Monday, June 2, 2008

Fast Cars, Slow Reactions

I am in my little PT Cruiser's passenger seat, while Mark drives me around like he's Morgan Freeman and I am Jessica Tandy. I sit there thinking about my early years when I could drive my own ass around town, not worrying about whether or not I would be killed by the worst driver in the world, Mark.

When I was in high school I wanted a car so badly I could taste it. My dad let me buy a 1935 Studebaker when I was sixteen, but that wasn't a vehicle that you could use for real transportation, it's top speed was 40 MPH, and it pretty much confined me to just driving around town. Finally, while I was a senior in high school, my dad let me buy a real car. What I bought was a 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 XL. This, to me, was like a dream come true. It had a large V8 engine, bucket seats, automatic transmission, and it was a hardtop, the sleekest body style of the era.

I believe that from the day I bought that car, until the day I destroyed it, my ass was attached to the seat like it was made out of Velcro. It was freedom to me, and I truly loved that car. I once let my sister borrow it to take some of our younger brothers and sisters on a picnic. I sat and worried all that day, like a mother hen, until it came up the driveway in one piece.

It was a beautiful fall day and I had been out driving my beloved Ford through the countryside. My favorite roads were always two lane, lightly traveled highways. This day I was cruising along at a reasonable seventy miles per hour when I came upon a single track railroad crossing. I slowed to a safe sixty mph, and hit the tracks. What I couldn't see was that the other side of the rail crossing dropped about four feet. In seconds the car seemed to leave the earth and defy gravity, while I thought, "This isn't so bad, I can land this.". Then almost two tons of steel came crashing down onto the pavement. My skull slammed into the roof, the V8 engine was ripped from its mounts and crashed through the radiator, and the frame cracked in two. I limped home, steam billowing from under the hood, and parked the car. That was the last time I would ever drive that car.

I thought about this as Mark dropped me off in front of Sidelines Bar. Good thing I'm not driving.


  1. Well, that's a sad story... but at least it had an exciting death. My '65 Chrysler Newport was loved just as much, but didn't die in such an honorable fashion. Even when the brakes failed as I was approaching a stop-light at a four-lane avenue, it survived. Of course, I foolishly threw it into 'park' which actually slowed the vehicle enough for me to dart into the gas station parking lot at the corner and coast to a stop on the other side of the lot. It messed up the transmission, but it survived... I eventually ended up selling it on ebay to someone who just wanted the engine. He parted it out and it now sits at Victory Auto Wreckers... :(

  2. My first car, a 57 Ford 4 door sedan 6 cylinder with 3 on the column, blew up on my first road trim to Crystal Lake. Not even a couple of weeks old. I guess you get what you pay for, which wasn't much in this case. Oh well, I certainly have gone through a lot of cars since then. In 2 months I'll be in the market for a new one.

  3. Remember Alan..Life isn't measured by how many breaths you take, but how many times it takes your breathe away. That trip over the railraod tracks at 60 mph is one such moment. What a feeling of freedom that must have been.

    I guess nowadays Marks driving takes your breathe away at times. Be happy you can still get that same rush.

    As I believe Mark says, "Get in, Sit down, Shut up, and Hold on!" hehe

  4. Steven, by the way, that sister that took all her little sisters on a picnic was your mother. Now you know why I worried so much.