Cindy’s Silver Cougar

Cindy's Silver CougarMy first car was a silver 1972 Mercury Cougar, that wasn’t actually mine (a mere technicality) and my most vivid memories of it involved running out of gas, or trying to scrounge money so that I didn’t run out of gas.

I remember that I ran out of gas (or somehow broke down) while cruising around with my friends one night, at a stop at the White Hen Pantry, a convenience store that was then a hot spot for cruising teenagers in Winchester, Mass. It seemed like the whole town was there that night, so we hung out as if we had a purpose for being there. Every once in a while we’d send a different person into the store to buy a popsicle or something.

The car was originally owned by my grandmother, of all people. She bombed around Florida in it until she decided to upgrade to a Cadillac. She gave the car to my Aunt Jennifer, and eventually it ended up in Winchester with my mother. When my friends and I first heard that we were getting a new car, a grandmother car no less, we were expecting the worst. The first time I drove it to high school however, it was pounced upon by a bunch of guys in the parking lot who instantly recognized it as the muscle car that it truly was.

My mother took the bus to work at MIT each day, leaving the car. I left for school after she left for work, and given that it was there, I’d often take it. Finding a parking space at the school (less than a quarter mile from my house) was difficult, but it was the thrill of having wheels that required that the car to come to school several days a week. I had to pick up my two friends who had about a half–mile walk completely downhill to school. We were all on the track team together, but didn’t see the point of getting an extra workout in the morning. The combination of the fact that the car idled at about 35 mph and was a real gas guzzler, along with our meager gas budget, had us running out of gas about every third time we drove it.

It did go fast, and although I never drove it too recklessly, I also never lost a challenge. We took that car to the beach, to parties, and drove it to work at Swensen’s Ice cream at Faneuil Hall in Boston, where my friend Leslie and I both had summer jobs working on the cone line. Since our shift started around 5:30 pm at the height of rush hour, we were in stop–and–go traffic for most of the 20–mile trip to Boston, and devised several time–saving devices to get to work on time. Sometimes we would change into our chocolate brown faux–milkmaid Swensen’s uniforms in the car on the highway.

On a number of occasions when traffic was truly at a standstill, we would trade off being late for each other. One would slog through traffic and eventually find parking while the other ran down the off–ramp (in uniform) to get to this important job that we had. If we were lucky, we got a coveted space in a free parking lot under route 93, which was right near Haymarket Square. One night when we were parked there, we came back to the lot and experienced the confusion of not being able to find the car where we’d left it. At midnight, we walked up to the nearby police station (in ice cream–covered, sticky uniforms now), and filed a stolen vehicle report. It was recovered a mere 45 minutes later because it had run out of gas, and we were finally vindicated, as if driving the car on no gas had been a really good idea after all. I remember that I did have to start it with a screwdriver until the starter was replaced.

Times have changed. I’m now driving a 2002 Suburban, generally with many kids packed in it (albeit 25–35 years younger than me), and have never run out of gas.

Cindy Gallagher

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First Car, First Boyfriend

kate keating pullquoteMy first car was a bug–eyed Austin Healey Sprite. I got it when I was 18. My first boyfriend was a blue–eyed artist named John. I got him when I was 17.

I bought my first car from my first boyfriend, because he couldn’t afford it any more. That should have been my first clue that both the car and the boyfriend would end up to be quite costly. The car looked cool, but was unreliable, except when it ran great for a few weeks at a time whenever I got it back from my mechanic. The boyfriend looked cool too (he was an artist), but was unreliable all of the time.

I had fun riding around in my car with the top down, even when it was raining. That was the best, because the rain would kind of whiz by, and I got to ponder the question posed in calculus class, as to whether I became more wet while driving or when at a stop. I used to love driving up Mt. Tamalpais as fast as the car would corner to watch the sunset at the end of the day. This is the scenic and windy road where all the car ads are shot—now I know I was living a dream.

My favorite place to park was on the narrowest shoulder on the most radical cliff on the ocean side of the road, just a few inches from the drop. After watching the sun disappear behind the ocean, I’d take the turns down towards Alpine Lake, then cut the engine and skid as precipitously as possible through the last hairpin turn to see how far I could coast across Alpine Dam without using the gas. Paused on the dam, I would relish the quiet for a few moments before continuing the descent in the cool evening air.

