Monday, September 27, 2010

Cars I've Owned (and some I want...)

I've never been really into Fast. Everybody likes to go fast, at some point, and I have had my moments, shoot, I was just doing e-brake drifts in some gravel with the boys this weekend (whoo hoo, that's a Camry memory for sure!). I've pedaled hard down a hill even as an adult to see just how fast I could get the Specialized Mountain Bike going, (Hard Rock, circa 1990, another guy had a speedometer thingy and said we topped 35mph if memory serves), gunned it on a straightaway or three, you know how it is.

All of this is to say that you won't see any Ferraris or Lamborginis on this list. I've owned one fast car, but the iffy suspension precluded any racing, and there's only one "sportscar" on my wish list. I admit to having mellower tastes, but that's okay.

(all the remaining photos are samples, not my actual vehicles: the photo above is probably the only photo I have of my 73 VW bus)

This was what I learned to drive in, for the most part, only not nearly as nice and with a dead power steering unit (which i always visualized as a lifeless tentacled thing hanging from the steering assembly): a 1975 Chevy pick up we bought to haul crap for our pub, etc., (this is a '72, though: you think you can find everything on the internet? I couldn't). We kept a spare tire in the back in case we got a flat at the landfill hauling all kinds of garbage. As anyone that has ever owned a truck knows, if you have one, people come out of the woodwork asking you to haul stuff. It's amazing what a cold twelve pack could get you at the dump weigh-in office.... I can still smell the dump in my brain. Learned how to parallel park downtown on the left side of the street in that truck, too. The maneuverability test was a breeze after that.

Learned how to drive a stick in a bug like this. With 5 kids in the family, we went through a lot of VWs, the price was right, you know? As you'll read below, we went through a lot of used cars, period.

Jim took me around the neighborhood and we got stuck on one small hill, and I finally got it. He and I drove together a lot, as we we're 11 months apart and he had a knack for doing things like u-turns in the middle of nowhere where a cop was watching. I did most of my Learner's Permit driving with Jim on a suspended license as my "licensed driver" in the passenger seat.

We bought our older brother Danny's baby blue bug to share for 250 bucks, on payments (no interest) as our first purchased car (Dad strongly believed in providing vehicles, but you have to break free occasionally, right?) and my second in a long line of Volkswagens.

We also drove a van very much like this Chevy in high school, and it was not very popular with the parents of my senior year girlfriend. There are many possible stories and comments, but I'll only tell two. First, though, you should know the origin was a small business venture of my sister and her manfriend, driving to Florida, buying seafood off the docks and driving it in heavy coolers back to Cincinnati to sell. That didn't last too long, and my dad bought it from them (before it got repo'd I bet).

Two stories: I saw ET at a drive-in with 13 girls (and 2 guys) in this van, on an off-night from performing at the 1982 World's Fair in Tennessee. Not as cool as it sounds. Drove to Florida with 2 brothers, a friend that is still practically a member of the family, and the girl next door. That, my friends, is what you call trust, as the age spread was from me, 14, my 15 year old brother, Gina, 16, to Danny and Joe, 21. We did discover what time the busses stop running from the Contemporary Hotel to the parking lot at Walt Disney World after the two eldest decided that if the Magic Kingdom had no alcohol, they were finding beer somewhere. It's a long walk from there to the main lot.

Next was one of 2 Thunderbirds, a 2-door that Jim and I drove in High School, too, given to my Dad by the widow of a bar patron. Actually they were both patrons, a cute little elderly couple, definitely from a bygone era. The hood flew open on me twice, but it was fun to drive. Faded green 2 door 67 similar to this:
I had a 4-door (suicide doors!) in college that was this color, so just switch colors of these photos in your brain to have a better idea of the 2 T-birds.
The 4-door cream colored 69 had a 427 "Thunderjet 4v" in it and it was sink-you-into-your-seat fast, but I had neither the money nor the know-how to fix the window motors, headlight switch, wheel well rust, or rear suspension. Especially the money. This is one that I really wish I could get back. I know where one for sale is...and it needs a lot more that just paint, I bet, it's pretty rough, but one can wish!

Next on memory lane are some cars of Dad's that I drove a lot:
The Cordoba was the ride around 83-84 after the truck, van, and t-bird gave out, and everybody loved the blue and white two-tone exterior and the foot switch to search the radio stations (only upward) in addition to the 10 (yes, ten) preset buttons. Stylin' baby. The Buick Century was a car, no more, no less, I drove it mostly in college when my car wouldn't run. Let's see, there was also a green Delta 88, a silver Cutlass, a black Bonneville, and a Cavalier. We went through a lot of used cars.

