- 1951 Ford – flathead V8 engine, gray in color, first car, was never fast enough compared to the other hoodlums' cars in Brooktondale. I totally disassembled the engine wanting to rebuild it but abandoned it and the car in ex-father-in-law’s garage when Sherrill and I split.
- 1954 Oldsmobile four-door, yellow and black two-tone, trouble with hydraulic valve-lifters.
- 1954 Chevrolet green two-door, good running but boring car.
- 1960 Oldsmobile two-door convertible, gray with maroon plastic interior (leather was not available and I couldn't afford it anyway) and white top, with skirts for rear fenders. Great looking car in which I had lots of fun. This was the car I picked up my parents from the airport in New York. It was my mother's favorite car of mine.
1963 Austin Healy black with red plastic interior, black manual top. Four-speed transmission with synchromesh in all but first gear; electric overdrive in third and fourth gears; roll-up windows; plexiglass back window that opened; drove it in winter with snow tires; brass hammer for the knock-off wire wheels; doors were not lockable, trunk was; battery in trunk, along with a switch to shut off juice to the starter. The car was very hot in the summer because as you sat in the seat, the transmission tunnel was right next to you, the engine was right by your feet and the exhaust pipe ran on the left side, directly under the driver door. Its heater core was about the size of a large apple and didn’t produce enough heat to keep you comfortable during cold winter days. Luckily there was a flapper by the passenger’s feet, which could be closed, allowing more heat for the driver’s feet.
Ingeborg, my cousin George's wife, yold me last year that I let her drive the car once. I don't remember that. It must've been in one of my rare weak moments. Of course I always liked Ingeborg.
One night while I was really inebriated I let John Ferguson have my car for the night. I never asked and he never offered to tell me what he did with or in the car that night.
I was at the Padar's in Brooktondale one day, when their older son, Steve was there. He had recently come back from serving in the Army as a captain in Germany. While there he bought himself a beautiful Porsche 356, BRG with tan leather seats. He walked over to my car, looked inside at my red seats and declared: "Now I know why they call them bucket seats. They're just buckets covered in vinyl."
- 1959 Rambler six-cylinder, push-button automatic, started in second gear in DRIVE, green with green plastic interior; front seats reclined into a bed; I don’t remember having anything major wrong with car.
- 1963 Rambler station wagon, turquoise blue and white two-tone, six-cylinder engine with automatic transmission; vacuum windshield wipers useless in rain while driving up-hill. It was, without a doubt, the most-neglected car we’ve ever owned, yet it gave us very little trouble. I sold it to Bill Hughes for fifty bucks (I think). It turned a hundred thousand in his possession. That’s John Ferguson sitting in the chair, intently watching the races at Watkins Glen.
- 1963 Mercedes four-door, black with beige plastic interior, 60 horsepower, four-cylinder diesel, four-speed shifter on the column, air-conditioning; bought in the extreme back-lot of Reedman’s in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. The car had a steering lock but the key was inserted into a receptacle in the dash that you could actually see, not the steering column. It also had separate heater temperature controls for the left and right side of the car. Mary could turn her side up and mine was always off. Got over thirty miles per gallon of cheap diesel fuel. Engine needed another two cylinders, though: top speed was about 80 MPH, usually unattainable even on flat ground. I had lost several traffic light drag races with tractor trailers. Driving the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike was always frustrating: on a long up-hill section the car would slow down to a speed that was too slow for fourth gear, but too fast for third, so pedal-to-the-metal, black smoke pouring out of the exhaust, with some tractor trailers passing us! This was the loudest car without a muffler I’ve ever heard. I owned this car while I worked in NYC. One of my colleagues had a 230 SL, whose tune-ups cost $130. Mine were $18, since only the injectors needed cleaning and the filters changed. No spark-plugs, no distributor. Car was started by igniting the fuel by compression (21:1) and the fuel had to be shut off to stop it. The jack for the car was used in one of four designed locations under the car. The shaft of the jack was threaded and you used a ratchet-like handle to jack it up or down.
