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Under The Hood

Doug Smith and Dave Smith, 1966 Chevy Impala, summer of 1971 perhaps.
Under the Hood

I wanted to be a gear-head. I just never had the tools or the chops for it. But cars have always been fun and I've usually been a Chevy guy. Oh, I've wandered into lots of interesting cars and owned a few.

What was your first car?

Did you name it?

This 1966 Chevy Impala SuperSport was my first car. I'm sure that I paid too much for it because I paid what the guy was asking. I didn't know any better and I really wanted that car. It was fast. It was sporty. And, gasp - it had an 8-track stereo. You have to imagine the joys of listening to "Dark Side of The Moon" on an 8-track that had to fade-out and click-thru to the next track even if the song wasn't finished. Not the medium for Pink Floyd, that's for sure. But Elton John and Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck sounded just great, tooling down the road.

Doug Smith and his Chevy Impala

I've had other great cars, too:

1966 Volkswagen Beetle (this was my dad's but he was willing to trade cars when I had trouble making the payments on the Chevy Impala)

1965 Volkswagen Microbus panel van. I thought I wanted to customize it, but again, didn't have the chops. Still, what a fun car for $300. My longest trip was from Trenton, NJ to Chicago. I was pulled over by a police officer who said he just wanted to see what keeps that thing moving. Considering all the vinyl albums I had in the back, it was something of a miracle, although the person I sold it to told me that he used it to haul lumber in Montana, so the car had some character.

1966 Plymouth Fury. (Salt) My stepfather Jack bought this for $100 as a beater commuter car in Chicago and gave it to me. I drove it for two years and then sold it for $200. It had a powerful engine and smooth ride but oh did it gulp the gas. Zoom.

1969 Ford Econoline. (Buster) I bought this for $500 without test driving it. The first time I took it out, to drive a friend to the airport, it stalled and wouldn't re-start. I gave the tow-truck driver all I had in my pocket -- just short of the $50 he was asking. I wrote a song about this truck. It hauled all my stuff the second time I moved to Chicago.

1972 Plymouth Valiant Scamp. (Prince) A smaller car with a powerful engine, this drove like a breeze and I probably should have never sold it except -- don't remember why we sold it...

1983(?) Renault Alliance. Wow, did this five speed ever get up and go (at first) and get super gas milage. It was a snazzy metal-flake orange, too. Loved it, but sold it when it lost its oomph and was clearly in need of major repairs. 

1990 Chevy Cavalier

1994 Chevy Cavalier

1987 Chevy Cavalier (as a second car) (Bluebird)

1995 Plymouth Acclaim

1990 Dodge Grand Caravan

2002 Chevy Cavalier (Silver Bird)

2014 Chevy Cruz (Marachino)

If you're a driver and you live long enough, maybe you'll get the joy of owning lots of cars. I have loved every single one I've owned, even if they were seldom my first choice.

-- doug smith


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