On April 28, Publisher Martin hosted the Round Fendered Volvo Club at his home for a viewing of the movie “Swedish Auto.” A few days later, a club member who drove his Volvo 122 wagon to the affair wrote this interesting account of the demise of his Volvo. “Legal Files” has added comments — with the club member’s permission. I was driving on a one-plus mile stretch of residential road in Portland, OR. I was at the 25 mph speed limit, and a car was about three car lengths behind me. But I saw a car behind him swerving left and right. It looked like the driver was mad to be stuck behind people doing the speed limit. A half-mile later, I realized that I had forgotten something. I turned on my blinker to hang a left into the driveway of a house to turn around. All of a sudden, WAMMMM! I’m nailed hard a few inches behind the A-pillar. My left arm hurt, the motor stumbled and hot engine coolant sprayed on the passenger’s seat and misted on my legs. I cut the motor and rolled to a stop to the right, and a black town car pulls four car lengths ahead and stops. I thought this was my fault for not looking left before starting the turn, but who looks left on a residential street for someone passing you on the left in the oncoming traffic lane? More errors, more trouble A male got out of the passenger’s side of the 1998 Buick Park Avenue and started looking at the front side of his car. I dug for my auto insurance info and registration cards, but when I looked up, he — and the Buick — were gone! My eight years in a U.S. Army Stryker Brigade kicked in. I needed a plate number at least. So I turned over the 122 motor I rebuilt 15k miles ago, and it started rough. As I revved it to redline and let out the clutch, coolant sprayed on the window as the tires chirped and the car moved. As I picked up speed, I spotted the target car a few blocks ahead. First Error: Our reader was in pretty good shape here. All he had to do was call the cops and describe the Buick. His insurance company would cover the hit-and-run under his uninsured motorist coverage, and his record would not be affected. Now, he’s adding a possible blown motor to the tab, which would be uninsured. And he’s risking getting stopped by a cop and arrested for reckless driving. But we’ll give him a break. He’s pissed, and his gut reaction is to go catch the SOB. The light turned yellow. I stopped, let two cars on each side go, and then ran the red. I rowed through the gearbox. The Volvo wanted to pull left a bit after the crash, but I found that my hard work on brakes, clutch and motor paid off. Second Error: Add running a red light and more reckless driving to the charges. But at least he feels great about his mechanicals. I saw the Buick far ahead, slowing down. Revving as I see the light turn yellow for cross traffic, I gunned it on the green. I came over a small rise and saw, way off in the distance, a black car turning right. I kept up the speed but made a slow, safe rolling stop at the corner and went right. Up ahead is a red light with traffic backed up! “Just nail them so hard with your Swedish Steel that they can’t get away,” I thought. Whoa, cowboy! Now it’s assault with a deadly weapon, perhaps worse. Jail time for sure. Will our author figure that out? But then a split second later the cognitive reasoning center of my brain kicked in and said, “Not a good idea. That’s assault with a weapon.” I saw them stopped at the signal, so I moved into the far right parking and bike lane and turned into the gap between them and the car in front and blocked them. As I jumped out, the male passenger lowered his window. I pointed at him and said, “Do the right thing.” I don’t really know why I chose that line. The passenger looked at me hard. I have seen eyes like that before. This was a tough individual. He was not shaking, and he was not scared — or wound up. He then looked at the girl in the driver’s seat and said, “GO, GO!” Fourth Error: This could have been very bad. Our reader is describing the kind of person who carries guns, knives and other assorted weapons. I yelled at the guy in the van behind them: “Call 911. They just hit-and-ran me.” By the time I got the Volvo turned around, they were off again, and I’ve forgotten their plate number. I remembered it was a special Oregon Salmon plate, but the first number — 1 — is the only one that stuck in my head. Fifth Error: Isn’t the plate number what he was after all along? He didn’t write it down? I jumped back in the idling 122, and it smoked a bit of antifreeze mist. I took off after them again. When I caught up, I noticed that they weren’t driving well. They were all over the place. So I hung back and decided to catch the plate number when they made a turn. Then they hung a right on some residential street, and I get the plate number because they did not brake early enough, locked up the tires and overshot the corner. I, on the other hand, braked early, let off the brakes, threw it in second and broke the rear end loose for a poorly executed — but successful — power slide. I thought the 122 was going to roll over, but she held and hopped. I was straight behind them, as they were moving forward after backing up off the curb. At this point, I called 911 and backed off from the Buick, as all I had to do is take it easy and let them make all the mistakes. I should have pulled over. I had a plate number and a good look at the female driver. However, the 911 operator came on, and I could not stop myself. It was like I was back in the Stryker — calling out grid cords and location as I kept driving. The Buick turned into an apartment complex, and I pulled up right behind them so they could not back out. The female driver booked it for the apartment stairs, and the male passenger came out and started to threaten me. “You had your chance to leave; I gave you your chance,” he said. Then people came out of the apartment to help their friend. A police officer arrived and asked me to come over. A mob developed at the apartment and the officer left to deal with them. After 40 minutes, he came back to me and asked what I was doing hitting this woman’s car, starting an altercation and forcing her to flee the scene.” Sixth Error: Guess he didn’t see this coming, did he? I took off my sunglasses, looked the officer in the eye, and said: “They hit my car and then ran.” He paused for a long time. Then he said that no one got hurt, this may not go well for me in court, we are in a known drug den, and it may be wise for us to leave. I looked at the crowd of angry people. I thanked the officer and asked if he could stay for two minutes while I took photos of their vehicle. He agreed and then I left.

Get home-run insurance

The good news: I have full coverage with USAA and they have always treated me nice. So even if the other driver is not insured, I’m covered! I’ll be looking for another wagon with a nicer paint job to plant my rebuilt b20 into. Also, I have a folder with every receipt for every screw, nut and bolt that has gone into this rebuild for the past 1.5 years. I have photos of my entire rebuild process. This has all paid off! A few days later, the bad news: Out of the $3k I put into the motor, block, head, starter, gaskets, pumps, carbs and other parts, I got $2k value on it. I got only $250 value for all the floorboard work I did. The insurance company told me that anti-rust work is considered normal maintenance, even though I soundproofed and fiberglassed the entire floorboard. Then came the damage from the wreck: $250 for the fender, $500 for the door, $500 for the window wipe — and not so much for the cracked heater core, broken radiator fan, smashed A-pillar, or the front-end damage. My car insurance company made me an offer that they claim should be enough for me to buy another car just like this one. I’m wondering how hard it is going to be to find a 122 wagon with good brakes, a 15k-mile motor, a bad paint job, a bad interior and with some rust on the body. The Solution: This is why “Legal Files” always recommends that collectors insure their cars with agreed-value collector-car policies. Our reader could retain an attorney to fight this, and the attorney would almost certainly get a higher settlement, but it’s hard to predict if the increase would be greater than the attorney fees. All of those problems are avoided with an agreed-value policy that reflects a current valuation for the car. Most of all, our author should never have chased the hit-and-run driver, which could have created a situation worse than a wrecked car. Let the police handle matters when someone breaks the law. ? John Draneas is an attorney in Oregon. His comments are general in nature and are not intended to substitute for consultation with an attorney.

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