On this fine-lookin’ Friday morning, even more classic cars were rollin’ along the cruise route that follows Fort Street from Southfield Road in Lincoln Park to Sibley Road in Riverview. To boost my walking mileage, I decided to travel via foot power to my allergist appointment. That trek took me from my home in Lincoln Park, through Wyandotte and then to the office which is in Southgate. It is a four and one-half mile jaunt roundtrip. I figured the walk along Fort Street would also afford me the opportunity to get a glimpse at more of the cruisin’ cars. Absent was the Model T from yesterday, but, while I walked, I saw many of the cars that my friends owned back in the 70s – compact cars, mostly in the primary colors found in the Crayola carton, without a hint of iridescent paint on any of those vehicles. I saw a bright-yellow Torino, a candy-apple-red Mustang, a grape-colored Gremlin, a dazzling orange Duster and a brilliant green Pinto. I even saw a black original-model VW Beetle sporting flower decals all over the body and the words “Flower Power” embossed on the hood. Well, that cute-as-a-bug-in-a-rug VW Bug reminded me of my first car, a brand-new VW Super Beetle, that my parents bought me just before I started college. My father, who hailed from Germany, insisted that my first car had to be a VW Beetle. I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift, and though he drove one, he would not teach me how to drive it, protesting all the while that I would be stripping his gears in my attempt to learn to drive. I still do not know how to drive a stick shift car to this day. We hi-tailed it to Seaway Motors and settled on an automatic stick with no clutch – you only had to shift to second gear when going over 55 mph. Well, that sounded easy and breezy, and, I fell in love with the Biscay Blue color and later had it jazzed up with wide and narrow white pin stripes at a local detailing shop. I worked at the diner through college and though it was a mere five blocks from home, I insisted on driving the car there. Buying gas sure didn’t break the bank because I could fill the tank for just $3.00 and only purchased gasoline twice a month. Unfortunately, my little buggy was “buggy” from Day #1. We brought it home from Seaway Motors on a Monday night and I parked it in the driveway intending to take it for a spin to show my friends after I finished dinner, however, the neighbors across the street called to announce my car had slid down the driveway on its own and was sitting in the middle of the street and leaking fluid all over. My bubble had burst on this brand-new Beetle and it had to be towed ASAP to the dealership. I didn’t get it back ‘til later in the week. But, while it no longer slid down the driveway on its own, it was prone to stalling out without rhyme or reason, and a trip to Ben’s Foreign Car Service had him shaking his head over what the problem was. The mechanic recommended I park the car backwards in the driveway to ensure it would always start. That puzzled me, but Ben’s theory worked … most of the time, unless it rained or snowed because then the engine got damp and sometimes the car would not start. I was forced to mollycoddle this car, by covering the engine with a baby blanket any time inclement weather was in the forecast, or else I’d be late for school or work in the a.m. or left at the HFCC parking lot waiting for Allstate Motor Club to arrive to give the car a jump at the end of the school day. I kept that car ‘til 1977 after dealing with a string of never-ending fits and foibles. My father decided, despite that great German engineering, the Bug was a dud and not safe for me to drive, so he took it over and I got an AMC Pacer. By then I was attending Wayne State University and getting to and from school by bus. Some things just are unforgettable – especially your first set of wheels, and despite its idiosyncrasies and issues, I still have fond memories of that Beetle. I posed with the car in the background the day I graduated from HFCC with my Associate’s degree – and there it was, with its Bicentennial year license plate and pretty pin striping, but parked backwards as usual.
FIFTY FAVORITE PARK PHOTOS