As I mentioned in the first part of my thoughts on the Ford Edsel, I abandoned my Borgward with undignified haste, and bought a Volkswagen Beetle.
Looking back, I do remember now that I sold the Borgward to some guy who wanted to race it. Well, the car had a lot of torque, but little else. In any case, it didn’t matter to me, because I was going to lose it, trash it, or sell it, somehow, as I entered a new phase of my life: I was getting married to my first wife.
Erase The Past
Strange how we try to erase the past, in some way. I’m talking about myself, of course, but from what I’ve seen and read about people over the years, convinces me that we all have something to hide. Well, in my case it was the things in my life that didn’t work out, the dysfunctional elements that didn’t add up to the kind of image I felt I deserved.
How ridiculous is that? It’s difficult to face yourself at times like that, when you come to the undeniable conclusion that your life has been a sham. It’s interesting to me, as well, how my history of car ownership is an excellent metaphor.
The VW offered me a great opportunity to race around town, with a hot gearshift in my hand, pumping the clutch and tromping the accelerator to the floor, imagining myself behind the wheel in a race at Le Mans.
All this may lead you to think that I was some kind of an idiot. Well, a lot of people thought so. The problem was that I didn’t have a clue. Non-existent parenting had left me a survivor of terminal neglect.
Portents & Omens
I should have realized that when my I ran my VW into a lamppost one evening coming home, that my life was plagued with unusual difficulties, particularly as they pertained to cars. I left the car to make a phone call (no cell phones back then), to get a tow. When I got back, there was a ticket on the windshield, and I discovered I had acquired a criminal record (which was later expunged) for “dangerous driving.” To this day I can’t figure out how the cop arrived at that conclusion without having seen the accident, which involved only my car and the lamppost.
Then, one day I was driving with my wife in the car, and a front tire blew, sending us careening off the highway, but we were fortunately saved by the gravely shoulder.
At the time, we’d been arguing. I can’t remember about what, but it most likely had to to with my parents, who everyone else was telling me, were the real idiots. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for parenting. Other people’s parents. I’m a parent myself, and a successful one, I might add. I’ve brought up a wonderful son, and I’m proud of him. I had vowed never to be like my parents. And I never was – but that comes later.
Meantime, I was still driving the little gray VW. My wife and I took it on our honeymoon, a leisurely romp through Southwestern Ontario. I don’t know why we didn’t go somewhere exotic, which most people do when they get married – heck! Niagara Falls was only 70 miles from us, but we never went there.
I don’t know why, but my wife and I always ended up arguing in the car.
The first time, we blew a tire. The second time was in London, Ontario, at the municipal airport there. We’d been arguing again – don’t ask me what about – and she ran out of the car and down into this kind of ravine just in front of the main building.
Not to be undone, I followed her – not on foot – with the VW. I pursued her, and we made up, and then we had to call for a tow truck to get us out of the ditch.
The last time I remember, was we had a fire – the battery had shorted out and as we drove along, we noticed the smoke, and the smell of acid burning. I can’t say for sure, but I believe that was the last of the VW.
It was pretty much the last of my marriage to my first wife, as well.
Austin America & the 1100
Yes, there was a car with that name tag. Manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), and to look at the two it’s hard to see any difference, except that the tag, “America,” made it for export to the USA only.
At the time, my parents were living in upstate New York, and my father somehow acquired this car – the Austin America – which he hoped would replace my VW. The America was based on the Austin 1100, which doesn’t look much different.
Well, I guess the American version had a more glamorous look.
Divorce, and other Horrors
After the Austin America fiasco (I really don’t remember what happened to this car), my wife and I were divorced, my father died, and I traveled to Vancouver, BC, for some unknown reason. I stayed there several months, without a car, an itinerant drunk. I visited many bars in that city, but I had no car during this time, and I’m not sure it mattered.
When I returned to Toronto, I moved in with a roommate who sold me his Ford Cortina, which was a wonderful machine, except there was something seriously wrong with the steering, and the handle would pop out in your hand when you changed gears.
I began to wonder, Do I have “sucker” written all over my face?
But wait! Before that, there was another vehicle I had that I forgot about: a 1975 Honda Civic. For the first time in my life, I had actually bought a new car (not sure how, I had no money). At the time, I was a messenger-courier, picking up and delivering parcels throughout the day, and it was my Honda got me from place too place. My favorite thing was burning rubber with the front wheels. If you’re old enough to remember the behemoths we used to drive, with rear-drive, you will understand my euphoria. Spinning my front tires was fun!
At the time, there weren’t many of these little cars, most of them were big. I love the big cars, now that they’re gone! At the time, I was having too much fun zipping around, scooting in and out of traffic and cutting people off. Yes, I blame the little cars for that. A lot of drivers got annoyed with me – I can’t understand why.
What Happened to the Cortina
One day I decided to go back to Vancouver – can’t say why – and I disposed of the problem by leaving the car in the parking garage. I just left it there and took a plane out West.
There is more to come – to be continued
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel (when it was still Palestine, a British protectorate. I was 1 year old when we moved to England, where I grew up. At age 12, we left for Canada and I’ve lived here ever since.