Monday, February 26, 2007

Car Blog - (Huge and Image Heavy)

The Car Blog...(huge and image heavy!)

Current mood:nostalgic

IN THE BEGINNING

Some people say getting there is half the fun. I have probably been raised to believe it is all the fun, LOL! I have always been enamored of everything with wheels. I was reading the drivers handbook when I was an elementary school student, in anticipation of getting my drivers license. Since my earliest memory, I have always had a fascination with toy cars, toy motorcycles, and as I grew up, my bicycles, cars and motorcycles have always taken a key place in my life. Many of my most memorable memories have something to do with a conveyance of some type.

By way of this blog, I am going to bring up a few of the memorable vehicles in my life, and maybe a story or two about them. This assuredly will be a little more insight on what makes me tick! There are patterns which follow me into my adult life as well. Putting the pics for this blog together made me see that, and I personally got a chuckle. I am sure that those who were around with me back then will be laughing too.

My family was not affluent by any means, so when we had things given to us as children, we were expected to keep them in good condition. Something as expensive as a bike could not be abused, so I started an early pattern of idolizing my bicycle…cleaning and waxing, trying to keep it in good condition, because there was no money for repair or replacement. My father made this clear in his "stern" warnings when he saw abuse occur. One of his most formidable punishments to me would be the threat of taking my bike away.

This was my first "real" bike, the King Lion, banana seat and all, LOL! I remember riding it to school after school (wasn't allowed to ride it to school) and hitting the coaster brake and the pedal got caught on the loose chain guard and I ran into one of the teachers, LOL! I was always physically small (until about age 19) so note how low the seat is riding, LOL! Years later my dad got a good deal at K-mart on bicycles and came home with 2-26inch adult bikes for me and my sister…but I am sure he realized that I was too short to ride it. This made for some precarious start and stops, LOL!

The K-mart All Pro lasted me well until my 13th birthday. BMX was all the rage, and your street cred was only as good as the bike you rode. I was always the nerdy kid with the bobo shoes and the bobo bike. To my Dad's credit, for my 13th birthday he got me a very cool Webco BMX bike. This got me instant respect when riding in packs with my friends. It ran a cool $150, LOL, but that was a time when $150 was a lot, and it was a LOT more in our house. He of course also left me the caveat that I was not to ride it in the manner that it was intended to be ridden…IE, no stunts, jumps or wheelies or the sort. As anticlimactic as that was, I merely learned to be evasive, and make sure that he didn't see me do any such riding!

The Webco took me all over town…it was the vehicle that I discovered my freedom, at an age when I was looking to explore outside of my boundaries, solo. I rode that thing for MILES around the area. I had many bicycles after that, but that was the one that I had my love affair with. The last bike I bought, the one I currently ride, a GT Mountain Bike, reminds me a LOT of the Webco in shape and stature…and color. I bought it brand new in 95 or so and it is still clicking. All my friends at the time went to a bike shop and bought brand new bikes at the same time, and took to riding as often as possible. I am the only one who still has the same bike, LOL!

One of those friends is my good friend Rob. He plays a major role in this blog. Rob is uber handy…one of those guys who mechanical stuff has ALWAYS come naturally to. Rob was the guy who could fix your lawnmower or bicycle as a kid, and as an adult he could take your car apart and put it back together, paint it, or repair your house…LOL! He literally could do anything he set his mind to, literally, if it involved mechanical items. He was my go to guy as a kid if I damaged my bike and didn't want to tell my dad…or if I popped a tire, he could change the tube for me without me sweating the folks. Ironically, one of the first rides we went on with our new bikes in 95, saw me nail a stair head on and pop my front tire, LOL! We still laugh about that.

STARTING TO DRIVE

As I became old enough to drive, bikes remained important, but the car was king. My neighbor Richard gave me driving lessons at the local school, when I was 12 or so, in his Datsun Pickup. That was also the first vehicle I wrecked. I was backing it out of his backyard to the front yard while hanging out of the drivers door, looking back. I failed to see the jalousie windows on the house and took out the window and bent the door up on the truck! D'oh! Richard was forgiving though, but as an adult now, I think he had to be pissed at himself.

I got the motorcycle bug from my friend Mark. Mark's dad always got him mini-bikes or motorcycles, and was loose about let him ride them on the street as well as the field across from his house, and the nearby woods. As they always had a few around, they were happy to let me borrow one to go along. I used to ride on the back of Mark's dad's motorcycle, as well as the cycle that my brother had while living at home.

The first car I had responsibility for was the family Impala.

