One of my first big money decisions came about not long after I had graduated from high school in 1957.
I was driving a blue 1954 Chevy Bel Air convertible with a 6-cylinder motor and a power glide transmission at the time. I had earned the money to buy the car by working after school and on weekends for my parents at their printing office.
That car was my pride and joy, but it lacked one important attribute: power. With that in mind, I found myself more than a little interested when I was asked if I would like to sell it. Not only was I offered a little more than I had invested in the car, the prospective buyer had the money in cash.
After a sleepless night, tossing and turning over the big decision of whether to sell my most prized possession, I drove over to Madrid to see what Bob Ryan had to offer at his Chevrolet dealership. Unfortunately, none of the used cars in his lot caught my eye. As I was about to leave, someone suggested that I visit the Ford dealership – just a block away.
As luck would have it, I was immediately drawn to a red and white Ford Customline 2-door sedan. Although my heart was set on another convertible, the Thunderbird motor insignias on the side of each of the front fenders more than made up for the top.
After popping the hood and eyeing the 215 H.P. V8 motor, 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, I was easy pickings for the salesman who ventured out to the lot for a visit. It didn’t take long for the salesman to hone in on my obvious interest in the big motor.
As he tossed about intricate details concerning cubic inches, displacement and the like, I listened with the open heart of a charmed admirer.
Then came the real deal maker. He opened the driver’s side front door and pointed at one of the few accessories the car had to offer – SEAT BELTS!
Never in my long life of 17 years had I ever seen seat belts in a passenger car. Sure, they could be found in racing cars and airplanes, but never factory made and in an ordinary car.
That was it. I clinched the deal to sell my convertible and drove home the Ford — all in the same day. Those seat belts had done the trick.
That was more than 60 years and many cars ago. Today, I say choice words to my car whenever the buzzer goes off, warning me that I have forgotten to fasten my seat belts.
My, how life has its way of turning things around.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.