Friday, August 05, 2005

Ugly Cars and nostalgia.

I told Brian about the Ugly Cars discussion, and he was a little surprised that I didn't include the ugly pimp-mobiles we see around our neighborhood. Not that we live in a pimp neighborhood or anything, but I think we are surrounded by a few poseur pimps. Anyhow. The problem was that I didn't really know what they were. I'm going to have to do more research on that. Although I think at least one of them is the Cadillac that Eve was talking about... it looks like Lionel Richie (There was a car that my mom and I used to say looked like Lionel Richie and now I forget what it was!).

Anyhow, since I couldn't remember the names of any of these cars, I googled 'ugly cars' and came up with this, the Car Talk guys top ten Ugly Cars of 2005. Now, I don't want to ruin the surprise or anything, but I think many of you will agree wholeheartedly with their pick for #1 ugliest car. Also look at this, their favorite comments recieved on Ugly Car nomination forms. I like one from the Aztek "Lets face it, not every engineering student gets an "A". The "D" students need work also." Hee. And I'm sure none of those were trained in the Cleveland Institute of Art Industrial Design department, although given some of the stuff I've seen at their student shows? I don't know.

For old times sake, I also wanted to post a picture of this (I know its too big for the width of the page, but I wanted you to get the full effect!):

which some of you will recognize as... (dun-dun-dunnnnn!)
The 8-trackmobile!!!

My first car, which had been my parents car before me. A 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, which my parents lovingly removed the 8-track player from and replaced with a cassette player so that I would not need to entertain my friends with Neil Sedaka or the BeeGees. Obviously, this is not my ACTUAL first car, but one I saw driving in the Memorial Day (or whatever holiday, I forget) parade outside our house in Cleveland. However, many of the details are right. The two tone silver. The hugeness. However, mine had a black velvety interior, rather than this sort of scary red. And I don't think the pinstripe was red on mine either.

Ah, the 8-trackmobile. Site of much exciting highschool fun. My favorite 8-trackmobile memories include:
1. Driving with Herryn to take the PSAT or some other test in the bitter Wisconsin cold, and the latch on the passenger side door froze so that the door wouldn't close. So Herryn had to hold it shut the entire way to Gilmore. Hee.
2. Egging unsuspecting people at Pershing Park (those losers deserved it though) and standing in line at the Dairy Queen.
3. Kendra getting bruises all over her upper arms from egging unsuspecting people and then having to have her senior pictures taken.
3a. Also, one time Kendra missed with the egg and egged the inside of the car. We had to stop at the Spur (where we had bought the eggs, incidentally) and clean it up. However, that was the night I started hooking up with whom I had long been boy crazy about, so it was all good.
4. With Elizabeth and Becky, finding roadkill on the cabbage-scented roads of Franksville to transport on the hood of the car (as we drove slowly) and deposit on the front porch of a guy we knew. This was always followed the next day by questioning said guy to see if he would mention it... like "Sooooo! Anything exciting happen this morning?" He never said anything, so either he was onto us, or roadkill on the front porch was nothing out of the ordinary at his house.
5. Getting back from a jazz band trip to LaCrosse or Eau Claire or something at like one in the morning in (again) the dead of winter, going out and turning the car on to warm up while we loaded stuff into the trunk and then-boyfriend Jason R. locking the doors, with the keys in and the car running. So had to call my parents to come out and help out.
6. Driving back from a party at UW-Parkside where a kid I went to school with (names changed to protect the innocent!) drank like one beer and smoked a cigar and then threw up on Herryn, her new shoes, her boyfriend, and everything in the back seat of my car. Then Kendra sprayed 'Red Door' and I cannot smell that to this day without being overcome with nausea.
7. Having to drive around the Rockingham Park Mall parking lot for like seven hours (it was Christmas) with Melissa because when we found a spot it was one I didn't feel I could fit into.

Of course my car is not pictured here because it pretty much self-destructed. I played a small role in its self-destruction (you will recall the infamous rear-ending-sneeze incident where I rear-ended someones brand new SUV when I sneezed mightily, thus failing to notice that all the cars in front of me had stopped because a tractor was also driving down the road). After that, the fiberglass front of the car had some bolts in it to hold it back together. I also had a small depth-perception incident (at least thats how I like to think of it) when I drove a little too close to the island around the gas pump and did a little damage on the passenger side door.

