To say the very least 2007, in our household, has been one for the record books. A quick summary would read something like this; two book contracts, acceptance by Cars & Parts as a regular contributor, my son was married, I became a grandfather, we renovated our front room, we had a water leak in the wall and renovated a large portion of the front room, and I am ending the year staring into the abyss of turning 50.
Other memorable moments of the year would include finalizing the needed adjustments and repairs to make Barney the Wonder Truck(I often wonder about this truck) a dependable daily driver. After several small forays along original alignments of Route 66/The National Old Trails Highway it seemed appropriate to make the official maiden voyage on the last incarnation of that iconic highway.
The planned trip was to be a hair shy of 100 miles, from Kingman to Peach Springs and back again. In Hackberry I stopped to check for fuel leaks as the needle on the gasoline gauge seemed to be dropping almost as fast as the popularity of George Bush. After church, before starting home, I again checked for fuel leaks.
The final tally for fuel economy was 11.25 miles per gallon. So a few weeks later I checked and adjusted everything from timing to the carburetor and set out, again on Route 66, for the Black Mountains. It was refreshing to see my hard work had paid off, the fuel economy on this trip had skyrocketed to 12 miles per gallon.
I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and this truck was a gift, a real bonafide blessing. This 1968 Adventurer was given to me as payment for a favor and in memory of a friend. Enough about Barny (how the truck received its moniker and other tales are posted in the archives for this blog).
My primary mode of transport for 2007, and most of the past six years, is a well worn but dependable 1988 Ford Crown Victoria LX Country Squire station wagon. I can honestly say this has been one of the most dependable, most versatile vehicles yet owned.
It is a near perfect blend of utility and economy with mileage, on the highway, often topping 23 miles per gallon. This tried and true road warrior has served as home on rainy nights high in the mountains near Flagstaff, has hauled family, friends, and luggage to all manner of events from weddings to funerals. It has faithfully transported Christmas trees, lumber, musical equipment, hundreds of pounds of canned goods for area food banks, hitchhikers with dogs, and even an injured bicyclist with the remains of the bicycle.
That is the good news. The bad news is the frustration I have with most every automobile manufactured since twelve volt electrical systems became standard, they replaced the generator with alternators and it was decided pick up trucks needed automatic transmissions and power steering – there is not a damn thing you can fix on this car. If it quits along the road it will most likely be without warning and will be unrepairable outside of a garage.
With that said I am in a quandary. The car is need of some small but possibly costly repair, namely potentially serious oil leaks.
In real dollars the car sporting its blue camo paint scheme (to anyone who asks about this splotchy paint scheme I inform them this car can be parked in any lake without being noticed) is worth maybe $500. However, if evaluated in regards to replacement value then that figure would be doubled and then doubled again.
With this pending decision swirling through my mind I again turn thoughts toward aquisition of a Studebaker. Anyone know where I can find a good Studebaker pick up with overdrive or a Studebaker station wagin with the retractable rear roof?
When it comes to transportation many who know me use the word cheap. I prefer frugal. Admittedly I may be stretching that point when it comes to my wife’s car.
This veteran of the highway, a well worn, down at the heels but wholly dependable 1973 Olds 88 sedan, has served us well for almost fourteen years. The most costly items replaced in that time have been tires. I change the oil and grease the old beast often, and have replaced the usual assortment of batteries, alternators, brakes and water pumps in that time. Overall, however, I believe we are close to recouping our initial $350.00 investment.
As with so many of our vehicles paint and such adornment is often secondary. I refer to this cars appearance as junk yard camouflage – I can park it in any junk yard in the nation and it will completely blend in with its surroundings.
In the grand scheme of things 2007 has unequivocally been the worst year of my life for reasons unnecessary to delve into here. It has also been the best year of my life. With that in mind I eagerly await 2008 with a hint of apprehension, a touch of eager anticipation, a mix of child like enthusiasm and a great deal of excitement.
It is my sincere hope that each and every reader will be richly blessed in the year to come. Thank you for making this a wonderful year!