Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clunkers

Image from here.
I'm not a car snob. I could care less. As long as it works. (Don't ask me how it works; I don't know.) There is one type of car I love though....

Old cars. Clunkers. At my age I no longer want one, but I love old cars. I'm not referring to vintage cars or collector cars. That hobby confuses me. I pine for cars that won't pass inspection, the ones that negatively affect the environment. They're rare now. Every time I encounter one roaring down the highway like a lawnmower it transports me to my high school/University days. Beaters. Love 'em.

My first car was a heap. My Dad bought several beaters for me (he was kind of a hoarder before hoarders had TV shows and mental health professionals). Never much more than $500, their engines were in decent condition, their bodies in need of reconstructive surgery or at least a serious make-over. I didn't care. (Cars today look like they're on botox.)

My first car was blue, a 1970s something-or-other barge of a car. (I'm can't remember makes and models; it's not my thing.) Rust bloomed here and there. Even the windshield wipers were gigantic. I could fit eight friends into that beast, easily. It had a hole in the interior ceiling. The trunk seemed just as large as the interior. No seat-belts. And it was puuuuuuure freedom.

My second car was red, a little newer but still from the wrong decade. Smaller but more rust-blooms. And an interior broiled by the sun on some used car lot until it cracked. Seats doubled as back-scratchers. The rear doors didn't often open. A year later, the rear door handles were ripped off after my friends simply pulled harder to open them, forgetting the handles were useless. Again, pure freedom and fun (especially when the girls had to crawl into the backseat).

My third car was brown. Again 4-door; again wrong decade. Once, at a party, a friend backed into it. I had left the party for a while to attend a different party so he couldn't locate me and confess so, concerned, he called me the next day. I had driven it home that night but didn't notice the dent. I told him not to worry about it. With all the rust, what difference would a dented door make?

Cars are so expensive now people are rabid about protecting them. I can't fault anyone for that. It's a big investment. I forget sometimes. Our vehicle is new and shiny and predictably reliable but still...it lacks personality. Where's the character?

Speaking of character, there's only one problem with those rust-heap, high rev clunkers I love. Nowadays pretty much only serial killers drive them.

19 comments:

Anne said...

My husband would totally agree with you on this post. He loves anything with an engine and is completely restoring a 67 mustang. His favorite cars, though, are the huge clunkers with high mileage and bad tires from the high school daze. The more people (girls) he could fit in them, the better the car.

Alittlesprite said...

Oh geez, does that mean I have to go looking for a body in the boot of my old heap?


Poor Elwood. He may not look pretty and lacks power, but he does the job.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

That's one thing I really noticed when I moved from Manitoba to Alberta. Hardly any beaters on the road. There's so much money in Alberta . . . .

Oilfield Trash said...

I would love to have a nice old restored 69' Camaro but I can't afford it.

Windsmoke. said...

I owned many cars in the 60's and 70's that you have described here what they all had was character, class and charm not like today's bland and boring buzz boxes running around today that all look the same :-).

Laoch of Chicago said...

I thought serial killers now preferred soccer-mom mini-vans?

Michael said...

It is hard to get passionate about cars these days. Especially those in my budget range. Motorcycles on the other hand ... that's my thing.

If you have a chance, download an episode or two of Top Gear from iTunes. Give yourself a shot of car passion and tickle your funny bone with some UK humour.

Tim Riley said...

Fun post dbs. Took me back to another time. I often wonder how everyone affords all these shiny new cars these days.

Jim said...

I ALWAYS had 'beaters'....from my first a $300 Acadian 2 door up to when my job required me to have a dependable one in 1998! Gotta love them.

Pickleope said...

This made me wistfully long for my 1990 3-shades-of-blue Ford Tempo with the trunk that didn't work. That qualifies as a classic muscle car, right?

dbs said...

@Anne Sounds like a great guy.
@sprite I think I like Elwood.
@DSWS I had the same experience coming from Saskatchewan.
@OT My brother had a sporty Camaro when I was in high school. He actually let me borrow it a few times.
@Windsmoke Yes I agree...there's a sameness problem.
@LoC Ha! Hilarious (and probably true.)
@Michael Motorcycles are slick. I will check it out.
@Tim Thanks.
@Jim Exactly.
@Pickleope Definitely.

Nicole said...

I had a primo run of crap beaters. But the worst was a car I borrowed from a boyfriend (it was his project car, he drove a better one, but I was desperate). It was a something-something land yacht from the 70s (this was in the 90s that I drove it). It drifted in the highway, side to side, like a dog's tail wagging sloppily and dangerously near buffet table.

Glad to be alive! After that I tried to stick to cars less than 20 years old.

Antares Cryptos said...

People always HEARD you coming didn't they?

Who needs those silent hybrids.
No really, keep thinking the engine fell out.

SherilinR said...

i still drive one of those pieces of crap that fails inspections & damages the environment. it's 15 years old and has all the dings & scrapes to prove it. i think it lives a secret life because none of those nicks seem to happen when i'm in it. it looks like the mystery machine from scooby doo, but less festive & cute.

Mrs4444 said...

"Seats doubled as back-scratchers."hahaha

I really love that you loved them but paid no mind to their makes/models.

paulsifer42 said...

My parents' neighbor's dad (follow that?) has the BEST clunker. It's this old F-something or other, but it's huge. It has super high boards so they can load up all kinds of stuff. He has a 'special' mechanic to make it pass inspection. It's all rusted out. And, I do admit, it is beautiful to look at.

karensomethingorother said...

that's what serial killers drive? I hadn't thought of that. That was a nice trip down car memory lane! My dad was just telling me yesterday about a car that goes for $100,000 new. Dodge Viper or something or other. I thought that was COMPLETELY RETARDED. "That's almost the price of a HOUSE" I said. You know, if you have that much extra cash to buy a car like that, why wouldn't you take a chunk of that money and help, oh, I don't know--local people who can't afford to give their kids breakfast. But perhaps that's just me.

Elliott said...

I regularly pine for my first car, all 9 mpg of it. It could out-pace Corvettes and the dent in the fender scared everyone away from me on the road. And we managed, once, to fit nine people in it, rendering seatbelts unnecessary.

As to serial killers, when I worked at a gas station we had a customer come in with his '70's era Oldsmobile, fill up two gas cans, then come in, buy a lighter and leave. He'd been a regular customer up until then, I don't think he ever came back.

wendy said...

I am not a car snob either.
I don't want to worry about putting the first "dent" into it.
I need a car that I can bash grocery carts out of the way with.

and living in the country now, our car is anything but clean it seems.

this post brought back some fun memories of the "character cars" I had in my day as well.

cars on botox...thats funny

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