From the Angry BloggerTM archives:
With all love and respect to Sammy the Wonder Car, I wish I still had my very first car. Well, it wasn’t really mine. But it was the first car I drove. It was a 1980 Chevrolet Chevette. Metallic blue that was the same color as a Smurf…thus the nickname “SmurfMobile.” Dark blue vinyl seats that could fry the skin right off your ass if you were unfortunate enough not to find parking in the shade in the summertime. Rear wheel drive that fishtailed in a snowstorm like Moby Dick on speed. With four cylinders, 85 was its top speed (but only if you liked the feel of a car getting ready to vibrate apart beneath you).
We traveled everywhere in that car when I was a kid. Family vacation time came around and it was me, my first dog Bear, and the cooler, all on the backseat. The hatchback would be loaded as would be any other spare spot that could store a bag, a blanket, a pillow, or anything else. We drove to Florida every year in that car.
Ah, those were indeed the days. I saw huge swaths of the East Coast, from Maryland all the way to Miami, from the windows of that little blue Chevette, which looked very much like this:
I’m still amazed at the mechanical genius of my father, and how he kept that Chevette road-worthy for more than 20 years. Not just road-worthy, but able to make the circuitous vacation journey of often more than 2,000 miles every year.
He was even able to keep it up and running for the terror of my early driving years. I nearly ran him down with that little car while he was resetting the cones for my abysmal attempts at parallel parking. It wasn’t my fault, really. My foot slipped. My arms were tired. I thought I was in Drive rather than Reverse. Yadda, yadda, excuses, excuses.
[Loba Fun Fact: Parallel parking is actually one of the easiest things in the world to master. In a car with power steering. The Chevette lacked this simple feature, which meant A LOT of steering wheel turning. I think it might actually have been easier to just get out, pick the little fart knocker up, and place it down into the parallel spot. Gave me a sweet bit of arm muscle though.]
I did, indeed, learn how to drive in the Chevette. I learned the basics, learned how to drive in the the worst that an East Coast winter can dish out, learned that back roads are most awesome at night at 70 mph and that rear wheel drive is best for making donuts in the snow (also learned that some things shouldn’t be shared with parents until well past the age of adult independence and that your teenage years are the time to do things like these because courage and youthful stupidity both often go hand-in-hand and disappear with the passage of time).
The Chevette was also the official mascot car of my high school senior class. My friends and I zoomed up and down the roadways, going to games, heading to the mall, meeting up for weekend trips to Sizzler (ew…there’s a Flashback both I and my digestive system could do without ever having). I picked up more Little Caesar’s pizzas in that car to sell during lunch breaks than could feed an entire tailgate party at FedEx Field. I’m willing to bet, in fact, that wherever the Chevette is today, it still smells of pepperoni. I also once fit my entire senior class in the SmurfMobile (also lovingly dubbed the Blueberry NerdMobile). Of course, there were only eight of us, so maybe that’s not so impressive.
Even though it’s been more than a decade since my dad donated it (more than likely for scrap), I still not only carry around happy thoughts about our Chevette but also my set of keys, which still hang on the same rack as Sammy’s key. Now that’s love, I tell ya.
That little Chevette was by far one of the favorite parts of my childhood. It carried me to all the places I loved the most: to spend time with family and friends, to visit magical vacation destinations…even making sure that I got to high school and college classes so that I could move ever closer to that seemingly elusive-at-the-time finish line for dependence known as “adulthood.” It was a great little car that, by the time we released it to greener pastures, was jam-packed from bumper to bumper with happy memories born from the steady stroke of rubber on asphalt and the wind whipping through our hair.
Here’s a cute little spoof commercial for the Chevette that gives you some great shots of this little wonder car.
And this video is for my dad, who always wanted to drop a V6 into our Chevette for reasons that eluded me at the time. I get it now though.