We Get A Lemon

Los Angeles • 17 May 2008 • EDITORIAL

It's early morning and Clay doesn't want to be awake quite just yet. Fortunately, I had an early night. I convince him that I've found the car but we have to move on it immediately. I lost a 635CSI the day before because someone else had pounced on it before I even got a call back. Clay reluctantly agrees.

Compression tools in hand, we head out to Long Beach to meet with Derek who only just last night posted his 1983 BMW 528e on Craigslist. He's very keen to sell. We've been talking on the phone a number of times already this morning. He says it was running fine before but now it won't start and he's not sure why. He is now willing to part with it for $300 as long as we can get it done this afternoon running or not. Derek is leaving town and needs the cash. So far, so good. Just before we get there, they get it running again. The price stays at $300.

Derek and his friend, shirtless and tattooed, stand in front of an old BMW in a Long Beach gas station. We say hello and then quickly redirect our attention to the car. After a thoroughly incomplete inspection, we agree the car is in good shape. Most importantly, it passes the compression test. I check out the paperwork. The car was towed some time ago and the owner never collected it. The impound lot took ownership of the vehicle and sold it for $350 only a month earlier. Now I am buying it for $300.

Money exchanged and scribbly wrinkled document signed, we say goodbye to Derek and his friend. With the car now running, we thankfully no longer need to deal with towing it. Clay hops into the BMW while I follow in his ridiculously huge truck.

After about 5 or 6 blocks, the BMW stalls. Clay gets out and starts yanking at wires under the hood. I am nonplussed. After a few minutes of adjusting tired clumps of duct tape in various points on the engine, it starts up again. Clays babies it towards the highway. I am worried it will conk out again in a middle lane somewhere in South LA. Fortunately, it doesn't. In fact, Clay begins to open it up and the BMW responds nicely. He gets it up to 80. Back on the local roads, he pulls some S turns while ripping the headliner apart.

We deposit the car at Manhattan's place and then without much delay begin to desecrate it. Clay tags the VIP name on it in white spray paint. Manhattan and I start ripping out the interior. 30 minutes later, we're all covered in 25 years of grime and decide to call it a day.




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