Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bonnie - my first love

When I was a teenager my dad, for whatever reason, defied logic and bought me a 1972 Pontiac Bonneville (soon named Bonnie) for the princely sum of $500. The unbelievable part was that it had a 455 cubic inch engine with a two barrel carb under its incredibly long snout. That is about 7.5 liters for those of you who don’t remember cubic inches. (My full-size truck has a 5.7-liter engine.) It was a monster. It wasn’t the most powerful car since it only had around 200-horse power, but it cranked out 350 foot-pounds of torque. For those of you who don’t know what that means allow me to translate. If you held the gas on the floor it would spin the rear tires till the rubber came off. Nearly everyone has a story about a car that they wish they had not sold and old Bonnie was mine. She was seventeen years old when I got her, but only had 71,000 miles on her. She had a little rust in the trunk and a leaky rear window. But apart from that she looked pristine. None of my friends had anything that could keep up with her. She weighed in the neighborhood of 6,000 pounds.

Once, when I was in High School, my little sister was home sick. She called the school and told the principal that someone was going through our tool shed. He called me to the phone. She told me about the guy. The principal said that he heard my tires light up in the parking lot before the phone hit the floor. It normally took about ten minutes to drive home. It only took about two minutes that day. I have no idea how fast she was going, but I used up almost a full tank of gas. When I walked in the back door my sister said, “how did you get here so fast I just hung up the phone.” I just smiled. And for the record – there was no evidence that any one had ever been there. The drive back to school was made at a more sedate pace.

She regularly ate Fieros and Mustangs for breakfast, with an occasional side dish of Mopar. A guy I went to college with had a 1967 Ford Mustang with a built 289 and a four speed. I walked off and left him many times. Another friend had a 1972 Plymouth Valiant with a 318, a 4-barrel Holley carb, and a 3-speed auto tranny, couldn’t get close. I drove her for about 4 years back and forth across the mountains between North Carolina and Tennessee. She never gave me the slightest problem and got a respectable 18-mpg, and used very little oil. People still comment on her when they see me even though she has been gone for over 10 years now. I cannot believe that I let her get away, but she was broken down (bad timing chain after nearly 20 years imagine that) and I was moving and didn’t have the time or money to fix her, or any place to store her so I sold her. I keep looking on Ebay and other Internet sites to see if I can locate another one. Perhaps one of these days I will find her or one like her, and rebuild her. Will I let my son drive her? Probably not.

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