This was a car my dad had gotten brand new in 1972. We always had a new car, because my dad was funny that way…we were dirt poor, but in his minds eye, it was cheaper to make payments on a new car than it was to repair an old one. Rob's parents were the opposite, they always drove older cars, and saved their money. The first car I can actually remember was a white 68 Chevy wagon, and he traded that in on a 70 Kingswood (metallic green) then another 72 Kingswood, ultimately ending up with the 73 Impala, which we kept somewhat permanently, getting out of the pattern of trade ins. As the Impala got older, and my Mom was working more, he picked up a second car to drive, and ultimately, he took his car as the primary car and the Impala became my Moms car…and every kid in my family learned to drive with it. By the time it got to me, no one else was at home, so I had more carte blanch with it than the other kids.

The pattern continued that my Dad wanted nothing changed on the car, but I was wanting stereos and performance…I did buy a stereo and had Rob sneak it in. Then I begged my dad to let me and Rob give it a tune up. This was huge, as he did not want anyone other than a certified mechanic even change an air filter. Rob and I went to JM Fields and bought all we needed for a complete tune up. We then took er out for a test spin. We got pretty far away onto LPGA to "let er out and blow out the carbon" when it started backfiring miserably. The muffler blew off, and I could not get to but about 20mph. I limped the car home and all my Dad could do is say I told you so. A few days later, we figured out that some shrink wrap plastic was on the points in the distributor. Cleaned the points, and all was well, except for a trip to the muffler shop.

ROBBY AND THE LTD

Meanwhile Rob had his own car. Rob was not even old enough to drive when he got his first car, a 1970 LTD. He parked it in his backyard, and it became the hobby to take it apart and fix stuff. Our friend Kaley lived behind Rob. Kaley's step dad had a car lot, and that is where the LTD came from. Kaley then sold it to Rob. Kaley wrecked one side of the front, so that needed attention. Ultimately, once Rob got the car on the road after getting his license, he wrecked the other side, so the whole front end was botched up. We used to beat the CRAP out of that car…going 30mph in reverse then throwing it in drive, letting the big block 390 melt rubber all over the road, LOL!

We took it in the woods, we drove the HELL out of it. Rob also gave me driving lessons in this car before I had a license. I spent MANY hours with Rob working on this car, as well as cruising. To this day, other than my Galaxy, this is the only car I can say I have touched and seen every square inch of!! Taking it apart, putting it back, customizing….saw it all.

After awhile, the project became to get the LTD back into better than new shape, fresh panels and paint, etc… We found a parts car in a tow yard, and Rob proceeded to get it back looking good, with a performance edge…mags, sheet metal firewall, etc…

More about the LTD to come later…

MY NEW VETTE

As this was going on, my Dad conceded that I could take care of a car, and the Impala was getting a little long in the tooth (for a car in those days…they didn't have the lifespan of a car today). We decided to trade the Impala in on a brand new car…one my Mom could use for work in the morning, and I could have the rest of the time for whatever. So we went to the Chevy dealer and got a brand new Chevette Scooter, LOL!

As if being a Chevette weren't prestigious enough, this was a Scooter…the basest of the base models. It did not even have armrest or door panels, just vinyl covered cardboard, LOL! BUT, it was a brand new car, but it was also very lemony, much to my dismay. I did put a cool stereo in it, professionally installed thank you. I had the prestige of going to school with my new GM key and telling the kids that I got a new Vette. Of course it was a "chev" and not a "cor". It was all you could do to get it's anemic little ass to 70 mph, but, it was reliable and had air…and you could turn on the air to help you slow down, LOL!

My Dad got sick of the car, and in his infinite financial wisdom, "gave it back". Of course, as an adult, I see that goes on your record as a repo, but I digress…

Without a car, I spent more time working and cruising with Rob on the LTD.

TOYOTA SR-5 LIFTBACK

Ultimately, a car came my way. My sister was living in Tampa and had gotten married. She and her hubby were visiting, and on the way home they broke down in Sanford. They had to leave the car in Sanford, but as my sister had a car in Tampa, it was not the end of the world. Her husband said that if I would go pay for the repairs to the car and pick it up, that I could have it, and consider it a graduation present. So off to Sanford I went to pick up my Toyota SR-5 Corolla Liftback.

This was an enlightening vehicle, in that it showed me the great quality of Japanese vehicles (especially after stepping out of a Chevette). It was fast, reliable, economic, and I loved it. Did some more work to fix it up and was planning to paint it Porsche India Red and add mag wheels. My plan was to think about driving it to Colorado to visit family, and possibly consider working there at the Coors Plant. It was then that I was asked by the brother in law and sister to borrow the car back for a week or so as they needed a car until my sisters was fixed. So I took it to Tampa. That was the last I ever saw of it. The reasons why I never saw it again wont be debated here, as it is water under the bridge, and the cause of a lot of strife between me and my family. But, the car is gone…the sisters husband is gone…. It's all good.

But here I am without a car…again.

