Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Changing Gears

How interesting that suddenly, the theme changes from the joys of underemployment and zombies and that guy whose hair got crazy (a tight thread, indeed), to the joys of vehicle ownership.
There are so many tales to tell! Cars! I've had a few, let me tell ya.
One: 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass
Purchase Price: $600
Date: May, 1993?
Purchase notes: This was and will always be my first car. Born of a city bus and a battle ship, it features back-breakingly low bench seats, a gold engine (gold paint, at least, from the factory) and intermittently sky blue, metallic-blue, and grey-primered rust paint job. It burned a lot of gas when gas was 39.9 a litre, which happened for three days the year I bought it.
So, my friend who worked at a gas station said "there's this awesome old car for sale that gets gas every day. Indeed, it was awesome. It was entirely blue when I bought it, and composed mostly of body filler. And it had four doors, like an old-school car. Or something. My dad told me when I brought it home that for him, it was the equivalent of buying a 1983 Chev Cavalier. I said "A cool one, though, right?" He said "no."
Now it lives in storage in a field in Lethbrigde. That is, if I remembered to pay the storage.

Two: 1982 Mercury Capri
Purchased: Summer 1998?
Someone paid me back $300 they'd borrowed. I was driving on 114 ave in Edmonton when I saw, in a back alley, this really, really ugly car with a for sale sign on it. Two doors, kind of bulbous, with a little bit of rock (like rock and roll rock) showing through the maroon rust. It was supposed to cost $500, but when I started it up, I heard many problems. That, and I had $300 in my pocket.
"No muffler, no brakes, no tires. This car sucks," I said. The man was sad. "I'll give you $300."
So, there were more things wrong with this car. No keys for the doors. One door was rusted so bad that you could see into the car at the bottom. The hatchback kept hitting me on the head because the cylinders were too old.
SO, instead of fixing it, I drove it around without insurance for about two weeks. Then, almost directly in front of where I bought it, the police pulled me over.
"Is this your car?" asked the policeman, cordial, yet concerned.
"Yes, sir."
"Are you John Sparrow?"
I didn't think I was.
"The plate comes up as a 1967 Oldsmobile. That is not this car."
I agreed.
"Do you have any insurance or registration?"
This was a dumb question. Of course not.
"You can't drive this car."
I tried to convince him that I could, because I already had been driving it for two weeks as such. He didn't like that.

I got my first ride in a police car that day. We drove two blocks to my friend's house (the one that sold me the Cutlass.)He drove me home after we played Rally Cross on the Playstation for about 6 hours.

So, then that car went to Jasper. It still had no repairs done to it. While gassing up in Edson, I noticed that the front tires were so worn out that there were wires sticking out of them. I thought about getting a corn dog in the UFA station, but instead just paid for my gas and drove 140km/h the rest of the way to Snaring campground just outside Jasper.

This car is currently an ice racer on lake Wabumum. My old landlord stole this car from me when I moved in 2000. I sold it to Chris B. for $50 because my girlfriend at the time wouldn't let me keep it. I sold it to my landlord before I sold it to Chris, but since he didn't give me any money, and didn't come get it, I figured I should probably sell it to Chris, who needed a car. By that point, it had new tires, new exhaust, a new door (wrong colour, with MUSTANG written along the bottom) and some nice touchup paint work. Chris was excited.
Then, when he came to pick it up one day, it was gone. The garage was empty.
He was sad. I told him that Jesus took it. He said I was a bad person. I kept his $50. Chris's car lives at the lake.

Three: 1987 Plymouth Reliant K-car
Purchase price: $1.
Purchased: 2001?
My cousin gave this car to me. He drove the shit out of it. SO did I. I did $200 worth of brake work on it myself. Then he asked for it back. I gave it to him, because I wanted to drive the Cutlass, anyway.
One time, four fat people and 400 pounds of camping gear got into the car and drove to calgary. Getting up to 100 km/h was ...well... no. We didn't. I pushed the pedal to the floor, and the only thing that happened was that the car shuddered more. It never ran properly again. We got into the beautiful Crowsnest Pass, and went camping. While at the lake, I remarked "this car sucks." Then I told the car to get out of the lake.

Four: 1988 Plymouth Reliant Station Wagon
Purchase price: $1200?
Purchase date: 2002?
I bought this car from a gas station. Some part of the engine fell off, so all the oil poured out when I was driving from Edmonton to Calgary. I took it back to the station where I bought it to get it fixed. They "fixed" it three times. Then I moved to Halifax. Now it lives in front of my parents' house. The dashlights don't work properly, and I think the stereo is broken. When you pound on the dash, sometimes you can get the radio to work, or the clock to work, but never both at once. Not many good stories to go with this one, other than the time the engine fucked off a different way and all the antifreeze sprayed out. Christmas, 2003, I think it was. No antifreeze=no heat. No heat = girlfriend complaining. Jokingly suggesting sex as a solution=no sex for a long time. Smell of buring antifreeze in car: priceless.

