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My Dad's Favorite Vehicle



  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,020
    I'd love to see a photo of that truck!

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  • douglasrdouglasr Posts: 191
    The Old Man (we always called him that...) had many cars, three stand out. He learned how to drive on my grandfather's 1937 Packard 160---in 1948!!! in the days when my grandfather "worked over to Fords". Brave man for driving a non-Ford car to a Ford plant! I spent years trying to find it to buy it, and surprise my Dad with it. Never could find the car.

    Fast forward. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1964. First new car in the family: 1965 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport 396 Coupe. It was on the show-room floor, and he bought it. We literally "saw the U.S.A." in that car---driving over two summers first to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, hitting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons along the way, and then the following year to Maine. It had real punch when you floored it. Sadly, he sold it for $600 in 1974 when gas was an outrageous .44/9 per gallon! When it hit 75 cents a gallon my Dad went and bought a new car. (Ohh, what that big block Chevy is worth today...where is that car??? If you find the butterfinger wrappers stuffed down the left-rear armrest under the ash-tray, I did it!)

    Then there was...the Porsche 912. It was the rage in 1967. Bought second hand, dark blue, black interior. It was the only sports car my Dad could fit in. Though not a car guy, he went all out with this car, joining the Porsche Club, and then sport racing at Elkart Lake within the Club. Many happy power slides, down shifts, and blasts to 90 and 100 plus mph in that little trumped up VW. Especially the downhander before the finish line!! It always sounded like we were coming in for a carrier landing when downshifting from was, well "Groovey"

    ...but (isn't there always one of those?) service at Porsche dealers was non-existent because they had been sold at Mercedes dealers, but in 1968 became allied with Audi/VW, and that was the end of that. You had to beg to get the car fixed---no there were no authorised mechanics ready to go when the switch happened. While the enjoyment was great, the little things weren't. It was also the late '60's and half the mechanics were, well "smoking" something other than blue tail-pipe smoke on start-up, (at least those that were not former tank mechanics for the Wehrmacht!!) .

    Yet the poor Porsche suffered mightily---first when my Mom blew the engine racing, (she was better than my Dad at it...), second when (crime of crimes) my Dad gave the Porsche to my older brother in 1975, a brother who did not know a plug wire from a piece of string! He learned to drive too fast and too furious, however. How many times did that tranny get miss-shifted, and that was before the wreck...ohh but am off my story.

    Dad took the Porsche racing---under the aegis of (an un-named co-conspirator and former University of Wisconsin Professor who shall go nameless) his friend "L". Jim Clarck my dad wasn't, not even finishing....but the little Porsche limped home, tape over its lights, the tailpipe smoke a little closer to the dark blue of its finish.

    That was the last great car my Dad became Pontiac Grand Ville's and then a disasterous FWD Cadillac, followed by a slew of somnambulant Town Cars that just kept on ticking. Yet, I had the supreme pleasure of taking my drivers test in the 912. Lucky Me: the examiner missed all my speeding and double shifting to take power curves, and gave me my license anyway!

    But in our family, though "we" (my brother and I) mourned the loss of the big block Chevy, Dad's Porsche was king, and the excellence was not expected---it was exciting!.

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    My Dad was in the US Navy before WWII broke out in Europe and was discharged until after the end of hostilities in Japan. All in all, he gave almost 8 years to the service of his country.

    Once discharged and home again, he managed without a car for quite awhile but finally bought a used mid-fifties Ford, shortly after getting married. Through the 1960's and early '70's, he had a 1961 Olds 88 (beige), a 1962 Buick LeSabre (pale green), 1968 Olds Delmont (maroon), and a 1973 Ford Galaxie 500 (medium blue). To my recollection, with the exception of the first Ford, every one of these cars had at least a 350 cubic inch engine, and I know the Delmont had a 455!

    Then the first Oil Crisis hit. So he bought a 1976 VW Dasher (dark green), with a 97 c.i.d. 4 cylinder. Unfortunately, every penny saved on gas was spent trying to keep that dang fuel injection system functioning (incredibly unreliable car). But he liked the efficiency of the car, the comfortable seats, and small size for parking.

