I’m Your Vehicle, Baby

Summer called. “Dad, have you run the van?” Her van has been sitting in the driveway van-spot for some time now, waiting for better days.

Summer's van front

“Uh. Do I have the keys?”

“Yeah! On the hook.”

“OK,” I lied, “I’ll try to start it later. Busy now.”, I lied.

Later came. The danged key was on the ring. So I trudged out to a mild, winter day and played find-a-way-in-to-the-van.

First try:

Summer's van front door permanently locked.

Well, the door looked locked. The key fit. The key did not turn.

OK. Other side. Not locked. Doh. … But, remember that, reader. It will come up later.

Sit in the driver’s seat. Look down:

Summer's van pedals.

Blast from the past!

A floor button to kick on the hi-beams. Cool.

Then I looked around. All of the controls were out of a time warp. Sure, this van is from the, what? 70’s, early 80’s? But it could have been from the 50’s, by the look of the controls.

Summer's van steering wheel.

It screamed, “Road trip.” Of the lowest budget kind.

It was time to fire this baby up.

Battery? Check. Starter motor? Check. Ignition? Uh.

Wrrrr. Wrrrr. Wrrrr.

Well, the beast had been sitting for some months. What can you expect?

I popped the hood. Yep. Another blast from the past. Black cavern. Oil? OK. (Worried, I was, that the gas had water in it, and now the engine did. Rust city, going forward.)

Thinking, “Well, that’s about all I can do. I am not going to go mechanic on this thing.”

“Hmmm. This big thing ‘tween the front seats looks like an old-van engine cover. … Wait! This is an old van!”

Summer's van engine cover.

Struggle. Jimmy. Struggle. Jimmy.

Air cleaner? Hmmmm. Not exactly pristine. But there’s a carburetor. The little pushy, buttony, cably, add-on thingee appears to ineffectually attempt to be a choke as I had guessed and tried. Let’s apply some real manual choking action, here.

Mess with the butterfly.

‘Nother crank: Cough.

‘Nother crank: Cough.

Diddle with butterfly.

‘Nother crank: Fooom. Rumble, bumble, rumble, bumble. Yep. That’s the sound of good, old, missing-1-spark, Deeetroit iron, my friend.

Let it smoke for a while. Wait for the roughness to mellow out.

Look around.

They don’t make sound systems like this any more!

Summer's van radio.


Put the cover back on the engine. Make the engine stuttering less dramatic.

Drive it in and out of the driveway a couple of times to wind the gears and wheels.

What a boat.

You’d wanna hold this barge under about 15 MPH on curvy mountain roads. Jeez, it’s so easy to forget how bad power steering was in those days.

OK. Shut ‘er down. Time to go back inside the house.

Ooops. Memo to self: Don’t drive this thing in to a lake. The other front door – the one you can open from the outside – doesn’t open from the inside.

Yep. Now this is your vehicle, baby.

Summer's van back.