Pimp My Pacer

I am not a typical car enthusiast.

I am especially fond of older muscle cars, the ones that have the potential to set local land-speed records if one were not caught red-handed… oh wait, I mean lead-footed… um… uh… wait.  I mean of course, if it were legal to do so.

If I like a car, I like it. Thus, I know it fairly well.  And by “fairly well,” I mean I have no understanding of the mechanisms that make it run, nor do I care to tinker under the hood.  My car appreciation criteria are 100 percent about appearance and the sound that the engine makes when I step on the throttle.

If the engine has that whistle-like hum that pays homage to Nitrious, the god of nitro, I’m good.  It means that I can identify said impressive car immediately upon sight, regardless of color or where it lands on the Pimp My Ride scale.

On the other hand, the depth and breadth of my complete lack of enthusiasm for all other vehicles goes something like this: if a car does not interest me, I can barely recall the color, let alone the shape, model, size or much else about it.

Case in point: one day, about ten years ago, I arrived at work just before the start of a major snowstorm. It dumped an exceptional amount of snow in a very short time, much to the surprise of the local TV meteorologist and to the chagrin of mostly everyone else.

By noon, my employer sent all non-essential personnel (that was me) home.  By then, the snow was so deep that some people had trouble getting cars out of their parking spaces.

In an effort to be helpful, the company ran a plow through the parking lot, which pleased those whose vehicles were high enough off the ground. Unfortunately, it had the effect of plowing more than half of the employees into their parking spaces.  So with the lone on-site shovel, the pickup truck driver hand-shoveled each car from its space, one at a time, as co-workers helped one another dust the snow off of the hoods and windows.

The boss stopped in my office and with a serious tone, peppered me with urgent chatter.

“You had better get going.”

“The snow’s getting deep out there.”

“Do you have four-wheel drive?”

“I don’t really know,” I answered.

“What kind of car do you have?” he inquired.

“Um… a purple one,” I replied.

He burst out in laughter. Chuckling, he said, “Oh good. The purple ones are really good in the snow!”

He would have laughed harder if he had realized I wasn’t kidding. I owned and had been driving the car to work for three years, but I could never recall the make, model or year.  I was happy if I could find it in a parking lot when I went shopping.

There are a certain few cars that I think look ridiculous. I find them memorable for their uniquely absurd design.  There are three that immediately come to mind.

First is the 1975 Pacer.   Maybe you owned one of these babies. I always thought they looked like a fish bowl on wheels.

I’m not sure that even West Coast Customs could do anything to make it tolerable.  There’s not enough metal flake on the planet.

I’m sure I’ll get flack for my second selection from lovers of the model, but I think PT Cruisers look like Herman Munster’s car. Every time I see one, my gut reflex is a double-take to see if Lilly is riding shotgun.

Finally, I expect that in another 50 years or so, there will be flying cars like the George Jetson mobile.  Hey, don’t laugh.  (We have cell phones and microwaves just like the old episodes of Star Trek.  Rodenberry was a visionary.)

With that notion in mind, when I see a Nissan Cube, I cannot help but shake my head in amazement. It’s a cube on wheels! Isn’t that going backwards? I’m no wizard, but it sure doesn’t look aerodynamic.

In a category all its own, lies the car to beat all others in the what-were-they-thinking category.  It is the 1975 Yugo from Yugoslavia.  The Yugo remains the only car EVER for which I heard a radio commercial advertizing, “Buy one, get one free.”

No lie. I thought I had to have heard the ad incorrectly.  Sure enough, I heard it one more time. It was definitely “buy one, get one free.” Of course, that was shortly after it became clear that all imports of both the cars and its parts ceased, so if you bought one, you’d need a second for parts.

Which cars would make the cut to keep in my imaginary 5-car garage?

  • 1968 Pontiac GTO
  • 2009 Dodge Challenger
  • 1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray LS6
  • 2006 Ford Mustang GT
  • 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6

Hey, it could happen.  Now where’d I put that can of nitro…

What could possibly go wrong?

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