I was given a car by a relative and I was overjoyed, because this was a Lincoln Mark VII, an upscale car without a scratch on the body. It looked to me like a Mercedes. At last I could give up my banged-up Toyota and look successful (my wife claims I’m an aristocrat without the money).
I had to go to Orange County to get the car. It wouldn’t start because it had been sitting in a garage for a long time.
I had it towed to a gas station repair shop. The head mechanic was a blonde guy.
“You see this key-clicks reo-stat valve?” He explained, telling me why he couldn’t get the car to start. “That (1985) was the first year they installed those. It makes it a nightmare.”
In other words, I now had possession of a car, made the very first year, 1985, that cars got complicated. Everything before 1985 was simple. Everything after was computerized, which also meant the days of working on your own car were over.
The head mechanic’s assistant came out to help. He was blonde.
“We’ll have to order a new thermo-oculator-intake manifold,” he said.
Luckily, my relative agreed to pay half the mounting-by-the-hour repair bill.
As it became clear they couldn’t get the machine to run, a third mechanic came to assist. He was blonde too.
He explained the potential problems even if they got the thing started.
“1985 was the first year they had these new transmissions,” he said. “They’re pricey. If you had a 1984 Lincoln and the transmission went out, eight hundred dollars to fix it. This one.” He shook his head and chuckled. “Six thousand dollars.”
“Just get it started.” I was growing impatient.
By now, another mechanic joined our group. He was a black guy. His hair was dyed blonde.
I had spent four hours at the gas station conferring with frustrated mechanics.
A foxy woman pulled up to the pump to get some gas. All work on my car ceased. The mechanics, who had been staring intently down into the Lincoln’s engine, now looked in hypnotized admiration at the young woman. We watched her pump her gas and drive away.
She was blonde.
Finally, they got the car to start. They cheered. I slapped them on the back and shook their hands. I paid the bill and drove my new status-symbol car for the first time, away from the gas station.
My relative was moving to Arizona, and had asked if I would take care of his cat for a time until they got settled. I agreed. I had the cat in a box in the back of the car. I let the cat out, not feeling it was fair to keep him cooped up for the three-hour ride home.
As I drove, the cat climbed down to the gas pedal and put his head across it. When I put my foot on the pedal, it was on the cat’s head—squeezing it against the pedal.
The air bags in the car’s suspension gave out. In 1985, some moron decided air bags would provide a smoother ride than springs. That’s great for a new car. There’s only one problem. After a while they leak (I later learned that no repairman would or could fix these. “But it’s a Ford I screamed at them. Remember Henry Ford? You can’t fix an American car?”
The car suddenly bottomed out, a low-rider without benefit of shock absorbers or a suspension. Every bump we hit was a jarring, spine-numbing jolt. The poor cat, seated in the back. Its head wrenched up and down with every thud.
At times the air bags would fill up again, raising the car as we drove, but only briefly; then they would deflate again, and we’d sink back down.
Passing drivers stared at us quizzically.
We made it home, a miracle. But for a day afterward, the cat and I had convulsive, epileptic-like shakes.
Since then, the car has caused me nothing but trouble.
I junked it and went back to my Toyota.