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Thinking the unthinkable

remember it was not too long ago that gas was hovering around $4.50 a gallon out here in the Bay Area. Mike Bumbeck was driving his Toyota Starlet all over the place and I was thinking, “Man, maybe he is on to something here.” Not that the car really struck me as cool, but the mileage was nothing to sneeze at. Then there was all that talk about late model turbo powerplant swapping, and if it was true, then maybe the proverbial @#$% box would be fun to drive.
Now that gas is back under two bucks a gallon I still think Mike is on to something. I will probably take the Satellite out for a spin more than once every other month, but it is still for sale because I can’t see needing two gas guzzlers in the 21st century. Storage isn’t cheap out here and my desire to hoard is slipping away; besides, it would be so cool to see someone get all stoked on the “old girl” the way I used to be. You know, driving it all the time, taking it to the bracket race, tinkering and tuning, waxing and polishing. The old routine.
Back to the @#$% boxes…it takes a bit of imagination but sometimes these little cars can be pretty neat. Mike recently dug up an ad featuring two Dodge Colt wagons. (these are really Mitsubishis, remember when?) Being solidly into wagons I was intrigued…intrigued to the point where I was thinking, “Hmmmm, where could I stash one of these things?’’ This was decidedly dangerous thinking for sure. I mean, I just moved into a studio apartment and I’m on the third hood-locking system for my poor old “Nono”. What would I be doing with another car? I told myself, “Just think of the mileage…”
But really, could a Colt wagon replace “Nono”? Somehow, I can’t really see it. It is not nearly as cool as the ’64 Dart, no way, no how. The Colt does not have bug eye, jet pod headlights or a push button transmission and it never will. However, a few sad facts remain.

“Nono”, like her owner, is not getting any younger and the rust is truly on the move. Some heavy cutting is soon to be in order. The windshield will receive another glopping of silicone, but once the cowl holding it in place is completely gone then it’s off with the top and it’s roadster wagon time. The six is still strong and so is the transmission. The front end seems solid enough, but the rear springs are slowly losing it.  The brakes are getting pathetic and that is the biggest of all the rubs. I can’t justify throwing disc brakes into a full rust bucket…the price is too high. The little nine-inchers are doing their best but the reality is that they suck, especially in the rain, and they will soon need an expensive overhaul.
So I am back to thinking, “Nice little Dodge Colt wagon. Disc brakes, fuel efficient, probably doesn’t leak, might even be able to sleep in it with a gentle bend of my knees…..” Hold on. Not just yet. As long as the beautiful ticking sound of solid lifters is still emanating from under “Nono’s” hood, there will be no Dodge Colt wagons in my stable. I’ll put up with the leaks and the wind blowing ‘round the doors just so I can keep punching gears on the dashboard.

So, the automotive fantasy see-saw keeps right on going. Once they mange to pump the price of gas back up to $4.50, I’m sure thoughts of tidy little Japanese wagons will return to haunt me. Until that happens, I’ll keep on driving little “Nono” everywhere. I am reasonably sure she has enough life and enough steel left in her for at least two more trips to Bonneville. We’ll see how wet these next two Northern California winters are.

Enjoy your holidays this December wherever you might be, and keep your family and friends in a warm embrace. See you next year, when a whole new era begins.   

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