I’ve never really had a nice car. Well, maybe that one ’85 Camaro Z28 for a few weeks until I took it out for an accelerated spin down a winding road after a rainstorm and ended up flipping it, narrowly avoiding death…but that’s a story for another post. But no, having had ten cars (ten!) over a period that lasted less than a decade, there was never one that I could say, “Man…I really miss that car.” More often than not, it was, “Good riddance.”
Each one had some issue that was the then bane of my automobile owning existence. The ’83 Mustang GL, for some reason, was all metric underneath, and it leaked oil incessantly. The heat didn’t work in the ’86 Camaro Z28, there was no backseat, the T-tops leaked and the hatchback didn’t latch. The driver’s side door on the ’88 Monte Carlo LS wouldn’t latch (try that one going down I-95 at 75mph). The black Buick Century had a smashed in front end from a “slight accident” my then girlfriend got into. Three of the automatic windows in the silver Buick Century wouldn’t go down. The passenger window wouldn’t go down on the ’79 Camaro, and one of the spark plugs kept fouling out. And what the fuck is that garden hose knob doing under the hood of the ’76 Pontiac LeMans and what does it do?!!?
The relationship with most of them ended in spectacular fashion. Totaled the ’83 Mustang when some kids in a Camaro made an illegal turn into my lane. Flipped its replacement in the aforementioned fashion. Drilled the Monte Carlo LS into a fire hydrant, replaced the front end myself with an SS front end which confused everyone. The rear axle on the silver Buick Century simply collapsed as I backed out of a parking spot. I just raised my eyebrows, went back in my apartment and called it a day.
None of the cars were from the decade in which I was presently living, be it the mid-90s or early-00s. Since they were all so old they were always in need of some sort of repair. Most were sub-par; not a Mustang GT, a GL. Who needs a Monte Carlo SS when you can have the inferior LS? And Buick Grand National or even Regal? Nah…I’ll take a pair of the Century please.
Still…I always managed to get into trouble with them…
This ticket was from 1995 and the ’86 Camaro Z28 with the missing backseat era. “Drag Racing.” Right. That car wouldn’t have made it to the starting line of a real drag race. But these cars were a magnet for the authorities.
Or maybe it was just me.
It didn’t help when I’d have fake inspection stickers bought from some guy who knew a guy from some South Philly garage. Cops could spot them a mile away. A fuse was always blowing somewhere, resulting in a taillight or turn signal being out. Another problem I used to have was with the headlights; rarely were they straight. One would be aiming one way and one the other, no matter what I did. It’s like I was driving around a vehicular Barbra Streisand. Court dates for driving infractions were a constant source of irritation. So was having to pay for insurance with shit paying jobs. It’s not something to be proud of, having no insurance more often than having it, and when I look back now it’s cringe inducing.
I always drove above the white trash class in which I was ensconced, physically or situational. “Fake it ’til you make it” goes the cliche, though I think my ultimate goal wasn’t to have the “hottest car on the block” (as Greg Dulli sang), but to avoid the hassle altogether. Living in the city has allowed that for the most part. I envy no drivers when we get some of those snowstorms. Then again, maybe I’ll try again someday and get a car from this century…just not a Century.