Monday, June 2, 2008

Family Automobiles XIV

The most luxurious car we ever owned was the 1978 Chrysler LeBaron Medallion 2-door coupe. It was the demonstrator at Bill Snethcamp's Lansing Chrysler-Plymouth (now Dodge), cream colored with power everything and an 8-track stereo system. It had genuine leather seats that really cradled the butt and back in style. We loved the 8-track (I still have all the tapes and an 8-track sound system built into the Map Room at the River House). For example, on  trips going up some scenic mountain road we would be playing "Theme from Rocky".full blast. In fact, I'm going in and play it right now for old times sake. ..................There, that got my toes tapping and blood circulating!.
Elaine's little red Chevette: Elaine's pet car was her 1980 4-door hatchback from Shaheen Chevrolet. Cost $5500 + tax and title (wrote a check). Air, automatic, vinyl bucket seats, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM Stereo. A really neat little package. It was her run-around-the-neighborhood-go-to-garage-sales car. Eventually we sold it to a family as a car for their daughter to commute to Sexton so we often saw it on Pleasant Grove Road.
The replacement for the Chevette was a 1987 Chevrolet Nova CL Hatchback. Didn't pay cash for it since they offered 1.9% financing. The biggest story about the Nova took place the first hour we owned it. We bought it from Pres Kool Chevrolet in Okemos. We caravaned home, I was in the '86 Caprice (see below) and Elaine was driving her new Nova right behind me. We took a circuitous route to avoid main highways and expressways and are coming north on Logan wanting to get onto Mt Hope but there is no left turn at Mt Hope so you have keep going north, pull through the median, left turn onto south-bound Logan and then turn right at the Mt Hope intersection. A fairly tricky manuever. So I turn left onto Logan with Elaine following but here comes a car speeding south down the left lane and they have to stand on the brakes to keep from hitting her which pisses them off. There were four punks in their 20s in the car, two white and two black, and they start tailgating Elaine and yelling at her mostly with the F word. I am seeing all this in my rear view so I pull over a  lane and slow down until they are right along side me and then I start shouting and gesticulating at them. That allows Elaine to escape on down Logan and they stop and one of the guys in their back seat jumps out to confront me. I had my hand on the window button prepared to trap his arm if he reached in and drag him a ways. He was all bluster and I apologized sort of and that was the end of it. I caught up with a shaken Elaine about a block down Logan and led her  home.
The only car I ever owned that I saw the odometer turn to 00000 was the 1986 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Brougham LS which we bought in Grand Rapids. It was a great riding, powerful, luxurious car The back of the passenger compartment had been modified by a custom shop to give it that limousine look. I was stopped at stop lights by buyers who wanted to ship it to the Middle East to sell to rich Arabs who wanted big, fancy American automobles. I received several letters from dealers who wanted it for export. I mounted a CB radio one-hander with the box in the triunk and a big whip antenna and had a trailer hitch mounted. When I retired from the State we bought a Jayco Popup Camper. Elaine and I had a couple of memorable camp outs at State Parks on Lake Michigan. I wish we had had more. We also set it up at Sleepy Hollow so Ken and Joe and Jon and Adam could each have father-son campouts. In its old age I offered it to Adam and got a liuke-warm response which suprised me..It turned out he thought I wanted to sell it to him. When I told him it was for FREE he quickly agreed. Eventually Adam was off to New York and didn't need a car so somehow it passed off to Jason (step Grandson-in-law) who eventually put a sign on it in his front yard and that is the end of what I know. It may still be on the road. 
NEXT: The rest of the Jim & Elaine cars.

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