THE GREAT WHITE

Rob had gotten a car from a family member in Virginia, so he really did not need the LTD anymore, which was kind of sitting in front of his house looking for attention. As I was emotionally invested in the car as well, I became it's next legal owner! I bought it for $700, and I had to make payments on that, LOL! But Rob and his family trusted me , and I did not let them down. This started a pattern…any time Rob's family had a car to sell, they always called me first, and I bought it…either for a family member or to re-sell or trade. This also started a horse trading pattern with me and cars that would lead to so many going thru my hands.

Man, did I have fun with this car. Man, did I go thru some tires, LOL! Six miles to the gallon, and the four barrel was always gulping. For as heavy as this car was , it could truly perform. In retrospect, and after driving modern cars for years now, I don't see how we weren't killed in this car, LOL! The amazing stunts we pulled…and lived to talk about. I can remember working at a gas station, pulling soda bottles out of the trunk and cashing them in and putting enough gas in the car to make sure I could get home without running out, LOL! What is even more amazing, this car had gone thru hell and back several times, and when it was all cleaned up and proper, people used to come into where I worked and ask about "My Old Ford", or tell me "nice old Ford", or compliment the condition and performance of it…and now that I think about it, the car was ONLY 13 YEARS OLD!! LOL! Like I said, cars had no lifespan, especially due to rust and engine failure. Cars did not regularly see the 100k mark back then, LOL!

This car has legendary status among my friends, and the stories are far more than I could put here, but anyone who knew me or Rob then, has a story about this car! In my circle, the car became known as "THE GREAT WHITE".

A BIKER IS BORN

While I owned the LTD, I also acquired my first street motorcycle, a Kawasaki AR-80. I bought it from my friend Jimmy.

This was another ride that caught attention since it kinda stuck out around town. GPZ's were really hot, and I had this set up looking like a GPZ, except that it was only an 80cc bike, LOL! This was my first taste of motorcycle road freedom, and I actually went pretty far distances with it, even though it was so small. I kept it for a good while, ultimately selling it to buy bigger and better stuff.

GOODBYE GREAT WHITE, HELLO ECONOMY

But, the LTD was not to be for much longer. So what makes one part with a legend? Age? Maturity? Who knows, but after having it towed home one night after a breakdown, I had a taste in my mouth for something newer, and more economical.

I hit the lots and found my muse, but I had no credit. The salesman wrote up the deal, and the guy who was buying my car backed out at the final hour, so they re-wrote the deal as a trade in, raised my interest rate, and after bending over and taking it like a man, I had a newer car, and a credit rating.

This car literally belonged to a little old lady and was pretty much a no thought car…working air, 4 cyl, automatic. It was a slug. First time taking it on the highway I SOO missed the big block Ford. I paid way too much at too high an interest rate, but, you hadda do what you hadda do. I used to go visit the LTD after seeing it at a used car lot in New Smyrna. Some bikers bought it, and I used to see it running around town, but alas, it disappeared.

With my new credit, I got my first credit card at the tire store, and put mags and wide tires on it, and tinted the windows, and added a mack daddy stereo.

While I had this car, I bought another motorcycle, a Yamaha IT-250.

I bought this from a friend, John, who was trading up to a 490 of the same model. I rode off road with him a couple of times, but he was a far better rider, and the 490 was a monster to keep up with! I got a LOT of off road time with this bike, but, I also put a plate on the back and it had rudimentary lights, so I actually operated it on the road! It was not really street legal, but the cops saw the plate, and the lights and usually looked the other way, unless I was screaming! I left a gas station with it once, hell bent for election, running stop signs and pulling wheelies. There was a Sherriff right behind me the whole time! He thought I was eluding him, but I was just having so much fun I didn't see him. After a long detention and explanation, he let me go with a verbal warning to cool it. Parked here in the lot as it was, it was stolen from me. Months later it was found, spray painted and in some bushes. I restored it to its glory and rode it for many years. Ultimately I gave up motocross riding and sold the motorcycle to a friend of mine.

TIME TO TRY A 4x4

I was content with the Datsun B-210, as it did what it needed to do, but then an offer came my way. My friend Mark's dad was a car guy who was always trading or buying cars. He ended up with a new Toyota 4x4 pickup, SR-5 black package. Sweet truck. I used it to do an errand for him, and I loved it…he liked my car because it was low, and he was having back problems at the time, and since it was automatic, his wife could drive it eaiser, so we agreed to trade. He gave me a sweet deal, and cosigned my loan for me, getting me out of the high interest loan I was in. Mark helped the deal because he knew the Datsun had this cool thing that you could do…turn off the key…coast, turn on the key and POW!!!! Those backfires are probably what got me the truck deal, LOL! THANKS MARK.

