Monday, April 15, 2013

OT: Carboy

When I was very little, I was obsessed with cars and I became notorious for being able to identify the makes and models of practically every car on the road on sight -- and letting everybody know, too. It was considered something of a trick. Much later on, I wondered if my parents were worried about my youthful talent since my older brother had the ability to remember and recall baseball statistics in detail for decades in the past but could learn practically nothing else; his condition is called autism now, but in those days he was described as an "idiot savant". Perhaps I would turn out the same way? Hard to say...

We've been looking for an old car to supplement The Red Van to cruise Old Route 66  -- which we live quite near. There are plenty of geezers in this area who get themselves an old car to go cruising in on balmy weekends or to show off at the plaza in town. As I pore through the listings online, a whole lot of vehicles catch my eye and many are cars I remember intimately from when I was a child.

Perhaps my mother's closest friend when I was little was the widow of the local Buick dealer, and her car was one of my favorites. Of course it was a Buick, a 1941 black Roadmaster, quite an impressive automobile, and surprisingly not showing any age to speak of by the early 1950's when I was driven around in it from time to time.

It was much like this one:

1941 Buick Roadmaster (via Wikimedia Commons)
Our own car at the time was a 1942 Packard Clipper that had seen better days. It was green... well, it had been at one time, but the paint had faded to a wretched gray with greenish highlights. There was a significant dent in the right rear fender -- whether someone ran into the car or something else happened, I don't remember. The stuffing was coming out  of the driver's side armrest and the upholstery was torn in places. I don't think the radio worked. The manual transmission was balky -- it sometimes wouldn't go in reverse, and going forward it would often get stuck in low. My mother hated to drive it.

This was the model, however:

1942 Packard Clipper
 And here's a picture of Little Me standing in the yard with the Packard in the background.

Finally, in 1951, we got a new car, actually a slightly used one, a 1950 Plymouth De Luxe like this one:

1950 Plymouth
I was very fond of that car and to this day every time I see one, I get a little thrill. There is one available fairly nearby, and the price is decent, so it's on my list of potentials...

Next, we got a 1957 Ford Fairlane, purchased new in Los Angeles (the name of the dealer escapes me now, but I recalled it not so very long ago, could even visualize the salesman...)  It was something like this (it was tan, but it was a fordor):

1957 Ford Fairlane models from brochure

 It was followed by a 1959 Hillman Minx, very much like this:

It was the first car I actually drove myself, not very well to be sure. It was foreign and small, and difficult to service, so we got rid of it pretty quickly.

The Hillman was followed by a 1961 Ford Galaxie. It was huge. Domestic. Black with a red interior. And it was considered very sharp in those days:
1961 Ford Galaxie from brochure
Next, can you guess? A Mustang. Yes, it was a 1965, green, and extraordinarily fun for me to drive. By then I had a driver's license. And I could drive the Mustang quite well, thank you very much. Of course, it was smaller than the Hillman, but who cared!

1965 Green Mustang
After that, I got my own car, a 1950 Packard Victoria Convertible... A very rare model, and today worth a good deal of money. I think I paid $250 for it -- I had only $100 and borrowed the rest from my mother or sister. This car was on its last legs when I got it, barely running at the time. I did some minor repairs and started replacing the top, but I don't think I drove it for more than a few months before it died the death -- and I couldn't afford to put more money into it. So it sat in the garage for a couple of years, and then I gave it to a friend who said he wanted to restore it and thought he could do so for a decent price. I don't know what he paid for the restoration, but this is pretty much what the car looked like when it was done:

Except he painted it gold, which I never liked. The car was a really nice turquoise with a red leather interior when I bought it. The top was cream color. As I recall, the power equipment (seat, top, windows, windshield wipers) was all pretty wheezy, but the radio worked!

Though I didn't approve of the color he had it painted, he loved the car and eventually sold it for a pretty penny.

The next car I bought was a 1951 Buick Roadmaster, a car I enjoyed enormously, drove everywhere, and I would love to find another one like it. I think I paid $150 for it and I sold it for the same price several years later.

1951 Buick Roadmaster
I followed that with a 1958 Cadillac, which I didn't like quite as much as the Buick, but was happy enough with. Again, I bought it for very little and sold it several years later for about what I paid for it.
1958 Cadillac 60 Special
After that one, there seemed to be a swirl of new and used cars, mostly Chevrolets and Fords, but then after the Escort lost a wheel on the freeway (it just snapped right off), the switch was on to Toyota and then to Subaru.

The last car we had (donated it to charity before The Big Move) was a Pontiac; we brought The Red Van out to New Mexico where it has been many times before, and it has been reliable transportation through the fall and winter, but now that spring is coming on, the hunt for a cruising car is underway.

Frivolous, I know!

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