    The Dasher was traded on a 1981 maroon & silver Pontiac Phoenix hatchback (one of the X-bodies). It had the "Iron Duke" 2.5 litre 4 cylinder engine. The Phoenix was the first car he ever had with air conditioning and the first car that he ever bought new.

    The Phoenix was followed by a new 1985 Olds Cutlass Ciera (bronze), again with the Iron Duke engine.

    But his favorite car was his last one. A 1989 Nissan Maxima SE. Although he bought it used, he loved that car, in an elegant beige exterior with black leather interior. He loved the smoothness of the engine and the power that it delivered. It's the car that I recall him doting on the most. He'd sometimes show up at my office at lunchtime or pull into my driveway on a Saturday afternoon, the car freshly washed and waxed.

    By 1996, my Dad was slowing down physically and I was warning him about driving at night. Finally, one evening I got a call that he had been in an accident - it was pretty bad and the Maxima was totaled. He and my mom were bruised up badly. A week later, I actually had tears running down my face when I emptied out his personal belongings from the car while it was in the salvage yard.

    My mom and I convinced him not to get another car, but it really broke his heart and spirit to lose his independence. The physical aftermath of the accident started his last downward slide and he died 4 months later.

    Even today, when I see a Maxima of that era (and there are a surprisingly fair number still around), it catches my eye. Honestly, it took a couple of months after his death for me to stop looking for Dad behind the wheel whenever I saw one.

    Thanks, Dad, for letting me help out on car maintenance projects when I was just a little kid, handing wrenches and sockets to you. I realize that I was probably more of hinderance than a help for at least a few years. Thanks, too, for letting me take on some of the work on my own as I got older. It was a tremendous confidence builder for a gangly teenager trying to make sense of the world and my place in it. And thanks for the heritage of tools - I still use them today and think of you whenever I handle one of them. I miss you still.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    My grandparents on my Dad's side had a '77 Grenade. 2-door model with the 250 inline-6. They traded in a troublesome '75 Dart Swinger, which stalled out on a regular basis without warning, and the dealer never could fix. I dunno if the Granada really was much better, as it dropped its transmission almost off the showroom floor! Luckily it was under warranty.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "We had a Torino wagon at one point as well."

    Not family, but... My neighbor hides a 68 or 69 Torino "Sport roof" GT in his garage. Might even be a cobra jet, but I'm not 100% on that. He leaves the 'hood too fast for me to get a good look!
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Not a great Porsche, but how many can you truly call "bad"?

    I'm not sure this car is dad's favorite, but it's certainly his favorite of all those he has owned. His was BRG and the floorboards were rusted out before he sold it (just before my older brother turned 16). It was replaced with a 240Z, but that car didn't seem to tickle his fancy quite the same way.

    Mostly, I think he liked messin' with the heads of muscle car guys who mistook it for the 6 cyl 911. I know my father enjoyed the car, but he doesn't share many driving stories. To hear him talk about it, the brakes were the thing that inspired the loudest OMGs from any given passenger.

    This is also the car I was nearly born in. Apparently the 4 cyl was just enough to get mom to the hospital on time. I recall climbing into the jump seats as a little critter and watching the road lines through the floor. Not much else, though.

    The car he covets, but never owned, is a 6 cyl big Healey.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,173
    Wow, I thought the Darts were some of the better cars of the 70's?

    I was born into a (2) Duster family, one was a 340, Green with black stripes and a stick, the other was something called a "Cropduster", brown with a 6. They had them both at the same time and my folks claim them to be some of the most reliable cars they've owned.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    I can see why he'd dote on that car. Style-wise it was my favorite Maxima.

    My dad isn't driving these days and he has managed to slowly accept the fact that he's not likely to again, but not to the point where he doesn't have a car. Not one of his leased Caddys - just a Buick Century. If he wants to get somewhere and one of us can't take him he has a driver that's a phone call away. I was plenty worried that not driving would be the end of him but he carries on.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    Wow, I thought the Darts were some of the better cars of the 70's?

    For the most part, Darts (and Valiants) were excellent cars, but Chrysler came up with this brilliant idea called "Lean Burn", a crude computer that stuck on the side of the air cleaner and controlled the spark advance for the distributor. In 1974 they put it on their 400/440 big blocks, and then in 1975 I think they expanded it to all their engines.