So here I come rolling home in a truck that there is NO WAY I should have been able to afford, but did. This added to the speculation at the time (it was Florida in the 80s) that I must have been dealing drugs or something, LOL! Even my parents were impressed. Impressed enough to notice, 1 week later, the damage to the front.

I got nailed by a drunk driver while sitting still at a yield sign at the old Seabreeze traffic circle. A kid on a bike was riding the wrong way and went in front of the drunk, the drunk swerved and pinned the bicycle between his car and my truck…the drunk had no insurance, and the kid had a broken leg. Consequently, the kid got a lawyer and tried to sue me, and my insurance company was refusing to pay my claim as they claimed they did not know it was a 4x4. This was my first time having to hire an attorney.

I emerged victorious on all fronts, but while litigation was pending, this truck was hit no less than 5 more times…rear ended twice, hit by a motorcycle, and more! I got all my claim checks together, and took the truck to the body shop to have it put back correctly. When I picked it up, the only thing missing was the Toyota emblem for the grille, and he said he would call me when it was in. I backed out of the body shop, went to the stop sign and made a left to US-1, made a left on US-1 and stopped a light…not 2 minutes from the body shop. While at that light…I was rear ended.

The truck proved to be great for moving stuff, loading my motorcycles in and out, and of course, off road driving. Let's go muddin', LOL! Oh did I say "motorcycles"?

While I had the truck I bought my next motorcycle:

This motorcycle I bought from my buddy Mark…the son of the guy I bought the truck from. He and I had a lot of woods time riding, and he is basically the guy who taught me how to ride a motorcycle. He bought this, his first street bike, but was spooked riding on the street, so he sold it to me. This was an amazingly fast bike with unbelievable handling capability. I had a blast riding around on this, and used to take it on quite long rides by myself. I kept this bike for many years, even after buying other vehicles…

ROLLIN… IN MY 5.0..

All the accidents with the truck just became too much, and I had an urge to rid myself of the truck. So while going home from work, I drove by Bob Bonamy's lot (Father of Jimmy Bonamy the singer) and saw my next car.

This is probably, by far the favorite car I have ever owned; an 85 Mercury Capri. It is basically a Mustang with body changes. It was equipped with a high output 302 with factory roller rockers and all kinds of other performance and suspension mods. It was the last year that a 4 barrel carb appeared on the cars. Backed with the 5 speed, it was capable of turning 14 second ¼ mile runs and stunning stunts such as skids, slides, donuts, etc… I dabbled with street racing a bit with the LTD, but this car was a strong contender, so I was doing a LOT of street racing with it, and surprising a lot of people when I beat them. My seasoned buddy was a Mustang GT fanatic and encouraged me to race it at the drag strip. My first time at the strip, I ran really good times and my buddy got mad because I turned better times than him, LOL! I loved taking the car to the strip. This was another car that had good street cred because of how visible I was on street race nights, and from the rep I had blowing people away light to light on the beachside cruise circuit.

A favorite Capri story…only one witness I can name, my brother… I had just washed the car, and at the time I lived in Port Orange, so I jumped on US-1 toward New Smyrna to "blow dry" the car. My brother came along. I had changed the speedometer from the stock 85mph speedo to a custom 140mph speedo. I like to show him how much of that I could use…LOL! It would do a lot of it. So at about 60 mph I came upon an old Chrysler in the next lane…with a …errr….shall we say rural family. They had a good looking daughter and a protective dad. The dad was in the backseat with the daughter and he was giving us an evil eye, so we gave him the eye back. He started flipping us off, so I got over it, and opened it up to about 70 to get past him (4 lane highway…US-1 between PO and NSB for you locals…). Mom, driving, sped up. I just laughed and hit it up into the 120's and put a lot of distance between us. Decelerating, I got to about 85 and saw a paved divide in the median, so (think Jim Rockford here kids…) I did what any rational person would do, and pulled the emergency brake, to slide the rear of the car toward the divide…at 85, LOL. I was up against the drivers door and my knee lowered the power window…as I was rolling backwards toward the divide, in my proper lane, the Chrysler family passed me and I flipped the dad off, then hit the brakes Jim Rockford style to slide into the divide, landing perfectly in the proper North bound lane, smoking the tires in acceleration. All my brother could say is "I think I just came a little…". LOL!

So many other stories…so little time… This was the car that I drove from South Carolina to Flagler Beach in 2 hours….another story.

Like the LTD, anyone that knew me while I had this car, also has a story to tell.

Ahhh, youthful exuberance. That no one was ever killed or injured because of my ignorance is amazing, but I was careful in my carelessness.

Not so careful was the fellow who ultimately hit me head on….

