1967, I am 16, and have been driving for almost a year and a half; it will be another year and a half before I get my license. I did finally get my mom to sign for a lerner’s permit, I drove her to the DMV on Mill.
A month ago Mom came home, she had worked a double, and drank a few more. She tells me there is a car in the driveway; and if I can get into it it is mine. I am intrigued. I step out to the drive way of our house on Ives Ave. In the driveway there is a gray 1956 Morris Minor 1000. I try the door handle; it is locked, and as I bend down I see the single key in the ignition. There is no gap in the window for a hanger, and of course the wing window is shut and latched. The back windows are windows; no up, no down, no swinging out, just windows. I go to the passenger side, the windows are up wing window latched. Dang. I reach out to the door handle, and “I’VE WON A NEW CAR”.
I go in and tell my mom that I am going out for awhile. She is already asleep, so I head back to the car. I climb, uh contort my way in. I am 6’4” but once in the seat I actually have an inch of headroom above me. There are two sets of knobs separated by the ignition switch, the are labeled C, W, L, and T. I put the key in a turn it to the right, it moves but there is no “vroom”. I look for a shiny button, like the one on my brother’s Ford, uh nope. No “Vroom”. Wait, I press down on the floor gearshift and push down on the knob; that works for some cars but for this one. No “Vroom” I remember my Uncles’ old Chevy pick-up and look down at the floor. Their is a round metal rod, surrounded with a metal spring, sitting next to the gas pedal. “Eureka, I Have Found It” I press the knob with my foot. “Vroom”
Uh, Morris Minor 1000’s (actually only 846 cc’s) do NOT “Vroom”, ever! It was amazingly quite quiet for a sideways mounted 4-cyclinder engine, I can tell that it is running. I knew enough to make sure it was in neutral, I learned about clutches and 3 on the tree in a 1953 Plymouth; the first car I actually shifted. I depress the 1.5”x3” rubber clad clutch pedal and move the floor shifter to the left and back, and pull slowly out of the drive way.
I put my foot to the gas pedal, pedal is a little hyperbolic as it was the size of my big toe. Pedal by definition indicates FOOT; the clutch and brake almost qualified for the title of “pedal”, the gas, was more of a “interphalangeal’, as it was the size of my big toe. Before the night was over it was a hard and fast rule that I would drive shoe less.
Ten minutes later I am at Rob’s house. Twelve minutes later we are on the road. I am in the drivers seat, most of the cars we had were his, but this one is MINE. I DRIVE!
Seven miles later we pull into the Texas Independent Gas Station on S. Virginia. Rob wants to see what is under the hood. The attendant fills up the gas tank. 96c. He opens the hood and there it is, the massive, (you could pick up the engine) 37hp, 943 cc. Rob checks the oil, a quart low: we buy a quart of recyled oil for ten cents. The slippery glass oil jars, with their steel spouts are displayed on a rack beside the pumps. A quart goes in, and rob tops off the small radiator. Rob is a car freak, and this is the most unusual car he has seen, next to his long abandoned Vauxall.
Saturday is here. We load a cooler into the small trunk, it is full of ice and a short case of Hamm’s “The Beer Refreshing”, twelve is the legal drinking age in Reno. The speedometer in the center of the dash goes up to 80mph. They did manage to get one up to 73mph in testing. The gas gauge at the bottom reads full. There is a small green light to the left that indicates that the oil level is low. That light came on a lot.
We are on the way to the Lake up the Mt Rose Highway, we are obeying the speed limit; we have no choice, the car can’t surpass the speed limit.
The party went on for quite a long time, the car got filled with people, well four people but the people changed from hour to hour.
I had the car for a month, I put 13 quarts of oil in it and ‘maybe’ five gallons of gas.
At the end of the month; it was the first time I had seen mom, since the day she gave me the car, she tells me she needs it back. She had loaned a friend $300 in exchange for the car. He had paid her back.
Sadly I handed her the keys. The car was the same, except for the crease in the left rear fender and about 20 lbs of Lake Tahoe sand. I never heard anything more about the car, and to who ever owned it I APOLOGIZE.