Saturday, June 20, 2009

Foreign Iron

I mentioned earlier that I had owned only three foreign-made vehicles.*  Now, I understand that cars nowadays are made everywhere, pieces, parts and assembly. But here I am referring to cars built by manufacturers that are principally considered to be owned and based in another nation.

I told you about the Fiat. Enough said on that subject.
My first foreign car was a 1962 Volkswagen camper. This mini-minibus was rigged as an RV, with bed, icebox and well that's about it. It was powered by a 1.2L flat four, aircooled, 30 something h.p. This vehicle provided many adventures for my young family throughout the late sixties and early seventies.
At the outset, the sleeping arrangements worked like this. Mom and Dad slept in the bed, along with the baby. I know, we were lucky that worked out all right. There was a space under the bed between the back seat base and the front seat backs where the older boy slept. The older girl had the front bench seat as a bed, and we slung a hammock above her across the cab for the other girl. This worked swell, but darn it, the kids kept growing. Soon enough an augmentation to the camping experience appeared in the shape of a nine-by-nine tent. Now Mom and the girls got the interior of the VW and Dad and the boys slept in the tent.

Some of our experiences included two trips to the east coast, including, the first time only, driving this thing through Manhattan, if you can believe it. There are probably to this day superannuated cabbies telling their great grandchildren about the time the idiot in the minibus with Indiana tags --.
From New York we continued on to Hammanassett (how the heck is that spelled, anyway?) Beach where we camped for a week. Then on to Misquamacut Beach (dang! these New England names) RI where we played some more in the ocean. We eventually got through Boston and over to Gloucester and Cape Ann.

We reprised this trip a couple years later, except we went from Ham Beach up the Connecticut to Hartford and western Mass. Probably the one thing about these two trips combined that any one of my three oldest kids would tell you stands out in his/her memory would be that on the way home ten miles south of Ft. Wayne on Indiana State Road 3, Dad stopped the vehicle and threatened "Don't make me come back there."
This has turned into a travelog; but I can't recall the vehicle without remembering the good times. Our longest trip was in excess of 7000 miles and took us to S. California, where the transaxle broke in Oxnard and I had to call the bank for money (we did not carry plastic back then, unless you count the cheap sunglasses). Repaired car then took us north to Seattle where Ann got to see the place of her nativity, then finally we headed east toward Indiana. We got as far as Galesburg, IL and still a long way from home when at least one and maybe two of the four cylinders quit firing. We limped on home at twenty-something mph.

You may have heard how very simple it is to change out a VW engine, and it is true. Four bolts, a gasline and a few wires. Brother-in-law and I did it in the driveway and I drove the thing for a good while longer. When it finally gave up again, I gave up on it for good. There's another funny story, but BBBH just spoke up and said, "Does anyone read anything that long?"
My other foreign car was an Opel Manta, which I did not buy, but whose owner I married. It's the car we traded for the Phoenix. The Eagle Premier mentioned earlier should probably be counted as foreign iron. It was an AMC-Renault, car sold by American Motors and then by Chrysler when it acquired AMC.


Silver said...


I don't know much about cars..but have a loyalty towards Honda. Reliable, efficient and smooth. What i especially like is that it also gives good milleage with fuel economy.

vanilla said...

Silver, those are four excellent reasons for loyalty to your car maker.

Silver said...

i can't wait to hearr yours, vanilla!