Five Spoke Coma
Some say I have 10-40 Pennzoil for blood, may be true, but honestly; when cut I do bleed red as I’ve proven many times while work in on my cars. But at times, I do question that theory.
Guess it comes from my childhood hero’s, in life, it was my Uncle Horsefly and his 1958 Pontiac Chieftain, Dave S. and his 1964 Corvette Stingray Teardrop; or my Uncle Tony and his Plymouth Fury. They did contribute to my fancying the venerable Detroit Steel, any year was a good year, if it had wheels; I liked it. Even the plastic cars from companies like AMT, Revell, and MPC; ah the smell of Testors in the garage.
On my bedroom wall, a special wall was dedicated to the little cars I built, and the magazine’s like Hotrod and Car Craft that sat next to my Surfer magazine collection. Eventually the tiny little parts from the little cars, they suddenly became bigger, like 327 Chevy manifolds and carbs, or headers made by Hooker; I just loved my Hooker Headers.
When I finally went full size, my hero list grew, Kenny Goodell, George Barris, Starbird, Ed Roth, and Vic Edelbrock.
Had some fast cars, my 1969 AMX, a Corvette challenger for sure, the only thing that would shut it down was a 440 Six Pack Chrysler, had him beat till his top end kicked in; then he said goodbye; and I can say it was with ease.
A 1963 Ford panel van, surfers special. A 1959 Ford that might have been ugly, but I learned a good deal about cars, it broke down often, hey it’s not like I bought it new. A 1953 Willys wagon, they just ooz utilitarian charm. And a 1963 Ford Falcon Futura, a Falcon that was a menace to the well prized Mustangs of the past.
But I have to say, I have a love for four cylinder cars, it started with my 1973 Ford Pinto. The car had a power problem, remember Kenny Goodell, one of my hero’s. He put me in touch with his mechanic that worked on Kennys Funny Car, we reworked that Pinto, that little horse could run. I would race anything, win or lose didn’t matter, but racing a 1967 Camero three times, lost three times by a nose every time; but in the end, he gave me a thumbs-up, that was reward enough. But the car was far better on the twisty back roads, that’s when my thoughts of cars changed; well except for a couple Datsun pickups, that saw more mud than street, well the second one saw its share of both mud and custom street duty. Louvers, shaved handles, lowered, and my own custom stitched interior; by my own two hands. After the pickups I went to the classics with a 1954 Chevy Bel Air, maroon and ivory, good color combination, I love two tones.
A short time with Volkswagens, a street bug and a Baja bug, they came some time after a couple of Jeep CJ-5’s with some fun in the sand and the mud. But when the kids were born there became a need for a more family oriented vehicle, in came another Ford that got the treatment for the custom feel, a 1971 Torino 500 Hardtop, lowered, shaved, and every bit the Cruzer in it’s black paint. The only dead give away to the peppy 351 Cleavland, was the racing shifter that helped take the sled through its paces.
That’s when I started in with Volvo’s, Swedish Bricks, a 145, with some tricks of its own. A four barrel carb, header, and lowered. Then I added later model doors to get past the wing window, shaved the handles, and added 1939 Ford taillights just for fun. It was a fun little wagon, I always loved the speedometer; I kinda miss that car at times.
Then came the 1985 244, the memories of that car, mostly come from the people and the fuzzy pup that rode in the car, not to forget the places that car saw, everything from Seattle to L.A., the I-5 Corridor, Highways 101 and 1, Oregon Washington and California. And I can’t forget Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, and old Virginia City with its crispy spring thaw. But the miles on the 244, and it’s previous owners left me looking for a new car.
For Volvo, back then, the numbers denoted the amount of doors on the car, a 145 was a wagon, hence five doors. The 244, a four door sedan, never really liked four door cars, I thank my Uncle Horsefly for instilling me with that part of his Texas Kooldom. So, while we loved the car for its comfort and travel ease, when the transmission quit, in came a Toyota Camry; while we went in search for a Volvo 242, an elusive creature, even in the hippiedom central of the San Francisco bay area.
The 242 was found, sadly after life’s true meaning came knocking, cancer never cares about dreams, it never cares about love, all cancer cares about is consuming a person’s body. That’s where love is so very important to life, love builds good memories, and if love is cherished above anger and depressive actions (self-serving actions); well love spurs you on. And our love did spur me on, at times I do wish I could find the one-way strip of blacktop, but our love does spur me on.
That’s where the Volvo 242 came to be. We drove many miles around the western edge of the United States, always wishing to replace the 244 with another Volvo, preferably a 242 coupe, wasn’t looking for a Flat Nose Sport style, I was looking for the more standard style; leaving me room to work and make it a little different than the other 240’s seen on the street these days. The standard front-end had style, befitting the Love of my life, she did deserve goodness in her life. The two less doors in the 242 adds a quiet splendor to the side of the car that fails to be seen in the 244, almost seamless, that was her; so I named the 242 Amazing Grace. Her name means full of grace, I saw it in her more than she did, she was graceful in her life; so very nimble.
That’s why the suspension has been replaced with more of a race style suspension, on the open road, she rides and corners like a dream; smooth and comfortable. The rear side Windows open out like wings, allowing the air to flow through like a heavenly breeze when the sunroof is opened, an electric sunroof, not a crank style like in the standard 240 cars; hers was a tender touch, if she were here now, she would put forth no effort as he just simply touches a button. How I miss her touch in my every waking day.
I rebuilt the seats, comfort would be hers. Thinking she deserved her comfort on our long drives while she would turn off the radio and read to me or rubbed my driver stressed neck while we drove through the miles.
The engine, it’s peppy and clean, not gaudy, it’s always what’s inside that counts; just like her soul. Plenty of power to move forward with grace and respectful authority; and she can run. The notes from the exhaust are deep and throaty, she wasn’t tinny so the exhaust isn’t tinny; just an appearance of a heartbeat that’s always with me, rain or shine. The thump of the cam, well, as invigorating as a race cam may be for a car nut; the lope of the cam is reminiscent of life, full of ups and downs. But with Love, we will always make it home.
The wheels were a sought after items, yet a last minute change; but they’re wheels that just fit the spirit of her, not racy but subtle in spirit. Five split spokes, smooth and graceful lines, wrapped in rubber that have true sidewalls; none of those flighty thin tires.
Some people think cars are just cars, transportation to get a person from point A to point Z, but cars aren’t that. Some cars really do reflect the person, they aren’t always a status symbol’s; they are a true part of a person’s soul, proof of what’s deep inside a person’s soul.
Now and then I can almost feel her gentle touch on my neck while I drive down the road. Now and then I find my hand on the edge of the seat where I used to rest it between the seat and her leg while she read a passage from a book about Scotty’s Castle or some poem that caught her fancy.
Yep, sometimes, I will just stand there and look at the car, the Volvo 242 of our dreams, with its parts that cover a decade of the 240 series of cars; all put together in loving memories of our belief in You, Me, We; and our fuzzy companion. I can sometimes just stand there and drift off in the memories all wrapped up in a Five Spoke Coma; sure do miss her and our fuzzy companion, but they are still a major part of my soul.