Here are the reasons my first car was better than yours:
1. The first is easy - my uncle Mickey GAVE it to me! Really. Imagine the surprise as we finished a lunch at my grandmother's and he tossed me a set of keys and told me to run upstairs. It was a moment. In case you're wondering, I'll inform you that the song that was playing on the radio when I started it was 'I'll be Working my Way Back to You' by the Spinners.
2. It was a Pinto. You heard that right, folks, a Pinto. I did not have a Gremlin or a Pacer. I had a Pinto.
3. My car had many nicknames, the most formidable being The Murph-Mobile.
4. The Pinto was blue and it was multi-colored, simultaneously. You don't understand that? I'll explain. When I received the car, it was blue - sort of a royal blue. The fun part came during the car washes, though. Each time I washed the car, new colors were revealed. Apparently, the car had endured many color changes. And, though I left a tremendous mess in the bottom of car washes all over Athens, Georgia, seeing the revealed new colors was quite a rush! If memory serves me correctly, the Murphmobile had lived as red, silver, gray and black.
5. My car was a teaching tool. I cannot guess at the number of people who learned how to drive a stick-shift in it. And, it was open to everyone. Many times, my friends from the other lunch period would borrow her to go out on some adventure or another. It would always be safely back in its parking place behind Cedar Shoals High School when it was time for B Lunch, ready for me and the next group.
6. It was the perfect canvas for tempra paints, making it the obvious choice for various projects. There were many, but leading the homecoming parade of 1981 was our crowning glory.
7. It was an all-terrain vehicle. The Ford manufacturers may not have intentionally planned it that way, but we easily made the Pinto somewhat amphibious. It spent hours and hours in the woods, fields, creeks, trails, and off-road adventures in the un-chartered areas between Cedar Creek (my neighborhood) and our high school. I remember a couple of particular times when it was difficult to explain the weeds, reeds, red clay, roots, and debris that had clung underneath the car.
8. The Murphmobile had a dynamite sound system, but the operator had to be trained in its operation. In order for the radio/tape player to work, the driver had to have the clutch in.
9. Oddly enough, one did not have to press the clutch to switch gears. (So, it was a bit of a toss-up. Feeling lazy? No need for the clutch. Wanting tunes? Step on the clutch.)
10. The Pinto was open-air in its own way, which allowed me to keep an eye on the road in ways others just couldn't do. Just to the right of the sturdy middle console, on the floor of the passenger side, was a small hole. Upon being gifted with the car I don't remember the hole. Upon letting go of the car a few years later, it was pushing the size of a cantaloupe.
11. I realize the title of this post was "Ten Reasons" so this Number 11 is thrown in for the readers who stay with me this long. I'm hoping my Dad does not. (I know I'm forty eight, but I'm afraid he'll read this and we'll still have to have a little talk.) This was one of the best things about the car and this is one of the reasons that I'm happy they don't exist anymore so that my children won't have one. The original design of the Pinto, with it's long two front doors, large hatch-back and sloping back window lent itself to an after-school activity like no other. One could stand on the back fender, lay complete body over the car, reach arms to the side and grasp the inside of each side's window to hold on. With a friend stretched atop the entirety of the steel magnificence, the driver could send the holder-onner on a ride unlike any other in the world.
There they are, friends. I assume I've left you no doubts that my original point is true. I'm sorry for you all. You may have been like those I grew up with - you may maneuvered around in a smoky gray Camaro 280-Z or a trusty Mustang or a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle or a shimmery Monte Carlo. I'm sorry if you did. I had pals with the same problems.
It was the first few years of the amazing eighties, and I was the one with the '71 Pinto. I drove it most, but it sort of belonged to all of us.
My mind travels off and wonders about the ole' Murphmobile every so often. I pray it's resting on a hill, surrounded by big shady oak trees, sweet singing song birds and colorful wildflowers blowing in the warm winds. The Murph was generous, so I'm sure she has donated organs by this time, and it's time for a nice long rest. She gave us adventures like no others, ran out of gas on Gaines School Road more times than I can remember and took my friends and I everywhere we needed to go, with a style like no one else's.
God bless my Pinto, my Uncle Mickey and my parents! Those were good times.