I decided to add some personal content to the website in the form of a series of posts dedicated to revisiting stuff from my past leading to today, and that I’ll be able to continue randomly into the future. Confused? Don’t be.
The first in the series is going to be a look back at the various cars I’ve owned. Calm down, I know, it’s exciting. They haven’t all been winners, but some have been pretty decent, cool even. And some even have funny (well, I think so) stories attached.
1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass: While this was technically my first car, as I bought it when I was 15 before I even had a driver’s license with every last cent of paper-route and grocery store stocker cash I had saved, I actually drove my second car first. At the time of purchase, it didn’t run. Thank to some help from my parents, it was towed to a local garage and had a lot of work done that I had no business attempting.
I had taken two years of auto shop my freshman/sophomore years of high school in Williamsville, N.Y., and I was comfortable enough changing spark plugs, fluids and repairing cosmetic stuff, but I left the big problems (brakes, gas tank, shocks, struts, etc.) to the professionals with lifts and acetylene torches. The car was only drive-able during the Summer, when my parents would insure it for three months at a time. Of course, during the first Summer, the radiator blew while I was driving it, and all totalled I think I sank (with my parents assistance) over two grand in repairs into it over the three years of ownership.
Still, having a convertible muscle car for a few months each year during high school was fun. It had a 350 Rocket V8, which put out a nice chunk of horsepower, and thanks to the lack of power steering or power breaks, made for an incredibly challenging but educational driving experience. Of course, as a sixteen year-old driving a over-powered muscle car, I managed to have an accident.
During my Senior year of high school at Chagrin Falls, members of the newspaper would take part of a day during the Spring to drive around to local businesses and solicit advertising for the upcoming year. We grouped up and were given a list of businesses to visit, but of course this turned into about an hour of actual work and several hours of goofing off, including a lunch at Chagrin Falls mainstay Yours Truly. After lunch, we planned one of our actual stops, which required me to park down a narrow alley, blind from street view.
Now, if you’re at all familiar with Chagrin Falls (and you’re probably not), you’ll know the downtown is very small, only a few blocks long, and also very old. The buildings are close together, and if you’re making a right turn into any of the alleys, well good luck to you. And on this particular day, I did not have good luck.
As I made my quick right into the aforementioned alley, I quickly came face to face with the rear-end of a large Ford pick-up. Now, here’s the thing: I actually stopped in time to not hit the truck parked way too close to the alley entrance. The Cutlass, however, didn’t. I slammed the breaks, but he momentum of the multi-ton muscle car lurched forward, and the pointed tip of the Cutlass hood tapped the back of the pick-up.
That wouldn’t have been a big deal, only THERE WAS NO BUMPER. See, if the truck had a bumper, I would have probably just rubbed some paint on it and that would have been it. But no, this truck was bumper-less, and my car struck, neh, nicked metal, leaving a minor half-inch dent. Now, the less scrupulous types would have hit reverse and high-tailed it outta there, but we didn’t. Also, someone saw us hit the truck.
Long story short, I met the owner (in a nearby business, of course – he did not purchase an ad), he took my info but said he didn’t think it would be a big deal. Fast forward to the following Fall, I’m at college at Bowling Green, and I get a call from my Mother. Turns out, the guy thought it was enough of a deal to report it to his insurance, have it appraised and determine that the entire panel needed to be replaced, all for a cost of around $450. This was, of course, a bit of shock to my Mother, who I failed to mention this incident to at the time it happened.
As with most instances of amateur classic car ownership, when I did eventually sell it I ended up losing quite a bit of cash on it. Originally, I think I asked $4700 for it, but with no interest and space being taken up in my parents garage while I was off at freshman year of college, they eventually settled for around $2500.
Now and then, I’ll search various auto websites searching for another, hoping to find a really good deal, but usually they’re in great condition and out of my price range, or beyond repair. I may not find another ’68 Cutlass to cruise around with the top down in the Summer, so maybe I’ll have to settle on a Chevelle or GTO. That’d me all right with me.