Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the ghosts of crappy cars past

My first car was admittedly not crappy...it was a very solid 10 year old Chevy Impala. Of course, I wrecked the thing after about a month by running into a pickup truck carrying a horse trailer, thus shortening it by almost two feet. Compounding this was the fact that it wasn't actually my car...it was my father's, and that led to some difficulties.

Second car was a '73 Valiant that was classic, had a torque-filled beast of a motor, and would blow IROC Camaros off the line. It also leaked oil and had some bad seals and heads, though. This one died after I wrecked it by running it into a 3-yr-old Monte Carlo SS.

Car three was a '73 Duster. This was the ultimate hell car. The motor was a very sluggish slant 6. The driver-side door didn't open from the outside. The passenger door didn't open from the inside. There was no foam left on the seat, so I had various raincoats wedged down there to stop the car from giving me a steel spring enema. It had a vinyl roof that was covering large pockets of rust, and one time when I was on vacation, it rained so bad that my Dad had to drill holes in the floorboard to drain out the water. Ever since that day, there was a constant mini-ecosystem within that consisted mostly of a weird, sticky, indestructible green mold that I had to scrape off the surfaces weekly. It got horrific gas mileage, and people were embarrassed to be seen in it...which limited its potential as a make-out car. I eventually pawned it off on my brother, and then it threw a rod one week later.

Car 4 was a 80-something Honda Prelude. This would've been a nice car if the previous owner hadn't trashed it. The transmission slipped and the a/c didn't work. Plus, a Prelude is not a big car, and I am 6'5", so it looked like I was getting out of a clown vehicle. Eventually, the tranny died, so we managed to drive it up to the junkyard and sell it before it completely shut down.

I then got my parent's old Oldsmobile, which I still drive today. It was really nice and swanky when I got it...power everything, cold a/c, looked immaculate. For a while, I briefly had panache.

That was a long time ago, however, and age has definitely ravaged this set of wheels. I did some mild front-end reconstruction to the car...meaning I had a few accidents. One was caused by a squirrel running in front of the car in front of me...the squirrel lived, even though I still want it to die horribly. Then someone pulled out of a parking space in an icy lot without seeing if anyone was coming...and I was, so I crashed into them. Then there was the mishap with a parking garage metal pole...

My Olds hasn't only suffered collision damage, however. The driver-side back door decided to just quit working one day when I was hauling a friend to the airport. Then the driver's window quit working. Shortly thereafter, the a/c died...of course, this happened in the middle of the summer...and I can't get it fixed because it's too ecologically unsound and requires an expensive conversion kit, and I am, after all, poverty-stricken.

The last thing to happen was that the fabric hood liner started to bubble and come down. At first, this was just an annoyance. After all, no one really likes having cloth hanging on your head when you drive. So I bought the special spray bottle of adhesive, but that only kept it glued for a day or so...then we were back to ceiling fabric bubbles.

It grew worse, and I finally had to resort to a staple gun to get the increasingly vast volumes of billowy fabric off my skull. This worked for a few months in spite of the staples not really having anything to grab onto. Over the last few weeks, however, all of the fabric glue gave out, and the weight of the cloth became more than the staples would take, so the whole fabric sheet flopped down about a foot below ceiling level. Even worse, dried up glue started to regularly shower me whenever I hit a bump in the road.

So yesterday, I got to attempt exploratory surgery on my car. I went up to the local coin-op car wash, took a razor knife to the fabric, and cut it away. Dried glue flew everywhere, and I was thankful for my forethought to buy a dust mask. I then had to rip out all the fiberglass insulation over the whole ceiling. Finally, I vacuumed out all the debris, which took four cycles of the pay vacuum cleaner. The only difficulty was my arms and legs itching like hell from the insulation for the rest of the night.

The car now looks pretty cool inside. My ceiling is down to bare metal framing, and it is uber-industrial. I fear that when we get snow, the car is going to be really friggin' cold, though, and I will have to take care not to lick it, unless I want my tongue stuck to my car roof...but I think I can manage that one.

Unfortunately, I still can't operate my window, and the a/c still doesn't work, but I'm just taking baby steps...and keeping in mind that one fine day, when I'm rich enough to afford a Kia, I'll look on this car and laugh.

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