The Cop Car epitomizes what we’re all about at SB Racing and SVOC. We made something cool and fun out of someone else’s failure. The Cop Car was brought to our attention by a mutual friend who has been at the edge of our series, peering in, lurking, not sure whether our style of racing is what he wants to do, and honestly not able to get his wife to approve. He found this car in its original form. He even negotiated the price down to $600, then backed out. But before he bailed on the car completely, he reached out to us, and asked if we were interested. I quickly responded by asking my wife if she’d like a nice evening out in North Dallas at the Renaissance Hotel, to which she said, “What’s the catch?” After a brief “discussion” about why she feels there’s always a catch when I offer to do something nice, I admitted that there was a car North of Dallas that we needed to go get, and that if she went with me, I would bribe her with a nice dinner and fancy hotel stay. Deal.
So off to North Dallas we went. About an hour North of Dallas, to be exact, about a 4.5 hour drive from my house. As is par for the course of our donor cars, the Cop Car, in its original form, was not running. Just like Beta. At this point, I was already convinced of Jeff Harris’ “Rainman-like” ability to know that he could get a fox body four-cylinder car running with little effort. I was also on my maiden voyage with my trailer and wench (I mean on the trailer, not my wife). I had not retrieved a car by myself up to this point. After six months of building a race car, I had become quite comfortable with the phrase, “I’ve never done this before.”
I think I suffer from a mild form of reverse-narcicism. I always imagine the worst when it comes to something I’m doing that could have dire consequences. I get over it, and almost never have bad experiences, but the nagging feeling is always there. It must be some deep-seeded instinct that kept my ancient cavemen ancenstors from extinction. So, it was with this mindset that I set off to retrieve our second challenge car.
We got to our location, met the owner, a former Marine, who informed us the car was for sale because his high school son couldn’t be trusted. His son had already put the car in a ditch, and there was a little damage. The hood wasn’t attached because the hood had come loose and blown back and bent the cowl. Oh, and it no longer ran. They’d tried everything to restore it to the living, with no success. So without further ado, Mr. Marine and I pushed the car out of his driveway so I could drag it up onto the trailer. Easy peasy. I had secured the car myself, and felt pretty confident that everything was fastened down so that it wouldn’t fall off the trailer. I double and triple checked my straps, made sure I had my ramps secured (I lost one once leaving Hallet) and headed off with my lovely, patient wife, to an evening at the Richardson Renaissance hotel. One of the benefits of my day job is a “platinum” status with Marriott properties for life. I abuse it quite frequently. This was one of those times. As this particular hotel only has a multi-level garage-style parking setup, I left the truck and trailer curb side, went in and “asked” if that was OK, and was assured we would be fine. The rest of the trip was fortunately uneventful, and we made the rest of the trip home the next day.
Once we had the cop car off the trailer, my “Rainman-esque” business partner started looking over the car. We ran into our first problem, the keys were missing. I had them when we loaded the car, but somewhere between my paranoia about the car falling off the trailer somewhere north of Dallas and getting into the truck, I lost the keys. Fortunately, there was a new tumbler and set of keys in the car, just waiting to be installed. Once that was done, we tried starting it. Cranking it over Harris says, “It sounds like a timing issue”. Remember, the Marine had told me that he had replaced nearly everything that one could replace on the car. Well, he missed one thing. Upon pulling back the timing cover, it was discovered that the timing belt was broken. A quick trip to O’Reilly’s and $12.95 later, the Cop Car lived for the first time.
But it wasn’t actually the Cop Car yet. As it stood, it was a beaten up 1991 Mustang LX. We sent it off to the body shop to have the core support straightened and the frame checked. We needed a new hood, as the original one was damaged from being blown open. From our solid network of friends, we got a cheap replacement hood, that happened to be black. Once we put the black hood on the white car, our Chief of Design immediately yelled, “It’s the 5-0”. So we followed that theme, and had the paint shop do a two-color paint job to complete the look. But we were missing a critical piece of hardware — lights.
On one of our adventures into Jeff and Tim’s Parts Wonderland, we came across a Whalen light bar sitting off in the corner of a very cool shop-house. We were attracted to this location with the guise and promise of wheels galore – 16 Pony wheels to be exact, for an unbelievable price. Almost as we were leaving, we spotted the light bar off in the corner, and let the owner know that we were on the hunt for such a bar. A quick barter later, and we added it to the two truck loads of stuff we hauled out of there.
That next weekend, I had to head out of town for the weekend to keep domestic bliss in my home, and left our Chief of Electrical Thingamagigs with the Cop Car and light bar, which up to this point, did not work. His wife gave me a look that said, “he won’t sleep until he gets this working” at which point, I was glad I left town. Two days later, I went over to the SVOC World Headquarters at dusk and was blown away by the newly finished look of the Cop Car. The light bar was installed, and if there was question as to the theme before, there was no question now, it was a Cop Car! But wait, there was more. Our Chief Demo Wizard jumped in the car, pushed a “hidden” button, and voila, the light bar was alive! But there was even more (alas, no Ginsu knives, but it was great) there were strobe lights installed in the front, and the rear lights were alternating as well. Unbeknownst to me, we had also “acquired” a control box that ran the whole light bar, strobe light conflagration. On my death bed, I will look back and say, “That made me smile”.
I’d like to say that was the end of the epic journey of the Cop Car, but that would be to leave half the story on the table. Now that we had two cars, we could RACE! We quickly found out that Beta was very good, and the poor Cop Car had led a very rough life. It’s taken the better part of a year to get the Cop Car on par with Beta, but she is now. She has almost exclusively been driven victoriously by our Season 1 Champion, David “Deputy O” Olivenbaum. He knows where the secret button is that turns on the full light experience, and has been known to attempt to pull race cars over on track. Other drivers, who shall remain nameless, have actually pulled unsuspecting drivers over at Harris Hill Raceway. So, if you happen to be out on the track one day, and get that sinking feeling you get when a Cop Car comes up on you, lights all ablaze, remember, you’re on track, we’re just being jackasses, you don’t need to pull over, but a point-by would probably be proper.