Aw, hell. Nobody ever tells me anything. After years of reading about Eugene, Eugene, Eugene, I finally decided “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” So, I searched high and low for something appropriate to bring to Auburn for our CC Midwestern Meet-Up, and finally found it. And then Niedermeyer goes and buys a brougham-tastic 71 Marquis, in all it’s minty-fresh midwestern goodness. Some days a guy just can’t win.
As hard as Mssrs Klockau, Shafer and myself tried to wrestle this site away from those effite cars made for those with European sensibilities, I finally saw it as a losing battle. I may not be able to round up a Corvair or something French for the trip, but . . . (Bzzzzt goes the Truth Meter). OK, I could, but I have to maintain SOME kind of personal integrity. Still, I can at least try to replicate the Eugene experience to make Paul feel at home out here on his visit.
I first tried to locate the Dodge A-100 that is the most Eugene of anything I have ever seen. The wooden kayak and the rope knots marking the owner’s strangulation victims seemed perfect. Unfortunately, the cosmos has been somehow reordered and I was not able to find that wormhole again. So, I had to keep looking.
What defines the Eugene-like state of a car? There are three things: Patina, patina, patina. Also, it has to not too clean, but not too dirty either. Just the right state of wear and tear are mandatory. And the indian blanket upholstery is, of course, required. Suddenly, in my nearby supermarket parking lot, there it was! This one even has bonus points for multiple colors and the mismatched tires and wheels.
There must also be an attitude of “Hey, look at me because I’m different from you. Or I would be if I lived somewhere besides Eugene.” Well, this old truck has it. The microphone shifter and the gas pedal from a drum kit get the job done. There must also be a sort of ironic insider’s automotive joke about the car, which the Mack bulldog hood ornament pulls off to a tee.
Well, Paul, I rushed right out and paid $7,500 for this gem (you think going “Eugene” is cheap in Indianapolis? These are rare imports here! ) Hey, nobody is going to outdo ol’ JPC on hipster-chic when I put my mind to it. I even went out and bought a pair of Birkenstocks. And a pork pie hat. Like, Dude, I am so . . . Eugene.
And all this for what? Nothing, that’s what. Mr. Eugene has finally come to the sunny side of the automotive street and picked a Real Car in his Marquis. You don’t get more American than a car the color of a Shamrock Shake from McDonalds. So great, I now have to get rid of this thing, but there is no time to replace it before next weekend. Oh well, it will be fun to drive to Auburn. I have experience in
herding handling one of these, as I owned one like it about 20 years ago. I just have to remember to keep pushing the choke knob back into the dash as it slowly oozes out of the dash because of the way the rust-softened front cab mounts augment the smooth action of the I beam axle and dual leaf springs. “What’s that? Can’t hear you – yell louder. My turn signal is still on?” Right, because the settled cab has pushed the steering wheel out past the cancel mechanism. And all of the rust holes in the floor greatly add to ventilation, so it will be quite a comfy ride. In a Eugene, Oregon sort of way.
It should be an easy truck to sell. The super combination of performance and economy were the hallmark of the famous Ford 292 Y block. Performance parts for these are not that common, but they’re really not necessary. Everyone knows what a performance beast the Y block was. The Chevy smallblock was all marketing hype. THIS was a real performance V8. And with those great twin exhaust stacks – my, but how that 292 must breathe now!
Oh well, until I unload it, I think I can get into this Eugene state of mind. I’m just not going to worry about things. Grass in the yard too long? Who cares? Maybe I’ll buy some chickens to run around out there. And why not? – I have a truck! I just have to find some Free Range pork chops and some microbrew beer that costs $17.50 a bottle, and I’ll be all set. Maybe Paul will want to trade. That old yellow F-100 of his may be OK for southern California, but it just doesn’t say Eugene at all.
Further Reading: 1966 Ford F-100