I am pleased to report Zhadi needed neither a priest or (nor?) an expensive electrical repair job. Turns out the wonky readouts, sluggishness and sputtering were caused by (wait for it) … loose battery cables! Mind you, she also needed a new fan, rear brakes (the shoes were cracked and threadbare), and freon, but the cost for all of this at the wonderful Lightfoot’s Garage (if you live anywhere near Lomita/Torrance in Southern California, go to this place) was about half the price it would have been at the dealership. Plus Josh (the mechanic who worked on Zhadi) gave me two free quarts of oil and a lot of advice as to the best way to keep her happy and running.
So now I once again have air-conditioning, a non-Satanic readout on the dashboard and, best of all, working brakes! Considering the hills in San Francisco, this last is a REALLY good thing.