Saturday, September 24, 2005
Old Timey Day
We went to Hooterville today and was pleasantly surprised that the main street was closed off for an antique car show. I should have known something was up when some guy who looked like he shouldn't be behind the wheel almost ran me into the ditch on the entrance ramp to I-26. He was driving a 59 tourquois Chevrolet Bel-Air. There were about 250 antique cars parked along the downtown mainstreet. One guy from Watkins Glen, NY had four Corvairs. He was telling us all about the car and Carol picked up on his accent when he mentioned the 4 Rochester carbuerators his Monza had. I saw about every car I ever owned except my Citroen. It was amazing to see all the room that was under the hood on these cars. Not like today's knuckle-busters. Cars where you can actually reach the spark plugs, and the battery isn't located under the washer fluid reservoir. I doubt 25 years from now people will line up to see a Honda Element or a Toyota Camry. Boy, I miss those 21 grease fittings, 1000 mi. oil changes, vacuum wipers, 12,000 mi tune-ups and weekly flat tires I had with my 53 Chevy. My 61 Falcon had such bad blow-by that when I stopped at a light the blue smoke enveloped the car. Top speed for the Falcon was 71 mph floored and the windows rattled and the car shook so bad at that speed you couldn't hear the 8-track that was conveniently located in the glove compartment so no one would be tempted to steal the $30 sound system. My other great car was a 64 Carman-Ghia. I bought this sucker in Florida. It was a convertible with after market A/C. Let's see, 36hp minus 12 when you turned the air on; let's say it wasn't a mover. It had a 6 volt electric system. This assured you of 8 seconds of cranking time before the battery died. It was always starved for electricity. I became adept at keeping the same foot on both the brake and the gas so I could goose the engine at the stoplights to get enough juice the turn signals to give a couple of feeble blinks. This was definitely a Florida car. In the New York winters you had to go about 40 mph before any heat at all came through the vents. The heat that came through was a little warmer than your breath. You carried blankets in the car which gave it the quaint aura of a winter scene from a Courier&Ives painting. After my third junkyard replacement engine lasted a month I traded the VW Carman-Ghia for a 63 Citroen DS-21. I include some pictures in case you don't remember this one. That's the French upside-down car. It had an automatic stick-shift that came off the top of the steering column like an extra directional. It had adjustable hydraulic suspension so you could adjust the ride and also the height of the car from a foot to 3 inches. It also had red velvet seats that folded down to become a full size velvet bed. Of course I couldn't afford to fix this unique vehicle so when the starter went I just used the crank that came with it. If the plush velvet seats didn't impress the girls the crank sure did. It didn't have a brake pedal, it had a brake button on the floor. It didn't need a jack because to change the tire you just put a strut in and then raised the suspension and the wheels on that side came off the pavement. It was a great car till some gooner at Jiffy lube put the wrong fluid in the hydralic pump and knocked out the steering, brakes, and suspension. I'm not going to mention the Fiat that lost its generator on the FDR Drive or the 61 Plymouth Valiant that I never got out of my yard because I couldn't find the short in it. The 64 Chevy Impala my father left me was still on the road in 83 being driven by the junk yard owner I sold it to in 79. I guess I grieved for my 98 Ram because except for the fuel injection it was your father's old Mo-Par 318. But my Honda Elements are not perfect. About once a month Carol's won't turn over till you turn the key a few times, and the headlights dim when A/C cycles on and off ( I think that is because it has a battery the size of an I-Pod). But if I had a vintage car I probably wouldn't have the time to write these long boring posts and I'd be in Hooterville with all the other geezers.