I bought this great little car from some kids in the neighborhood for $35. It was dark blue 1938 Willys 4dr, with ivory flames on the front. I loved this car. It was fun to drive, was reliable, got good gas mileage and was cozy to ride in. It had terrible mechanical brakes, with cables running to each wheel. I discovered cable tighteners that helped a little. The body had terminal cancer; holes through the trunk and floor. That‚s why there are none left, they have all rusted away, returned to the earth. The flat head four-cylinder engine was the same one used by jeeps in WW II. It would wind to 55 MPH in second and wouldn’t do more than 65 MPH in high. The radiator leaked, and since I hadn’t discovered Stop Leak‚ yet, I didn’t put in antifreeze. When it froze, the freeze plugs would pop out and fall on the ground. I would crawl underneath, find them, poke them back in, pour in water, push the car down the hill to start and drive away. This was my standard procedure for getting under weigh as a 16 year old kid.
One memorable day, I turned off of Highway 99, swerved right and felt the steering break loose. With the useless wheel in my hands, I careened through a gas station, missing all the pumps and customers, pushing frantically on the bad brakes. I stopped by throwing it into reverse, the method I used to negotiate Seattle‚s steep hills.
I sold it to a friend for what I paid for it. Shortly afterward, he bet a hitchhiker a case of beer that he could put it into reverse at 35 MPH. He did it but the clutch went out so he coasted into a junkyard that happened to be next to a tavern where he collected his bet. All cars should end their lives on such a positive note.