I was leaving work to take a deposit to the bank. I was behind a milk truck, and the milk truck was making a left turn into a convenience store. As I accelerated after the truck turned, a guy in a Monte Carlo attempted to pass the back of the truck by crossing into my lane and flooring it. We hit head on, then the backs of both cars came up in the air, and we both landed door to door facing south. I was OK, barring some back and neck injuries. I thought I was ok, got of the car and my legs were wobbly, so I went to the hospital. Months and months of chiropractic care followed.

The car should have been totaled, but they thought they could save it, and the insurance company agreed…much to their chagrin…it took over $7000 to repair it…(a lot back then!). While it was being repaired, I rented a Dodge Dynasty and drove the hell out of it! While I had the rental, I put about 14,000 miles on it, LOL!

During this period, I had been horse trading cars a bit, since I worked at a gas station that allowed me storage, as well as my house, and my friends houses who would allow me to stash a car now and again.

ENTER THE GREAT WHITE II - 66 Galaxy

I ended up buying another Capri that apparently had some problems. I got it really cheap…and found that the only problem the car had was a loose flywheel. My friend was in the market for a new customized van and wanted to trade his car in on one…a 66 Ford Galaxy. The car was sweet and original with cold air. I told him to take my spare Capri to trade in on the van, and if they gave him a reasonable number for the Capri that I would take the Galaxy. That worked, and I brought home the next love of my life:

I just used this as a daily driver and cruiser…it had a small block, glass packs and was a smooth cruiser.

Got the Capri back from the body shop, and it seemed fine after the bugs were worked out. The Galaxy was sweet…had the motorcycles and a small stable of other cars.

THE SPACE SHUTTLE

One of those cars, I bought from my buddy Roland…a 69 Buick Skylark.

This car served Roland well, but he replaced it with something nicer. I bought it from him for one reason…just to do burnouts. My friend Mark drove me to Roland's to buy it. I had to take a battery with me, as it had no battery. Mark was laughing at me as I installed the battery, saying, why are you buying this car? Once the battery was in, I drove to the corner, turned around, and launched the shuttle back in his direction! He needed no more explanation. Picture a space shuttle launch…you know how the smoke billows then the craft rises out of the smoke? That is what I looked like in this car… I would just bake the tires until you couldn't see the car or anything inside, then come out of the smoke with smoke pouring out of the windows and out of the trunk, LOL! It was amazing, LOL!!! I immediately put 15" rims on the back and had a good relationship with a used tire dealer. Anytime that car left, it was to do burnouts, LOL! The car was painted with flat black BBQ paint. Easy to touch up. I ultimately took to marking it up like a street race car, and equipped it with fake nitrous gauges and tanks…anything to give the illusion that it really was a fast car…it really wasn't, but it was intimidating with its fake accessories, LOL! That, and the fake ¼ mile times I marked up the window with, making it look like I just drove off the drag strip.

Rob was my roommate at the time, and his car was out of commission due to an accident, so I loaned him the Buick for awhile. When he was done with it, I continued the pattern of abuse that I had bought the car for, taking it in the woods, screaming burnouts, and ultimately damaging the suspension after a Dukes of Hazzardish entry to my apartment complex that saw me airborne. Roland was following me the whole time and got to witness this, LOL. On the landing I broke a drag link on the rear and the body sat on the tires skidding me to a stop, LOL! I called AAA and had them tow it to my friends shop in Bunnell, where some old time know how on his part got the Buick back on the road again.

We took it on a roadtrip to Jacksonville and some guys in a Suzuki Samurai tried to start a fight with us, and put a tire iron on the front fender while we were at a red light. I had no intention of fighting, but all of us in the car agreed that we would chase these guys and if the car broke down, I would just put the title under the wiper and find a bus station, LOL! We chased these guys all over Jacksonville. We had no fear or care about the car. They finally got away by cutting across a golf course. We stopped for a drink, checked the car for damage and headed home down US-1. Along the way, I was pulled over, apparently for speeding. There were about 5 patrol cars behind me…then they let me go with a warning. I was so afraid that something had happened in Jax that I did not know about, LOL!

Meanwhile, while Rob was repairing his car, he got an old 63 Fairlane to beat around in. He decided to trade it in on a brand new Mazda. I knew my Buick was not going to hold up much longer, so I let him trade in the Buick, and I took the Fairlane.

I didn't do much more than just drive it around, and ultimately sold it. The Buick on the other hand became a race car for the dealership to use in the sack races…you race a car with a sack over your head.

Of course, how do you come out of sack races unscathed?

