventures in car shopping and part whine about how much I’m hating Santiago right now.

First, the car.

Get on the bus!

I’ve always had a soft spot for old VW busses.  Back in my younger days at Michigan Tech I even dragged a few rusted relics out of the woods with ideas of restoration, but it never got far.  Flash forward to South America, where VW still sells their old bus, albiet now with a water cooled modern engine.  Still, there is a good supply of busses around.  Plus, if I buy one that is older than 25 years, I can legally bring it back to the USA.  So the plan was to get an old bus, work on getting it completely reliable, then drive it back through South and Central America when my time here is done.

The adventure begins with me finding a bus online and Alina and I taking the metro to meet the seller at a Sodimac (Chile’s answer to Home Depot).  I liked this example because its a double cab (half truck, half bus) and it looked in pretty good shape.

1988 VW Kombi Double Cab

And everything checked out pretty good.  It had very little rust and everything looked repairable.  Then I took it for a drive.  Not good.  Granted, it was cold and raining, but the bus wouldn’t idle at all.  I drove it around the parking lot for some time hoping to warm it up, but every time I took my foot off the gas it died.  I tried clutching, braking, and stabbing the gas all at the same time (I’ve only got two feet!), but it worked about 1/3 the time.  I decided to chance going out into traffic.  My first mistake was trying to use the exit where there where some Cabinero’s (police) camped out.  Nope..vehicle isn’t registered, use the other exit.  OK.  I found a secret exit and ventured out into Friday night rush hour traffic…awesome.  It actually wasnt that bad though.  I mean, the truck was horrible, but the people that got stuck behind me didn’t honk an obnoxious amount.  The worst part was of course the continuous stalling.  Stalling between 2nd and 3rd gear was worst, the transmission would make the most horrible grinding noise.  I would have to find neutral (not easy), restart the car, and shift it back into second.  The whole time the seller is sitting next to me extolling the virtues of the car (in spanish, which i don’t yet comprehend), yelling over the stereo he felt compelled to blast.  I thought it was kind of fun actually, I hope Alina didn’t mind so much though.  Eventually we reached a gas station and I pulled in.  Alina didn’t live too far and there was a subway station I could take home.  I thanked the owner and went home to think about it.

Unfortunately, I think I will pass on this one.  If I where back home, I would buy it without further thought.  But here in Santiago…no.  Part of the problem is there are no parts stores to buy spare parts at.  I wouldn’t even know where to buy hand degreaser, let alone a car jack or specialized aircooled VW parts.  I have been thinking of bringing parts back from the US in my airline luggage (an entire engine is easily do-able), but this bus just needs too much.  Of course, I am fond of impossibly stupid projects, so there is hope yet.

And on to the whine…I hate my apartment.  I pay a ridiculous amount of rent for this place, my reasons for getting it were that it is safe and a nice place to relax on my time off.  Unfortunately, my douche-bag neighbors (and everyone in my building fits into this category) see fit to smoke, drink, party, scream, and test their stereos max sound capability until all hours of the morning.  Usually this is left for the weekends, but not always.  The front desk guys are supposed to keep things civilized, but they half ass that job just like everything else.  I guess I can half ass their salary too, its not like my credit ratings extend to down here.  Screw you too, Chile!!!


2 Responses to “Old cars and grievances.”

  1. Tigger (and Chuck) Says:

    Hey Derek – sorry to hear about the bad times in Chile. We’re hoping things will get better for you. How’s work? And – I think I would have my MP3 surgically attached to my ears if I lived there. But hey – aren’t the people there notorious for partying? I suppose you’re not in Michigan any more! Look at the positive – you’re not in Michigan any more. Take care – Tigger (and Chuck)

  2. Alan Harris Says:

    Hi Derek
    Didn’t your dad ever tell you that when buying a car you should turn off the sterio.
    That’s an old trick used by car salesmen.Turn up the radio volume and the buyer won’t hear the rattles of the exhaust against the chasis or the grinding of the gears that are out of sync.
    You did right to pull out of that deal.I would hate to think of you trying to drive it back home to Motown of all places.
    You don’t sound too happy in Chile.Maybe you would enjoy it more if you took a few lessons in the local lingo.
    Hope things improve for the future.
    Keep posting.
    Best from all in Cornwall.

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