On Saturday, our David Tracy hosted one last meetup in Detroit before he heads westward into a new life free of his rusty shackles. His going away party was grand in scale and the turnout was epic. Somehow, David cleaned up his house just enough that it did not look like the Superfund site that it normally is, but that didn’t stop the madness that everyone saw coming.
I started my day at 5 am, piling some basic tools into the E39 wagon that I acquired from the Bishop. The E39 is far from the most efficient vehicle in my fleet, but I felt like I should stretch its legs on a road trip. With each passing mile, I became happier with my purchase. This $1,500 wagon was a better road trip vehicle than either of the Smarts that I purchased brand new and even better than my more expensive Volkswagens. At least to my eyes, the E39 joins the ranks of the few vehicles that can make 85 mph feel like 50 mph. Seriously, this wagon is so smooth and so gentle at high speed that I pulled out a GPS app to make sure that I wasn’t going 20 mph slower than indicated. Thank you again, Bishop!
Anyway, I arrived around 1 pm, which was just enough time to help my pals David and Jason do some last-minute prep for the party. This involved seeing a cute keg in the back of the E39, a grocery store run, and discovering that through the black magic of using a furnace, my bosses figured out how to thaw the pipes in the house. We had running water, thank God, and every other deity because I was not prepared to use a bucket.
At roughly 2:45, David and I hopped into his J10 and set off for the junkyard, leaving Jason to do last-minute prep. We arrived to a crowd of roughly 30, maybe 40 people.
All of you lovely people came out on that cold Michigan winter day to mess around in a junkyard. Most of these people were driving cars that weren’t even in the yard. In fact, the junkyard showing had cars fitting almost every enthusiast’s niche. We had a Chrysler K-car with mismatched body panels, there was the gorgeous pink Jeep of Just Jeepin’ from Opposite Lock, a couple of glorious Gambler 500 cars, and even a sleek Porsche 911.
Opposite Lock had a huge showing at this party, and I finally got to put faces to a lot of the names that I’ve been seeing online!
David must have looked like a sheepherder because we followed him everywhere we went. A lot of us weren’t really there for car parts, but to examine what poor vehicles ended up at US Auto Supply of Sterling Heights and why. Some cars burned, some cars were crashed, and some had mechanical failures. Some others were there because of Pure Michigan:
Some didn’t have a clear explanation, like this poor Nissan Pathfinder that looks like it got parked on its side in a hailstorm.
And what’s going on with this window? The glass shards were on the ground, so the damage was presumably done with the vehicle already at the junkyard. Did someone with a death wheel get bored?
Oh, and this Dodge Ram, which had some fantastic artwork. But it all looked a bit “off,” like there were some recreational drugs involved in the painting.
A bunch of us spent a good amount of time looking over a Land Rover. It seems that it did not reach the junkyard because of physical damage, and the airbag suspension had 2020 date codes on it. That made us shudder thinking that it got here because of a mechanical problem or an electrical problem.
Hopefully, that problem wasn’t in the transmission because some poor schmuck basically deleted the whole front end just to grab the transmission.
I hope to never end up in a place where I need a junkyard Land Rover transmission in the middle of a Michigan winter.
After the junkyard, we moved to the house for the party. I could tell you everything that happened, but our readers have been going a great job in today’s comments. Now, I’ll try to recall some of what happened, but as it turns out, I was the main drinker of the Malort that I tried to get others to drink. I do know that someone started a bonfire, and to fuel that bonfire, we started throwing David’s furniture in.
Oh, and a Lincoln Town Car on mud tires got stuck in the backyard mud pit just five minutes after the party started.
Reader bluemanual6wagon recalls it well:
The most telling moment of the party that put David’s sickness on display was when he looked out the back window in horror as a cheap bookshelf plucked out of his driveway went up in flames on the bonfire.
“That was a good bookshelf!!”
A bookshelf he is now free of.
Later that night, Jason told me to fetch the wooden table from in front of the house and burn that. Now this was a quality, solid wood table, but I’m not going to say no to watching household items burn. David stopped me just seconds before it went in. However, what did end up burning by accident was a tire, and that made for a horrific stench that filled the house.
3WiperB remembers the Troy Tire Fire, some say it can be smelled in 46 states!
I think I lost a few day or weeks off my life from that fire. Between the bookshelves and maybe a tire? Good times though.
The tire definitely took months off of our lives. At least it didn’t burn until after dark otherwise we would have met the Troy fire department that day.
David and Jason really pulled out the stops in making this party possible. They somehow achieved the monumental task of making David’s house presentable for guests. Our guys even managed to take some of the car parts that were laying around in David’s yard (seriously, there’s an alternator under one of his trees right now) and arranged them in the house like museum pieces. A rusty brake rotor also became a projectile at one point during some improvised karaoke. Oh, and they tried to give partygoers random crap from the house. Someone left with a printer and trash bags, I got a Lee Iacocca autobiography, some Matchbox Jeeps, and this vintage house fire starter:
David and Jason also stocked up on snacks, ordered a bunch of pizzas, and tried their best to make everyone feel welcome. It was a genuinely good time and one that I think few will forget.
Honestly, this party went off perfectly for the departure of a Detroit legend. You’ll hear about it more when David gets the chance to write about it. If David and Jason ever find all of the tools in his yard and finally push him off to California. Speaking of that, Sid Bridge wrote:
I feel for whoever moves in there next. I have this mental image of them trying to install a swimming pool, but ending up in a shot-for-shot remake of the climax to Poltergeist with rusty Jeep parts in the pool instead of corpses.
Amusingly, so many objects were hidden under snow cover that night that 3WiperB offered the idea of using a Harbor Freight metal detector to find cartifacts in the yard.
In all seriousness, thank you all for coming. The cars were great, the food was great, and the booze was something else. Special shoutout to DSM_OR_DIE from Opposite Lock. He brought some booze that was quite possibly the most delicious alcoholic drinks that I have ever tasted. But the best of it was the people. I heard all kinds of stories about people, cars, planes, buses, and even trains and I loved hearing every single one. It was lovely meeting all of you and I hope to meet even more of you when I kick off Chicago and Milwaukee reader meets in the spring. And David, I can’t wait to see where California takes you!
When does the landlord’s after-party begin? And when does the EPA declare the lot a Superfund Site?
Man, I wish I lived closer, I would’ve been there! Sadly, a 2200km drive didn’t fit into my schedule 🙁
Ref the fire starter, I have one that is considerably older but still works as designed. It’s pretty rusty and a look at the internals would scare anyone familiar with a smattering of knowledge of antique electrical devices. Still works though!
Was the Pathfinder not riddled with gunfire? Sure looks like it was riddled with gunfire.
Will gladly come to a Chicago meetup. Might even offer to help.
Absolutely would be down for a Chicago meet-up! This was a really fun party, Mercedes it was great to meet you and thanks for laughing at my jokes as we walked through the yard (and thanks for featuring me in your photos, where I was clearly contemplating taking that air suspension with me..)
Chicago and Milwaukee? Count me in!
More parties should be held in junkyards.
Seriously, though, it was a blast. David and Jason, thanks for putting it together. It was great to see firsthand the community you guys have created. Also, thanks for not cheaping out on the keg; Two-Hearted Ale is SOLID.
Loved talking to so many Autopians and Oppos … especially Sean, whom I asked about his K-car AND his Yugo. And thanks to the folks who lent a hand to keep me and Sandy The Wonder Acura from getting stuck in David’s backyard!
Mercedes, put me down for the Chicago meetup!
Hey, that’s My TJ!