When my first boyfriend crashed my car for the first time, I had it fixed, and the whole thing was painted in its original beautiful blue. When he crashed it for the second time, it was declared a total. I went on to get a new old car, but didn’t have the smarts to realize I should have gotten a new boyfriend as well. The new car was a beat up Volkswagon van with broken side windows, a back bumper made out of a rotting 2×4 and worn bucket seats that had been lifted from a Chevy truck. The seats had become “buckets” from years of use—you sunk into the driver’s seat so far that it was difficult to apply any pressure to the gas and brake pedals. No worries.

When my first boyfriend crashed my second car, I wasn’t so upset. The disturbing part was that I had to go to court with him, because it was my car. The good news was that the mangled driver’s door still closed, and it was no big deal that it wouldn’t lock, because the windows never locked anyway. When my first boyfriend crashed the next time, he was driving his uncle’s ‘57 Chevy Belair. I guess I had smartened up a bit—he wasn’t driving my car.

I had learned about the unreliability of British cars and my first boyfriend those early years. I parted with the first boyfriend and have never owned a British car since. However, years later I did have a British boyfriend, who proceeded to crash my BMW sports coupe. In a show of hard won maturity, I did finally dump him, as he had proved to be more unreliable than my first car and my first boyfriend put together, but that’s another story.

Kate Keating

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Leslie’s 1984 Chevy Citation

Chevy Citation

I came by my first car the way a lot of people do, via a hand-me-down from my grandmother. I admire people who, with awesome maturity by their twenties, save money and seek out an automobile of their choice—choosing it for the cool factor, practicality, or even a combination of both. I was not one of those people, and there was nothing cool about this car. I simply accepted what I was lucky enough to be gifted: a 1984 flesh–tone Chevy Citation.

I wasn’t particularly interested in getting a car, but suddenly needed one. I was living in Allston, MA with my boyfriend Todd, who, was heavily ensconced in his music career. I had recently applied and been accepted to school in Providence, RI, and didn’t want to move down there. The commute via train or bus was totally impractical.

It was my father who thought through the logistics, and realized that he could kill two birds with one stone in this situation. He could get me back and forth to Providence, and at the same time, make the streets of Cape Cod a little safer. My grandmother had a Chevy Citation sitting in her driveway on the Cape, which until recently she had only been using to drive once a week down to a local senior center she called, “The Site.” She had hit the point where it was no longer all that safe for her to be driving. The car had a few dents to prove it.

And so my dad did all the work to wrangle the car from my grandmother (who had to be delicately convinced that she was being asked to give up her car, not because she could no longer safely drive but to benefit her only granddaughter). He then plodded through the Registry of Motor Vehicles with me in tow to get the car transferred to my name—back then I was incapable of accomplishing even the simplest bureaucratic task, and so me doing this on my own was simply not going to happen. Thanks to his hard work, I joined the ranks of first car owners.

It took a few days for it to sink in for Todd and me that we actually had a car at our disposal. It was a spring evening, a few weeks before my summer session classes would begin, and Todd and I decided to tool around town a little and get a feel for our new mobility. We were sitting at a stop light with the windows rolled down, music playing out of the crappy dashboard radio, feeling pretty good about things—when the person in the car next to us kindly pointed out that we had a flat tire. The light changed, and screaming at each other now, in a complete panic and loss as of what to do, we limped the car through a giant 5–way intersection, and pulled into a fortunately empty Mr. Tux parking lot. We got out of the car. Now what?!

For some, it may be astounding that we would not know what to do, but let me explain. As the man of the relationship, Todd was a fantastic guitar player, but he had not yet needed to develop any mechanical or automotive skills. We had been functioning well on public transportation for many years, and were complete novices to car maintenance. Our focus was rock and roll clubs at night, and cruising through our day jobs. Neither or us was of any use to the other at that moment. We were like parents with a newborn that just started crying for the first time. What in hell’s name do you do with a flat tire?

I would call my dad.

Leaving Todd with the useless car (and this was that apocalyptic moment that one experiences as the vehicle that has been safely and miraculously transporting you a moment before—becomes a useless pieces of junk, a giant liability, and your biggest betrayer the next), I crossed the intersection to an IHOP and found a phone booth in the lobby. It was 9:30 pm. And here’s the thing: I totally expected that my dad would end up getting out of bed, drive three towns over, find us in the Mr. Tux parking lot, and change the tire for us. I completely expected him to do this as I called.

