Sometimes sitcoms imitate life, or life imitates television. Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years got his 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sedan for $1. Did I ever tell you about the time my Uncle Ken sold me his old Jag for a Dollar?
My Uncle Ken was my Aunt Linda’s husband, a successful surgeon from Orange County, and being from Trinidad, one of those weird outsiders in car ownership in the family. Although they normally kept a Buick as a grocery store car (normally a Skylark replaced every 7 or so years), there was a rotation of XJ6s for him and Mercedes Benz 250/280/280Es for her.
For whatever reason, he kept the first one, a Silver on Red Connolly 1970 Sedan with some mechanical malady so it sat at the base of their downhill driveway through all of my childhood. During the summer of 1991 we spent a week at their house, and Uncle Ken offered me the car for a cool $1. Being 9, and just thrilled to own my own car I promptly pulled a wadded dollar bill out of my wallet and took the keys.
For the rest of the vacation, promptly after breakfast, I’d go outside, pull off the car cover, unlock the doors and just play: all the switchgear, shift the dainty chrome shifter and utilize my 9 year old imagination that I was far more adult and winding this delightful sedan up the Pacific Coast Highway back home to the Bay Area.
Me and the fantasy Jag parted ways on Sunday, and I’d still visit it over the the next 15 years, unlock it, smell the ever stronger mold against the smell of Connolly Leather and wood, and wish for the dollars to bring it back to life. It’s now long gone, my Aunt Linda and Uncle Ken both dying in the past 10 years, and I haven’t a clue whatever happened to “My Jag.” But I do still have the keys in a box somewhere.
So you can understand the pang of childhood fantasy I felt yesterday when I walked past this slightly disheveled XJ6 sitting forlorn and elegant all at once in a driveway 5 blocks from my home. A piece of me still longs for my first car, even if it never ran.