Another friend was getting married, which meant another bachelor party.
We gathered to brainstorm ideas for the bachelor party…over drinks. The bachelor said he wanted to do something that involved a car, and basically running one into the ground. It was simple and brilliant, and it was the seed for our next trip.
Like unsupervised kids on the playground, our discussion got a bit “Lord of the Flies” imagining what we’d do with a car if we procured one; smashing, bashing, shooting, punching, ramming, jumping, and maybe even some fire.
While the ideas were flowing, the reality of this started to set in. What would we do with a car after it was too smashed to move? How would we explain countless bullet holes or even a scorched shell of a car?
Our solution was simple. First, we’d buy everything on Craigslist anonymously, pay cash for everything, use fake names, wear disguises, and make all our calls with a prepaid cell phone.
In hindsight, our plan sounded less “simple”, and more “criminal” or “shady”.
The Burner Phone
Our first stop was Target. We got into our best, Hollywood-inspired redneck disguises with hats, mustaches, and lots of denim. It turned out to be uneventful, really. After all the build up, we just walked in, grabbed the phone off the rack, paid cash, and headed out. Go figure.
With our “burner phone” in hand, it was time to track down some cars. In the spirit of anonymity, we went to a coffee shop to browse Craigslist. We found a car in Tacoma that looked interesting, and met our search criteria; cheap and running.
After a brief phone call, we set up a time to meet the owner and see the car.
It was a red, mid-80’s Chevy Nova. Pile of crap might be a generous description. This car would have fit right into an episode of Walking Dead, broken down on the side of the road after being savagely picked apart by hungry zombies both inside and out. It checked all the boxes for us:
Radiator fan wired to a light switch (for a house) under the hood, requiring you to turn it off and on by hand
Front passenger seat required a wooden board as the cushion so the springs wouldn’t poke you in the butt
Old sewing machine and empty bottles of liquor in the trunk/hatch
This thing was everything you’re looking for in a car you’re planning to destroy. As a matter of fact, I think we deserved a little gratitude from the city of Tacoma for taking it off their hands.
The only thing better than the car was the title. This guy had been “gifted” this car by his uncle, which he never filed. All he had was a note from his uncle bestowing his prized Nova to his nephew. It was written on yellow “legal” pad paper, so it was legit. We just cared that he had the actual title, and after he signed the yellow paper over to us, we left with the yellow paper and the title.
No more than three blocks away, we were pulled over by the Tacoma Police. It was just me and the bachelor at this point, as everybody else drove in separate cars. Every bad scenario flashed through my mind as the cop walked up to the window.
- Maybe the car was stolen (who would steal this thing)
- Maybe the car was used in a crime (but it was parked on the street when we bought it)
- Would the cop notice the countless empty bottles of liquor in the back
- How will be explain the lack of insurance and registration (at least we had the title)
- We are dressed like meth dealing rednecks…we’re doomed
It’s a good time to mention that the bachelor does not do well around cops. He was driving, so this was his worst nightmare. All in all, I’d say he kept his cool pretty well.
Do you know why I pulled you over?
You have expired tabs
Oh. Well, we just bought this car like 10 minute ago.
Can I get your license and registration please?
Sure. All we have is this yellow paper and the title for the registration.
Where are you guys from?
What brings you all the way to Tacoma to buy this car?
We were looking for a “project” car like this one, and found it on Craigslist.
A “project” car? Where are you headed with it?
His house in Snoqualmie <points at me>
<laughs, again> Give me just a minute.
After a minute or two at his car, the cop comes back, still laughing a bit, and hands the license back to the bachelor.
I’m going to let you guys go without a ticket. If you’re going all the way to Snoqualmie, I can’t promise my brothers with the State Patrol are going to be as forgiving. Good luck, guys.
And he let us go. Come to think of it, that might have been our “thank you” from the city of Tacoma. They gave us a pass out of Tacoma for taking that car off their hands.
Oh, ya, the fan
About halfway to my house, the car overheated and started smoking. We popped the hood and realized that we didn’t turn the fan on using the light switch under the hood. It took about 10 minutes for the car to cool down enough to drive. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into my driveway and parked.
Continued in Carmageddon: Part 2
I’ll stop there, as I tend to write mini novels, rather than blog posts. Stay tuned for more installments of this story, including the purchase of the other two cars and the adventures that followed.