When I growing up, I learned a lot about cars from my Dad. He told me to keep the oil changed, make sure the radiator had water in it, remember it won't run without gas, and if you have to drive anyway, convertibles are a lot of fun.
Other than a VW bug that my Dad got only to drive in the "winter around town," in order to preserve his last convertible, my Dad owned either a Pontiac or Oldsmobile convertible from 1963 to sometime in the 1990's.
He ordered one of the last Delta 88 convertibles, silver with red interior, to roll off the assembly line I think in 1987. You see, for a while the automakers stopped making convertibles, breaking my Dad's heart.
He kept the last one until it needed more work than the old Marine could afford. By that time he was too old to do his own car work and was "confounded" by the car computers. When I was growing up there wasn't anything his convertible needed, from an oil change to a new alternator or spark plugs, that he couldn't fix himself.
Those Pontiac Catalina, Oldsmobile Delta 98 convertibles were the size of a river barge, and were so much fun on which to learn to drive.
I can still out-parallel park anyone because I learned to parallel park a car that was the exact size of the parking space. Wide bodies and the length of two cars today it seems.
I could fill it up with the entire senior play cast with the top down and cruise all over Marietta, one arm on the steering wheel and one resting out the window. The cool way to drive.
When my daughter was in elementary school and a Girl Scout, we took her troop to Marietta to earn a history badge by going to Campus Martius museum, visiting Mound Cemetery, riding the Becky Thatcher sternwheeler and going to Fenton's Art Glass across the river in Williamstown.
But the most fun the seven girls had was all piling into Dad's silver convertible and going to Broughton's Dairy with the top down.
The girls hooted and hollered at traffic lights and waved as if they were in a parade, even taking the car downtown to visit the Mayor of Marietta, one of Dad's Marine friends.
While those big old convertibles with a 407 engine exist only at Classic Car Shows, I have carried Dad's love of convertibles over to my life.
My last three cars have been red convertibles, one soft top and two hard tops. I wonder what Dad would think of the hard tops. My current one is a VW EOS with a sunroof in the hardtop-- I think Dad would love it.
Every time I drive to Marietta, this time to visit Mom and Dad's graves, I can't wait to put the top down as soon as I can after arriving, and soon I feel almost like I did when I was riding up Route 7 with Dad. Up the wide Ohio River, around the bend to Newport or New Matamoras, Dad loved riding in his convertible and waving to the little kids in the yards who would stop playing ball in the yard to point and wave, for convertibles were a rarity.
My Dad loved convertibles because I think they fit the way he loved life. He went in on Day 1 of Iwo Jima and was shot in the spine by a Japanese sniper on Day 8. He barely lived and lost many, many Marine buddies and friends. He lived paralyzed for the remainder of his life, plagued by physical and mental war demons.
When you come that close to death and see the horrors of hand-to-hand combat, I think the rest of his viewpoint on life was completely changed. He lived the rest of his life with reckless abandon, and his convertibles fit his love for the wind blowing through his hair and speeding down the highway with the top down with the "pedal to the metal." Seat belts? He hated them so much he cut them out of the first cars they came in.
He loved loud clothes, big poker games, Swisher Sweets, and yes, big convertibles. Live hard and run fast, and he did until he died.
What does your car say about you?