My friend Stan and I were walking home from a day of bean picking when we spotted a For Sale sign on an old Ford. It was sitting in front of a tarpaper shack amidst lots of other junk. We knocked on the door and a sleazy looking fellow came out and showed us the car. It was a four-door machine but the back end had been cut out to make it into a station wagon like vehicle. The floor was nicely planked so rocks and dirt would find it comfortable. The engine smoked like a blazing building when started, burning our eyes and reeking of dirty oil. A badly worn wrist pin hammered loudly, a built in governor that limited the speed to 30 MPH. This fellow didn’t care how old we were (we were 15), he just needed our $25 ($12.50 each), so off we went in a big blue cloud.
We found that the engine announced its oil need by a chorus of singing rod bearings. We couldn’t afford to feed it store oil so we pumped a 5- gallon can of free used oil, pumped from 50-gallon drums from behind a local gas station. When the rods began to sing, we stopped and gurgled a gallon of gooey old oil into it. The engine breather was pouring out such thick smoke that I ran a rubber hose from it, under the car to the back, so we could breathe. The mechanical brakes were almost non-existent. To stop, the driver would downshift while the passenger would pull the emergency brake handle with all of his strength. We drove this car up into the Cascade Mountains several times to go camping. It worked well on logging roads where speed wasn’t needed. Coming down the mountains, we could coast and exceed the 30 MPH limit, a big thrill.
Well, the Washington State Patrol discovered this car and had several field days. Along with the brakes, the lights didn’t work either. In fact, the only thing that worked was the horn, actuated by a large red doorbell button mounted in the middle of the dashboard.
After a few tickets and stern warnings to fix it, we parked it in the alley behind my mother’s house and decided to part it out. The horn was the only thing that wasn’t completely worn out. Now I remember the perfect chrome grill and twin horns that went to the junkyard crusher. Back then it didn’t occur to me that these things might have value someday. As worn out as it was, it always started. Until we decided to tie the throttle down and watch it blow. It wouldn’t start. We tried everything but it had decided to die on its own terms.