Some stories are easier to tell than others. As I face difficult situations, whether car related or not, I always think about the story I’ll have to tell when it’s over. This is one of those stories.
As most know I have been working on a ’57 356 Sunroof coupe for the last five years doing a total restoration. While I don’t do metal or paint work, I enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. This one owner car is a match to my Speedster and have taken the time to really do it right as I intend to show the car when it’s done. A few missing parts delayed the schedule this year so the shows season went by without me but It was finally completed before the leaves began to turn.
Now that all the systems worked the final touch was to drive the car back over to the Bob Lundell who painted it back in 2009 for a final buffing. With a Porsche Club gathering coming up the following Sunday I made arrangements to take the Puddle Jumper to Hansen, MA on a Tuesday morning so that I could catch a commuter rail train into work and leave the car for a couple of days. The weather forecast checked out, no rain, and I made an appointment to stop by my dentist which was on the way to review some work he had done. I always like to do more that one task at a time, besides the car was running great and I was really beginning to enjoy it.
Early on that Tuesday morning I was buzzing down Rt 128 to Rt 3 south and having a great time. Lots of waves and thumbs up and it was the morning rush hour. And I knew that it was going to look even better after the final buffing.
I parked at the far end of the dentist lot, you can’t be too safe with a restored 54 year old car. As I was leaving a fellow, who was coming in for the day, walked over to ask a few questions and tell me how good it looked. I buckled up my seat belt, put my cell phone in my pocket and started to the exit. I was about five parking places from the curb, moving about 3 mph, looking straight ahead at the street when I heard a noise and felt the car moving to the left. I looked to the right to find the entire window covered by the back of a Jeep Laredo. I never saw it coming. Everything stopped quickly and I was out of the car as the driver pulled back into the parking spot causing additional damage as the hitch ripped a hole coming out of the rear fender where it had lodged.
The driver of the jeep, a guy about my age, did what we all do from time to time. Parked between a minivan and a full sized car, he backed out to take a look for traffic. The trouble was that the Tub was too low to be seen in the inside mirror and he hadn’t checked the side mirrors. I actually wasn’t struck by the car but by the extended trailer hitch that he uses to move his horse trailer. The jeep never came in contact with the Puddle Jumper just the hitch. It pushed in the door, then punched a hole in the front of the rear fender, bounced off the tire, hubcap, and rim and then stopped behind the back of the tire inside the rear portion of the fender. Pulling forward that final two feet left another gash in that old German steel.
We stood there a moment looking at the damage thinking that maybe it was a mirage and would go away if we waited. The other driver felt terrible as he walked around the car and realized what had happened. He was an Austin Healey guy and knew the work that had gone into the wounded Tub before him. We called the local police, exchanged information and since it was driveable and I wasn’t far from the body shop where it had spent so much time, off I went to see Bob as planned.
The last time the car was there it was an empty, abet shiny, shell. As I pulled into the shop Bob was standing on the left and saw the completed car from its best side. He was smiling and clapping with his thumbs up when I stopped and told him that I didn’t think he needed to get the buffer out just yet. As he walked around the car to the passenger side I could see his face drop. I think he took it worse than I did. His work was damaged but he quickly added that he could fix it up like new. I told him that it was new as it now had 28 miles on it.
A call to Hagerty Insurance, a collector car insurance company that covers my car, was made when I got to the office and the process was put in motion. They made it easy, now I know why they’re the best. The other driver had already called before I got in to apologize again alerting the staff that it was going to be a tough day.
Now a few weeks have passed and I’m reminded again, as I was that day, that it’s just a car and cars can be fixed. The checks have been cashed, the dents have been repaired and a complete repaint is coming soon. There really isn’t an easy place to stop once the paint starts going on. So it’s tail lights out, bumpers off, windows out, etc. It just takes a little time but this time I’m not doing the work. Bob is as much a detail person as I am, maybe more, so I know that the Puddle Jumper will look new again soon. My Fall driving plans will be put off until Spring, a setback, but not the end of the world.
Besides, now I have this great story to tell that is sure to end well.