Tears & Laughter: Old Cars and The Places They Took Us
June 1, 2023 | View PDF
My friend Shirley was telling me about her first car the other day. She is in the market for a new car is what had the subject on her mind. I assure you cars are not our usual topic of conversation.
Typically, we gossip.
She said she paid $200 for her first car – a blue and white, two-door Thunderbird. It ran, it had a radio, and it had plenty of ashtrays, but it was missing a window.
This did not hamper her or kill her enthusiasm in any way though. She said she designed a replacement window using cardboard and plastic and even though it leaked, when she drove around town with her besties in the back, they still looked good.
She said she was always low on gas and tried to conserve fuel. She knew just when to turn her car off after leaving church so that when she topped the hill toward home, she could coast into the driveway.
My first car in 1990 was a 1968 Mustang. It was more car than I knew to appreciate. I bought it from the editor of the Clanton Advertiser. It had been his son’s car, and he was only parting with it because it was no longer practical for him.
It wasn’t exactly practical for me either. I had just graduated high school with that same son. But it was a fun car. I enjoyed driving it. Then I took a job with a bank in Montgomery and I would plow into the employee parking lot in a way the other girls didn’t. They could feel when I arrived. Not to mention it had been painted a shiny bright yellow.
It wasn’t long before I conformed and started making monthly payments on a Chrysler New Yorker. And then it wasn’t too long after that before it was t-boned at an intersection in Panama City. There were no injuries, but the New Yorker was totaled. That is when I became the owner of the Mighty Colt.
It was street side there in Panama City with a for sale sign in the window. A 1983 Plymouth Colt. It was gray. Not factory painted gray, but primer gray. It had a heater, no air, a radio, and all of its windows. I was there to have a good time and for $400 cash, I was back on the road and ready to rock like a top.
The Mighty Colt did not blend especially well in the employee parking lot at the bank either. But what it was good for was going to yard sales.
My friend Jeanette and I were fresh out of college, we were always looking for deals. We would map out a route of sales on Friday based on yard sale ads in the Bulletin Board and the Montgomery Advertiser. Then we would get up early Saturday morning and head out to the sales. We were the self-proclaimed yard sale police and would make a couple passes by looking before deciding if the sale was worthy of a stop.
What we quickly learned, was that we got better deals if we went to a sale in the Mighty Colt. It pulled the eye, and maybe the ear a little bit too. It had one of those engines that would keep turning a few spins after the car was switched off. Jeanette drove a new car, a Saturn, and we did not want to give anybody the wrong impression.
The Mighty Colt came to a final halt one night near downtown Montgomery on a cold December Saturday night. The engine failed in a high crime area. I called a cab from a pay phone…and never looked back.
It was a good car.