Give a man a fish, I hear, and you give him a meal. Teach a man to fish, and he will never be hungry again—or something like that. And from the other end of the phone line, my dad handed me a pole. “Look in the glove compartment,” he said, “and there should be a manual for the car. That will show you where the spare tire is located.” He went on to explain that cars all (usually) have spare tires, and often, if they haven’t been tampered with, which was likely given the car’s previous owner, it probably had a jack too. “If you can’t find the stuff or change it yourself, you may have to call a tow–truck.” In other words: the car is yours, and you (and Todd) are on your own.

I crossed back to the car, and explained to the astonished Todd what miracle we would be required to perform, and we set to our work. The manual was indeed (!) right in the glove compartment. Sure enough, it indicated that in the back hatch area, under a carpet, was, who ever would have guessed, a spare tire, and a small jack. And here’s the best part: the spare had air in it. And we struggled and toiled, but by the light of the Mr. Tux illuminated sign, we managed to jack up the car, remove the offending flat tire, and replace it with the spare. We were elated. We had snatched victory from the arms of defeat. We drove directly home and parked that thing. It would be at least a week before we’d venture out in it again.

Leslie Keats

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Melanie’s Ford Taurus Wagon

Melanie's Ford Taurus WagonThese photos of my beautiful, silver 1987 Ford Taurus wagon feature my sister Becca, not me in the car. The stunning photo of me, pumping gas at the Broadway Shell station in Oakland, circa 1993 has been lost—hopefully only temporarily. It was not a flattering photo to say the least: I had screaming red hair, bangs, bad jeans and a dorky expression on my face. It was a candid shot taken by my sister.

The Taurus was handed down to me by my parents in July 1990, after I passed my driver’s test. It had been driven by my father for 3+ years. By the time I inherited it, it had over 70,000 miles, which was not bad, except for the fact that they were put on my my father, who is one of the most aggressive drivers I know.

Memories of my first car include: my first trip on a highway in 1988, while learning to drive (this was on the extremely hairy Highway 17 to Santa Cruz, no less), numerous attempts to retrieve hubcaps which had worked their way loose (they were particularly prone to falling off as I rambled along the road), purchasing “used” (read: stolen) hubcaps from the “Hubcap King” hubcap store in New Orleans, backing over the gardener’s lawn mower and rake (the lawn mower was salvageable, the rake not so much…) a cross–country trip from Carmel, CA to New Orleans, where I was going to College in August, 1993, a return trip in 1994, countless trips to the Uptown Auto Specialist in New Orleans where thousands upon thousands of dollars were pumped into the car over the course of one school year. (My car spent so much time in this shop, that I made it onto the owner’s Christmas card list).

I received two speeding tickets in it (one in New Orleans and one in Natchitoches, LA), and can admit to being the only Tulane student to drive a 1987 Taurus wagon.

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Marsha’s Mercury Comet

Marsha Holland's Mercury CometThis was my 1963 Mercury Comet, with a V8, 289, three on the tree, and no seat belts. It was a fabulous first car for a sixteen year old teenage gal roaming the backways of the San Francisco Bay Area. She could roar up Mt. Tam, leaving those boys with their toys in the dust.

The Comet was my dad’s car. He had an overseas job, so by default and devise, the Comet and I became fast friends and by college, inseparable. I called its original color ‘desert delerium’ after numerous side trips to Southern Utah, however, after three years on the Santa Barbara coast where I colleged, she started showing signs of rust. My dad, the true car enthusiast that he is, commandered the Comet for a brief period to repaint her.

She remained mine through many boyfriends and dogs and finally after marriage in 1986 and a subsequent bouncing baby boy in 1987, we had to put a seat belt in the back seat to secure the baby seat. She was respectfully called “The Vomit” by my father; he always knew what I was up to.

Alas, in 1993 as our little family moved off to Europe, she was DONATED to some outfit in San Francisco. I pray she still rides with glory.

Marsha Holland

Marsha Holland's Mercury Comet

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Sally Tuckahoe’s First Car

Sally Tuckahoe loved her first carSally Tuckahoe was given the opportunity to buy her Grandparent’s ‘65 Chrysler New Yorker for an easy price. It was her first car and it helped elevate her dreams. She lived in the body of Kim, a simple art school student who wore jeans and t–shirts and men’s button down shirts. Kim liked the fact that she could stay late at the studio and not worry about missing the last bus as she had the ‘65 to get her home.

