ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

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Every car has a story...:

1968 Dodge Coronet 440 (1987-1992)

My first car was a 1968 Dodge Coronet 440. I bought it from the lady across the street from me in Rhome, Texas the summer before my Senior year of high school. It has a 318 (5.2 litre) V8 which I had bored 40-over during a rebuild at 100,000 miles. When I bought it in 1987 the car only had 67,000 miles on it. It now has a spreadbore intake, a 750-cfm ThermoQuad carb, and standard 4:11 rear-end with a 904 transmission. I loved the power of this car. It ran on 'regular' (leaded) gas. But when ever I put a full tank of Super-Unleaded in it (once a month or so) it alwys felt like it was supercharged. Oh, and my father got a ticket driving it once. 75 in a 55 I think. The car could get up and go. I miss a good V8. I miss seeing the hood in front of you as you command the road. I miss the left of the car raising up as you gun it and the torque of the engine shows you visibly it's there. I miss rear-wheel drive. Yes, I still own the car. It's rotting away in a field somewhere in Texas. Good times in that car. Damn good times. You always remember your first car.

It was pretty much the only '68 Dodge in all of Irving, my old haunting ground. Well, there was this solid white one, driven by two cross-dressing aging queens I used to bump into every now and then. But they scared me, so I steered clear. Funny enough, at one point, we ended up living in the same apartment complex.

Took it up to 110mph on I-20 heading to San Angelo on the other side of Abline once. This 3400 pound car was light for its size. Lot of front-end drift.

1976 Volkswagen Scirocco (1988-1988)

During college, I thought a more economical car would save me money (despite gas being $.88 a gallon back then) and I traded in my car for a Volkswagen Scirocco. It was a great little car, but none of the gauges worked and the used car guy never got a replacement taillight in so I could pass inspection. After 300 miles, I took it back and swapped it for my Dodge.

1976 Ford Mustang II (1992)

The car Technical Sergeant Mansfield let me drive while I was moving my car from a 4-door to a 2-door. That blower was really something though. Roller rockers on the cam. Crazy vehicle.

1968 Dodge Coronet 440 (1992-Present)

Years later, with the help of Technical Sergeant Mansfield, my lifelong friend and enthusiast, we obtained a 2-door hardtop body and in about two months, replaced everything. Incidently, this was during my advanced training course for the Air Force. My goal was to get out of class as early as possible, each and every day so I could finish the car. Back then, we'd have daily exams after each class, and I'd work on my car the rest of the day. As the lowest-ranking individual in the class, I got lot of flack. Most people waited 10 years to get into this class, and I was there after 18 months. After the much-touted 'final exam' I was approached by some of the higher ranking classmates. "Hey, what did you get on your final?"
"Ha! I got a 92. I thought you were smart or something?"
"It took me 45 minutes to complete the test - that's a school record. What did it take you? Three and a half hours? I'll take my 88."
Everyone hated me. I was comfortable with that.

I was stopped once in San Angelo, Texas. Motherfsckers. I'm one of those assholes who was actually driving to the muffler shop with no muffler when I got pulled over. I'd put my old plates on the hardtop, cut-out the inspection-sticker from the 4-door, and drove into the town square with no muffler. Yes, I was pulled over almost immediately. All I could think about was the falsified inspection and plates. The trooper had his door open. I could hear the dispatcher, "1968 White 4-door Dodge Coronet..." He looked the car over, walked around it, assumed it was a clerical error, and let me go with a warning.

1976 Jaguar 3.4 GT (1992-1993)

I was stationed at RAF Alconbury in the United Kingdom and purchased this car from a departing pilot. He swung by the barracks one morning and I drove him right outside the flightline. He was going to let me drive the car for an all-day test drive. The flightline is a secured area. Many people who 'accidentally' stray onto the flightline are met with men with guns who will shoot if you don't immediately comply. This is not a drill. I'd heard stories of the density of the fog in England, and most were so far-fetched they sounded like fabrications. I assure you, they are not. I've seen it so thick, I couldn't see the front of the hood of my car while driving! Yes, it's stressful to drive in those conditions. So here I was, my first time near the flightline and I'm trying to get back to my barracks. The roads becomes...different somehow, and I find that I'm on a taxiway! Dear God please get me out of here now! I make a turn - I think that's how I came in. I stop immediately before running into an A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft sitting outside it's hardened bunker. Damn! I eventually made it out, pretty shook up, and was never stopped. Perhaps the fog was too thick for them to see me?

Got this one up to 125mph on the M25 Motorway on the way to London. This car weighed well over 2-tons. It had a 3.4 liter High-Output (hense the GT designation) inline-six and dual-webber carbs.

1976 AM General DJ-5 (1993-1994)

I was stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia and once again reunited with photogoot We decided to move offbase but this was going to necessitate furntiture, and a vehicle. As my '68 Dodge was inop, I purchased one of my father's U.S. Mail Jeeps. He's a rural carrier (that's him in the photo). The inline-six got 10 miles to the gallon and had a 10-gallon tank. My roommate and I drove 1400 miles stopping every 100 miles to fill up. He had the bird, and we were armed with CB radios (It places the lotion in the basket, it does this whenever its told, else it gets the hose again!) Being this was an AM General, the makers of the Humvee, I decided this Jeep would look great painted olive drab. Four miles of masking tape and 10 cans of spray paint later, I was mortified to discover that my Jeep looked nothing like a Humvee, rather, exactly like an olive drab Mail Jeep! Alas, I have no pictures of my pride & joy painted olive drab, but that's my dad driving it. The thing wouldn't corner worth shit, but I could always floor it on the straightaway. Anything over 70mph was scary. Very short wheelbase. I'm glad I didn't die.

