Yesterday I was out for a walk when I saw an accident happen. It wasn’t a bad one, the driver of a small delivery truck came off the clutch and his rig hopped forward and smacked the back of the small SUV stopped at the light ahead of him. The light changed and the two trucks involved pulled across the intersection and the drivers got out. The driver of the SUV was a well to do looking woman in a business suit and when saw the damage to the back of her car, smashed rear bumper and piece missing from the plastic bumper cover – there may have been other things, but I really wasn’t that close – she absolutely flipped out in the middle of the street. It go so intense that I am sure the sound of her shrill shrieking is still suspended in space somewhere over the city even now.
2005 Ford Freestar
Sometime in the predawn hours of a day in early August 1974, my father loaded his wife and five children into his recently purchased Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup truck, the adults isolated safely in the cab while we kids were locked like monkeys in a cage under a canopy in the back, and left Snohomish, WA for Horton, KS. It was a trip we made several times during my childhood and I have vivid memories of waking up in the predawn hours when the air was still cold and first rays of the sun were just beginning to paint the sky in the East. In the decades since, my road trips have always begun that same way and so now, having just completed their first big road trip from Buffalo, NY to Washington D.C. my children will share those memories as well.
Your Author, All American Boy
July 4th is almost upon us and all you bashers of things American made can suck it. We won the wars with our All American can-do attitudes, our American know-how and our All American steel. If it wasn’t for us you’d all be speaking German and Japanese and be using the metric system to measure things other than just cocaine. We are the most powerful nation to ever stand astride the Earth and the best part about us is that, no matter who you are or where you live, our government is interested in what you are doing and will take the time to listen to everything you have to say.
In January 2010 a Swiss court handed down a $290,000 fine on a traffic violation. To be sure , the violation in question was a big one and involved speeds approaching 180mph. Police say that, once they rolled in behind the speeding car, it took it nearly a half mile to come to a complete stop. Apparently the driver had avoided earlier detection by radar controlled cameras because his speed was so high that it exceeded the cameras’ ability to measure the car’s velocity. Despite the severity of the offense, it was not the car’s speed that caused the severity of the fine, it was the driver’s income. That’s an idea I think I could get behind.
Photo courtesy of mobilitysvm.com
Here’s a confession. I found this cool thing and I want to tell you all about it because, frankly, it is interesting and if it reaches the right person it might just change someone’s life for the better. My problem is that I don’t know how to begin an article in a way that doesn’t pull on your heartstrings or otherwise involve some bad pun that leaves me looking like a total ass. The subject is sensitive and it needs to be handled delicately, but at the same time I can’t write anything makes me feel like an overly PC tool, either. Since I am trapped, I guess I’ll just say it outright: I found this company that will convert a full size GM pickup for use with a wheelchair in such a way that it preserves the vehicle’s lines and doesn’t tell the entire world that the truck is a handicapped conversion unit. What’s more, this truck can be set up so the wheelchair bound person can be either the passenger or the driver. That’s cool, and whether or not someone in your life is confined to a wheelchair, I think you’ll want to see this too.
My son Harley, raised with a love for everything on wheels.
As I paused in the driveway and waited for the garage door to open, I felt an unexpected presence by my side. Unbeknownst to me, my six year old son had slipped the confines of his booster seat in the rearmost row and made his way forward past his sisters with surprising stealth. Now he stood between my wife and I as we prepared to travel the last few feet of our journey.
I still remember them. Tall and clear eyed, their square jaws clenched tightly as a sign of their strict discipline and inherent resolve, they dressed in perfectly pressed brown shirts and marched in straight, ordered ranks before the camera. For them there was only duty and their duty was their honor. Nothing would sway them from their purpose. As they marched they sang, and their song was a call to action. “We’re the Minit Lube Minutemen, trained to do the job and do it right.” God help us, we loved them for it.
South Carolina’s WSPA TV is reporting that the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles is considering doing away with stamped metal plates and replacing them with new, electronic tags that would be linked to a central computer database. According to WSPA’s website, the new plates use “electronic paper” technology that can hold an image without power for up to 10 years. A clear coating on the plates could also generate small amounts of electricity, which would be required to change the image, from sunlight or even vibrations generated when a car is in motion.
She done me wrong. I was beside myself with grief, anger and stress. Things had been going so well when, suddenly, a former lover waltzed back into her life and caused her to leave me in the lurch. Part of me wanted to win her back, to show her I was better than him. The other, darker part of me wanted to find that guy and kick his ass. It was a terrible time, and to make matters even worse, by faithful Dodge Shadow wasn’t running right.
We have all been there, posing proudly with our car alongside some curvy country road on a sunny afternoon. It doesn’t matter if the car is new or old, is just going through the break-in procedure or is on its last legs, what matters is the moment. A photo like this is a powerful talisman against old age, wherever we go and whatever happens to us, we have simply to gaze upon it and we are transported back to that special time in our lives when the road was clear and the only thing we needed to be serious about was having a little fun.
The black Nissan 200SX Turbo was only a few years old but it had been solidly thrashed over the years. It had obviously been an expensive, well optioned little car when it was new, but the people into which its well being had been entrusted had obviously not respected that fact. Now it slumped on its sagging suspension, any number of small dents defacing its once gracefully straight bodylines and its once beautiful aluminum wheels, now torn by contact innumerable curbs, were shod with cheap, mismatched tires. This car was supposed to be fast?
Years ago, I was paid to help a neighbor clean out his garage. It was an old, ramshackle building with a dirt floor and over the years it had been filled with an amazing amount of crap. At the very back, under a canvas tarp, I found a long neglected late 60s Honda CB750 in fairly rough condition. When I asked about it, my neighbor told me how, as a younger man, he had purchased the bike new and travelled the highways and byways of the American West for many years before finally coming home a settling down to start a family. To him, it was an icon of his youth and a time of freedom. To my young eyes, however, it was just a neglected old bike covered in dirt and cobwebs, found forgotten, alone and unloved and condemned to spend its remaining years as a lifeless touchstone of another time. It struck me as a particularly sad end to a life of service and I decided then that no vehicle of mine would ever languish its remaining life away in a barn or under a cover.
In the early 1980s, as the economy continued to slump and gas prices soared, American car makers were desperate for a way forward. The good old days were gone forever. Under pressure from the Japanese, whose small cars had gone from rolling jokes to serious, high quality competition in little more than a decade, the big three knew they needed to make a radical departure from their traditional approach before it was too late. Although some of the more stodgy cars would soldier on and continue to sell to members of the Greatest Generation well past their expiration dates, for the rest of us the future was a smaller, lighter and more efficient. The winds of change were blowing and even the Ford Mustang felt the chill.
Yesterday, the astute Derek Kreindler added to his already excellent body of work on TTAC another installment of his “Generation Why” series in which he explored Land Rover’s resistance to the current trend of marketing lower cost vehicles to young people. In the body of the article a couple of sentences in particular jumped out at me –
My mom around 1955
As mother’s day approaches I think now about my own mother on the other side of the continent and about the journey her life has been. Born in the mid 1930s and raised in poverty, she was dumped into an orphanage by her father after her mother’s sudden death from breast cancer in the late ’40s. It has never been discussed in detail, but I know that she and her younger sister were rescued by their older sister, my aunt Evelyn, herself just a recently married teenager, and raised as one of her own. At barely 18 years of age, my mother married my father, had the first of her five children and worked hard to build a home for herself and her family. The amazing part of this is that she was able to do it all without ever driving.
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