The Isetta Saga, Chapter 16: The Painted Body Comes Home

Jody Fitzpatrick, proprietor of “The Shop” in Maplewood NJ, had my Isetta in his possession for one day shy of five weeks. His work was completed, done, finished. I breathed a huge sigh of relief if only for his ability to accurately predict his work timeline, originally estimated at “3 to 4 weeks”. This was close enough. There wouldn’t be any restoration shop horror stories in my future.

Chris Beyer, work colleague, neighbor, and friend, had accompanied me when I dropped off the Isetta body. When I told him that it was ready for pick-up, he was ready and willing to join me again.

The date was Friday July 28, 1995. Nothing in my notes or my memory explains how Chris and I both happened to be off from work that day; but we were. It was a sweltering humid day, hotter than the previous days had been during what was already an oppressive summer. Cranking the A/C in my Volvo 850 wagon did little help; nothing was going to cool me enough to dissipate my nervous excitement over seeing the painted shell.

 

Jody’s 2nd and final statement

 

At our arrival, Jody strolled out to greet us, looking and acting nonchalant. “How come HE’S so cool?” I asked no one. Perhaps because he does this every day, and, it’s not his car, and, he just wants to get paid, replied the voice in my head. The body shell, of course, looked perfect, almost too much so. I was afraid to touch it, but with Jody and Chris’s help, we got the same 2x4s bolted back to its underside, and then to the trailer floor.

 

The red 850, ready to tow home the red Isetta (note dolly and plywood in lower right of photo)

 

From ugly duckling to gorgeous swan (obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder)

 

Chris and I pose in parking lot of The Shop

 

Jody got his check, I got my receipt and my obligatory photos, and we were on our way. I must have glanced in the rear view mirror about every 12 seconds to make sure the body was still there. At a red light on the way home, several male teens yelled out “hey, it’s the Urkel-mobile!” Oh My God, I thought, am I going to be hearing this for the duration of my ownership of this thing? (The short answer to that question is “yes”.)

 

Back home after a 5-week vacation

 

Soon to be reunited

 

Leaving the 2x4s in place for now, we carried the body into the garage, and back onto my makeshift dolly. I posed it next to the completed chassis, fully aware that in a few days, five years of mechanical work would be covered forever (or at least until the car is re-restored in 2095).

Light buckets and other externals at the ready

What work was remaining before reuniting the body and chassis? The body’s hand-painted underside now had primer overspray on it, so that got yet another coat of gloss red. The headlight and tail light buckets were bolted on. The fuel tank, which had earlier been restored by coating it with Bill Hirsch’s GasTank Sealer, was secured in place. The 2x4s were finally removed, and the body was placed onto 4 jack stands.

Gas tank bolted into place (note fuel tap in upper left)

In an auto assembly plant, the moment when the car’s body, on one conveyor, is lowered onto a complete chassis, arriving on another conveyor, is called “the marriage point”. The Isetta’s 17-year courtship was coming to an end. It was time to host a wedding party and consummate this marriage.

The Groom

 

All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

3 thoughts on “The Isetta Saga, Chapter 16: The Painted Body Comes Home

  1. What great commentary, pictures and all the details. Wonderful memories.
    Rich now looking back, do you miss owning the car in 2019?
    All the best to you.

    Like

    • Hi Bill, and thanks for the wonderful comments. Looking back, I do not miss the car; of course, a little bit, but I was always very realistic about it and always sensed that I wouldn’t keep it forever. What’s nice about the blog entries is that I get to re-live the project, and I enjoy that. I owned the car for 35 years! When it was time to let it go, I let it go. No regrets.
      Best, Richard

      Like

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