Monday, April 07, 2008

My Little 'Ghia

I used to own a Karmann Ghia, a nice-looking version of a VW Beetle. Cost me $450, right off someone’s driveway in New Bedford, Mass. That was back around 1970, but I don’t know how old the car was when I bought it; I do know that this under-powered car was even weaker, as only three out of the four cylinders worked. Or so I was told; maybe that’s the reason it only cost four and a half bills.

At the time, I was working in a radio station in nearby Fall River. At the end of my shift, a bit on the wrong side of midnight, I’d use a flyover to get on the entrance ramp for the interstate. At the top, as the road tilted down, I’d floor the gas pedal and keep it all the way down for the next, oh, maybe five minutes. By that time, I was up to about 70mph. Pickup was not one of the Ghia’s finer points, not at 60hp and three working cylinders.

But, as much as you can know a car’s feelings, this one loved to be driven. On Sundays, I’d go to the village of South Dartmouth to get some newspapers and it would just skim over the hills and dips, racing around the curves at its own speed. I’d have one hand on the steering wheel, the other on the floor-mounted gearshift lever, and off we’d go.

It ran forever on a drop of gas, especially at its favorite speeds. You get in a car like that, drive it a bit and you get a sense of how it likes to be handled: how to anticipate hills, how it likes you to go through the gears when you are leaving a stop sign or traffic light.

There was a special bond between me and my car.


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