Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Do You Remember Best?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ask the best and brightest what car do you remember best

At this risk of stating the supremely obvious, we’re not enjoying a lighter-than-usual workload today in order to remember cars. The sacrifices of America’s warriors are the reason for remembrance today, as we reflect on the wrenching experiences that allow our flawed-but-wonderful experiment in democracy and capitalism to persist. But memory is a funny thing. Once you start looking back at through the jumbled scrapbook of past experience, unexpected artifacts come looming out of the fog.

My earliest memories of America at war, during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, remain strong: the yellow ribbons sprouting up like weeds, the menacing strangeness of terms like “Scud Missile,” the wail of Israeli air raid sirens broadcast into my family’s bastion of suburban privilege. Still a young child at the time, these memories mark a growing awareness of the world around me, and yet the memories that feature most prominently in my mind from that period are the comfortingly familiar ones. The smell of pine trees baking in the hot sun at summer camp. The taste of blackberries. The creak of swing axles, and the bucolic brumm of a straight six as the old yellow Ford pickup made its sedate progress towards the dump. Straddling the Hurst shifter and leaning into the curves, goading Dad to make the poor thing backfire while my sister and I screamed in delight.

To this day, nothing in this world reminds me of that or any other period of my life the way sitting in “Old Yellow” does, inhaling the smells of gas and manure, and absorbing every squeak and grumble. It’s a rolling memory machine, a warp-speed express to a world where war was a foreign presence, an atavism of history intruding on our perfect future. Somewhere in everyone’s past there’s a time and place that we can remember only in innocence. If we’re truly lucky, there’s still a vehicle that can take us there. What’s yours?

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  • JeremyR JeremyR on Jun 01, 2010

    During some of my teenage years, we had a 1977 Cougar wagon (which I now understand was a somewhat rare beast). In 1987 we took this car, which came to be known as the "family truckster," on a family vacation from Ohio to Colorado. Somewhere in western Kansas or eastern Colorado, we blew a rear tire. A mere blowout probably would not have been noteworthy by itself, but while self-destructing, the tire punctured the fuel tank (which I seem to recall had just been filled). So we were stranded in pretty short order. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, what got us going again was a duct-tape-and-baling-wire solution: re-routing the fuel pickup from the tank to a 5-gallon gas can in the back seat. I'm sure the temperature was in the 90's (typical for Colorado in the summer), and while the car was equipped with A/C, we had to roll down all the windows to avoid asphyxiation by gas fumes. I'm pretty sure we had to stop at every gas station between Julesburg and Denver, as the car probably got 10 MPG while towing a camper. But we did eventually make it there, in probably the most memorable family vacation I've ever had.

  • Russycle Russycle on Jun 01, 2010

    1972 Chevy Suburban, hauled our family all over the deserts and mountains of California. Big, dumb, simple truckster that was pretty much unstoppable. I got T-boned by a Toyota in it, killed the Toyo and barely dented the Suburban. And when I started dating, it had all the utility of a van without the sleaze factor. Number 2 is a bright red 1980 TransAm, with T-tops, the 225 hp Pontiac 400 cu in V8 and a four-speed. Wasn't mine, belonged to a college buddy, we drove it to school from California to Missouri in 1982. V8s with 4-speeds were nearly impossible to get in California due to the stricter smog regs, but my buddy's dad owned an aerospace company and I'm guessing he had connections. We drove it to Florida for spring break, so I can say I crossed the country in it. When you put the hammer down that thing flew.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.