The continuing story of my 1964 Pontiac Tempest Custom...
Family cars, Pt. 2

The only vehicle that my wife has ever loved was a navy blue Chevy S-10 Blazer with a 2.8 V6.  We bought it from our friend Joe Trainor when he was in Summerville, SC.  I installed a pretty decent sound system in it and eventually put duals and glasspacks on it.  It was her daily driver and went with us on numerous vacations, one of which resulted in a speeding ticket for me.  I think I was running about 80 in the days before the speed limits increased on the interstates.  Anyway, she was really, really fond of her Blazer.  

The Blazer’s young life was prematurely taken by Hurricane Hugo.  A tree fell across it and a storage building in our back yard and it was sent to the great junkyard in the sky.  She regrets that we didn’t buy the salvage and have it rebuilt.  I’ve offered from time to time to find another one and restore it, but she doesn’t want to, saying that it just wouldn’t be the same.  I understand.  If my life was prematurely taken, I’m sure she wouldn’t remarry, as a new husband just wouldn’t be the same as her current, wonderful man.  At least that’s what I like to think.

The Blazer (may it rest in peace) was replaced with a burnt orange 4WD Ford Bronco.  It also had a V6, manual tranny, and a sunroof.  While it was a decent vehicle, she never took a liking to it, because it was a mere shadow of her Blazer.  I hope she would feel the same was about her new husband…

While the Bronco OK, it had a bed-wetting problem.  After a hard rain, water would enter into the heater area through the cowl and dump onto the carpet.  That got old after a while and we eventually got rid of it.


We bought a Suburban at some point, which she drove for a few years.  One day she was coming home from a medical appointment and was involved in a wreck.  We were able to get it repainted with the insurance money, and I think this picture was taken shortly after the new paint job.


The ‘Burb was traded in on a turbo Volvo wagon.  Both of us went through a “European” stage and drove his and her 89 740 Volvos for a few years.  We even talked her father into getting one – a 760.  My car (I think “Volvo” is Swedish for “expensive to repair”) developed a stench in the A/C system ductwork.  From what I was told, the car had some type of sound deadening foam insulation in the ducts that was a prime repository for foul odors.  Stinky-foot foul odors.  SOP for my car was to crank up the AC every other day and spray Lysol through the cowl to make the cabin air bearable.  Another recurring problem was a faulty transmission relay.  Many days, I would pull the ashtray and panel behind it to access the relay and wiggle it so the car would shift to overdrive.  That’s pretty challenging when you are trying to drive, tune the radio, talk on the cell and eat at the same time. 

Many Volvo owners, especially those with the 240 model, come across as the “save the world types,” kind of like the folks that drive hybrids.  I’m proud to say that I had no decals on my Volvo supporting any cause.

No mention of family cars would be complete without a picture of the “Wil-A-Bagos.”  My good friend and coworker Wil owned an old F-150 that had a homemade wooden camper box on the back of it.  It was Wil’s daily driver and the sole purpose of the box was to allow him to sit on the top of it at races at Darlington and Rockingham.  Sleeping in it was optional and usually occurred after much Schlitz (his favorite beer) was consumed in the infield.  Wil was a real pro – he kept up with the beer he drank by breaking pull-tabs off the cans and putting them in his pocket.  He’d make a count the next morning.  I figured that since I’d been to college, I knew how to drink beer.  Nope – I was just a rookie while in his presence at the races. 

Tom was another co-worker (and professional beer drinker) who went to the races and decided to make his own box.  Well, I got on the bandwagon as well and built my own box.  When the three of us parked side-by-side at the races, we had quite the observation platforms.  My box was so heavy that it took a loooong time to get to highway speeds when it was mounted.  The little 4-cylinder in the Ranger was taxed when it had to lug the box around.    For some reason, my wife wasn’t too wild about driving the Ranger while the box was on it.

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