2009-02-23

Car Wars Episode I - The Dark Side

Actual car, not a pic from the net
In college, I drove a 1976's blue 2 door fastback VW Dasher. Front wheel drive, 4 on the floor, manual steering, power "assisted" brakes. This is the first of my hatchbacks (Integra and PT Cruiser to follow). Yeah, it was starting to rust a little, but I loved that car.

The summer of 1987 I was working at my college's "Gifted Kids" program. It was the last of the 4 sessions, and some night early in the last week, I had off, so I went to Springfield about (35 miles away via I-72*) on my first and only date with a classmate who lived there. On the way home, I kept hearing a grinding sound.

And my dash lights were dimming.

And my headlights were dimming.

Shit!

DEAD!
Dead battery.
With a dead battery, my car rolls gently to a stop a couple hundred yards from the exit. In front of a sign that reads, "Correctional Facility: Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers."

So literally, the first car that came by stopped and gave me a lift. (Neither of us had jumper cables.). It was a good ol' boy with his two good ol' boy sons. They dropped me off the 4 miles or so to campus. The next day I called the local foreign car garage, lined up a ride with a guy (with jumper cables) to the car, but it started on it's own, and I limped it to the shop.

The alternator was shot. My dad said not to fix it, he'd get it done at home. So, after the last day of camp, I loaded up the car, with my stuff, and with a fully charged battery, and a set of jumper cables, I set out on the 100 mile trip home.

Now, this was before computerized this and that, I needed power to:
1) Run the starter, but I could push start it if need be.
2) Run the spark plugs.
3) Run the break lights.

I wasn't going to be using the radio or turn signals. The car didn't have air. And I had no plans on stopping along the 2 hour trip.

There I go, tooling down the road, senses hyperaware. (What IS that damn grinding sound?)

On the last little bit of flat land for a while, before heading through a twisty gully section of road, about half way between Jacksonville and Virginia, I figured out what that grinding sound must have been. The left rear wheel suddenly decided to depart my vehicle, and I was suddenly driving a tripod.


Run!  Be Free!
To be continued. **

* Yes, it was US-36 then, but I wanted people to think of the divided highway that it has always been, not some country road.

** I know this ruins the suspense, but I didn't die in a fire ball. In case you were worried.

16 comments:

Cora said...

Oh, thank God for pointing out you didn't die in a fire ball!! I was getting worried!! Hee hee.

That was quite the adventurous road trip you had! I've got nothing on that. My sister and brother-in-law were once driving through the Nevada desert at night and the road ended with no warning and the car went airborne - that's the best car adventure I've got. But it doesn't count as I wasn't there, huh?

Sassy Britches said...

A tripod! Yikes! No fiery death, but the suspense is still killing me!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

You didn't die in a fireball. Okay, cool, I get that.

Did you die in a spectacular wreck, where the call flipped in the air like something from an Indiana Jones movie?

*waiting with bated breath*

Scope said...

Cora - I was unaware that your sister was married to Clark Griswald! You have to stop by and visit next time they are filming "National Lampoon's STAY-CATION."

Sassy Britches - No flame, but a few spark I can imagine.

Mjenks - Do you always bate your breath when you are fishing for compliments? Tune in tomorrow, same Bat time, same Bat station for part two of the four part "Car Wars" trilogy as your intrepid hero guides the stricken vehicle from the road in a not so Hollywood way, due to the modern wonders of friction and mometum, and that as a front wheel drive car, loosing a rear wheel doesn't effect the powertrain.

Four part trilogy? That's how I roll, baby.

SkylersDad said...

Nice story, you gave me an idea for a post!

Candy's daily Dandy said...

That car was just trying to let you know it was time for the junkyard in the sky. Sometimes it's hard to part with the things we love the most.

You had to let it go....I'm guessing?

Cora said...

Yes, my sis and her hubby are like the Griswalds actually. All their road trips end in disaster. They went camping once and the wind unrolled a paper towel from the table right into the fire - it was like a candle wick *WHOOSH* instant inferno. This is why I've never gone camping or on road trips with them.

And, hee hee hee, Stimulus Package is hilarious!! Ha ha ha! And here I thought all this time that I was the only one childish enough to think that. But, nope, there's Scope. I should have known!

J.J. in L.A. said...

What is it with men and their vehicles? My man still has the (used) car his grandparents gave him for his high school graduation...he's 51!

Speaking of road trips, we (7 kids, 2 parents) were driving cross-country in our station wagon when we felt a "pop" while going down a hill. Seconds later, we watched the right rear wheel pass us.

mike said...

I think that four actual wheels is more of like a "suggestion"... I mean, any more than three is just showing off.

Scope said...

Skyler's Dad - Glad I could help.

Candy - Yes, this was the beginning of the end.

Cora - Thanks for reading the "Quick Hits". And I would totally vacation with your sister. Think of the blog material you would have!

JJ - It's a CLASSIC now. And good to know that I'm not the only person this has happened to.

mike - Only if you're driving a Reliant Robin.

Cora said...

Ohhh yeah, I didn't think of it like that.

She was with us when we went to Disneyland, and in all honesty I was really nervous about that. It was like inviting a jinx along. But the worst thing that happened on our trip was that I got totally high off of some free pain killers they were handing out in Disneyland (call it Mickey Mouse Magic! Those suckers were STRONG!!) and I made an ass out of myself talking to the poor people dressed up as characters. There's nothing like having someone in a stupid costume stare at you like you are an idiot, you know? Ahh, good times.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

In elementary school I drove a pogo stick. It had no gears or even an engine and made a sound like an excited hooker on a cheap box spring. Hey, I was poor but I got around pretty fast. Too bad about the motion sickness though...

I much prefer cars! :)

Sass said...

You have just given me, as well, an idea for some posts.

And since you already know the ending of the story, and you know you didn't die...when do you? Die, that is. I mean, you seem to be quite the know-it-all.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

"Four part trilogy? That's how I roll, baby."

You and Isaac Asimov.

J.J. in L.A. said...

CLASSIC cars aren't in dire need of a paint job, have non-functional seatbelts (unless it was made prior to them), don't threaten to stall at stop signs and don't rattle if you go more than 30 mph.

Just sayin'... ; )

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