31 August 2011

My first car

The picture above is of my first car, a 1970 Plymouth RoadRunner. This was taken on a foggy morning before going to school in the late summer/early autumn of 1976, shortly after installing my first set of wheels and tyres. Oh, and the requisite chrome tach, as an in-dash tach was one of the few options the car did not have. And a CB radio naturally.
I purchased the car from the original owners, a retirement age couple who were  acquaintances of my parents. Fred and Patricia bought the car new from Chrysler Products Claremore in Claremore Oklahoma in early February 1970. They had gone to buy a 318 Satellite actually, but this car was sitting on the showroom floor. When Pat saw it, she fell in love with it's looks. She loved the B5 Blue, the white vinyl top and the Deluxe blue interior. The dealer searched local inventory for a Satellite in this colour combo, as Fred being a very conservative accountant, didn't want to have to buy "ethyl" and wished for better gas mileage.  But no white over blue Satellites could be found in the Tulsa area. As this car had an automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, etc etc, they bought the RoadRunner since Pat liked it so well.

A little over five and a half years later, Fred decides its time to buy a new car as he traded cars approximately every lustrum or so. He mentioned it to my Dad, who, of course had heard nothing but "car" from me since I could speak. [it was my fourth word] Just so happened that my  birthday was approaching too, and Dad and I had been looking at cars anyway. At first I rejected the notion of this particular vehicle as I did NOT want automatic or A/C. But, as most of the RoadRunners, GTOs, Chevelles and Impalas that we had viewed were worn out junk [or grossly overpriced/out of my range], I decided to go ahead and look at the car.
Well, you can imagine what a ~5 year old car with 42000 miles belonging to a post middle aged accountant looked like. The only 'issue' was that Fred and Pat lived in a rural area and had 2 miles of dirt road to travel to get home, hence, this being November, the car wore whitewall studded snow tyres...[Ever done a burnout with studded snow tyres? makes an odd sound and throws sparks...  :)  ] A price was agreed upon, Dad and I agreed on loan and repayment terms, [actually Dad set the terms and I agreed] savings were relinquished on the spot, my dirt bike was put up for sale immediately and the hunt for a job began in earnest the very next day.
When we went to pick the car up that Friday evening, Fred brought out not only the title and owner's manual, but a factory service manual and a stack of paper that contained every receipt for everything ever put in or done to the car. Along with all this documentation, was a carburetor kit. When I queried as to the repair parts, Fred answered "John, I know you had to have noticed, and if not, your Dad certainly did, but since you all didn't say anything, I feel I must tell you there IS something wrong with the car. I have had the carb rebuilt every year ; at first under warranty and since it's run out now, I was going to do it myself this spring."
"Why Sir?"
"Well, obviously there's something wrong with it. I have NEVER been able to get the car to idle smoothly!"
The car idled just right as far as I was concerned, firm and slightly lumpy, so I thought for a moment...then it hit me. Right as I was about to say something, my Dad elbowed me lightly, looked at me sideways , smiled and said "Don't worry about it Fred, we'll get it figured out."
Poor Fred never DID really understand exactly what all "RoadRunner" meant...


  1. Great story man, love your page as well. I was lucky enough to have a 73’ 318 Satellite Sebring Plus as my first car after rebuilding it with my dad, and am lucky enough to still have it. keep the Mopar love alive.

  2. Thanx for the kind words Kris. Feel free to share some photos and the story of your Plymouth here!