I survived Cash for Clunkers
I saw this while out walking over Memorial Day weekend and got a good laugh out of it. This van doesn’t look to be in bad shape—in fact, it looks great—but it still likely qualified as a clunker to the government based on its gas mileage (18 mpg or less) assuming it was new enough: for it to be a clunker it would have needed to be less than 25 years old, so it’s possible this van survived by virtue of being too old to be a clunker. It looks to my very untrained eye to be a Ford Econoline (I see what looks like the Ford oval painted over on the back), and this shape could be anywhere from 1975 to 1991. Frankly, an Econoline under 25 years old is practically new. Those things last forever.
My third car was a van very much like this. It was a Plymouth Voyager from 1974. Same classic boxy van. Mine showed its rust more, and the driver-side door had fallen off, so I replaced it with the driver-side door from the equivalent ’74 Dodge, found in a junkyard. No key for it—I had to enter the van from the passenger-side double doors. Only paid $250 for the van, don’t remember how much the door cost. I knew exactly what I was buying when I got it: a vehicle that would get me wherever I wanted to move. Drove it to Ithaca and back from Michigan a couple of times, and then drove it out to California. Its last trip brought me from Los Angeles to San Diego, but by then the transmission had lost reverse. So I sold it for $200 to someone who didn’t need reverse.
Between the Voyager and my first car, a 1964 Buick LeSabre, it’s a wonder I could afford gas to go anywhere, but I don’t remember it ever being a problem even when I had no money to speak of. Gas had only just recently crossed the dollar threshold when I was in college (some gas pumps still used double-digit readouts, with a “1” painted in front of the two numbers), and it then hovered around $1.20-$1.40 or so, I think through most of the eighties before dropping back again when I came out to California.
In response to 2012 in photos: For photos and perhaps other quick notes sent from my mobile device or written on the fly during 2012.