Friday, March 17, 2006

Car Stories # 1

I’ve been posting some pretty heavy stuff around here lately – I haven’t even taken the time to find old Leadership cartoons. It’s time to lighten up a bit. This post won’t please my 11 year-old daughter who has been bugging me to post something interesting, but I don’t know anything about horses, art or the violin (I could do something on a Lord of the Rings theme sometime, I suppose). Some of you out there might like car stories, however.

I like cars and this is my blog, after all. From time to time I may show off a picture of one of the gems that I’ve owned. People know me as a car guy around here. In fact, a fellow from our church came by to show off his new wheels this morning. I gave my approval. He went home happy. You’ll know why my judgment is held in high regard after this post. Scroll down and take a look at the beauty in the post below (this is what they call a ‘stock photo,’ I never did get a picture of mine, but this one’s pretty much the same, though my car was a gunmetal blue-gray. Car guys drool when they see a Volkswagen 411).

My 1971 411 was a serendipitous acquisition (that means that a persuasive college buddy needed some cash in a hurry).  Unfortunately, my friend’s dad died soon after he did a partial restoration on the VW – new paint, engine rebuild, new gas heater, etc. It was in excellent condition. I bought it in about March, 1986 and sold it in September. I went through a lot of cars when I was in school – buy in the spring to get around and earn some money, sell in the fall to pay tuition. I only paid $900 for this treasure and sold it for the same amount to a fellow from Korea who was also a student at NBTC. Cheap car, right? People just don’t appreciate rolling art.

Apart from its undeniable beauty, what’s so great about a VW 411? Well, it has a nice big interior – mine had the upgrade MB Tex vinyl interior (MB Tex is Mercedes Benz speak, don’t you know). The interior also had adjustable bucket seats, a fold-down armrest in the back seat, and big storage well behind the back seat for the 6th passenger, if they were small and didn’t mind lying down under the back window.  

It had an 85 hp, 2.0 l fuel-injected, air-cooled flat 4 – in the back, of course – and a 4-speed manual. The motor was pretty much the same as what came with a Porsche 914 2.0, apparently. It would cruise at 85 mph, as I found out when I let my roommate’s brother drive from Edmonton to Calgary on the way back to Vancouver from Ft. McMurray. It had one of the smoothest rides of any car I’ve driven – it just swallowed up speed bumps. Once I found the reset button for the gas heater (soon before I sold it), it would get toasty warm inside right away – no waiting for coolant to heat up. It also had a sunroof – a metal panel that slid back with a crank. I lived in Maple Ridge, B.C. at the time and I loved to open the roof, crank my stereo and drive up to the mountains at Golden Ears Park (when it wasn’t raining – now that I think of it, I may have only done that trip once).

If you think I’m a bit daft to lavish affection on this old dog, let me say this in my defense: At least I never sold Ladas to poor, naïve penny pinchers looking for a good new car.  

Coming up in future ‘Car Stories’ posts: a 1971 Chevelle convertible, a 1968 Chevy 4x4 and a remarkable 1987 Toyota Camry wagon. I have pictures of the real machines that I owned for these posts.


BugBlaster said...

My first car was a falling apart 1940 Chev. My uncle gave it to me when I was a teenager for helping him move. I later sold it for $250. I still regret it.

stauf46 said...

That must have been an old car when you had it! You're young like me, right - not too far north of 40?

My oldest vehicle was a 1968 Chevy 4x4 - having to sell that is the closest I have to a vehicular regret (next to the loverly 411, of course).

BugBlaster said...

That car was 24 years older than me. It was a piece of junk but I wonder what could have been...