The Legend of Gossin’s Gold continues this time with Graveyard Garbage & Grievance Vol 2: Electric Boogaloo! Let’s fly this thing somewhere that I recently visited: the back lot of my buddy’s transmission shop here in beautiful Wilmington, NC on The Cape Fear, shall we?
I recently needed a transmission manifold pressure switch for an Impala I rescued (nasty repair; article to come shortly) and noticed some “sittin’ gold” behind the shop when I went to pick up my beautiful full-size GM sedan. Cars that were all there as a result of a transmission issue that for one reason or another spelled doom for them. Some were actually repaired, but then the owner just abandoned it and never paid the bill. Others received an estimate and then disappeared into the ether.
Any way you look at it, it is sad. I asked my buddy about going to the DMV and applying for a Mechanic’s Title/mechanic’s lien, but he said that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. With the used car market coming quickly back down to pre-pandemic levels, none of the cars sitting in that lot would bring more than $3-$4K and my buddy has bigger fish to fry. The guy has a full five-bay garage and a waiting list of customers trying to get an appointment along with local government and local business fleet maintenance.
So for now, these beauties are in the same limbo that they have been in for the past few years: just a-sittin’. Why don’t we mourn collectively mourn their unfortunate purgatorial placement together, shall we?
As I said before, I’m not really a Jeep guy, they’re totally fine, but I just don’t really covet or desire one. Although, if I had to choose a Jeep from this era, this guy, in this color would probably be it. I’m not sure about the year, although I’m sure Rob “The Voice of The Youth” Spiteri or David “I Love Jeeps And Cats” Tracy could tell me. The standard cab configuration is handsome and strikes a killer profile, yet seems like the seat can only recline so far.
The paint is gorgeous, and that is not just a subjective claim from a guy that favors the same hues as James Taylor (“...deep greens and blues are the colors I choose”). The blacked-out grill and wheel arch flares provide a perfect contrast for this design and application.
These are pretty rare in the overall scheme of things (say, compared to a ‘15 Camry or Rav4) and seeing one like this is not the semi-ending this truck deserved. Dios mio.
My badass uncle, John Toukatly, had one of these years ago to fight the snow in Cedar Lake, NY, although his was a late-’90s “Chevy Tracker”. If I recall correctly (and anecdotally), it was one of the better cars he’s owned. To put that in context, my uncle grew up in the Elvis era, and started out with ’40s and ’50s cars. There’s a family legend about the late-’40s/early ’50s Cadillac he bought for $20, but that’s another story for another time.
My point is that the man has driven cars since the advent of Rock n’ Roll and he appreciates the Tracker. That’s some serious praise.
The point is that, beyond David Tracy and what I think is a pretty fervent following for those in the know, these are not nearly as celebrated as they should be from a hardiness and mechanical standpoint. Yes, this one here has sadly been afflicted with a transmission issue that caused its owner to abandon it, but that’s on the shithead owner, not the car. Cars break; what really matters is the inner perseverance you display as you get them back up and standing tall.
The design of these really look like a toy car if you look at it just right; all the proportions match, but they just seem so scaled-down in the best possible way. The guy that formerly owned this one decided to go with a big wheel look, which is fine, I guess, but I’m a more small wheel guy. The all-black paint and trim is also fine, but some bright’ 90s colors would be tops if this were ever to make its way out its homeostasis in this lot.
Sidebar: if you look in the background in the below Jag photo, you’d see a hardtop Suzuki Samurai. Per our good buddy The Bishop, those are rare bears, as most buyers opted for the convertible.
This is the car that caught my gaze and brought me into this back lot since I’m a Jaguar XK8 owner. For those in the know, parts on these cars ain’t cheap and those headlights are “gold, Jerry, gold!” I was told that this owner was presented with an estimate for the replacement/rebuild of the ZF transmission in this car and then promptly vanished, never to be heard from again.
They followed up with phone calls, voicemails, and texts to the guy over the past three years, but to no avail. What a frickin’ shame as this is a beautiful car, in a gorgeous color, that is chock-full of expensive parts (perfect top, interior, body and headlights).
The ZF transmissions on these were not known to be the greatest pieces of work that firm put out and transmission cooler failure was the reason I ended up rescuing my XK8 out of a backyard for the paltry sum of $290. It’s a particularly nasty failure that involves coolant circulating through your transmission.
These cars aren’t worth as much as you’d think they would be these days, and I can see why someone would be hesitant to invest in a transmission replacement for a 20-year old British car. Hell, I just bought a newer ‘07 XK (the next generation of this car) for $5K, so I can empathize with not performing the repair (empathy is good, the world needs more of it). But come on man, don’t just ghost on it! This car deserves better.
Random Subaru with a turbo
I’m 43, so I totally missed the boat with cars of this ilk. When “The Fast & The Furious” came out in ‘01, I had my nose stuck in a book as a broke college Junior and was not a part of this scene. By the time I was out of college debt and ready to get into cars to a larger degree, most of the guys driving these cars looked like this.
I just missed that scene when it was new and cool and found it right as everybody was leaving and onto something else. It’s hard to be attracted to something when everyone is heading for the exits and generally over it.
