Unconditional love. It's something that people hope they'll find at least once in their lifetime. I am lucky that my family loves me and I love them right back, unconditionally. I also feel this way about my first car.
I bought my first car from my sister for $2,500 about a year after I got my license. My money helped my sister buy a second car, a much more reliable Honda Accord. I thought she was crazy because I was the proud new owner of a beautiful, midnight blue, 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. The cutest car in the world.
That Ghia was my baby, and I loved it. When I got into a fender-bender and the nose was pushed in, I painstakingly bumped it out. I doctored it up with Bondo and sanded and sanded and sanded until it was ready for painting. When my boyfriend owed me money, we decided he would pay me back by working on my car. When I said I didn’t think he did a very good job (because he didn’t) he complained that I liked my car more than him. He was right. And my car and I left him soon thereafter.
Even though my car broke down and left me stranded more than once, I never stopped loving it. We had to be towed from both the Bay Bridge and the Bay Farm Island Bridge. We broke down in Yreka (just a wee bit south of Where Ami, Calif.) and ended up having to stay for two days until the mechanic could scrounge up enough parts to get me back to the Bay Area.
Once, as I was trying to push my stalled car out of the intersection of Foothill and East 14th, now International Boulevard., an extremely tough looking dude named J.D. came to my rescue. (The only reason I knew his name was J.D. was because those were the two initials engraved in his left front gold tooth. Complete with a diamond in the corner.) He was a man of few words but extremely helpful. He popped the back hood, took a quick look at my engine, and asked if I had a screwdriver. Luckily, I did. With it, he engaged the starter and tied them both together with a piece of wire he found in the middle of the street. It stayed like that for years. Thanks again, J.D.
The Ghia and I drove through high school and college together. We drove to Oregon and Los Angeles too many times to count. We drove around in the stifling heat of Birmingham and New Orleans as well as on many a mountain ski trip.
But once my number two daughter was born, I had to choose. Reluctantly, about five years ago, in a cloud of smog, the Ghia and I parted ways. My husband’s knees were at his chin every time he had to scrunch behind the wheel of that thing, so he was not exactly sorry to see it go.
Most days, I think I made the right decision choosing my family over the car. Other days, not so much.
Mirroring my relationship with my husband, when I bought the VW Karmann Ghia it was not yet considered vintage, but it certainly was by the end of our relationship. I have to say, I love classic cars. I like big fenders, I like shiny chrome, and I like crazy paint jobs. I also like interior styling so plush, it looks like my oversized living room couch is shoved in the back seat. I feel these cars are a works of art and that’s why I’ll be attending the 18th Annual Alameda Classic Car Show this Saturday on Park Street, from 10 p.m. to 4 p.m.
I will point, I will gawk and I will admire with deep respect. I can tell you with all honesty, I would take just about any car that will be out there. But my eyes will be all aflutter for the one or two Ghias on display.