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Friday, August 10, 2012
Cars I Have Known VI
There is a line in the beginning of the movie A Christmas Story where the Narrator describes his Dad; "Some men are Baptists; other Episcopalian. My Father was an Oldsmobile man."
When I was a kid my Dad was an Oldsmobile man. The first car of his I remember was a 3-way black 55 Olds 88 4 Door sedan. In 1964 we drove that car to Disneyland, from Cincinnati. That trip is an upcoming series of posts.
It was shortly after that that Dad bought a different car. It is my earliest memory of a new car. In 1965 he bought a '60 Olds Wagon. White, with a grey top and grey interior. Man; what a machine!
The Speedometer. Anyone who has ever ridden in a '60 Olds remembers the speedometer. Instead of a dial an needle, it had a straight line graph and bar that ran across the bottom. From 0 to 50 it was a green bar; when you hit 50, the bar turned orange, and at 70 it turned red; fascinating to watch when you're 5. My Grandma- Dad's Mom- always in the back seat, passenger side, and would start hollering Slow Down; Slow Down when she saw the bar turn red. On the highway the bar was usually red.
And there is nothing like a big Oldsmobile for a smooth ride. I remember going to visit my aunt and uncle, down a gravel lane, and not feeling a bump. On the highway, it was living room smooth, except for when I was bouncing around in the back seat.
But it wasn't all roses. The Olds 371 big block was known for cracking heads. and so did ours. Dad was able to squeeze another week out of it while he found a replacement motor, and Friday night on the way home form grocery shopping he stop by the Tool Rental and picked up an engine crane. As we pulled into the driveway the motor died completely. we had to push it the next morning the last 70 feet into the garage. Dad worked on it all day Saturday, and finished it up Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning drove it to work. Ah; the good old days!
We ran that car for years; from '65-'70. by then it was showing its age, and Dad found a good deal on 1966 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon, and he sold the '60 to my uncle, who ran it another couple of years before the engine blew another head, and it went off to the rest home.
But I can tell you that car made an impression on me. I will always associate Big, Fast and Smooth with Oldsmobile, and in particular the 1960 Wagon.
The one in the picture was for sale not too long ago.
It sold for over $22,000. I guess I'm not the only one nostalgic for the old girl.