Sinatra!

While I was in college I was a small amount of money courtesy of the Illinois Lottery. It wasn’t millions or even 5 figures, but it was enough that I bought a kick-ass stereo and a used car for me to have while at school.  The object of my desire was a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix.  It was 2-tone blue with t-tops and a huge V8 engine in it that hauled ass. It also sucked gas, but it didn’t cost $3.50 a gallon back then either.  My father tried to talk me out of it but being the stubborn cuss that I was, it was soon mine.
2 days later and $400 of repair to the front end (tie rods, etc) I was finally off to college with my new ride.  I called it Sinatra (after ole’ Blue Eyes himself).  Sinatra was a cool car and very fun to drive.  It also had plenty of room to load up with several friends if needed and summer time with the tops off was the best.  The car itself, however, wasn’t.  As I just mentioned I had to replace the tie rods and some other parts upfront almost right away.  2 months later the trans just dies.  Stopped working altogether.  I took that to a repair place by my college where they fixed it (for $700!) and 1 week after their warranty ended it died again.  I would blast their ass here but they are out of business now so no need. There was also an electrical issue and I had to replace the tires (my fault, I was very heavy on the gas pedal) as well. All in all it was a money pit.  However there were a few things interesting that happened.
One time we loaded up 4 of my friends and took a long roadtrip to Danville, just to see Cheap Trick play. The show was awesome!  However on our way back we got lost shortly after leaving the venue.  Remember, no GPS around this time.  So here we are around 10 at night surrounded by cornfields.  Gas is also starting to get low so we had better find civilization pretty fast. So we finally see some lights in the distance and decide to start heading towards that. 10 minutes later we emerge from the cornfields to come face to face with a prison!  Or it could have been a jail, we didn’t know.  it was lit up like the sun, all sorts of barbed wire and fencing but nobody was in it. We could see no cars in the lot, nobody in the towers, nothing.  We also see no other signs of civilization so we look for signs to hopefully get us to a gas station.  We find one that says there is a town 4 miles up the road so off we go full speed. Half way there a deer darts out in front of us.  I had to make a split second decision to either hit this huge deer or swerve to the left.  There were no light poles or trees or anything else around, just corn, so swerve I did, right into a cornfield.  Let me tell you it is not like in the movies.  We didn’t keep driving for a while with corn flying all around and then end up back on the road, corn stalks stuck in the grill like nothing ever happened. We hit that dirt and I quickly turned back to the right so we didn’t go too far into the corn field. It didn’t matter as we came to a complete stop. Great, now we are stuck 4 hours from home, late at night in the middle of a corn field. Fortunately we were able to push my car backwards out of the field and had enough traction then to get back on the road. 4 hours and a missing grill piece later we made it back to college.
 My buddy Kevin and I were just hangin’ out downtown and late at night we were headed home. We were cruising down lower Wacker Drive, tops off and music blaring.  We are at a stop light and a car pulls up next to us.  I am trying to not look at them as I can tell just from my peripheral vision that they appear to be some stereotypical gangbangers.  I can hear the Hispanic music over the Zeppelin coming from mine.  Just don’t look at them and go when green.  Out of the other side I can see my buddy Kevin just staring at them.  I’m thinking WTF dude! But before I can say anything I hear a string of Spanish coming from the car next to me that SOUNDED a little angry. Keven then slaps me on the shoulder and says “get us out of here, now!” I glance to the left and see all the doors opening up so I just slam on the gas.  We could have filmed a movie chase scene with the driving I did there as I floored it, blew thru 2 lights and took a turn so fast that I scraped the entire driver’s side of my car on the guard rails trying to get away. After we got on the Dan Ryan headed home, and making sure we weren’t still being followed, I asked him WTF just happened. He said the passenger of that car looked at him and thought he was ‘Julio’, who apparently is someone they don’t like.  Great, we almost get shot up and I rip up the entire side of my car over a wrong ID. I dropped Kevin off at home and then went back home myself, parking on the street.  I went to bed wonderign how I am going to explain this one. I didn’t have to worry. The next morning I get up and there is even MORE damage on the driver’s side of my car, as someone apparently sideswiped it over night on the street. There are skid marks and some plastic on the road.  So I called the cops and insurance and got the whole thing fixed.  Woo hoo!
Only for the trans to die the second time about 3 weeks later. That’s it, I can barely keep the thing in gas and pay for insurance, I can’t keep dropping bills for repairs as well.  Fixed it and sold it to help pay for the rest of my school.  Sinatra was a fun car to drive.  And despite its mechanical failings it put up with a lot of shit from his owner.

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