Writer’s Block: Car Fash­ion-ation

Spring is the best time to fall in love—with a new car

Our Canada - - Contents - By Fern Doner, Cal­gary

Why spring is the best time to fall in love—with a new car.

It doesn’t mat­ter if the cal­en­dar and the weather agree or not, ev­ery year I get a weird kind of “spring fever.” I sud­denly have the urge to visit car lots. My brother-in-law still teases me about that time, one March, when I wanted to make a cherry pie and I went out with the pur­pose of buy­ing cherry-pie fill­ing. In­stead, I came home hav­ing pur­chased a brand-new sporty red Toy­ota Corolla SR5. Well, I got the colour right any­way. I named it Mac, be­cause it was the colour of a Mcin­tosh ap­ple.

I don’t re­mem­ber when this fas­ci­na­tion with cars first be­gan. I do re­mem­ber that, as kids, we would sit un­der the maple trees at the end of our farm lane on Sun­day af­ter­noons, and watch the cars stream down the road on their way from Lake Sim­coe back to Toronto or there­abouts.

We played many car games on those af­ter­noons. You got points if you were the first to call out the make of the car. It was eas­ier back then be­cause there weren’t so many makes and mod­els. We tal­lied up the num­ber of red cars or black ones and so on. And ku­dos to you if you spot­ted a Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle. Do you re­mem­ber the Ram­bler, the Fal­con, the Studebaker or the Desoto? How about the Ed­sel? Is that where it all be­gan?

When I was about 13, a neigh­bour boy who was in his 20s, owned a VW Bee­tle con­vert­ible. He would some­times drive across the hay field and give me and my si­b­lings rides. Such fun with our heads pok­ing out the top!

I learned to drive in my dad’s 1956 Dodge with push-but­ton gears. Well, ac­tu­ally, I learned to drive on the trac­tor. But that’s an­other story.

My dad’s brother bought the same car. His was pink, ours was black. Leg­end has it that be­cause the two men looked so much alike, when one of them went to buy sup­plies at the lo­cal co-op, the store clerks had to look out the win­dow to see which colour of car was parked out­side be­fore they could ad­dress the man by name.

One of my broth­ers owned a yel­low 1964 Chevy Im­pala, a baby-blue 1968 Mus­tang, a pur­ple 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger and a red 1976 Chrysler Cor­doba with a white in­te­rior. I thought they were re­ally cool cars and colours. Two of my broth­ers worked at the gas sta­tion close by, so there was al­ways a lot of car talk. Is that where it all be­gan?

Dad and one of my broth­ers went with me on my first car-shop­ping ex­pe­di­tion. I looked at a red MG and re­ally liked it. I didn’t buy it be­cause my dad thought I should have some­thing more sub­stan­tial. But I owe my first car (lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively) to my mother. One day, we were driv­ing past a car lot and she said, “Look at that car—that’s the kind you should get.” And I did. It was a 1963 boat of a Pon­tiac Parisi­enne, a red con­vert­ible with a black top and red in­te­rior with leather seats. I was in love. Un­for­tu­nately, it met its demise when the front bumper of a gravel truck col­lided with my back bumper on the Don Val­ley Park­way.

I didn’t start nam­ing my rides un­til af­ter “the lemon.” I had al­ways heard it said that if a woman takes a man along to buy a car, she’ll get a bet­ter deal. So, I took an older male friend along to test drive a car I had spot­ted for sale in the pa­per. We took it for a drive and he pro­nounced it safe and sound. I put up with it for about two years be­fore it croaked one day in the drive­way of a neigh­bour.

My sec­ond love was a 1974 Mus­tang II. I chose the robin’s-egg blue model in the show­room. When I went to pick it up, how­ever, the sales­man apol­o­gized pro­fusely say­ing he didn’t know it was al­ready sold, and would I be okay with the other one avail­able? Be­cause I was car-less and thought I re­ally needed it, I agreed and drove home in a rusty-red coloured ver­sion with a white vinyl top. It had a white leather in­te­rior with bucket seats. And af­ter all, I had wanted a Mus­tang since that baby-blue one my brother owned. It took me back and forth across the coun­try for quite a few miles be­fore it froze to death in an Ed­mon­ton win­ter.

Next came “OE,” short for “Ori­en­tal Ex­press.” It was a blue 1985 Toy­ota Corolla hatch­back. That was my first foray into the for­eign-made car mar­ket. It took me and two nine-year-olds on the hottest five­day road trip ever, from Regina to Toronto. I re­mem­ber keep­ing ice cubes in my travel mug and hold­ing the mug be­tween my knees so I could suck on the ice as I drove. I didn’t like the hatch­back much, so OE had a short life with me. I traded him in for that 1990 Toy­ota Corolla SR5 that was sup­posed to be a cherry pie. The best thing about Mac was his pop-up head­lights. And he had air con­di­tion­ing, of course.

He was fol­lowed by “Charles Ran­dolph the Fifth,” a red Honda CRV. I thought that the name was quite clever. Then came “Ed­die,” a Ford Es­cape SUV. He was also red. Ed­die ac­quired a few scratches, some ob­tained when the au­to­matic garage door came down a lit­tle sooner than I thought it should. I don’t like scratches on my cars.

Af­ter suf­fer­ing shoul­der pain from pulling down the hatch on Ed­die, I thought I should get a ve­hi­cle with an au­to­matic hatch. To be hon­est, it re­ally was just time. In Jan­uary 2016, my dad passed away and with some of the money from his es­tate, I pur­chased an­other red SUV from a man who was sell­ing it as part of his fa­ther’s es­tate. I named this one “Prince Henry Ford the Fifth.” It was my fifth Ford ve­hi­cle— ”Henry” af­ter Henry Ford, but “Ford” be­cause that was my fa­ther’s mid­dle name. Thanks, Dad.

So, an­other long, cold win­ter has come to an end. Thank good­ness for auto malls. It makes look­ing at cars a whole lot eas­ier. Time to head out and kick some tires.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.