Cars

You never know when you're going to need that extra engine

Apparently there is a method to my madness.

I love cool car parts almost as much as I love them all assembled into a fully functional, working automobile. I especially love finding a bargain on a piece of hardware.

That explains why my car shed has several sets of wheels that won't fit anything I currently own, why there are at least three engines tucked away (two of them in friends' shops) with nowhere to go and why I have dragged an old Model T body around for decades, with visions of a street rod dancing in my head.

My wife, Kathy, has put up with this nonsense for more than 40 years, only occasionally asking, "Now what did you buy that for?" or "How many sets of wheels do you have for that car?"

I patiently explain why it made perfect sense to plunk down a few bucks for something and then try to figure out why.

Well, guess what — she has apparently come to see the wisdom of my ways.

A few weeks ago, I met a young man named Tim Braginton, who was about to graduate from the McPherson College auto restoration program. He had an old chassis he needed to sell before he left town.

It was a '40s-something Mercedes chassis, minus the body, but with oval frame rails, independent front AND rear suspension and a 4-cylinder diesel engine and manual transmission still in place. I understood exactly when he said he bought it because it was "too cool" to go to the crusher.

But how was I going to explain this one to Mrs. Berry? Turns out, it was pretty easy. In fact, she recommended I buy it.

So we made the deal and I drove over to pay Tim for the frame. One of my 11-year-old grandsons rode along, listening politely as I explained how unusual this old chassis really was, how far ahead of its time it was, etc.

As we pulled up beside it, I heard him say, "So Grandpa, what exactly is it you are going to do with this?"

I'll have to get back to you on that, Alex. (And did Grandma put you up to that?)

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