Monday, August 10, 2009

1993 Pontiac Bonneville SSEi

September 24, 2008 - Wednesday

Yup, that's my new car. (See, I know by now that whenever I plan something or count on something to happen, that's what doesn't come to pass.)

Florian arrived at the office at 1600 hours yesterday. He'd gone to Bergdietikon to check out a small garage we'd seen online that was selling a Chevy Beretta for 2200.- (dang, you can buy the car for the same price as the like-named gun) and a Bonneville for 1700.- It turned out both those cars were long gone, which as okay because they were white, old and not very special. But the guy there told Florian that his brother had a bordeaux red Bonneville for sale for 3800.-. Florian took a look at a wrecked black Bonneville that was sitting outside, was told it had 200 horse and a supercharger, and came to the office to tell me that was a cool car and we should really have a look at the one for sale.

First we went to the train station in Altstetten to meet the guy selling the Regal. Florian saw the parked car long before I did, and we had a quick look at it before going into the bar to find the owner. He was wearing a light jacket, so it wasn't too hard to recognize him.

The Regal was very much so. Rust-free, smooth paint, plush interior, very well taken care of. The seller also made an honest impression - I know; any decent car seller does, but this guy made an effort to show us everything from inside the engine to inside the wheel wells to pointing out things he'd bumped into and spots that had been repaired at some point.

I asked if I could take it for a test drive, and he said sure. It was a very quiet car - that was about the only disappointing thing about it. It moved like a cat, purring, smooth, the exact Fahrgefühl I'd been hoping for. Big steering wheel, wood consoles, red velour - pure American style. I loved it.

We returned after a short round through Altstetten, and I told the seller it was a lovely car, but there was still one we needed to look at, and I'd call him tomorrow.

Then Florian and I drove to Bergdietikon on the Tweety Bird, and we parked at the garage to find the bordeaux Bonneville standing outside. We entered the workshop, and the brother, the owner of the Bonneville, was there so we went straight out to take a look at the car.

The paint is in good shape. There are three small spots on the frame of the driver's door where it's peeling, but I don't consider that a problem. There's no rust, no leaking oil, several new parts and he took it to the DOT for a checkup just last week, which means I wouldn't have to do that for another two or three years. It has summer tires on, which I'd have to replace with winter tires sometime this season, but I don't think that's too big of a problem. They're 16" wheels, which is a fairly standard size.

The interior is tan leather, also in good shape wth the exception of the left armrest on the driver's side. Florian drooled over the middle console where you could adjust both the driver's and the passenger's seats - I think the car has quite a bit of electronic overkill, but hey, you gotta admit it's got more comfort features than a lot of new Mercedes and BMWs.

I asked if I could take it for a test drive, and Herr Jaun handed over the key. We got in, and the engine came alive. It doesn't growl, but it's got a sportier-sounding purr than the Regal.

I tested the brakes and ABS on an abrupt stop, got the back wheels to squeal as we pulled away when two other cars suddenly appeared, and got flashed by a mobile speed trap which'll probably slap me with 120.- fine when I was letting the car roll out after the supercharger kicked in. Stupid speed trap.

We returned to the garage and I knew I was going to get that car. The Regal was more stately, more elegant, had more American feel to it, drank less and Florian said it would probably be more reliable, but 1100.- saved up front is an argument too, as are 200 horses, a supercharger and a bordeaux paint job. I gave Herr Jaun back his keys, we did another thorough check of the car, and then I said if he'd take 3800.- for it he could consider it sold.

We went inside the garage for the formalities, and he showed us the projects they were working on. A Chevy Impala lowrider, a couple other big classic American cars, a VW Bug hotrod in progress... All sorts of cool stuff.

The formalities weren't very formal at all. He gave me the car's papers, we agreed that the payment and key exchange would take place on Friday evening after work.

This morning I called Blesi, my insurance agent, and got the insurance papers. At 80% for the rest of the year, the fee is 1500.- something p.a.; it'll go down next year. That's a lot, plus the 680.- in taxes, but I knew I was getting a big engine, and that's what gets taxed in the canton of Zürich.

On Friday evening I get to take home the Bonny. (Buell, Beastie, Bonneville... I do have a penchant for machines whose name start with B, don't I.) And since I don't have to go to work at Opa's this afternoon since he's in Biel all day, Florian and I can swing by the mech's, take another look at the Beastie, and maybe I can make a final decision.

After putting a lot more thought into the whole thing, I've decided against Nico's 12er. I don't trust it. The engine's not made for 142 horses, neither is the belt, and with as many kilometers as I put on my little Beastie in one year, I think I'd be asking for trouble getting that highly tuned machine. Also, Florian is adamant in his opinion that the frame of the XB9 is good and solid and it won't go flying around my ears just because I hit 150 km/h. I'd like to believe him, because all I want is my Beastie back. I know how it handles, how to handle it, I know how to read it, and a new machine would mean new adjustments. I can transfer the airbrush parts; it'd take a while to transfer the synergy.

I think I'll know more tonight.

I know it's got four wheels and doesn't really belong in here. But being Beastie-Ersatz gives it the right to be included in the Beastie's history.

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