Photo: Matt Calhoun

Last summer, I drove eight hours to pick up a Jeep that a reader named Matt had offered me for free. But after fixing the boxy SUV, I didn’t have the heart to take it from the college student. A few months later, Matt blew up the engine, but planned to install a new one. Sadly, now he’s got even more problems.

The saga of Matt Calhoun—the college student who offered me a free 1992 Jeep Cherokee Briarwood, then kept the Jeep after I installed four flex plate bolts and didn’t have the heart to take his beloved vehicle, then blew up his motor 1,000 miles later—is coming to a critical point this weekend. His landlord has issued an ultimatum.

“Gentlemen,” the landlord’s email begins, “There is a disabled vehicle...that we believe to be yours. Please note that this violates city code and the vehicle must be removed as soon as possible.”

The message goes on, saying “If you are unable to remove the vehicle, it will be towed Monday, April 23rd.” That’s in three days.

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Photo: Matt Calhoun

I talked with Matt over the phone, and he admits that it’s a violation of his lease to have an unregistered or disabled car in his apartment’s parking lot. He also admits that he has had a number of months to install a new engine after blowing up his old one last year, though bitter cold weather and a drive to improve his grades has made wrenching tough.

“I kinda slacked off in the beginning of the semester,” he told me. “So the last couple weeks have just been hellacious ... getting myself back on track so I can graduate.

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“I was just going to wait until graduation ... and really work on it afterwards. But now I’m kinda backed into a corner. I’ve gotta get it done.”

Matt is hoping to graduate at the end of this semester. He’s got finals coming up, and getting the motor in by Monday is going to be difficult, though he does have a few ideas on how to get out of this predicament.

Photo: Matt Calhoun

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For one, he’s going to put in a decent amount of time this weekend, saying this Saturday and Sunday he’s “gonna bust [his] ass and try to just get [the project] started.”

If he can’t get the Jeep up and running, he’s got other options. “Maybe I can get enough guys where we can push [the Jeep] a couple blocks to my friend’s house to put it in his backyard,” Matt said, optimistically.

By “a couple blocks,” he actually means about a half a mile, he said. But why can’t he just get it towed to his friend’s place? Well, the answer to that is almost sad: “I already used all my AAA tows this year.”

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It’s not easy owning a junker.

If he can get an extension, I will try to find time to help Matt out, because I’ve been in a similarly bad spot myself.