I was at kroger today and a mid 70’s grand marquis was there, it was in great shape for its age and was being driven by a guy in his 40’s. Its a shame because it was nice looking and it was out in the salt and muck… Anyway, I was admiring the car from afar and he was getting ready to leave and he was cranking it and it was trying to fire and all of the sudden KABLOOM!! Backfire… I immediately started laughing hysterically because when an internal combustion engine backfires I find great humor in it, just thinking of the matter now has me cracking up and I almost spit my egg nog out. The sound of the engine cranking told me it was probably a 351 windsor, I had a similar car, an LTD. Anywho… He finally got the car cranked over and motored out of the lot, I imagine it had those plastic timing gears and it was out of time.
It just made me think, I could hardly remember the last time I heard a car backfire in public, I remember 30 years ago it was very common. My father used to have an old dodge and I remember him fighting to start it at times cranking it over, playing with the gas and cussing like a sailor on a three day bender, occasional the car would backfire and Us kids would start laughing and my father would start screaming at us to pipe down because it wasn’t funny.
Sometimes he would put a screwdriver down the carburetor to hold the butterfly open and help the car to start, occasionally the car would backfire and flames would shoot out of the carb, the reaction of my father yelling, my sister running away from the car crying, and my mother screaming that the car was on fire always caused me to laugh hysterically, This naturally enraged my father and he would chase me around the yard yelling at me while the carburetor flaming out.
I remember the time the car was running really bad one day and we were driving to town for ice cream, the car was going up a hill, chugging and backfiring missing, the whole bit. Well after the third or fourth backfire the engine got really loud and my father was screaming that the muffler blew apart and we were laughing hysterically. Needless to say the old dodge got turned around and we headed home with no ice cream that night.
With fuel injection and precise timing, backfires are more for lawnmowers these days. It just used to be a common occurrence that many of us fondly remember and now those days are gone.
Just a thought…