Ram­blin’ Ram­bler

Re­mem­ber your very first car? Join the club!

More of Our Canada - - Wheels - by Gor­don Ren­free, Carstairs, Alta.

If you ever find your­self search­ing for a great con­ver­sa­tion ini­tia­tor, ask the per­son you wish to speak with about their first car. Chances are you’ll be swap­ping sto­ries in no time! My first car was a 1961 Ram­bler. I was not the sole owner, as my brother John could claim at least half own­er­ship—prob­a­bly more. Al­though I bought the car, he paid the in­surance.

We had searched all over Ed­mon­ton, ea­gerly look­ing for just the right one. Our favourite was a gleam­ing red sports car, but alas it was much be­yond the $300 we had to spend. We set­tled on a black 1961 Ram­bler sedan that had lost most of its lus­ter. By then, nine years old, it was show­ing some other signs of be­ing “ex­pe­ri­enced,” but what could you ex­pect for $300?

We did get our money’s worth and more, as the car had lots of char­ac­ter. We called it the Power Punch, be­cause on one of the small win­dows there was a de­cal dis­play­ing those words. It re­ally was a mis­nomer for the car be­cause it didn’t have an abun­dance of ei­ther of those qual­i­ties, but nam­ing a car helps give it char­ac­ter.

Other at­tributes added to its unique per­son­al­ity. For ex­am­ple, the seats would re­cline to an al­most hor­i­zon­tal po­si­tion. My brother and I, be­ing the young goof­balls we were, would come to stop­lights and al­most fully re­cline the seats, just to see what kind of re­ac­tion we would get from other peo­ple in their cars as we stared up at them.

Some­thing else that gave it char­ac­ter was the vac­uum wipers. To get them go­ing, and keep them go­ing, we would some­times have to roll down our win­dows (in the rain, of course) and man­u­ally push the wipers up and down un­til they would get the right idea and start work­ing on their own.

The car proved to be re­li­able trans­porta­tion, tak­ing us back and forth to many des­ti­na­tions and events. We ac­tu­ally drove it from Ed­mon­ton over the moun­tains to Vic­to­ria and back. We put about 20,000 kilo­me­tres on it be­fore its end came, which was an ad­ven­ture in it­self. I was driv­ing along a free­way in Ed­mon­ton at close to 100 kilo­me­tres an hour, when all of a sud­den, the hood flew up. I was in the out­side lane and al­though pan­ic­stricken, I man­aged to safely pull over to the ex­treme right and come to a stop. The dam­aged hood along with some other prob­lems made it pro­hib­i­tive to re­pair.

I have had many cars since that first one, but the Power Punch holds a spe­cial place in my mem­ory bank of cars. n

Nick­named the Power Punch by Gor­don and his brother, John, the 1961 Ram­bler had a num­ber of quirks that gave it real char­ac­ter.

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