Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cars I've Loved and Left - Part I

Well, I was looking for a more light-hearted post to clear the heavy atmosphere of the last.  So, following up on the conversation with Jg, and picking up on his title idea, here's another autobiographical chapter. 

I mentioned before having graduated high school at almost-16; back in 1972 it was.  The following fall I was to start college.  They call it university here in England; colleges are something slightly different, I think.  I've never got my head around the educational system here. The (then) Central State University was in Edmond, OK, 15 miles away.  I also got my first job that summer, as a waitress at the Wiley Post Airport, a tiny airport then, mostly for private planes.   Bill's always asked why Oklahoma City names its airports for people who died in crashes (actually, it was the same crash, in 1935).  I don't have an answer for that. 

Anyhow, I needed a car to go with my new <hard> contact lenses, my first checking account, and of course to get to work and to university.  My Dad had given me driving lessons in his car, a 1964 Nash Rambler:  white with a standard transmission, '3-speed on the column'.  I burned two clutches out of it, but fortunately he was a dab hand at car repair back then.  He spent most summer weekends under his cars, as I recall.  

1964 Rambler (white)
My Uncle Bernard spent that summer ensuring I passed my driving test (in a red Dodge, that was very important several years later) and my Aunt Rita was currently driving a maroon Chevy Corvair, one she was about ready to get rid of (Rita changed cars like most women back then changed their winter coats).  It was a thing of beauty with great lines and the cutest little automatic gear shift, a tiny T-shaped lever on the dash.  Enter Mr. Nader and somehow that Corvair ended up rusting away in a field somewhere.  At least that's how I remember the story; Pat might know more.  I just remember being very disappointed.  

1968 Chevy Corvair Monza (maroon)

Luckily, my Uncle Pat happened to have a car he was getting rid of:  a 1967 Chevy Malibu.  It was sort of a brownie-gold colour, an automatic (but I learned to lay scratch by revving it in neutral and dropping it into first - probably not a brilliant idea, but fun nonetheless). 

1967 Chevy Malibu (?gold?)
It had a 283 V-eight, I remember.  Like '3-speed on the column' just rolls out of my brain, so does '283 V-eight'; why is that?  I didn't know much about what that meant, but the guys at the pool hall where I liked to hang out seemed to think that was pretty cool.  There were only two problems with it:  Pat had been in an accident in it, so the passenger side looked like a piece of crumpled-and-straighted aluminum foil, though the door worked OK.  The other problem was that the tail pipe seemed to get disconnected easily and that made it noisy.  I wasn't happy about either of those, but I didn't have to look at the passenger side much and I had enough money to get the tail pipe fixed.  I remember the freedom of driving myself anywhere and every where.  Gas was 24 cents a gallon (and by cracky bread was only 10 cents a loaf, 'sonny').  I drove for sheer pleasure and happiness, just to see where a road went, radio blasting and windows rolled down.  Fortunately most OKC roads are on a grid:  N/S, E/W, so it's easy not to be too lost.  Either that, or my sense of direction was better back then, I'm not sure, because I'm famous over here for getting lost.  Never mind, this is about then.

Do you remember the pleasure of your first ever car?


Jo said...

I drove from MN to OK in a Corvair, with a girlfriend. My first car was a '67 Ford Fairlane hard top, 287 as I remember.

Jg. for FatScribe said...

that was a great read. love the corvair ... such a great rear-engine car (even though it suffered the derision of many). nice to see those pics of some classic first cars. my first was an orange (i'm not kidding) Datsun pickup truck. a true piece, but mine!, that i used for hauling dirt bikes and my buds and best gal around malibu canyon that summer. fond memories, Shelley. thanks for sharing.

Rick Stone said...

First car available to me to drive was my mother's first car, a white 1964 Rambler Classic, very similiar to the one in your picture except it had four doors. Also, my brother, David, had a maroon Corvair Monza, just like the one in your picture. After the Corvair he had a Chevy Malibu, like the one you showed.

My first real car was a 1961 Chevy Biscayne, four door, six cyl, 3 speed on the column. It was came from Dad's company and was driven by the only female who rated a company car. Had 98,000 miles on it when I got it. Drove it two years and sold it for what I paid for it, with 107,000, when I joined the Navy in 1966.

Karena said...

Oh yes, it was a yellow Volkswagon Beetle, 5 speed manual transmission which I promptly backed into the streetlight at the end of our driveway!

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