Claudia Myers column: Loyalty drives so many car choices
I had my Land Cruiser for many years before it threw a rod on a country road north of Grand Rapids.
There once was a Buick named “Buck.” At one time, he was proudly possessed by my husband’s dad, who willed him to our oldest son. Somehow, this once-luxurious Buick vehicle had lost his “i,” and so was known to all as “Buck.”
Buck was from the era of large, gas-guzzling engines and even larger trunks, generous passenger capacity and relative to their age, great reliability. Buck made his reputation as “The Renaissance Transportation Tank” carrying our oldest son, five of his friends, costumes, tents, cooking utensils, food, musical instruments and other assorted equipment necessary to performing and participating in the Renaissance Festival in Minneapolis, every weekend. Buck, bless him, made it through two summers of regular trips, before he broke his heart and his axle on the shoulder of I-35, homeward bound and heading north.
Buck was replaced by a sleek, black Camero, which was purchased with the idea that the three teenage drivers in our family would share it. I ask you: How could that possibly have worked? In reality, the Camero spent most of its time parked in our driveway, hood up, with a teepee-like log structure hoisting up its engine block.
You could just see the top of oldest son’s head as he sat in the engine space, modifying and/or improving it. I’m not even mentioning the box of leftover parts that didn’t seem to go anywhere. This mystery box went with the Camero, as sort of a bonus surprise package, when it was sold — to another young, would-be mechanic who immediately parked it in his driveway and took it all apart.
About that time, my husband, the avid reader, was following the development of the Wankel engine, the piston-less wonder that powered the new Mazda RX7 sports car. It didn’t take much arguing with himself before deciding he really needed to have one of those — vroom, vroom and all that! It was a lovely electric blue, sleek little two-plus seater, and those in our family who could drive a stick shift immediately began thinking up excuses why they needed to borrow it. Prom, somebody’s birthday, “I forgot my homework in my locker” and, “Mom, I think we’re out of milk. I’ll just grab Dad’s car keys and be back in a few minutes.” Two hours later …
One thing that did get settled, however, was the question of who got to put their car in the one-stall ancient garage that came with the Victorian house. After all, you can’t expose a delicate flower of a sports car to the elements, so the Mazda got priority — right behind the raccoon family that lived in the garage attic. My Land Cruiser and I settled for the driveway.
There are members of our family who are card-carrying “Subaru people,” from the turbo-charged to the racers to the off-roaders. One of us, being of a practical nature, had driven their mud brown Subie station wagon for many years, through several re-locations and over many states.
The vehicle was showing its age, roughed up around the edges, a few dings here and there, not as fast on the get-go as it used to be. Maybe time to get something new, right? Now, getting a new car is usually a very exciting prospect for most people. They make the rounds, doing test drives, deciding which company, what model, which bells and whistles and most importantly, what color. Leaving several people anxiously awaiting to see what will come driving back up the driveway, they set off in their old, ratty brown Subaru station wagon. Aaand … here they come back, not even 2½ hours later, in a new mud-brown Subaru station wagon, exactly like the old one. Except new.
Toyotas do seem to be a family favorite. Especially the bigger variety: Highlanders, Land Cruisers, pick-ups. Our middle son purchased an old, heavy-duty red and white hard-top Land Cruiser and proceeded to un-bolt the non-removable roof section and turn it into something that, except for the color, you might have seen on the beaches of Iwo Jima during World War II, transporting the officers and generals.
I had my Land Cruiser for many years before it threw a rod on a country road north of Grand Rapids. When I got it, the rage was to have custom paint jobs, like lightning bolts or swoops of color, so of course, I did. I had it long enough that it began to look like Hippie Transportation, and my obliging husband had it painted bright red. I do love red cars! When we finally got it to the dealership to get something to replace it, we settled on a 4Runner and were sitting in the office, waiting for the paperwork to be done, when the salesman who had given the Land Cruiser the required once-over said “Do you know there is a large-caliber bullet hole in the door frame of your vehicle? Uh, well no, actually, we didn’t.
Home to the kids, line them up. All right, now! Who knows something about a bullet hole in my car! Blink. Blink. Blink. Who? Us?
Next time: Music makes the world go round — and round.
Claudia Myers is a former costume designer for The Baltimore Opera, Minnesota Ballet and has taught design and construction at The College of St Scholastica. She is a national award-winning quilter, author and a local antique dealer, specializing in Persian rugs.