After moving in together with my then-girlfriend, I felt I no longer had any need for a “good” car, so I sold my ’05 Civic. I’d had the ’86 Ranger but promptly managed to finish it off by sliding into the side of our house. I decided I was going to get a cheap car for back and forth to work and get something decent in the spring. Another “winter beater”.
I had a look at the trusty old Maritime Merchant, and although there were undoubtedly other cars for cheap, I always preferred a Chrysler product for an inexpensive car. I went to look at it, it started and ran well, and it was mine for $300. This little Shadow had a valid motor vehicle inspection until summer 2008. That’d get me through the winter, so long as the car held out.
A few things had to be attended to. The heater didn’t work, and it ended up being the plug going to the resistor block for the fan. It was all melted, and was patched up with a good replacement plug. The car was also filthy inside, so it got a good cleaning. I had a look underneath. The brake lines were OK, but there was quite a bit of rust and corrosion in the area around the fuel tank and above the axle. It’d do for the winter, but it doomed the car to being scrapped if anything major failed. Now as far as the car went, here was nothing fancy about it…it was about as plain as it got. The 2.2 was reliable, and the Torqueflite shifted smoothly. It always started during the winter, and was good in the snow too. The heater now worked well, and the stereo worked as well.
I don’t have a lot to say about the car. It was cheap, and served the purpose. They certainly weren’t perfect – head gaskets were a weak point on the 2.2/2.5 engines. How often do you hear of a head gasket failing these days? The valve cover gasket as well were known to leak. Improvements in gasket design and materials have made failures a rarity nowadays. Headlights on these, and even on the Spirit and Caravan I owned previously were really, really bad. They just didn’t project much light anywhere. Even so, this car still doesn’t instill me with the disgust that the J-cars I’d owned did. The seats were more comfortable, the interiors nicer, the powertrain more refined, and the chassis was more solid in the Shadow.
The car’s end came in May of 2008. It started going down on antifreeze and overheating. Checking the overflow bottle and seeing bubbles confirmed it to be a failed head gasket. Combined with the fact it was getting pretty rotten underneath, I decided to send it to the scrapyard. I’d decided that it was time for something different, and with a child on the way, something safer and roomier. A pre-approved loan was arranged, and off to Halifax I went…