Root for the Underdog

Holy crap we found it.  Found the car that will take up all of my free time and a lot of mind space for quite possibly the entire year to come.  I can’t believe it’s happened this fast and also can’t believe that neither Pop nor I found it.  My brother Mathew did.

Momma and Pop were visiting Mat last month and I was on the phone with them all discussing the Plymouth Duster we had decided to pass up.  It felt like I needed to nail down the type of car I really wanted and intensify the search based on that.  When Pop asked which car I was really feeling serious about, the one that really got me excited about the project, I had to admit that I truly dug the Ford Maverick.

The Maverick is a smaller car, has a beautiful little shape to it and was one of the very first cars that caught my eye when I started looking.  Now, I say I had to ‘admit’ that the Maverick was the one because the Maverick has gotten shit over the years for not being, I don’t know, cool enough.  People write that it is a cheap car, a poser, a pseudo muscle car, etc.  Five years after the Mustang came out, which was based on the Falcon’s platform, Ford introduced the Maverick, which also shared the Falcon’s engine and running gear.  It was not only more affordable than the Mustang, but was also meant to be Ford’s competitor to the crazy popular Volkswagen Beetle and other foreign cars that were getting bought up.  At the time, the 6 cylinder 200 and 250 engines had more than enough power for a subcompact ‘economy’ car and they marketed the thing as ‘The Simple Machine’.  Mavericks made before 1973 didn’t even have a glove compartment as that was apparently an added expense for an unnecessary luxury.

d629904661b969efc604f38741a55fa0

Ford Maverick, “The Simple Machine.”  I’ve read articles where it’s been referred to as “The Simple Machine for the Simpleton,” which I think is just rude!

The Grabber trim package was introduced later in 1970 and with its 302 V8, exterior graphics and spoiler, was definitely vying for the attention of the muscle car crowd.  But still, there are those that won’t give this little underdog any respect…and that’s another reason why I love it.  I’ve always rooted for the underdog.

So when Mat drove home from visiting with the P’s that night and caught a glimpse of what looked like a Maverick on the side of the road for sale, he couldn’t believe it.  Not an hour after telling him that I wanted a Mav, he found a Mav.  He texted, “Totally hooked a u-turn on Rt. 14…I was like, holy shit, a Maverick!”  He pointed his brights on her and sent me what would be the first peek at my baby.

img_9152-2

The next morning the P’s took it for a test-drive in the rain.  Momma Face Timed with me which was hilarious.  God I wish I had video.  Pop’s driving, it’s loud, raining hard and Momma is about as steady with the camera as an old drunk.  As she discovers things (she’s as excited as we are) she’s yelling over the noise, “Jan!  The windshield wipers work!  Ooooh!  Look at this, there’s a shelf where the glovebox would be!!  The interior is decent.  Can you see this??  We couldn’t figure out the seatbelts!! Can you hear me?  Where do I have this thing pointed?!!!”  This is when I tell her about the option to turn the camera lens around rather than the camera itself.  “Oh, I had no idea!  Woody!!  Be careful!  How far are you planning to go?  Can you see?!?  I can’t believe this rain!!”  I love that woman.

The 1972 Maverick has a 200 cu. in. engine with an inline 6.  This means that it is a 6 cylinder and they line up in a row, rather than 3 on both sides of the engine tilting outward (hence the V in a V6 or V8.)  It’s got a manual transmission with ‘3 on the tree’ which means the gear shift is on the steering column.  It’s currently silver, but based on the VIN it came out of the factory a bright yellow. Pop and I negotiated with the seller and I ended up buying it for $3,500.

I am so unbelievably excited!  Although I feel like a mother whose newborn has been whisked away before having a chance to hold it.  I look at the pics every day and I’ve had a couple video ‘visits’.  Here’s a general overview from Pop:

The Mav is currently parked in Mat’s garage in Cary, IL.  The plan is to drive Mike’s truck out there mid October, trailer the car and haul her down to KY where I’ll spend a few weeks.  I’m really really looking forward to seeing my Mat.  He is one of the kindest people I know and a great brother, father and friend.  He’s empathetic and emotional, loving and caring.  Mat has followed in Pop’s footsteps and drives a truck for a living.  He works his fucking ass off and still seems to find time to help anyone in need.  But I’ll tell you, in recent years, Mat has been given the shit end of the stick more often than not.  He has been tested past the point where many would have given up.  He is a single parent, trying to raise an incredibly troubled son while his other son lives miles away.

So to Mathew I say…You are a fighter.  You continue to get up every morning and face the long work days and weekend overtime as well as the ongoing, physically and mentally exhausting, heartbreakingly sad battle at home.  I am very proud of you.  Thank you for finding this little car for me.  I truly believe it was a sign that it was you who found it.  You are now a permanent part of this journey with me (especially because you’ve already committed to helping us with brakes.)

