Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Falcon is retired

My cab partners and I were called in this week for a driver meeting. In my two and a half years driving a taxi, this has never happened. It was scheduled for 15 minutes. We were sure it was for some kind of chewing-out, even though all three of us are fairly good workers -- we don't ding the car or get tickets, we wash the car and change the oil. Still, we were dreading the meeting.

We were given a speech by the owner discussing how there were changes coming to the office end of things. A new effort was being made to get cars serviced faster (and better). An office worker was chosen to be the official liaison between drivers and the mechanic. The worst cars in the fleet will be retired, and some newer (or at least better) cars would be arriving. Part of the reason we have such old, run-down cars (the Falcon wasn't so bad, but some of the others are embarrassing), is that the owner doesn't trust the drivers to maintain or even wash the cars. Why give drivers good cars if we're going to let them go to hell? In the last three months, the fleet suffered three blown engines, and three transmissions went out. At least one of the engines had no oil inside, and that driver was fired. I think I've heard him on the radio since then, which means he begged for his job.

Anyway, the owner is changing his thinking, but it's really only a test. He'll put a few good cars into the fleet to see how drivers take care of them. We were asked for feedback, and we said we liked everything we heard. Moments later, a shiny new cab (200k miles, but in fantastic, almost new condition) rolled into the parking lot. "This is yours," he told us. This new car, No. 92, makes the Falcon look like a turd. I hadn't realized how many things on the Falcon didn't work until I took 92 for a spin. The car is immaculate, inside and out. It was purchased from a Ford dealer as a well-kept, used Crown Vic. It was never a police car, which means the thing rides comfortably, unlike the stiff Falcon, and it has carpeting and lots of great electronic options, like cruise control, power seats, and there are several ways to unlock the car -- remote and keyless entry. We were (and are) thrilled.

The only downside: because of a split-bench front seat, there's no great way to mount the laptop. I'll consider giving up the laptop in the car so I can ride in style and comfort.

So, my partners went home in their civilian cars, and I was handed the keys to 92. After working a shift, I'm still thrilled. The Falcon, by comparison, is a high-performance, uncomfortable beast. The new car is plush, but not much happens when I jam on the gas. It does okay, still with a 4.6 liter V8, but it's no Police Interceptor.

The fate of the Falcon

Right after the meeting, I asked the owner what he was going to do with 95 (the Falcon). Nothing, he said. "Do you want to buy it?" he asked me. Well, now, that's interesting, considering my civilian car has been dead for two years and I'm just dragging my feet before donating it to charity for the tax writeoff. It would be nice to have my own wheels again. I told him I was lean, financially, and it wasn't a good time to entertain a car purchase. "I'll take $500 for it, and you can pay me whenever you get the money. You can have the car now, though." That turned out to mean, whenever he could dig up the title. I plan to take the car off his hands Monday, if his office people can get the paperwork in order.

It would really be something to outfit it in full cop regalia: black paint, light-weight cop wheels with those tiny moon hub cabs, performance tires, heavy duty nerf bars on the front, and dark window tint. I'd never get pulled over again! Cops don't pull over their own. Performance mufflers are a must. I can't stand driving a car that's so quiet I can't tell the RPM with my ears. Same thing with motorcycles, I like feeling as if I'm playing a musical instrument with the throttle.

Even though the Falcon leaks and burns fluids, it has a few nice qualities:

    1999 Mustang GT engine last year

    4-speed trans rebuilt last year, and re-adjusted this year

    "Front end" replaced March of this year (wheel bearings, ball joints, mysterious "links" and stuff)

    Dual exhaust with Mustang GT exhaust manifolds

    Custom made laptop mount and a Kenwood stereo with a line-in jack

At any rate, the car is unbelievably used, practically worn out. I probably won't make any modifications. When it finally dies, I'll call the junk yard. I'm sure I'll get more than $500 use out of it. It'll be fun bombing around town with 300 or so horsepower without my boss's phone number emblazoned on the car. Anybody who even thinks about doing something stupid on the highway near me is going to get honked at and flipped off. I've been dreaming about that for two long years.


4min said...

good karma paying you back i suppose, to have an awesome car. that's crazy that your garage expects drivers to fill the car with fluids? change them too?

when i was doing the garage thing, have no idea what i'm doing next, the only fluid we filled was gasoline, (sometimes air in the tires and washer fluid) and the gas and air was at the garage too. all taking care of the car here meant was to not ding it up and not burn out the tires, or wear the transmission.

Ted Martin said...

We get the oil changed, and turn in the receipt against the next lease. Same with any fluids we fill -- oil, ATF, brake fluid, power steering, etc. All receipts are reimbursed. Still, it's a hassle.

Brent McD. said...

oh boy, you're going to be honking and flipping people off constantly. lol. probably get attacked and shot at too. so many self-centered maniacs on our local roads. be careful out there....