NEEDING A CAMARO TO GIVE ME A REASON TO GROW A MULLET

Speaking of crashes, the Capri had a stigma to me from the crash, and I saw one identical to it advertised for sale in Orlando at a dealership. I drove to the dealership and parked way down the street, then when in to check it out. It was nowhere near as nice as mine. They tried to give me a hard sell to get top dollar. Meanwhile, a lady came in to buy a Jeep (she was pregnant and needed room) and was trading in a nice z-28. I expressed an interest in taking it as is, and when they saw my trade in , they knew why I was there…LOL! My car presented itself very nice, but they wanted to lowball me. So after 8 hours of explaining to them how my car was worth more than theirs, and that if they wanted to close a sale they needed to meet me in the middle, I gave them my car, and $1500 and drove away with my new Z-28 Camaro.

After getting the payment book for the new loan, I decided this was the last car I was ever making payments on, and I made the Z last for many years. I never even modified it at all for many years, other than adding louvers. Many years later I added a better stereo and rims and tires.

After a short period of ownership, of course I had to continue the crash pattern;

With Roland and Angel in the car with me, I was on Clyde Morris about 2 a.m. A black cat ran across the road and we were joking about bad luck…and just a few blocks later a car blew a red light and ran into my path. It was a Mustang and I took off everything from her water pump forward. Another claim, another rental car…but it had no structural damage and fixed up good as new! You really couldn't tell when it was done.

DATSUN 280-Z

While driving the Z and the others, I added more cars to the stable….

This was the car so nice I bought it twice. I bought it from my friend Paul whose daughter was driving it. I sold it to Roland for what I paid for it since he needed a car. When Roland decided to move to Atlanta some time later, I bought it back.

TAURUS WAGON

The company I worked for always had a company car, and they traded it in every two years. I got savvy and started buying them instead of letting them trade them. I could buy them for the trade in value and re-sell them. The one I kept was the Taurus

It was practical for me as I could transport people in comfort, rather than pile them into my smaller or older cars. I drove it for several years, then sold it for what I paid for it, LOL! I put it and the Z-28 on the corner for sale, and decided to keep whichever one did not sell. The Taurus sold almost immediately.

66 FAIRLANE CONVERTABLE

Browsing thru the Auto Trader, I saw a car in Ft. Lauderdale that caught my eye…a 66 Fairlane Convertible. I drove down to look at it, even though he was asking a lot of money… We could not reach a deal on a price, but the guys wife mentioned a dollar amount they needed to close on a new condo, and that was why she was making him sell his car. The husband never heard that. When I left, my final offer was the amount they needed to close…and when I got back to Port Orange they left a message for me saying to come and get it, so the next day I borrowed a truck and trailer and brought her home:

This was a fun car to drive around in. Rarely did I have the top up. This car arrived at a time when my work load was low, so I was able to do a lot of cruising…often throwing my bike in the back and heading beachside.

VENTURE FOR ANOTHER BIKE

Then another opportunity arose. My buddy Mike was living in North Carolina and was about to have his motorcycle repoed. He was coming to stay at my house, and was going to give the bike back to the finance company, then hitchhike home…he was always good at traveling. When he got here, I proposed an offer…I told him I did not want to loan him the money, but asked would he consider it vulturous if I paid off his loan and took the bike? It would be a win win win because, he would avoid a repo, the agency would get the money and I would get the bike. We all agreed and my next toy was in the garage:

This bike spoiled me…a V-twin 1200 right out of the V-max…it had tire smoking power, Cadillac comfort, a blasting stereo (of course I added polypropylene speakers and an amp, LOL). It was so huge and intimidating when I got it, but I grew into it quickly…eventually selling my Ninja because I hardly rode it.

Years later, I didn't ride much because of helmet trouble. I have an odd shaped head and finding a comfy helmet became difficult. One day a guy randomly stopped at my house and asked if I was the guy selling the Gold Wing. I explained that it was not a Gold Wing and not for sale. He asked me how much I would take for it, and I told him to make an offer…and it was generous enough that I loaded it up into his truck and said goodbye! I took that as a sign, as random as it was, and all…LOL! My first time without a motorcycle, although, after the helmet law repealed, I had a network of bikes I could access. That is where I am at now, although I think I am finding myself in the market for a bike again.

REBIRTH OF COOL

One year in the early 90s we had a treacherous winter that caused a lot of vehicle damage for me. One extreme casualty was my Galaxie. The engine froze so bad that I could not even use it for a core trade in, LOL! Took the valve covers off and metal was just everywhere, LOL! I had the car towed to Bunnell to Bob's shop where it sat for several years, with a patina of green mildew and a couple flat tires, and weeds all around.

I was embarrassed when my friend Ed told me that he saw a junk car I should buy for parts, and it was mine he was talking about. With some prodding from Rob, and some money in the bank, I towed the car back from Bunnell and set out to resurrect it…just simply wanted to clean it and replace the engine.

Peer pressure to do it right turned into a project…"Hey, while the engine is out lets replace the suspension…and this …and that…and change this…and HEY, how much effort would it take to put a coat of paint on it…or reupholster…." etc… And that is what happened. A simple engine swap became a $13,000 makeover.

