She was born before July 23, 1969 (probably late 1968) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and came to an abrupt end April 9, 1981, in Ames, Iowa. She held a special place in my heart and this month marks the 42nd anniversary of the beginning of our time together.
“She” was the first car I purchased after graduating from college, a brown, two door, slightly used 1969 Rambler with just 4,500 miles under her belt. From the first time I test drove her to our final parting, she served me well over the course of our 12 years together. Purchased for just $2,400, and financed over a two year payment period, she was my first set of wheels and we went everywhere together. She provided the transportation; I provided the necessary gas, oil and maintenance.
Sadly, I have no pictures of her but this photo from Wikipedia shows the model.
To my eyes, she was basic and beautiful. Some would describe her as an “econo-box” model, and perhaps she was. But she was reliable, easy to drive and park.
She had no luxuries: no air-conditioning, power steering, power brakes, cruse control, nor air bags. One of the fun things of driving her was to pull up along side an elegant, fancy car in a parking lot. She took me all the places any other car would go and definitely had no inferiority complex.
The years started to take their toll as various parts began to fail. She never accumulated wrinkles, but her rust spots were a sign of her increasing age. The AM-radio station was not working until one day I hit a rut in the street and, amazingly, the sound returned for a few more years. We added cruise control and an FM converter kit, both of which worked for awhile, but eventually gave out. Like I said, she was a very basic model.
Then the speedometer failed and I had to gauge my speed by feel and by the speed of other cars, but I never did get a speeding ticket, so that method was somewhat successful.
In cold weather in her later years, she did not like to start if the air/gas mixture wasn’t exactly right. So I would insert a ball point pen in a part under the hood, get back in the car, and turn the ignition. Success! Get back out, retrieve the pen, close the hood, get back in the car and drive away. Sounds a bit like cranking the old Model T, doesn’t it?
But she was terminal and the journey came to an end one day when, momentarily distracted, I rear-ended a stalled (but empty) car. Rambler’s radiator sprung a leak (lots of green fluid on the pavement) and the front end was pushed in. We had to call the ambulance, I mean, tow truck to haul her away.
Briefly, I considered having her repaired and restored, but that idea was beyond our bank account amount, my ability to do the work itself, and practicality. So, my final message to her was, “Rust In Peace!”
I’ve had other cars since that time, but none has ever held that “special” car place in my heart.
Getting old is not for sissies, and Rambler was certainly no sissy.
Only fond memories remain!