sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, October 25, 2013

What was your First Car?

Mine was a 1957 International Travelall, nicknamed the Green Monster. My grandfather bought it for $150.00 as US Government surplus. The Federal Communications Commission owned it, used it and put it out to pasture. At age 15, he thought that it was high time that I had a car of my own to work on. So it became a joint project. The Travelall ran, but needed some work. We started with a paint job. At the time, Earl Scheib painted "any car for $19.95, so we took it there and had it painted dark green. 

The truck pictured (above) is not the Green Monster - but very very close, so I included it for reference.
  • There was no air conditioning.
  • Gas mileage was 10 mpg with a stiff tail wind (down a steep grade).
  • Top speed about 50-55 mph on any grade or the straight and level.
  • We added a 15 gallon auxiliary fuel tank because the original 15 gallon tank gave it very short legs.
  • The low gearing meant that in the mountains you could push over aspens and spruces with a 6" trunk as if they didn't exist.
  • It was the perfect hunting and fishing truck - which was what you did when I was a kid. It was cold as a witch's tit as I recall. The truck's heater was inadequate and barely warmed your leg.
  • Leaf springs all around - rough ride - but not much to break.
The original bumper didn't stand up well to rough use, so we replaced it with a steel i-beam that my grandfather located in a metal scrap yard and added a winch. In the winter I was stopped at at stop sign on an icy road and a new Buick sedan slid into the edge of the bumper while making a left hand turn in front of me and it opened the Buick like a tuna can. I didn't notice much but a nudge as the car rubbed past. The paint transfer was about a one inch smudge on the i-beam.

The Green Monster hauled hay to the horses from the house to the lower pasture, hauled dead deer, elk and antelope, dead pheasants, chukar partridges, and quail. Dead german brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, striped bass, lake trout (mackinaw), graylings, small mouth bass, large mouth bass, cutthroat trout, pumpkins and squash, etc. My coyote rode in it as did my Rhodesian Ridgeback and sleeping in the back worked just fine. Better if the dog was there to keep you warm in winter.

The truck did not impress girls, but boys thought that it was very cool. My first girlfriend (Susan) threw me over for a boy from a rich family whose father gave him a brand new pick-up truck. History and present circumstances taken into account, she might have been better off sticking with me and the Green Monster. 



21 comments:

  1. Mine was a 1959 Chevy Impala, 4DSD with Fred Flintstone assisted brakes. The front floor boards were rotted right out and covered with heavy mats. You could stick your feet right through to the road without touching any metal. At night when I hit a bump, the headlights danced around in their rotted buckets. They use a lot of salt in central NY.

    I paid $25 for it just to take my wife to the hospital for the delivery of our daughter. I had the Impala for about three weeks before it broke down - five days before she was born. I sold it for $5. The guy squirmed under it and jiggled something in the starter and drove it off. This was May of 1970.

    The last Chevy I owned was a 2001 Impala. Had it for seven years - one of the best cars I ever owned. I liked the Chevy but, oh you Explorer.

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  2. "any car for $19.95."

    Heh. Haven't heard that expression in decades. My college buddy had his '62 Nova painted by them. Not a quality job by any means but they made a whole lot of wrecks look almost presentable. Remember the days when you could pick up a used car for $200 that would last you six months to a year?

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    1. The "new" paint began to peel in places about a year after we had it painted but for the most part, it wasn't all that bad. And not bad at all for $19.95.

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  3. My first car was a 1979 Ford Mustang. It had belonged to my father. I bought it from him when I went off to Colorado to go to grad school. I bought it with money I had earned working in Cleveland as a research intern for Standard Oil.

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    1. Do you still have it? I think that's the sort of car you always wish you'd kept.

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  4. Mine was a "60" chevy convertable. Loved the fins and the line of the car. 283 with a two speed powerglide and great mileage. And for sure it was one hell of a chick magnet. The greatest thing though is not to long ago I was able to get one with a good, no rust body andI am blessed to be restoring it with my son and 2 grandsons. Doesn't get any better than that.

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    1. Restoring something like that with your kids/grandkids (even if it's not the original) is a labor of love. And yeah, if you couldn't pick up women in a '60 Chevy convertible, you have problems. I'm thinking American Graffiti.

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  5. Replies
    1. I recall that we screwed with a guy that had a '64 VW. Four of us lifted it up, carried it about twenty feet and put it beyond a barrier on the steps of City Hall.

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  6. Replies
    1. It rains a lot in Southern Louisiana. Such fun when a sudden shower pops up and the top of your car is dismantled and in the trunk - forgive me, the "boot."

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  7. We had a Travelall, white with "wood" side panels.

    My first car was a red Porsche...my Dad loved me.

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  8. 1963 Corvair 'Spyder'. I paid $400 for it, and drove the pure hell out of it! It burned oil but it was a fun little car!

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    Replies
    1. Awesome little ride. It was a car for its time and they are still cool.

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  9. 64 Buick Wildcat 4 door. Not a chick magnet but it got me where I needed to go.

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    Replies
    1. If you put centerline rims and cool tires on it, you could make them sweeter than stock.

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  10. My first car was a 2003 Isuzu Adventure and it was everything I ever needed. Road trips cross states, camping, city driving and going to work. Sadly, the time came when maintenance became an issue and I had to sell it. The good thing is I found an online shop that sells high-quality cars at a very reasonable price. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Michaele Drakes @ Payless Car

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