The car’s injectors needed to be replaced, so we had to tow it to the dealer in Trenton. I rented a tow-bar, installed it as per the instructions given at the place we rented it from and proceeded to tow it. Immediately I felt very uncomfortable with pulling it: it felt as though the towed car’s steering wheel was being jerked from side to side. I angrily pulled over to the side and chastised Mary and suggested we change places. The feeling was the same in the towed car, so I made Mary pull over again and I drove very slowly the rest of the way. When I returned the tow bar I complained to the man there. Make a long story a little shorter: we had hooked up the tow-bar backwards and were lucky to not have been killed. Lesson learned, but never used again!
I still have the owner’s manual for this car. It is unbelievably thin compared to today’s, despite the fact that it is in five languages and contains a long list of Mercedes-approved motor oils.
We sold the car to Vince Keenan, a colleague from Cherry Hill.
The yellow ribbon in the middle of the speedometer changed color as the speed increased, containing more red the faster you went.
- An honorable mention should go to a 1965 red Porsche Cabriolet I almost had. A NYC colleague, Bob Martino, was all set to sell it to me, when it caught fire and was totaled. That car was never smoked-in!
- 1969 Porsche 911T maroon with black plastic interior, six-cylinder, with q separate Weber carburetor for each cylinder, air-cooled engine in the rear, five-speed transmission with first gear to the left and down from the “H” pattern, reverse on top of first with a lock-out. 125 horsepower. Car had the fastest type of jack of any car we’ve had.
Car was a 2+2 with two little seats in the back big enough for large children or two small adults. Once my parents, Mary and I went to Sarasota in this car. It took us only 17.5 hours, averaging over 68 miles an hour, at a time when Route 95 was totally uncompleted in Georgia. We took Route 301, a two-lane road all the way through Georgia. Great ventilation, the two rear glass wings opened up, as the pictures above attest. There were two batteries in the luggage compartment up front on either side of the horizontal full spare. This was a great car much admired and lusted-after by many people, myself included. A guy chased me from one light to another on Route 13 one night on the way home. At the red light he rolled the window down and yelled out to me with thumbs up: “Nice car!”. It made me feel good. I took many people for test drives. This was the car in which I attempted to teach Mary to drive a five-speed transmission with the shifter on the floor. Once, due to sheer frustration, I commanded her to pull over to the side and demanded to know if she needed a hammer to help her shift into first gear. Despite this, we remained married!
Mary and I were driving to the shore one weekend. I was sort of racing a Mustang around a two-lane cloverleaf just outside Toms River, New Jersey. About halfway through the curve the radius started to decrease and it became evident to me that I was about to lose the car. In the back of my head I remembered that in a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car slowing down is not an option, braking would cause a sure accident. The only thing to save the situation is to increase the speed, which is counter-intuitive, as you’re already going too fast. I had the presence of mind to try it and it worked, leaving the Mustang in the dust.
The optional rear seat speaker is visible in the pictures below. Having that was a big deal because the car only came with a single 6x9 speaker in the dash, so the second speaker effectively doubled the sound and produced a better, fuller sound.
- 1971 Plymouth white with light-brown interior; two-door hardtop; black vinyl top; 318 C.I. V8. Physically huge car. A teenager plowed into it one night while it was parked in front of the house. He knocked on the door, all shook up. We called his father to come and get him. Mary loved this car: it looked cool all the time. She took this car down to the shore many, many times with Sharon and her kids and our three. Remember: this car had a bench seat for three in front and a huge back seat to go with the huge trunk.
- 1972 Porsche 911S top-of-the-line, 191 HP flat, air-cooled six-cylinder, five-speed transmission with 5th to the right and up of the “H” pattern; air-conditioning; sun-roof. It had been repainted a Cadillac copper color with light brown leather-covered Scheel seats. Car was rather rare, as it had mechanical fuel injection. Couldn’t find a qualified mechanic who could adjust it properly for any length of time. Ran like a bear when it was adjusted right but returned only slightly more than 12-13 MPG. Had the clutch replaced once for a THOUSAND dollars! Bought the car for $10,000 and spent almost that much on it afterwards. Shortly after buying it I stopped to fill it p with gas. The engine was in the rear, the gas tank in the front. I opened the filler opening and was busy fiddling with the radio, when I looked in the mirror and saw that the engine lid in the back was open. I jumped out of the car, just in time to stop the young attendant from filling my oil tank with gasoline.
