It's still morning but the afternoon is only hours away. Fasten your seatbelts and come fly with me.
Before we get to the next car, do you remember the Villiers motorcycle? Returning home from California for the last time, it was sitting under a tarp in a pool of oil after being idle for a long time. Jack and others having owned English cars will surely recognize the oil leak phenomenon. I trailered it to the local Harley dealer. The proprietor looked like a Jesse Ventura with tattoos and big muscles and a leather vest to show it all off. When he went out back to look at the Villiers to give me a repair estimate, he took one look and sneered, "I wouldn't work on that piece of sh--." Me weighting in at 135 lbs. on a good day, I wasn't about to argue with his total disrespect for fine British engineering. I should have listened to him but that comes later. The Villiers ended up beside the trash bucket like the Fiat.
1972 Thunderbird. Black. V-8. Automatic. New@ $5100.
Comment: After all the four and six bangers I decided it was time for a big horse. But this filly turned out to be more of a Clydesdale than a Morgan and it needed lots of oats to feed it. Best thing about it was that after some serious horse trading at different Ford dealers I got an 18% off MSRP deal. The color was black (it's said once you go black you'll never go back) but it didn't have gangster whitewalls. They were Firestones. A few months after I bought it, I was racing a blizzard to the high ground in Flagstaff and was flying low along a deserted I-40 at in excess of 100 MPH out of Gallup, the fastest I have ever driven before or since. Two days later at a car wash, the operator informed me of a sidewall bulge as big as your fist. OE tires suck but my guardian angel was riding with me again. Visited a tire store in Phoenix and got four new Michelins. I kept the big Bird for several years but mostly as a second car. It was nice to look at but in reality a thirsty tank. Other than being pretentious it served no real purpose.
Now back to the two four four.
1975 Volvo 244DL. White. Inline four. Four on the floor. New@ $5500
Comment: Inflation was heavy in the seventies. I got only four cylinders for more money, literally half the bang for the buck. I went to a dual dealership with the intention of buying a Jeep but ended up driving home the sweet little Swede. Now there's a shift. Flexible customer or good salesman? You be the judge. I loved this car and drove it everywhere including a trip to the left coast and back CB radio equipped. "Breaker 19, Breaker 19. REDPETERBUILT this is EASTOFTHESUNRISE. That's a definite negatory on the beartrap at milepost 318. You can put the hammer down, come back." It got 20+ MPG and was tight as a you know what. I got my first speeding ticket in the Volvo. Forty in a twenty-five less than a mile from my driveway.
Not mechanically educated or talented like you guys, even I could change the sparkplugs which had a propensity to burn out in about 15k miles. Tony, that's one of the vast modern improvements--platinum plugs worth over 100k miles. It also started up even on the coldest winter mornings. It was made in Sweden, what would you expect? I was learning bigger is not always better which eventually led me here. But there were other mistakes on the road. Think British.
1956 Thunderbird. Black. V-8 Automatic. Used@ $7500
Comment: It was the most I ever spent for a car and it was twenty years old. Why? I did it for my wife who always had a love jones for these little beauties. Big disappointment. The car that is. I still see these cars and admire the styling and beauty and think it was one of the best looking American cars ever produced but it drove horribly. It wasn't particularly fast with the automatic transmission, steered like a truck and bounced like it had an unsprung rear end. Did I mention burning oil? The impending birth of my first child forced a sale. The best part is that to this day it is the only car I sold for more than I paid for it. It is a classic.
Don't recommend unless you want to put it in a showcase and look at it.
1982 Firebird Trans-AM. Red. (What else?) V-8. Automatic. (Yeah, I know.) New@ $10,000.
The Volvo was everything you could want in a car but I was having a midlife crisis or something and I needed a car with some vrooom, vroom. It was between a Trans-AM and a 450SL. Dreyher-Holoway in Exeter sold both and I test drove each one for a full day. My wallet made the decision. The 305 small block purred or growled depending on the throttle pressure, the steering was tight and the suspension was hard. I ordered it without AC for extra power. Equipped with Goodyear Eagles, baby didn't even need new shoes. The most "European" driving American car I ever owned. I removed the rear spoiler and went to a Napa store and bought a Ferrari key fob and cut off the emblem and mounted the prancing horse on the steering wheel center. Instant sex for $10,000. +$4.95. I drove it 100k miles and no tickets. Go figure.
Molto bella. Automobilisimo felice!