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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
tl;dr: no summary, stop being lazy


This isn't my first post here for a reason. I wanted to get to the point where I was on the home stretch of this adventure/fiasco before I went and told the story.

My story starts out like many others. As a young man of limited means, I wanted a Lightning but just didn't have the means. As a more seasoned man, I finally found myself with the means and set out searching for "the truck." I looked high and low. Called phone numbers on ads that, unbeknownst to me, had been on the internet for years. In a few cases, 7+ years. I Googled. I Bing'd. I Duck Duck Go'd. I finally got to the point where I consulted a forum and put a bounty out on the truck I would eventually buy. I figured I could spend months searching or a few bucks to recruit some people who internet far better than I.

Well, the bounty worked. Dropped in my lap was 2003 #2466. It was located in Maine and it was in pretty good shape. It needed a few things to make it right but I'm not afraid to turn wrenches and get a little dirty in the garage while I drink a few beers.

The deal was struck, the plane tickets for my wife and I were booked, and we were off to get my Sonic Blue Lightning. I was on top of the world. And, to boot, this truck came with a ton of spare parts.

Once we arrived in Portland, Maine, we walked through a clean airport with super polite people. We got to see a stuffed moose. At this point in my life, I'd only seen them on TV so, seeing one in person really hammered home how big they are, stuffed or not.

A few phone calls and texts later, the seller shows up to collect us and our luggage from the airport. Super nice guy. He knows the history of the Lightning from Gen 1 and Gen 2. He tells me all about himself and his passenger, we do the same, crack some jokes and, just have a pleasant ride.

A few minutes later, we arrive where my new truck is. Pulling into the parking lot, I think, this is exactly what I'm after; a real diamond in the rough. A little buffing here, a lower grille there, and I've got a damn fine truck.

As we talk about the truck, I give her a good once-over. Tramsission fluid is a nice, bright red. It smells like detergent, just like my trainer at Jiffy Lube said it should back in the late-90's. The oil is a little dark but has no metal shavings present. The idle is a touch high but that's no problem. The paint is that beautiful Sonic Blue. Everything is tops.

We consummate the deal at the local bank by exchanging a check and the title. All is good, except for the weather. There is just enough rain to tell me that the wiper blades just ain't gonna get it. Off to the NAPA we go for a fresh pair of Bosch Icons. That's much better.

We head back to the hotel and enjoy a fair bit of Old Orchard Beach. We hit The Shack for some absolutely incredible lobster rolls along with a few adult beverages. Lunch is done and the wife and I meander around the area, topping off the tank with a few more Bud Lights before dipping our toes in the ocean.

Oh. Damn! That is some cold water. I'm from NC. The temperature of that water just isn't natural. My sweet tea doesn't normally arrive at my table in a restaurant that damn cold. I wanted a hot shower after getting ankle deep in the water. If you're from the South and people tell you the water is cold in Maine; believe it.

The place we stayed had an incredible staff. These people gave Southern Hospitality a run for its money and may have actually done a little more. They had a parking space reserved for me before we arrived. The on-duty attendant came out and moved the cone so I could park. Take a note, Marriott. My truck rested beautifully in this nice, quiet parking lot.

Then about 8PM rolled around.

Apparently, there is bar in the adjacent condo building that is quite popular with the locals, tourists and, people who just can't drive. I sat on our balcony, talking to room neighbors, and watched in horror as the amount of traffic increased and the level of driving skill decreased. Twelve hours, I thought, until I have to make an insurnace claim on a brand new insurance policy. This just won't be good. Off to the office I go.

In a moment, the woman asked, "is that your pretty blue truck?"

"Yep. Any chance I can move to a safer spot?"

"Absolutely."

Back into the parking lot we go and into a new spot this magnificent blue truck goes.

Safe at last.

The morning arrives and we load up for the trip south from Old Orchard Beach to Philadelphia. It'll be the longest day of driving of our trip but, this truck is riding really nice despite being lowered and having what appears to be the entire Stiffler's catalog thrown at it.

