07 January 2009

I can't have nice things

And welcome to the New Goddamn Year.

I've not had the best of luck with the Batmobile. I'd wanted an Esperante for years, so when a low-mile one came available a few years back, we jumped on the chance. But it had a few small issues that were a bear to deal with. Because of the extreme heat of the desert, there was some warping of the interior door panels, some of the dashboard trim was curled, and the trunk lid upholstery was loose. Then there were the low-profile tires and deep dish wheels the original owner had put on the car that sapped it of some of its incredible control.

We worked through the dealer from which we'd bought it to resolve some of the trim issues, but their solutions all involved copious amounts of glue. (No, I'm not kidding.)

Finally giving up on the d-bags who'd sold it to us, we moved on. The first real problem was due to those stupid low-profile tires. The wheels were too big so the front tires ended up shredding regularly. We replaced them a couple of times before we finally got around to putting on new, appropriate wheels. (Panoz is now considering using these wheels as their stock ones; they're very slick.) Finally, the car felt like the high performance GT coupe it is instead of my in-laws boat of a Buick. Tight, good control at speed, and closer to its ridiculous skid pad rating.

Some problems with the top still nagged, however. Having gone through top nightmares with the Boxster, every time the Batmobile's top gave me agita I got homicidal. I still remember the perfect, never-fail manual top on my first convertible (a Geo Metro...keep your snickers to yourself) and can't understand why people think slower automatic tops are preferable. It got fixed, but never felt quite right to me. And there were some other small niggling issues as well.

We talked with Panoz and they said they liked to get the cars back to the factory every few years anyway, to do upgrades and give the cars some TLC. Mine's a daily driver, not a show car, and that makes them happy, so we shipped her back to Georgia last August. And waited. And waited some more.

First, there was some miscommunication. Then there was just...Panoz. They build a nice car, but they're not the speediest operation in the world.

The car got back to AZ last Friday, January 2nd.

All the nagging issues were fixed, and Panoz had used the time wisely. They needed to come up with materials and solutions that would work in the extreme heat of AZ, so the car spent a lot of time baking in the garage overnight. They did a great job. My door panels - a cosmetic issue I had never even complained about - were replaced with tight, perfect fitting ones. The dash trim was swapped out for some new suede that looks fantastic. The electrical problems seem resolved. And the car drove even tighter. Like a dream.

I got in her yesterday afternoon to go home and decided it was just warm enough to put the top down and see how it's working. It seemed to be sitting a little high and I was thinking about that as I backed out of my spot in the garage.

Did I mention this is the longest car I've ever owned? And the cab is pushed well back, giving me a whole lot of car in front of me? Oh, and for the last five months I've been driving the Mini and the Xterra and they're both cab-forward with short turning radii?

See, there was this pole I'd parked next to, about two inches away from. That's fine when I'm thinking about parking, but not so much when I'm wondering why my top is sitting high.


Honestly, as irritating and upsetting as that was, I wouldn't have minded too much. The fender, as you can see, isn't a complex, honeycomb design as on most cars. As ugly as that is - a bit worse because I pulled the intake vent off before the photo - a new fender, pre-painted in GA, could be popped on in a few minutes. Hell, I could do it on this car. Except...I bumped the tire as well. And now my right front is toed in a few degrees relative to the left. So it's currently undrivable. I'm worried that the incredible tightness the car had when it returned from GA is never going to be replicated.

Worse: I now question whether I can ever be comfortable driving my car again. This is the third time I've hit something at extreme low speed - the other two times did tiny bits of cosmetic damage that have been fixed. The front is so long, I may never completely adapt to it. Now I'm thinking of selling her. Back for four days and undriveable and I'm thinking of selling her. Ugh.

Well, I'm off to call the tow company. More later.


mikeo75 said...

Frak dude...that sucks big time. I saw the car in person, it's a beauty, I know how much you love it, how much it means to you...and to see it crunched like that sucks awfully hard.

I hope it gets repaired back to its original greatness...good luck to you!

sme said...

After ALL that work on the car it seems like the biggest downer ever to sell it.
Sucks dude. Sorry.

Now I'm going to google it and see what it's supposed to look like. I know nothing of cars.

2old4this said...

If you really need to get rid of it, I'll take it.

Hah, just kidding, I couldn't afford the property taxes on that thing, much less anything else:(

How's about a Dodge Challenger SRT8? Not in the same class, but shorter hood, good power, and when Chrysler dies, it'll be an instant classic.

HEY, this might be an interesting topic for a Sketch War!

R.A. Porter said...

I like the "instant classic" notion, that's for sure.

Davina said...

Trying this again....I'm sorry about your trouble with your baby. Maybe it's a sign that, I don't know, life stinks sometimes. I hope you have better luck from here on out.

Michele / akkasha said...

So sorry to hear about your car woes! It is a beautiful car and it is really sad that it is damaged. I am hoping it is worthwhile to fix it. But I understand that if your driveway is that long, it will be an ongoing issue that might not be worth the headache. Though I am guessing you would take a huge hit in the asking price if you sell it as is.

Good luck with whatever you chose to do with it.

2old4this said...

I have realized that I was rather inconsiderate in my post.
I don't retract anything I wrote, but I add that I admire that car and those like it, and I do have an idea of how much you loved it, and I am sorry this happened.

I hope that it somehow all works out for you.

I still think the Challenger would be worth considering as a successor if you sell the Panoz though.

R.A. Porter said...

Brian, if we can't point and laugh at our friends when they suffer small misfortunes (at their own hands, especially) we've got a problem. ;)

I've got my health, a roof over my head, and a job. The car'll be figured out.