Cars with personality

Hello all! I think its safe to say that in some time within our lives, we come across a car with mucho personality. That is, It may be a piece of junk, but its a fond piece of junk you love. A friend of mine used to drive (until a few months ago) a 1987 Ford Escort hatchback. Only one door opened: the drivers. (the rest had to be kicked open from the inside with considerable force, and they were nearly impossible to open from the outside). It was a complete titanic in terms of rust. The automatic transmission was so worn, every gear had its own unique sound and vibration, and would refuse to shift into second unless the driver let go of the gas. The radio has been long ripped out, leaving a gaping hole in the dash, and the heater smelled like fumes (when it decided to work). The interior dashboard (made from a cheap foam material) covering had large holes chewed out from them. The car was in an accident, so the hood needs to be chained down (this accident also moved the engine block forwards). We would take this car to camping trips, and into the woods (where it would surprisingly perform admirably ). The car burned oil faster than gas, and it leaked deadly fumes into the cabin whenever we’d slow down. Despite its deadly characteristics, we LOVED this car. He obviously never had it fixed, nor did he ever perform proper preventative maintenance, it “died” at the ripe age of 86,000 miles. There were so many wonderful memories in it, about it, and around it. It was sad (yet also a relief) to see it go.

Just for visual representation, here is a picture of the infamous “red car.” Its quite obvious that the owner of the car is completely responsible for its destruction, but thats just him. He can never own a new car. He beats them down to a pulp.

Similar type of story. Kid tells me I have a great stereo in my 76 Impala. I start telling him it’s a Realistic with 15 watts per channel and how I couldn’t live without it. He starts laughing.

What he saw was the open space in the dashboard where the radio used to be before the plastic broke away, making it impossible to put a radio there. My aftermarket tape player was just above the driver’s left knee where he couldn’t see it.

It’s my own car and I’m still clueless about what people are talking about. Good kid.

Back in the early 70s I lived in CA for a short time and only had a motorcycle after wrecking my car. Looking for a car to move back to OK in, an outlaw biker sold me an old 1960 Chrysler New Yorker (413 engine, 4 Door, huge tail fins) for a whopping 10 bucks; with title and current tag.

I loaded that behemoth to the gills (removed the back seat and put the bike there w/front fork removed) and drove it back to OK. After a while I gave that car away and wound up regretting it for some twisted reason. I had a bit of an attachment to that 4 wheeled Titanic.

What you call a car with “personality” I call a heap of a deathtrap.

I am not a high-brow type of guy, so this isn’t a pride thing. This is a self preservation thing. You would never get me in that car.

By the time I got rid of my 1985 Buick Skyhawk, it had chains holding the hood down too. It also had a plexiglass rear window attached with a hot glue gun. Luckily, I got rid of it before an exhaust leak could kill enough brain cells to make me think fondly of it. :wink:

This is true, it is a heap of a deathtrap. Most of the car’s death-like traits happened after the accident (the exhaust leaks and such) but what makes that car such a unique one is all the memories we had beating it down to what it is now. Kind of a strange connection to a terrible car, maybe we were all just addicted to the fumes! I am far from high-brow, so I completely agree with you when you say its about “self preservation” but that was all part of the fun for us.

Early in my grad school days I rented an old, beat-up farmhouse where the 2 choices for heat were woodstove or individually controlled electric baseboard (i.e. no thermostat).

I went with the woodstove and spent a winter buying firewood - which was silly to me b/c I didn’t have much money but was perfectly capable of cutting & splitting wood.

But I didn’t have a truck. For $300 I bought a '64 Ford F100 (this was 1992). It had more rust than paint. No seatbelts, and no tailgate. It was a stepside and the rear fenders were almost completely rusted off - same with the “steps.” One of the holes in the cab floor was patched with an old soup can. The clutch was barely operable and ran only reasonably well with the Pinto carburetor someone had rigged onto it. (The cab mounts were good though).

I fixed the clutch (my first real foray into car repair - it became a saga), fabricated a tailgate out of an old piece of plywood & chunk of galvanized pipe, found a rebuilt carb for it (among other assorted things - its also where I learned drum brakes), and proceeded to use it to heat my house for the next 6 years. Its last real service was to help me move into a house with a “modern” central heating system when I bought one.

My brother nicknamed it “the chickmobile.” It was not a safe vehicle, but it may go down as my favorite one. It at least had personality and served its function admirably. With the rebuilt carb it ran as well as anything else I’ve ever owned. (The only regret I ever had was not turning the flywheel when I did the clutch. But that just serves as a check on whether your teeth are all tight in your head when you roll out from a stop).

My son had a VW Squareback in high school in 1990. Not sure of the year, perhaps a '68? It was recently painted a bright lime green. It ran OK, but had no heat, leaked water around the windshield when it rained and in time rust spots started poking out under that recent paint job.

He and his buddies made many trips to the NJ shore and they were crazy surfers making the trips all winter long. They had many stories of these adventures centered around fogged windows, cold rides, and cops stopping them for anything but speeding.

I helped him keep all the lights working, but the stickers, surfboards on the roof, and general look of the car seemed to draw the cops attention looking to bust surfers for drugs. These kids weren’t into that stuff so the cops had to let them go.

I guess they had fun and the gang was sorry when we just couldn’t keep the old car going anymore.

Well, I have plenty of memories with my current car, a 1998 Civic with 197,000 miles on it. However, I have maintained the engine and transmission instead of beating it down. It’s an eyesore, with pealing clear coat, fading paint, home body repair, broken air conditioning, and tape on a tail light, but it still runs and rides like it did when it was new. I may not take pride in how it looks, but I do take pride in how it runs.

