Cars For Kids

Boyleing Points

It was divine intervention.  I’d dropped out of college, then traveled cross country with a buddy on Amtrak.  We got to Los Angeles and the weather was nice.  A TV weatherman seemed to have the easiest job in town. He said it was sunny and 75 today — as it has been for a thousand years.  Of course, the only thing warmer than the weather were the girls. 

We soon realized the key to enjoying this paradise was securing a car.  We bought a Dodge  Dart with 139,000 miles on it (which was a crazy number in those days) for $350 dollars.   I think we paid part of it in traveler’s checks.   A pale green Dodge Dart was going to make us irresistible to the Hollywood babes.

Neither one of us knew you had to get auto insurance.  We thought it was optional, I guess – like, you only had to get insurance if the car was decent.  We drove to Motor Vehicles to get California drivers’ licenses and register the car.  That’s when we learned about needing insurance.

We left with new licenses and our still-unregistered car. We spent all that dough on the new ride and now we were facing the insurance expense.  To save cash, we slept in the car that night in some beachfront parking lot.

The next day we were driving to check out a place to live near Hollywood which sounded cool but was no less seedy than Times Square back then. We never made it.

The Dodge Dart died. The piece of crap just stopped, spewing steam into air, causing a traffic jam on Wilshire Boulevard, one of the main streets of Beverly Hills.  My friend, TH, and I stood there like Jed Clampett and Jethro Bodine with our steaming pile of junk, as cars more in character with Beverly Hills, inched past us. A Maserati passed, then a Porshe, then a Bentley.

We blended like Cousin Vinny. 

Divine intervention occurred when two commercials played on the car radio – the only thing still working on the otherwise dead Dodge Dart.  The first was a “we buy junk cars” and the second was “fly one way to San Francisco” for $19. We pushed the Dodge Dart to the curb and found a payphone nearby – ha, imagine that, a payphone. We called the junkyard and a guy came and paid us $75 for the car.  We took that cash and headed for the airport.  Why San Francisco?  We heard it had good public transportation.

The memory of that Dodge Dart came back when I was considering if I was gonna invest in a used car for the son who will remain nameless.

Things are different now.  So different.  In the old days, you couldn’t wait to get your license.  Now?  Kids prefer Uber, what do they need a license for?  In the old days, you’d kill to have your own clunker.  Now?  Kids won’t lower themselves to drive anything but the newest model (fat chance that’s happening with my kid).

We learned how to fix flat tires, jump dead batteries, and didn’t mind seeing the road pass under our feet in somebody’s car that didn’t have floorboards.  Some cars wouldn’t start unless three or four guys pushed the thing for 50 feet until the engine turned over. 

I had a car in which the passenger door didn’t open and another with windshield wipers that would only work if the car was going 50 mph or more.  You’d have to throw the thing into neutral and gun the engine to get the wipers going in slower traffic.

You learned.  Often the hard way.  Now?  You have to decide if letting the kid start with a piece of junk will be good for him.  He’ll learn, like you did.  But nah, he’s already learned what to do.  When the car breaks down he’ll just call you.  Then what?  It’s your clunker.

Maybe that newer car for the kid isn’t such a bad idea…

Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.