Friday, November 28, 2008

The Gremlin

Can’t remember what year it was. Or the colour. Looking back, it doesn’t matter. It belonged to a good friend and it gave us freedom.

It was not stock!

First the exterior. Beginning at the rear. A lifter kit plus heavy-duty shocks raised the rear about 6 inches. Large oversize tires on aluminum rims were installed to give it that ‘jacked up’ look that was the rage at that time. At the front, smaller tires on similar rims replaced the stock tire/wheel combination.

The hood. Gigantic hole cut through the hood to allow for a ‘shaker scoop’. Big scoop. Blocked some forward visibility.

Side pipes. I know, I know. We disconnected the standard exhaust system from the manifold back. Installed headers and a ‘Y’ splitter to divert the exhaust to humongous side pipes below each door. Careful exiting. We never could get them sealed properly so the noise was tremendous.

The interior. Fur on the dash! It was the rage at that time. Seat covers in a similar shaggy material over the split bench seat. New shifter for the 3-speed manual transmission. No fuzzy dice…that would have been overkill.

Sound system. New aftermarket AM/FM cassette player jimmied into the dash in the hole where the factory system had been. Big speakers mounted in the rear.

The driving experience. Once inside and buckled in…and after you got over the serious downward slant of the seating position combined with the reduced forward visibility…driving the thing was actually relatively pleasant.

In a straight line.

With virtually no weight over the rear combined with the big tires, lighting them up from a stop was easy. Once hooked up, second gear came up quickly. No tach so engine sound the only guide to shifting. But you only had to do it twice.

It was not good in the twisties.

Tail happy. Never a problem to get it to step out around city streets at legal speeds. Basically you just needed to head into a corner, brake early, shift down and trounce on the gas pedal half way through the corner. The combination of tire and engine noise through a relatively easy-to-control slide was worth the price of admission.

We were young and foolish once…

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