Words and pictures by: Jamil Mizirawi
At a little restaurant in Northern California I broke the idea to my wife. "It will be easy" I said. "It will be practical" I said. "I'll do it really cheap" I said. I never meant for any of these things to be lies.
And so begins Project IHAVENTTHOUGHTOFANAMESOIMJUSTGOINGTOWRITERANDOMSTUFFANDSEEWHATSTICKS.
The plan was simple. Find a stupidly cheap 4x4 truck that runs, give zero expletives about how it looks (or smells... more on that later), and make it off road camping/bug out truck capable.
See! Like I said, simple.
With the help of BRZO I set my standards and my expectations very low and I let the postings roll in. After several unsuccessful attempts at contacting people I found a green Lincoln Navigator, cheap, doesn't run. I figured that the person just didn't understand these vehicles and I could get it running right there and then.
The battery had been installed backwards and the truck was started. This shoved strong metal engine bits into weak metal engine bits causing two objects to occupy the same space at the same time. Needs engine swap, tires (cords were showing), and the interior cleaned of all the meth stains. I passed on it.
Now I'm really in truck finding mode. My BRZO and IF app were both working overtime. And I called and called and called. Then I got a notification of a new truck on the market. Talked with the guy and journeyed up to suburbs of Sacramento to see what is what with this truck.
There it was, in all its ghetto glory. A 1999 Ford Expedition 4x4 Eddie Bauer edition in baby shmear green. The exterior has evidence of someone not giving two shakes of a rats tail about it while the interior was bathed in the smell of cigarettes and desperation. The engine sprang to life after about 15 minutes of jump starting and ran with the grace of someone who isn't going to make it to the bathroom in time. "It's a beast" the large half German/half Cherokee burbled. And he wasn't wrong but, then again he definitely wasn't right either. He meant that it was powerful. It isn't. It's a beast in the way it drives, like you are being mauled by a rabid bear.
He showed me a folder with a single solitary invoice. $1500 for a tuneup... on an old Ford, with the recommendation for upper control arms. And that's it. A service history fitting for the fixed income of a man who dropped out of middle school.
Needless to say this truck was disgusting and pathetic. So I bought it. For the princely sum of $1000 I had a Ford truck with seats reupholstered in duct tape and a suspension death wobble that would surely cause lesser men to run for the hills. Because of the aforementioned death wobble I drove it 5 miles up the road to my friends property in the pouring rain. There Project BASKETOFDEPLORABLES will get the upper control arms changed, like the guy said needs to happen. I hope he is right about that. Only time will tell.
As I'm driving Project GREENBEAN up to my friends house I hear a short startling scream. "What the hell was that!?!?" I thought it may have been a mechanical issue but the truck still drove as bad as before. I learn later that the previous owner had left a plastic crucifix in the car. My guess is I have expelled a demon from the truck just from trying to be a good person and rescuing this truck. It's just a guess, I'll diagnose it later. As of then, however, I was running late for my Sunday worship.
Want to help name my project truck? Check out my insta @jsmizira and send me names.
(Jamil Mizirawi is an overly ambitious if not slightly delusional Californian who fancies himself to be a good mechanic, a great husband, and really crap writer. Follow his adventures here on DWA!)