Once you got it going…it was almost drivable.
We bought a new car this weekend. This new car got me thinking about my old cars.
You already heard about my lightning car (Rowdy) – but I’ve owned a lot of crap since then.
When it became apparent that a 1970 Oldsmobile with 400 horsepower wouldn’t exactly work as a commuting car to college, my dad and I went shopping.
We came home with a Vette.
A Chevy Chevette.
If you’re fairly young, and not familiar with the Chevy Chevette, think of it as a modern-day scooter, with a hideous metal enclosure for shelter. Compared to a scooter it had much worse reliability, and about the same pickup. Actually, I think most scooters are faster.
My Chevette was a short, silver number…with an all red vinyl interior.
The ladies swooned.
About a month or so into ownership of this beauty, I realized the trouble it was going to cause me.
I live in New England, where it tends to get cold. Very cold.
This is unfortunate if your car’s interior is basically plastic…as anything heavier than a sponge sitting on said frozen red vinyl tends to cause cracks and tears and San Andreas-sized fault lines across your seats and dashboard (a.k.a., Chevette "character lines").
It’s also unfortunate if your car is a giant piece of dogsh*t…as a dogsh*t vehicle doesn’t like to (a) start in the cold, or (b) continue to run in the cold.
In order to start my car in the morning, I needed to keep the thing revved at the redline. After fifteen minutes of pegging my gas pedal without actually going anywhere (you can thank me for single-handedly destroying the ozone in the late eighties), I would be able to actually let the thing idle and continue on my way.
The problem is that when it’s 5 degrees outside, I don’t want to actually SIT in the car doing this. It’s hard enough seeing my tiny balls as it is…I don’t need the added shrinkage factor to add to my self-esteem issues.
With my ingenuity kicking in, I’d take a car-scraper (for those of you in the Southern states, this is basically a giant barbecue spatula we use up here for carving ice off of our cars), and would extend it to about three feet. After starting my car, I would take said scraper and wedge it between the gas pedal and my driver’s seat…thus flooring the accelerator and allowing me to get back inside the house, where I could once again see my balls.
Adding insult to injury was the fact that even with the car running, and sometimes actually DRIVING, it would sometimes decide it just wanted to stop.
The first time I ran into this, where my car spontaneously decided it had enough of driving for one day, I thought I was running out of gas.
I was driving down the road, when the car started sputtering. The gas tank said it was half full, but it certainly felt like I was running out of gas.
Not believing my gas gauge, I reached past the steering wheel and flicked the plastic window in front of the gas gauge to see if it was stuck.
It didn’t move.
I did it again.
At this point, the gas needle broke off and landed on the inside of the dash behind the window.
Motherf*cker. What kind of quality do you have when the simple act of flicking your dashboard can break part of it? This is why I buy foreign.
Anyway, this began my adventures of “how much gas do I have in the Chevette?” and “...think I’ll make it?”
Good times…good times…
Anyway…with broken gas gauge and sputtering car, I would drive with one of my friends the 35 miles each way to school in the morning. Sometimes, my car would simply start sputtering at stop lights and would eventually die until I restarted it.
I found that the only way to fix this BEFORE it died, was to stop and restart it as soon as I felt the sputters. A pain, yes…but it worked…for a while.
One afternoon, we were coming home from school on the highway, doing about 50 (top speed in this car). It had just snowed a few days before, and the highway was piled on the sides with 4-foot snowbanks.
…then I felt it…the car started…shaking…
..ah..crap…it was stalling…
The first thing that came to mind, was to shut the car off and turn it back on.
So I reached down, grabbed the key, and shut the car off.
At the exact moment that I clicked the key to the “OFF” position, I knew I did something wrong.
I only remember my friend faintly looking at me as I was reaching down to shut it off and starting to say, “What are you….?”
Mind you…I’m on the highway doing 50 miles per hour.
…it’s at this point, with the car off, that the wonderful little device known as the “Steering Wheel Lock” kicked in.
…and locked my steering wheel 30 degrees to the right.
With the car no longer aimed straight ahead and now locked into it’s new trajectory, we immediately shot off the side of the highway...and straight into a snowbank…doing 50 miles an hour.
I can only imagine what this looked like from behind. A perfectly straight road…plowed...clear blue skies. And the car in front takes a sharp right hand turn for no apparent reason and crashes into a pile of snow.
Snow everywhere…my face implanted in my cracked red vinyl steering wheel…I sat up and looked at the entire front end of my car buried in the snow.
And then felt the swift smack on the back of my head from my buddy in the passenger seat.
Lip bit, head smacked, and utterly embarrassed, I turned the key.
And that bitch started right up and drove home without a single other blip. The car was towed from my house at my expense shortly thereafter.
…but I kept the gas gauge needle just to spite it.