The first car I drove was my father’s 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, which had a manual transmission.  That car took us to Canada at least once, and we had to spend the night in Bellingham one time when the engine swallowed a valve.  My father took out the back seat so that he could carry more tools with him.  Sometimes he took out the passenger seat, too.

The next car that I drove was my mom’s 1966 Mercury Monterrey, a ‘full size’ car, which would seat six adults, and had a 390 cubic inch engine with an automatic transmission.  I got to drive that land yacht to California one summer, and back.  I also got my first ticket in it.

Next is my dad’s 1967 El Camino, with a 283 four-barrel and a three-on-the-tree manual.  That was the rig that I was pushing 130 mph in when I got arrested for reckless driving.  It was also my ‘first’ car, as I got from my dad when I was in the Air Force.

Then I got my Mustang, a 1966 with a 289 and a three speed manual.  That was the first car that I worked on my self, to any degree.  It was also broken down a lot.  I was also in my first accident with that car, when someone intentionally rear-ended me.

After the Mustang came a couple of motorcycles, and then a 1976 Honda, with the CVCC engine.  That car didn’t run very well, especially after a friend of mine tried to help me fix it.  Then, it got hit by a taxi in Seattle during a snow storm while parked.

Shortly after that, I came across a 1978 Honda Accord, which was sitting in a garage in Seattle.  After being told that “I could have it if I could get it out of there”, I found out that the block was warped.  It took me three head gaskets to realize that.

My ‘Chavota’ was the next car I got, a 1987 Chevrolet Nova made in Japan by Toyota on the Corolla line.  This was the era of ‘Voluntary Import Reductions’, whereby the Japanese manufacturers agreed to limit the number of cars that they sold in the U.S.  The difference was made up by the American car makers selling re-branded Japanese cars.  The Chavota was the first car that I was able to keep running myself, doing all work except one constant-velocity joint replacement.

Now I have another motorcycle, and a truck as well, a 1988 Ford F250 pick up, which has a 4.9 liter straight 6 and a four speed.  It is the first vehicle which I have had to have towed three times.  Twice because of my incompetence.  Well, once at least.  I am not as good a mechanic as I would like to think that I am.


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