Everybody’s first car tends to be well-used older cars.  Old cars equal problems.  So, everybody has funny car stories.  Why wouldn’t they? 

My Grandma Betty grew up in Egypt.  Egypt was bustling and Cairo was stuffed full of Europeans.  When you went to the market, there were camels (not the cigarette company) in the streets and the pyramids were in the background.  The cars that intimidated pedestrians were Rolls-Royces, Duesenburgs, Bentley’s and sports cars.  The Arabs used to call the Duesenburgs “the father of two behinds”, as the front and back looked the same!!  Can’t you just see that?  I can. 

Grandma Betty used to go to the swim-club, and one day, everybody was bored.  Should they play water polo or just hang out in the pool?  Somebody announced, (French accent) “I am going to leave!”  So, he got into his Fiat Topolino (Topolino means little mouse in Italian) and started to drive off, but four strong men picked up the Topolino so that the wheels were spinning in the air!  Hahahahaha! 

Another time, her brother’s friend took her and her brother to the beach in Alexandria.  His friend owned an MG sports car, and her brother let her sit inside with his friend, while he sat on the convertible top.  She said “you should have heard him “OUCH! *#@*!!”  Uncle Elliott shouldn’t have complained, as usually they squished 8 people in an MG.  Three in the seating compartment, three or four on the convertible top, and one on the hood or fender!  So, his friend had to go into downtown Alexandria for something and they went with him.  He thought that he had taken his dark green MG, but as there was nearly identical MG parked nearby, he took the wrong car.  They all had a good laugh when they found out!  She still has a good laugh about it all these years later!

My Grandpa Jack’s first car was a 1947 Ford Coupe with no emblem on the nose.  He bought it with the money he earned by selling newspapers on a busy intersection in Los Angeles.  He said “It was very spacious for a coupe, and it comfortably held four people in its backseat.”  He used it to get himself to UCLA and to take his mother and friends around Southern California.  He bought it used and sold it user.  He also said that it was cooler than him, but he didn’t know that until later.  I think he is cooler than his car! 

Grandpa Jack has had a lot of cars and therefore; has many funny car stories.  He bought a new car in 1963 or 1964, a Plymouth Valiant.  The first night that he had it, he and my Grandma Roz took his brother and sister-in-law out to dinner.  When his brother-in-law went to open the car door, the door handle fell off in his hand!  Grandpa Jack told me “I guess that’s why they call it a handle!”  Two days later, the ceiling upholstery started to fall off.  He said “it is like owning a boat; the two happiest days are buying and selling it.” 

When Jack was in the military in Austria, he and grandma bought a brand-new VW Beetle.  He didn’t want to take the cold military bus to work every morning.  When he was stationed stateside, they shipped the VW over with them. They drove through Oklahoma to get to Ohio.  While in some small town in Oklahoma getting gas for the VW, there were some old men sitting out front of the store.  When they spotted the Beetle they asked my Grandpa (old cowboy accent) “what car is that?”  He told them that it was a Volkswagen.  They asked “what’s that?”  He told them again it was a Volkswagen.  They replied “Never heard of it.”  He told them it was made in Germany.  The answer, well you can probably guess “never heard of it.”  He told them that the engine was in the back.  That got them out of their rocking chairs and looking.  They asked “engine’s in the back?!”  He had to take out luggage from the trunk to show them that there was no engine there.  He showed them the turn signal, the Mox Nix sticks (that means in German “makes no difference sticks!)  The old men said, “My oh my! All these new inventions.”   My grandparents both say that it was like one of the original western movies!    

My good friend Joshua, his dad, Michael is full of funny car stories.  His first car was a 1959 Ford Fairlane with an in-line six cylinder engine and manual transmission.  One of his friends had a small sized Ford V8 engine that he put into the Fairlane.  One day they decided to burn rubber.  It didn’t turn out that well; they blew the first, second and reverse gears in the transmission.  So, whenever he needed to pull into a parking space he was fine.  The difficulties started to occur when he had to back out of the parking space.  Some of his friends would have to push it out of the parking space for him.  If he was alone, he’d resort to yelling for a helping hand.  Once, he even got a tow truck to pull him out.

I can’t wait to start doing some funny car stories of my own when I get the ’82 Chevy S10 that’s coming my way!

3 thoughts on “The Engine’s in the Back and Other Funny Car Stories.

  1. When I was about 8 we started off on a 4-6 week driving trip in our old Chevy through the West. We immediately broke down in the Nevada Desert. We waited for hours to be towed. When the row truck driver came, there wasn’t room for me & Unc Ben in the tow truck, so we got to sit in the Chevy and be towed the long drive in. We had so much fun! That could never happen now.

  2. Candler –

    Ask your dad if he has any funny stories about driving sideways in the rain in a 240 Z and thinking how cool it would be if one could just fold the tires underneath the car.

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