Month: November 2019

Remembering…cars

As I sit here going through the list of classic cars available on Kijiji, I want to cry. The prices for those old cars are outrageous!

I was 17 and my cousin had a garage where he repaired and painted cars. His parking lot was always full of beautiful automobiles, and I was a poor kid who wanted all of them,  but couldn’t afford even the lowest priced cars.

I remember once this guy brought up his 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The ten year old car had gone through a tough time, its paint ruined by sea gull shit. The engine was strong though, as the car spent its Sunday afternoons at the local drag strip, blowing away many of the cars it raced.

I was happy when my cousin asked me to help him work on the car. I did most of the masking tape, but also helped with sanding. The car had beautiful lines, and was easy to sand down. With all the salt used here on the island, ten years did lots of damage to the car’s body, so we used plenty of filler to make it look new again.

When the car was painted, it was beautiful. I remember when the owner came to pick it up. “Selling ‘er now!” he said. “Looking to get at least $3000!” How expensive I thought. The car is probably worth over $100,000 these days, but getting $3000 back then was as difficult for me then as getting the hundred thousand now.

Sometimes deals came by. I actually picked up a 1968 Pontiac Beaumont for $350. The car was rusted on the outside, but you should have seen the inside! The older couple who owned the car since it was new covered everything in plastic. Of course, being 17 years old and not knowing any better, I stripped away the clear plastic, revealing a pristine interior.

We fixed the car up in our spare time. The body received an odd colour my cousin made from mixing several different paint colours together. it was a shitty lime green, but I didn’t care, hell, this was my first car after all.

My cousin had several cars, all of them ‘deals’ he found around town. This was the early Eighties, and everyone wanted those new ‘K’ cars Chrysler were making. People were selling off the muscle cars in favour of ‘fuel efficient’ cars.  The nicest car he ever had was a 1974 Ford Gran Torino. The car was painted a tan gold metallic, a job my cousin did himself. He had Cragar rims and fat tires on the back, and ran via a 351 V8 he  resurrected from an old Mustang he found at the dump. Man was it cool.

He also owned a 1967 Chevy Van. The van sat on a short wheel base, and was flanked by an amazing two tone paint job he did himself. I remember one funny story involving the van. My cousin just bought four huge tires and rims from a guy and called me to help put them on the van. He was so excited to drive the van decked out with the new rubber, he forgot to tighten the lug nuts on one of the wheels.

We were heading down the steepest hill in our community when suddenly we were passed by a huge tire wrapped around a very shiny chrome rim. “What stupid idiot would roll such a nice tire down the hill, almost hitting my van?” he asked, moments before the van tilted to one side and came to a screeching halt, sparks and brake parts flying everywhere!

Of course he was the idiot.

Last time I spoke to him, he was driving a little shitbox called a Pontiac Wave. My how times change. Hope he has his lugs tightened.