Posts Tagged ‘vintage cars’


Was looking at my car today and wondering how long I can keep it going before it will need to be replaced. A 2009 model with low mileage should be able to squeak by for awhile. Got me thinking about my first car, a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. My mother paid my roommate $100 for it and I feel she got taken to the cleaners…..my mother that is. What an eyesore. I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t get up a petition to prevent me from parking it on the street. Always looked to me like two cars stuck together with some Gorilla glue to create one whole vehicle.  There were buttons denoting the gears located on the side of the steering wheel. When I turned the right hand turn signal on the horn honked. It drew enough attention on it’s own without having this added draw built in. Still, it beat walking. When it was dark and I couldn’t see it parked out front I was secretly thankful at least to have wheels. My high school was two plus miles from home. On hot Southern California days it could seem more like ten when you were carrying books and on foot.

I do not form strong attachments to my vehicles. Rick, for example, affectionately called his red Corvette convertible, Lucille. Lucille was treated with the utmost respect during her tenure at our house. No greasy food entered her hallowed interior and one did not place dirty shoes or feet on anything without wiping them prior to getting in. Once I actually brought iced tea in a to-go cup in with me and was subjected to the “Lucille – Rule 14 – No Unauthorized Liquids – speech before pouring it out. Generally I refer to my car as well, my car. As long as it gets me from Point A to Point B, uses minimal gas, and comes equipped with a radio, heater, and air conditioner I’m a happy camper.


One car, however, did capture my heart. In 1985 I got a Datsun 300ZX for my birthday. The exterior was a shimmering bronze color complimented by a luxuriously soft buttery leather interior. A five speed, my favorite, with a T-Top, she was a sleek and wonderful machine. The car was built for speed and pleasure, no work horse there. I lived in the Bay Area at the time and often took trips down to the LA area to visit friends. Driving down Highway 101 with the ocean following me to my right, the T-top open, and the wind playing in my hair was one of my life’s truly pleasurable experiences.

When I was a sophomore in high school my mother decided to purchase a new car. It was a black Ford Falcon convertible. Anyone under the age of dirt reading this is scratching their head going, Falcon?? What?



In truth it was a huge step up from the turquoise and white Metropolitan parked in our garage up until then.  The Metropolitan, though cute, was so small it looked as though should be manned by a band of Munchkins. A two seater, it also boasted a rear seat which you had to be a contortionist to squeeze into. I attribute my great elasticity to this day to having to ride back there often when my mother had a friend up front. While in the Ford dealership mother told the salesman she had always wanted a convertible. Uh-huh. Now, to fully understand my confusion at this statement one would have to understand how important my mother’s hair was and continues to be to her. A huge pool resided in our backyard which she went in regularly. Well, she went on actually. Not a hair on her head was ever befouled by chlorine. A huge raft, which my step-brother referred to as the Queen’s Barge, was put into service when mother went swimming. Swimming was a really loose term for dangling her legs through the leg holes and kicking when she wanted to move around. The raft looked like a throne and had two cup holders in either arm to house her Manhattan should her mood be leaning in that direction. While she was in the pool other swimmers were not permitted to splash, kick or generally get her wet because after all why you want to get wet if you were floating in the water? The hair situation moves easily over to the question, then why a convertible? Obviously if you have the top down perfectly coifed hair isn’t going to remain that way.  The first time we tried it top down we hadn’t gone a block before we had to pull over and put it back up. Seeming to really want to participate in the convertible experience Mother took a drive to the local mall. While there she picked up two net “bonnets”. Both were black, tied under the neck, and equally unattractive. One had gold discs dangling from it that reflected the sun so intensely the light could probably be picked up by passing satellites. As you drove down the street a kaleidoscope of colors bounced off building walls. Russia probably had eyes on us as some kind of U.S. super weapon. Now, I was sixteen. Being seen with my parents when they weren’t embarrassing me was embarrassing enough but being seen driving about town with the top down with my mother wearing her reflective head gear was social suicide. We laugh about this now, but at the time I could only see any future beyond those days as looking lonely and bleak.

The only real knowledge I have of cars and their workings I learned in Drivers Ed when I was in high school. Amazingly some of the lectures stuck because I remember about pistons, and carburetors, and how engines are cooled. Everything is computerized these days. You don’t see boys bent over under open hoods anymore. When I was growing up that was what they did on Saturdays after mowing the lawn. Most of the kids I dated in high school showed up for a dance with a little grease under their fingernails.

Since Rick has passed I have had to learn to remind myself to get the oil changed, the car not mine, and check the tires. The last time I drove back from a trip the low tire pressure alert popped up on the dash. Not wanting to change a tire or have a flat I pulled off the freeway and found a station with an air bank in one corner. Only problem is not only did I not know how much pressure to put in but I had no idea how to do it. I know, you have my permission to feel sorry for me. Thankfully there was a man filing up his tires who was kind enough to do the same for me. I have added this to my ever growing list of things I need to learn before I forget what I’ve already learned. Sigh.

Life continues to find interesting nooks and crannies to explore. I am tackling my asthma situation head on even submitting to take medication as directed to get this cleared up. Air in the house gets checked on Monday. Not sure if I hope they find something or I hope they don’t. The former would narrow the field as to what’s making me act up.

Have a great and safe day!!

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