Anotheryear, anothercar... orso it seems
Those who know me or know anything about me, know that I like cars. My friend Jack Andrews recently said, “Do you have any idea how many cars you’ve owned?” And, you know, I don’t. I know that my first one was a 1950 )oUG. ,t wDs green, my stepfather, Ernie, gave it to me when I turned 1S.
Jack made that statement the other day when I arrived at his Upper Dublin home in my latest acquisition, a candy white 2013 9oONswDJHQ BHHtOH coQYHUtLEOH. ,t is, I think, a very cool looking car. :Ds KH suUSULsHG? 1o, Qot UHDOOy. Jack has known me 40 years.
As kids we’d anxiously await the new car models each year. I remember going down to GimbelHoSNLQs )oUG oQ GOHQsLGH $Yenue each fall and trying to peak behind the papered-up showroom window to catch a glimpse of the ODtHst 1950s PoGHO )oUG.
By tKH tLPH , wDs UHDGy IoU coOOHJH , KDG D 1954 )oUG CUHstline, which I had to sell because freshmen weren’t allowed cars on campus. About a semester into good old Millersville State I realized that the rules stated “no cars,” that the facts indicated it was quite different. So by the time I ended my freshman year , KDG D PHtDOOLc JUHHQ 1951 3oQtiac parked a couple of blocks, off the campus, from Old Main where I lived.
The Pontiac is memorable in that when it rained the brakes tended to fail. I got quite good at slowing it by downshifting. A few times I brought the car to a stop by driving it into a tree or heading it up an incline. The car was built like a tank, I never damaged any- tKLQJ SDUNLQJ tKDt wDy. :KHQ tKH rain stopped, the brakes dried out.
My first new car was a tan 1VS0 CKHYy BLscDyQH. ,t wDs tKH yHDU’s cheapest model, but to me it was D BHQtOHy. , Jot Lt Dt GHoUJH :. Coupe Chevrolet in Glenside. I paid for it with the money I earned in my summer jobs. It lasted a few years, then the electrical system went (my dashboard burst into flames one dayF and so I got rid of it.
It was the dawn of my first conYHUtLEOH — D 1959 wKLtH CKHYy Impala. It had red leather seats and was one sharp car. If you recDOO tKH 1959 PoGHO, Lt KDG JuOO wLQJs oQ tKH EDcN. 2GGOy 1957-61 Chevy’s didn’t resemble one another in any way. It was like they were looking for a design that woUNHG. )oU Py PoQHy, tKDt wDs tKH 1957 PoGHO.
The Impala betrayed me on a trip to Cape Cod. The water pump went and to get it repaired meant adding five days to our vacation (and we were on a pretty tight budgetF and waiting until (a.F the part got there and (b.F they lifted the engine out to install it. On the way home the “check engine” light came on and I said I wasn’t stopping for anything and made it home unscathed. The car was sold the next week.
That started a string of nondescript vehicles, you know typical of a family of four kids and not a lot of income. I was, at one SoLQt, woUNLQJ tKUHH MoEs. :H KDG about every make of car there was (and usually not the latest modelF. My wife, Cindy, learned to drive oQ D )oUG CouQtUy 6TuLUH stDtLoQ wagon. She was a city girl, never drove before we moved to Abington. It’s why, today, she prefers an 689 to D sPDOOHU cDU.
The Country Squire took us (me, wLIH, IouU NLGs) to )OoULGD, twLcH. It was a nice, solid car (also greenF. Maybe one of our best. I also had a thing for Cadillacs (got that passion from my stepfather, too). But tKH ODst oQH wDs sucK D headache (I always had to settle for used onesF that I gave up completely on American cars for a long while.
That started a string of Mercedes BHQzHs — D stULQJ oI ILYH tKDt ended a month ago when I sold Py 1999 CODssLc 5006L UoDGstHU. Nice car, hard on the wallet — almost from day one (and I had it for three yearsF. I kept it garaged (rentF, I had to store the hardtop in the summer (rentF, the convertible top needed to be replaced (A3,000, thank youF and so on. It was fast, sharp and expensive and it was our third car.
Since I had a thing for German engineering (my mom’s side of the family and allF it was only natural tKDt ,’G PoYH oQ oYHU to 9oONswDJHQ. But , Pust EH KoQHst DQG sDy that while it has some German in it, i.e., the engineering, the plans, the concept, this baby was assembled in Mexico and has parts from all over the place.
, DOso KDG D 2005 37 CUuLsHU coQvertible that I gave to my granddaughter when she went to college (she commutes to KutztownF and tKHQ D stULQJ oI )oUGs. , GHcLGHG to “buy American” again. I first got a used Taurus (bad ideaF, a new 2011 )LHstD (QLcH cDU, wDy too OLttOH) DQG D QHw 2012 )ocus (D good get-to-there-from-here car, but my wife hated itF. She’s on KHU ODtHst 689, Ey tKH wDy, tKLs D 2011 Kia Sorrento, before that she KDG 689s tKDt LQcOuGHG D B0:, an Infiniti and others I’ve actually forgotten.
So as we approach summer I’m ready to go with a convertible that I expect to be a lot of fun. My family and friends are already taking bets on how long this one stays in my driveway. Me, I’m thinking three years.
Ted Taylor can be reached at ted@ tedtaylor.com.