Sunday, December 27, 2015

Second youth, vehicle edition.

I seem to be posting a lot of memoir-ish stuff lately. I hope it doesn't mean I'm entering my second childhood. Although maybe I am.

This photo shows one of my Christmas acquisitions: a toy car. More specifically, a blue 1964-and-a-half Mustang coupe. It's about five inches long -- much bigger than a Hot Wheels car -- and it has a friction gizmo hooked to the back axle, so that if you roll it backward and let go, it will run forward under its own power.

I'd been eyeing this car at the grocery store for several weeks -- because, you see, I used to drive a vintage Mustang, back when they weren't quite so vintage.

I think I might have mentioned previously that my father was an auto mechanic by trade. He worked for a dealership, but he also tinkered with our family vehicles. He'd pick up a car with some kind of problem, then spend his own time fixing it. We always had two cars in the garage and another one or two parked in the driveway.

At some point in the late '60s, he procured a 1967 Mustang coupe, green (although I guess Ford called it "lime gold" -- the things you learn on teh intarwebz!), with a bashed-in door on the passenger side. Pre-wreck, I expect it looked like this:


Due to his work, Dad knew the guy who owned the local junkyard. The guy found him a passenger door from another lime-gold Mustang, but there was a superficial problem. Ford made the car with two interiors: black and lime-gold. Our Mustang had the lime-gold interior; the replacement door had the black. But it fit. And it's not like anyone would notice it when you'd pass them on the street.

Dad gave the Mustang to Mom. I was relegated to driving the '62 Ford Falcon, which had a manual choke. Peppy it was not; it went from zero to 60 in about an hour and a half. Anyway, eventually we got rid of the Falcon and sometimes I'd get to drive the Mustang.

It was a lot of fun to drive. It sat pretty low to the ground, and it had a shift lever on the floor despite the automatic transmission. But by the time I got to drive it, it was already almost ten years old, so it had the usual issues -- as well as some unusual ones. One day, I noticed the passenger-side carpet was soaking wet. I duly reported it to my father, who let loose his usual string of obscenities and accused me of driving too fast through a puddle and forcing water up into the passenger compartment. Then he pulled up the carpet and discovered the floor had rusted through. Luckily, he had some spare sheet metal from our old shower stall; he riveted it in place and caulked it up, and the car was ready to roll again.

I left the Mustang behind when I went to college, but I always thought of it as my car. So imagine my dismay, around 1980 or so, when Dad told me he'd sold it for $2,500. "You wouldn't have wanted it, anyway," he said when I complained. "It was all rusted out, and it would have cost too much money to keep it running."

Well, maybe. But it would have been nice if he'd given me the option.

Fast-forward to the grocery store on Christmas Eve. We were on a mission for a few things we'd forgotten, as well as a stuffed Darth Vader toy that my daughter Kat had seen on the previous trip. As she hunted for her toy, I ran across the car. So I got it. 

They didn't have any green ones, so I settled for blue. The trunk doesn't open, but the doors do, and there are suitcases in the back seat. Where should we go?

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These moments of vehicular blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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