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Blogging Buffet: C is for Car

The theme of my A to Z Challenge posts this year is "Blogging Buffet." In celebration of recently posting my 1000th blog post, I am revisiting posts from the past.  This post originally published on March 29, 2013.

In November 2002, our family ventured out to watch the recently-released movie, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."  The kids loved seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the big screen.  For John, though, the most thrilling part of the show was the realization that he had owned a flying car.  

John got a job at age 14, working construction.  He saved his money for the major purchase on every teenage boy's mind--his first car.  When he was 15, he saw an ad in the local newspaper:  "TONKA TOY, '62 Ford Anglia, $150."  John had no idea what a Ford Anglia looked like, but the price was right.  He answered the ad, and found the emerald car hidden in tall grass in the backyard of the seller's house.  The seller took one look at John's eager expression, and promptly dropped the asking price to $50. 

John's dad drove the car home.  It spewed thick black smoke, but it made it.  John and his dad spent countless hours restoring the cute little car.  It came with the original 980 cc. engine, but John replaced it for one with a little more umph--a Ford Pinto 1.6 liter engine.  He cut apart an old car fender to weld on patches to the Anglia's fender.  He re-painted the exterior (coincidentally choosing the same color as the car that appeared in Harry Potter.)

When he purchased the car, the odometer read 34,253.  Though he drove it all through high school and college, he never put a mile on it.  Neither the odometer, nor the speedometer, nor the gas gauge worked.  (Remember that fact--it will factor into our story later.) Despite all of John's hard work, he still managed to have (in his words) "lots of mechanical adventures."  The radiator went out once.  The clutch went out twice.  The alternator fell out.  The headlights went out while John was driving in the mountain canyon, so he drove home by the light of his turn signal.  The heater did not work.  Neither did the shock absorbers. The car had no seat belts, and (by design) the front seats entirely folded forward, basically becoming a catapult in the event of a crash.  Oh, and let's not forget the time that the steering wheel came off while John was driving!  (Fortunately, he was in the driveway when that happened.)  The starter motor (which, according to John, was actually two motors spliced together with JB weld--whatever that means) worked only sometimes.  (That terribly fractured sentence also foreshadows the story to come.)

Yesterday, I stated in my random fact #4 that I had pushed a Ford Anglia uphill on the side of the freeway.  Here's what happened:

It was an exciting, mid-April day in 1987.  John and I had just finished our finals at BYU.  John was just days away from graduation, and a week after that we were getting married.  We were moving our things from our separate apartments to his parents' house, where we would be living after our wedding until John got a job.  John was driving the Anglia, and I was driving the "new" car--a puke-green Dodge Colt, that took a quart of oil with every fill-up.  (It did, however, have seatbelts and a heater, my two requests.) As we approached "Point of the Mountain", John pulled over to the side of the road.  He had misjudged how much fuel was left in the tank, and had run out of gas.  I drove John to the gas station, he purchased gasoline and a gas can, and I drove him back to the Anglia.  After adding gas to the tank, though, we still had a problem:  how to get the car started.  Remember, the starter motor didn't work reliably.  John usually parked on a down slope, so he could easily push-start the car.  However, the car had run out of gas while climbing the mountain.  Though I was experienced in driving a stick-shift, I was not skilled in popping the clutch.  So, John needed to be the one inside the car, and I got to be the one to push the car.  There I was, single-handedly (well, I did use both hands) pushing John's car uphilltrying to work up enough speed so John could pop the clutch and start the engine.  Meanwhile, John yelled out the window, "Faster, Kristi, faster!" I don't know how we did it, but we got the car started.  

If I had known then that the car could actually fly, it would have been so much easier--as long as we avoided the Whomping Willow when we landed!

What are your memorable car stories?

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  1. The phrase "labor of love" applies to so many parts of that fabulous story! :)

    Bryan's first car was an old red Chevette, but it was so old, the paint looked more pink. He had it through college, and would come pick me up and take me back to Purdue when there was some big shindig going on. My first experience with a flat tire was on a major highway in that car. I took photos while he changed the tires. Another time, it was pouring rain in the dark on that same stretch of freeway. He went to pass a semi and highdroplaned. We spun and spun, thankfully finally spinning of the road without being hit, but we landed 8 feet down a ditch. A witness helped us out, took us to the nearest gas station. I waited there, growling at everyone who came in complaining about the rain while Bryan went with the tow truck guy. It took a lot of work, but they got it out. Bryan drove it back to the gas station. It was completely unharmed. Not even a scratch on it. But the wheel wells were full of reeds. We drove the last hour with those reeds blowing in the wind. :)

    1. What a great story! I'm glad everything turned out OK. If John and I ever get a chance to meet you and Bryan, I imagine that we would have so many stories to share and laugh about!

  2. Haaaaaaaa. If only we knew then....although i dont know about that flying thing!!!

    1. The flying would probably be OK, but I would be scared of landing in the Whomping Willow!

  3. When I brushed the bear... It was summer of 2012... I was driving on Alaska Highway and from nowhere a bear appeared right on the front of me. Thank goodness I was driving slow enjoying the view so no harm was done, none to the bear and almost none to the car.

    1. Now THAT is an adventurous story! Glad everything turned out OK. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Boys and their cars. My husband has a framed photo of his GTO all polished and shiny in the driveway. (of course the photo is black and white because it's from way back when.) It's a love affair, no matter the bumps and repairs, that lives on forever.
    Val from My Virtual Vineyard

    1. That about sums it up, doesn't it? :-)

  5. I laughed out loud reading your story! My first car was a red '64 Austin Healey Sprite. It, too had no gas gauge and loved to run out of gas on the freeway. It was a convertible top but you couldn't see out the back window so I often rode around with the top down - it was a good thing I lived in the SF Valley where it was very warm! The story that car could tell. Had to give it up when I got pregnant with Jenna. She was worth giving it up.

    1. John gave up his Anglia when we moved to California, and also said I was worth it. A few years ago, though, I was able to find him another project Anglia, which is now parked in our garage. :-)

  6. What a fantastic story! I drove a 1970 Nova when I was in college, a hand-me-down of my dad's. It was harvest gold and was completely stripped. There wasn't even carpet. No factory a/c, although my dad ADDED an air conditioner that took up a lot of room under the dash. The starter didn't always work, so I would open the hood, take a ginormous wrench out of the trunk and give the starter a good whack with it. The car would start every time.

    1. Ah, the memories of old beater cars!

  7. You know I love my cars and others too, married to a car-addict and you'll know I LOVE, love LOVE stories about cars and adventures in and with them.
    How I wished the cars of yesteryears were still around now. I hate the uniformity of the cars of today.
    I bet John wishes he still had his blue Anglia, but I hope he gets his other Anglia up and running soon. He is still working on that, is he?! My first car was a BMW 320i, quite a rare one too. I totalled it a month after I got my drivers licence... I can still cry about it now. It was the first and last accident I had, not even a scratch on one of my other cars after that! Our current car (or truck as you'd call it) is one I dreamed of for years and now that we have it, I'm so in love with. A Dodge Ram 1500. Nothing special in your part of the world, but over here, it's quite something and make heads turn where ever we go. I LOVE that! Oh, I can go on for miles about cars, did you notice? Love cars, love driving, love everything about them.

    1. Progress on the Anglia is sporadic, but it will wait patiently for John to have more time.

      Your poor car! I'm just glad you are OK!

      It is funny to realize what is commonplace here is unusual there, but I guess its no different than Anglias years ago: common in England, practically unseen here.


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