Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"H" is for Hornet

Growing up, my dad had always made it clear to my brothers and me that he would never buy us a car. If we wanted a car, we could work for it. However, once we actually turned 16 and it was time to get a job, there was one small problem. We lived 20 miles out of town. Unless we wanted to work for the crazy farmer down the road who threw rocks when he got mad (which was often), town was where the work was.

My mother had driven an '84 Mercury Lynx for the last few years and it was passed down to me. My mother got a new car and I got to drive the Lynx/Studmobile. I drove this car until I raced a Trans Am home after work one night. At about 75 MPH the car shook so bad, I didn't know if I would be able to keep it on the road. I lost the race, obviously, and it blew up the next day when my mother was driving it.

I had several cars over the next few years. Some were fast, some were not. Some looked great, others were falling apart. Luckily, I've have never been too concerned about appearance and was just happy to always have something to get me around. It was this lack of shame that brought me to the car this post is all about.

I can't believe I found this picture on Google. It is
almost identical to ours. Even the wood paneling.
When my youngest brother Trevor turned 16, he was presented with a 1974 AMC Hornet wagon that dad had purchased for $50 to obtain a part for another car. He had never intended for the car to be driven, but that was the extra we had when Trevor became licensed. Kyle and myself had always driven the cars that had graciously been given to us regardless of their sex appeal condition. Kyle had even used the car given to him to make extra money to buy an AMC Javelin. Trevor, however, looked this car over and said, "I am NOT driving that."

Dad informed him that he wasn't getting anything else. The front end may be a little damaged and one of the headlights was hanging down attached only by the wires, but if he wanted something better, he would have to take care of it himself. This was his car until then.

Trevor did not reconsider and never drove that car. He found other ways to get around.

Kyle had just started at a technical school in Chicago and, after a few minor fender benders, had some serious concerns about the safety of the Javelin he had worked so hard for. When he found out there was an extra car no one cared about just sitting at our house, he switched until he graduated. When he came back home, the car was then passed to me.

By that time, the car had been in a few more big city incidents. The bumper was loose on one side and the headlight was still swinging by the wires. I discovered that on rainy days my feet would get wet due to the holes rusted through the floor board. One of the doors wouldn't open and sometimes the headlights would just go out. Shortly after getting it, I had to change out the radiator, but the new one was a few inches taller so the hood wouldn't shut. I had to use chicken wire to keep it down.

Despite all the things wrong with the car, it ran great. Especially since Dad had only paid $50 for it to get a few parts for another car. It had its little quirks. If I suddenly let off the gas, it gave off a huge backfire that sounded like a small cannon. If I did this at night, it lit up everything within 15 feet of the car for a short moment. The exhaust had fallen off soon after I got it, so it was a very loud car. This is also the same car that I used to run my brother Trevor down in the school parking lot which resulted in my windshield being shattered.

I drove that car until I got married and parked it when I got my next one. It sat for a few years until I left for college and gave it to a family in our church. We got it going again and they drove it for a few more years. It got a lot of mileage for 50 bucks.

I actually miss that car.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,891 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day except Sundays for a total of 26 days.

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44 comments:

  1. I'm 22 and I still don't have my own car. Not that I could afford the gas, insurance, or have a place to park it.

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  2. My first car was a Datsun 120Y that I shared with my brother. I remember the day she died, after my dad put a new battery in the wrong way round and it just went boom! God, I miss that car.

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    1. I've had a few over the years that I would love to have back.

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  3. The hubs and I were both country kids...you had to learn to drive and get a car...no choice. My first car was a used Toyota Crown. A most luxurious car except that you had to sweet talk it to get it to start in the winter ( and most other times as well ) The hubs was driving a standard transmission Volvo. That car looked like a sardine tin. Since I couldn't drive a standard and the Crown was less than dependable, we traded them both and bought a new AMC Gremlin. Fabulous car. We drove it for eleven years and then sold it. One problem....at the first sign of snow the dang thing started driving sideways. Not enough weight over the rear wheels. Funny how we get attached to a hunk of metal isn't it?

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    1. It is amazing. My car was a big joke, but I loved it.

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  4. I'm not much of a car person - if it gets me around and it's safe, that's enough for me. I don't drive much, except for local stuff. I'm on my second car - a 2000 Mazda Protege that still has manual locks and windows. :)

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    1. Reliability is the most important thing to me. I just want to be able to get there.

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  5. I have never cared about the looks of my cars, either. I just want it to run. I actually like older cars with all their quirks...gives them character :)

    I can't believe Trevor actually passed up a car because of how it looked! Although the idea of a too tall radiator and chicken wire does kind of crack me up :)

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    1. Chicken wire for the hood and to hold the bumper on got a lot of attention.

