Friday, March 5, 2010
Classic Cars and Memories
I like stuff but cars aren’t stuff. When you think of stuff, you think of things to decorate the house, or things for the kitchen, of clothes and SHOES. I used to be wild for shoes, but now that my left foot bothers me and I wear sensible shoes, it isn’t the same. Shopping for shoes is almost embarrassing and amassing heaps of them has lost its appeal.
The first car I remember was the Dodge that my dad bought in 1951 to take us from New York to Los Angeles, a couple of years after we arrived in the U.S.A. Actually I’m not sure of the year, but who is there is ask? I do remember that the car was olive green, had a ram’s horn that sat like a trophy on the front of the hood, and my dad had bought it new for the big cross-country trip. Come to think of it, it looked something like that black Peugeot that could have taken my parents around Nice. When he started working as a gardener, he drove a Dodge truck. Later, in the 60s, he bought a Dodge Dart. My mom drove that Dart until she couldn’t drive any more. I don’t know why my father was so devoted to Dodge except that they were relatively inexpensive and probably good value for the money. Although Dodge has made some muscle cars, none of ours ever qualified as such and they certainly weren’t sexy.
My hot car days, so to speak, are long gone. They started in around 1965 with the beautiful cream colored 1960 Mercedes Benz 220 SE that my father bought used. That my father would choose such a car at a second hand dealer is a testament to his good taste. At the time it was not a classic, just a manual shift, second hand car. And yet it had the curved lines similar to the old Dodge, classic car lines, in my opinion. And it was gorgeous, with its elegant shape, wooden dashboard, and red leather upholstery. I managed to kill that car on a cross-country drive back from New York a few years later. I don’t know how my father ever forgave me, but actually he took it well in stride and never seemed to hold it against me.
From the Mercedes I moved on to Volvos. Uri and I were together then, in the 1970s, and he got into fixing cars, learning the skills from Jerry who had, and I believe still does, a very special fondness for Volvos and Saabs. He fixed, I drove. We had one Volvo 122S after another until Uri finally fixed us a real cutie: a P1800, just like Simon Templar drove.
That’s pretty much it for the interesting part of my car history. When I got to the point where I felt I needed a crane to help me in and out of the low-to-the-ground P1800, I went on to a newer (but still second hand) Volvo 144 sedan, then a new Toyota. Here in Spain we had a Seat (a Spanish car) and now a Citroen, not the 2 CV of my dreams, but a Xsarra that burns a lot of oil.
First we viewed all the Minis on display out front. There must have been fifty or more, a bunch of VW bugs, some Seats 500 and 600, and a few odds and ends (including, of course a 2 CV and a 2 CV truck). Cute, but not worth the price of admission. But then we hadn’t paid to get in yet.