Old cars can be a source of unlimited frustration and anxiety for their owners, and yet they can hold a certain amount of charm and sentimentality. While most old cars are barely held together with chewing gum and rubber bands, and they threaten to die at each stop sign, many people would rather get rid of the family dog than part with a cherished old car.
My friend in college had a battered old Plymouth, and its only redeeming quality was the fact that it would get us where we wanted to go, and most of the time it would get us back again. One of the most interesting features of this car, besides the fender that I would have to pick up from the pavement every time we stopped at a traffic light, were the two-by-fours across the frame that supported the seats.
Not having a floor in the car gave us a false sense of security, in that we figured if the brakes ever gave out, we could still stop the car by dragging our feet. It also provided an unlimited source of ventilation which was terrific in the summer, but a little uncomfortable in the winter, especially in a snowstorm.
Then there was my sister’s dottering Chevy that could go almost forever on a tank of gas, but needed a quart of oil every other mile. If we forgot the oil, interesting things would start to happen under the hood, and we were sure that the engine was about to throw pistons and rods all over the road.
Then there was the friend who had an ancient Rambler that barely limped from mile to mile, but which sported a brand new set of seat covers. Since the car had over a hundred thousand miles on it, it is understandable that my friend hesitated to invest in new seat covers, but the choice was taken out of his hands when the springs started poking through the seat and tearing up his good suits.
Closing the doors in his car required more than just the usual wrist motion, as the driver’s window had to be rolled all the way down before the passenger door would close. But at least the doors opened and closed and the windows went up and down.
The window on the driver’s side of the Pinto we once owned didn’t go up or down, and when I pulled up at the drive through window at the bank, I would have to get out of the car to do my banking.
I would get some strange looks from people waiting in line, but maybe most of them understood. Surely there was an interesting old car somewhere in their background too.
What about you? Do you have a story about an old car you’d like to share?