This year I decided to participate in the Motherlode 400. The Motherlode is a 2-day gathering of vintage rides, mostly from Europe, and mostly of the sports car variety (though this year’s event did have a couple notable exceptions in the form of a ’76 Firebird and a Citroen Mehari, among various other outliers). Each day involves about 200 miles of backroads of the California Sierras and foothills, thus the 400 moniker. Elevations range from barely over 1000 feet to the rarefied airs at Sonora Pass at 9400 feet, with lots of twisties and single-lane roads twixt the two.
My intent for this year’s Motherlode was to give the Sprint 1600 its débutante party, but alas that plan was thwarted by a failed front main seal (I think), which caused oil to spew out onto just about everything in the engine compartment, including the exhaust headers.
This was a genuine bummer, since I’d spent a few days prepping the car for the trip, most notably by welding up a patch panel in the trunk and securing the battery.
We had made it as far as Stockton by the time this oil leak happened, so I had to go with plan B: AAA the Sprint back to Oakland, hop in the TI, and pick up the rally later in the day. Traffic and fatigue kicked plan B into plan C: slowly make our way out of the Bay Area and head, leisurely, straight to the hotel in Jackson. We’d miss the first day’s drive, but save ourselves some unneeded stress.
The TI performed well, but a drive like this one definitely highlights the known issues and surfaces others. My suspension, while improved since Jaan fixed the front right side, still knocks and rattles from the front left. The brake booster occasionally forgets to engage. The twin Dell’Ortos don’t like to hold an idle, and they don’t like to start at all above 7000 feet or so. Something in the driveline vibrates between 60 and 75 mph. Using the right turn signal shorts out fuse #4. Etc., etc., etc.
Still, with the revs up, the 2L motor kept us in the front third of the pack for most of the trip, and got us over Sonora Pass with nary a hiccup. The trip was a lot of fun and we’ll definitely look to participate again in 2011.
See the rest of the photos here, and expect a future post about fixing the oil leak on the Sprint… or rebuilding the motor, if the while-I’m-at-it syndrome really takes effect.