Pacific Northwest 2019 Planning

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If any of you follow this blog somewhat closely, you’ll find that I’m a big fan of the Pacific Northwest. The plethora of thick, green rain forests and majestic coastline are pure bliss to me. I haven’t been here since 2016 when I was on my way back from Alaska. I’m overdue a trip. This year, I had a little push to go as a result of joining a great group of Contour enthusiasts, the Pacific Northwest (PNW) Contour Group.

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The admin, Satya, reached out to me shortly after my YouTube video posted and since then, I’ve connected with some really great guys. Thanks to these connections, I’ve been able to source some rare and discontinued parts for the Contour as well as gain some very useful technical knowledge. This group hosts annual meets/drives and this year will be their 5th anniversary meet in Portland. When I was invited, there was no hesitancy in planning for the 4,000 mile drive to attend. Here are a few photos from their past events.

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I am amazed of the cult following these Contours (and twin Mercury Mystique’s) have. A lot of the internet forums have become a bit stale, however social media groups are still very much alive and have members ranging from ages 16 to 60. The PNW Contour group is one of the newest groups and they include owners from all over the west side of the country. I definitely like the culture.

You may find it surprising that despite my interest in cars and connecting with  enthusiasts, I’ve never participated in a car meet or show. Ever. This should be fun. So in July, I will be taking the old Contour to Portland for its first ever long journey to meet the guys and get my “fix” for some PNW scenery.

Restoration Updates:

I’m getting the Contour cleaned up little by little and this July drive is going to push things along a bit. I recently booked an appointment to get the roof resprayed and the PDR (paintless dent removal) to remove the hail damage has been completed. For that job, I took it to Eric Truster of Dent Specialties of El Paso, TX. As old and brittle as the interior trim pieces are, he managed to disassemble everything and pull down the headliner to gain access to the roof without one scratch or broken tab. That’s why I call him the “wizard.”

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The 21 year old paint is quite fragile, so Eric used his special techniques to heat the surface up to get the paint pliable enough for all the pushing and pulling of the sheet metal.

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The entire job took a little over a week and now all the body panels are free of dents as they should be!

Next update is my rear bumper DIY work. No signs of cracking or bubbling, so we might be good to go for a while. I wet-sanded the new clear coat a tad, then compounded to level it all out to match the factory finish. So much better than before.

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Next, I repaired and tightened up the bolts on the the rocker panels as best I could. I also sourced some used jack point covers that I had to paint. Unfortunately, the color isn’t an exact match, but it should hold me over until I can find some factory painted Toreador Red ones.

Before (pardon the filth):

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After:

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Now on to a little detail which I’m very pleased with. When I first drove this car home, I noticed some sticker remnants on the windshield’s passenger side. It was clearly old and looked bad and it bugged me. However, as this windshield is original to the car, it must have been something somewhat significant, so I held back on cleaning it off until I found out what it was. A bit of research online revealed it used to be the assembly plant sticker Ford would include on all their new vehicles. After finding this particular model came from the Kansas City assembly plant, I sent off a letter to Ford requesting a replacement if that could be done. A few weeks later, one came in the mail!

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I’m glad I didn’t clean off the old one as it served as a template.

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As of now, I’m doing repairs on the sunroof motor to try and get that working as well as source a replacement driver’s visor. I’m going to have to look into the A/C soon too as it doesn’t seem to be working.

Interview with the 1st Owner:

Around the same time I sent the letter to Ford, I also sent a note to the original owner of the Contour in hopes I could hear his story. I had the address and phone number on old service records. The phone number ended up being a dead end, so sending a letter was going to be my last try. I introduced myself, included some recent photos of the car and asked if he’d be willing to contact me. To my surprise, I got a call! I was thrilled and even though the conversation lasted less than ten minutes, I got all the info I was looking for and quickly realized that this car had been well cared for. Here are some notes from the conversation:

  • Bought new in 1997 for $24k
  • Had engine rebuilt around 100,000 miles from a rod bearing going bad (common issue)
  • Original alternator
  • Original transmission
  • Original power steering
  • Original radiator
  • Clutch replaced with performance unit while engine was out…not needed but replaced anyway
  • Replaced fuel pump
  • Had no idea when the hail damage happened
  • Garage kept, but in the sun during week days at work
  • Majority of miles were local to Ft. Collins and Denver
  • Wife daily drove it from new (very conservatively)
  • Exhaust, headers and intake were upgraded around the time of the engine rebuild
  • Sold because he had 6 vehicles
  • Spent roughly $7,000 in maintenance, repairs and upgrades

I can’t imagine keeping one car for over 20 years, but I salute him for his dedication. That’s a wrap for now. Stay tuned as I’ll report back with some new announcements and festivities coming up. Drive on!

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6 thoughts on “Pacific Northwest 2019 Planning

  1. tysonhugie says:

    Remarkable transformation of the SVT in just a matter of a few months! Bravo for a job well done (and something tells me you’re not finished yet). It looks like a brand new car. Love that you even got the windshield sticker from the Kansas assembly plant. The PNW gathering sounds like fun, and trust me – once you start going to meets like that, you’ll be hooked! Just earlier today I was planning my (15th) drive to the annual NALM in Florida. It’s going to be a heck of an adventure coming up in October! Hopefully your travels to the northwest bring you through Phoenix – I’ll make room for the ‘tour in the garage.

    • Jason Pawela says:

      Thanks, Tyson! You’re right in that I’m no where near finished yet. I hope to have it pretty well sorted by June. I’m hoping I’ll get hooked on the whole car meet thing. Maybe then I’ll start something with Mazda 6’s. Haha. I bet NALM is going to be a blast. Each year seems to get better and better. Guest room always open to ya. If the ‘tour and I make it through PHX, I’ll be sure to hit you up!

  2. First of all, that’s awesome that Ford sent you a replacement windshield sticker. Very cool that a major corporation would take the time to do that for one owner of a two-decade+ old car! The Contour is coming along very nicely – I’m really impressed with your work on the rear bumper, and the roof seemed like it came out nicely.

    Very cool that you got in touch with the original owner, and that he took the time to chat with you. I’d love to someday find the original owner of my Accord and have the same kind of conversation (although I have a feeling it’ll be something like, “I leased it. I took it to the dealer for maintenance. I turned it in at the end of the lease.”)

    Of your three rides… do you have one that is your preferred car to drive?

    • Jason Pawela says:

      I was amazed Ford took the time to send a sticker to little ole me. The roof isn’t done yet, but I drop off the Contour Monday to start the painting process. That’s the last big thing (cosmetically) I have to do.

      Even if the story on the Accord’s first owner is a bit bland, it still would be very cool to do. Hope you’re able to do so! Out of the three, it’s hard to pick a preferred. The 6 “i” is the most trust worthy and best gas mileage, 6 “S” is the most comfortable, and the Contour is the most fun. Just depends on the day of the week and the mood, I guess. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Adam says:

    The PDR is looking amazing, the Contour is slowly transforming before our eyes. Is there anything else that mechanically needs sorted before the trip? Keep us posted, loving these updates!

    • Jason Pawela says:

      Thanks, Adam! Contour is indeed slowly getting there. I hate to think how many hours I’ve spend on this thing so far. Before the trip, I do need to get the A/C looked at (hopefully just a charge) and the brakes are just so-so. More updates to come soon…thanks for stopping by!

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