Cars and Clunkers I Have Known

The wise man who wrote the book of Proverbs in the Bible said, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests (14:12).”

Today’s equivalent of the ox in America is the car. In the USA, I’d be lost without one.  It would be almost impossible, for example, to find employment and  get to that job (if I had one-I am unemployed).

I have been thinking of the cars I have owned over the years. None of them have been prizes, believe me. However, they got me, as my Dad used to say in his minimalist, practical fashion,”from point A to point B”.

My Dad was the source of more than one car. He lent me the first one I ever drove. It was I believe (and the brain is musty on the facts since I am in late middle age) a 1967  Plymouth Fury III.

A PLYMOUTH FURY

At the time I drove that car around, I was living on a large university campus. It took me 20 minutes just to walk across the whole thing.

The car, as I recall, became more expensive than it was worth to operate, so I gave it back to my parents. Ididn’t really need it, since everything I needed was on campus within walking distance.

My aging brain is blank when it comes to remembering what I drove after I got out of college. I am sure it was an unmemorable clunker of some kind.

The car that sticks out from my young, single days though was the 1969 Plymouth Satelllite. It was a car I treasured.

If there is any car I would dedicate a song to, it would be this one. Neil Young wrote a song to one of his beloved vehicles:

“We’ve been through
Some things together
With trunks of memories
Still to come
We found things to do
In stormy weather
Long may you run.”

For one, it had been given to me as a gift. I had prayed for a car, and even given money to the Lord in hopes that I would receive one from Him. (I won’t discuss the theology of my thinking at that time here.)

One day a friend who worked for a senator called me up and offered me the Satellite. I was very grateful.

Sure, the thing had stuffing coming out of the back seats, but it even then was a classic. My wife (then my fiance) loved that car, too. Reflecting on the Satellite also brings me back to our courtship. 

Unfortunately, a brake job was more expensive than the car was worth, and I sold it. I think Neal Young had similar emotions when he had to give up his beloved car:

“Well, it was
Back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift
On the long decline
Long may you run.”
A 1969 PLYMOUTH SATELLITE.

Our first year of marriage,  my wife used a car from her au pair job, a green thing I can’t remember, although it might have been a muscle car along the lines of the Dodge Super Bee. That I believe was our only vehicle for a while.

Next, I believe, was the 1977 Ford Granada, a piece of junk if there ever was one. I still remember driving into our church parking lot in the 1980s, in ritzy Mclean, Virginia, with the engine buzzing from a damaged muffler. As the head pastor walked by I waved, while my wife hid under the dashboard.

THE CLUNKER OF ALL TIME. A 1977 FORD (FIX OR REPAIR DAILY) GRENADA 

Eventually, my Dad gave us his 1977  Oldsmobile in the early 1990s..  It was a big thing with nice seats. It’s demise came over time when, while I was at seminary, a young man plowed into the rear end of it.

AN OLDS SIMILAR TO THE ONE DAD GAVE ME

When we lived in Upstate South Carolina, we had another Olds, this time a Cutlass Supreme. I bought it from a fellow at my bible college who was going overseas to become a missionary.

A DECENT CAR SWOLLEN BY “THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE”

It was one of the most stolen vehicles in America at the time, apparently because of the value of its parts. No one ever took ours, although over time I wish someone had.

There was a stretch of interstate between our home in Spartanburg and the capital city of Columbia I used to call “The Bermuda Triangle” because my cars tended to break down there. The Cutlass, if I recall, died its death there.

We became a 2-car family in the 90s. We owned  a Ford Taurus station wagon (baby blue) and a Honda Civic, both made in the 80s.

UGH! FORD TAURUS STATION WAGON

The Taurus was another  bomb, driving my wife to tears with its breakdowns. The Civic we both loved, however. It probably comes in second to the Satellite in my heart.

However, the Civic too met its maker. One night I was driving by the Champion sportswear plant with my preteen son and he yelled,”Deer!”.

The animal smashed in my radiator before it disappeared into the forest. The damage eventually led to the car’s death. My mechanic had to convince me to take it off the respirator.

A HONDA SIMILAR TO OURS

I drove a couple “company cars”,  a laughable term since one of them was at least  a clunker in its own right. My boss lent me his Pontiac station wagon.

My remembrance of that car is that it stunk to high heaven. It had the odor of rotten eggs.

The other car he let me drive was better. I truly became a family man with his Plymouth Voyager minivan.

Unfortunately, I almost totalled it rear-ending a pick up truck. Thankfully, my boss was gracious about it.

Most of this new century I haven’t driven at all. We have lived overseas and I just took public transport around.

However, in our hops back to the States I bought from a friend a clone of the Ford Taurus wagon we owned in the 90s. It was Clunker II. The last I saw of it, the car was being towed away as a donation.

Currently, I drive another friend’s donation to us. He gave me his 1992 Crown Vic.

It is pretty much the easiest car to drive I have ever owned. What with the price of gas these days, Vic and Idon’t go far.

THE EASY-TO-DRIVE 1992 FORD CROWN VICTORIA

All in all, it has been Clunker City for me. One of the things on my Bucket List is to own a car that was made in the same decade I am living in.

AS TV SHOW CHARACTER FRASIER SAID TO ONE OF HIS GIRLFRIENDS AS HE PROPOSED A TOAST: TO….POSSIBILITIES. (THE 2011 LAMBORGHINI)

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