When General Motors announced this week that it would discontinue production of the Pontiac it brought back memories of my first car – a 1963 Pontiac Tempest Lemans.

 

    When General Motors announced this week that it would discontinue production of the Pontiac it brought back memories of my first car – a 1963 Pontiac Tempest Lemans.
   It was a nice little light blue four-cylinder auto. It was cheap to operate at a time when the large gas-guzzlers were popular. No, I didn’t own a GTO – an eight-cylinder roadster popularized the Beach Boys.
   My dad wasn’t about to let me get a car with a souped-up engine and try to outrace every other driver on the highway.
   I bought the Lemans in (best that I can remember) in 1967. It got me back and forth to Little Rock University (precursor to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock) by day and to work by night to the Arkansas Gazette.
   Four cylinder cars were not nearly as the car of choice as they became later. They had to stay in perfect timing since there were a lot fewer horses under the hood.
One day my dad told me to get behind the steering wheel and start the engine while he tuned up the motor. Dad was one of the old school guys out of World War II who could do just about anything mechanically.
   After I started the engine, I got out of the car and stuck my head under the hood as I watched with amazement how dad could get the car perking. He had an ear for sounds of a car like a musician has for a song.
    “That’s it. Screw it down,” dad said, instructing me to take the Phillips screwdriver and tighten the screws that held the distributor in place.
   As cars became more sophisticated with high-tech computerized systems dad relented to let some favorite mechanic take car of his cars.
I finally sold my Lemans and moved up to a 1964 Chevelle Malibu. It ran like a thoroughbred. It had the twin exhaust and floor automotive console. It was red and had some little nicks in the paint, but for the price ($700) it was good transportation.
   After I  got a little money in the bank account I ventured out for the first year model Mercury Capri in 1972.
   The engine revved up so loud and that my dad didn’t particularly like the new car.
   “Hey, ma, the bucket of bolts just arrived, “ dad told momma when I came to town for a visit.
   “About two years later I swapped the Capri for a new Chevrolet Impala. I stayed in Chevys for the next six years.
   I went through a stage of Fords for the next 15 years – most because they were company-owned when I worked in Texas.
   When I came to Helena for the first time January 1996 I had gotten a “real deal” on 1981 Chevrolet long wheel base pickup before I left Waco.
   I dubbed the truck my “Green Monster” –no relation to the famous right field wall in Boston’s Fenway Park.
   One thing for sure the truck drove well and was safe as sitting in a tank.
   My first foreign car was a 1994 Toyota Corolla. It’s gone now after an accident.
   Thankfully, I had a 1995 Toyota Tercel that I bought from Vance Montgomery in 2002. The small gray car runs as cheaply as one could hope for in a time when SUVs are being traded to get out of the gas-guzzlers.