After a check of the tire pressure and a few added pounds per square inch, we're off. Bassani pipes screaming at any who dare challenge the mighty SVT. Through Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and into New York, she collected the stares of admiration and jealousy, only having to fend off one challenger who thought himself worthy.

Down Sawmill Parkway and across the George Washington Bridge, she performed just as you would hope a truck of this pedigree would. Then, there was a detour...

Into Trenton, New Jersey we go. Traffic is still bumper to bumper. It's moving but very slow. Typical New Jersey traffic, I think.

Then, a lurch and a stall.

"Oh, shit."

Turn the key and she fires back to life but, something is wrong. Traffic beside me lets me over and I whip into a Burger King parking lot. Barely.

Something is VERY wrong. I begin to check the fluids. Oil is good. Coolant is good. Transmission fluid is....dry.

Yeah, this isn't good at all. A quick look at the clock on my phone tells me it is about 6PM. On a Friday.

The wife and I go to a mechanic shop next to the Burger King and inquire about some Mercon. Nope. Back to the truck.

There is a grocery store just across the parking lot. Eureka? Probably not but, we're gonna check anyway. No Mercon in stock but they have 5 quarts of regular old ATF. Rough math in my head says we made it 250 miles before the trans leaked out, so, if we buy all of the ATF this store has, we can maybe limp along to the next Auto Zone or NAPA, or whatever, restock, refill and MAYBE make it home. El-oh-ell.

I put a few quarts of ATF into the tube and fire up the truck. Immediately, the wife says, "I see where it's leaking from."

This isn't a leak. It's a pressurized deluge of red fluid pissing about the Burger King parking lot. We aren't going anywhere.

A quick call to Hagerty and help is on the way. Within 30 minutes, our fantastic tow truck driver, Louis, arrives and begins loading the now immobile Lightning onto the flat bed. He offers us a ride to the dealership we found and is just outstanding all around.

We arrive a short time later at Maplecrest Ford and find a place to unload the now less-than-speedy Lightning. This will ultimately become the final resting place of #2466 and not through ANY fault of Maplecrest. Quite the opposite, they were fantastic. Far above and beyond any dealer I've ever worked with or encountered. I cannot say enough good about them, especially JD (name not given in case he chooses not to be known).

The next day, Mr. D calls me to get the rundown of what happened and my non-expert analysis of the problem. It turns out, I was partly right. The transmission decided to clock out permanently.

Over the next few days, we talk a good bit and do a little general chit-chatting. He tells me he's pretty sure the trans had a major failure and it would likely need a rebuild.

I call my local Ford dealer and inquire about a 4R100. Obsolete. Ford dealer in New York. Obsolete. Ford dealer in Tennessee. Let me call you back in a few minutes. What?!?!?

45 minutes later, I get a phone call back and this guy has not just managed to locate a NOS 4R100 transmission, he found three(!) of them! Of course, I tell him I want it. A little back and forth later, it turns out somebody (jackass) bought all three of them within the last 24 hours.

"Motherfucker!!!!!!!" (Nothing personal, if you're here.)

Well, after reading a bunch of threads here, I decided to call BTS and Precision and A1. BTS has a backlog of a couple months. Precision has a backlog of a couple months AND I have to have the truck there. A1 can get me hooked up in about 3 weeks. SOLD!

I place the order and start the wait.

In the meantime, I speak with Mr. D and tell him I'd like him to check a few things on the truck and fix them since they have to done anyway. The supercharger coolant pump, an oil change, rear end gear oil change. May as well get them done so I don't have to worry about them.

All is good. Then the raging bitch, Hurricane Ida enters the chat.

We are all aware of the catastrophe that Ida was, and still is, in Louisiana and surrounding areas. Keep in mind that I am making absolutely no attempt to minimize the impact the people in its path felt. This is simply the story of a truck. Very small potatoes by comparison.

Ida rages her way through Louisiana and up through Tennessee and up towards New England. As this ugly bitch passed my home, the Carolinas many of us barely got a spit of rain that, at the time, would have been more than welcome.

She passed on by, heading towards the northeast; where #2466 is currently awaiting repair.

On Wednesday, before the storm hit the NY/NJ area, JD calls me and asks my permission to move the truck to higher ground. Obviously, and with no hesitation, I give him my permission. Knowing they are preparing for the storm, I leave him alone and wish him the best in getting through this.