1995 Dodge Neon Highline (1994-1999)

After driving the Jeep for over a year, I was consumed with purchasing a new vehicle. It was 1994 and I'd never owned a car newer than three-decades behind. After much consideration, I chose the brand-new model Neon. This was not a decision made lightly. It was the fastest car Dodge made behind the Viper. 2.0 liter front-wheel drive 5-speed. This car was fast. It did, however, take me a good two years to learn how to effectively drive a front-wheel drive vehicle. By this time I was at Offutt AFB in Nebraska and lived 10 miles South in Plattsmouth. There was a good, straight strech of road about five miles long between my starting point, and destination. Every single day, for one year, I'd crest the top, scan the horizon for cops, and announce (I shit you not - this phrase, five days a week for a year) "You may commense your run, Mr. Kamarov..." and I would accelerate to 100mph on my 'run' to work.

The South Gate to the base had two lanes in. One for a left turn only about a 1/4 mile up (leading to HQ, the most dense lane of traffic) and the other to proceed straight. A Master Sergeant once told me, "I hate it when people are in the far right lane because there's no traffic there, then try to get over to make the left hand turn. Heh, I never let them in."
"How would you plan to stop me, exactly, since I use that manuver every can't out-accelerate me?"

The Neon Maintenance Report.

1999 Chrysler Sebring LXi (1999-2002)

After 6 new clutches and a new engine, I gave up the Neon at 110,000 when the clutch started to slip yet again. At $900 a pop, those were getting expensive. I'd been eyeing the new 300M, but I wasn't too fond of the price tag. Then, my wife gives me carte-blanc on whatever I want to get. I'm a coupe man, and the 300M just didn't fit that bill. I bought the Sebring. It had everything - leather seats, Infinity sound system, tinted windows - what a sweet car! It was slightly underpowered with its 2.5 liter V6, but this vehicle was so low-slung, I didn't really care. I once made it from Irving to Wichita in 4-hours flat on a Thanksgiving weekend.

Once I was doing about 75mph (in a 60) and this guy on a sport bike zips past me. A cop passes on the other side of the road and my radar detector lights up - the guy on the bike takes off! I think, that's a good idea and I floor it. I'm doing 115 down US-180 in McKinney, TX and I look in my rearview mirror. That cop had turned around, and was right on my ass! My heart went through my throat - 120mph! He was prevented from reaching me because two pickup trucks were driving abreast and he couldn't get past them. I pulled over. He asked me a bunch of questions about the guy on the bike, got call on his radio, and let me go...

Alas, after only 75,000 miles, the birth of our second child necessitated a larger car. I traded it in for my wife's wagon, and took over her car as my daily driver.

1992 Chevrolet Lumina Eurocoupe (2002-2004)

(This is a stock photo - I don't think I ever took a picture of this ugly car! Mine was sort of a faded dark metallic blue.) My wife drove this Lumina for many years. The clearcoat had come off in places, and the doors had started to rust. I bought some matching spray paint from the dealer and kept it in the glove box to touch it up every so often. No cup holders, cloth seats, an FM-radio not worth mentioning...What this car did have going for it, was the 3.1 liter V6. This car had some power! First thing I did was tint the windows and have Best Buy install a stereo and new speakers. At this point, the car became passable. I commuted weekly from Boyd to Wichita for 14-months in this car, then 150 miles daily to work and back when I started again in McKinney. I'd never owned a Chevrolet before, and this car was damned dependable. drax0r was following me home once from work, and I got fed up with traffic on a two-lane road, and managed to pass 14 cars before I had to pull back over. As with everything, this was not meant to be. My goal was 200,000 miles, but at around 170k, it was costing me $400 a month in repairs just to keep it running. During this time in my life, I was looking to cut outgoing expenses, and save on gas during my lengthy commute, so at 178,000 miles, I traded it in for a used Cavalier.

2002 Chevrolet Cavalier LS (2004-2007)

Unless it's supercharged - I cannot imagine I will ever purchase another 4-cylinder car as long as I live. The savings I was expecting in gas mileage versus a V6 just wasn't here, only loss of horsepower. Still, I got this car for a song - and have put 60,000 miles on it since January 2004 without a single problem. Its a crap car, I just can't think of any reason to get rid of it right now.

2007 Hyundai Tiburon GT (2007-Present)

When the Saturn LW300 (my wife's car, see below) gave up the ghost after only 60,000 miles (and coincidently the same month we paid it off!!!) I traded it in for my new car. This car is everything I wanted out of a car: Sporty as hell, a coupe, a V6 engine (this one is a 2.7) and under $20,000. I purchased her with 59 miles, and she corners like she's on rails. I love the throaty sound of her dual-exhaust. Rear-disc brakes and a mesh seats with leather bolsters - oh, I got my leather steering wheel back too!

The Tib Maintenance Report.

Eric Howton & Clonecar March 2011
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe GT380 (2011-2012)


2001 Mercury Grand Marquis GS (2012-Present)

The Bill no longer required his vehicle at precisely the moment I did. Serendipity is my stripper name.

2002 Ford Ranger XLT SuperCab 4x4 (2016-2017)

Decided I needed a truck. Trucks are expensive here in Kansas. This was about all I could afford. Super clean though, and that 4.0L engine is impressive!

2016 Ford Flex Limited (2017-2021)

Solid vehicle. Would buy again (if I needed again something huge and configurable yet nimble on its passenger-car chassis).

2014 Cadillac CTS Coupe Performance (2021-Present)

Finally got that Caddy I’ve been eyeing since 2015. Another Mercedes-Benz dealership, this one in Wichita, KS.Fortuitously, my son worked at the Audi dealership adjacent which afforded me many employee discounts on this vehicle! Traded in the Flex.
Tags: driving, stories

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