Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cars, cars and more cars

There is so nothing going on in my life, but I'm going to tell you all about it anyway. I paid bills today, so that was very exciting. I hate it when my car insurance comes due, it's just so bloody expensive, but if something were to happen to my car, at least I'd get a little something for it, so I do the necessary evil and keep full coverage on it. *sigh* And hope that I won't have to use it.

I have had five cars in my life, and for excitement, I shall give a rundown on my cars for you, in order.

1976 Maverick – Chocolate brown exterior, ugly beige/tan interior. I loved that car. Straight six, lots of room in the engine bay so I could even change my own spark plugs. I bought the car with my own money before I was even driving. I didn't get my license until I was 19. I had a perfectly good reason. The second I got my TIP (temporary learner's permit), my father got rid of the one car that was automatic. I was bound and determined that I was not going to take my driver's license test on a stick shift. I'm just not coordinated for that (still not). Oh, and before he got rid of the Fairmont wagon (It was a beaut), I drove home from church once. Now, I'm not quite sure why we drove to church that day because it wasn't winter and we lived a freaking block from church and always walked, but for some reason I distinctly remember driving home from church. Denis in the front seat, the rest of the family scattered throughout the back. I drove carefully home on the 25mph side street with Denis pretending he was funny and gasping and holding his hands in front of him acting like I was going to kill the family. I was NOT amused and refused to drive with him ever again. And I'm pretty sure I've accomplished that goal. Anyway, I had to buy my own car, get my learner's permit again which allowed me to drive with any licensed driver over a certain age and practiced driving with my friends. My parents were away on vacation the day I had my test, so my friend Justine (who is long disappeared) took me and I passed with flying colors and that was the start of my independence. I remember driving Mom to school one day (not sure why) and I took Hines Drive, as usual, to Ford Road and Ford Road to Evergreen. The ramp from Ford Road to Evergreen has this fabulous curve which I try to take w/o hitting the brakes or even slowing down (it can be done, quite easily and safely). Well, I did that with Mom in the car and she simply said, "Perhaps you could take that more slowly next time." "Okay," I said, knowing full well that the next time I took it more slowly would be the next time Mom was in the car. That curve is just too fun to take slowly, i.e., at 25 mph.

The perfectly sized Maverick met its demise on Van Horn road in Trenton as I was on my way one December evening to a friend's house for a party. It was raining and as the light turned yellow I tried to stop but the car skid sideways and it could have been just an extremely embarrassing episode, except that the guy behind me (who was NOT directly behind me, but actually a little way back) viewed yellow lights not as a reminder to slow down and stop for the upcoming red, but an opportunity to floor it and speed under the red. He ended up hitting me dead on broadside into the driver's door while doing close to 40mph (speed limit on Van Horn at that location is 25 mph, I believe). I remember a kid coming from a nearby house and trying to open the passenger side door as it took me a few moments to gather my wits about me, and unbuckle my seat belt and move across to unlock the door. He helped me out of the car and, poor kid, I collapsed on him crying. He was so relieved when the cops came over to talk to me. After giving my statement, the cops asked if they could call somebody for me, as my car was undriveable (mostly) at this point. I had been on my way to the Trenton's deputy police chief's house, so they contacted him, and Debbie and her dad showed up at the hospital to take me back to their house. If I remember correctly, the conversation went like this: "Debbie, you need to go up to Heritage and pick up Kathleen." "Huh?" "Kathleen had a car accident on Van Horn and she's at Heritage." My driver's side window had shattered all over me and I had glass shards in my eye, so they took me to the hospital (in a cop car) to get my eyes flushed out, which meant no contacts for the night and I didn't have my glasses with me.

I called my parents when we got back to Debbie's parent's house and found out they were at Grandma's, so I called over there. Got my father who asked me what happened, whose fault it was and now what are you going to do for a car. My mother got on next and said, "I'm going to assume that you're okay since you talked to your father." Now why would you assume that, he never asked me if I were okay.

