email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, September 5, 2016

Previous Cars

"15&Meowing" posted about the car they would like to have.  And as I commented, I relized that what I wanted to say was too long.  So here is the long version.  Thank you, 15&Meowing!

My first car was a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible.  The convertible top was HYDROLIC.  Push a button and it opened or closed without effort.  It was 4 years old, a 20th birthday gift from my parents.  I adored it.  I added a removable (for security) 8-Track player under the dashboard.  I learned the back seat side panels could be removed so I added inset speakers there.  I was working at an auto-aftermarket part of a department store at the time, and one day they sent us a gadget called "Quadraphone".  Basically,  that let you send the music to four speakers, front left speaker and back right, and right front speaker  and back left.  It was cool at the time.

But I didn't know anything about car engines.  Dad wasn't big on teaching.  I learned decades later that he really believed if you wanted to know something, you asked, and if you didn't ask you didn't want to know.  I'm not an "asker".  So I didn't know about changing oil and stuff like that.

From lack of maintenence, the engine was destroyed and when I asked for money to fix it, Dad said that was my problem.  The car sat in the apartment parking lot and they hauled it away before I could afford to repair it. 

After I gave enough horrible stories of trying to bus 15 miles each way to and from work, walking 3/4 of a mile to the bus stop, transferring 3 times and being penalized for lateness when traffic was bad, Dad bought me another car.  He chose the ugliest cheapest car , a purple clunker Chrysler New Yorker ($800).  I saw a beautiful 4-year old 1970 tan Monte Carlo with a brown pebble roof and a sporty extended hood($1200).  And it wasn't that he was poor.  I could say "cheap", but he would have said "thrifty". 

For the first time since I was a child before Christmas, I begged.  I argued gas milage.  I argued "2 years newer - better value".  Dad was buying from a hunting buddy, so he knew he would get the best deal possible.  He fussed and hesitated.

But he bought me the Monte Carlo...  I was so proud to drive that around.  And while we didn't know then, it had speakers in the back.  Great sounds. I loved that car! 

By then, I had learned about basic car maintenance.  I kept good care of it.  But it had a bad engine from the previous owner and the engine locked up one day.  It gets a little strange here.  My sister was married to a car fanatic.  He used to take his engine apart for fun, clean everything and put it back together. 

I couldn't repair a toaster at the time, so that seemed really impressive.  He said it was the same engine as a Chevelle, and he had one and would be happy to replace mine wit it for free and get the Monte Carlo engine and repair IT and use that somewhere.

Dream come true, and he didn't even want my help (as if I could have given any).  Dad thought tat a good deal and drove the 60 miles to me with a car towing device.  We hooked it up, and drove off, whereupon Dad decided that he wanted to buy a cigar so we stopped at a strip mall. 

He mistakenly put the car in nuetral, aimed downhill and we stepped out.  When I saw the cars moving forward, I jumped back into the passenger seat and hit the brakes.  Dad was frozen in place outside the car.  The front bumper on MY car was slightly bent and Dad went ballistic! 

Hey, I saved a store-front crash and it was MY car that was only minorly damaged in the bumper.  And Dad was angry at ME.  The trip went seriously downhill and very quiet from there.

Yeah, I know he was embarassed.  I reacted fast when he didn't.  And he was "the Dad" so he should have.  But I didn't blame him.  I was just nearest and acted faster.  He said I should have pushed on the brakes slowly to not damage MY car's bumper.

I understood he was embarassed by leaving the car in neutral (it was a habit of his generation of stick-shift parking using the parking brake).  I understood that he was embarrassed he hadn't reacted
faster.    I didn't blame him, but he blamed me.

I suppose that was the first time I ever realized that Dad was just another person struggling to maintain a self-image.  And while I had caught Dad in some minor errors in life (and trust me, not very many), that one was the first where he totally lost it... 

I'm guessing I was 25 at the time, underemployed at minimum wage n a department store, sharing an apartment with 4 other guys.  And realizing that *I* did something right and Dad failed and that just because blame was ascribed didn't mean it was right or fail.

Dad complained to Mom tht I had damaged my car.  When I explained it to Mom later, she merely said, "Oh dear",.

I think that was the day I actually became an adult.

As it turned out, the Chevelle engine didn't seem to fit, the Monte Carlo carcass was sold cheap to someone who did know how to restore it.  And I never asked my parents for any help except once and that was a loan for a house purchase I they made me pay full interests on (so that they wouldn't lose a dime).