Toward the end Mary drove it more than I and she loved it to death, taken on many challengers at traffic lights.
When I learned that car prices were going to go through the roof soon, especially those for Porsches, I took the car to a business specializing in restoring Porsches. The man talked at length of all the things he was going to do, such as fresh paint, new leather for the seats, rebuilt engine, including the cursed fuel injection, new windshield, new rubber seals, etc., etc. When he quoted a price of seventeen thousand dollars, I couldn’t wait to leave. In retrospect, getting the restoration done would have been financially rewarding and emotionally satisfying. It was a rare car by any measure and would have been worth it.
We had the two Porsches at the same time for quite a while and were not WITHOUT a Porsche for almost TWENTY YEARS! How lucky can one get?
1975 Plymouth brown, eight-passenger station wagon. A workhorse pulling the pop-up Palomino camper to many destinations. Traded the 911T for it. We are preparing to take my Godparents, Kato and Gyurka to Kennedy Airport. They graced us with their presence for a number of months. It was a wonderful visit.
- 1973 Ford Pinto brown with brown interior. Two-liter four-cylinder engine. I bought this car out of frustration with the 911S. A colleague, Greg Kelley, suggested building this car to equal the Porsche in performance at a much lower cost. We lowered the car by 5 inches, using different, stiffer springs, used American Racer wheels with 50-series BF Goodrich T/A radial tires, installed a Panhard rod in the back, extra gauges, a tachometer and then an Ak Miller turbocharger. The resulting car not only looked sharp but it also went like hell. We had much fun with it. Even Don Frenzel said that it pulled like a 350 V8. But…. it was still only a Pinto!
- 1984 Toyota Corolla SR5, red exterior, automatic, front-wheel drive with air-conditioning and sunroof. This was our first brand new car. Didn’t like the automatic transmission, so traded it for a more exciting car a year later. Mary was driving it back from Watkins Glen and I was leading on the R100RT on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Somebody threw a rock from the bushes on the right and I saw it going over my head, hitting the Toyota’s windshield. It narrowly missed entering the passenger compartment through the open sunroof. I was so upset that after stopping I rode the shoulder going back to the spot I thought the rock came from. Fortunately I didn’t find anybody.
1985 Toyota Corolla GTS. Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, double-overhead cam, 112 HP, little rocket. It was a rare car, there were not many on the road. It came with large decals on the side of the car announcing to all that it was a GTS model. I had them taken off before delivery. Once while I was at a BMW motorcycle dealer, Stan’s, in Doylestown I saw some BMW decals for sale. I bought a bunch and stuck them on the hubcap of each wheel, one on the hood, one on the trunk and one in the center of the steering wheel. We took it to get it inspected; once in PA and once in New York State and both times the “mechanic” pointed out that even though the registration identifies the car as a Toyota, it is a BMW. Once we moved to New York, I took it to the next level and decided to give the car a model name as well and called it a 312SX (for “sex”, of course). Drove the car for many problem-free years and sold it to my son, Stephan, who put many more miles on it.
1988 Nissan Sentra, red with gray interior, four-cylinder, 88 HP, four-speed econo-box. Good mileage, not much fun, absolutely no problems at all.
1994 Ford Taurus SHO, green with gray leather, 220 HP, six-cylinder V6 engine made by Yamaha, front-wheel drive. This is the first of many more leased cars. Was stupid enough to purchase and have installed dark tint in Sarasota. Fun to drive, good-looking car. The seats looked nice but were excruciatingly uncomfortable during long trips. Front wheels were way too easy to spin.
- 1996 Audi A4 British Racing Green with light gray leather, five speed transmission. Good looking car, great German engineering, Quattro all-wheel drive.
