A Few Cars I Loved or Hated
Five I remember fondlyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Let's hear in comments about your favourites or nemesise
We have all had motor vehicles which served us well and we liked, as well as the lemons which gave us nothing but trouble from the day we drove them off the lot.
Often, it wasn’t the fault of the manufacturer but the woes were due to the misuse a used car had had in its previous life: heavy-footed drivers, riding the clutch, a lack of oil and water, sporadic or no proper service and high mileage. Then there were those never much good, said to be finished at 5 PM on Friday night when the factory workers had their minds on other things: same first thing Monday when the effects of a hedonistic weekend was still with the assemblers. Lastly, there were the unhappy lot that were just plain not fit for purpose: cheaply made, lousy design, perhaps a bad model from an otherwise reliable manufacturer.
My feelings towards the vehicles which have shared my life - briefly in most cases - are colored by my age (at 18, if it had wheels and gas in it nothing else mattered on my single-minded, hell-bent journey towards the location of the current squeeze and her glutinous pleasures).
Money, too, determined the quality of my chariot. I mean, I bought a 1947 Woolsey, already ripe for the scrap man in the 60’s, that survived being painted all the colors of the rainbow by “friends” when I was away at Suez in the Pusser (Navy); the only car crash I have ever had in which the beleaguered old girl said “screw this,” spinning round a few times and colliding with a sycamore tree…I knew it was sycamore, because several of those curious little airplane seeds were glued to the blood on my head when they cleaned me up in the hospital. The police swept a full bucket of rust from the scene and the Woolsey ended her days as razor blades or something. I had paid 25 quid for the old gal and we had had some fun…but I never loved her.
After going through a Triumph Herald (blah) and a Vauxhall Cresta (not GM in those days), mum bought me a new Morris Mini (she made me get a driving license first!). Yes, folks, this was my first love. There’s nothing like a new car, is there? I can remember this particular smell to this day (50 years later). There was only one odor more compelling and HP/Google will shut down my ads if I mention it. This little box had the miracle (back then) of front wheel drive and effortlessly pulled its way across Britain’s winter snow and black ice. But what did stoopid do? No - remember, I said I had had only one accident? I traded it in on…a used Jaguar!!! Yes, a Mark M, 3.4, full leather and 120 miles per hour. Minis? Ha! Now I only had to cast my baby blues towards the Broadstairs promenade and the passing lovelies would come tumbling into the rear seat.
But, love my sleek and fast saloon as I did, I couldn’t afford to run it. Not the petrol; mere mortals could afford that in the 1960’s: it was the repairs. British cars were, let’s face it, crap! Which is why all Europeans still buy German and French today (plus Japan of course), We just couldn’t build a reliable car; they were pretty, but pretty awful, too, and hopeless Britain has no car industry today.
I then escaped the pregnant girlfriend and the creditors baying outside the window over my failed scrap company and leapt aboard a ship to Australia, the land of milk, honey and more crappy cars.
Yes, they were British, early Jap., and the odd Ford Falcon back then in Oz, except for one local manufacturer, Holden. (Now owned by GM). After I had managed to scrape up a couple of hundred Ozzie dollars, I plumped it down on the second love of my life since my Mini - a Holden EH. This was a much beloved car in Australia and I soon saw why. It was so comfortable you could sleep while driving it - and it went so slowly, you almost really could. (You can sort that adverbial clause). (All Aussies would say, “Oh, yeah, mate, an Eee Haitch, that’s the only ridgy didge Aussie car!)
That lasted until I found one of the best cars I have ever, ever owned: in Oz, the UK or the States. It was the Ferrari Testiclerosy…(stop licking your lips, I could never afford one of those!), no, it was an Alfa Romeo Spyder Veloce - a convertible with a sweet 6 cylinder engine and still, as many purists will agree, one of the best cars ever made. I can still feel that crisp handling and responsive acceleration - no bloody smog devices back then.
In 1969, I set sail again for the great USA, land of all our dreams, just ahead of the Sydney Motor Squad who were after me for some nonsense or other - as if I would try to sell a car still on HP!.
There, I started work selling cars for Richmond British Imports near San Francisco, so I didn’t need to own a car for a year…the top grossers like moi got to drive an E-Type fer god’s sake! Then Helen (Ozzie import) and I decided to head down to Mexico, so I bought wholesale from Hutch (owner) an old Chevy something or other…it may have been an Impaler or something like that (Impala?). It was a great car! My first V-8 with a three-speed shifter on the steering hub. We towed an old speedboat down with us which got “lost” when we left…insured? ‘course it was, mum didn’ raise no stoop!
That began my love with American automobiles. They didn’t have the quality and cornering ability of Eurometal, but I loved the chat of those big V-8’s and there’s still been nothing like ‘em (except that Alfa).
I opened a TV business then, and began my Camero period I had the notchback one first then the fastback; then a Buick Riviera Sports fastback: they are all old hat these days and unaffordable gas-wise, but they were a revelation to a spotty bloke from the UK weaned on Minis, which would fit in the trunk (boot) of a US road-boat.
Then…wait for it, a mist green, full leather, 6 liter, automatic, heated seats, cruise and climate controlled. Are you about to climax!? Yes, Lincoln Continental! I took that to Mexico a few times and they addressed me as Senor Presidente, (or was it Gringo Cabron?).
About this time, Huntsville beckoned and I paid for various indiscretions involving Columbia and a certain white powder which obviated my need for a motor vehicle for some years (read hubs).
I went to live in Mexico after this and discovered what is probably the best car aver made and certainly the most affordable…the VW Beetle (an International conspiracy has resulted in the cessation of its manufacture and I am not kidding). I had about 5 beetles through the years (OK, girls, I know you hate them, but you never did have any sense where cars are concerned…you buy the pretty ones!) There’s not a woman standing that knows you can change the engine in a Beetle by undoing four bolts. I still love them today (as well as the Golf) and will end with what I now drive, because it’s an honest, sturdy, economical all-terrain little work-horse and I love my Suzuki Jimny to death. (See recent hub on this car).
In the interests of brevity have excluded many cars I once owned. The two worst were a Citroen C5 and a Ford Escort made of compressed kitchen foil. I must mention I had an Oldsmobile Delta 88 that I loved, great car. Always wanted a Corvette but didn’t get round to it.
In general, I dislike cars these days: better to walk and use the bus!