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Cars

It was a 1952 Plymouth painted Crystal Turquoise

The car was big enough for a barn dance but was not cool at all for a seventeen-year-old boy. Nor was the car a chick magnet. And since I didn’t play football, that was strike two.

Trading Up?

When the transmission went out of the 1960 Ford Station Wagon, my Dad traded it and $100 for a 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook. It was the definition of ugly. It was a large four-door car with some of the original green paint showing through the rust. It was not attractive in any way.

Under the hood was a mealy flat-head six cylinder engine backed by a three-speed column shifter. Oh, and it ran on 6-volts so my four-track tape deck wouldn’t work. No, this was not my ideal car, but still, it beat walking to school or taking the school bus.

All Ready a Geek

My High School was like most in the late sixties. There were the haves and the have nots. There were the cool kids and those from the South Side of Amarillo. There were football players and the rest of us geeks.

I was in the band and liked it. I started in the fifth or sixth grade and enjoyed the camaraderie of like-minded kids. I even tried out for Drum Major my Junior year and beat out the competition. That was an enjoyable year for me.

Back to Cars

The school parking lot was full of neat cars. Mustangs, Z-28s, Barracudas, Road Runners, Corvettes, Camero SSs, Chevelle SSs. Then there was my 1952 Plymouth. Wow!

But it gets even better. Mom and Dad decided they would give me a paint job for my birthday that year. Not just a paint job but a $29.95 Earl Scheib Special. The Special, as you can imagine, was not a super duper paint job. It didn’t include any sanding, priming, or bodywork. They rolled the car into the booth and shot it one of two color choices. Crystal Turquoise and a color that escapes me today. Let’s just say it was worse than the Crystal Turquoise.

When I got the car back the only good part was it was all one color. But that color looked much better on the paint chip than on the car. It almost glowed in the dark. It was so bright.

Then there was the 6-volt system

As a teenager, music was everything in the ’60s. I liked bands like CCR, Steppenwolf, and Iron Butterfly. The type of music the radio did not play. We all listened to 1440 AM KPUR. It was a Top 40 station, so my listening preference was missing. I had to get my tunes back.

I still had my 4-track tape deck, but how to get it working in a 6-volt system. I talked to Dad and he gave me several options.

  • Install and wire a separate battery just to run the tape deck. Charging would be the issue with this option.
  • Convert the Plymouth’s electrical system to 12-volt from the existing 6-volt.

The second alternative was my choice. The hardest part was tracking down everything needed for the conversion. I replaced every bulb in the car: headlights, taillights, and even the dash lights. Hardest was finding a newer generator to keep the 12-volt system charged. With Dad’s help, I accomplished that, too.

I don’t remember how I handled the windshield wipers and heater motor, but the starter motor stayed 6-volt. Dad thought it could handle the extra juice and it was still cranking when I traded the car off.

Once done, I installed the tape deck and I had tunes once again.

Mechanicals

Late in my Senior year, the Plymouth developed a cracked block and leaked water faster than you could pour it in. No problem. Since Dad was a welder by trade, he took it to his shop on a Saturday and welded to block up. The weld was visible but looked like it belonged. I never had any further issues with water.

The car was reliable for the time I drove it. It only left me stranded on the side of the road a few times. Back then that was good.

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Cars

Second Gear was Gone and it was Green

I shifted into second gear, let out the clutch, and it kicked out into neutral. Oh no, not again. It seems the old Ford lost the ability to stay in second. That was a problem. It was a 3-speed on the column, and with second gone, it made driving difficult. And it was green.

Dad didn’t do me any favors when I got my driver’s license in 1967. He decided to give me Mom’s old car and buy her a newer one. What did Mom get? A 1964 Mercury Comet. And me? A green 1960 Ford Station Wagon. And it was green.

To top it off, we had an old mattress without a bed, so it was put in the back of the station wagon.

Try Explaining the Mattress

Now just think about it. I show up at a date’s house. She comes to answer the door with her father peering over her shoulder. He sees the car and comments about it being a station wagon. Then to make a really great impression, he notices something in the back and asks, “What’s that in the back of the station wagon?” And I have to answer, “It’s a mattress, sir.”

Yeah, that went over well. NOT! You can not imagine the difficulty in heading out on a date after that conversation. It put a big crimp in my social life. And it was green.

When the wagon was handed down to me, it was in fair shape and all the gears worked. Eventually, second gear became unusable and driving it was interesting. Rev it up high in first gear and shift straight to third, which was a highway gear. The car would chug and rattle and complain as if it was not happy with my driving. And it was green.

As some point, Dad decided to trade off the 1960 wagon and get me something else. Something else green.

Then the wagon wasn’t so bad, after all.

Talk about another story. Dad showed up with a rusted out 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook with four doors and a flat-head six cylinder engine. It also had a three-speed on the column. It was not an attractive car, and it did wonders for my reputation at school. I had gone from a station wagon to a big, bulky, unattractive … well, you get the idea. And it was green, too.

I have never enjoyed the color green on a car. I’m not sure why. Just one of those oddities, I guess. Later, when I found another car to trade in the 1952 Plymouth … yes, it was green, also. But it was the last green car. I promise.

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Cars

My “Money No Object” Cars

What are your “money no object” cars?

There are two on my list. I have lusted for these since High School and have not changed my mind in 49 years.

Of course, there are other cars I would take, but these are the favorites.

A 1969 or 1970 Boss 302

'70_Ford_Mustang_Boss_302_(Les_chauds_vendredis_'10)

A 1970 Hemi Cuda

'70_Plymouth_Barracuda_('11_Auto_classique_VAQ_Mont_St-Hilaire)

Now tell me you wouldn’t take either of these.

So tell me, what are your “money no object” choices?