Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of Remember When on vehicle memories. We are now working on a Remember When of candy memories. If you are 40 or older and have fond memories of your favorite childhood sweets, please email Marlys Barker at email@example.com to receive our questions and take part.
Doug Miller of Maxwell
Can you remember, in order, all the cars/vehicles, since getting your license, that you’ve driven on an everyday basis to get you where you were going? (cars that you either owned, or were given to drive basically) … if you remember the color and year of the car, add that!
My first car was a green 1960 four door Chevrolet Bel Air. It was probably my favorite, primarily since it was my initial set of wheels.
After getting sideswiped, which totaled it, I had a brown 1965 Impala. It was a very nice vehicle with many bells and whistles. Our first new car was a green 1972 Plymouth Satellite Sebring with a white roof. I say “our” because it became our first family vehicle. This car had a few nicknames like “The Bomb” and “The Kryptonite Satellite,” due to its bright green paint job. We also borrowed a ‘58 Ford for a year from our in-laws as we needed a second vehicle.
The next vehicle added was a cream-colored Chevy Malibu station wagon as our family had grown to four kids. We went the full family route by purchasing a far-from-new brown 78 Chevy conversion van. It had over 100,000 miles on it when we acquired it and we added about that many more miles. I then bought a blue Chevy Citation, which did very well on gas to offset the gas-guzzling van. When the van died, our kids were entering teen years, which is driving age. Our family philosophy, which I think is the only way we could have made it work, was that nobody had a car that was his or hers. With our kids’ ages all within six years, we acquired a fleet of used vehicles during this era.
Our family members drove what was available. The best vehicle went with whoever was going the furthest distance. The car with the worst gas mileage stayed closest to home. I often became a pedestrian as I was within walking distance of work. Cars that helped us transport our kids or were the wheels for the kids included the following: a 1980 Chevy Cavalier with no power steering and crank windows, but it did have a good heater and air conditioning. We bought it from a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sunday. It was 10 years old but only had 14,000 miles on it; a white Plymouth Sundance; a cream-colored Buick Century — these became the college cars as we had kids at SWCC in Creston and NWMSU in Maryville, Simpson in Indianola, and two at Drake in Des Moines.
My mid-life crisis car, which was highly endorsed by our youngest son, was an ‘89 Camaro — 5 speed, candy apple red, with high-end mag wheels. We lived in Essex at that time and there was an epidemic of vehicles being stolen in southwest Iowa. All were red in color and the crooks were nicknamed “the Red Bandits.” Our car was stolen right out of the garage and the thief slid it in the ditch a few miles out of town. The car sustained minor damage, but it never handled the same after that.
One of my major forms of transportation over the years was big and yellow….yes, a school bus. For 27 years while I was teaching in Essex, I would walk five blocks to the bus lot, drive a morning route ending at school, teach the day, drive a bus route after school, park the bus back on the bus lot and walk home. Some days the bus was parked at our house because I also drove the team bus, pep band bus or band trip. Between school routes and trips, driver education miles and charter bus trips, I have driven well over a million miles in someone else’s vehicles.
We moved to Maxwell in 2004 with a 1996 maroon Buick Century (sold to Troy Hogue, CM athletic director), a green Chevy Lumina and a 1997 GMC pickup, which previously belonged to my father.
We added a 1995 Toyota Tercel (aka The Puddle Jumper) that belonged to my wife’s aunt. It is now in Nevada as we gave it to our grandkids — Amaris, Malachi and (very soon) Eliana Hornbuckle.
As I conclude this trip down my vehicle memory lane, I count the current number of vehicles in my driveway. We now have a mere five vehicles: my dad’s 1997 GMC pickup, a 2007 White Buick Lucerne, a 2002 Blue Cavalier, a 2008 Silver Impala and a 2007 Cadillac STS (just purchased as my second mid-life crisis vehicle). I value the skill of my mechanic nearly as much as the expertise of my medical doctor. With older vehicles, one of them is often at the doctor’s office, as well as one of my fleet is often “on loan” to someone. That leaves my pickup and a couple of cars for daily use.
What features do you most appreciate on the older cars you drove, that youngsters today will have no idea about, unless they drive an oldie? Dimmer switch on the floor, three on the tree (stick shift on the column), automatic shoulder harnesses for seat belts, and more horses under the hood than most current vehicles
What brand of cars were you most in love with when you were younger, and why; what brand of cars are you most in love with now, and why? I have always been a GM and Mopar fan. Fords have never appealed to me and foreign cars are just that, foreign to me. I like American-made, as did my parents.
Fill in the blank:
Cars of today sure don’t (__) like the old ones. Doug says, “hold up…too much plastic instead of steel.”
If I could drive any older car right now, I’d drive (__). Doug says, “a DeLorean with the time machine capabilities of “Back to the Future” because it would be fun to jump back or go forward in time.
One thing I don’t miss so much about older cars is (__). Doug says, “the absence of safety features, such as seat belts, air bags, lane reminders, blind spot indicators, back-up cameras and cruise control.
My parents would never believe that (__) in the first car I owned. Doug says, “we actually were not hurt when a truck sideswiped my sister, girlfriend (now wife) and me.”