The fifth car to join the fleet was a manual 1991 Dodge Stealth base model I nicknamed Shit Heap.
It was purchased out of a farmer’s field after allegedly evading arrest close to two decades prior, and hitting a mailbox. It was delivered to my driveway on a flatbed not running, and with a severely seized rear passenger wheel. The interior was also partially disassembled; the front seats were missing as was the driver’s door speaker. One wheel was entirely missing and replaced with the spare tire, and another was so heavily damaged with a chunk of aluminum missing I was dumbfounded that it held air (barely). A tail light was demolished (allegedly having been struck with farm equipment). Having sat in mud for so long with deflated tires, the chassis was also caked in mud and unfortunately severely rusted.
Attempts to free the rear wheel from its sorry seized state were futile, so I moved on to assessing whether the car was savable. After confirming the ignition system was functional and dash lights were present, an attempt at starting yielded only cranking, no fire. Attempting to jump the fuel pump yielded no audible pressure from the fuel rail nor a hum from the tank, so it was time to pull the fuel pump from the tank for inspection.
Yes, that Simply Lemonade bottle of blood red liquid is in fact what was in the fuel tank. The fuel pump had what had the viscosity of molasses in its inlet, and the inside of the fuel tank looked like something had died and been rotting in it for at least half of those years spent in the field. The same concoction had coated the fuel sending unit. At that point I knew it would be necessary to drop the fuel tank, so I went ahead and did that. A previous owner was gracious enough to have broken the fuel sender and repaired it with a flare nut before I got there, so despite not knowing the correct procedure at this time I was able to get everything apart without causing damage to the sender. The tank was not so lucky, and suffered several broken studs. I then did what I am recommending nobody else do (but desperate times and all that), and poured some gas in a milk just, plopped a spare fuel pump in it, ran a clear vinyl line to the feed, and another from the return, and jumped it with a battery. In my infinite wisdom, the first time I tested this, I neglected the return line and promptly spat fuel all over my driveway. After remedying that I was ready to test, and since the incident with the return line had the side effect of purging the lines of the gross fuel, I gave it a shot and it fired up!
I put it in gear and attempted to pull it forward and it moved under its own power despite dragging the back wheel very loudly up the driveway. I lifted the front of the car off the ground and rowed through the gears to confirm the transmission was in good order. This combined with the unbelievable amount of rust on the car all but sealed the car’s fate as a parts car, since Frank (currently parked behind Shit Heap) needed a new transmission. I tinkered around with the fuel sender and tank for awhile and made some progress in cleaning them up using muriatic acid for the tank and Krud Kutter for the sending unit.
Eventually, it was time to begin parting the car out. I’ll add some more content here later including why the wheel was seized and some other fun stuff, but eventually the poor neglected base model was put to rest – stripped to the bare frame sans the broken windshield, severely dented quarter panels, and single homogenous piece of iron oxide that used to be the rear subframe. Not a single usable part gone to waste.