The steady flow of Stupid Gearhead Stories from our readers proves thatthe trials and tribulations of hapless hot rodders never cease, and thedeath-defying antics of our readers never cease to amaze us. But otherthan a few bumps and bruises, our luckless readers always come away withnothing worse than a fractured ego and a funny story. -Matt King
I purchased a used '63 Cadillac for my former wife in 1970 and rebuiltthe carburetor a few weeks later. Things were moving along well untilone hot summer afternoon when she came walking in and told me the carhad stopped running a few blocks from home. I grabbed my toolbox and itdidn't take long to figure out that fuel was not getting into theengine. I removed the carb from the intake and then thought to check ifthe fuel pump was working by turning the engine over a few times withthe starter. Yeah, the pump was working all right! Raw fuel shot intothe intake manifold, and a funny thing happened: the car started withoutthe carburetor and running at full throttle. It didn't take long beforeit backfired and the whole engine lit up in an engine fire. It burned tothe ground but I rebuilt it.
St. Augustine, FL
My best friend Ed Greninger and I had been out chasing parts for his '64Impala SS and we were discussing the recent performance tune-up he haddone on his '67 Chevy van, which we were riding in. To give me ademonstration of the van's newfound muscle, he came to a complete stop,revved the engine, and dropped the clutch. The rear tires squealed, andas the van launched we both said "Oh, s--" at the same time as the backdoors flew open and Ed's stand-up toolbox spilled out the back onto theroad. We spent the next hour picking up his tools, which had spread overan amazingly wide area. We didn't find some until winter when the grassdied and made searching easier.
A space shortage at home some years ago forced me to use our front lawnto park one of my cars. One snowy night, my "Baldini" tires didn't havethe traction to get me over the curb, so I enlisted my Mom to drivewhile I pushed. We rocked the car back and forth, the engine revving tolittle effect, even though I was practically herniating myself with theeffort. After a while, I noticed that as we rocked forward, the rightturn signal would flash, and when we rocked back, the left one flashed.Staggering up to the driver's window, I found Mom enthusiasticallyclicking the column-mounted turn signal lever up and down as she workedthe clutch and gas.
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
I let most of my Navy pay ride on the books for the two years I was on adestroyer, and when I got out in 1966, I bought the car of my dreams-a'56 Ford Thunderbird. After totaling it on a wet road, I bought apartially complete fiberglass '27 Model-T body that had sat in front ofBlair's Speed Shop in Pasadena, California, for months.
When you're a kid, items like the headlights, windshield, parking brake,and muffler are considered eccentricities since they don't help the cargo any faster, and the sheriff's office was extremely instrumental inhelping me finish the roadster. When they wrote me up for not having awindshield, I had to put one on. When I put the windshield on, theywrote me up for no wipers, and on it went.
One day some gearheads pulled into the station and wanted to hear theroadster run. I proudly reached over and twisted the key, not noticingthe car was in gear. I had not yet been written up for not having aparking brake, so the car fired immediately, and the fenderless rearwheel slammed me down on the pavement and ran me over. The rear tractionbar caught my belt loop and we were peeling out, but it was me doing thepeeling as the roadster dragged me across the asphalt.
My pants eventually tore loose and I got up to chase the car across thebusy street with my pants falling down. I stopped to pull them up,caught up with the roadster, and dived over the rear deck to twist offthe key. I turned around to see 20 spectators laughing their asses off,took my bows, and collapsed waiting for the ambulance.
29 Palms, CA