Name the model and key detail of your first car
The great thing about mistakes is that unless you are completely ignorant, you tend to learn from them. My first car was a mistake that most knowledgeable car owners would have fled from immediately, fully aware of the issues ahead:
A used white 1984 four door Ford Escort.
My family was a “Ford” family; its all that my Dad and Mom ever bought. I learned to drive on a Ford Maverick, and my Mom at the time had a Ford Taurus station wagon. So it seemed logical to head down to the Ford local dealership and find my first vehicle. It was 1986 and I was fresh out of graduate school–and knew squat about cars. But there was that cute little 1984 white Escort on the lot and the dealer convinced me it was a “good reliable car” for my first very own vehicle.
(You can all start yelling LIAR! LIAR about now, like a Greek chorus)
The car was named Edmund after the character in Rowan Atkinson’s “Black Adder” series. And it probably caused as much chaos and problems as its namesake. The car was a great example of the 1980s joke that Ford stood for “Fix Or Repair Daily”, or “Found On the Road Dead”. I will say that I encountered many nice people because of that car’s singular ability to break down in the middle of nowhere. For example, I met two very kind missionaries in the middle of Pennsylvania on Route 80 who drove me to the local dealership so I could get my car towed and fixed. I met a nursing student on a lonely back road of the Central Coast of CA who helped me change my tires. In an age before cell phones and highway call boxes, I was rather dependent, as Blanche DuBois once intoned, on the kindness of strangers. Where ever life has taken these kind folks in the last 30 years, I hope fate has been kind and I thank them profusely.
I also learned about doing basic repairs on a vehicle; in the six years I owned Edmund I learned to change spark plugs, hoses, distributor caps and belts. It was a regular occurrence at my job to see my boss, Oscar and I in the parking lot of the greenhouse where I was employed, with the car hood up fixing something or another. I was on a first name basis with the guys at the local NAPA auto parts. The only way this car could have been more of a lemon would have been to paint it bright yellow.
I finally sold Edmund to a Salinas mechanic for $600.00, which probably barely covered all the parts I had put into the car over the years.
And by the way, yes, I still hope that damn salesman in New Jersey rots in hell…