We all remember our special cars and what they meant to us. My first car was a Mint Green ’60 Ford Falcon. Yes, I am dating myself. Anyway, I saw it sitting on an empty lot with a For Sale sign on it. After consulting my father, he agreed that it was a good deal. It costs $100; I had $87 saved and he gave me the other $13 and he agreed to pay the insurance. I drove it as a high school senior and we had a good relationship while it lasted. Now, that’s the way to start the car ownership parade!
My father was a Ford man and I went on to buy two other Ford Falcons. The second was a ’63 Metallic Blue Ford Falcon. It was stick shift with the shifts on the collar. I remember his impatience as I learned how to hold it steady on an incline to keep it from rolling back. But I mastered the use of the clutch. Then, came a ’69 White Ford Falcon. Our love affair ended quickly when she broke down while trying to get two friends to O’Hare Airport. They went on and caught a cab to get their flight to the islands and I ended up at some car repair place in foreign territory.
In ’72, my father went with me to sign for my first new car. It was a Green and White ’72 Ford Pinto. I was elated. By this time, I was gainfully employed and he was there to give me the stamp of approval. It did not end well, but it gave me a couple of years of good riding. I came out of Sears one day, and oh… Well, let’s just say someone with a larger car was trying to park and…Too hard to speak on!
Moving right along, I decided to go import. One of my sisters loved her Fiat and I decided to follow suit. I purchased a ’Baby Blue ’74 Fiat Spider. It was a two-seater, convertible and really cute. But the electrical timing never really adjusted to the brutally cold Chicago winters and it always seemed to be hesitating. Once, during a rainstorm, I was on Lake Shore Drive and a windshield wiper blew off. That did it! I went back American. Of course, my father was somewhere laughing, but he was glad that I was not hurt.
Next, I bought a Beige ’76 Mercury Monarch. I think Daddy was with me again. I will never forget when they drove it out for me to take home. I was like wow! Instant love! I named this one Tawny. It was the first time I named a car in hopes of having better results with my cars. It was very cold that winter and she got off to a rough start. There was something off with the carburetor and my father and I had a few screaming matches about it. He kept saying that it would be the best car I’d ever had after I talked about getting rid of it.
And sure enough after I took her south, a few months after the purchase, she purred like a kitten! I ended up keeping her for over 15 years. She was a Southern girl. I dropped transmissions and even a new engine in her and we treated each other well. If cars could talk, Tawny would dictate sagas. She witnessed a lot during those long sojourns. She brought me back north and like in The Little Engine that Could, she puttered out after she got me across the hill and back home.
Back in Illinois, my aunt helped me buy Livvie. She was a used Red ’84 Ford Tempo. I named her after a Eudora Welty’s short story because I wanted her to live. And red means life in Unity. She and I hung out for about three years. No, excruciating memories there!
Thank goodness, there was a used car dealer outside my back door and after Livvie no longer lived, I bought Snow. She was a White ’83 Toyota Tercel. We made a few long distance trips together and she too took me a lot of places. I sold her to my nephew and his wife and told them all of the tricks, like how to get in certain doors and the whole nine yards.
And guess what? I did not have a car for NINE YEARS!! If my father had still been alive, he would not have believed it. Not the truck driver who taught his girls all about cars. But in retrospect, I could not have lived in the heart of certain cosmopolitan cities if I’d had a car. So things work out as they should. Hindsight is 20-20!
When it was time, and I needed transportation for work, I jumped back into the game and bought a Dark Blue ’03 Saturn. I named her Marina Marie. She was a L200 and had a few perks and we did quite well together. Our affair lasted about six years and though I bought her used in ’06, she only had a few miles on her. Towards the end, the repairs started piling up and after talking with a few mechanics, I wonder if she was a flood car. There was some rust underneath that could not have come from our winters and it was somehow traced back to the south after Katrina. I am glad that I did know it and she served her purpose quite well.
And in 2012, after using a few rental cars during trips, I decided that I wanted that new car smell again. I don’t drive that much but I do need a dependable vehicle. I treated myself to guess what? Yep! Another Ford! I know my father was looking down smiling! I bought Fifi, a Silver ’12 Ford Fiesta. And we are still hanging out!
What is your favorite car memory? There are stories and then there are stories.
Lynn December 7, 2014