Cartography, Part 2 : Alpha

 The first one is always special. It matters not what kind of car it is, the fact that it's yours is what makes it significant. Ideally, it should be something that you've worked for, sweat and tears, scrimping and saving every penny until the day of attainment arrives. If your parents outright buy it for you, it's just not the same and your appreciation is diminished as a result.

Good ole' American Iron

 Powder blue was her color. The engine bay housed a 302 cubic inch V8 mated to a four speed automatic transmission. Not a Ford Mustang, my first baby was a 1977 Ford Granada 2-door coupe, a vehicle that ford touted as a domestic equivalent of a Mercedes-Benz. Ad agency hyperbole aside, she was a sweet ride to this once 16 year old driver.

Click for larger view

 A decade had passed under her tires by the time she resided in my driveway, which in northeast Ohio meant rust. It wasn't too bad, but it did irk the hell out of me. I purchased chrome polish to try and remove the surface corrosion from the bumpers, and it polished so well it removed the chrome itself. It was your typical blue-haired old lady car, never venturing far from the Cleveland area. Never abused, she was broken in gently and thus balked at the heavier right foot of it's new owner. Full throttle produced a plume of black smoke from the exhaust, but damn did that V8 sound sweet.

If only mine looked this good

 I can still remember sweltering summer days spent detailing my precious, caressing the sheetmetal. The vinyl bench seat was splitting in a couple of areas, so my first "mod" was a set of seat covers. My next mod was much more radical, the quintessential late 80's accessory, a suction cup Garfield on the driver's side opera window. I was cruising in style!

Vinyl was king in those days

 Two years of my life were spent with that car, taking me through high school and my formtive driving years. I learned what hydroplaning was, how to get unstuck in snow by using the floormats, the unadulterated joy of donuts on an empty parking lot in winter, and that E really does stand for empty. Never once did she fail me, a miracle for a late 70's domestic model.

 One day I'm going to buy another Granada and restore her to her original glory, reunited once again with my first car.


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