Posted by: dave1949 | 2012/01/28

The Tank

If this is working as it should what you see here is a picture of a 1966 Ford falcon.

This is the type of car I had during the start of my illustrious rowing career. Some At That time in 1970 if a Student was to get a student loan he/she could not own a car. Because of this and the general state of most student finances those of us who had cars were few and far between. I had this particular car because of a small mishap.

I had gone to Brock in 1968 paid for entirely by my parents. At the time they had said they would pay tuition and any other fees and let me live at home free. If I wanted to go out of town to another school I would have to find the money for residence myself. I was also told that this arrangement would be continued as long as I continued to pass my years.

Displaying the keen financial acumen for which I have become notes I proceeded to while away the entire year playing ping pong, the real game not a video stand in and otherwise enjoying myself thoroughly. My father always a man of his word never paid another cent towards my university education after I flunked out in May 1969. Not to shed too bad a light on this brutal treatment he always allowed me to stay at home free anytime I was in school full time. THis of course cost him several thousand dollars as my BA degree stretched out to an awesome 13 years, but it was a matter of principal that he would never again actually pay any fees or expenses to the University.

Back at the dawn of time in 69 Brock had a rule that if you flunked an entire year you were required to take a year off before applying again. All in all I can’t disagree with this thinking as a year working as a communications delivery clerk for General Motors, otherwise known as the mail boy, led me on being laid off in 1970 to realize I wished to further my academic pursuits.

While working at GM and earning the princely sum of $549 per month I had bough my firs brand new car. A 1970 Renault 10. Showing the driving skill and clear decision making for which I have become noted I bought the car in January and lost control of that little bugger in May  going about 70 mph on a country road running head on into a big v8 powered Buick. The Buick won. I exited the car through the gap where the windshield used to be and ended up on the road. The truly remarkable thing about all this is that I suffered nothing worse than a few cuts and bruises and the loss of the car which was in the vernacular of the day totaled.

WIth unemployment looming and university fees needed after some wrangling with the insurance company I went and found the Falcon at a used car lot for $600.

Some Falcons came equipped with V8 engines. Some had automatic transmissions. Some had air conditioning, power steering, power windows, AMFM radios etc. The tank had none of these fripperies. A 144 cu in ch straight 6 with 3 on the tree and an AM radio. It had about 70,000 miles on it which back then was getting to be a pretty used car. The gear shift lever was held in place with a hose clamp that required retightening every couple of weeks, so much so that I took to keeping a screwdriver in the car just for that purpose. It both leaked and burned oil and with a claimed 80 horsepower was just about fast enough to get out of it’s own way. What it lacked in performance though it made up for in ugliness where several areas were rusting through the paint and a few had actually perforated the metal. Luckily none of these were in critical spots just the usual door bottoms and fender rust so common to all cars in the era.

With this land yacht however did come one very crucial advantage. It started and it ran. I drove the car till it had 165,000 miles on it and sold it to another Brock student who I know drove it at least 2 more years after that. Exactly how long it lasted I can’t say because he graduated and left town with it then but suffice it to say that the old car did its duty come rain or shine, snow or sun. It never let any of us down.

And I do mean any of us. I used it as a bus to pick up 3 people to go down to rowing practice which was at 6 am every day in September and October. After practice we regularly took as many as 6 others beside myself up to school to begin the day’s classes.

We went on field trips with the car, rowing regattas, summer vacations,and of course the general trips around town for whatever. On one trip to London for a regatta we set out with 5 of us in the car along with our clothing to change into after the race. As we drove past Hamilton we started climbing the 403 hill out the west end of town. For a while it looked as thought the temperature gauge in the car had been replaced by an altimeter as the needle drifted up the temp scale as we chugged up the hill. We made it to the top and with the easier driving on the level there it slowly drifted back down again with only a bit of steam escaping just at the crest of the hill. Before leaving for home that day I refilled the radiator at the rowing site and it took about a quart of fluid to top it up again.

All in all the car was actually one of the better investments I ever made. It took me where I wanted or needed to go for almost 5 years and then I sold it for $200 dollars. There were multiple repairs during that time but only once anything that required a mechanic, the rest were carried out at home with parts bought at Canadian Tire. I have had many cars since. Lots of them better in nearly every way form the old Falcon. Better performance, better safety, better luxury, quieter, better fuel consumption etc. I have not though, had very many cars in which I had a better time.

Have you ever had a car like that. An old clunker that just kept on clunking whenever called on and took you on the trip you needed when you needed it.


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