Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Today we're going to debut a new PCH logo, courtesy of Walker Canada.


PCH, Engine In The Back Edition: Renault Dauphine Gordini or Pair Of 1969 Chevy Corvairs?

You can't make out the car photos in the new/improved page layout anyway, so we'll put the "traditional" PCH image after the jump. Right, back to business as usual in the Hell Garage: last time, the turbo rotary-powered Datsun 510 just barely beat the small-block-Chevy-powered Austin-Healey Sprite, according to the results of the Choose Your Eternity poll. It may be that the certain rage of 510 worshipers upon seeing that blasphemous engine swap tipped the balance in favor of the Datsun- or against it, depending on how you interpret these things- and so we'll continue with a couple of cars with heavy zealot followings: Chevy Corvair and Renault Gordini!

Never mind that Dan Neill wrote that the Renault Dauphine was "a rickety, paper-thin scandal of a car that, if you stood beside it, you could actually hear rusting." The nerve- he probably got that Pulitzer at a yard sale! The Dauphine was a fine motor vehicle, and then that Renault hot-rodder Amédée Gordini worked his tuning magic on it and upped the horsepower by nearly 16 percent. Yes, the Renault Dauphine Gordini packed 37 French ponies in the back (not the measly 32 you got with the regular Dauphine) and you can get yourself this '65 (go here if the ad disappears) for under a grand! The seller is asking for $900, but you won't have to pay that much once you point out that those "newer tires" are space-saver spares (though we can't help but think that driving on four of those things would be quite entertaining). There's rust. Lots of rust. It doesn't run, but you'll be ditching the Renault engine and swapping in something a bit more powerful, like f'rexample this 2165cc VW unit. Add some turbocharging, a beefed up Type 4 transaxle, and you'll be broke driving the quickest Dauphine in your time zone!

Rear-engined cars from the 60s are deadly exciting, but why go with European oversteer when you could drive patriotic American oversteer? The Chevrolet Corvair is the obvious choice, and the 1969 model may be the very best one. It's also the very last one, so they're pretty rare; The General was only building '69 Corvairs to prove that he wasn't going to knuckle under to that paranoid communist agent, Ralph Nader, and so the cars were all assembled by hand in the "Corvair Room" in Willow Run, Michigan. That's right, lovingly handcrafted by the same perfectionists who made the Nova the envy of the Mercedes-Benz quality-control department! The '69 Corvair is hard to find these days, but we've found a pair of them for just $2,875 (go here if the ad disappears). Both are running, Powerglide-equipped hardtops, and one is the sporty Monza model. These Southern California survivors have "very little" rust, though decades of blazing Ojai summer days mean that the upholstery is likely on the crumbly and/or faded side. While you're searching for repro carpets and getting the seats recovered, you can also go shopping for a bulletproof leisure suit; you'll need one to protect yourself from the high-velocity projectiles fired at you by Corvair zealots, once you stuff this Porsche 997 six in the back of the Monza (which leaves the other car available as an "instant junkyard" parts car, to be deposited on your front lawn). In fact, you'll probably have the Porsche guys after you as well, so better add some Kevlar longjohns to your sartorial shopping spree. You won't have to worry about the Corvair guys catching you on the road, though- not with 385 horsepower behind you!


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Renault Dauphine. You've wanted one ever since seeing one on that PBS French in Action show with the girl that never wore a bra. But working on a car like this would take more than a passing fancy, it would take dedication. And it would eat up all your resources, both time and money, leaving you with little to spare for the other loves of your life . . . such as your wife.

Stepping back from the completed car to admire your handywork and its beauty, you realize something is missing and go into to house to get your wife so she can share in the glory of the moment.

You are stopped by the discovery of a note taped to the door of the garage, just below the four-paned window.

The note is addressed to you, and is in your wife's handwriting. Pulling it from the door you read it. It's short, to the point, typical of her missives. She is leaving you and moving back in with her mother -you suffer an involuntary piss shiver at the thought of your mother in law - and has taken the cat. Well good riddance to the cat.

She has left you because of your singular obsession with completing the Dauphine. She hasn't seen you, or gotten more than two words out of you since you started the project, and she finally got fed up.

Shit! Now who'll do the laundry? And you've been wearing the same pair of dingy tighty-whities for the past three weeks. Why did she have to go and split on you? Shit!