A friend had a Studebaker in the '60s that had personality. I remember we were sitting in it idling trying to impress some girls and the engine caught fire. They were less than impressed.

A friend in the early '70s had an Isetta. That had personality.

My parents had a series of low-budget cars when us kids were in high school and college and money was tight. They had some beauties, like the Vega (see Tom & Ray’s “Worst Cars of the Century” list) they bought used, which shortly thereafter developed a crack in its engine block. That was the first time I saw oil turn to gray sludge. But probably their best “beauty” was a '70’s beetle that they bought used (very used) for $100. It had a mottled green paint job, consisting of some original paint (I assume) and splotchy rattle-can “touch-ups” applied liberally all around. The rear seat was so ratty that my mom covered it with a brown wool blanket. We carpooled to school in it with some neighbors, who had more money than we did and were probably embarrassed to show up at school in that thing, but they were polite enough not to say anything. It ran fine for a few years, until the battery fell out through the floor. I don’t remember its ultimate fate, but it sure was the ugliest vehicle (and the cheapest) we ever had.

Throughout the 1970s, my parents had a series of used dragon wagons they drove into the ground. I don’t remember what makes and models they were, but before they had them hauled off to the junk yard, they would remove the rear seats to be used as furniture in the garage. Later when they bought their first new vehicle, a Ford Econoline van, those old bench seats were used as back seats in the van. Of course they had no seatbelts. They weren’t even attached to the floor. They just threw them in the back and said, “Sit.”

I’ve often wished I had kept one of the car seats from one of my old cars to mount on a piece of plywood and use for driving video games or as furniture in my man cave.

Anyone who can do this much damage to an Escort in only 89K miles doesn’t deserve to own a car.

Call it “personality” if you want. I call it willful neglect and abuse, and a shame.

Driving something in the condition you describe is dangerous. Some day you’ll be old enough to realize this, and it won’t seem like such great fun anymore.

I’ve owned plenty of “beaters” over the years, and they’ve all had their own little quirks (personalities), but I’ve never purposely neglected or abused a car to the extent your friend has, and I can’t condone it. I’ve always tried to make my cars last as long as possible, and I find it hard to understand the rationale behind purposely beating one into the ground.

I have to ask, how does this person treat people? Or animals?

I have my work truck some people love and some hate, a 94 f250 with a cool plow. I could have upgraded but I am happy with it. It has vent windows, rides like a truck, screeches on startup (new serpentine belt one of these days), even whistles.

I spent many a year traveling the country in a 72, and I think it associates to me happy travel memories. I let a guy borrow it to do some cleanup plow work, I forgot to warn him not to turn the radio down, so I have to wait till a really humid day to get the volume back up. Some people are embarrassed by driving something old, but it seems cool to me. Sure only 4lo works in the 4wd, but that’s all I need. Will be glad to get the radio back but there are no distractions changing tone balance and volume in the mean time. Had a seasonal do some work on it last summer, rust in the fenders. Who would ever think to combine a plow and manual transmission, but that is fine by me.

My first brand new car was a '72 Vega. The car turned out to be a total piece of junk, but I actually liked the car. When it was new it was fun to drive, sporty (for that era), and affordable. And the hatchback coniguration was very convenient. I finally gave up on it when the rear axle slid completely out of the axle housing while I was driving…a common problem with the '71s and '72s.

LOL…and I thought the Vega’s only major flaw was its self-destructing engine…

No, the body was also bio-degradable and the fittings were worse than dimestore junk. This car was reluctantly designed by a GM committee, and all the brands had to participate. The result was some innovation, serious quality defects (there was a target cost to meet)and a car with a Jekell & hyde personality.

As they say, “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”.

In his defense, he is a wonderfully bright kind young man. He treats everyone (and all animals with complete respect). The reason this car has fallen into complete disarray is simply the fact that he needs a car, but it wasn’t tailored to his needs. We would overload it with too much weight, a canoe, 5 people and gear for a trip, then drive it in dirt roads in the woods. This was done many many many times. Also, this car was already a very beaten up hand-me-down, but the need for a car, and the fact that he really doesn’t care what would happen to it (it was free, and he had another useful car in his immediate future) caused him to neglect it cosmetically and mechanically. I should add, the current car he owns is well maintained mechanically, however cosmetically its still a nightmare.

I should add, that he essentially saved the “red car” from the dump. He was lucky, I guess to cross paths with someone who would just give a car away rather than scrap it. It was already a heap from the previous owner so it was pointless to fix it perfectly.

I have a friend who has a complete disdain for cars. I remember one instance he pulled into my yard to enlist my help in setting a real estate sign (part time ). His Jeep Cherokee stopped immediately. It seems he had been driving for over a week w/o any clutch fluid. The starter motor, like a hybrid would start the car moving and start the car at the same time. Choose the right rpm to shift, and you could engage it w/o too much grinding. Role to a stop and the motor stopped as well.

When we returned to my house…luckily, I filled the hydraulic clutch reservoir with fluid and sent him on his way.

Another time, I needed to borrow his truck. His instructions were to disregard the engine oil pressure light that came on, as it always went out if you drove over 30mph. Before returning it to him, I added two quarts of motor oil, just to reach the “add a quart” mark.

When ever he announced a visit, I made sure I was well stocked with fluids of all type.

“The starter motor, like a hybrid would start the car moving and start the car at the same time.”

Like a hybrid? More like any manual transmission car from the 60’s or 70’s.