I struggled to buy a  Chevy Hatchback that lasted 5 years or so.  It had a horrible reputation but I got away with it.  Then, not knowing anything about buying new cars, I went to a chevy dealership and said show me the cheapest car on the lot. 

In my ignorance, and with a more knowledgeable "friend" with me, I paid full price on credit.  My "friend" told me later that he was amazed I paid full price.  But I brought him along because he had bought cars before and he was a negotiator in his business. 

I went off with a Chevette Scooter, which was about the least car you could legally drive on the road at the time.  I got away with that one for 8 years.

He said it wasn't his business to intrude with advise to me on purchases.  Um, isn't that what friends are for?  I gave him advice on some purchases whenever I had information.  He appreciated that.  But woudn't do it for me.  I think he liked seeing other people make poor decisions.

It was the start of a long 30 year road downhill for us (and no, there was no "relationship").  Just a long one-way friendship that finally ended after 41 years.

But I wouldn't want THAT car again...

My next car was researched.  I had learned a few things about buying cars.  I carpooled ans towed a boat.  The Ford Taurus Station Wagon was perfect.  The front seats were split, the back bench seats were rated "very comfortable".  I cared about that.  My carpool LOVED the car.

And it was the first time I ever really negotiated a deal.  I had info on the dealer's costs for all the options from Consumer Reports.  The salesman, in 1988 hated it.  He tried to dismiss it it.  He tried to deny it.  He said they lied...

But eventually, I got the car for $300 over their real cost, it lasted 10 years and I sold it back to the dealership for $3,000.  I loved that car, but it wasn't my favorite. 


A member of my carpool had a Dodge Charger and I liked it.  So I checked Consumer Reports magazine about it.  Turned out there was a family of it, the Dodge, a Chrysler, and the Eagle Vision (being the top of the line).  And when I checked all the features I wanted (nothing too fancy), the Eagle came standard with those at a lower price!   The basic Eagle I wanted was cheaper than the other brands with options.

I had Consumer Reports car info on that one too, but I paid $500 above their true cost.  It was in slightly more demand, and I wanted it more.

So I bought one.  My carpool member immediately bought a fancier car (and admitted why - there are crazy people all over the place, which is why they are always broke).  I kept that one going for 10 years until there was an engine problem the mechanics couldn't get fixed right.

One problem with the low-profile Eagle Vision was that I was commuting on back roads and crowded traffic.  I got SO tired of the new bright headlights in my face.  When The Eagle died, and I was hauling the boat and a trailer more often, I bought a 2005 Toyota Highlander SUV new. 

I had researched THAT on Consumers Report magazine too, but I didn't get the best deal.  They were simply too much in demand.  One problem was that they weren't being built in the US at the time, so the only ones available came "as is" and most came with features I didn't want.  So the ones I did want were selling about as fast as they arrived. 

Sometimes ya just have to bite the bullet.  But it has been a fine car for 11 years. and only 26K miles (I REALLY don't drive much)

So what car would I like to have of all the cars before (restored)?  BTW, how do you like my choice of cars over the years?

1.  1966 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
2.  1970 Monte Carlo
3.  1986 Eagle Vision
4.  2005 Toyota Highlander
5.  1978 Trans-Am with the Eagle decal on the hood (that I lusted for but never owned)

Well, in order...

1966 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1986 Eagle Vision
1970 Monte Carlo

Not the Trans-Am.  I gazed in wonder, but that wasn't my style.  Speed Kills!  And the Highlander is my style, but not my desire.

The 1966 Pontiac Bonneville is my first and true desire...  The Eagle Vision is still too recent in memory.














3 comments:

Megan said...

Cars? Phffff. Does it get me from A to B reliably, not cost much to maintain and has reasonable fuel consumption? That'll do.

Perhaps that's why I'm driving a 1992 240 Volvo - yep, one of those 'boxes on wheels', the classic old Volvo shape, when they built Volvos that looked like Volvos. My husband has a newer car and it's our main car, so the poor ole' Volvo only does about 1000 miles per year these days, but boy it's been good value over the years.

Megan
Sydney, Australia

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

I had to look up the Pontiac Bonneville to see what it looked like, it is a cool car. There is one to be auctioned: https://classiccars.com/listings/view/891861/1966-pontiac-bonneville-for-sale-in-schaumburg-illinois-60173

Megan said...

Oh come on, 15and meowing: you're being an 'enabler'!!

Megan
Sydney, Australia