"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Our Cars

Last week Phone Rat and I got on the subject of cars. Cars we owned and those our friends had. Clearly the car in this picture is not a muscle car, but I am sure a lot of you will remember this car, its owner, and this charity event at the Shell Station on the corner of Van Nuys Blvd. and Sherman Way.

Phone Rat was remembering his 1966 Blue Ford Fairlane. Aside from numerous TP missions, what I remember most is the day a certain Sweetheart decorated his Fairline with shaving cream. Typical of the stunts many of us indulged in. Though it was just innocent fun this particular stunt set off a whole round of regrettable fireworks we still talk about.

My first car was a 1966 Pontiac Lemans. I used to drive it like a maniac through the hills. One of my favorite roads then was the dirt road section of Dixie Canyon. One day we were up there racing through the turns like a Midget car when Phone Ray shouts out, "Lock 'em up!" Like a damn fool I slammed on the breaks and we skidded left, then right until we came to a stop about a foot from the edge, which had no rails. After I restarted the car we continued on like nothing happened, such is youth.

Another memory is of an old Blue Chevy truck owned by one of the taller members of our group, "GZ". One day we were in the parking lot of the Van Nuys Temple. For some reason I was standing on the back of his truck, holding my acoustic guitar. All of a sudden the truck surged forward and I went off the back of the truck, face first with my guitar in front of me, onto the pavement below. When I got up I saw my guitar had taken the brunt of the damage. I was ticked off but the guitar did save me from serious injury. The fault was mine for standing on the back of an idling truck with a touchy clutch. The next time I rode with our tall friend was in his 1968 Plymouth Fury, which he called his "Grandfather Car".

Radio Rat used to run around town in an older Datsun station wagon blasting Deep Purples "Machine Head" on his 8-track player. Since that wasn't the ideal projection of cool he soon upgraded to a Chevy Vega Station wagon. Still not the epitome of cool, but functional for the things he needed it for, such as toting his drum kit to gigs, and so on, lots of so on. My fondest memory of the Vega was driving to the Ontario Motor Speedway the night before the race to hang out with another friend. But this was the era of van culture so Radio Rat traded up again for a souped up florescent yellow/orange Ford Econoline van. Into this "Love Truck" went the requisite shag carpet, television, refrigerator, quad stereo and I forget what else. There are too many escapades with that van to name one above the other. Perhaps Radio rat will elaborate. I hope he remembers this is a PG-Rated blog.

Other memories include me in my 1973 Ford Pinto racing "AT' and his Blue Ford Mustang down Sunset Blvd. It is written in my contemporaneous notes we reached speeds of 80 mph. I think that was top speed for my Pinto, while he was still in second gear. I recall another friend, "AB", who owned a Pinto, but this Green Pinto had a Mustang engine lurking under the hood. Another friend, "CF", had a Toyota Celica until one night when it met its fate. His next car was a low slung Lotus sports car. He told us he paid $10,000 for the Lotus. Exotic as it was, we all gasped and said we would never pay $10,000 for a car.

I also remember "JB" briefly owned a souped up Ford Mustang that I think he shared with his dad, "JB Sr". I seem to remember a Porsche 914, belonging to "GR". My favorite car was a Chevy El Camino owned by he father of our tall friend. Phone Rat remembers a 1964 Copper colored Plymouth Fury owned by "HW", and a 1954 Pontiac owned by "HM". I know there were a few more muscle cars out there you might remember?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone every seen the movie "Space Cowboys" with Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones? In the movie, there was a teenager walking with his girlfriend out at the airport (filmed at Aqua Dulce Airpark, off HWY 14) ready to showoff his flying skills in a Bi-Plane with pilot Tommy Lee Jones. The car that the kid and his girlfriend had was the same car I had, a turquoise 1966 Ford Fairlane 500, with a white vinyl top. I remember my friend Gary Z. helped me fix her up a bit. He was, and still is, the best at building and fixing anything. He came over one Saturday and installed some lifters for the rear end. Those model Fords seemed to drag in the back. My Dad objected to it saying that the car was designed like that and should NOT be altered. Dads...What do they know !!! Well, he gave in and up went the rear end. Several months later, Gary Z. and I drove up to Crestline for the weekend and somehow, that Fairlane was going a bit to fast around an icy curve and we plowed into a snow bank. My Dad was to show up the next day. I had a lot of explaining to do and a lot of money to come up with to get it repaired. Earl Schieb..any car any color..just twenty-nine ninty-five. Need I say more.. The turquiose I asked for somehow became a dark blue..That would be the last time for Earl. Of course, no car was complete without some descent tunes for cruising.. Four and Eight track Craig tape decks with a supply of CCR, Doors, Rare Earth (Get Ready) and an assortment of custom tapes from Joe's Stereo Shack on Van Nuys Blvd, next door to Heads and Highs (smoking paraphenalia shop) and across from Vons Market and Butler Bros. Dept Store. Oh...those were fun times...
Phone Rat

Guitar Rat said...

Great memories. Funny I never went to Heads and Highs. I went to I Joy Bagels across from Butlers. You guys from Von's weren't happy with just the vegetation in the store were you?

Radio Rat said...

i will have to throw in some memories of the F... Van. But for now...i bet Phone Rat remembers the little accidenthe and i had in the Fairlane with MEL! Or maybe the crazed trip we went on one night after two young ladies pulled up next to us and were looking for some of Jerrys beads! we followed those young ladies all over the Valley...they finally lost us....what a memory...or should i say Mamories

Anonymous said...

From Phone Rat...I honestly don't remember that adventure..wish I did...I do remember a incident where Mel (if we are talking about the same Mel) was in the back seat with a bunch of us and I had a fender bender with a Honda at the corner of Haskell and Plummer. Lots of commotion, screaming, sqealing and I think the last words I uttered was "SHUT UP". It turned quiet and I got out of the car and talked to the lady driving the Honda.. That's one of the reasons for high car insurance for teenagers..And after that, the price went up even more..Radio Rat, we'll have to discuss the Jerrys Beads adventure sometime.

Anonymous said...

I hate to correct the great Guitar
Rat but the Vega that Radio Rat drove was the station wagon and the Datsun was the little blue box. I know this because he and I had to share it. Scary car.

Guitar Rat said...

Since you acknowledge my greatness I will humbly accept the correction. I remember you two shared the car. I remember one night on G Street watching you come home and turn the corner at such a speed that I marveled that the "little blue box" did not tip over or run into something. Were you dragging your foot to stop it?

Good hearing from you!! Thanks for contributing.

Anonymous said...

All right I acknowledged your greatness, during a weak moment. I just want to know the heck yo would stop that thing without dragging your foot.

Guitar Rat said...

We all have weak moments. When I have one I'll let you know. Though your feat of stopping a car with your feet was a great feat! I acknowledge your greatness in this regard and on this point I am, are you ready, defeeted. I guess there was no other way to stop it.

In the old days I never used the breaks to stop a car when a donut would do the trick. Obviously I would no longer be dragging my feet to stop anything.