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Memories: A car love novella.

Old 06-02-2010, 10:32 AM
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Default Memories: A car love novella.

No Barbara Streisand isn't going to appear here. But I have a story to tell you guys that may bring a tear to your eyes.

When I was 16 years old in 1976, I purchased my first Challenger. It was love at first sight. A 340 car with the Rallye Pack and power bulge hood. A Triple black beauty that was gently used in showroom condition with 34,000 miles. I worked full time at a fast food restaraunt through highschool and though $3200 was alot of money back then I knew this was my car.

I drove the Challenger like any 17 year old would. She would take a beating and be ready for more. I cannot describe the fun and the connection I had with this car other than to say I felt we were a part of each other.

Through the years there were personal touches that I added. Stereos of course. Duck bill spoiler on the rear deck and front chin spoilers like the '70 T/A Challenger, which became permanent. The bigs and skinnies phase with mandatory air shocks. Several sets of mag wheels of various sorts, eventually to go back to the elegant Magnum factory wheels, which also became permanent. Even a (only in the 70's) side pipes phase..........looked kinda cool actually, but dragged on everything.

As my mechanical ability progressed I began actually taking care of some of the greasy parts, added a set of Doug Thorley headers and header mufflers, Holley carb to replace the Carter Thermoquad, a cam of undisclosed specs (from a friend), big valve heads and B&M shift kit in the 727 Torquflite. This car would scream and there were several "hot car drivers" over the years who caught a fleeting glimpse of my tail lights disappearing.

My lovely wife and I met in highschool after her sister told her I had a cool car and at 18 years old I was married even after telling her she would always be my second love. Talk about an understanding woman! She knew I had a rather strong relationship with the Challenger and endured through all of our phases. Helping me keep a Black car clean, wrenching some with me, knowing that if challenged the car and I weren't likely to back down and eventually growing fond of the car as well. At one point even sewing up a nice carpet for the trunk! What a sight seeing my wife in the trunk sewing in a carpet seam around the fuel filler tube. A good woman to say the least. At 21 years old our first son was born and of course was taught everything Mopar as he grew. General Lee pedal car, Hot Wheels, Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights, car nuts in general, but Mopars ruled and "the Dodge" he called it, was the ultimate.

A few more years and the paint got freshened up with a nice coat of Imron by a buddy and me. As more years passed the Challenger's body began suffering from cancer induced by midwest salt trucks. Time for a professional or somewhat as I learned after a year or so when the cancer came back.

My wife and I decided to buy a house in 1989 to make room for our second son. The Challenger came with us but she was getting tired. I still drove her on occasion but knew I could no longer give her the attention she desperately needed with a house payment, a "regular" car payment and 4 mouths to feed. In 1993 after 17 years and 107,000 memorable miles of burnouts, donuts, racing and other high speed entertainment, making changes, make out sessions, taking my wife on joy rides, taking my first son on thrill rides and hearing him scream with joy "do it again Daddy do it again!", daily driving and grocery getting, family trips, speeding slips, and a big chunk of our lives in general I could no longer bear to see her suffer any more. I let her go.

I knew the next 2 owners and neither ended up with the money to treat her right either. The second put a rod through her heart. Several more years went by and my wife and I were going through a small town not far from here and as usual I was checking out the car lots along the side of the road when I saw something very familiar. Chin spoilers peeking out from under the front end of a black car tucked in behind a row of "other" cars. Immediately I did a U E and pulled in. There she was just like I had left her. Rough but all there. A salesman was right on me.

"She's a hot one!" he exclaims.

"I'll bet." I tell him, "These black cars get really get hot in the summer."

"NO, she's fast!" he says.

"What's it got in it?" I reply.

"340 and it's had some work." he boasts.

"How much you asking? I'm curious." me

"$4800" he says proudly.

"Runs real good huh?" I reply.

"Well not right now." he says.

"$4800 and it doesn't run right now? What's wrong with it?" me

"Blown up." sheepishly.

"$4800 and it's blown up!"

I laugh and at this point tell him about the Challenger's and my time together, it's history including the extensive cancer still quite evident on and under the car and about the 17 years I owned the car. I also inform him that at one point it WAS a hot car but those years were long gone.

"Would you give $2500 for it?"

"Are you out of your mind?"

I know I left him feeling like a damned fool but he deserved it. Damned snake in the grass used car salesman.