You dig your cell phone out of your jeans pocket and fumble it open. The keypad its spattered with paint and bondo, and there's a dent on the side from where you dropped it into the engine bay while taking to that guy about getting the right Gordini head and intake plenum and it banged around before getting ejected by the rotating fan.

You hit contacts and then start scrolling down. Shit! You're suddenly blanking on her name. Why did she have to leave, she always knew this stuff. There it is; you open it and then tell it to dial. While it is ringing you rehearse what you are going to say to her, how you love her, and miss her, and won't ever ignore her again . . .

"Hello." She answers in a dull monotone and you realize that she already knows it's you - Damn caller ID! "Uh, yeah, hi I got your note and I . . ." She cuts you off, "You got my note? When? Just now?" "Uh, yeah." You answer sheepishly. "Geez, I put that up there over a week ago. You truly are past saving." Your heart sinks. "No, I mean yeah, uh I mean I'm sorry. It won't happen ever again." You try and sound sincere, but being a dude, you're not sure how to do that. "You said that the last time, with the damn Matra, and there I was at 3 in the morning, holding a timing light for you in my nightie, freezing my butt off so you could take it for a test drive at first light. I can't take it any more!" This isn't going well for you. "But honey, what about all the good times we've had?" "Screw that." She says. "Okay, but what about the sex? I mean we really used to rock the house." You start to chuckle a bit at the memory. "Remember that time in the pool at that New Year's Eve party . . .?" "She cuts you off, "look, we may have had some fun, but I haven't had a good rogering from you since you got that stupid car." You bristle slightly at her demeaning of the Renault, but you let it pass. "And now, I don't need you I have . . ." and she says something, but you can't make it out over the phone. "What? You have who?" She repeats it and this time you hear her clearly and are shocked. She has another man. "Look," she says, "I gotta' go, goodbye." You're too shocked to protest and fall back against the shapely fender of the Dauphine. She's found somebody else, and is so brazen about the relationship that she didn't even hide his identity. Ben Wabbles. She said she didn't need sex from you because she now has Ben Wabbles to satisfy her. You start to sniffle.

After a good cry, you tell yourself it's not too late, and that you will win her back. The first thing to do is confront this Wabbles guy and tell him that it's over, that she's yours.

You google his name and find several leads. You follow those through [Pipl.com] and finally you narrow it down to one: Ben Wabbles, 223 East Fork, Pocatello, Idaho. There's no phone number, that costs $39.99 extra, and the Little French car has tapped out your credit cards, so you jump into your recently completed beauty and head for Pocatello.

The closer you get, the colder it becomes, and the Renault's heater was only ever for show. By the time you reach Pocatello it's so cold you have to pee sitting down because mr winky has receded so far seeking warmth that a urinal attempt would only mean spraying the inside of your fruit-of-the-looms.

Finding the address, you muster your indignation and affect a scowl, checking it in the Renaults deco mirror before getting out. You knock on the door and stand there in the 10 below morning air on the broad front porch with your arms crossed, and attempt to look huge.

An elderly woman answers the door, "Yes, may I help you?" she smiles. "Ben Wabbles please." you reply through teeth clenched mounting anger and the cold.

"Oh, I'm sorry, but Ben's at work. He's always at the office at this time on weekdays." She tells you he has a storefront downtown and gives you directions. You return to the car and coax it back to life. It doesn't like the cold any better than you do. You drive to the small business district and park in front of the address the woman had given you. Great Midwest Insurance Brokerage says the sign above the window. Painted on the door is Ben Wabbles - Insurance Broker, and his business phone number. You walk in. Inside it's a good 50 degrees warmer and your head immediately begins to swim. A man, who appears to be in his late sixties, looking like he could be Burl Ives brother comes around from behind the desk and takes your arm. "Whoa there young fella', you okay?" He leads you to a seat and gets you a cup of water from the cooler in the corner. "Ben . . . Ben Wabbles?" you ask. "That's my name, Insurance's my game. And who might you be?" This is all too much for you; the heat, this old geezer, what could she see in him? And how could she be bumpin' uglies with him all the way out here? You give him your name and blink back the fog that has enveloped your head. "Well, what can I do ya' for?" he asks and twitches his mustache. You dig a picture of your wife out of your wallet, it's the one she put in there when she gave you the wallet for your birthday three years ago, and you hold it up for him to see. "Do you know this woman?" you ask. He stands back, trying to focus on the picture and pulls a pair of thin reading glasses from his breast pocket to do so. "I can't rightly say that I do." He finally says, and your heart soars. "You sure? Take another look." He regards the photo again and says "nope, never seen her before, but if you don't mind me saying so, she looks like she's a peach." Yeah," you say, "excuse me" and you get up, "I mean, thank you, thank you very much." And you stumble out of the office and back into the cold. He calls after you that you're welcome and to come back anytime. You feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders, you must have misunderstood what she said. Ben Wabbles, Pffft, whatever. You'd drive to her mother's house, apologize, and take her out to dinner to show that you had changed. The whole story about Ben Wabbles would make her realize the lengths you would go to for her.

