10 November 2012

Of all the cars I've known (part duex)

The Army years

1972 VW Super Beetle (Larry, the Stink bug) - After I moved to Germany, I started looking for a set of wheels.  Since I could not afford a new rig on a LT’s salary and we had never bought a new car, I wound up buying a used ‘72 Super Beetle from a warrant officer right after we moved into the housing unit in Germany.  Was a nice bug, but was totally German and had no English instructions.  I never did figure out how to make the defroster work.  After about 6 months, the engine started missing and only got worse.  Not being an expert with them German built, air cooled engines, I tried to diagnose and fix it myself with little success.  Wound up tearing down the engine in the parking lot outside of our apartment complex but could not get it to work.  Had to borrow a buddy’s ‘72 Camaro to go to Frankfurt to pick up my bride (cool car to cruise the autobahn).  I cranked it up around 120 mph (had permission) on the autobahn and still got passed by a couple of Porsches and a BMW.  Finally gave up on the bug and sold it to a more mechanically inclined troop for ½ of what I paid for it.  Pissed me off that the neighbor knew it was a POS and didn’t tell me beforehand.      

1980 Dodge Omni (Ugly) - our first car on our own.  Bought this one through the PX in Germany.  Was looking for a Toyota or perhaps a cheap used car, when the Dodge dealership suckered me into this classic POS (I used to favor Plymouth/Chryslers based upon my experience with the Furys).  2 door hatchback with a moonroof (leaked) and yellow & black paint pattern.  I shoulda seen this disaster coming when, within 6 weeks of buying her, the battery blew up in the engine compartment spraying battery acid all over the inside.  I had that think in for service/warranty work several times in the short 2 years I owned her.  I think, after a year, we decided it wasn’t going to get any better and we cut our losses and I sold it to one of my sergeants.  I really did not want to stick it with him but his wife drove it and she fell in love with it and would not take no for an answer.   I sold it to them (young couple with 2 kids) with my own comments/cautions.  He never did pay me the remaining $400 for the car and I had heard a rumor it caught fire in the PC parking lot one day, so I did not feel right about trying to get the remaining money.  Up to this point, I used to be a Dodge/Plymouth guy, but after dealing with this turd, I decided to go in a different direction.   

1982 Volvo 244 GL (Blue) - our first REAL car (ok, I’m declaring a mulligan on the Omni).   A metallic blue 4 door GL with a sunroof.  It had those big 80’s 5 mile-an-hour bumpers that would take a direct hit from a tank without suffering any damage.  I bought this directly from an off-post dealer that specialized in European cars (BMW, Porsche, Volvo, Saab).  We test drove a BMW 321 and a Mercedes 240D, but liked the handling of the Volvo.  Besides, I was told that Mercedes had a 6 month waiting list.  We ordered our car directly from the factory in Gotenburg, Sweden and made plans to go to the factory to pick it up.  Note:  IF you ever have a chance to do this trek, DO IT.  It was a fantastic trip.  We took a cross country train to Bremen and then a overnight ferry across the north sea to Sweden.  The guys from the factory picked us up and the dock and took us to the factory to introduce us to our car.  The whole experience is first class and you get to tour the factory and see how your car was built.  The end of the day, we signed for our car and drove back to the ferry to head back to Germany.  For the next 8 days, we drove all over northern Germany/Belgium touring the wine country, hitting a few castles and breaking our new car in.  One of the BEST vacations ever!  We drove the Volvo for several years all over Germany & France before we finally shipped her back to the states.  Took 6 weeks, but I picked her up in the port of Houston and was driving her all around Texas.  Was a good car for a young family, but it was not the best for the Texas summers.  During the summer, when it was brutally hot down here, it took a while for a/c to the car to cool off.  Had 135,000 miles on her before she started showing any real problems.  Being an engineer, I loved to work on her.  I did the brakes, oil changes, plugs, radiator, windows, water pump, timing belt.  This car was designed & build by engineers.  Everything comes apart in a sequence and, if you deviate from the sequence, it won’t work.  After 11 years, two continents, and 140,000 well worn miles, I reluctantly traded her in for 1993 Camry.  

Time for a second second car.  Next round:  the Dallas Years  


ShadowRun300 said...

Stink bug. Mulligan. Very funny. :)
I guess we've all had our share of beater cars, and POS cars, but you seemed to have had more than your fair share. Good that you were able to and liked to work on them and fix them up. (With the exception of the stink bug, of course.)
The story of your Volvo was awesome! I can see how you must have hated to let that one go.

meleah rebeccah said...

I've always wanted a VW beetle.

And OMG, my dad's first "adult" car was also a Volvo.

Abby said...

An 80's Omni?! Oh, Agg, I'm so sorry... my condolences to Mrs. Agg as well.
But wow, you made up for it with a Volvo direct-ordered from the factory in Sweden, plus your trek to pick her up! In a parallel universe, I would be a Volvo engineer - except I wouldn't be able to understand my coworkers :(

terri said...

Love that you name your cars! Larry the Stink Bug is my favorite! You definitely paid your dues to get to the Volvo!

DHenderson64 said...

An '80 Dodge Omni? And I thought my parents got suckered when they bought a '75 AMC Hornet through the PX before moving back to the states from Japan. Turns out the Hornet(no given name) was a great little car. It carried my brother and I all the way through high school. It was still running when my mom traded it in on a new car after the two boys left for the service.