Buying a car is, without a doubt, usually a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. Doubly so when you’ve not had a chance to inspect it in daylight, or to drive it. Triply so when you’ve sunk everything you’ve got into it.
That said, I was surprised to find myself comparatively unfazed by the purchase of this '68 Dodge Charger, during which I’d ticked all of the above boxes. Sure, I’d made transactions like it before – but at most they were for a third of the value. Positive waves were keeping me afloat; it looked, felt and sounded like an honest, solid car.
Well, that was what I dearly hoped, at any rate. It was somewhat of a bold assertion, given that I’d not even seen the car in the cold hard light of day. Fortunately I’d had the foresight to engineer in a little safety net: although I’d agreed to buy the car, I’d only done so on the basis that I could give it one final inspection once we’d got it out of the garage.
My reasoning for that, besides not really being able to get a clear look at the underside, was that the car was pinned against one wall. Consequently you couldn’t see much of the passenger side at all, let alone anything underneath. I wasn't looking to get into a weldathon, so it needed to be as clean on that side as it appeared on the other.
I didn't think that getting the Dodge out into the daylight was going to be the work of a moment, though. It just about ran, sure, but the brake pedal had zero effect on the drums at each corner – unassisted drums, at that – and the handbrake had long retired from its duty of holding the Charger on a gradient.
This was a problem because the garage faced onto a small slope that led immediately into a fairly busy road. Visions of some 1800kg of unrestrained Dodge careening through traffic, having escaped from our grasp, and barrelling into the house opposite flicked in and out of my mind.