Curbside Classic just reprinted a really good article on the 1967 Chrysler Newport, which was the base model full-size sedan in their lineup, and also the best-selling model they offered for seven years. The Newport is the platform they built the 300 cars on, their halo high-performance models—my father-in-law’s convertible being one of that group.
The driver’s side window has been busted on the Jeep since last summer. We were on our way to the St. Mary’s Crab Festival, a hot afternoon, and when Jen tried to roll the window down, it just…stopped. by the time we got to the parking lot, the window had slid all the way down into the door like a drunk at last call. She was horrified she’d broken it, but after I pulled the door apart with a borrowed screwdriver, I found it wasn’t hear fault: A worm screw attached to the electric motor housing is held into place by a $.05 piece of plastic, which picked that particular day to commit suicide. Simply replacing the broken plastic part is out of the question, because it’s an integrated part of the motor assembly, and I’d have to pull the whole thing apart to replace it.
It was with great interest, then, that I recently Iearned Crazy Ray’s, the local Mobtown pick & pull, has a location nearby as well as the one I’d been to over on the East side of town. Gathering my tools about me, I called Mr. Scout to see if he had some time to kill this afternoon, and he did.
The parking lot at Crazy Ray’s is a mirror of the interesting personality types lurking inside the fence. There are the import tuner guys, in tricked-out, wildly colored sports cars; there’s the taxicab and livery crowd, who hover over junked Crown Vics and Town Cars like ants at a picnic. There are the pimps, who roll up in late-model Cadillacs painted day-glo colors on huge shiny donks, looking for god-knows-what. There are the workingmen, who rumble up in wheezy pickups and vans, looking for parts to keep their livelihood running. Professional pickers circle the yard with tools on homemade carts, eyeing the new arrivals like buzzards. All of them return from the field with their prizes like hunters on safari: door panels, bucket seats, steering columns, leaking fluid and coolant and oil on the hot cement.
Into this sea of crumpled steel we wandered, toolbox in hand, looking for the white whale: a 97-02 Jeep Cherokee with electric windows. I was told when I bought the Jeep that “the earth is littered with them”, and my advisor was not mistaken. However, today’s survey revealed only earlier-model Cherokees with incompatible regulators, or Grand Cherokees with completely different components. Nothing in my date range, and no parts to strip.
In the middle of this wasteland, however, we found an odd and unexpected bird: a middle-vintage Scout II which had lost its wheels but little else. After making the rounds of the lot, we circled back and took stock, noting an exceptionally clean engine compartment, decent plastics, and two intact wheel hubs. Mr. Scout tried to beg off, telling me he’d come back to pick it over later, but I convinced him to pull the radiator and shroud, which were in almost perfect condition (intact fan shrouds being very rare and pricy), as well as some plastics and the rear-view mirror, while the iron was hot. After a half-hour’s straining to reach all the proper bolts, we finally freed the fan and pulled our prize from the beast: several hundred dollars’ worth of parts for the kingly sum of $92.
The plan is to return early next week to see if the hubs, lights, and alternator are still available; meanwhile, I’m going to keep searching for the right Cherokee in the hopes that I can find what I need without calling the local dealer.
Update: Mr. Scout found a ’98 4-door Cherokee in a yard in West Virginia and pulled the window assembly for me on Saturday. Pray it will fit in the 2-door model (or that I can use the parts to make mine work correctly).