Meanwhile, I sold the convertible, based on a great offer, a motivated buyer and the fact that I did not see myself restoring it now that I started the galaxy project.

I traded my 280Z to a guy in Orlando for a VW bug and some living room furniture.

This was a really sweet car with a factory crank sunroof. I had these huge 80s style spinner caps on it (not pictured). I kept it for awhile, but sold it to a motivated buyer.

A FEW CARS I HAVE NO PICS OF…

I also had a washer and dryer at my house that I didn't need. I traded those for a 76 Chevette that was the complete opposite of my other Chevette…it was such a cool car. It actually had power…it would spin the tires to the amazement of everyone who ever saw it do it, LOL! The mechanic across the street from where I worked was so impressed with it he wanted it for his sons first car, so we agreed on a price. I went to his house to deliver it and he had a sweet 71 Olds Cutlass in the garage. I asked why it was there, and he said he had gotten it for his son but felt that it was too much car, and he explained it was stored in the garage as their was no title. I am good at title work, so I offered to trade him the Chevette for the Cutlass and he agreed!! I got a title pretty quick. Again, this car got gobbled up by someone who admired it and made me a great offer… It was a wonderful bright orange with a white vinyl top. All original.

I also horse traded my way into a 73 Lincoln Town Car …all black, Mafia Staff Car, LOL. Think what the villains drive on Hawaii Five-O. LOL! Lots of stories around that car as well. I have some video of it, but no photos. It has an enormous 460 engine that would boil the tires! Four miles per gallon…6 after the dual exhaust got put on.

Years ago I had bought Rob's dad's 70 Montego and gave it to my brother to drive…when he was done with it I got it back and I believe I sold it to Roland in trade for a Honda Civic…and I traded the Honda Civic for a 64 Ford Fleetside truck. I loved this truck, and it is another vehicle I am sorry I sold. I wish I still had it. The Fleetside with a wraparound rear bumper…would be very nice today. If I had put the effort into the truck instead of the Galaxie, it would not have been misdirected effort. I had a guy beg me to buy it who was in love with it more than me…he made payments to me on it, then took it home and butchered it trying to customize it. That made me sad.

FINISHING THE GREAT WHITE

Around this time I had so many cars…up to 11 at one time. I wont even start to list them all here.

Started selling them down and getting to a reasonable amount after I went into Semi-retirement in 95 ish. Went focusing on finishing the Galaxy…ultimately assembling "THE GREAT WHITE II".

Lots of stories on how it got to this point…and lots of help, and even MORE money!! But it got there, stripped completely down, all old repairs redone, block sanded and prepped, new metal in the rust, new suspension, new engine…this was a 1993 Ford Galaxy, LOL!

THUNDERBIRD

The Z-28 was racking up the miles, and I put some money into fixing it up, dressing up with new rims, tires, stereo, etc… and that was just enough to get it stolen from me. I had it parked in front of City Hall in Orlando, but it was gone when I returned. A week later they found it in Pine Hills stripped. Towed it back to Port Orange and put the stock rims back on. Drove it for awhile, but decided to sell it…gave the new owner the screwdriver to start it, LOL! They guy fixed it up and it ended up on a few car lots…and now I have seen it running around town here…

When I sold it I decided to get a newer car. I was at Don Reid Ford with a salesman test driving a Thunderbird, when I saw one on the side of the road for sale…it belonged to a guy who died and his son was selling it. With the salesman there, I checked it out…took the car back to the Ford dealership, and went and bought the roadside car!

It was a nice teal color, that does not show well in this shot. Got a good deal on it. This was the car I had when I went into the karaoke biz. I was down to this car and the two Galaxies.

I was using the T-bird to pull a trailer back and forth to work. This was not a pain until either I got to a venue where the trailer didn't fit well, or I broke down and couldn't get the trailer towed WITH the car. Found myself sitting roadside with the trailer waiting for a friend with a hitch to come take ME home, when I realized it was time to find a van.

BOSSY aka THE MYSTERY MACHINE

Went to Orlando to buy the perfect van, and when I got there, the guy sold it while I was driving there. I was pissed, and I knew of this old tired Dodge Van my mechanic was selling for a customer…so I figured I would buy it until the right van came along, then sell it for what I paid for it.

Well, this thing won me over. Slant 6 Dodge, and it just kept going and going. My equipment fit perfectly, and it didn't look like a work van, so no one knew what I was transporting, so security was good. The interior was upholstered, and it had a comfy couch/bed in the back. The van cleaned up really nice, and had the original paint and had never been wrecked. I polished it up, and it still looked like a big cow, so I called it "Bossy". My patrons at work rechristened it as "The Mystery Machine" as a nod to the Scooby Doo Van.