I promise you little brother, the underdog will have its day.  I love you and I’ll see you soon.

11013105_10206124616252288_3000803325827205835_n

One of my favorite pics.  Mathew with Hudson…always taking care.

The Big Ask

The idea to fix up an old car with my dad started some months ago when I was visiting him and Momma in Eddyville, Kentucky where they’ve retired.  I was in the garage looking at the Bird with him and said something about getting it out of there so he can help me rebuild a car.  It actually took me by surprise but it was out of my mouth before I knew it.  I think he may have chuckled, if he even heard me.

My first car was a ’77 Chevy Chevette that my grandfather had owned.  It was blue, had a luggage rack and a petrified chocolate chip cookie that was permanently stuck to the carpet under the seat.  It shook over 55mph and I would take it into the city and pray it wouldn’t overheat in the Chicago traffic. I could see the road through the rusted floor on the driver’s side.  Driving in the winter would pack the slush up underneath the floor mat and I’d have to kick it out before it mounded so high I couldn’t brake.  We eventually laid down an old stop sign or something to keep it street legal.

Pop found my second car locally.  It was a northern Illinois barn find.  I thought I paid $2500 for it but he thinks it was closer to a grand.  It was an 8 cylinder ’79 Mustang and it hauled ass.  Now, definitely not the prettiest body shape and the bright red interior was an interesting bonus feature, but I really loved that car and drove it into my late 20’s. After the Stang, I got all grown up and shit and got the token Honda Civic, then finally my incredibly responsible, much loved Subaru Forrester; a predictable choice for a middle aged female Denverite.

1997 Mustang

The mighty Stang. Fast as hell and just as ugly. Although as I look at it now I kind of dig it.

I’m no grease monkey, but I was raised to appreciate a good car.  I also love the road.  I love driving and road trips, traveling through big cities and small towns.  I love the differences in the people, the landscapes and the general vibe.  I love driving with the windows down and music loud; it makes me feel free and young and hopeful.  It also makes me feel bad ass, if bad ass is rockin’ out in a Subaru sipping a healthy fruit smoothie from a mason jar.  (It’s not, but screw it, love life.)  I love truck stops, family-owned cafes and roadside attractions.  I love having the choice to turn down any road I want to see what I can find.

So, before I could change my mind, figure out a way to talk myself out of it, run through the list of why this was a bad idea, I emailed Pop.

Hi Pop,

I mentioned this in passing when I was out there, but I’m serious about wanting to rebuild/fix up an old car with you!  I’m in this crazy transitional time in my life, I’m feeling a bit lost about my purpose, future, etc. and I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of feeling guilty for nothing, feeling unsatisfied with everything, but most of all, of having ideas that I continually dismiss because of some bullshit reason.  I have the freedom to do what I want, the means to indulge myself a bit and the desire to spend more time with my parents.

Something is continually pulling me back to this idea/project…it almost feels spiritual.  I’m hoping it could be something that would be fulfilling and wonderful for you.  Perhaps the Firebird has been holding you back, blocking some advancement, and this could be just what you’ve been needing!

I was looking into some type of class on engines/motors the other day and all I could find was tech schools and electronic classes, etc.  Too involved for what I want.  I was thinking, “I just need some old gear head to take me under his wing and show me.”  Then of course, I realized I knew that old gear head.  To give you an idea of what I’m thinking…  I would finance this as I want to own the car.  I want to learn how to work on the car to be able to maintain it.  I would spend numerous 1-2 week long trips out there with you and Momma regularly to work on it.  (Flying of course, with the final trip a triumphant drive home.)

I’ve been looking at Chevy Malibu’s (1970-72) and Chevelle’s.   That’s the look I’m liking.  Two door.  Mat just sent me some shots of a Buick Skylark which I could totally get into, a little less muscle, but I’m not necessarily going for flashy.  Automatic would be best, but I realize I may need to learn manual.  I think it would be fun to write a blog on this experience too, pics and all.  I thought of calling it “Pop my Ride” but friends thought that was disgusting and inappropriate.

BEFORE you poo-poo this, think about it.  Mat wants to come work on brakes, Mike is supportive and Momma thinks it’s a great idea.  Let’s live!!!

Love you!

J

I wrote it quickly and sent it straight off. While rereading it later to Mike, I found I couldn’t get through it without tears.  Lost? Guilty? Unsatisfied?  Dang woman, what the fuck’s going on here? Something hit home hard and Pop’s answer became for me more important than ever.  He’s a cool dude, but I wasn’t sure if this was something he would want to tackle.  All I could do was wait and see.