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Meet Farley the Diplomat

Farley the Dodge DiplomatThis page - with a few minor updates - reflects the original front entrance page of Farley's Page when the site went online in 1997.

This site is dedicated to my car, a 1979 Dodge Diplomat named Farley that I have owned since 1990.  He isn't sharp looking or stylish, but he starts every morning and just refuses to die (and I live in Minnesota - it's COLD here!).   Click on one of the thumbnails below for a larger image.

He's a four door sedan, originally owned by a rental car company, then by the State of Washington. My father bought him from the state in 1988 for $700, and when my 1976 Toyota Celica died, I ended up with him myself.

Last time he was totaled (three times, none were my fault) I got an insurance check for $230, but even if I were offered ten times that amount, I wouldn't sell him. These days he has become as close to a pickup truck that a four door sedan can hope (or fear) to get. He's been from Seattle to Omaha to Los Angeles to Dallas to Minneapolis, and lots of places in between, and I wouldn't hesitate to drive him anywhere in the country, because I have total confidence in his reliability. His only fault is his 15 miles to the gallon, but that instant passing speed from the 318 V8 and top speed around 120 keep me impressed.

How many times have you heard someone dream about a car they once had and say with regret "I wish I had never sold that car"? This is that car for me, and since I still have him, I plan to not make myself sorry later by losing him. The air conditioning and cruise control still work, so who's complaining? When I drive this car now after all this time, he is an extension of myself. The car and the driver become one. I can get into places and accomplish maneuvering feats with him that would impress a dance choreographer. I know he's not pretty, but I didn't ask you to dance, anyway.

If you plan to come through the Duluth area in the future, I would be happy to give out free rides in Farley.  He doesn't like to shy away from his fans, he's very accessible to the citizens.  Just let me know at least a few days in advance.

Farley has been totaled three times. None were my fault.    "Total" here is a relative term, meaning the repair bill was greater than the assessed value of the car.  Here's some stories about those experiences.

Summer 1994

Transmission rebuild. Farley had a strong shift from first to second, but that second to third caused quite a slide. As it got worse, third gear could not stay engaged due to the torque being placed on it. Sudden acceleration in third gear caused the transmission to slip and lose ability to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. This made passing very difficult.

BILL: $414.47.
ASSESSED VALUE: $300.00 (my guess).

Summer 1995

Nebraska Hailstorm. My Fire Department pager went off announcing that we were going into a storm warning, and that all firefighters were to report to the station for storm watch duty. We went, the storm came. It grew hauntingly calm, and the sky turned a dim grey-green. Those of you who have seen it know what I mean. The lightning, we had noticed, had nearly ceased. Suddenly a flash and {{CRACK}} announced a lightning hit a block away. We were startled. As we looked at each other and exchanged some "cool" and "wow" comments, {{{CRACK}}} another one hit up the street. We decided to go inside.

Farley the Dodge Diplomat 24

As we went in, we heard some snapping sounds. We turned around to see hailstones larger than golf balls striking the ground, and we were glad to be going in. The ambulance was returning from a call at the time, and radioed ahead for us to get the bay door open for them. They soon skidded into the station headfirst to escape the damage. Just as the storm ended there was another medical call, and it was somewhat amusing to watch the ambulance emerge from the station backwards.

Anyway, by now the ground outside was totally white with the piled up hailstones. Several millions of dollars of damage was incurred on a small area within minutes. It was a big year for roofing companies and car dealers (which sold damaged ones cheap and new ones to replace the damaged ones).

Of course, sitting bravely outside the station through it all was Farley. His windshield had been destroyed, and there were pockmark dents all over the body and chrome. I was upset by this, because up until that day, the body was totally straight and I had planned to get him a decent paint job. The cost of repairing the little dents was far too prohibitive. In a cruel twist, the hailstones knocked two letters out of the "D O D G E" between the taillights. It now spelled "D O G" (this can barely be seen in the first picture below). It was a sad day.

ESTIMATE: $800-$2000 for good body work and paint (my guess)
ASSESSED VALUE: $275.00 (my guess)

Winter 1996

Teen Driver. Farley was parked in his customary place across the street from our home when he was rear ended by a teenager who had gotten her license just a few weeks before. She claimed she had been blinded by headlights. Hers was a mid-80's Buick Park Avenue. Farley was shoved about four feet forward (he stopped about three inches from our other car). He suffered a broken taillight lens (the taillight housing was not damaged), a shoved-in bumper, and the plastic body molding between bumper and body shattered because of the extreme cold.

The Buick suffered a wrinkled hood, wrinkled fender, twisted bumper, shattered grill, smashed headlights, punctured radiator, and humiliation at losing the bout.

I bought a new lens from the dealer for $45, and tied the bumper to a tree and gently drove away with small tugs to ease it back out straight.

farley025.jpg (75375 bytes) Rear view, ouch!
farley026.jpg (76881 bytes) Profile view.  Farley drove away but the Buick was towed.
farley027.jpg (95360 bytes) Another angle on the profile.
farley028.jpg (144127 bytes) Killed the Buick, or at least put it in a coma.
farley030.jpg (378967 bytes) These last three photos added 10/12/99.

Found this shot recently, and it has a tale to tell.  See all those pieces of car on the ground?  Only the red tail light lens parts are from Farley, the rest were knocked off the Buick!

farley031.jpg (150628 bytes) After the "repair" job.  As described above, all I did was slap on a new lens and yank the bumper out with a tree and a rope.
farley032.jpg (627316 bytes) A close-up of the repair.  Not too shabby for a ten minute fix, eh?

ESTIMATE: (for Farley) $443.92
ESTIMATE: (for loser Buick) $1250.00
ACTUAL BILL: $45.00 and a damaged tow strap.
ASSESSED VALUE: I got an insurance check for $230.30

 

Read some more stories about Farley at the Diplomat Stunts page.

 

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