Fear and Loathing and Elderly Korean Cars

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Have you ever owned a beautiful thing while knowing that, just beneath the surface, that beautiful thing is rotting away? Have you ever made a beautiful thing ugly? Have you ever described a 15 year-old Korean psuedo sports car as beautiful?

I bought my 2002 Tuscani about six months ago. It had obviously been cared for by the previous owner. The interior is clean and well cared for. The paint is a lovely deep blue and has maybe 10% of the dings and dents you’d expect in a 15 year old car. The previous owner had spent at least four grand on the turbo kit, and probably much more. The car had upgraded brakes, the stronger transmission out of a Sonata and a beautiful stainless steel exhaust system that probably cost about half of what I earn in a month.

When I bought it, it looked like this:

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I think you’ll agree, that’s a clean, nice looking rig. But, look carefully. Draw your eyes to the fender lip just above the front wheel. Do you see that roughness? That was a rust hole and it wasn’t the only one. I found three more on the under carriage and one on the hood.

And so, the newest car I’ve ever owned, the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, the prettiest car I’ve ever owned, the most powerful and the most comfortable vehicle I’ve ever possessed in 20 years of being a gearhead – went under the knife.

Luckily, the rust I found in the front of the car was confined to the fender itself. Easy enough to unbolt. Same thing with the hood – I don’t think there’s a major part of any car that’s easier to remove than a hood. Even the undercarriage rust fell before the might of my angle grinder, cracker-box welder and piles of scrap metal.

The first real problem was finding replacements. Evidently rusty fenders are a super common Tuscani malady and so I had to purchase NOS (new old stock) parts from a Hyundai specialist. Honestly, 200 bucks isn’t too bad for perfect, new steel. The hood, on the other hand, was like 500 bucks if I wanted NOS. So instead, I bummed some second-hand parts off of a race-car that had been converted to a fiberglass, vented hood.

No problem, right? Well, no problem except for that second problem I mentioned earlier. My car looked like this:

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I believe the technical term for this is “female repellent.” And so I drove around for about a month wondering whether or not I really should have cured that rust problem. I mean, nobody would have noticed those little rust spots. Thankfully, I found a good body shop willing to work for a reasonable price and the prettiness has been restored. This time, my beauty isn’t hiding anything nasty under the foundation and eyeliner.

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11 comments

  1. there are no ugly cars, only those waiting to be beautified by motorheaded men

    1. Thanks! I’m hoping to beautify this one some more with non ugly wheels and tires next. 🙂

  2. A thing of beauty indeed. May I assume that you are not a candidate for driving a rat rod?

    1. Haha, I’d love to drive one, just so long as I didn’t own it. All the imperfections would itch at my OCD during the night. 🙂

  3. Hi, Ben. I read your post and my favorite sentence is “This time, my beauty isn’t hiding anything nasty under the foundation and eyeliner”.
    I hope to see you soon to prove there isn’t anything rusty part of your beautiful Car.

  4. […] it feels good to get back on a racetrack! My lovely new Brocinante, recently recovered from open chassis surgery, finally made her debut in the arena, and what an arena it […]

  5. “Female repellant” – ha. Well done Ben, good on you for properly repairing the car. Maintenance before mods, as they say.

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, especially with this car, there’s plently of potential already there. I’m just trying to get everything working at its best. 300 hp is nice, but not very effective if you’ve got crazy chassis flex.

  6. LOL. Well, if your face and writing are sexy enough, the car shouldn’t deter the babes.

    1. Hahaha, thanks. 🙂

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