4/26/2008

My First Car: 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air







Times being what they were, I did not own a car while I was a teenager. It wasn’t often, but I did have to ask my beloved father to use his car for doing the teenager thing for dates, school activities and so forth. I didn’t like asking him for reasons that I will share at a later date in another blog entry. But, for now, let’s just suffice it to say asking him for the keys to his car was something I dreaded more than anything I could think of at the time.

I did not actually own my first car until I got out of the U.S. Navy in 1974 at age 22. I already had a Triumph 650cc motorcycle that I had transported from Naples, Italy to Mobile, AL. But, I used that for mostly showboating. I needed a car. So, my late Uncle Mike sold me my first car; a 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air. My Uncle Mike kept that car clean as a whistle. So, I thought it was probably a good buy at $200.00. And it was a good buy at that price. I had an AM-FM stereo radio that Uncle Mike had installed that was just great!!! I loved that car! It was solid white, had a little rust around the bottom of the front doors and the carburetor had to be primed occasionally to start. But, all in all, I enjoyed that car. I had always been a Chevy man. My father had the elite of elite Chevrolet’s in that he bought a silver 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. To this day, that car is still considered one of the best made cars ever to come out of Detroit. I loved that car even as a precocious 7 year old boy in Woolmarket, MS. But, I had a 1966 edition although it was a bit ragged around the edges. It had over 175K miles on it. But, my Uncle Mike had kept that car up. It purred like a kitten. I was impressed with how well it rode over the roughest of surfaces. It had a great suspension. Gas mileage wasn’t that great. But, in 1974, gas was less than a dollar a gallon. So, who really cared about gas mileage back in those days? Not many people, except Uncle Mike. His reason for selling the ’66 Bel Air to me was the gas mileage. He was not happy with it. I can’t remember the exact MPG on that car. But, I honestly didn’t care at the time.

After about three years, the 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air starting giving out on me. The front end was a becoming a constant problem. It would wear out tires in less than six months. The cost to repair became more than the car itself was worth. So, quite and very reluctantly, I had to sell my car. I sold it for exactly what it cost me, $200.00. I sold it to a man who said he was going to cannibalize it for parts. I did see it one last time as he drove up to a local McDonald's. I felt a pang of regret as it rode past me. It was almost like it was saying, “David, I thought you loved me. Didn’t I take care of you? Why did you let me go?” It hurt. But, I know I did the right thing. I never saw it again after that day. But, that was my first car. And, for some strange reason, it entered my mind tonight. That’s why I’m writing about it tonight.

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