Beater vehicles

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A Brad post got me thinking about beater cars of my past.

Our Dad handed down to his sons cars that should've been towed to the scrapyard. Instead, they became our means of youthful escape...provided we always carried jumper cables, wore sensible walking shoes, and enjoyed a weird sense of humour. It's funny how the memory plays tricks. Dents become dimples, rust is remembered as rosy blushes, and "prone to stalling" is now fondly called "prone to forgetting to idle". One car I/we drove had a rusted out rear end, which mean't we had to keep the trunk lid closed or the whole back end would bottom out. If luggage had to be tossed in the trunk, we just jacked up the rear until we could get the trunk lid closed again...no problem. Another leaked exhaust fumes so bad, my brother drove with windows down, and kept a running conversation with any backseat occupants, "just to make sure they were still conscious".

So this is not completely off topic I’ll offer than I have carried a canoe on every car I’ve ever owned, including my first vehicle – a Fiat 850 Spider convertible (put the top down and put a suction cup roof rack on the rear engine boot).

https://www.google.com/search?q=fia...ww.bertone.it%2Fcento%2Fcentouk.htm;7260;5268

Bought used, and very cheap at that. I came to believe that it had likely been drowned in Hurricane Agnes. Lots of the electrical stuff didn’t work, including the heater. The seats eventually rusted loose from the floor brackets, which was bad enough (one thing the Spider would do was corner like it was on rails), but in addition the passenger side door would occasionally fly open. Wearing the lap belt was mandatory.

The side windows had a tendency to shatter if you shut the door too hard, so eventually it did without windows.

Towards the end the wipers ceased to function. I was dirt poor and had just started working on a snow removal crew. Driving to work, no heater and no wipers was no fun, but having no windows allowed me to stick my arm out of the car and swipe a squeegee across the windshield.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who owned a hooptie. The ’68 Chrysler Newport was another POS vehicle that hadn’t aged well.

https://www.google.com/search?q=chr...Chrysler_Newport_Custom_photo-9.JPG;3059;2303

Let’s hear about ‘em.
 
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Alright, I'll bite, but my story may be a bit different...as I've intimated, I was brought up differently.

My BIL gave me my 1st car when I was 16 years old. I already had my motorcycle license, and a motorcycle, that I rode as weather permitted. I was pretty excited to have this car given to me, a 1961 two door Chevy Bel Air. It didn't run, but was in fine shape, interior and shiny black body nearly flawless, especially for an 11 year old car in the northeast! BIL had transplanted a small V8 in it to replace the blown straight six and never got it to run. I worked on that car for a few weeks every day after school and work when it was light enough to see. All work was done outdoors, no garage, no lights, so my time was limited. After a new fuel pump, points (remember those??) plugs, wires and fluids, I was about ready to buy insurance and register the car. I was pretty excited when I had a Friday afternoon free, to go to DMV and register the vehicle.
As I pulled into the driveway, with my fresh registration and plates in hand, I noticed the Chevy had been moved...or rather, it wasn't where I had left it.
I went in the house and asked "where's my car?"
"Oh, that old thing!?", my mother said, "we gave that to your cousin Frank".
"What, you can't, I have the registration!!" I said, "Where is he? and get it back, I just fixed it". I was pissed, and somewhat shocked.
"Oh, it's way too late for that", she said..."He took it to one of those demolition derbies".

And that was the last of my first car...I never had a chance to put a canoe on the roof.
 
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Feb 14, 2013
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I am "that dad" - giving the beater to the son. :eek:

My son's first vehicle was an old Chevy p/u that ran, but needed work - which I bought for the purpose of keeping him busy and...um...humble. He did work on it, and he enjoyed that (the work, I mean). That was followed by an almost-dead Dodge D-50 that Grandpa laid on him, which he restored to life in high-school auto shop. The Chevy then went on to another life. Later, I bought (at his prodding) a "basket-case" Toyota p/u that literally had to be assembled for use. The deal as I recall was supposed to be that he would do the work as a shop-project, and I would then drive it. I don't recall that I ever did get to drive the thing, and it served him well until he got the wants for a Jeep.

What has this to do with canoes?

Well...My son has settled into a career as a mechanic now, and he like canoes too. A little over a year ago, I relinquished my beater canoe-hauler to him - with 200,000+ miles on it.



Being a mechanic, he is eeking out a little more life from it than I would, I think. He is getting a little sentimental about the thing now, but we are hoping he will just part it out when it dies.

I do sometimes miss having the beater for canoe-hauling. I never gave it a thought when left in isolated places or places where it might be broken into. It had that look of "nothing valuable here".

Me? Heck - I road a bicycle until I was eighteen. Wasn't even interested in driving until I got a real job. I skipped the beater thing back then.
 
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Great thread Mike, except I'm not sure I can connect cars to canoes of my past. Anyway, my first car was a badly repainted Datsun 510, Dijon mustard yellow, a boxy looking sedan. It set me back $900 cash. Everyone thought I'd been ripped off, but I thought it was "so ridiculously retro looking, it's cool!" Well, perhaps someday...I put 4 snow tires on it and a huge heavy log in the trunk (rear wheel drive, remember those?) for the winter. It drove and handled like a little tank. All the bondo made the body solid enough, that whenever I caromed off snow banks on deep and snow banked Quebec backroads, it felt indestructible. I even drove it hard on logging roads commuting to work. A few years later,it died an ignominious auto death in our city apartment parking lot. The poor old dear just gave up. It was my favourite car, until I fell in love with my second one...another beater...
Beater # 2 was a little front wheel drive standard Renault 5 with rubbery canvas soft top. It had an 8 track tape machine, my friends thought was "old school cool." I had to park it on hills though, cause the starter was "un peu de problem." It's funny how you get the knack for steering, pushing, and jumping in, to start the goofy little thing going. One day, after a family day out, my little lovely overheated and the glass rad reservoir blew up! The kids in the backseat whooped it up! They thought it was another of Dad's fun surprises. Umm, no. It was a blown head gasket. I nearly blew one myself. Oh well.
 
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I had to park it on hills though, cause the starter was "un peu de problem." It's funny how you get the knack for steering, pushing, and jumping in, to start the goofy little thing going .

Brad, I knew I had forgotten things about the Spider and that reminded me of another Fix It Again Tony aspect - it would not go into reverse. I got pretty good at pushing it out of parking spaces provided I hadn’t parked on too steep a hill.
 
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Oh, transmission problems. I once briefly owned a Dodge Tradesman Van. I think I bought it because it had a standard "3 on the tree" transmission. I was an idiot. I quickly became dextrous at pulling over onto the shoulder, crawling underneath, and yanking on the tranny arms to get it unstuck from 2nd gear. I used to leave it unlocked, hoping...It would be a pretty hard van to make a quick getaway in, having to pull over and crawl underneath every once in awhile.
 
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