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My Second Quest, a Red '88


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I originally posted this in April 2020, and thankfully it was archived by the Wayback Machine, so I was able to recover it and post it again.

This is a long story, but I think it's pretty good. You might want to go grab a beverage.

I am back on the forum after a few years away. I joined in 2011 when I had my red '87. Unfortunately, that car suffered the same fate as too many others; engine went bad, got parted out. It deserved better, but that was the most practical choice for my situation in life at the time. I sold enough parts to break even and moved on. I sold the rolling shell to a guy who wanted to do a swap, so who knows, maybe it's still out there somewhere. I started making more money at work, bought a high-mileage C5 Corvette in 2013, and have had a lot of fun with that over the past 7 years. It now has twin turbos, and I've fixed or upgraded just about everything on it. I'm at the point where there isn't much left to do on that car except undo and redo the work I've already done. Some people have projects they just keep iterating on for the rest of their lives, but that doesn't sound satisfying to me right now. I was originally planning to sell the Corvette this spring to fund a cargo van camper conversion for my wife and I, but everything is on hold now due to the pandemic, so I might just hang onto it until next spring. Having two sports cars is fun, even though I can only drive one at a time!

So, about that red '88. Last fall, I started looking for another car. I was specifically looking at '80s cars because I wanted something I could take to the Back to the '80s car show near Minneapolis every summer. I'm not much of a car show guy, mostly because I'm not too into detailing, but that just seems like a fun show, and I wanted to be in the '80s car scene again. I was looking at Mk2 Supras and Starquests when this car showed up last September. I immediately got in touch with Greg23, got some more info and pictures from him, and everything looked and sounded good, so I put down a deposit and bought a one-way plane ticket to Indiana to pick up the car and drive it home to Minnesota at the end of the month.

Greg met me at the airport in Indianapolis with the car, and I got a nice 1-hour test drive back to his home in Lafayette. The car was exactly as he described, and I enjoyed driving it. I paid him the remainder of what I owed, we loaded the car up with as many of his spare parts as would fit inside, and I hit the road, right on schedule to make the 8-hour drive back to Minnesota and be home before bedtime.

Signing the paperwork at Greg's house.


I stopped at Wendy's for lunch on my way out of Lafayette, and just as I pulled into the parking spot, the clutch went to the floor and stayed there, and the engine stalled. I guess it wouldn't be a Conquest if it didn't strand me the day I bought it! (My '87 ran out of gas on the way home while the gauge still read 1/4 tank--previous owner forgot to mention that.) I was hungry, and I wasn't about to start fixing the car without a meal, so I went inside, got my food, and called Greg.

This car looks good, even when it's broken down in a Wendy's parking lot.

Before I bought the car, Greg had mentioned noticing a small leak that wasn't oil; he thought it might be coolant, but he hadn't traced it down. His first suggestion on the phone was to check the clutch fluid to see if that's what had been leaking, so after I finished eating, I went out and checked, and sure enough, the reservoir was empty. The Wendy's was in a larger shopping area, and I found a Pep Boys about half a mile away, so I walked over there and bought a quart bottle of DOT3, figuring I would be checking and topping off the clutch fluid periodically during my trip, just to keep up with the leak until I could get it home to fix it properly. When I got to the car and topped off the reservoir, the pedal wouldn't come back. I went through a couple rounds of filling up the reservoir, pumping the pedal a few times (having to pull it up off the floor each time), then getting out and filling it up again, but it just never seemed to build any pressure at all. Then I noticed the growing puddle under the car. Okay, this is a BIG leak. I figured the rubber hose between the master and slave cylinders had blown. I called Greg again, and true to the promise he had made when I left his house, "Anything happens this side of Chicago, I got you", he showed up in his truck with a jack, jackstands, tools, and a big piece of clean cardboard to slide under the car on, which made this about the most civilized parking lot fix I've ever been a part of.

The puddle.