So, the Maverick got totaled out, and I was bummed. Oh yeah, and the guy who hit me told the cops that he saw the light turn yellow, but thought that we could both make it. I guess he missed that part of driver's training which taught that yellow lights were "prepare to stop."

1979 Bright Yellow Pinto Hatchback - The Banana/Moosemobile was the vehicle I got to replace the Maverick. It had a V6 crammed into the tiny engine bay and sports wheels. Ah, I loved that car. And before you make any smart ass comments about its exploding abilities, it was a 1979 Pinto. They had fixed the gas tank too close to the back bumper problem with this year. And for the record, all small cars of that era (at least from the Big American Three) blew up when rear-ended by a semi, as all the gas tanks were too close to the rear bumper. People on campus knew my car because I always got to campus early (by 7:30) and would get the first spot in front of the University Mall, and I rarely left before the library closed at 11:00 p.m. I worked at the library while going to school there, and if you work at the library you don't pay late fees as the powers that be pretty much figured out that the workers knew how to circumvent the system. Anyway, there were always piles of library books in the hatchback for whichever economics paper I was working on. I really like hatchbacks. The only problem with that car was the fact that it was rear wheel drive with a heavy-ass engine in the front and ZERO weight (save those library books) in the back. One very snowy Friday I was coming off the Hines Drive curve up to Ford Road and I was not testing the limits or anything. I had taken my foot off the gas, had NOT touched the brakes and managed to hit a patch of ice and my cute little Pinto went zipping around in a 180. The damn thing ended up against the right guard rail (thankfully not into Ford Road traffic) with my left rear tire in the only hole around which happened to go straight down to Hines Drive below, which means I could NOT move the flippin' car. There was nothing wrong with it (a slight crunching of the left rear fender), except that the drive tire had nothing to grip. ARGH!!!!

My friend Soyon had been behind me a few cars on Hines, so she had her friend pull over when she went past and saw it was me. I'll never forget the sight of Soyon in her pink wool coat as she rescued me from the side of Ford Road. This was prior to the day of everybody under the sun having a cell phone, so she took me to campus where I called the police and was informed that somebody else had already called and the police were already at the car waiting for me. I had to find somebody else (Andy) to take me back to the car. We get there and while we watch a tow truck comes along and has my car out of the stupid hole (not even a foot wide) within moments. And while we are waiting we see a car pull up ahead and an old lady get out. It's Andy's Grandma. The roads were crap and it was snowing like a mo'fo, but she and Grandpa were their way to the mall or something ridiculous like that, and had seen Andy standing on the side of the road and had to stop to find out what was up. Andy told G&G that he was fine and just there to help out a friend, and that was enough for them, they took off in hazardous conditions to do whatever it is that old people feel the need to do in the middle of a freaking snowstorm.

And the kicker was that I only had one class on Fridays that semester and I missed it, as I was standing freezing on Ford Road, so it was all for naught!

Nothing quite so spectacular as a broadside crash was the end of my beloved Pinto. No, it was much worse than that, actually. It was the ex-boyfriend. He thought it was on its last legs and his brother was going to sell his car and get a new one and since the brother was completely anal about his cars, it was decided that it was in better shape than the Pinto and that I should buy it. The brother let me do a payment plan directly to him, so I didn't need to take out a loan. It was all good – or so I thought.

