The Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival is this weekend, and it has us thinking about cars -- specifically, the first ones we owned.
Thanks to Gail Boyle of Bluffton for sharing the story of her 1964 Ford Falcon, a car she was grateful to have but turned out to be a lot of trouble:
"I bought my first car in my second year at Duquesne University. Up until that time, I had been commuting to college from a suburb of Pittsburgh, four miles from the closest public transportation. I had to carpool with a neighbor who left the hill at 6:30 a.m., so I got to school early. No mind, I could study before my classes. Unfortunately, for my grades, I usually wound up playing pinochole in the cafeteria.
"My return trip wasn't that much fun either. My aunt would pick me up at the train station. The car was a little crowded as she had her five children along with three of the neighbor's children whom she had picked up from school. In those days, there were no child safety seats. As you can imagine, I was grateful when I was finally able to buy a car.
"It was a 1964 dark green Ford Falcon. I initially named it 'Sam.' However, after a series of problems, it quickly became known as 'Damn Sam.'
"First, a trash truck with a snow plow in front decided to anticipate a traffic light and ran into the passenger door. Then, Sam developed some type of electrical problem. Sometimes, the car would not start on cold winter mornings, and I had to wake my uncle who worked the night shift to help get me off the hill. Then, the problem started happening when I tried to leave school. I became fast friends with the AAA guy. We replaced the solenoid switch, and I received jumper cables for Christmas.
"One day, I had a flat tire, and my boyfriend offered to help me to change it. Unfortunately, the nuts did not loosen easily, and he bent the tire iron. I again had to call my uncle for assistance. That year, I got a cross bar tire remover for Christmas.
"Late in my junior year, Sam and I moved on campus and became a welcome source of transportation for friends. On one trip with the car weighted down with fellow sorority sisters, the muffler blew in the middle of the Liberty Tubes (a tunnel in Pittsburgh) and I drew the attention of the police.
"Intermittent electrical problems persisted. After working for two years, I started shopping for a new car. Damn Sam was hurt at the thought and had one final insult. He wouldn't start while I was leaving one dealer. Nonplused, I asked the salesman to start the car while I tapped on the solenoid switch. No go. I called AAA. The mechanic couldn't start Sam, so I left the dealer in the cab of a tow truck -- too embarrassed to return."