From time to time I’ve heard about or read a story about someone’s first car or even cars. How they found it or how it found them and often these stories are fun and entertaining. An example might be my first “car.”
Back when I was growing up it wasn’t considered a necessity to put anti-freeze in one’s cars. I vaguely recall that antifreeze wasn’t in fact used unless threatening weather was coming. At least such was the case in my family.
At this point I can’t honestly remember which car was my “first” car, but at about 13 or so a family friend told me that if I wanted “that old Ford” that I could have it. It was a ’49 Ford 2dr. sedan. It was pretty straight with the front sheet metal off and the engine missing. All I had to do was come tow it home. I talked my Dad into helping with the amazing stroke of luck? But we didn’t have a trailer or a tow bar. I rented a tow bar from A&A Rental on Molalla Avenue in Oregon City and away we went to bring home this amazing treasure.
Of course, hind sight is always clearer but I have to say, “What was I thinking”? I think we got pieces of the engine and loaded them in the trunk, rigged up the tow bar and dragged this pile home. It never became anything more than lawn art, that is until the day 5 years later that it became the donor car for a rear leaf spring rebuild that I had to do on my 55 Chevy after the main leaf snapped. I know what you’re thinking. No, I wasn’t doing a 4-grand clutch sidestep launch in an illegal street race. I can’t say that hadn’t happened to that 55 before I bought it but, it didn’t happen this time. I think the main leaf just died of fatigue that faithful evening as I was leaving the gas station where I worked. I heard a “snap” and the car listed slightly after I crossed the rather large dip at the driveway entrance/exit onto 7th street. I motored up the hill until I pulled into the Union station that was still open, where Jim worked and I told him what I’d heard. He said pull it in on the rack and we’ll see. Yes, it was the same Jim whom I’m still friends with today and it’s interesting to note that he has always been that same nice he is today.
We discovered the broken main leaf that was still hanging together fortunately, but it was evident that it wasn’t fixable only replaceable. I told Jim I didn’t have a spare and he volunteered that he had a set that needed to rebuilt. He also said that if I added one leaf it would raise the car slightly and of course stiffen the suspension a little. I told him I didn’t know anything about rebuilding or replacing a set of leaf springs and he volunteered information about how to do it. I bought the rebuildable set from Jim and used the components scavenged from the 49 Ford and new center bolts to create the springs I needed.
At five years after acquiring the 49 it had managed to get in the way enough that my Dad sent it to old junk car purgatory. The woods on his property where part of it rest till this day. Naturally with younger brothers and their friends and then my kids and then my siblings kids their ain’t much left of that first car.
At the beginning of this tale I mentioned I couldn’t remember “Which” car was first. You might also recall that I told a story about antifreeze being optional back then. Because of people considering it optional my uncle’s wife’s 50 Chevy 2dr. sedan developed a significant freeze crack along the right lower side of its original 6-cylinder block. To my total surprise one day my aunt and uncle drove in our driveway in separate cars. My uncle had driven the 50 Chevy. When asked why they had each driven he said that he was going to “GIVE” me the Chevy. It still ran good but leaked and I could use it to drive around on the farm to learn how to drive. At the ripe old age of 13 I thought I already knew how to drive but I didn’t say that because I was really excited about having my own, running, driving car. I felt like I was the coolest kid anywhere within many miles of Redland Oregon. My Own Car! I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel to see what she could do. I don’t remember how all that worked out but I do remember sitting in it dreaming about driving around in my Chevy.
As I mentioned, I had little brothers and a sister. If I’m right about my age at the time that would make my siblings 5, 3 and 2 ish. My 3-year-old little brother has always been the helpful kind of guy and even then, he wanted to help his big brother. He decided that since my car burned gas and gas was expensive, he would help me out. With the Chevy parked near the pump house and with his understand of putting gas in cars, trucks and equipment he filled up the gas tank on the Chevy for me. Unfortunately, he used the garden hose… with water. The next time I went out to start my car, it started but then died never to start again. Still I didn’t know why so I kept trying to start it. Eventually through conversation with my brothers I learned what had happened.
One day a family stopped and asked if “that old Chevy in the field ran?” After the explanation, they wanted to know what we would take for the car. We settled on $15.00 whole dollars. The woman accompanied my Mom into the house to retrieve the title while I help the man hook it up to be towed by the car they were driving. They seemed so nice and friendly, you know really nice people. They thanked us profusely, climbed into their tow vehicle and the Chevy and happily waved goodbye as they drove out of the drive way.
Sometime later I asked my Mom for the $15.00 the lady gave her when she surrendered the title. She said she gave her the title but she didn’t get the money and asked “didn’t you get the money from the man when you were helping him hook it up to be towed?” What a sinking feeling! No car, no money, no name or address from them, no nothing.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen is the story of my “first” car (s). Maybe you’d like to share your “First Car” experience? Hopefully it was better than mine. We’d like to hear your story and share it with our readers. If you have a “First Car” story you’d like to share please type it up and send it to us @
R & R NW, 17273 So. Steiner Rd., Beavercreek, OR. 97004 or email the copy to us @ firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll give you the byline and print your story in an upcoming issue. I don’t have any pictures but if you do and would like to include them please also include a self-address stamped envelope so we can send them back or email them to us as a jpeg attachment to an email. We look forward to hearing and sharing your stories. ED.