The cars in my life

Bi-weekly columnist succumbs to a bout of automotive nostalgia

In the midst of the Castlegar paper is an advertiser focusing mostly on automobiles. We get to read about the engine power and the sleek finish of vehicles from many companies. So I began to think about all the vehicles in my life and discovered that I’ve gone through a dozen or more over the years.

My first vehicle was a bust from the get-go. During my first year at university, I purchased a beater for $100, and when I took it on a long trip, it blew a head gasket. I left it at a friend’s house in a small prairie town and hitchhiked back to university. It may still be there.

During my first year as a teacher, I bought a second hand 1957 Pontiac from a friend. It was a clean, first-rate vehicle. The next year, I was boarding at my mom’s house.  I parked the Pontiac each night on the street, and it was fine there until a fellow who was drunk ran into the back of it with his big farm truck.

It seems I’ve had bad luck of some sort with most of my vehicles. The third vehicle I had was a beauty, but I took the transmission out of it after five months. The fourth car burned a quart of oil every 300 kilometers, so I had to get rid of it. The fifth vehicle—a new Camaro—I bought when I went back to university after working for a few years. Sadly, it got smashed up because I drove across in front of a car wash when a newly-washed vehicle was accelerating for the street. Then, we had to sell it when we went to teach in the Arctic where there were no cars.

I remember a 1974 Toyota station wagon that had starting problems. If it didn’t start on the first attempt, it wouldn’t start no matter what we tried. Fortunately, one of our babysitters at the time rolled the car into a stream, and ICBC got rid of it for us.

On and on it goes.  We had a large 76 Impala when I arrived in Castlegar for my initial job at Selkirk College.  During the first autumn here, I drove out in a front of a car coming along the highway by the airport. I was thinking about too many things and simply did not see the other vehicle.

Fortunately, I had another vehicle—a small Nissan truck. It lasted quite a while, but then the front fenders fell off.  They had simply rusted away. At the same time, my wife had an AMC Eagle four-by-four. That was a particularly good winter vehicle, but one of my sons ran it into a tree in the Dumont Subdivision.

Somewhere along the line, I bought my friend Alfredo’s 1971 Toyota truck. It was a natural for hauling things. Unfortunately, another son liked driving that Toyota, and one day, it was hit by a driver turning in front of him on Columbia Avenue.

I’m trying to remember the vehicles that didn’t end up smashed up or with something wrong.  Ah, we had a 1986 Pontiac van that lasted until a trade-in, even though it had a major accident in a winter storm on the prairies. I also had a 1992 Pontiac 6000 that I drove for 13 years before replacing it. I had to use duct tape to hold the back window in place, but the engine was fine.

Touch wood, right now I have a good vehicle, a trusty Montana van. I can only hope my luck holds until I choose my next vehicle.