An automobile-related meme, picked up from Jennifer:
- What was your first car? Model, year, color, condition?
- What adventures did you have in it, good or bad?
- What happened to it, what’s the end of the story?
“Susannah” was a 1966 Chevy II, just barely up from bottom of the line and therefore deemed worthy of the Nova badge. It was, I was told, destined for the scrapyard, but for one minor detail: turn the key, and it actually started. Making it drivable, however, looked like it was going to require, at the very least, replacement of the caved-in front right corner. The budget didn’t allow for such. Plan B: hammering on the back side of the fender until the wheel would actually turn. This worked, sort of, for a while.
The powertrain, however, was in pretty good shape: 230 straight six and Powerglide. After tooling around in the family VW Microbus, which required endless stick work, I was ready for the machine to do all the work, even with only half as many speeds. And I managed not to kill it for nearly ten thousand miles. (The rebuild ran about $170. I don’t even want to think about what it costs to fix one of today’s hypercomplex slushboxes.)
Apart from blowing up the transmission, and an unfortunate experience with an aftermarket stereo that caused a temporary failure of the wipers, only two horrible things happened to this car. One of them was a consequence of cheaping out on the front-end repair; one day, I noticed that the camber on the right front wheel had increased to something like 30 percent. Inspection revealed a rather large gap between two metal bits that were supposed to be connected. (A welder took care of this.) The other was a rude rear-end intrusion on a rainy day, which dented the decklid enough to render the lock theoretical at best. The car that hit me, having barely slowed down during the impact, quickly sped off into the storm.
In early 1978, I got married, and the young lady in question decided that it would be in everyone’s best interest if I got rid of this heap. We bought another Nova — a 1976 with the 305 V8 — and I passed the ’66 on to younger sister, who said she was going to take it to a demolition derby. I have no idea whether she actually did that or not, but at the time, it made perfect sense. Incidentally, the ’76 became the family hauler, and I took over her old car, a ’75 Toyota Celica. I was still driving it in 1995, eight years after the divorce.