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At a recent junkyard excursion I happened upon this somewhat rough Dodge. Now you might ask — as I did — what the hell is with the wing? Did you clear a flight path for that? Are you trying to hold the trunk down? The answer is simple — kids do stupid crap with their cars.

If there’s a way to glue, stick ‘em, bolt, paint, or yes, Velcro, something onto a vehicle you can be sure a kid between the ages of 16 to 23 has done so with what turns out to be frightening results.

Not that I’m any kind of car genius that hasn’t dealt out my share of Frankenstein to an automobile either. Check out this honey of a ride. Yes sir, my very first car — the Turbo Gerbil, an ’83 Corolla SR5, named thusly because it was not turbo and sounded funny when put before gerbil.

Dig that aftermarket chrome stripe and holofoil Toyota shade. I’m no expert here but I’m guessing that took at least two or three seconds off my quarter mile time — sun’s rays being reflected and all.

Don’t try and make sense out of it; it only makes sense when a group of seventeen-year-olds start naming each other’s cars. Together with the Lunch Wagon, an ’86 Nissan king-cab; Merlin the Brown Wizard, a ’79 Celica that had no weather stripping; and the Funky Chicken, a white ’86 Ford Thunderbird that stalled out at every other light we stopped at, we made up a collection of road warriors that has not since been equaled since Urkel on Family Matters learned to drive.

So when you see something like this run-down Dodge in the junkyard years later, you just have to shake your head and smile. Somebody had an awful lot of fun with this thing. I know I did with mine.


14 Responses to Editorial: Ghosts Of Automotive Past

  1. Steve says:

    Some of my old friends had the Hot Wheels fleet; a collection of battered 80s Dodge Omnis/Plymouth Horizons. There were some interesting names for sure.

    General Lee – Flat orange with a confederate flag painted on the roof
    Big Goochies – Blue, and covered in Hot Wheels stickers
    Yellow Submarine – Take a wild guess.
    Li’l Geebler – Metallic green with gold trim, and all badges replaced with Cadillac badges.

    I think most of them met their end off-roading or playing bumper cars…

  2. Adam R says:

    How about a 79 Chevette painted John Deere Green (using rattle cans), hood scoop made from a rubbermaid trash can, steel wheels painted JD Yellow and the wheel covers flat black. He then installed a horn that played Dixie.

    All this was done by not a teenager, but a 48 year old grandfather. Don’t assume it was a teenager that did dumb things to a car in the boneyard.

  3. Flabby Boohoo says:

    My first car, a ’75 Nova. In 1984, I glued blue fur to all the inside surfaces (yes, dash and center console) and put sequencing lights on the roofliner to look like a landing strip. Oh, and I had the musical car horn too. Nothing funnier than blasting “La Cucaracha” at 2 a.m.

  4. ShopMonger says:

    The only sad part is today, they don’t take time to “OMG READ” and learn about how the cars work. They have no clue on what t do when something breaks, they just either get a mechanic to do it if they have the money, or if they don’t have money, they go into their local auto store and want a pour in solution…….Time to become fan of Chilton.

    Don Biery

  5. Dan Lyke says:

    This Saturday a friend and I went up to the 24 Hour of Lemons race at Thunderhill, and here’s the thing: There’s something about fins and a Batmobile paint job on a Miata, or a sprint car wing on the top of a Volvo 240, or a whatever-the-heck-it-was that was made up in Mario Kart style, that still brings a smile. Even as these guys were sliding all over the track (at least at turns 9 and 10) in their beaters, they were going the extra mile (and not just because their lines were a little sloppy) to make the whole endeavor fun.

    So don’t knock the absurd wing or the pinstriping: Stickers may not make it go faster, but they hold the sheet metal together when everything else is falling apart, and they make it easier to tell the contestants apart when they’re fighting to pass on the blind hill of turn 5.

  6. Brew says:

    The dumbest thing I have ever seen was on a Toyota pickup. Was like a mid 90’s, most likely a 4 cylinder, and they had dual exhaust. and on the end of each of the 2 tail pipes was a HUGE chrome muffler. Now, not like a normal car with the mufflers at the back, this thing had the two mufflers bolted on where the exhaust tip would go. So 100% of each muffler was visible below the bumper and was inches from rubbing the ground. I really wish I had a camera phone back then.

  7. Brau says:

    I had a 69 Corolla, jacked up with 10″ fatties on the back, slot mags, smoke-colored plastic on the windows, Blue-dots in the taillights, TOYOTA stick-on sun shade, 12″ chrome steering wheel, musical horn, 200 watt stereo with strobe, light organ and Xmas lights in the headliner … a stock 1200cc engine with a K&N filter and colorful blue spark wires.

    In my own defense, I did all the body work, upholstery, brakes, and tune-ups.

    A cop pulled me over one night, looked inside the car and said “J. Chr—! You got a damn disco in there”!

    I traded it in when I needed a classier car for work. What I’d pay now to have it back.

  8. Dave P says:

    My buddy Mike was a year older than us. We were all stoked when he got a badass light gray Celebrity K station wagon. It was a TURD. We called it the Millennium Falcon (“What a piece a junk!”). When you turned on the AC it’d almost immediately drop 15 mph.

  9. DanS says:

    Ahh, and here we see the Dodge Stealth. In it’s natural habitat.

  10. Darin says:

    A buddy of mine in high school inherited his parents Army green 74 Plymouth station wagon, which we christened the Green Turd. It had ample seating for up to eight of us, and a working eight track player. We had much fun cruising in this monstrosity, though needless to say impressed very few young ladies.

  11. Andrew says:

    In 2000 I was a high school senior, and the two cars in my group of friends were a 1978 Malibu, and a 1975 Impala station wagon. The Malibu was used as a painting/drawing canvas by us and ended up looking like Fozzie’s Studebaker in The Muppet Movie. (Very psychedelic (sp?)) It was called the “Chevro Mali” as that was all that was left of the original name plate. The Impala was three different shades of BRIGHT yellow over rust, and the back was big enough to fit a twin matress into, needless to say it became the “Shaggin’ Wagon” in very short order.

  12. Coach James says:

    My first car was a hand me down ’68 Galaxy 500 4 door. Duke blue top with a Carolina blue body. Good old vinyl seats to peal your skin off in the Summer time. A trunk big enough to live in with another 8 people in the passenger compartment. It was actually a retired driver’s ed car. There was still an indention in the passenger floor where the extra brake had been. Came without AC and just a basic radio. My folks sold it when they wanted a few bucks to put toward a new car for themselves. To “fix it up” for sale, they got one of those earl Scheib $100 paint jobs that actually looked good as logn as you were 20 or 30 feet away.

    I would love to have that car today.

  13. Jim K. says:

    It wasn’t my first ride (I had too much respect for my ’69 rambler), but this reminds me so much of my second car. 1980 Plymouth Horizon, aftermarket cassette radio with an external amp and 6×9 speakers cut into the rear deck (which BTW I reverse hinged so that i could aim the speakers out the hatchback for when I was hanging out), lifted in the rear which made handling crap but gave it a nice (ahem…) “aggressive” look, girlfriends name stenciled on the passenger door (removed, poorly, after said GF and I split up), nicknamed the Magic Mushroom after the hatchback leaked and some wet cardboard sprouted mushrooms one summer. Good times with a lousy car.

  14. Scott says:

    17 year olds? I’m damn near 40 and still name my cars.
    Jermaine DuPrius – Prius of course
    Mustard – 72 Golden MGB
    Lucy – Our Pilot – That is what happens when you let little kids name your cars.

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