Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Champion

When I finally reached the age to start driving on a 'school permit', I didn't have anything to drive except a fourteen year old, Studebaker Champion. My older siblings had pretty well gotten the 'goody' out of this car and it had sat off to the side of the house for a year or two without being moved. I could see that it was time for me to restore the car to the land of the living and did. If I remember right that involved my Dad and I, 'breaking it to lead' down the lane.
Having attended country school thru the eighth grade, I proudly started to High School in my faded, rusty, black Champion. It used a bit of oil. I took some ribbing about it, but none the less it was 'my car'. The biggest problem was the oil consumption. The kids would say, "Cliff, we knew you were coming, we looked east and saw this cloud approaching town", or "the bugs are bad, Cliff, start your car and we'll stand behind it". I did put oil in twice a week and gas, once a week.
My Dad had me take to the gas station to have it serviced one day. I told them to see if they could see where it was leaking oil. Over the noon hour, I stopped in to check on my car. The mechanic had the car on the hoist and told me to come here, we found your leak. He then pointed at the tail pipe. To those of you who know about compression in old motors, this one didn't have enough of it to hold the car in a slightly uphill parking place. Not even in 1st gear or Reverse.
I used to brag that it had a hill hold break. On a hill you could actually step on the brake and it would lock the car in place and wouldn't release until you let the clutch out. A nice way to get going again once you've stopped on an upgrade. Kind of a neat idea if I could have driven far enough to find a hill. Those of you who know where I live know that from here to town the land is gently rolling. Meaning there could be 5 to 6 inches of rise and fall in a mile. Okay, it's flat. I never used the hill hold brake, none of my friends were interested in that, or the fact that the 'starter button' was under the clutch pedal. Just push the clutch all the way to the floor and the car would start. Safety wasn't a concern to my classmates. The Champion was a four door, (the two rear doors were suicide doors) faded, rusty, don't hit the ceiling or the dirt will sprinkle down, pile of Detroit Dung.
I'm sure it had a girl in it, in it's younger days, and I'll bet I've got some Brothers who are glad I'm not going to write about that, but as for my personal knowledge, when I had it, no self respecting female would, or did, step foot in there. Leaning against that car and try to get a homecoming date was impossible. We had Seniors, driving brand new Pontiac GTO's, dating girls from my freshman class.
I may as well have been pulling a manure spreader around.


Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...


Nice to know I wasn't the only one with a car like that. Great Story.


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