By the way, the car survived its ordeal. After much digging, Smitty found a jagged hunk of metal in the engine. A galley plug (?) came out and was chewed up by something. Without the plug, the oil wasn't getting to the places it needs to be.
He replaced the plug and did some other stuff and the car is now running.
Was it worth $1500? We shall see. If the car lasts more than a couple of months, then I figure we're doing ok. Since the payment on a new car would probably be $500 a month.