Sally loved her luxury car. It was an elegant ride. It floated like a boat on rough dirt roads and the Taconic Parkway with its cement base offering the rhythm of its seams in regular short intervals and curbs for cars going seventy. There was a pearlescent steering wheel that was lovely for showing off a new manicure with pink nail polish. Just turn the wheel with the palm of your hand and hold your fingers extended skyward. She often turned the AM dial to the French Canadian station to listen to the sexy love songs and didn’t understand a word that was said. What a lovely view.

Kim’s nails were short and often flecked with paint or dried by printing chemicals. She held the steering wheel with two hands and imagined the yellow lines as driving boundaries on a track or relished in the back road to Amherst all dirty and bumpy and enjoyed the little bit of country on the edge of suburbia and town. Sally loved the way her heels worked the easy gas pedal and opening the big car door, she could step out on pavement wearing a Joe Bonomo Special in silk with matching coat. A quick snap–shot revealed the bouffant blond in silk dress and matching coat all leggy with high spiky heels—looking like the back page out of a magazine advertising the elegance of Chrysler. Kim wore grey converse sneakers and if you put her in heals, well, you’d better not move her away from a wall—or move her at all.

Sally had a friend named Julie Burbank and they often drove around admiring the other cars and talking about boys and parties. Their favorite cartoon was the Jetsons. Their living quarters were stylishly modern with synthetic fabrics and bright mod colors. The Chrysler shined in the sun and reflected their good taste from an open window. Kim liked the history of the car. Here was the car her great–grandparents, Owen and Bess, drove up from Florida each summer. They had added seatbelts to the front seat as the car was equipped with none. It had a big roomy trunk to fit all of the luggage and the backseat was so big you could just walk in—no contorted twist to enter the back seat of the car. The car had a big gas tank and ran best on premium. She bought the car from her Grandparents and drove it home from Yonkers on the Taconic Parkway. It was a big car with a big ride. You could also get lucky and when parallel parking—never dent the bumper. Sally liked that feature too.

Kim Stevens

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Dan Fox’s ’72 El Camino

Chevy El CaminoMy first car and my first girlfriend didn’t really mix. I bought the car, a 1972 El Camino, for $2,500, from a body shop owner who would become a customer of mine 15 years later. I was 17 years old.

I grew up in the Sunset District in San Francisco, had been enterprising since I was nine, and actually had money to spend on a car. Up until then, my brother and I had been sharing a half–ton pick up as our surf wagon. When I saw the El Camino, I couldn’t buy it fast enough.

I spotted the car parked on South Van Ness and 14th Street, with a For Sale sign on it. It was root beer brown with a black vinyl roof and slotted alloy wheels. It had an 8–way adjustable electric seat out of a Buick sedan. After a quick inspection, I gladly handed over the money, and brought it home. I thought the car was perfect, but of course, once it was mine, I realized there were many ways that I wanted to trick it out, spend money on it, and really make it my own.

The first modification I made was to put curtains in the back windows. I picked fabric out at Britex Fabrics, and had my mother sew up some really cool curtains: green Hawaiian print with black velvet lining. (This made the car feel a little more like a surf wagon, though the guys at the beach thought the car was a little too greaser for a surfer.)

Next, I built a secret compartment behind the seat, to store tools and emergency roadside equipment. I lined the bed with indoor/outdoor carpet for padding to hold my surf boards, and fitted it with a black fiberglass protecto top, clamshell style, to keep my surfboards under lock and key and out of sight. I also fitted it with 60 series tires, gas shocks and oversize sway bars.

All of these modifications came easy, and my girlfriend loved the car. Most projects took only a couple of hours, and I could do them myself. But looking back at it, I think the car had a dark side, and incidents began to occur. First I was pulled over for a USA #1 front license plate, by the notorious Officer Brokebush (a guy who was known in the Sunset District for pulling people over for really stupid stuff, who was incidentally later killed in a helicopter crash.)

After that, I went to have the headers and dual exhaust installed by Bones, the best exhaust and muffler guy in the business, who also happened to be the biggest coke-head in the business. I had to hang around his shop for 3 weeks just to get the appointment, then spend the whole night watching him perform what should have been a simple installation. I was there from 6:30 pm until three in the morning. When I got back to my girlfriend’s house at 3:30 am, she was really mad and thought that I was going out with another girl. After that, she didn’t seem to like my car very much.

