I was sitting in traffic during rush hour, which by the way is anytime in Los Angeles,
when a car next to me decided to use the off ramp. Unfortunately, she went through my car to get there.
The damage was a couple of dented fenders and the car had to be tied up at the body shop for a week. We all know what the insurance company pays for in a rental. This time I wasn’t going to take it. No more small sedans with enough room in the driver’s seat for my knees to be resting on my chest.
I decided to upgrade myself to a decent sized car…a convertible. The rental company had several choices. I wasn’t interested in a ragtop and needed a four seater. My eyes
glanced across the lot and set upon a red C70 Volvo with black leather interior.
It was a hardtop, it was a coupe, it was a convertible. It was love at first sight!
The top was down and I’m moving along on the Pasadena Freeway. Which is one of the
oldest freeways in Southern California. It’s a winding road with two narrow lanes in each direction. An Elvis song started playing on the radio…and I had a flashback to my teen years. I was driving along another narrow winding roadway, in my convertible, in New York, the Hutchinson River Parkway. We didn’t use the word freeway, because, trust me, they weren’t free.
There are a few things in life a guy always remembers…his first car, his first kiss, not by his aunt who uses too much rouge, his first score on his high school team and his first girlfriend…the latter one being facilitated by he first one.
Ragtops were never a big item back East. The cars leaked, the back plastic window cracked and clouded up and those tops couldn’t holdup under the weight of the snow.
Not having a lot of money, I was going to buy a used car. I still wanted a convertible but which one?
In the fifties and sixties, Detroit came out with a great marketing term “hardtop convertible.” In reality it was a sedan that did not have the center post.
When all the windows were rolled down, there was no post separating the front from the back. Just open space and a cleaner look. Not what I wanted.
I finally found a legitimate hardtop convertible, a seven year old, 1957 Ford Fairlane Retractable Hardtop Convertible. The trunk lid opened and the top automatically retracted into the trunk. It was a heavy contraption and needed several motors to put the top up and down. I found out the hard way that the mechanism was not perfected and eventually that Fairlane model went the way of the Edsel.
It was fateful night at the local drive-in. Things were going great. Well almost.
I parked in the middle of the lot. Dead center. As the movie was about to start, I hit the switch to put the top up. It started normally and usually took 90 seconds from start to finish. This time at about one minute in, I heard a funny noise, smelled smoke and saw that the trunk and top were frozen straight up….blocking a lot of people’s view. It was a Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie and for the first half people were only seeing Rock Hudson.
The horns started honking, the soon to be ex-girlfriend was yelling, security was coming and I now had half a hardtop convertible standing at attention.
It was a very long and slow drive home, one with a police escort.
The Elvis song was over and he left the building. The current horns were honking, bringing me back to the present.
Later that week I was picking up my car from the body shop, when who runs into me again, that same little old lady from Pasadena. She was picking up her car from the same shop. There were no hard feelings and she brought her daughter with her to drive it home.
It’s interesting how fate throws you together. The three of us went out for coffee. Then the two of us went out for dinner…the daughter from Santa Monica, not the mother from Pasadena. It’s funny how an accident turned into a date, into a relationship and into a free trip to Europe.
The lease on my current car was ending soon. I liked the C70 so much that I ordered one for European delivery through Volvo of Santa Monica. They handled everything, including a great discount on the car and a free European vacation with airfare and hotel.
You pick up your custom built Volvo in Europe. Then, after seeing the sights, Volvo ships the car to the Volvo dealership where you ordered the car.
Who knows? Maybe the vacation will turn out to be a honeymoon.
Copyright 2011- Allan Nadohl
all rights reserved.