I ain’t got nothing bad to say about them, but maaayyyyne, this just really isn’t my thing. I’m not really sure about anything regarding this car, but Weekend Youngster Rob “The Voice of The Youth” Spiteri tells me it’s an ‘02-’06 Impreza.
I can’t believe this dude put this kind of money into this car and then abandoned it at a transmission shop. Even more so, I can’t believe nobody has stolen the inter-cooler off of it yet. It’s right up front there, just a-beggin’ to be stolen!
Look, I really don’t want to be that guy that puts anyone or anything down on the internet–that’s about as cool as Phoenix was this summer. So to try any find the bright side here, I’d say that if this car had a working transmission, it would probably be faster than most of my fleet, save for my Trans Am, XK, XK8 and Crossfire (maybe). So good for it and its estranged owner! At least it has that potential still present even after being kneecapped on the sidelines for a hot minute.
Let’s head back to the local Pick n’ Pull!
All these busted transmissions started getting me all teary-eyed, so I headed back to a place that always makes me smile, even if it has a macabre overtone: the junkyard.
2010 Mercedes GL 450
Just like last week, I’d like to take another opportunity to tell y’all about how I’m still completely shell-shocked that Mercedes wanted to charge me $8K for fix a car that I bought for $1900. And that was over a year ago and I’m still upset and bitchin’ about it.
This car cost $59,950 in 2010, or $369/month or $84,043.44 in today’s dollars. It was junked for $925 with a perfect body and interior only 13 years later.
Our own Thomas Hundal and I had a conversation about the GL of the 1st Obama Term Era, which centered around these cars mostly getting scrapped due to the astronomical cost of repairing the prone-to-fail air suspension.
We discussed last week how these cars have ownership-ending suspension or electrical faults that require a reverse mortgage on your home to finance. I still fail to understand the logic behind owning a vehicle that has such enormous financial liabilities, unless maybe you work at a Mercedes dealership parts dept or are a Master Tech in their Service Dept.
If you believe in your heart that a 13-year old Mercedes (that is way out of warranty) is the best vehicle choice, I’d love to hear from you below in the comments. I’m truly hoping that one of you will help me come around and see the light, since these are very pretty cars with many of the qualities that we, as car enthusiasts, love and appreciate. It’s just those other non-quality qualities that has me sideways on them.
1984 BMW 318i
You’ve probably noticed by now that The Legend of Gossin’s Gold includes quite a few expensive German cars. This is because they fit the Gold/Garbage/Grievance Venn Diagram perfectly; they are usually very pretty, pack some awesome specs, are expensive to buy, expensive and hard to fix, broken, and therefore are over-represented in the salvage yard. Such a wide-ranging mix of emotions is stirred when your gaze falls upon one in such a derelict, hulking state.
Well, this isn’t one of those cars. All of my friends that are into older German cars love them for various reasons and their analog properties are usually at the top of that list. None of those friends wish for the electro-digital Rube Goldberg complexity of the modern versions of them.
I’ve long wished to experience the magic of those older, storied cars; I mean, Jason really seems to love his Beetle. Sadly though, you just don’t really see them much in my price range (under $3K) these days. I’ll keep looking though.
This 318i has a surprising amount of chrome on the body (window surround and wheel arches), which you don’t really associate with BMW in the modern parlance. The seats have covers on them that look equal parts comfy and smelly and the manual transmission and rear spoiler tell me that this car was the life of the party back in its day. Or at least the person that spikes the punch bowl.
The fog lights are cool in the way that they hang under the front bumper and the rear side glass gets bigger the longer you stare at it; I’m guessing it’s due to making this 2-door off of a 4-door platform. Sadly, this car will start on its journey of becoming something else made of steel this week.
The Legend of Gossin’s Gold continues!
Well there we have it, friends, another fun day of me wandering around backlots and junkyards with a phone camera, trying not to look like too much of a weirdo. Hope you enjoyed this weeks’ choices and let’s get pumped for the next installment! Until then, my homies!
All photos by Stephen Walter Gossin
- Is The $1,200 Beat-To-Death Pontiac Grand Am For Sale In Every Town Worth It? I Found Out.
- How I Got Six Years Of Service Out Of A $220 Car
- What I Learned Trying To Flip Two Dirt-Cheap GM “J-Body” Coupes That Nobody Wants
- How I Saved A Once-$90,000 Mercedes SL I Bought For $1,900
- Why The Dirt-Cheap Broken Jaguar X-Type For Sale In Every Town Might Actually Be Worth Buying And Fixing
- I Took On A Bad GM Design In A Hail-Mary Attempt To Fix My Friends Broken Suburban But It Was Too Little Too Late
- I Asked The Internet Which of My Cars I Should Sell. Here’s What The People Said
- I Have More Cars Than Parking Spaces. Help Me Decide What Stays And What Goes
- What It Was Like Owning And Fixing My First Jeep After Owning Over 100 Non-Jeeps
- How I Saved My Buddys’ SUV After It Died At The Most Embarrassing Possible Time
- Gossin’s Gold: Graveyard Garbage & Grievance Vol. 1