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Bloviating Zeppelin: The Worst Car

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Worst Car

Shoving politics aside this weekend, the AAA magazine VIA named the worst cars of all time, in this order:

1. Yugo GV -- 46%
2. Ford Pinto -- 25%
3. AMC Pacer -- 15%
4. Chevrolet Vega -- 14%

I can't say I necessarily disagree, but then that made me question my own selection of automobiles over the years -- which ones were my worst cars?

1. 1977 Ford Courier Pickup
I acquired this ratty little truck when I was living with my soon-to-be first wife in a duplex off I-5, and working the graveyard shift at the Main Jail in downtown Sacramento. Young and looking for "inexpensive," I certainly found that in the Courier.

Actually in decent shape physically, with a white exterior and blue interior (and with blue indoor/outdoor carpeting cut and glued into the bed by its previous owner -- I'd acquired the Courier at an Auto Auction [never again!]), the Courier was loud, buzzy, leaked, and featured the Miraculous Singing Dash, an extra added bonus I'd never sought. The MSD would pitch up in volume on the freeway as some kind of obstruction, part or series of parts commenced first to rattling then transitioned to a grating, ear-piercing whistling when the vehicle reached breakneck speeds of -- oh, say, 50 or 55 mph. I once took the truck to 70 but I quickly determined, after it displayed the agility and braking distance of the Exxon Valdez, to let that be a lesson to me.

I remember this truck for two distinct scenarios involving cats. At the time, I had three cats in the house. One day, in a horrendous downpour, I pedaled the truck ala Fred Flintstone to a restaurant to meet my union president, about 35 miles from the house, involving mostly freeway driving. When I stopped in the parking lot I heard a loud meow from the bed. My young and thoroughly soaked tabby cat, Homes, had ridden the entire distance in the bed and somehow managed not to be flung to his death. I credit the carpet.

In the second scenario, I started the truck, backed out of the duplex driveway, and engaged first gear, heading to the corner. But immediately, something sounded very strange in the engine compartment and its acceleration was even less enthusiastic than normal. As I looked in the rearview mirror I observed what appeared to be either a puff of smoke or something light and fluffy emanating from the back of the truck. I knew that the empty lot next door had a lot of summer weeds, the kind with the puffballs at the ends. I thought: uh-oh, I've run over a clump of weeds and the truck is damaged.

I stopped immediately and looked under the truck. My first sight was that of a thin, shaven, formerly-orange cat tail hanging quite vertically and limply near the radiator. I opened the hood to find my orange tabby Elwood knocked senseless, laying on a flat piece of metal less than an inch below the whirling fanblades above, his body riddled with a series of random and very thin slashes where his fur was absent. Oddly enough, he never slept in my engine compartment again.

Damn. Reminds me of another Homes The Cat story:

Not long after, I couldn't find Homes. I couldn't find him for days, at least 5 or 6. I was convinced he was gone. At the time, a new house was under construction directly across the street from my duplex. One of the construction workers drove an old former CHP black-and-white car, a huge 1971 Dodge Polara (see photo). One afternoon I thought I heard a cat meowing but it sounded as though the cat was far away and in a tunnel. It appeared the sound was coming from the construction site. As I got closer to the car, I continued to hear the meowing. On a whim I queried: "Homes?" and acquired a series of long and tortured meows. The sounds were issuing from the right front fender. It took the two of us two hours to dismantle the Polara to the point where I could reach in and extricate my dessicated and emaciated cat. He had apparently sought a sleeping spot in the car, couldn't get out, and spent almost a week communting to and from the job site in the fender of the Polara. And no, Homes wasn't hurt, just thirsty and hungry.

I was going to tell you about the adventures of my second-worst car, a 1974 MG-B, but I'll save that for another time.

What was your worst car?



Blogger Ranando said...

Mine was a 2003 Chevy Suburban with that Quadra-Steer deal where the wheels in the back turn like the front wheels.

It never worked like it should and know one knew how to fix it. It spent out of the year and ahalf that I had it, half the time in the shop.

I paid cash for it brand new and after a year and ahalf Chevy sent me a full refund.

It was my third Suburban, to bad it was the worse, it was loaded.

Sat Jun 21, 06:32:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I remember that system; I always wondered why, what sounded like an interesting and possibly useful idea, it seemed to vanish like a bad fart overnight.


Sat Jun 21, 07:29:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Ranando said...

It was for pulling trailors and with the horses and all it seemed like a great idea, it wasn't. If it had worked it was a good idea.

Anyway Chevy stepped right up to the plate and took care of us, you can't ask for any more than that.

Sat Jun 21, 07:38:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

1987 Olds Cutlass Supreme. I got it in 1992, rusted, ugly, but it took a licking and kept going. No A/C in a Philly summer sucked, but otherwise, it wasn't too terrible.

Sat Jun 21, 08:35:00 AM PDT  
Blogger TexasFred said...

'72 Plymouth Road Runner...

Ran good, fell apart, all to often, was your basic POS... Sold it to a guy that raced 1/4 mile dirt, he used it for parts and then bitched that the parts sucked too...

Sat Jun 21, 01:34:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Gayle said...

I can honestly say we've never bought a lemon. We've been extremely lucky! :)

Sat Jun 21, 02:29:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bushwack said...

A pinto was my wife and I's first date ride. Drove it around A small town in NC for 2 years. Ended up shooting holes in it for fun out in a tobacco field.

I had a Vega too, had to put water in it every time I put gas in it...

Best car was as WE said an 87 cutlass drove it from NC to Barstow, ran out of gas, ripped my stereo out, sold it and drove to current location...
I had been trying to block out those memories BZ, now I have to go see Dr Phil for some needed therapy. sigh

Sat Jun 21, 07:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I so apologize, Bushwack!


Sun Jun 22, 09:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger cary said...

Worst car? geez, there were so many...

the 1971 Ford Courier (mine was red, and apparently the MSD was a standard feature by then) that could hit 53 1/2 MPH going down the Grapevine with a tailwind

the 1968 VW 7window bus (with it's vague approximation of a gearbox)

the 1969 VW 912 (take a perfectly good porsche 911 and stick a set of vw body panels on it. yeah, it doesn't sound very good in retrospect)

the 1973 Rover (no, not Range Rover - that would have been cool. this was a 2 seat, 4 speed, convertible driveway ornament made by the leaders in English automotive technology)

the 1999 Dodge Neon (which I see they have rebadged as the SRT4 after figuring out that the PT Loser is much too heavy for the framework and drivetrain - heck, the Neon was much too heavy for that framework and drivetrain)

Take yer pick. I wish I hadn't.

Mon Jun 23, 06:41:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous WMD_Maker said...

Worse one I actually owned was a 69 Fiat 850 sport COUPE not the roadster. 897cc of raw pain. It ran on premium when it ran. The front end was so light that if you mentioned moisture it refused to turn. A very close runner up that I drove but my parents owned was a 67 Mercury Caliente. At 30000 miles it needed a valve job. The steering was so vague it was almost worthless to hang on to the wheel. Build quality was non-existant stuff started rattling and coming loose but refusing to completely fall off almost from the day they bought it.

Mon Jun 23, 07:19:00 AM PDT  

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