Here, west of Radiator Springs, every day is filled with surprises. Last evening while sitting at a light waiting for it to turn green, I was meditating on the future of my wife’s trusty, rusty, battered, classic 1973 Olds 88 and how you just don’t see twenty or thirty year old cars on the road the way you did years ago when an equally battered circa 1970 Datsun pick up truck pulled along side. Go figure!
Perhaps in the next week or two when time allows I will post a photo essay of this most amazing automobile. It is hands down the most dependable automobile we have ever owned.
Before that welcome interruption the train of thought was along the lines of what a hoot it would be just to let the Olds continue its deterioration while maintaining the mechanical guts. This in turn led to a fleeting vision of a frame and seat rolling along the freeway.
The car had developed a habit of popping just enough to cast doubts on its reliability. After careful evaluation the only problem I could find was possible old gas and to much time in the driveway as the old gal is often parked several weeks at a time.
So, we decided that until I am fit for the bicycle again it might be a good idea to drive it on Wednesdays, this is one of the days I make a run to my mothers house after work. From the house to work, to mom’s and home again is about 15 miles, ten of which can be on I40 unless I decide to ride along old Route 66 instead.
Last evening I chose the I40 route as the best way to give the car a good run. The looks this car gets is an endless opportunity for amusement. Usually everyone gives me a wide berth as they are convinced something large and important will fall off at any moment.
A few weeks ago I jumped in to drive to work and noticed large pieces of plastic all over the floor. It would seem the cold temps were the final straw for most of the back of the steering wheel. Last night I hit a small pot hole and a large section of aluminum door trim on the inside of the right rear popped off.
Amazingly this old car runs like a top. It can sit for weeks and starts in an instant without smoke or lifter rattle. Last night, with my foot resting lightly on the accelerator peddle, the old car cruised effortlessly down the freeway at 65 miles per hour. With the sound of quite power emanating from that old V8 it was hard to restrain the urge push the speed up a few notches.
The ride was as smooth as silk. The only sound was the subdued rumble of the motor and the wind whistling around the doors where large chunks of weather stripping have vanished over the years.
One aspect of this car that really defies all manner of mechanical principle is the air conditioning. When we bought this car sixteen years ago as a replacement for a very well worn 1972 Impala one of the issues was the ac compressor was seized tight.
As the ac in the Impala worked fine it was just a matter of switching a few brackets and taking it to a garage to have the system evacuated and charged. Well, believe it or not, the ac in the Olds will still freeze you out, even on an Arizona summer afternoon and we have not had the system charged since.
The compressor was the original one on the Impala. I can only guesstimate the mileage on that car at the time we liberated the needed ac components and a few other items.
When we bough the Impala it had something like 220,000 on the odometer. We drove that car everywhere for a couple of years and then the speedometer cable broke. We drove it a couple more years before fixing that problem and another couple of years after that. At the time we “retired” the vehicle by selling it to someone who needed a sturdy vehicle to pull a small water trailer the odometer indicated another 80,000 miles of use.
For a number of years now the folks at the Chrysler lot next door to where I work have asked when I will be buying a new car. The answer has become a running joke of sorts – first I have to get my moneys worth out of this one. After all we paid $350 hard earned dollars for this car!

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