The Vagaries of Cars

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I was sitting in my little corner of the local McD's enjoying my morning coffee and yogurt when I noticed a young couple pull in with an older car. It had "stuff" loaded on the top and covered with a blue tarp. While the lady came inside, the gentleman opened the hood and peered intently at the engine. Wiping his hands as she came out and handed him a drink, they talked for a minute.

I didn't see the resolution but when I looked back they had left. It got me to thinking about some of the cars I have had in the past. At one time I referred to as the lady with the disposable cars since it seemed as though most didn't last more than a year in our household.

There are a few standouts though, those cars whose personality, quirks and/or idiosyncrasies will forever have a special spot in my heart and memories.

The most memorable with a little Kharman Ghia that I bought, I don't remember what year it was but it was OLD and TIRED but it had personality. I mean what other car would honk its horn every time you made a right hand turn? LOL! My husband of the time had no sense of humor though, he eventually disconnected the horn (to my dismay). But the car got back at him eventually. We had gone fishing and on a washboardy dirt road, it's revenge was felt. A large bump and he was suddenly sitting about a foot lower in the car. We got out to take a look...the seat had actually fallen through the rusty floorboard and was sitting on the frame of the car. I laughed but he didn't think it was so funny. Ahhhhh...revenge.

Another car I remember well is my little Ford Falcon convertible...who can resist a car who has to get gas at every fourth oil stop!

Then there was "George", an old GMC pick-up. He managed to survive a can of roofing tar tossed at him, an attack with a tire iron (hey, anyone can get a flat tire, it wasn't his fault), and a cracked engine block repaired with some type of sealer that we were told was used by the egg industry to help protect them during shipment. I have no ides, all I know is that it worked! George was like a family member and when it came time to find him a new home, my brother took him in for many more miles.

My first ever new car was a Volkswagen Beetle, sort of a hunter green and named most appropriately Schultzie. He might have blustered and huffed at times but he was like a favorite old uncle who looked and sounded stern but slipped you candy when your parents weren't looking.

My favorite of all was a 1959 Austin Healey 3000 [6] that I got for $500. It was about 13 years old and a bit worse for the wear. The wheels were spoked and often I'd go out and find another spoke broken. The side curtains (window) were plastic (vinyl, fiberglass or something but NOT glass). When in rained I had to roll up my pant legs to keep them dry from the water coming up through the floorboards and put a towel over my lap to protect them from the water dripping down from between the convertible top and the windshield. This was also the car that gave me the unique experiences of dealing with no brakes (thank goodness for the emergency brake between the seats), a tire blow-out at 50 mph and losing first and third gears. But that car had heart and I will never forget it!

So, got any special car memories of your own?

Till next time - keep on rollin',


  1. Would that Austin Healy have been yellow? Called Buttercup? Maybe I remember it....

    I think I remember George seats - everyone wearing shorts except the driver?? LOL!!!!

    I loved my first car - Baby Blue 1972 semi automatic Super Beetle!!!

  2. My first car was also a Volkswagon Beetle! Ah, nothing like the old Beetle. I owned a new Beetle but it just didn't have that old Beetle feel.

    Take care,

  3. My first car was a 1938 Chevy. It had some body work modified, rolled & pleated naugahyde (remember that term?) upholstery and an Oldsmobile V8 engine. It's color was metallic blue, the upholstery blue & white. It was a fun car but only got 12 miles to a gallon of gas. Of course back then gas, even ethyl, only cost about 32 cents per gallon. My next car was a 1957 VW Kharman Ghia, followed by a 1963 Triumph TR4. My Kharman Ghia didn't have any rust.

  4. Ah, your post got the car memories flowing... 1960 & 63 English Ford Anglias (both red), '63 Sunbeam Alpine, '63 VW bus that had cruise control -- really! I kept a brick that I laid on the accelerator.

    Am enjoying your blog and am more than a little jealous of your retirement and going to full time RVing!


  5. I had an '89 Honda Civic that I called the Honda from Hell. Consumer Reports had picked it as a Used Car Best buy, and I bought it from the Consumer Guidance reporter at the Binghamton NY newspaper, which just goes to show you never can tell.

    I'd be driving this hideous vehicle on the highway in the middle of rush hour, when suddenly it would accelerate faster and faster all by itself, despite my standing on the brake. Or, worse, it would go slower and slower even though I had the gas pedal to the floor. It stalled out CONSTANTLY, even at high speeds, and for no particular reason. I got really great at pop-starting it.

    It was the only car I ever had whose doors would freeze shut when it wasn't raining, snowing, or sleeting - this car would freeze solid in a heavy frost. After I poured gallons of hot water over the door it would reluctantly open, but if I was stupid enough to get in and shut the door before the heater warmed up, the door would freeze shut AGAIN and so would the window, so that if I got in and the horrible thing refused to start, I was trapped and couldn't even call for help. It always finally did thaw enough so I could open the door, probably because by then I was breathing fire.

    A few times I met other victims who had bought '89 Hondas, and we could talk for hours, just as though we'd been through the same war. The only thing that comforted me during the couple of years I struggled with the Satanic heap was that I kept promising myself that someday I would get a sledge hammer and pound it into oblivion with my own two hands. Now I can't even remember how I DID get rid of it, but whatever it was wasn't violent. Pity, really.

    I should also say that I later bought a '91 Honda Civic that has been the best car I ever owned - I still drive it sometimes as a beater. So you just never know.

  6. My first car was a 1964 Corvair Convertible. It truly was as bad as Ralph Nader made it out to be! The gas tank rusted out, so my Dad put an old Model A gas tank in the front compartment (rear engine car, remember), gave me a yard stick with a black line drawn on it & said, "stick the yard stick into the gas tank. If the gas level is below the black mark, fill it." Ah what great memories lol!

  7. I bought a used beater 1976 Honda Civic from a friend of mine for $200.00. Every time I went over the tracks the wipers would go on. My dad drove it once and a lady ran into him at an intersection. I took the insurance pay out of $300.00 as the damage wasn't too bad as it still drove fine. then while at work my boss backed into it. Again I took the insurance pay out $300.00 as it continued to be road worthy. The after a few months I sold it to a friend of mine (who knew its history) for I think $100.00. Both of us were happy. this car seemed to be like the ever ready bunny. It never seemd to stop running! I am sure by now it's gone on to car heaven!


  8. First: VW beetle, the automatic that you had to go forward before making a left turn from a stop - or it would stall on you.

    My baby was a Triumph spitfire, the older body style, the clutch was 'fixed' so it was easy to use, the car was junk, it was pale yellow, I loved it.

    I do remember kicking it and denting it when the carburetor leaked one time too many.

  9. you reminded me of one of my favs...a mustard yellow carman ghia...1972...whoooeee...those were the days...
    My ex went through vehicles like most do clothes so we had lots..
    Love that sassy new ride you have froggi

  10. My first car was a 74 Chevy Malibu... but my favorite was the one I had about 10 years ago, a 1959 Chevy Impala that we were working on restoring. Then someone came along and made an offer we couldnt' refuse, and away it went! LOL One of the cars I want to someday own is a late 50's Nash Metropolitan. Fun post, Donna!
    Janet from WWR


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