I'm far away from actually getting this car on the road, but I will half-heartily admit that I've done quite a bit so far. Pulling an engine and tranny together out of a car, while something I was confident in doing, was something I'd actually never done before. So I do feel like I've made some progress. The next step was to get the tranny and engine to respectable people do get them re-built. I did this with the tranny first. I found an AMCO Transmission shop near my work who said they'd take a look and get it fixed. This was a relief since the 7 shops I called before and after said "no" immediately when they heard how old and what type of tranny I had. I met Randal at 8am before work and talked to him about the job before him. I brought my TSM(technical service manual) and offered it to him in case he came to any tricky parts. He then took me out back to the paint shop they also had. Inside was purple 67' Pontiac GTO. It was the shop owner' car. They had been working on it for a couple of years now. He showed me this to brag (he did the paint) but also to let me know that this shop was full of experienced mechanics. I'm sure he saw the appraising look on my face as I told him my worries about it being so old, or checking to see they were up to date in being able to scour the internet or catalogues for places to find parts for my tranny. I gave him the websites I had found with full gasket and seal kits for it. Confident these guys knew what they were doing, and extremely happy with the price quotes Randal gave me, I left my transmission with them and went to work. It was a huge relief. All of the current hurricane of ideas and decisions I had to make about the car, suddenly felt like a cloudy day. Relief of knowing a professional was working on a major part of my car, but a small sense of defeat of not trying to do it myself. The dozen reasons for having a professional do the work won me over by the end of the day, and I felt a lot better knowing I finally took one step in the right direction of getting this car back on the road.
The next back-breaking process was finding a machinist, or engine rebuilder. I googled the hell out of the internet to only find auto-body shops around me. No real engine people. I got some numbers from people in the chat rooms. Some were disconnected, other were far away. The one number I got from the car show just rang and rang. By the end of the week, I was prepared to start the job myself, without the leveling and machining of course. It was 6pm on a Friday night when I decided to try the car show number one more time before leaving work. Luck be a lady tonight! Jim answered the phone. I told he'd come highly recommended and I'd like him to rebuild my engine. We talked for an hour or so about specs and performance upgrades and all sorts of mechanical data. He got on the internet with me on the phone and I directed him to the websites I'd found. I had wanted to get started right away and was hoping to get the engine to him that weekend. His schedule didn't really have room for me, so we scheduled a pickup at the shop at my lunchtime for the following Monday. I agreed to his quote and moved some of my savings into my checking account for a with drawl while I was still on the phone. I said my goodbyes and left work, and the heavy weight of that decision, to go get a much needed beer.
I was awakened the early Saturday morning by a phone call from Jim. His schedule opened up and he was actually heading into Atlanta that morning to drop off some other engine work he had done for a friend. I shot out of bed, got dressed, and grabbed my tools as I headed to the bank. Jim had said he wanted 80% up front. I totally understood that business hadn't been very good for him lately, and since the engine could take a while to be ready, he said he'd rather the customer put down a "deposit" for all the parts he'd have to order and the labor he'd put into it. I grabbed the cash and was still 15 min lat getting to the shop. I got out the car and unlocked the gate for him to back his truck down to the shop doors. He got out of the truck and we shook hands. He was a big fella. And I mean tall, not some bubba from the sticks. He had the face of James Gandolfini, but with long dark blonde hair like Friar Tuck. His big bear hands swallowed mine and I immediately knew he knew what he was doing. He proved this point even more by bringing me the schematics and dimensions of my engine. It was almost like a scene from Days of Thunder. He'd been up all night checking his catalogues and computer for the specs on my engine. He basically had everything planned out by the time I met him that morning. With the pleasantries over, we picked the engine hoist over, connected the engine, and lifted it into the back of his truck. Cash in hand, he took off and left me alone with a green car with no heart. I stared at my car for what seemed like an hour. Making sure I was ready for this. Knowing there was no turning back now. With the engine and tranny being rebuilt, I had little time to start getting the car back in shape before they were both back in the shop. Both back in the shop staring at me. Pressuring me to hurry up.