Thursday morning comes. It's early (for me). 7:55AM, or thereabout. I hear my phone vibrating.

What's this? I know I cut the alarm off.

I flip my phone over and see a call coming in. I know this area code. My heart sinks.

"It's bad."

The dealer suffers total losses on every car on the lot, including the Lightning. I reacted by yelling, "fuck!" at the top of my lungs and fighting back the rapidly-growing urge to puke.

JD tells me that my truck was on higher ground. It was on a trailer. It was the only vehicle on the lot that was on a trailer. It wasn't a Mustang GT 500 or a F-150 Platinum or even the GM's daughter's car. It was my Lightning on that trailer. But, it just wasn't quite enough. Hagerty called it a total loss.

Before anyone gets quick to speak ill of a Ford dealer, remember, this guy didn't have to make any attempt to save my truck. But, he tried. And I have to tip my hat to him and offer sincere thanks to him. I'm also doing what I can to show my gratitude by placing the truck in his capable hands. This one won't be sent to scrap. I know #2466 will be in good hands with him and she will likely be blasting around New Jersey very soon.

As for me, I'm working a deal on another Lightning as I write this. I hope I can get this one home and let her strut her stuff in just a couple weeks. What's funny is, I left a lot out of this trip just to keep this post shorter.
:eek:
 

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Enjoyed reading your story man! Truly sorry for your loss… what a series of events since you acquired the truck! I believe it was destiny as everything happens for a reason. You and #2466 where just not meant to be! Good thing you are ok and God bless everyone that had and is going through the aftermath of Ida. Glad to hear you are already looking for another L. The best of luck and when you get the truck post it up!
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Enjoyed reading your story man! Truly sorry for your loss… what a series of events since you acquired the truck! I believe it was destiny as everything happens for a reason. You and #2466 where just not meant to be! Good thing you are ok and God bless everyone that had and is going through the aftermath of Ida. Glad to hear you are already looking for another L. The best of luck and when you get the truck post it up!
Thank you. It was quite a trip. All in all, I've got a story I can tell, and you can't swipe a Visa card to get that.

I'm close to closing the deal on another truck and I will be sure to share when I get it. This one was a little spendy but it's a nice one.
 

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What a tale of... pleasurable and painful rollercoaster rides of emotion??? I can't imagine the level of exuberance you felt with buying, driving and "showing off" in the Lightning on the way from Maine to home. And then to get stabbed in the eye with the transmission headache... but still be able to come to grips with that, find a solution and find a dealer willing to work with you! Climbing that hill again... only to have Ida rip out your heart! I feel that one... But like in every good story, the best chapter is about to be written... Lightning II arises from the dust... keep us updated. Sorry for your loss, but congrats on the new adventure!
 

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Man, I feel your pain. Good story but sad for you and your loss. If that deal falls through and you're down for adventures (I know I always am when picking up a new vehicle Lol. I drove 20 hours there and back with my first Lightning and 10 hours back after flying, for my second), I have a silver 04 #1923 for sale out here in CA. It's not a sonic blue but it is rock solid in regards to reliability. In any case, here's to hoping that the next Lightning you get is just the next chapter of this story and you get a happy ending after all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Man, I feel your pain. Good story but sad for you and your loss. If that deal falls through and you're down for adventures (I know I always am when picking up a new vehicle Lol. I drove 20 hours there and back with my first Lightning and 10 hours back after flying, for my second), I have a silver 04 #1923 for sale out here in CA. It's not a sonic blue but it is rock solid in regards to reliability. In any case, here's to hoping that the next Lightning you get is just the next chapter of this story and you get a happy ending after all!
It looks like this deal is going to happen. I'm headed to the bank in the morning to wire the money and then I get to wait for the transport. That's going to be a long, long wait. But, she'll be greeted with a nice bath and a polish and perhaps some ceramic coating.

The hard decision is whether I should put this little blower on it that I have. I'm leaning towards leaving the truck stock but that big box with Kenne Bell on it sings a powerful siren's song. lol
 
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