But the car had problems that were larger than anything that I could do to it. At some point the trunk stopped opening reliably, so I had to store everything important in the back seat. This included sheet music and music books, my golf clubs, etc. Remember when Brian Drier puked in the back seat? Also all over all of this stuff. I lost a lot of music that day. Wherever there was fluid in the car there was a problem of some sort. First, there was a phantom hole in the brake fluid line somewhere that caused a bubble or something to periodically interrupt the flow of brake fluid to the brakes, thus the brakes would pretty much stop working. That was fun, and in fact contributed in part to the 'sneeze' incident. The oil also seemed to vaporize such that I needed to (or my dad needed to) give it oil on an all too regular basis. The most exciting thing was that the gas tank had rusted out. Now, remember I was a poor high school student, so I didn't ever have the cash to purchase an entire 50 gallon tank of gas (ok, maybe it wasn't 50 gallons, but it was huge). I would buy like, 5 dollars of gas at a time. 10 if I was rich. I remember quite distinctly everyone in the car gathering up all their change and buying like, $1.67 worth of gas.

Anyhow, one day my mom and I drove up to Grand Avenue to go shopping (almost certainly we had planned around Macadamia Nut Custard day at Kopps) and took my car. She bought me a whole tank of gas before we left. We got up there, parked in the parking garage and started shopping. Then we heard an announcement over the loudspeaker saying "Would the owner of a two-tone silver Pontiac Grand Prix please come to the information desk". Huh? We were standing at the info desk when we ran into a guy I knew from GMYWE. He said, 'Thats your car? They've put orange cones all around it and they're directing traffic around it!'. Ok. Well, it turns out that the gas tank was ~half rusted, so the gas was just leaking right out of it. We had to push the car out of the parking garage and leave. It was a little mortifying, but funny now.

The Grand Prix finally succumbed to an electrical problem of some sort. My brothers and I would be driving to Pinkerton and the car would just randomly turn off. I'd have to wrench it over to the side of the road (no power steering when no power!) and wait for a few minutes, then try again to restart the car. I think my dad had hoped to keep the car (because it was going to be a classic!!) but the mechanic talked him out of it.

So please. Leave your 8-trackmobile memories in the comments section. I know you have them.


Ed said...

The GP did have the red pinstripe. I'll miss the black bucket seats with the little black pipe around the edges that would heat to 438 degrees on a sunny day.

Lisa said...

seriously. i think i still have scars on the back of my legs from that.

kendra said...

that car rocked my world!!!the hood alone was bigger than my bed! i'm also glad someone else gets the gags when they smell Red Door. sorry but the kid was a barfing maniac! i just remember you going all balistic over your sheet music and me saying "all right, kick him out of the car now" and Herryn with chunks running down her leg. never knew of the road kill transporation though. that's sort of gross.

Heidi Ellis said...

Yea, my main memory was the two hour drive in the mall parking lot on the busiest shopping day of the year trying to find TWO parking spots next to one another so you could park. Needless to say, we got our exercise that day when we had to walk a good mile (in November) because we parked so far away.

Most of my memories are with you and your Ford Escort.

Lisa said...

hee! yeah, thats right. we were just going to leave Brian for dead on the side of the road to freeze into a little puke-covered icicle. he was unable to tell us where he lived exactly so we were just going to dump him. and THEN! his parents called my parents and told them that I was a bad influence on him!! me!! And everyone, keep in mind that my parents and family members read this blog too, in case you were planning to refute that statement.

kendra said...

honestly i think - although its somewhat hazzy- that herryn and i convinced puke boy to have that ONE beer...he needed some loosening up. sorry mr and mrs helbling, but the kid was tightly wound. none of our antics were at all in the spirit of meaness...well ok, egg in the face isnt nice...nevermind. sorry, it's all my fault.

kendra said...

sorry, also, how does a car look like lionel richie? i dont get it

Heidi Ellis said...

Yea I gotta say I couldn't figure out what a car would look like if it looked like Lionel Richie. And since it was written in such a way that made it seem like it was obvious, I didn't want to make myself seem uncouthe by asking about it... :)

Lisa said...

lionel richie, who we also thought looked like a horse. he has a hugely wide mouth and face. i don't know. if i can figure out which car we thought looked like maybe all will become clear!

Eddie said...


ultrarunningmybuttoff said...

I so remember the 8 Now , where did they go to??Also loved the car...I see ur in Durham. Cool, Jeff in Greenville