Writer’s Block: Car Fashion-ation
Spring is the best time to fall in love—with a new car
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.