The bad car/girlfriend/Dan relationship culminated in a crazy incident on the way to school one day. We were driving along 45th and Anza, and in a fit (about what I fortunately can’t remember), my girlfriend suddenly grabbed the steering wheel and drove me into a parked car, then jumped out of the car and ran off, leaving me sitting there, with a folded hood and steaming radiator.

I had to explain to the cops how a 17 year old (sober) kid in a modified El Camino ended up in this position at 8:00 in the morning. I told them them the old oil in the street story: that the streets were wet and covered with oil, and I slipped and slid the car. They actually bought it.

A surfer buddy of mine recognized the car as he was going by, but of all things, my girlfriend had already shown up, driven by her mother in her ’67 Cadillac convertible and whisked me away. The girlfriend was in tears, all sorry for leaving me like that, and her mother eventually had the car towed to the body shop of someone she knew, and had the car fixed at no cost to me.

I drove the car for a few more months, and sold it on a rainy night to a grocery store owner in the Tenderloin for $2,850. He too couldn’t hand the money over fast enough, and I was hoping the rain would conceal some of the things I considered flaws in the body work. My girlfriend and I hung on for a whole longer, and I bought two cars this time, a ’77 Toyota pickup and a ’67 VW bug, thus starting an exponential trend of car ownership (at last count I have owned as many as 27 different vehicles.) The pickup fit in better at the beach, and the bug was the perfect surf car.

Dan Fox

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Candace Savoie’s Mercury Meteor

Mercury MeteorThe Wag.

My mom originally owned my 1962 Mercury Meteor. It was white with red interior and had a “3 on the tree”. We traveled everywhere in that car…to the mountains, to the ocean and up and down the west coast. I was always a little embarrassed about the styling of the car. I mean, I was a teenager in the late 70s and that car’s heyday was 10 to 15 years prior to that. I just wished that we drove something a little more contemporary. It didn’t have to be flashy, just not ancient. The wings on the car were a little annoying as well.

When I turned sixteen and received my driver’s license, that wonderful car became mine. It then formally became known as the party wagon, or to some, just “The Wag”. One wonderful aspect of having that as my first car was the indestructibility of the car. I remember going to junior college and trying to find a parking space. I found one but also hit a steel post in the process. No biggie, that car takes it like a champ.

There were countless times when we packed lots of people into the front, middle and back of The Wag and headed off to Day on the Greens in Oakland. It was definitely a party wagon. I remember going to see Jeff Beck at the Greek Theater and being involved in a four–car pile up. No one was hurt but the other cars were. Not much of a dent in my old car. And we still managed to get to the concert.

Just a couple more things…the recognizability of that car was cool. That was definitely my car and there were no others like it.

And lastly, I would like to believe that we got that car up on its two left tires when we were driving rather quickly around a curve. No way it would roll.

Oh, and very last. The ski trips in that car were memorable. We would pack in the people and lots of beer and wine and head on up that mountain. Chug, chug, chug. It always made it. And how cool was that to cruise up in the wag. It was like a punk statement before punk came out.

I will admit to the one draw back of having the wagon. When going to the drive-in movies, I couldn’t cram people into the trunk because there was no trunk.Oh, well—a small sacrifice. At least we could see well out of all the windows.

And that is my story of my first car. I left it behind when I went to San Francisco State and my mom eventually sold it. I honestly wonder if it is still running today. I’d like to think so even though it probably is not.

Candace Savoie

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Jenn’s ’69 MGB-GT

first car pull quoteI loved my first car. I loved it because it was impractical and sporty and because the seller had the original catalogue showing golfers in knickers putting their clubs in the hatch back. My first car was a pale yellow 1969 MGB–GT with wire wheels and I found it sitting in a grassy field behind an old barn in southern NJ. I paid $1500 cash for it and drove home to Pennsylvania to show my dad. My dad didn’t like it all that much.

I would have to buy snow tires and put in a heater/defroster and the leather seats were rotten and the rear view mirror was way out by the headlights and…none of it mattered. It still had those cool wire wheels. I bought a tape deck and speakers and covered the stock speaker hole in the center console with black corduroy with an MGB–GT emblem. I made matching black corduroy slipcovers to hide the rotten seats and cushioning that I had added so that I could see over the dashboard. With the end of summer, I was off to university in my own wheels.

