Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reckless Abandon

Before the insanity...
There was no way I could've known that walking into my favorite junkyard on a weekday afternoon  I would find my friends old car. Not one like it, but his actual car that he drove and loved years ago. I felt bad calling to tell him I had found his car sitting as a hulk. But not he. He was ecstatic that I found this thing and quickly went down to have a look at it.

The car in question was a 1991 Lumina Z34. Please contain your shouts of excitement. I know I know, but this one had a lovely little quad cam V6 powering it. Putting out 210 horsepower in a time Corvettes couldn't break 300 was a big deal. Naturally GM achieved this horsepower figure in the most difficult way possible. An iron block, aluminum heads, (Because screw you metallurgy) sodium filled valves and a 7,000 rpm redline made this a properly cool engine. Making this particular car more rare is the extremely rare and equally fragile Getrag 5 speed manual that backs it. Manufactured in Germany and sold in pitiful numbers in this combination, it is an exceedingly rare bird. 

Like any human would do, he snagged the badges and shift knob for mementos but later on at the bar I urged him to be more ambitious. Judging by the odometer, the car had only done around 9,000 kms since he sold it with a freshly rebuilt engine. Therefore it seemed natural to me that we should go back and pick the ripe LQ1 quad cam from this 90's GM oddball. Two more beers and he was in.

We're idiots. Ambitious and determined idiots but idiots nonetheless. We allotted ourselves 3 hours to pull the engine and transmission. Well... 

It was an immensely fun process to remove the lifeless heart from it's ailing body. Wires were cut, hoses removed and everything not vital to the engine and transmission was chopped and hacked into submission. It was educational and therapeutic at the same time. Our crew of friends laughed merrily throughout the course of the organ harvest.

Though it took us two (3 hour) days we got it out. There's a primal sort of excitement that comes with seeing an oily dirty engine hoisted high in the air. I imagine it's how a neanderthal would feel with one foot stomped proudly on the head of a slain mammoth. Pulling an engine is a fantastic way to waste time with friends and learn a bit about cars in the process. No matter what car or what engine the sense of satisfaction that goes with it is near unrivaled. 


  1. Glad you saved the engine/trans from this, and the car itself with the Getrag 5-speed is an incredibly underrated modern classic.

    1. The LQ1/Getrag combo is a great find indeed. These cars never got the same attention as the similar Ford Taurus SHO and sadly, many have forgotten about them. But the 5 speed really transforms this car and makes it faster and more fun to drive. This drivetrain eventually was swapped into an ailing Pontiac Grand Prix GTP but tuning problems kept it from running right and the car was sold.