One Saturday evening in 1979 I read an ad for a cheap TR7. Sunday morning I interrupted
the proprietor of the dealership associated with a Dodge (I think) outlet in the
Midway area. He was doing his exercises but took time out to sell me the new car.
He had half a dozen white ones and few others, and wanted to get rid of some.
Good price. I was pleased with that aspect and
top; I had been out of convertibles for quite a while, and felt the need.
gearbox; nothing like a bunch of cogs to select from.
shape, reputed to have a drag factor near .30.
guy threw in an Autopower rollover bar, installed.
condicionado; I had already determined there were few or no TR7 convertibles
without it in the USA. I had delusions of racing it, an idea I soon abandoned.
Not because it was aire condicionado. More about that later. I really liked
the AC after a few sittings-in-traffic-in-the-sun with the top up.
suited my (mid-life) taste at the moment.
sure I will remember or invent others. Any road, within an hour I was happily
motoring the six or so miles home on I8 East and 163 North. As I left the top
of the off-ramp to my surface-street choice SMOKE CAME OUT OF THE DASH VENTS !
ELECTRICAL SMOKE ! My 6-mile-new car was going to burn down around
me! I steered to the side of the road, turned off the ignition, and prepared to
abandon ship. There was no more smoke. I looked under the bonnet but saw nothing
out of the ordinary.
In a possibly foolish move, I sat in it and turned
on the ignition. No more fire, no sparks. Turned it over, it started right up,
still no more untoward phenomena. Drove it home and looked under the bonnet again,
again saw no problems. Whew! Maybe it was just a new-car wrinkle I hadn't heard
I drove it to work for several days (five, to be exact). On Friday
I offered to drive to the traditional luncheon. OK. After lunch it wouldn't start,
dead battery symptoms. I took it to the service department of a nearby dealer.
The man at the door checked it out, said the alternator wasn't charging the battery.
Both components were good, but apparently not connected. He did a little back-tracing
and found the responsible wire from the alternator was vaporized and welded to
the side of the engine block. I guess it had grounded when I turned left, and
that was what caused the smoke. The battery was good enough to last four days
and a bit without charging, if you didn't drive it after dark. And I didn't.
As a matter of fact I used to say truthfully that for the first ten years
of its life, the TR7 was never out of the garage after dark or in the rain. I
always had something else to drive in those circumstances. Neat-o.