Back in my tuner days, I had just purchased a Galant VR-4 that I was putting back together from a rolling shell. It took about a good six months to get everything together and a few weekends to put it all in the car. It was a proud moment the day I fired the car up.

When I first bought the car, it had a quarter tank of gas that I was sure was pretty stale, but I figured it would be enough to get me to a gas station and fill it up to do some real testing. In my excitement after getting the motor running, I didn’t bother with getting gas and went to the nearest highway to do some real world tuning.

I was in second gear as I hit the on ramp and with no traffic in front of me (and no cops around), I mashed on the gas. The smile on my face grew as the turbo let out a glorious woosh. and the tachometer sailed past the redline. I slammed it into third, and the smiles continued, for about two seconds. That’s when I heard a large pop and the engine died.

I coasted to the shoulder, cursing to myself for letting my enthusiasm get the best of me, fearing that I just blew up a freshly rebuilt engine. I was relieved when I looked under the hood and found that it was an intercooler pipe that blew off. I quickly reattached it and was back on my way.

I did another highway pull, and the intercooler pipe blew off again, so I fixed it, again. It would happen two more times, and each time, I made sure to crank down the hose clamp even tighter to make sure it didn’t happen.

On the final highway run, the motor was singing. Second gear was no problem. Third gear was no problem. I hit 4th gear, and that’s when it happened. At 5500, I heard bang from under the hood. Smoke filled the rearview mirror instantly, and the motor died.

I coasted to the shoulder, ready to reattach the intercooler pipe, only to find that it was still in one piece. Oh, fuck. Now I’m sure I really blew the motor.

Three hours later, the tow truck drops my car off in the driveway. I don’t touch it for the rest of the day, pissed at myself for fucking up royally. The next morning, I start troubleshooting to see how bad it is, but it doesn’t seem bad at a Block’s not windowed, so that’s a good sign. Compression tests are normal. Lift the valve cover, no sign of bent valves.

Now I’m scratching my head, and I go back to the basics: Fuel, air, spark.. Pull the plugs, attach the wires, crank the motor, all four are firing. Check the intake path for obstructions, all clear. Test the pump for fuel pressure, 0 psi. Hmmmm.

I go to the back of the car, pull out the fuel pump. I dip it in a bucket, of water, and put 12 volts to it. It pumps fine. Filter is okay. WTF? Now I’m really stumped.

As I’m trying to figure this out, I’m looking right down into the tank trying to figure out why the car died. And then I stick my finger into the tank and tap the bottom of it.

And you gotta be kidding me.

It was empty, and I ran the car dry.

Turns out that sending unit was out of an Eagle Talon, and despite the mechanical similarities, the resistance values were different enough that the needle would never go to E when it was empty, but stop at 1/4 tank. And the low fuel light was burned out a well.

After putting everything back together and filling the tank with some gas left over from my lawnmower, the car fired right up like nothing happened, and my friends had quite the laugh about my experience.