Only the Dauphine is locked and the key won't turn in the door, it's frozen. Not only that, but it's starting to snow, and the temperature has dropped even more. Thinking fast, you remember seeing a movie or something and know just what to do. Looking around to make sure no one can see you, you pull mr winky out to try and pee on the lock and melt it. Mr winky is playing hide and seek again and you have to move right up next to the door so as to be able to control the stream. And then something terrible happens. Just as the stream starts it freezes, and you can pee no more. Not only that but you have welded mr winky to the lock cylinder on the door of the Renault. Your pants start to sag from the weight of your wallet, change and cell phone and your ass is hit with a sub zero blast as they do causing you to jump and let out a little yip! The movement doesn't dislodge you from the car, it only stretches your foreskin like pulling a hoodie over your head. Pulling out the cell phone as you hike up your pants you dial 911. The operator comes on after the third ring and asks you what the emergency is. You tell her that you are stuck in a compromising position and are fearful you will freeze to death if you are not extricated from the situation immediately. She sounds a little confused but tells you that she'll send a squad car right over. Looking back into the store, you see that Ben Wabbles has gone into the back- thank goodness he can't see your predicament.

After five excruciating minutes you hear a car coming, and through the falling snow you can see the approaching outline of the police cruiser. Unfortunately the cop doesn't seem to see you through the snow and is headed right for the rear of the Gordini at a pretty good clip. Horrified you shout "No! Both of my jewels!" just as the Crown Vic slams into the Dauphine. You see it shift forward and hear/feel a ripping just before the sound of taillight and trim falling to the snow. The cop gets out and says "Geez, I'm really sorry 'bout that. The road's so icy I plain couldn't stop in time." You just hang your head and think of the hours your spent aligning that engine lid and how hard it was to locate those OEM lenses. "You okay?" he asks. "Yes" you reply, your eyes closed. "You sure? You're doing an awful lot of bleedin' there." You snap open your eyes, and look down. You're no longer connected to the Frog-mobile but now your pants are a bloom of red and you suddenly feel like someone has been sandpapering your crotch. You look at the door of your now-smashed little beauté and see what appears to be a used condom still attached to the lock. You start to feel woozy again. Then everything goes black.

When you wake up, you're in a hospital bed and your wife is standing over you mopping your brow with a damp cloth. "Wha . . .what are you doing here?" you ask her. "They called me after the accident. I got here as soon as I could, poor baby." You look down toward a large bulge in the sheet at your mid-section. "Oh, you're going to have to leave that alone for a while" she tells you. "It's really best to get circumcised when you're a baby, and not to have it done with a Renault and a police car." You frown and sniffle a bit. "Ben Wabbles?" you say to her. She leans back, "yeah, what about them?" "I thought you were leaving me for him." Now it's her turn to frown. "Him? Oh baby, you really are zonked out on the pain meds aren't you? Look, I said a lot of things I didn't mean. Once you get out of here we'll go home and set things right okay? "Okay, you say and turn your head toward the window where snow continues to fall.

You're too tired and don't want to start another fight with her so you don't even ask about the Dauphine but instead ask if she would get you another blanket, it feels like forever since you've been truly warm. She says "Sure" and walks toward the door. As she does, you notice she has adopted a sort of peculiar gait and there is a muffled clack-clack with each step. Your eyes grow wide with the realization- "Oh, Ben Wabbles!"

Sorry, that one's pretty long, huh?