    As a result, I hear that the 1974 and earlier Dart is an excellent car, whereas the '75-76, not so hot. I think the 318 V-8 adapted better to the Lean Burn. The slant six in general never did take very well to emissions controls.

    Now that I think about it, my grandmother's cousin had a 1979 Volare wagon with the slant six, a 2-bbl setup, and I think she had carb and choke and Lean Burn problems with it.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300

    If I get to CA this weekend I'll try to remember to get some photos and post them in my CarSpace pages.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,506
    I don't know if it is the same thing, but one of the high school clunkers my sister had was an 81 Cordoba, and I think it had the 6 in it...either way, it had some kind of crude computer that caused no end of problems. Of course it was a neglected 15 year old car then, but my dad always went on about a "computer" causing all the issues.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    I think 1981 was the year that GM started loading up their cars with computers. They put the ECU down in the kick panel in the passenger-side footwell. Supposedly 1981-82 was a really bad timeframe for these things, too. And I remember my grandparents on my Mom's side getting a 1982 Malibu wagon that shot its ECU, out of warranty, to the tune of about $500. They had it replaced, and the second one crapped out sometime in the fall of 1984, wherupon Granddad got fed up and they went and bought a Buick LeSabre. I remember Grandmom saying that they looked a blue one first, but it wouldn't start, which gave her a bad vibe. The next one they looked at was a gray one, which fired right up, and that's the one they came home with.

    I'd imagine that by 1981, Chrysler was loading more computer crap on their cars as well, just waiting to fail and wreak havoc.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    When I was in college in the late '70's, a buddy had a '69 Dart with the slant six. I can still hear that unique starter sound, kinda like "Dino" from the "Flintstone" cartoons....

    My buddy's older brotehr bought a Dodge Aspen with 318 Lean Burn was, shall we say, problematical throughout his ownership.
  • "Cropduster"?? Was that a special edition for the prairie states? Ford made "Twisters" for Kansas cars
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,173
    LOL, We were living in Massachusetts at the time, in the city. No prairies there! I think it was a special edition or maybe it was the color code for brown?

    I'll bet Andre would know this.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    of a Crop Duster. I've heard of a Gold Duster and a Feather Duster, though. And there was something called a Twister, that looked like a Duster 340, just minus the 340. I guess it just had the graphics, rally wheels, and maybe bucket seats. And there was something called a Space Duster, where the back seat cushion folded up (rather than down like most hatchbacks/wagons) to create more trunk space. There was also a Silver Duster, available in 1976. doesn't say much about it; I guess it was just a final-edition trim package that they put on the last A-body Dusters.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,173
    :surprise: Wow, I thought there was a punchline somewhere in that :D I had no idea there were that many editions of the Duster! Then there was the sibling, the Demon to go with it, were there editions of that car too?

    BTW, thanks for the info. How you know all this stuff is amazing... :surprise:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    to be honest, I only remembered the Gold Duster and Feather Duster. I had to look that other stuff up on I tried searching the web though, and couldn't find anything at all about a Plymouth Crop Duster.

    As for the Demon, well it was renamed the Dart Sport for 1973, because a lot of people in the Bible Belt didn't like the idea of driving a Demon to church. There was a Dart Lite that corresponded to the Feather Duster. There was something called a "Convertriple", which had the folding rear seat and a sunroof. There was something else called a Dart Hang Ten, but I forget what its angle was.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    Ah, yes, the Hang Ten. Only you could have reminded me of that one, Andre. I believe that was a reference to surfing. I guess Chrysler may have tried to niche market to the California and Hawaii crowds with that one.

    I don't imagine that name would be too popular in this age of terrorism and frequent images of brutal acts. Somehow Avenger Hang Ten doesn't sound too appealing. But maybe, if that Dart had the 340, it was brutal in a positive way. Don't know what engine it had, though.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    I remember the Gold Duster and the Twister. Those others are definitely new to me.

    Didn't remember about the Hang Ten but that was a very popular term amongst surfers and more so with would be surfers.
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