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.

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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.

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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.

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

Image Isn’t Everything

I’m a 70’s child, which apparently makes me a member of Generation X.  I’ve never liked being defined or labeled by others but less so by my own self.  For someone who’s not shy about making a fool of herself to get a laugh among friends and is sometimes too fast to express an opinion with in-laws, a public show of any sort of affiliation, belief system, or political leaning was not my thing.  I don’t know that I ever felt educated or confident enough about one particular subject to defend myself when challenged about what I was projecting. But why did I feel that I would become a target of an interrogation based on what my fucking t-shirt said?  Because I thought people cared more than they really did.  As a kid, I hated going to school after Momma cut my bangs too short. She would say, “Not everyone is waiting to see what Janet Chambers looks like today!”  I remember being at once comforted, but then like, “wait…why not?”

What a relief to grow up and find out that you are not the center of the universe.

So when it comes to choosing a car to fix up with Pop, I feel a complete freedom to find something that is just right, that ‘speaks’ to me and makes me happy.  It is true that for some, a car can be one of the most obvious, outwardly ways of defining yourself.  Old dudes do it with their little penis cars.  City kids with their high pitched mufflers on their way to go Tokyo drifting or whatever and old hippies living in their VWs for instance.  Country folk have their Chevy pickups with gun racks and Calvin & Hobbes praying to an American flag at half mast (or peeing on a Ford logo, both very strong statements.)

Me, I just want to ‘ride, ride like the wind, to be free again’ so I am embracing the time frame I was born in and am looking for a late 60’s early 70’s car. Looked at Ford Falcons and Fairlanes but wanted something less boxy, which pushed me more towards the muscle cars that I love.  Looked at GTOs and Chevelles but these were bigger cars than I wanted, heavy cars over 3,000 pounds.  Camaros were easy to find as project cars, but pricier than I wanted.

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Momma and me coming home from the hospital in the Ford Falcon in 1970.  No seat belts, no baby seat, right up front where I can see my four day old life pass me by in an instant.  That’s how we rolled.

I’m looking at Chevy Novas and late 60’s Firebirds.  I like the power of a V8 but Pop thinks we could also have fun souping up a slant 6.  This has me looking at Dodge and Plymouth.  The slant 6 was standard on the first Dodge Darts and then the Demon was introduced in 1971.  It had a pointier front end which was one of the things I took issue with on the Bird so that is out.  The Demon was Dodge’s response to the popular Plymouth Duster.  Now, this is a car I like the look of.  The ’72 Duster had a V8 but was only a tad over 3K pounds and shorter.  Short I like because I still need to get this thing up my steep driveway when all is said and done.

I saw this Duster in my neighborhood.  It had been sitting on the street so long it had a parking ticket.  I left a message on the car asking the owner if they would consider selling it, but have heard nothing.  It does look pretty ‘done’ though.

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I found a ’75 Duster on Craig’s List and Mike and I went to check it out.  I was VERY excited and kept seeing ‘signs’ along the way there that I was sure were guiding me to the car of my dreams.  We passed Chambers road, my maiden name, and another street named Kentucky, where I would be working on the car with Pop.  I saw a feather hanging from a dream catcher on someone’s review mirror, which the Navajo shaman I had recently visited said I would.  (I know, just go with it.)  I took a lot of pics of the car to talk over with Pop later and got a chance to test drive it.

Sounds a bit rough, but my heart still pounded when I revved it.  Came with lots of extra parts, solid body I thought, in my price range…it was looking good.  Talked to Pop later and it was a no go.  Too much rust, liner gone, extensive body work, etc.  Shit!  Throughout the coming weeks, I would send him links to cars and get responses from him:

1972 Ford Maverick:  “I’m afraid that one is just too rough. That would be a body off restoration which is more than we really want to handle.”

1971 Chevy Chevelle:  “Basically the same engine, trans and body style as the Bird and much rougher shape. 3k would be out of the question.”

1968 Chevy Chevelle: “That is rough. Body work on that order I am afraid is beyond us.”

1972 Chevy Nova: “That car is basically done. Very masculine, fast and a 4 door.”

1969 Mercury Cougar: “We really don’t want a fabric type roof although the Bird started out that  way. I don’t think you would be happy with a cougar as they were a pretty big car and parts would  be difficult to find.”

Getting closer but neither of the following led to anything:

1975 Plymouth Duster: “I’m impressed with the slant six and all the chrome. I can’t tell but looks like a lot of rust in the quarters, fenders and door bottoms. Also I can’t tell if that is a white vinyl top or not, if it’s in good condition I suppose that’s okay.”

Another Duster: “I like the red 1975 the best. Although it says it’s a V6 I don’t find they made one with a V6, it’s probably a slant six which would make it even a better deal.”

I’ll continue looking online but Pop says we’ll probably find our car sitting by the side of the road in a little town somewhere.  He and Momma travel a lot in their camper and are always on the look out.  Besides, Pop’s leery about the online sales world.  He has discovered that he was now officially the ‘target’ of target marketing.

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So the search continues.  The right car will come along at the right time, I know that.  I’m having a blast looking.

And by the way, I’m currently wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt, can’t stand Donald Trump, am a pro-choice female business owner who prays to Mother Earth but I don’t have any tattoos.  A permanent symbol of personal expression forever imprinted on my body?  Not quite there yet.