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A friend of mine and I somehow got on the topic of cars we have owned. I’m not a car guy now but I was when I was coming of age in rural Ohio where access to an automobile meant freedom.

I learned to drive in the fields on a farm truck with a bad clutch. My first car was a hand-me-down from my older sister, a 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 that burned so much oil I carried quarts around in the back seat. When I fired it up I held my breath until the cloud of blue smoke that enveloped me drifted away. My first “real” car was a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. Convertibles are chick magnets for high schoolers. The car was old but in mint condition. I totaled it twice. I should explain. The first total was a “technical” total by the insurance company meaning that the car wasn’t destroyed but the cost of repair was roughly equal to the car’s value. So I bought it from the insurance company as a scrap and fixed it up.

The first total happened on two lane route 35 heading east. I was getting a blow job from my then girl friend. No one had told me blow jobs can be a little distracting for the driver. Realizing I was going to plow into the rear end of the car ahead I put the Galaxie into the ditch (rather than into the opposing lane). C. (my girlfriend) slid off my lap and under the dashboard taking out my 8 track player and either the Black Sabbath or Grank Funk Railroad tape we were playing (I can’t remember which). Romantic music is, of course, necessary for the perfect blow job. We were skipping school so there was all kinds of hell to pay. At least I had escaped with my dick attached.

The second total wasn’t nearly as interesting. Route 50 east of Chillicothe undulates in the hilly terrain. We would pick up speed and launch our cars over the rises, losing contact with the pavement briefly. It was exhilarating until I launched the car off the road and into a field. Not the one I learned to drive in. Because of these and more adventures and misadventures I would say that the Galaxie was my favorite, car but not the best, car I have owned.

After the second total, my car ownership privileges dried up for a while and I was stuck with limited use of my dad’s second car (he always had two), a 1972 Buick Park Avenue. The Park Avenue was a big, lumbering beast that had wonderfully ample front and back seats suitable for all sorts of recreation. It was like driving a sofa. Try parallel parking a 70’s Park Avenue. The car had ridiculously heavy doors. Once when picking up a date and, like a gentleman, handling the tombstone sized door for the young lady, I slammed her ankle in it. We spent the evening back in her parent’s house watching t.v. while her mother glared at me and the icepack on J.’s ankle.

The best car was the one I had in college. A 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS. Jet Black with a huge screaming V8. Not the most practical car for the Ohio State Campus. Fully restored it would be worth somewhere around $50,000 today.

My worst car was one of my early favorites. A 1970 Audi 100 that drove and rode like a dream but nearly bankrupted me. It needed a valve job at 50,000 miles and it continued to be in the repair of the month club until I unloaded it on some poor fool. I suspect that the mileage had been rolled back by the shady dealer I bought it from.

Most reliable car award goes to my 1979 Volvo 240. The odometer stopped working just short of 350,000 miles. I drove it for another year afterward. In second place was my 1965 V.W. Bug. It was so rusted it had no heat and if I grasped the mother-of-pearl steering wheel and wiggled my butt I could move the driver’s seat. Driving to work in the rain, through a big puddle, one day I was drenched from the waist down. The only time it failed to start was when I discovered the battery hanging by a single cable through the floor under the back seat. It had a six volt battery. I blew the lights all around by offering a jump start. I had bought the car for $250. I sold it for parts three years later for parts for…$350.

My subsequent rides have been mostly a series of Toyotas and Volvos. Reliable but uninspiring. I have long lost my car fetish but I’m faced with the need to buy one in the near future. Cars are, frankly, an expensive pain in the ass for a city dweller but unless you live in Manhattan or a city with excellent public transit (Cincinnati doesn’t qualify yet) a near necessity.

I don’t want a new car. I don’t even want a modern car. I don’t want a car that is essentially a computer on wheels. I want affordable vintage. Something not so precious and rare that I can’t treat it like…a car. I don’t care about power windows or power anything. I don’t really even care about air conditioning. I’ve been making a list of desirable cars. All would be prohibitively priced if in mint, restored condition but I don’t mind a little rust or tears in the upholstery.

1966 to 1972 V.W. Bug

1984 V.W. GTI

1972 BMW 2002 Tii

70’s era Toyota Land Cruiser

Early 80’s Mercedes 300D

Or a 1965 Ford Galaxy 500 convertible with an 8 track deck. Black Sabbath tape. And a blow job. While parked.



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