Understeer Z Odyssey

Z Odyssey, Part 2: Ship (Doesn’t) Happen(s), A Donkey Show, and Love at First Sight

The 240Z adventure continues: its new owner sees it for the first time in person and prepares for a monumental journey.

If you haven't read the previous chapters, welcome! Get caught up in the Z Odyssey archive. New posts every Tuesday!

I'd found the car I wanted, but, coming from across the country, how would I buy it? With everyone and their uncle leery of wire transfers thanks to the numerous Nigerian princes out there, I had to come up with a way to get my money in the seller's hands without having him being scared of getting ripped off. Any banker in their right mind would warn him against accepting a wire transfer. I could always mail him a check, but then I'd be vulnerable if he backed out. I considered putting the money into an escrow account, which is common, but that would take time: time I didn’t have, since I was on both the seller and my friend's schedules.

Golf, it turns out, would be the Klonopin all three of us would need to ease the anxiety. My friend Pat works for the golf course at Mammoth Lakes, CA, and the seller was a golf pro at his local resort. Once the two of them made the connection, it was smooth sailing from there. I wired the money directly to his bank, but the tellers warned him of the potential scam. He shrugged it off and put faith in me and Pat. He was $7000 richer, and I was $7000 poorer, with the title to a 1972 240Z. I kept in contact with the seller over the next few days, as transfers can take time. I wanted him to be sure that this wasn’t a scam and that the money was transferred.

Pat made the 4 hour trek back with my new pride and joy while I started contacting shipping companies to get it loaded onto a trailer to ship back east. This turned out to be a nightmare. Transport companies tend to just accept whatever job they can within a reasonable price range, regardless of the location of the vehicle. I had multiple carriers accept the job, wait a few days to a week, call me to arrange pick up, realize the location sucked, and then cancel on me. It was Thanksgiving , and time wasn’t doing me any favors either, as roads and winter storms could disable travel at any time.

After a few weeks of waiting, I wondered if I should just try and drive it home. I started researching flights and found a few decent fares. I talked with my wife to see what she thought of me embarking on this journey, and she was 100% supportive. I waffled for a couple days on the decision, since I figured I would need a two week lead time to make the flight prices work. As luck would have it, I was finally going to pull a sort of scam on Frontier. Frontier was offering $48 one way flights to Vegas. I could leave the next day for fifty bucks and start the journey. If you aren't aware of Frontier, they nickel and dime you for everything. You want to choose your seat? That's an extra fifteen bucks. You want to bring a carry-on item? That's an extra fifty bucks. You want to use the bathroom, ten bucks. I might be the first person to make that flight for the advertised price. I was planning on packing light anyways, so this was more of an incentive. I shoved everything I would need to bring with me in a "personal item" sized backpack. With 30 hours notice, I was on my way to Vegas with only a backpack and a one-way rental car destined for MMH airport in Mammoth Lakes. 

I arrived in Vegas at 1 AM on Friday, December 1, 2017. I wasn't hassled one bit from Frontier, which honestly surprised me, as I figured they would try and nickel and dime me at any opportunity. I got about 4 hours of "plane sleep" on my flight; that kind of sleep where you're partially awake and partially asleep at the same time. Where you’re constantly entering and leaving consciousness. As I had a long drive ahead of me, any sleep I got was better than none.

I got to my Enterprise rental car at about 1:30 AM and embarked on the five hour drive to Mammoth. I stopped at the infamous Alien Highway rest stop off of Route 95 north of Vegas, and was bemused to see that they had an alien brothel. If I had more time, was single, and desperate, I might have walked in just to see what it was all about.

In between Mammoth and Vegas is nothing but highway, a small town, and a few brothels. I made it to the small town of Beatty around 4 AM. I was starting to get a little tired, and thought I saw something in the middle of the road. It wasn't an alien, but I'll be damned if it wasn't two donkeys crossing the street. They didn't acknowledge or flinch as I came to a quick halt about 10 feet away. I had seen wild horses crossing the road when I previously lived out here, but never wild donkeys. I wasn’t sure if that was an omen, but I pushed on regardless. I made it to Pat's house in Mammoth at about 6:30 AM.

I finally got to see her after weeks of waiting. Pat had gotten busy tearing her down a little bit to prep her for the trip. The original radio was long gone and she had been spliced open (Dash Panel had been hacked apart) to store an antiquated aftermarket CD player. I say store, because the head unit wasn't even connected to power or the speakers. If you're going to make a trip across country, you have to have music. And it's sad to say, but if I was going to go from Mammoth to Northern VA, I needed tunes or else I didn't think I could make it. He had also wired up the cigarette lighter so I could charge my phone for the trip.

We buttoned her up so I could take her out for a quick test drive and stop by the local NAPA auto parts to get a few needed items. The clutch was slipping under load in 3rd, 4th, and 5th but once you got above 3500 rpm, she would hold and pull all the way to 6k, which is short of redline. I wasn’t ready to push her that high yet. This 240 had a L28 paired with a 5 speed transmission which was perfect for highway cruising. It still had the stock 240Z secondary cylinder adjustment rod, so I was hoping to make some adjustments to get rid of the slipping clutch. Would it work? Tune in next time to find out!

By Unknown_Skier

I'm an avid skier, Datsun enthusiast, crappy machinist, crappier welder, really good grinder, and a big DIY'er.

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