Anoth­eryear, an­oth­er­car... orso it seems

Public Spirit - - OPINION -

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.

Ted Tay­lor

At Large

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