After lifting the car, we both looked underneath and neither of us could find anything obviously wrong. The rubber hose looked dry, and there was a little drop of fluid on the slave cylinder, but that was it. I got up and filled the reservoir again, then pressed the pedal while Greg was looking under the car. Clutch fluid shot out of the slave cylinder like a squirt gun! Okay, so the seal was completely blown; I was going to need a slave cylinder. We called every parts store in town, and all of them could order it and have it there tomorrow, but we needed it today. There was only one way to make that happen: drive an hour back down to Indianapolis to the AutoZone distribution center, where we would have the privilege of paying $15.99 for the one they had in stock. So, that's exactly what we did. Greg and I talked cars the whole trip; he told me stories about the international auto tours he had done though the Smithsonian, and we had no trouble passing the time.

As anyone who's ever replaced one knows, the slave cylinder on a Starquest is about the easiest job in the world. One banjo fitting, two bolts, clutch bled, done in 20 minutes. By the time we finished, though, the sun was starting to set, and I wasn't about to start my 500 mile drive. I booked myself a room at the Super 8, which Greg graciously offered to pay for, and he threw in enough to cover a much nicer dinner than Wendy's. Luckily, a co-worker (and fellow car guy) and his wife were coming into town to visit their daughter at Purdue. He was already bringing a toolbox for me (not so easy to carry onto a plane) and our original plan was to meet up mid-afternoon somewhere on the road, but since it was now evening, they were in town, and I was still here, they invited me out for dinner, which was a nice way to relax at the end of the day.

The trip home was fairly uneventful; it rained, but the tires are good and the wipers work great. No I-Pass, so I had to stop at all the toll booths and pay with cash. I stopped in Madison, WI to meet a friend from high school for lunch, and when I pulled into the parking lot at the restaurant he'd chosen, the car was steaming from under the hood. I checked the aftermarket temperature gauge: 230F. Okay, so the radiator fans don't work. It's fine as long as the car is moving fast enough to get airflow, but I had gotten stuck in traffic for a while. The head and gasket can only endure so many excursions above 220F, but so far there seems to have been no damage from this one.

At a gas station somewhere in Northern Indiana...or maybe eastern Illinois.

And, back home in my driveway.

Thanks again to Greg for what I still consider to be a great deal on a great car, all the help getting it fixed so I could get out of town, driving me to Indianapolis and back and paying for the slave cylinder, my hotel, and dinner. I have a lot more updates and pictures to post, but it's late, and I've mortgaged enough sleep for one night. Hope you had fun reading the story. I am happy to be back in a Conquest!

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I did a little forum searching and learned some more about my car's history. Here's the ad from 2014 when the car was sold to Greg by the owner before him, Nate (Spydre13):


Nate owned the car for 15 years, so that would have been since 1999/2000. It had just under 130k miles when it was sold in 2014, and I just turned over 136k miles last week. Nate did some really smart upgrades and maintenance over the years on the car; all the details are in the link above, so I won't copy them out here. I am really happy with the work he did, and the car still runs and drives great as a result. I'm going to see if I can get in touch with Nate just to let him know that I appreciate the car and it's in good hands.

A picture of the car from when Nate owned it. Look, it used to have louvers!


Most of the pictures of the car from 2014 were lost when Google Plus was taken down. This is the only other one still on the forum, and it's bad news:


That passenger frame rail still looked about the same when I got the car; Greg only drove it on nice dry days, so it hasn't really gotten any worse since the picture above. I brushed and scraped all the loose rust off and hosed the whole area down with some leftover black engine enamel to protect it until I have the time to cut out the bad area and weld in new metal.

I have looked all over underneath the car and this is the only rust I have found. Zero on the body, zero in the cowl. Like most other quests, the driver's frame rail has been rust-proofed by the leaking steering box! I haven't seen the bumper beams yet but that's the only other place I think of where rust tends to hide. For a car that has been in the midwest for so many years, it's super impressive. I don't get the impression that it has ever seen salt at all. In fact, that's one of the main reasons I decided to buy it.

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