Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Driving Miss History

1968 Ford Torino Squire I photographed in Beve...

I've got a buddy -- two weeks ago I'd have called him a fellow medical student, but since he's newly graduated, he's "Doctor" now -- who drives a station wagon. I'm not sure most people under 30 even know what a station wagon is, much less have ever ridden in one. Oh, true, they may have been a passenger in a Mazda 6 or Jaguar T Type, but that's the point: no one calls them "station wagons" anymore.

I can't say I learned to drive in one, but we had a Dodge with a push-button transmission once, and I did my share of pretending. I must have been close to 13 because I remember getting "car crazy" around the same time the hormones started kicking in. It was hard to imagine racing while pushing buttons -- little did I know the same technology would characterize Formula One in 2010 -- but it was all we had, so I made do.

Later on, the Dodge was replaced briefly by a mid-sized Ford Torino Squire wagon with imitation wood siding. We hadn't had it long when the transmission died in a snow storm late one evening. It was a case of man and machine against nature, and as you might expect, nature won. I recall seeing my father in the driver's seat, staring into the rapidly falling and piling snow as if to say, "We'll meet again, you and I." He didn't get out, draw his six gun and shoot the Torino as a movie cowboy might when his horse stepped in a prairie dog hole and broke its leg, but I'm sure he was sorely tempted.

That night was memorable, not only for my father's self-control, but for the fact that it heralded the end of his romance with Ford. A few days later, he purchased a Pontiac Grand Safari wagon, and remained faithfully wedded to General Motors the rest of his life. Admittedly, he had a brief and torrid love affair with a 1966 Ford Mustang, but we don't talk about that in polite company.

So, back to my friend's wagon. In a few more years, it will be a classic and if it holds together long enough, maybe a collector's piece. As it stands now, you wouldn't want to run into it with a Honda, unless you're intent on totaling your car while his rolls away without a scratch. It actually has a steel hood stout enough for the two of us to sit on without denting. Yup, he's driving Miss History, perhaps more mine than his, but that's okay; he loves her and that's all that counts.


(GNU Free Documentation image via Wikipedia)
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