That's the last I saw of my first love. Hopefully someone else gave her new life and is sharing a big chunk of theirs with her. The good times I had with that car I will never forget.

There is a happy ending to my story though.

On Friday, May 5th a new love story started, but much reads the same as the old one. The understanding wife I told you about allowed me to buy a 2010 Challenger R/T, VVT HEMI w/six speed and Track Pack. You remember the good woman part. Well she's the best! 32 years of putting up with me proves it beyond a doubt! We sat in it for the test drive and as I started her up and clasped the steering wheel and the pistol grip I nearly lost it.......I knew again that this was my car reincarnate. Somehow The Challenger, "The Dodge", had made it back to me.

This life will be much different though. I know what she's got and no longer have to prove it at every opportunity. She will get a nice rust treatment to protect her from the elements. I'll be the owner for the rest of my days and I'll treat her well.

This morning I met my oldest son to go for a ride in it for the first time. He owns a 1970 Duster that he bought when he was 16 years old with his own money so his journey with car love is underway. My youngest son was too young to have memories of the old Challenger but loves Dad's new one. Any way I pick up my eldest and he sits in the passenger seat,

"Wow, that's weird!" he says.

"What's weird?" I ask.

"I was expecting something different." he says.

"What do you mean different?"

"I knew it was the same on the outside but when I sat down I didn't realize it would be the same on the inside as THE DODGE. It's cool!."


Last edited by deranged; 06-02-2010 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:46 AM
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Default Have a story of my own

In 1977, I was given a 1972 Cuda 340 for my birthday. It had 22,000 miles on it and needed a little work, but my Dad repainted it a slightly different shade of yellow and it was all mine. I vowed to one day fix it up, but for the time being I drove it all through high school as the envy of all the bullies and low-lifes. I did have an opportunity to buy a 1970 Hemi Challenger in 1978 from the same guy my father got my Cuda from, but nobody would loan a 17-year-old kid $3,500 for a car. So that one slipped right through my fingers. But I still had my Cuda...

After high school I wound up in the military and couldn't drive it for a while. But I drove it in my dreams - literally.

Wasn't too long until we were reunited. Drove it again for years - all through college and my first military assignment. Then family needs dictated a newer car able to put a childseat in the back. So I had to park the car - at my grandmother's house. It stayed there for 11 years until...

Fast forward to 1998. It was time. Traveled 1,000 miles to get it and hauled it home. 5 1/2 years later, she's "Cherry." I spared no expense. New wiring harnesses throughout. New fuel lines. Rebuilt the old 340 and bumped the CR from 8.5:1 to 10:1 with headers, a mild competition cam, and Edlebrock 4 bbl carb. Painted her Royal Purple (a little darker than Plum Crazy). Rallye gauges, Rallye hood, and the pistol grip 4-spd, along with all new interior, and well, she's my baby.

The first time I drove her after the restoration, at 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning (because there was little to no traffic to potentially hurt my baby), a girl in a beat up old junker came flying by. She hit the brakes, allowed me to catch up, at which point she gave me a big smile and thumbs up, and then kept right on going. What a great feeling.

Fast forward to 2010. I was changing the thermostat in my Dodge pickup and promptly broke one of the housing bolts. Went around town trying to find a replacment when one of the guys finally said, "You're going to have to go to Dodge. If you hurry, you can get to the parts counter down the street before they close." So I hurried on down.

Walked into the showroom floor on my way to the parts counter and ran right into - I couldn't believe it - a Plum Crazy Purple Challenger SRT8 with 6-spd tranny. I didn't know they were painted purple! Grabbed my cell and called my wife, obviously a little upset because I knew I couldn't afford it. Here's what she said: "I think you should go ahead and get it. As hard as you've worked all your life, you deserve it."

Is she sweet or what!?!

Although that car was already sold, I managed to find another through a different dealer. Explaining that would take another novel, so I'll close with what happened just two days ago.

My oldest son had not seen the new Challenger since I bought it 3 months ago, so when he came to visit for the Memorial Day weekend, I took him back to the airport in it. Guess what happened?

A girl came flying by, hit the brakes to allow me to catch up, gave me a big smile and a big ol' thumbs up, then kept right on going...

Hopefully, that kind of thing will never stop.

And that broken thermostat housing bolt? I keep it in the glovebox of my new Challenger.
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