This is a love story, prompted by this picture that I came across as I was
searching for pictures for my Father’s Day Tribute.
Do you remember your first car? I do. I luuurrrvved that car. It was enormous, rusty, falling apart… I paid $150 for it. What a piece of junk.
But it was mine! No more schlepping rides from friends or trying to figure out bus schedules.
It was a yellow 1976 Ford LTD I bought during college. The friend from whom I bought it had given her the name “Big Yellow.” She was a V8 and I recall that when getting her up to speed on the highway, it felt like I was floating. Floating! Seriously. It was the most amazing experience.
Also amazing was the skill I learned of putting her into neutral when slowing down to go around corners, so I could keep gassing it and she wouldn’t splutter and die. That, my friends, is a skill they’ll never teach you driver’s ed.
The friend who sold it to me gave me a list of instructions (sort of like when someone leaves their precious baby with a sitter). The list included stuff like: brake light is permanently on, nothing wrong; engine light comes on after a while because of missing cylinder; only seven cylinders; ceiling is fun to deal with – almost like a sun roof!; and (my favorite) rust is a free option, but a mandatory one.
When I first got her, one side of the back bumper was attached to the vehicle with a length of rope. I took it over to my brother’s house (because he had every tool known to mankind) where we got out what he called the BFH (the Big F-ing Hammer) and wacked at the bumper until it came the rest of the way off. Then we drilled it directly onto the i-beams (or something like that… the terminology escapes me). I’m pretty sure that wasn’t strictly legal, but it looked much more legal than rope. When I drove out of his driveway after all that banging and drilling, there was a rust outline of where Big Yellow had been parked.
She definitely left an impression.
Big Yellow had such personality that she started to creep into other areas of my life. I wrote a college paper about taking her in for an oil change. The paper was titled “Trials and Tribulations of an Automobile Illiterate.” My mom wrote a poem about me and Big Yellow to go along with the shovel she gave me that year for Christmas to stow in Big Yellow’s trunk (a must-have during any Minnesota winter).
Eventually, I moved on and sold Big Yellow to another friend. Sadly, she had to call the junk yard to come and get Big Yellow just a few months later when the driver’s side door fell off and there was no hope of re-attaching it (at least, not for more money than the car was actually worth).
And so passed the end of an era.
Tell me about your first car! Or a car that you loved the best. Or better yet, a car that you loved despite the fact that it was a piece of junk!