1984 Pontiac Sunbird – more commonly known as The POS - What a complete piece of fucking shit this car was. And it wasn't the brother's fault, it was Pontiac's fault. I spent more money on that POS car than I had spent on my previous two. It was constantly in the shop for some big money repairs. The last year I had it I put more into it than I had paid for it overall (and was still making payments to the brother on it, in fact). In August the damn thing died on me and I took it in to Darby and he said that the lower part of the engine had blown. It took a few weeks to fix and I was carless. Carol would pick me up and take me home from work and pretty much that was my life for a couple of weeks because the boyfriend was off helping a friend build a house (also found out he was cheating on me at the same time, but that's a whole 'nother story). I got the car back, had dumped the cheater, and was driving up Newburgh one day around 5:30 p.m. when the POS stopped dead and smoke billowed out from under the hood. I did what all women will do in that situation, put on the hazards, open the hood and look at the engine like we have a freaking clue what is going on in there, get back in the car and try to start it back up and then give up. Thankfully I was only a mile or so from my sister's house, so I left the car and started walking. Again, Soyon came to my rescue, as she saw me walking along the side of Newburgh and figured out that it was my POS stopped dead in the right lane (I think it was the right lane). She picked me up and took me to my sister's house whereupon I called the person with whom I had an appt. and informed her that my car was dead and I would not be able to make said appt. I then called Darby to come and get the incredible POS. My sister took me back to my car and by then the cops were there and getting ready to take the bloody thing. Darby never showed up (he was on the wrong road), so but the cops' tow truck guy was willing to take it to Darby's. Darby called me the next day to tell me that this time it was the top part of the engine that was gone and it was going to cost X amount of money to fix it. I told him not to touch the fucker, as I had to think about the wisdom of putting thousands more into it. For the record, I had two payments remaining on it. I decided at this point that I had more luck with my two CHEAP Fords than I had with the expensive (to me) Pontiac, so I decided to return to what I knew. I got a decent trade-in and bought my next car.

1991 Ford Escort – Official Color: Wild Strawberry with (not official name) grey interior - For some reason, I'm fairly ambivalent about this car. I liked it well enough and it never really cost me insane amounts of money, but I don't think of my Escort and say, "Damn, I loved that car." Trust me, it was a helluva lot better than the previous car, so I loved it for that. I kept it until I moved to SF in 1996 and sold it to a girl from church. I understand that she totaled it out, but I don't know that for a fact. I do know that one of my friends from the University actually saw it in Ann Arbor shortly after I had left the state, because I guess my Mario Andretti sticker was still on it. It really was a good little car and took me to and from the bar enough times, but that's really it. No great stories about this particular car.

2000 Ford Focus – Green with grey interior (I HATE beige interiors) - I'm still driving this baby, as I paid it off last year (oh happy day), and it does what it needs to do, which is get Mom and me to races in the summer. It's a good little car, although my mileage started to suck ass recently and that pissed me off. It's improved somewhat so that's good. Tomorrow, if I remember, I'm going to get the tires rotated in preparation for the drive to Milwaukee next week. It has a CD player, so that's good news for long drives. Other than that, it's basic transportation and it's paid for. I wonder if the POS has ruined me for falling in love with another car because I expect to pay big bucks to keep it going. I never loved the POS, in fact, I pretty much hated it – the power windows didn't work in the summertime, so I was always sweating to death, and to this day I refuse to get a car with power windows because you can always crank a manual window down.

So, pretty much the position of Kathleen's Favorite Car Of All Time Of The Ones She Has Owned belongs to….*drumroll* the *drumroll* 1976 Ford Maverick. It was a tough choice because I really loved the Pinto too. It's just that I've always considered the Maverick to be the most perfectly sized vehicle. The Pinto was a touch small, but the Maverick, while compact, was large enough to fit six people (gotta love bench seats) and was just a good car. I would get another one in a heartbeat and was totally drooling over the Mavericks that people had brought to the Ford Centennial two years ago. I wanted them so badly.

And for the record, I shall never ever own another GM vehicle as long as I live. They shouldn't have dumped the Oldsmobile vehicle line a few years back, it should have been the Pontiac (we body clad the living daylights out of everything) line. And that's that…



At Friday, 27 May, 2005, Blogger Jason said...

My last Hyundais have no real character, so my 1980 Plymouth Volare must be my favorite. It was a "Premiere Edition" in a sort of metallic sky blue with a slant-6. It served me well and even appeared in a "station movie" before it started burning oil like crazy and eventually it wasn't justifiable to pay for all the repairs it needed. I had a Dodge Daytona for maybe about half a year or so. It was a "stick" and a royal POS!!! Lots of electrical problems among other things. My first car (for about a week) was my family's old 1974 Duster. It was ugly as sin. Metallic maroon with a big white racing stripe and white Landau top with white interior. Ugly, but a great car with another slant-6. It had lots of miles before it sold, but it ran like a champ.


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