[V8] The death of The Black Mariah?

Roger M. Woodbury rmwoodbury at adelphia.net
Fri Aug 4 03:02:22 EDT 2006

Well, maybe not.  

It is now two months plus into the search for an exhaust system for The
Black Mariah.  After a pretty intensive search and hand wringing, I decided
to ask my mechanic to order a Stebro system from Canada.  I had spoken to
Stebro directly, and then handed the information off to John.  He contacted
them, and was able to hammer out a deal where he got a price that would
enable him to make a smidgen on the parts, if he chose to do so.  I will not
hand carry parts to the shop for him to install as for the most part the
markup that he gets on this sort of "specialty" part is small, and he has
done so many other, "off the clock" things for my cars over time, if he can
make a few percent here and there, he has been more than worth it.  (There
was this one evening when at dusk, the 928 S4 computer died while driving
home through Lamoine where the shop is located.  I was near the convenience
store turning left toward home, when the car died at the stop sign.  John
was going in the opposite direction to his camp in another town and saw the
928 by the side of the road.  He stopped and found me trying to call the
flat bed in the store.  John called the wrecker, and when it arrived,
supervised the loading, went back to the shop to supervise the unloading and
put the car inside for the weekend.  It was around 8 o'clock that evening
when my wife picked me up.  I never did get charged for what was really a
road service call. And there have been other incidents of similar nature...)

Anyway, its now been over two months and no system.  John's credit card was
charged twenty nine days ago, and no system and no tracking number.  Three
weeks into this episode, a system arrived for a 1990 Audi 90.  This was
probably an honest error:  my car was an August, 1990 build, which makes it
an early 1991 20-Valve Avant.  But it certainly is NOT an Audi 90.

So, now there are two systems from Stebro charged to John's credit card, and
I still have no exhaust.  This is getting to be a major issue, since my car
is now slightly more than two months over the grace period for a vehicle to
be driven without a current state inspection sticker.  I have a document in
the glove box offering up an explanation, but it is getting weaker and
weaker, since I CAN get OEM parts through the dealer.  

I had hoped to get a good system at a slight savings, but it now appears
that Stebro is either not in business, or is for some other reason, unable
to provide the system needed for this car.

Now there are several reasons why this delay could be inevitable.  One is
the hogwash associated with the Department of Homeland Security regarding
imports and customs.  I mean, ANYONE could smuggle illegal anti-aircraft
missiles into the country disguised as Audi exhaust pieces.  Worse still,
they might be ANTI-SUV missiles, and one of Dubya's oil buddies
might....well, you get the drift.

There could well be one section of the system that is just being produced
now to rectify an out of stock condition...I'd believe that, too.  

Then there is the possibility that FEDEX is using MY system on one of their
trucks.  Or maybe the smashingly good looking blonde FEDEX lady driver who
services this are fell so totally and helplessly in love with the sexy,
stainless exhaust system she was carrying to deliver to John, that she has
decided to keep it hostage until she meets the handsome stud who bought this
system for his smashingly beautiful exotic car.  Yeah.  I like that one, a
LOT.  (Figure the odds forty years ago, let alone now!)

So, what is going to happen is John is going to do a followup up
tomorrow...Friday.  If the system is in transit and IF there is a tracking
number so we can actually locate it, then the system will probably be put on
The Black Mariah, and we will go forward with a new inspection sticker, and
continue to drive it along Maine's highways and byways until the wheels fall

But if that doesn't happen, then I think the saga of The Black Mariah will
be ended right here, and the car will be sold.  The Black Mariah will be
sold to an enthusiast, and The Runt will be sold to someone who wants a Ford
short bed pickup, and I will go hunting for a truck to be my daily driver.  

At that point, my Audi "experience" will be ended.  I dearly love the Type
44 cars, but it may be that they are simply too old now to be dependable
daily drivers here where distances are apt to be so long between
opportunities to get things serviced, or even in for diagnosis that owning
one requires three vehicles in the yard at all time.  

I will let you all know the results.  IF Stebro is as good as its word, then
I'll have my system at the quoted price.  Otherwise the folks who own these
cars need to know the details of my experience right now, because little
oopsies like this can cost money in parts, lost time and use, as well as the
dreaded roadside visitation with a state trooper who decides that he doesn't
give a rats ass about your excuse for not being properly inspected.

I can't really afford any of those negative scenarios.


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