Driving my first car
Here are two stories involving my first car that I will always remember vividly.
Fast reverse back to early fall of 1965.
I was a very "sheltered" 19 year old college freshman driving home from a day at the beach with my dog for company. My dog was a black lab, great dane cross. I was driving my first car, a two tone, turquoise and white 1955 Ford four door that my Dad had given me for my 18th birthday.
I was driving along in fairly heavy beach traffic and passed a large number of police cars parked across the street. All of a sudden a police car forced itself into the space between me and the car ahead and jammed on it's brakes forcing me to stop. Another police car came to a quick stop right behind me and three across the street. Everyone jumped out of their cars & crouched down behind them.
An officer from the car in front walked back to me with his hand on his holstered pistol telling me to keep both hands high on the steering wheel where he could see them.
My dog (Named "Dog") picked up something was not right and stuck head head out the rear side window & started his "fierce" bark. When the officer got close enough to look in the front window he told me to control my dog and get him out of the window. I turned around to grab Dog and saw a second officer standing at my passenger side rear quarter with a shot gun leveled.
They made a quick look inside the car's interior then explained that there was a recent armed robbery in the town behind me that I had recently driven through. The get away car was a two tone mid fifties Ford driven by a woman.
It was an effective way to traumatize a "sheltered" teenage girl for life.
Dang another synapse response.
Fast Forward to 1968.
I was driving in the Santa Cruz mountains a little South of San Francisco. I was in the same '55 Ford. I was driving down a very narrow windy road on the dry rain shadow side of the mountains (Lots of chaparral and some scrub oak). This is a road I drove daily and knew very well.
I hit the brakes to slow down for a corner and suddenly lost all hydraulic pressure. I quickly pulled the emergency brake but it was not slowing me down on the steep grade. I made the first curve still gaining speed. The car had an automatic transmission (my first and last). I downshifted but the downshift would not engage at that speed. I killed the engine. I was still picking up speed.
There was a very sharp hairpin curve coming up. At the speed I was going I knew the car would not make the curve on four wheels. At the apex of the curve there was a flat area that went out to the edge of the ridge then down at a very steep almost cliff like angle. It had a dirt parking area facing the cliff about 30 feet long where people tended to park for the evening and look at the valley lights down below. On each side was thick chaparral.
Knowing that I could not make the curve without rolling the car over the cliff I put the car into the chaparral. The chaparral and more level ground was slowing my car but not quite enough. I moved over so the driver's door was in the dirt area and most of the car still in the chaparral. Just before the cliff I opened the door and bailed out doing my best James Dean imitation. When I stopped rolling I looked over just in time to see the rear tail lights and bumper disappear from view down the hill.
That was my last sight of my first car. It probably has something to do with my Land Rover being converted to a dual brake system and my TR3 having stainless steel brake lines.
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