Thursday, March 4, 2010

The "Bethmobile"

Having never owned a brand new vehicle, I've driven many a...ummmm...."quirky" car.  My current vehicle is a seven year old minivan that makes several embarrassing noises when I turn or stop.  Rattles, whines, and when it's damp and cool (which seems like about 75% of the year here!), it shreiks. Fun.

My first car, in 1992,  was a 1980 Thunderbird. I would love to own a current model Thunderbird, they are sporty and cute, and awesome.  Likewise, are the earliest Thunderbird models from the 50's.  However, there was a long stretch of time where the Thunderbird was less sporty and cute, and more serviceable, and.....boatlike.  The '80 Thunderbird looked like the quintessential "Granparent" car.  In fact, it was my Grandma's car-my parents bought it from her for me to drive. That is not my car in the picture, mine was a darker, very faded, maroon.  I drove it to school my Senior year of high school, and even though it was decidedly uncool, I was glad to not be riding the bus, finally.  I had Cadet Teaching for my last class of the day, and I would have to leave my class before about 15 minutes early, just so I could warm up my car.  In the Springtime. When it was warm out.  Mmmmmmhmmmmm.  Otherwise, it would die 4-5 times as I backed up.  On days when I didn't have Cadet Teaching, kids behind me would be honking their horns as I stopped and started all the way out of the parking lot. Ahhhh...good times. 

Actually, lots of good times were had in that car, most of them innocent(ish).  One good thing about  the cars from this era, were the size of the engines.  This baby had a v8 engine-something that no 17 year old with a brand new license really needs.  I used to tear around on the back roads flooring this monster.  (Oh, the foolishness of youth!) The shocks were usually busted (you'll see why, soon enough!), so whenever it hit a bump, the car would kind of rock back and forth several times.  My best friend, Angel,  and I thought it was great fun to hit bumps on purpose to make the car sway.  Hey, we had nothing else to do, and no money other than the $5 we'd put in the gas tank.  She was the pastor's daughter, and I was a good, church-going kid, so this was pretty much the most rebellious we ever got.  Angel was the friend who dubbed my car the Bethmobile, and it stuck.

Around here, there used to be lots of railroad tracks.  Many of them were pulled up in the early nineties, leaving only the built up enbankments across the road where the track used to be.  I would be screaming down a country road, windows down, radio blasting the Black Crowes, or whatever, and hit one of these embankments doing about 60.  (I was stupid, I know!)  We were always thrilled when the car would catch a little air, and then land, rocking back and forth somewhat violently for the next couple of minutes.  Of course, you know we had to let out a couple Dukes of Hazard style "Yeeeee-haaaaawwws!" during the action.  We were dorks, what can I say? I knocked off many a tailpipe this way.  ("I don't know HOW it happened, Dad!")   I have a feeling that my Dad *did* have an idea of how I kept knocking off tailpipes, but to my memory, I don't think he ever complained.

This was the car the that same friend and I would take to the drive in. One evening, we decided that we wanted to see what the big deal with smoking was.  We had no intention of taking up smoking, but we were dying to try it.  It was an experiment, really. She was already 18, so she bought the cigarettes at a Clark gas station, after a very long time spent working up her nerve.  (She was a pastor's kid, remember?)  She dragged me in with her, and we felt like everyone was starring at us.  Guilty much? Actually, they probably were, we both looked more like 14 year olds than 17 and 18.  Anyhow, we bought the cigarettes, and drove off to the old Clermont Deluxe drive-in.  At dusk, we rolled down the windows and lit up, thinking we were hot stuff.  We both expected that we would be coughing, gagging, getting sick, or whatever, since we had never smoked before.  When that didn't happen, we both thought we were pretty cool, and we wondered to each other what the big deal was.  It wasn't until a couple of years later that I realized that we hadn't been inhaling properly-that's why we didn't get chocked up.  See? We were so non-rebellious that we couldn't even smoke correctly!

Lots of sunny, summer days were spent driving around in this car.  Heading to church youth group trips, going on dates (very few of those for me, LOL), driving friends to basketball games, or just going nowhere, burning gas for the heck of it.  While I'm glad that I no longer have that car (it was such an ugly mess!), I'll always remember it fondly. RIP Bethmobile, in whatever junkyard you now make your home. 

What was your first car? What memories do you associate with it?

For the record, I am now a very cautious, responsible driver, and have remained a non-smoker, LOL!

Car picture came from here:


  1. Cool memories of your Bethmobile!!

    My very 1st car was a 70-something Ford Mustang II, stick shift so I never drove it except for ONCE and I totally f-ed up the clutch on that thing.... memories of it??? ummmm, only that I hit the back bumper of that car with my mom's truck pulling into the driveway after a lesson on learning to drive a stick shift... I thought my ex was going to kill me... my mom laughed her ass off when I hit the car. (she wasn't worried about her truck since it was very slow)
    I will only drive an automatic now... I could probably, maybe, drive a stick if I HAD to but it wouldn't be pretty and I couldn't guarantee the condition after I was done with it!!!!!!

  2. What a great first car! I currently drive an 11 year old minivan. I am one stylin' mama.


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