Driving a stick took some getting used to, especially since I usually wore heels, but when I drove my Datsun, I operated the vehicle. Driving up the mountain from Ramona to Julian in Southern California was pure pleasure.
Initially, my little ride was great going to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. My former car, a Galaxy 500, was like a boat to drive and maneuver. One day, I hit three cars trying to park. My journalism teacher Johnny Heard let me call my dad from his office. He stifled a laugh with a cough when I said, “Dad, I hit a couple cars.”
One really strange thing happened somewhere around 2009. I was leaving the Raven Orchard in Julian and my horn started blowing non-stop. I was already nearing Lake Cuyamaca so I pulled into the restaurant.
People came rushing out and the cook asked what the problem was. “I can’t get it to stop honking,” I shouted over the obnoxious noise. In the 30 plus years that I’d had the car, the horn never once worked. I had an air horn behind the passenger seat that I had as a back up.
Returning to the orchard with the horn still in full shrill, I had to pass through town. I waved like I was in a parade and held Billy the Boxer’s paw up. Finally, my Irish friend Patrick Brady cut the wire and silenced the beep.
Here’s where it got really bizarre. As I left the mountain for the second time, I took the scenic route, as the incredible landscape came into view, the car’s horn started blowing again! I pulled over and got out to stare at my blaring car.
Returning to the orchard, my friend googled that there was a back-up horn that kicked into gear if the primary horn failed. It is incredible that both went haywire on the same day. I’ve always wondered if the person in Japan that built my car died that day. The second horn was the car saluting its creator.
One of the best memories I shared with my Dad was when he walked out of the Marriott in Mission Valley. He was stunned when he saw the beautifully, restored version of that precious 2-seater. He laughed and said he needed it back now.
Sparkling rust paint to match the original, a new engine and all the bells and whistles: an awesome stereo, new seats, carpet, interior and the dash was upgraded. A Bose stereo was installed and placed in the rear of the coupe rather than behind the seats. The car could now be filled with music and often was.
At 17, when I drove this car, my long, blonde Texas hair got the attention. At 47, people just wanted to take a closer look at my ride. It was truly restored with love and was worth the 10k that was spent.
And then, I got into trouble with the IRS. They seized my Z and sold it at auction. I read that the opening bid would be $4500. The car was 35-years-old at the time and we were the original owner. I felt like a piece of my family left when I lost this heirloom.