Five: 1990 Mazda 323
Purchase price: $800
Actual Value: One friendship.
Purchased: May? 2005
I'm not sure if I'm still friends with the guy who sold me this car. The transmission started pissing a stream of fluid three days after I bought this little white nightmare,and I broke off the driver-side doorhandle yesterday while trying to close the door. I looked under the car a week ago, and noted that if I were to stand on my bumper, it would break off, because everything that holds it on is completely rusted through. The transmission slips, which is interesting when crossing the MacDonald Bridge here, which is a really steep bridge. Lots of engine noise, very little more than 30 km/h. Scary.
On the upside, it also allows me to go fishing more. Before, I had to take the bus.

SO, you've all seen my cars. SOme of you have even driven in them. Tell me about it. I'll put it all into a book called "this post was kind of boring."

Oh. Also, I still own three of these five cars. THey're spread across the country, too. Fantastic.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rest in peace, Rock Machine!

The following is a post by Mr. Collin Gallant, who has yet to unravel the riddle of how to become a member of this blog and post on his own, most likely because he can't figure out how to plug his typewriter into the telephone and transmit data to the "head office" that only exists in his mind. BEGIN!

First of all, the nickname stems from the fact that my sister purchased the 1996 Geo Metro for straight cash. Not even a radio was included for the bare bones $10,841 sticker price, but she bought it, drove it, and by all accounts, had a swell time using it for A-to-B transportation. So I christened it “the Rock Machine” as a sort of ironic note considering its distinct lack of awesomeness.

It did, however, have a sort of utilitarian perfection. It hummed along with a 1L, three-cylinder motor, manual transmission, armstrong steering, an intriguingly small turn radius and easy parkability. While cleaning it out so the Kidney Foundation could drag it away, I found a gas receipt for $19.10 that included a full tank of gas and a $6 “protection wash.” Two 13-inch winter tires cost a total of $83.70, installed and balanced at the Camrose Crappy Tire. It was cheap—capital cheap—and I drove it all over Wild Rose Country, to Vancouver, back from Seattle and Lord knows how many times up and down the No. 2 highway from Calgary to Edmonton. The Geo was, to say the least, a departure in my automotive experience.

I had owned 1969 Chevy full-sized sedans on two separate occasions. They didn’t have shoulder belts or kilometres marked on the speedometer. Get this: 17 miles per gallon (the Geo got 65). They did have shiny “Great One” grills, originally designed by John Delorean for the pivotal Pontiac GTO. This chrome bowtie fronted a snarling 327 cid small-block engine that sounded like the world was coming to an end when I stomped the gas to drain its 20-gallon gas tank. My mom made leopard-skin seat covers, and I painted one with bright yellow paint that was usually reserved for putting lines down in parking lots. Its 235 stock horsepower sat in an engine compartment that you could climb into. It’s passenger cabin sounded like a cathedral when the ionosphere bounced AM radio signals just right.

I had a red 1964 Ford half-ton that had a non-working speedometer, no seatbelts to speak of, a gas tank that was literally inside the cab behind the seat and a hard metal dash. It brimmed with torque, had a three-on-the-tree shift, posi-trac and
headers. I bought it in Biggar, Sask. one summer when I was nuts with pipeline money. How I got the Geo was a different story; I traded my sister for it.

At the time I had a 1994 Chevy Lumina, and my sister was headed for Houston (America’s most polluted city) to finish off her doctoral dissertation at the University of Texas. The Chev had air conditioning and it wasn’t until long after that I made the connection to the theory of the Selfish Gene. Essentially, the theory states, that altruism is the product of a subconscious effort to ensure the genetic fitness of your female relatives. The Coles notes version is: change “perpetuation of the species” to “perpetuation of you” or at least people who share the most-similar genetic information. While it could be used as a biological explanation of racism, it also explained why I spent ten minutes trying to convince my sister that she should take the better snowbrush to Texas. She pointed out that this was ridiculous. She’s a doctor, remember, and quite a catch, all told.

So, I got the snowbrush, and the Geo and, actually, about five years of solid, if inelegant transportation right up until a man in a polar bear costume distracted me on Macleod Trail in Calgary in Friday stop-and-go traffic. I ran into the back of a Mazda while slamming on the brakes. The 30 km/h impact was enough to negate the blue book value, so I said my goodbyes to the Rock Machine.

She was pock-marked from a hail-producing tornado that sprinted past the Gas City earlier this summer. The windshield was cracked from where my elbow smashed her, and her air bags drooped sadly, no longer full of the flaming poison gas that exploded towards my face on that fateful September afternoon. After years of silence I had installed a cheapo slide-in stereo. It, along with a dome light that remained unfixable, were hauled off in exchange for a tax receipt.