Welcome to the Cosmic Lobster's Automobile page
I am a bit surprised that this page is the most
popular page on my site!!
Everyone must be here to see the smashed piston . . .
To go down to the pictures of the damaged piston, click
I have had owned 11 cars (and 10
Each of them have their own personality and character.
- 1964 Dodge Half Ton pickup
- 1966 Volkswagon Karmann Ghia
- 1968 Triumph Spitfire
- 1972 Subaru GL coupe
- 1978 Subaru GL 4WD
- 1981 Chevy Camaro
- 1986 Volvo 740 Turbo Station Wagon
- 1990 Volvo 740 Turbo Station Wagon
- 1997 Volvo 960
- 2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport
And the newest, the best, the greenest and the most technologically advanced;
- 2007 Toyota Prius 5, with Touring Package
My Volvo 960 project
In the summer of 2006 I bought a 1997 Volvo
960. It was the top of the line Volvo for 1997 and a luxury car in every respect. It's also the last pure
Volvo before the company was divested to Ford. I got it for 1/3 of it's blue book value
because of a problem with the engine. It's in excellent
condition and only has 114 thousand miles on it.
VOLVO UPDATE 7/26/06:
Pulled the timing cover off of the 97 Volvo 960 today. As I
suspected, the timing belt slipped and the cams were off by a
tooth or two. The ball bearing of the timing belt pulley has
several of it's balls missing and the tensioner pulley also had
VOLVO UPDATE 7/29/06:
It was a depressing day for auto repairs. One
cylinder had a severely mashed spark plug. Using a
flashlight I could look into the chamber and see a gaping
hole in the top of the piston. A good portion of the
piston is now swimming in the sump somewhere. :(
VOLVO UPDATE 8/20/06:
Had a hell of a time trying to get the cylinder
head off!! I broke 2 sockets and it took both hands on
the torque wrench pulling with all of my strength to get
the bolts out. The torque wrench only goes up to 200 foot
pounds and I had it pegged for several seconds at a
time!! After working up a good sweat, I finally did get
the 14 cylinder head bolts out!!
Note to self:
Get a good long breaker bar if you plan to
remove any more Volvo cylinder heads!!
The cylinder head bolts were a bit too much for my torque
wrench - it now reads 40 foot pounds when it's sitting in the
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
If you are thinking about changing your own timing belt, make
sure you have the marks set correctly when you put it all back
together!! Here is what your engine might look like if you
Here's what the spark plug looked like . . .
This is what the cylinder head looked like . . .
and last but certainly not least, the piston!
VOLVO UPDATE 12/8/06:
I bought a Volvo 960 engine on-line from
Car-part.com. I got a complete engine with 70K miles on
it from a 1996 Volvo that got T-Boned. I had it delivered
to a local Volvo repair shop and let them have the fun of
swapping out the engines.
I did save some cash by stripping down and disconnecting
everything from the old engine so it would be ready to be
yanked. I also saved some cash by having them just drop the new
engine in without reconnecting everything.
VOLVO UPDATE 12/28/06:
It took me about 12 hours and I got 14 cuts on
my hands and fingers, but I got finally got everything
reinstalled and reconnected. The moment of truth was at
hand. Put the key in and cranked it. After about 8
seconds, it started right up!! There are still a few
loose ends that need tending to, but I was quite thrilled
to hear the engine fire up, even though I only ran it for
10 seconds - there was no oil in the engine and no water
in the radiator at the time!
VOLVO UPDATE: HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007!!!
My "new" Volvo is up and running like a champ. If feels like a
new car and it was well worth all of my efforts.
I had planned to sell this one for profit, but it is such a
NICE car - I don't think I can part with it just yet.
THE FINAL CHAPTER of the Volvo 960 story:
Because of the negligence of a driver who changed lanes in an intersection when the Volvo was in his blind spot, The Volvo's driver swerved to avoid an emminent collision and the Volvo went up on to the start of a median in the middle of the road. The front tires were still on the road on either side of the median, but the concrete curb sheered off the bottom of the radiator, the oil filter and tore a hole in the oil pan. A solid blow to the steering mechanism finally stopped the car and left the front tires with a crosseyed stance. A sad and untimely death for a great car. Many of it's parts helped to keep other Volvo's on the road so it wasn't a total loss.
Here is the history of the cars I have owned.
To visit the motorcycle page, click Here
The Karmann Ghia was a gift from my
brother-in-law because it would not start most of the
time. I devised 4 alternate ways to get it started and
drove it for many years. My girlfriend and I packed
everything we could into it and drove it from New York
City to San Francisco. Several years later it broke a
valve on the way home from Lake Tahoe and got sold as
junk for $100.
The Dodge pick up was bought as scrap for $200. It needed major
repairs to almost every system it had! It took 6 months and
several hundred dollars in parts to get it in good running
condition. After it was repaired, I took it on a 4 week
vacation to 3 National Parks in Utah and to Yellowstone
National Park. I kept that truck for 14 years.
I got the Triumph Spitfire for $500. It was painted a god awful
looking brown and dark yellow. The engine was only 1147cc but
it was a very light 2 seater so it moved pretty well. It was
"restored" when I bought it but nothing was done quite right,
so I had to re do most of it. I fixed everything and it ran
great until some stoned jesus freak ran into it and destroyed
My first Subaru had 169,000 miles on it and it needed tires and
a few repairs, so I got it cheap. It was amazing how
easily that small car could burn rubber!
I bought the second Subaru because I had just moved to Reno,
Nevada and I needed a car with 4 wheel drive. I got it cheap because the fuel filter
was so clogged that it would only get up to 50 MPH on the
freeway. A new fuel filter was all it needed to do 80+.
The Chevy was bought from a friend who drove it until it
overheated after a radiator hose ruptured. It needed 2 new head
gaskets. It took a lot of work and it was a challenge more than
I bought the Mitsubishi because of their promotion of zero
down, zero interest and zero payments for a year. I had just
gotten my real estate license and I planned to worry about
making the payments after I got rich from selling real estate.
Pretty funny in retrospect.
Next was a 1986 Volvo 740 Turbo Wagon. Some of
the wires in 1986 and 1987 Volvo's had insulation that would
flake off of the wires. The previous owner took the Volvo to a
Swedish auto mechanic and they told her that it needed a whole
new engine wire harness for $600 and the labor to put it in was
another $600. I got junkyard wires from a newer Volvo for a few
dollars and only replaced the wires that needed it. It had
another intermittent problem that would cause the engine to die
at apparently random times. It took a few months and many parts
from the junkyard until I found the problem. I bought it for
$600 which was 1/3 of it's blue book value. Here's a picture of
what some of the wires looked like:
This is the 1987 Volvo 740 Turbo Wagon:
Click Here to
ask the Cosmic Lobster about anything on 4 wheels
You are unique visitor number
[an error occurred while processing this directive] to this
This counter was started on July 23, 2006
This page was updated on Dec 24,