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  6. HA! I think we learn more about taking care of stuff from these things that have already had full lives, eh? I lived in a smallish town with lots of rural places I had to go, so always had a car to drive, but yeah... THIS YEAR (at age 46) was my first ever NEW car.

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    1. I believe you are right. I am still not good at mechanics, but the things I do know came from working on those cars.

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  7. Oh my Lord! So that was what that car was called. We didn't have many of them over in England but when I saw one, I was instantly amazed , because I though the entire thing was made out of wood. :)

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    1. That model was a Hornet, but the style is called a stationwagon. There were lots of those on the road. My parents had a different model a few years before that. It was green, but still had the wood paneling.

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  8. What a deal too. You know there was some mighty ugly cars in that era. Mighty ugly, but most of them would run perfectly. Excellent post.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

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    1. Crazy ugly. I would love to have one of those old ugly cars today. It would definitely be noticed.

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  9. Classic. And what a great mark of a bygone era.

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    1. Thank you. I would love to have portions of that time back. Not all of it, just the parts I want.

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  10. Interesting how we can build such attachments with our cars. I still miss my '68 VW Beetle.

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  11. Made me miss my car back home. Cars can be our best friends and our partner in crime, coz mine was. ;)

    Great post! :)

    - A fellow blogger from A to Z!

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    1. I had a Grand Prix that was my favorite. I would love to have that car again.

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  12. I have to refrain from reading your posts at work.. I end up laughing too loud. I had an '82 Ford Ranger as my first car. There are still times when I miss that thing at times.
    Elliot
    We Are Adventure

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    1. I love to hear that. If you are laughing, then I am happy.

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  13. That's a great story. My first car was a little Dodge Lancer with all the paint peeling off. It looked like it had a horrible skin condition.

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    1. The very first car I ever bought from a dealership I took to the car wash immediately. A huge section of paint came off as soon as I blasted it.

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  14. Great story. My first was a '81 Fairmont with duct tape on the windows and a clothes hanger holding up the muffler.

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    1. I think everyone should have to have at least one car like that.

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  15. I, too, care little for appearance when it comes to vehicles. If it drives, that's good enough. Sadly, I'm no mechanic, so if it dies, it'd better not cost too much to repair. We've had a couple of good-deal used cars that eventually died, and we couldn't afford to get them fixed. You managed to make $50 stretch a long way! :)

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    1. I have mechanical ability, so I am the same way. I have probably sold cars that could have been fixed.

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  16. You know, those old clunkers ran forever back then. I had a Ford Maverick that was welded, wired, duct-taped, and I even filled in paint dings with a magic marker. It finally died when the transmission totally seized up and I had to drive 20 miles to the junkyard - smokin' away in first gear the whole time :-) Nowadays, u can't fix them yourself.

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    1. My family had several cars that just ran and ran despite literally falling apart, including one that broke in half soon after we sold it. Not a joke.

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  17. Glad I don't have to rely on my first car anymore. It was a '58 Ford Fairlane 500 and drank a gallon of gas just while cranking. She was a red and white beauty though.

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    1. The gas mileage would suck, but I would love to have that car.

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  18. My first car was a GMC Jimmy aka The Tank. The whole thing was made of titanium and it was indestructible. I miss that car so hard. It was the perfect zombie apocalypse vehicle.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. I had a friend who drove a Jimmy. We drove it through a pig barn once to see if it was possible. It was.

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  19. It blew up?? Yikes! It sounds like a good, sturdy car. My first car was my great-grandma's car. It was white 1993 oldsmobile. It was a boat, with reverse problems. My parents let us drive it. I am very happy with my own car now; a tiny red Toyota Yaris. :)

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  20. I know this is just a side not, but working for that crazy farmer might have been fun. Maybe it would have make great inspiration for a book about farmer who likes to throw rocks. Just kidding, but I liked that part of the story the best.


    Sweetbearies Art Tips

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    1. Actually, we did work for him several times. I could write a dozen posts about the crazy stuff that happened over there.

      CRAZY OLD MAN!!!

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  21. My very first car was a poo brown Chevy Citation II - it was the best car ever, AM radio and pleather seats and a column shift. The thing cost me $900 and ran like a tank, I cried for real tears when it finally went kablooie at 207,000 miles. As my son gets older, he's privy to different levels of stories from my childhood. I rest a little easier knowing he'll be the smart@ss behind the camera phone egging the other people on to jump off of roofs or get hit by a car - the daredevil gene skipped a generation there ;)

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    1. Those cars grow on us, don't they.

      My kids missed the daredevil gene also. I am so grateful. They didn't even try 10% of the stuff I pulled.

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  22. 50 bucks for a car? I don't care if it has to be held shut with chicken wire, that's just a good deal... But I can't say I would willingly be seen in that either. If I had to, I could deal with it, but I'd rather not.

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    1. Fifty bucks is awesome. My daughter is needing a car now and I am holding out for that type of deal again.

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