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S Car Acquisition Stories

"There's always a story and it must be told."

Nearly everyone has a "story" to tell about how they got a particular car... here are a few stories you may enjoy. Want to add yours? Contact Brian by clicking here.

The Acquisition of Chatham

by: Ellen Emerson

First, let me say that Chatham got his name from the fact that he was rescued from a dealer lot in Chatham, Ontario by our friend Steve who lives in Nova Scotia.

Our story starts on Sept 5, 1998 when I asked Brian Baker if he knew where we could buy a cheap S600 that we could fix up. He said that Steve had a rough looking car that was mechanically good, that he wanted to sell.

After breif negotiations we decided the price was right and started to figure out how we could get the car from Nova Scotia to Vermont.

Should we pay for a car hauler? Should we rent a u-haul truck? How about we buy a trailer since we are sure to want to bring the car other places in the future?

Now the great trailer debate starts - what type of trailer? Where to find one we can afford? How big is big enough but not too big? Will Joe's truck pull a trailer OK? At this point I told several people: "We'll get that car if I have to walk to Nova Scotia and push it back myself."

Finally we found a perfect sized garden trailer at Home Depot. After noticing that it had been inspected (and therefor it was NOT new) we were able to get $200 off the price - it never hurts to whine a little bit when you want something bad enough :-)

Now we have a trailer - how do we get to Nova Scotia? Yikes! You can't get there from here is a popular saying in Vermont and it appeared to be true. Thank goodness for the ferry or it would have been another 1000 miles of driving.

We left Vermont at 4 pm on Sept 25 after work - we had reservations at a cheap hotel in Basin Harbor, Maine which was really close to where the ferry would leave from at 8am. After various difficulties, including flames from under Joe's truck and running out of gas, we arrived at the hotel about midnight.

This is a small place and the desk clerk had gone to bed. I am very thankful that I put the room on my credit card to guarantee a place to sleep and the clerk had left an envelope with key for us on the front door of the lobby.

We were up and ready to get on the ferry by 6am - no desk clerk yet! - so I signed their paperwork, left them a nice note thanking them and we left to continue our journey.

We arrived safely over the sea and made it to Halifax just 24 hours after leaving Vermont (we gained an hour in our journey so I guess it was really 25 hours, but at this point who cares?).

We arrived at Steve's house and I finally got to see my car! The poor thing did not look quite as good as the photos I had seen because they were taken before Steve started pulling things apart and I think we were a little shocked at all the rust. I kept thinking that any minute Joe was going to say, "We're not paying money for that thing!", but he didn't, which is lucky for him since I was determined.

We also had a nice view of the fact that there was a 6 foot "gulf" between the road and Steve's driveway, where the car was... How to get a car over this? Remember the "push the car back myself" line of thinking? There was no way a "little" thing like this would stop me now!

Fortunately, Steve's neighbor's had half his driveway filled back in and they were friendly. With some 2x8 planks in place to bridge the worst part of the gaping hole, we were ready to push the little car out of the garage, across Steve's yard, into the neighbor's driveway and finally out into the street. I was absolutely terrified during my first steering of the car - what if I turned the wheel wrong and dropped it into the gulf? Ack!

From there it was just an easy push to get the car up onto the ramp of the trailer and strap it down. Determination can be everything in times of crisis!

Since it had taken us almost 4 1/2 hours to drive from Yarmouth (the ferry) to Halifax, we decided to drive back that night and get a room closer to the ferry since we didn't want to miss the 12:30 boarding time. We actually had dreams that there was an 8am ferry but that turned out to be pure imagination. We had no reservations but were lucky enough to find a Comfort inn I think at midnight and get a room.

Only a couple hundred feet from the hotel (once again I could see where I wanted to go but not get there!) we were pulled over by a police car. The truck had been backfiring a little with the added load and we wondered if that might have caused attention to be drawn to us, or maybe we had smacked a light off the trailer... Joe's only been driving it for a week now. Oh no, nothing as simple as that tho, not on this trip. Did you know radar detectors are illegal in Canada? Did you know they have detector detectors?

They confiscated mine, but before they did that they made us drive over it with the truck. I do have some satisfaction in believing that it was not broken by that... It was almost 15 years old and made out of cold hard steel - pretty much indestructible, even by me. It was also a "family heirloom" having belonged to my late step father who also believed he should be able to drive fast if he wanted to.

So, the cop let us off with a warning since we were not from the area. I was NOT happy! I loved my detector and had to shell out money to replace it. This trip if totaled up money wise would be totally scary. I think we spent close to double what the price of the car was in order to actually get the car home.

On the way to the ferry the next day, in the rain, we find we have no wipers on the truck. We sit in the rain for over an hour waiting to board. It stops raining, we board, Joe fixes the wipers in the hold before we go topside for the long (and very choppy this time) ride back to the US. Well, since we've had so many weird things happen on the trip, I'm prepared for the worst at the border.

But, good news, the car looks sooooo sad and dilapidated, they pretty much looked at it, looked at the registration paper that Steve supplied showing it's a 65 and said "have fun restoring it". No tax, no duty, no more cash shelled out on the trip! Finally, things are looking really good, me and the little car are now in the same country and it's the one I live in!

With the 2500 lb load we decided not to chance things and filled up with gas about every 100 miles. It was not until 1:30 am when we took the wrong exit around St. Johnsbury and saw no gas stations (open) for the next 40 miles.

We were now over 150 miles since the last fill up (we ran out at 184 the other day). I was close to hysteria and not even tired any more. So close to home (less than 100 miles at this point) and no gas anywhere. We carefully made it to Montpelier, and found an open Exxon! I told the lady at the counter I've never been so happy to see someone as I was to see her.

At 1:30 in the am she was not overly impressed (probably thought I had escaped from the "looney bin" which is actually not that far from where we were) but she was still nice enough. We made it back into Burlington about 2:15 and picked up my car that I had left at my mom's for the weekend.

We made it back to Shoreham, VT about 3:30 in the morning and did a couple small things before crawling into bed finally. By this point I had had so much coffee trying to stay awake that I could not sleep. I think only sheer will and determination got us through the weekend.

Note: June 2009 - Chatham has been sold to someone intent on getting the car fixed up! Visit the web site below for more information and restoration updates, coming soon.

More Information at: http://hondas600.com

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