In a nod to Sentimental Saturdays, here’s a story about my Beloved’s lifelong fascination with cars, but mostly one particular vehicle. In the summer of 1969, he purchased a 1966 Pontiac LeMans convertible from his parents. He drove it back to college and we were sitting in this vehicle that fall semester when he proposed marriage.
For the best representation, I’ve borrowed an online photo to show above. My Beloved’s vehicle was bronze-colored with a cream-colored convertible top and bronze interior. All in all, the above picture is a shining example of the vehicle. My Beloved had one regret about this car, wishing his parents had purchased the GTO model instead of LeMans. His parents sold the vehicle to him for a mere $1,300.
(The picture at right was taken in Fall of 1969. It was a golden autumn afternoon, matching the golden color of the car.) As I say, we were sitting in this car when my Beloved posed the question “Will you marry me?”
It continued to be the car we drove for the next twelve years or so, even as our family grew. At one time, we had three child car seats strapped into the back! (There were bucket seats in front.) I posted a brief mention of the car earlier this year.
When our fourth child arrived, it was no longer possible to adapt the car to our family needs. Besides, the car was showing signs of age. Eventually, we parked it behind the house, hoping the day would come when we’d have funds to give it a suitable restoration. The car’s condition worsened one night when a terrible storm broke off several sizable tree limbs that dropped straight through the convertible top. We still didn’t have money to fix it up; instead we threw a tarp over the top, hoping that would alleviate further damage caused by the weather.
Finally, after our eldest daughter married, her husband showed an interest in the car. His dad brought a trailer and the vehicle was towed to south Arkansas. Since they had already done some car restorations, it seemed a perfect spot for our “honeymoon” vehicle to receive the attention it deserved.
Cue dramatic music … early one Sunday morning several years later, a phone call came from our son-in-law. “I have some bad news.” (He must have been scared to death to tell us!)
The LeMans had burned up in a chemical fire at the family workshop where it was stored along with his dad’s 1969 Camaro SS! (My son-in-law is a chemical engineer and was producing a compound for his customer. The local fire department figured somebody was cooking meth, but no, it really was a legit product, a chemical etchant intended for use on motherboards.)
Naturally, we were disappointed … glad no one was hurt, of course, but also concerned that our son-in-law shouldered blame for something that was mostly unforeseeable (a ball bearing had failed and sparked).
In the years since, both my Beloved and I have been on the prowl for a replacement vehicle. This time, he’s told me, it won’t be a LeMans but a genuine GTO. In the early years, we talked about finding one to fix up, but we’ve become more practical today. While he’s not ready to pay the big bucks for a primo-perfecto, he’d like a GTO that’s ready to drive, looks great, and brings back some of that old-time feeling again.
A couple years back, I found one in St. Louis I thought he might like. It was a GTO and a convertible and in relatively good shape and reasonably priced. Now, to my uneducated ears, it sounded great with that GTO purr! I thought he’d surely bite … but it was an automatic.
He told me then he wanted the whole package and an automatic just wasn’t going to do. (If you’re going to have a GTO, the four-speed has to be part of it, I guess.) So we continue to look … and dream.
And sometimes, I think maybe the thrill of the chase (applying that metaphor loosely) may turn out to be better than the fulfillment.