Cars in the Key of Life

Before he lost his eyesight, my father was a mechanic.  Being the daddy’s girl that I was, I became interested in cars from a very young age.  Even after he was no longer able to do the work on cars, he would coach me through it and I would do it.  I loved those times with him.

It’s no wonder then that my first husband was a mechanic as well.  We used to work on cars together.  He purchased and we rebuilt the engine (383 although it ran like it had a 427 in it) on a 1969 Plymouth Fury.  It was an ex-police car (the doors in the back wouldn’t open from the inside) which is funny because we got pulled over one night drag racing and the cop was pissed because we were pulling away from him when I finally convinced my (then) boyfriend that we had to stop.  I don’t think he ever forgave me for making him stop.  He was too stupid to realize that the cop had his tag number.  It’s one of the many reasons I divorced him.

That was the foundation for my car knowledge.  I have changed motor mounts, head gaskets, transmission fluid (including the gasket which is tricky), oil, spark plugs, carburetors, fan belts, alternators, generators and a whole host of other equipment under the hood of most cars built before fuel injectors.  Once fuel injectors replaced my 4-barrel Holly I gave up, shut the hood and relied on the overpriced mechanics at the dealerships to make me bend over and grab my ankles (to put it gently).

Although I do still love the looks on their faces when they try to blow smoke up my ass and I start giving it right back to them.  Priceless.  Plus I’m much less likely to get ripped off than the average woman since I actually read the bill and question them about the charges.

Mine had a white top and I had stock wheels…not these gorgeous Cragers.

My first car was a 1974 Chevy Malibu Classic.  Two door in a mint green (it was the 70’s!).  It had a 350 engine and a turbo hydromatic transmission (rear wheel drive) which was great for getting out of snow.  My husband kissed me for the first time beside that car.  He nicknamed it the “Two Bedroom Chevy” because rather than put my clothes away in his dresser, I carried them around in my car (I was waiting to be asked to put them away).  I drove that car until it quite literally fell apart on the way to the new car dealership.

Then I bought a 1986 Ford EXP.  Those cars didn’t stay on the market very long.  They were cute…but that was about it.  But it was cute AND it was my first with front wheel drive.  I could drive circles around all my friends with rear wheel drive in the snow.  But it only had 4 cylinders so they drove circles around me at all other times.  But it really was adorable.

Then…ah then…THEN came the creme de la creme.  In 1985, we bought a 1984 Nissan 300ZX Turbo (automatic…what?).  It was the only car I ever loved.  That car defined me…or at least the way I wanted to be defined.  It was cool, it was sleek, it was fast and it was bad ass.  I drove that car for 10 years and I loved every fucking minute of it.  I also miss that car every fucking day.  sigh….

Then came a series of plain old in between sedan’s and coupe’s that filled the gap in my life until the next big turning point.  The point at which my world turn on itself and I entered the world of the grownup.  The vehicle that, when told we were having twins by the doctor made me exclaim, “We have to buy a fucking…


Yes the mini-van.  I had three and had a love/hate relationship with all of them.  I loved them because they were practical and I could fit a boatload of kid shit in them, get decent gas mileage and separate the kids so they couldn’t touch each other.  Later they were used to transport other kids, baseball gear, furniture, and anything else anyone wanted to move.  I hated it because it represented that boring, middle class life I thought I hated.  (What a dumb ass I was.)

Now I drive a sensible car which pretty much represents my life right now.  I’m sensible.  I get fairly good gas mileage.  I don’t cost too much.  I don’t go too fast but I go fast enough.  I’m pretty, but not particularly sexy.  I’m normal.  And normal is a very good place to be at my age and after the events of the first part of my life.

But I’d give almost anything to drive that Z car one more time….