RIP GREAT WHITE

All things come and go, and so it is with cars. Coming across the Old Broadway bridge, I was making the initial left embankment when the front right tire blew. This sent me up the retaining wall on 2 wheels, and when I returned to the road, there was no rubber to shield the wheel from the pavement. The rim bit into the asphalt sending me severely to the left, out of control, into a guardrail at the base of the newly installed divider…this meant piling thru the small rail into a concrete piling. I ended up on the passenger side of the car (no seatbelts in the 66...) and thru the windshield. My knees went into the gauge cluster. I got out and deliriously attempted to walk away, then decided to drive away, but the car was not drivable in the least. Someone arrived and called for help and I have some memory of talking to the police and getting in the ambulance, then I woke up in the hospital. The next morning, I called the tow yard to see about getting the car out, and the guy just came on the line and said "are you alright"? I had the car towed to my house to avoid any further storage charges. After assessing the damage, there was no way to rebuild the car…the frame was compressed a foot and the whole car was warped.

I ended up letting both Galaxies sit in the front yard for some time, ultimately selling them as a package. Holding the little money in my hand as they Galaxies went away taught me a financial lesson that would keep me from spending any more money on cars frivolously. It was what motivated me to start my real estate empire, LOL! My car became worthless, and I calculated how much I would have in my IRA if I had put the money there instead of in the car, and it was enough to pay off my mortgage at the time. Of course, after 9/11 my IRA's evaporated, but my house doubled in value, so no brainer…I quit buying cars, quit putting money in IRA's and began aggressively buying real estate. That was smart.

RIP T-BIRD

While I drove the Mystery Machine to work, Lori called to tell me that the T-bird had stalled out at a puddle in a rainstorm…her car was broke and she borrowed mine. Well it didn't just stall, it was completely hydro locked. Hello Geico, goodbye T-bird.

Needed a backup vehicle, so I bought a friends Blazer. She had just got a van, and didn't need the Blazer. She sold it to me cheap…I made the needed repairs right away, and , since it was "pink' when I got it, I buffed it to a high lustrous red. She thought I painted it, but a good buffing did wonders. Here it is with my karaoke trailer:

CHOCOLATE THUNDER

On the lookout for another van, I found my next one on the roadside as well…it was bought brand new by a manufacturing plant near my house, and had low miles as it did not go out often. It was heavily oxidized and needed brake work… I offered a ridiculously low sum of money for it, cash, and they took it. Enter, Chocolate Thunder:

Called it Chocolate Thunder because it buffed out to a Hershey metallic brown, and had a nice rumble to it. It was in pretty good shape, aside from a dented back bumper and a rusty hood.

This van served me well, and relegated the Mystery Machine to backup status. Of course, we all know what happened to this van…this was the van I broke my neck in. Coming home, spun the van out and got airborne, and hit a pine tree with the drivers door, then landed upside down on an oak tree.

Coming back from that tragedy, the Mystery Machine was not up to the task of full time duty. Did a couple of runs with it before deciding that I needed a new van… so I went to the dealership as they were offering new vans at a ridiculously low price…I could not afford NOT to buy this, it was so cheap, and they upgraded the interior with a bulkhead divider and fiber body liner to protect my gear.

THE ESCORT SERVICE

My Mom had a Ford Escort that I began driving after she took ill. When it was apparent she would never drive again, I put it in my name to insure it on my policy. She had gotten it brand new and it was a pretty good car to go on the highway with cheaply…good running around town, drive on your day off car.

Unfortunately, on a trip thru Orlando, it overheated and blew a head gasket. The repair cost was close to the book value, so rather than fix it to have something else break, I sold it.

Here is a pic of the cars I had at the house during the big hurricanes…I parked them all at a plaza near the house to protect them from falling trees…which turned out to be smart since we got completely blocked in by falling trees, LOL:

CONCLUSION

So now that the business dictates what I drive, I have this Chevy van , and a Dodge Cargo Van that I bought from Lori's Mom. She was trading it in for a Kia and I bought it from her for what they were giving her on the trade in. It is what I drive on my day off, or to take the dogs somewhere. This replaced the Mystery Machine, which I reluctantly sold to a painter in Deltona to use as a work van. I hated that van the first time I saw it, but it is one of the only vans I got a sentimental attachment to. I hated to see it go…

This is the first point in my adult life that I don't have a "fun" car or motorcycle to be me in! Hopefully down the road I can rectify that after I get my medical debt gone and have some discretionary income.

Hope you enjoyed my memories as much as I enjoyed remembering them. There is sooooo much that I did not include here!! I have probably had over 60 vehicles come and go, but these were the ones that I had the better memories of, or that brought to mind stories…so many stories, that I have not even scraped the surface of!

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