1998 Volkswagen GTI 5-speed transmission yellow with black cloth interior. Mary lost control of it less than a month since new on Jockey Street. After that it served us well for many years. It was Mary's car and she enjoyed driving it very much. She hit two deer driving home from getting take-out. Then she was hit pulling out of the driveway. We put over 100,000 miles on before selling it to our son Chris.
1998 Audi A4 hibiscus red with cloth interior, five-speed, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine, Quattro all-wheel drive. I wanted to drive this car on the track at Watkins Glen during the Quattro Club’s driving school. I bought a different ECU from an outfit in Florida, which increased the horsepower by 30+% and raised the engine’s red line as well. I took the car to the driving school on the track in Watkins Glen, New York and had the time of my life with it. It was truly an unforgettable experience to drive a car as fast as it would go, on a track where so many of racing’s greats have raced in the past. It was thrilling to re-live driving through each of the track's exciting curves for many months afterwards.
- 2001 Audi A6 2.7T. Dark, almost black blue in color, beige leather interior, in-laid wood dash, twin-turbocharged V6. This, I think, was the best looking Audi we’ve ever had. We drove it down to Florida in great comfort. Mary had a slight accident with it which damaged the plastic covering the underside of the engine. I took this car to a driver’s school in Watkins Glen and had great fun.
- 2004 Audi Allroad 2.7T gray with charcoal leather interior, six-speed manual transmission, twin turbochargers, pneumatic, height-adjustable suspension, affording over 8 inches of ground clearance. I liked this car’s utility. We never got stuck in the snow or ice and the car’s height-adjustability made us feel much more self-assured. The handling was very vague, due in part to the air-suspension, the rest due to its size.
- 2005 Honda S200 yellow convertible sport car. Car has six-speed manual transmission, black leather seats and HID headlights that appear green form a distance. It’s neat! The car is extremely cramped with the top up. Our hips cannot afford to grow any wider for we won’t be able to buckle our seatbelts. The car takes on a different personality once the top is down. Driving it thusly the same kind of freedom can be felt as when riding a motorcycle. No matter where we go, it always attracts attention, especially from the young people.
Mary and I took it on a vacation around the Gaspe Peninsula in 2007 and had a blast. We had to be frugal when we packed the trunk, as it’s not big at all; in fact our sidecar’s trunk is more capacious. We had the top down every day except the last day as we were heading home.
- 2006 A4 Avant, red with beige leather interior. I liked this car’s utility as well but the canoe would not fit on top of it, so it went back after the lease. It appears as though this will have been our last Audi. Maybe the canoe didn't fit but two twin mattresses did, causing some pickup owners stand with their jaws dropped.
- 2008 Mercedes C300 4matic brilliant red with light gray interior; 7-speed AUTOMATIC, first automatic since the 1984 Toyota Corolla. Built-in navigation system capable of playing DVDs. Very civilized car. The license plate number is EEK, so I told everybody that it was the sound I made when I saw the window sticker price.
- 2011 Audi S4 Imola yellow with black leather and Titanium package, 19" wheels and tires. After much lamenting and research prior to the lease end of the Mercedes a joint decision was finally reached to re-join the ranks of Audi owners. We made an appointment for a test-drive of an A3 and a Q5. The diesel A3 was nowhere to be found, so we settled for the Q5. During casual conversation Mary related her love of the A5 to the salesperson, Eric. We took the Q5 for a nice drive with Eric in the back. I asked that we drive on a twisty road to give it a real test and he complied. After the drive we learned the monthly payments were much more than the amount Mary and I agreed to before going to the dealer.
- When we got back a black A5 was sitting out front with the engine running, fully warmed up for the next test drive. Mary didn't want to drive it, so I took the wheel. The Q5 drove nice and I loved the engine/transmission combination (2.0T with an eight-speed automatic) but it still drove like an SUV. The A5, on the other hand, was a six-speed manual and it was a pleasure to drive. Taking the same route, but without Eric, I stopped half-way and let Mary drive it back to the dealer. She really enjoyed herself.