Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My First Car.

My first car was a 1976 Ford Granada which was the color of rust and gray primer paint. It's two door body was practically made of rust, compound putty and wood filler. I bought the car, a month before I turned eighteen, for 300 bucks. The lady who sold it to me told me it needed some work. I made sure I had some extra money to pay for a paint job but I knew I would need to do the sanding and repairing myself.

The first repairs I made to the body were to ensure it would pass state inspection. I patched all the holes in the driver side floor and made sure that the roof stopped leaking. I tore out the largest areas of rust on the exterior and filled them with mesh wire and putty and Spackle. I covered the front of the car in a coat of gray primer. As a joke, but also because I knew I was going to do more work on the car, I spray painted black bats on the doors to give it the Bat-mobile feel.

I drove the "Bat-mobile" around for a little while, fully intending to finish the work on the car, until I was in an accident. While cruising down Route 309 another car clipped my front bumper on the passenger side. There was no real damage except that my bumper stuck out about a foot and half on the driver's side. I knew the car would not pass inspection with the bumper jutting out so I stopped working on the car.

One day my dad asked why I stopped the work and I told him about the bumper. He laughed and told me to pull the car into the driveway, angle across the front yard and back up so that my car was perpendicular to the driveway with the drivers side facing the street. My dad then got into his station wagon, backed up the neighbor's driveway across the street, looked both ways and then gunned it. He crashed his car into my car. Right on the bumper, pushing it back about 18 inches and almost perfectly into place. I drove the Bat-mobile around for the rest of the summer, knowing I would complete the paint job before I drove it to the community college in the fall.

A couple of weeks later my passenger side window shattered. I stopped working on the body of the car because I needed to save up and buy a new window and window motor. I used a trash bag for a window for the rest of the fall and most of the winter. Most people at the community college ended up knowing me from my one window Bat-mobile. I was the kid who marched to the beat of his own drummer and people could not help but be curious. Soon I was more social than studious and I did not do well at school.

I decided I would have to get a job and I applied for a position at Prudential. I told myself if I got the job I would get my car painted. If I was going to be working in an office and acting professional I would have to get my car to look professional. I got the job. I drove the Bat-mobile to work everyday. I replaced the window with money from my first paycheck. People who pulled into the parking lot at the same time I did every day, recognized me as the kid with the Bat-mobile and they would call me Batman. They were curious and would ask questions. Most people appreciated that I was a different and that I "would actually drive around in a car like that". I liked the attention I was getting. People knew who I was.

I was doing really well in my position at Prudential and the department manager seemed to like me and was putting me on the fast track for promotions. One of the reasons he liked me was due to the fact that many people throughout the building were familiar with me. He could not quite put his finger on it but he liked my "networking". He liked that I "thought outside of the box". He did not realize that I did not network, people just talked about me and the car and when they could they would ask me about it. I did not think outside the box, I just did not care what others thought of me.

The department manager caught wind of the Bat-mobile and called me into his office in May of 89. He explained that although it did not matter to him what kind of car I drove, if I were to move up in the company I may have to travel and he asked me what type of impression would my car leave on clients. My answer was that I would introduce myself to clients as Bruce Wayne and I would tell them that I fight crime at night. He did not seem to get my joke and I then told him I planned on changing the car in the next month or so.

June of 89 Tim Burton's Batman hit the theaters. It was wildly successful. It was now cool to like Batman. In one weekend my car went from being a cool, hip, conversation piece to being a fad. In one weekend I went from being a free thinking, different, quirky, cool dude to a trend follower who was a little too infatuated with a movie. People stopped asking questions. They stopped looking at me like I was cool and started to look at me like I was weird.
I drove the Bat-mobile for a few more weeks when the engine seized. I don't think the car could handle that it was no longer cool.

17 comments:

Susie said...

I love this post. There's a whole freakin' Lifetime movie right here. Thank you for making me giggle, snort and cry. OK, I lied about the crying; but put it on Lifetime, and I totally will.

geeksinrome said...

hilarious story! I love how your boss was so impressed with everyone knowing you and it was all thanks to the Bat-car.

I used to dream of being able to meet the person who drove the cow-car in my home city (a white VW covered in black patches like a cow's)

Shannon said...

I bet Lauren wishes she'd been dating you back then so she could've cruised around with you in that sweet ride!

Bogart in P Towne said...

I love that my blogmance drove that car. I thought mhy 1984 Dodge Ram 50 pick-up with the oversized campershell was rock'n.

James said...

I'm sorry but was that post about a car or Kurt Cobain. I got distracted.

Anonymous said...

Memories! Isn't it wonderful to have those memories? Great picture of the car. Dad had a car with a tongue coming out of the front grill. He also had one that he called the " mustard jar", because the color was just like mustard. One fall day the mustard jar had the top down, parked under some huge trees, that night the car was full of leaves. I mean FULL. It was so funny watching him clean out the mustard jar. See, you brought back a fun memory for me. Thanks for that. momo9

Michelle said...

excellent car. My first was a 1980 Ford Mustang, also primer colored and rusting in places that made it fail inspection. Either that or the fact that you always had to have one foot on the gas and one on the break. No tears were shed for Flash/The Silver Bullet when it gave up the ghost.

PORTALite Studios said...

Nice anecdotes. You made me laugh. I crashed my first car and gave up on driving since. Now, we wife drives me...chuckles...

Luckily, I am an artist so I do not need to move around much.

Regards,
Eugene
Portalite Studios
http://portalite.blogspot.com/

SciFi Dad said...

I know it wasn't identical, but that photo reminded me of my grandfather's late 70s cougar, except your fenders weren't as flared.

Great story.

kalki said...

Excellent post.

Joan Hall said...

Love it! Just so you know, I have included you on my First car stories web page.

Stelle Courney said...

Ahhh, memories~ You've been through a lot of things in life with your "Bat-mobile", from repairing it, driving it to school, your first step to the professional world, down to its final moments. Your story also brings back a lot of fond memories to others on their first car experience.

Angelica Emmanuel said...

Where is this car now? I think you should've brought it to a car restoration shop near you. That way, the "bat" paint on the car would be more noticeable. Anyway, these memories would never go away, knowing you loved your first car so much.

Lisa Otto said...

This must be the only Batman-themed car during those days, am I right? It can actually be used again if restored properly. I’m sure people found it eye-catching even back then. You’re lucky to have such a wonderful ride. Vintage vehicles rock!

Leisa Dreps said...

It seems that your Bat-mobile was your conversation starter back in the day! I just love how people take pride in their cars, no matter how busted they look. I would have to agree with Angelica and Lisa here. This will be a great restoration project! I sure hope that you know where the car is. There are a lot of used car part dealers that sell cheap; you won’t have any trouble looking for the parts you need. You can even modify some parts of the car if you want to give it another look. Seeing your Bat-mobile on the road again will bring back great memories. I’m sure of it!

jolene said...

Do you have an email address?? I would love to get in touch about a project I'm working on!

WILLIAM said...

Jolene,

You can contact me at batmeaks@verizon.net