It was a love–hate relationship. The car loved going from A to B, but hated going B back to A. Still, I drove that car everywhere. I drove it to Vermont to go skiing and when the fuel pump broke, I left it up there. I drove it to Florida and when the starter broke, we popped the clutch all the way back to Pennsylvania. In the great ice storm of ’84, I left the car in someone’s driveway after spinning around in a 360 on the freeway and having gone as far as we possibly could. I remember wearing socks on my hands because the inside of the car was so cold because the weather–stripping around the door had all come off and was coiled up on the floor in the back. When the windshield wipers stopped working, we drove for two hours in the dark looking through the clearest spot on the windshield, down low nearest the dashboard. One hot summer back in Philadelphia, my muffler broke along the Schuylkill expressway.

Pulled over by the side of the road in my checkerboard golfing skirt, I endured road crew jests, “Getting that ole Schuylkill tan, eh?” But none of it was really that bad and all those parts fail just the same in any ole car. I learned to do all the maintenance too. It was easy. The car manual showed exactly where everything was and when you lifted the hood, there it all was! There were lots of fluids to check. I remember that especially. And the crazy jack that fitted into a tube on the underside of the car and lifted the whole car up on its side. There were two batteries under the back seat. My father made sure I knew how to change my tires and stood over me with a pointer each fall and spring for the annual snow tire change. I loved whiling away summer afternoons polishing the chrome.

My big score was in Jersey City when walking home from the store one day; I found a similar car in a lot with a bunch of other abandoned cars. My first thought was: parts! I checked it out and found all sorts of priceless things, the best being the two mint front seats. I retrieved some tools from my house but couldn’t manage to get those darn seats out. Some guys hanging out nearby informed me that I should be careful because all the cars in the lot had been stolen. “Really?” I said. The idea of the beat up old cars in the lot being stolen had never even occurred to me. I told them that it was probably more likely the police would think they were up to something, rather than me anyway. They were nice guys. For $20.00 they removed the seats for me and brought them to my house. I kept that car for six years. It was a great car. I only sold it because I was leaving the country to travel. My father had been wrong about the car after all.

I would like to see that car again someday just to make sure that it is still loved and cared for.

Jennifer Lavins

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Andrew Walker’s Triumph TR6

andrew walker's first carThe 1972 Triumph GT6 was my first real car. I say, “real” because it was the first car that I bought with my own money and for which I was completely responsible. Up until I bought this car I was tooling around in Dad’s 1970 VW Bus. A great car, but it wasn’t mine.

I purchased the car when I was 16 from a guy who wasn’t a very good mechanic. I paid $800 cash and roared out of his driveway like a 16–year–old in his first car. On the way home I noticed strange behavior from folks in other cars. I would put on my left turn signal and people would pass me on the left. I’d put on my right signal and people would pass me on the right. It wasn’t until I turned on the lights and the radio came on that I realized I had electrical problems. Thus the beginnings of my education in the intricacies of British motor car technology.

The electrical system wasn’t actually too bad. The previous owner had just crossed some wires, and they needed to be corrected. That only took a day or two and a few blown fuses. The real challenges of this car came with trying to keep it tuned up. The GT6 is based on the Jaguar with a very big front engine, delivering more power than this little car ever needed. The 6–cylinder engine was fed by two Strombergh carbs. They were simple enough devices, but getting them to work in concert and get the timing right on all cylinders was a major challenge.

One saving grace of this car was the fact that the engine cover lifted forward — exposing the entire engine and drive train. You could sit comfortably on the front tire and work on the car for hours, which was needed every few days. I know the British must love to work on cars because they build them in such a way that one must work on them constantly to keep them running.

The car was a joy for me because it was fun to drive and I learned a tremendous amount about the workings of the car. However, being 16 and underemployed, it was a challenge to keep the car serviced properly. This shortcoming was driven home by the increasing wear on the front suspension. The motor in this car was so heavy that it was slowly destroying the suspension, which I did not have the financial or technical ability to service properly. My plan was good luck and, of course, superb driving skills (as all 16–year–old drivers have in abundance). Those skills were sorely tested in the time I owned that car. I count no less than 10 harrowing, life–flashing–before–your–eyes incidents in that car, mostly because the front suspension could not react to turns and dips. It could handle one or the other, but not both.

Eventually all my friends found excuses not to ride with me. The final straw was when my girlfriend kept asking me if we could borrow my parents Ford Fairmount instead of my wheels. I knew that a better place awaited my little buggy so I put it up for sale. I sold it for $400 to a Triumph mechanic and promptly bought an MG Midget. But that’s another story.

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