June 16th, 2006

The Ultimate Beater Car

On the way home from work today, I started thinking about what I could do with the parted-out hulk of the red Escort once the green Escort is street-legal again. I came up with a great idea.

Instead of selling it to a parts yard, I thought I could make a new front bumper out of square tubing, and mount some headlights and turn signals to it. Then I could remove the back seat and interior panels from the hatch area and replace them with sheetmetal or plywood.

The electrical system woes could be repaired simply, by eschewing a key switch altogether and installing a set of switches on a control panel--probably put it where the radio is now, since I wouldn't have rear speakers anyway. There'd be one switch to turn on power to the fuel pump; one for the accessories and such; and then a momentary-contact switch, with a protective cover, to bump the starter when necessary. The headlight switches would also be on this panel.

The overall rough exterior appearance of the car wouldn't matter all that much. In fact, I thought, I could hog out the fender openings, put on some flares, and buy bigger all-terrain tires. The needed clearance could be obtained by putting spacer blocks under the springs--maybe go for a 1" or 2" lift all around. This would improve approach and departure angles, and give more ground clearance. Maybe replace the rear bumper with square tubing, too.

The body would be painted flat black, probably with rattle cans. I'd replace the alloy wheels with stamped steel ones (assuming I could find ones with the right bolt pattern). Finally, the steel front bumper would get a light-duty winch.

Come winter time, that thing would be just about unstoppable. It would be a lot of fun to cruise around in just about all the time, even though it would look pretty bizarre and stupid; but it would be fun to find some places to take it off-road, too.

I'd add a trailer hitch to it, and then buy a small trailer; the car could then be used as a parts-getter and/or multi-purpose hauler.

I swear, if you can weld and shape metal, you can do just about anything with a car.