What, pray tell, is "my car?" A 1973 VW bus! The vehicle most of my friends of that time period will identify as Dave's vehicle, dubbed the Magic Bus by Doug Clark.
It had a pancake motor in it with a Weber single carb and the steering was tack welded by the scheister we bought it from, but it was faster than your average bus and fun. It went to Florida once, all over Ohio, and was the proud recipient of one shining moment when i popped the accelerator cable and had a friend manually work the throttle on the carb while I shifted to get us home. I rigged it with wire and drove it that way for a while! Good times. Burned up an engine, replaced it, never ran right again, tried the single carb, dual carbs, finally gave it to my brother Jim so he could trade it on a used convertible rabbit (may have been a Cabriolet by that year, can't remember, he had 2). The second vehicle I wish I still had and my favorite one ever.

Also had a green bug with the driver's side front fender missing, a light brown AutoStick that had been my sister's and a cherry cream bug that I ended up wrecking one wet wintry day because of the lack of usable tread on the front tires. That was a bummer.

That marked the beginning of a brief era of new cars, however, where I discovered the joys of car payments and air conditioning. My to-be-spouse's family had a very different car philosophy at the time, and her first brand new Camry led to my brand new Tercel, quickly followed by a brand new Corolla in 92 after she traded in for the new bodystyle. That marks a giant mistake in our car history: I should have bought her traded in Camry, it was a great car.

Too many words, time for pictures.
should have bought that Camry, but everybody makes mistakes!
by this time I was married, so we have to include the wife's 92 Camry: first year with this body style, a stick, very dependable for many years, traded it to her brother Dirk at his dealership for a used 98.
In 1996 we made another dumb car decision and traded the black Corolla to lease a 4 runner, which we loved, but couldn't afford to buy when the lease ended. Another one I wish I still had.
We ended up buying a used minivan, did the Dirk trade for the last one on the list. I am not a fan of American Made minvans, but I'll not bash them here.

Useful, yes. The 04 has cost us entirely too much in repairs and the process of ditching the 99 and getting the 04 was not pleasant, but the players have realized it was a bad move for several reasons and have made peace with it. Strange to be a non-player in the car buying process for my family, but when the in-laws are feeling generous (if misguided) it is best to step out of the way. It won't happen again, we've agreed (well, my wife and I have!).

That brings us up to date! 18 cars not including the 5 I've had as a married man (and those are all in her name anyway).

***Update December 2012**** The Chrysler Town and Country is gone. History repeats with "you can't drive our grandkids around in that thing, and why wait till we are dead to start on your inheritance, here's a 2012 Toyota Sienna."
So much for not repeating that scenario again. It's a very nice van and they are very generous. I still get to drive a 98 Camry, however. Blech.

Now, those ones I wish I had....

Friday, September 24, 2010

the art of manliness

Yes, it's lame to blog about another blog, but I was pointed to The Art of Manliness today while talking about Secret Fort's blog post about fall stuff and my impulse to have a men's market like this in Cincinnati.

It's just the type of blog that America needs! ok, that's a bit much, but still, as a man that thinks Men's Health magazine is aimed a little too much at my gay friends and not so much at me (even with the sex advice, seriously, check the ads: really? skinny hairless teens with pouty lips?), I like that Manliness is being celebrated. Here's another example courtesy of the same co-worker, TB. Nice.

Guess I better finish that treehouse this weekend. What would Tim Taylor do?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

even Bill Clinton knows a liberal cable news network when he sees one....

I promise I'll never, ever post a link to/from the Puffington Host ever again, but it's an example of a blind squirrel finding a nut!

"'One of the leading television commentators on one of our liberal cable channels said I was the best Republican president the country ever produced, which would come [as] quite a surprise to the Republicans, half of whom still think I'm a closet communist,' he said, according to Politico."

I must say that the first thing I thought when I heard the audio on the way to work this morning was my title line, and will bet that that is not the "line" on the story anywhere but here, folks. No denying it now, libs, MSNBC is a liberal cable channel because a former President says so! Lanny Davis called Maddow intolerant this morning on the air with "America's Morning News" because of her rantings. That's twice now I've cited Lanny Davis here, and he and I disagree on most all things Political, but he's no lackey for the Dems, that's for sure.