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  • Writer's pictureFred Schlabach

A momentary lapse of reason...

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

After New Years 1986, the Fiat and I headed south for the winter. I had a job lined up as a carpenter's helper with a big construction company, but no place to live. Luckily, I had connected with a friend of mine who I had met at summer camp. My roommate Richard arrived from Vermont in a 1968 Saab 95. We landed a trailer park in a vintage trailer with thin, poorly insulated walls and single pane windows. Richard was delivering pizzas which is pretty hard on a car. Vermont winters hadn't been kind to the Saab and pretty soon it was on it's last legs. I told Richard that he could have the Fiat and I would bring the Mustang down from Pennsylvania which worked out for both of us at the time. The trip back from my parent's house set up the next series of events that led to a momentary lapse of reason on my part.

A vintage car is a fantastic thing to own, but it has it's drawbacks as well (especially when it's your only mode of transportation). If the farthest you have to drive is an hour or two, then a '66 Mustang is a fine vehicle to own. On the other hand, if you routinely drive 5 hours on the interstate and you have neither cruise control or A/C then something a little newer might be in order. Coming back from Pennsylvania brought all of these shortcomings to light and the promise of more trips back and forth got me thinking that the Mustang wasn't practical.

If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you know that I love cars and am always looking for the next one even when I don't really need to. Where I had decided to move was a car junkies dream. There are little used car dealerships all over the place. Some have only a couple cars while others are much larger, but the fact is that there are many littered through the city and also out in the countryside. So, wherever I went, there was a smorgasboard of vehicles calling out to me. Why I picked the one I did, I'm not sure. As I look back on the mid eighties from today it's easy to see a lot of questionable popular trends (acid washed jeans, parachute pants, Members Only jackets, the mullet), which all seemed normal at the time. The car designs of the 70s and 80s were also what we thought of as the latest and greatest at the time, so I guess I was just going along with the trends of the time. Which leads us to this. For some reason a certain car stood out to me as I passed by the countless car lots. It was a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was white with a pale blue vinyl landau top. It had a blue velour interior. It had whitewall tires. Now, to be fair, I was probably drawn to this because it was the sportier cousin of my parent's 1978 Oldsmobile station wagon which I had seen every day since 1978... But, really? Really? Yeah, really! Asthetics aside, it turned out to be a good, reliable car that got me through the rest of my college career and I'm sure was much better suited to the 12 hour drive that I made countless times when I ended up going to college in Indiana. That being said, I still wish I had that '66 Mustang! I'm sure that the salesman who took it in on trade was dancing a jig while I drove away.

Winter 1986. Trailer park living. 1968 Saab 95, 1976 Fiat 131

Spring 1986. 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (ugh)
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