The car situation: From Mustang to Mini(van)

When I was in my late-twenties I was driving an old Toyota Camry Wagon that I loved but the repair costs started piling up so I sold it cheaply to some hippies. They had a church/charity/farm/fairground something or other thing going on. They told me I could write the difference between the sale price and the Blue Book value off on my taxes …

I had heard that phrase said before but I really had no idea what “writing it off” meant. Still a little fuzzy there to be completely honest but anyway, I agreed.

That very same worldliness led me to purchase a 1967 Ford Mustang I saw FOR SALE in someone’s yard near where I worked. It was Granny Apple green, with a gleaming paint job and the leather interior was impeccable. It was just so beautiful that I barely had to start the thing up to know I’d be buying it. It is probably corny but the real reason I was hooked was that it just felt like childhood.

The closest thing to it we had growing up was a Ford Maverick with a giant rust spot on the side but something about sitting in those cars is exciting to me. Buckling up the lap belt and gripping the slender steering wheel was rush enough. I could have looked under the hood I suppose.
Not that the car was in bad shape. It ran fairly well and got me to and fro for a good couple of years but what should have been the hallmark of cool was simply emasculating.

Misconception #1: Girls will think this is cool — this didn’t really pan out. Kristen and I were dating off and on at the time and she was a good sport about the lack of air conditioning, the AM radio and the squeaky suspension but the lackadaisical steering response gave her pause. Oh, and the brakes too — they required some muscle – kind of a lot of muscle – and occasionally a few quick prayers that the tank would actually stop when you needed it to. Toss in a faulty fuel gauge that left us hoofing it for gas a couple of times and the Apple Green luster dulled some. I don’t recall exactly but I think the few other dates I may have went on during that time frame were pretty much a “let’s take your car” situation.

Misconception #2: Melba Toast is packing some muscle!! — I don’t really know cars all that well beyond aesthetics and I was reminded of this every time I stopped for gas. Dudes like cars and dudes really like classic cars with big ‘ol engines and nifty other under-the-hood parts. Dudes would accost me at gas stations and by dudes I mean rednecks. I’d find myself on the receiving end of an auto mechanical quiz and questions like “I mean, does it Go or does it GOOOOO!!!” I’d say that it ‘Goes’ only to be cut off by some story about the guy’s brother Zeke who had one just like it … Then they would ask to see under the hood and they would shake their heads like I just invited them over for the Super Bowl only to reveal a 15 inch TV. Somehow my conduit of cool turned out to be rather wimpy. Melba Toast was not packing any muscle whatsoever.
I eventually sold it to perhaps the only guy in the Southeast with less NASCAR energy than me and advised him to head North.

Now I lease a 2010 Chrysler Town and Country Minivan with automatic sliding doors and a remote start feature. Not sure if I’ve ever bothered to look under the hood of that one either but trips to the gas station have been blissfully anti-social.

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