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Memories of the road

Annual title looks at your favorite ‘ride’

LEWISTOWN — The first car I owned — as in, I paid for it and only my name was on the title — was a beat up old 1972 Plymouth Fury III. It was a monster of a car; I used to joke that it was 106 feet long, seated 27 comfortably and its fuel efficiency was measured in gallons per mile. Definitely a pre-gas crisis model.

Not my favorite, but it got me around at the time.

In the early days of my tenure at The Sentinel, I was driving a 1995 Saturn SL1. Sleek and sporty, it was fun to drive and got great mileage. But, like a lot of cars of that era, it was made of plastic and tin foil, and when someone ran a red light and drove over it in a full-sized pickup, the fun ended (and I found out what it felt like to have an air bag deploy in front of me).

I’d probably have to rank that one No. 2 on my list.

Nothing will ever beat the family car we bought when I was at the end of high school, one that became mine when I headed off to the Navy: A 1978 Volkswagon Rabbit.

In Europe it was always the Golf, in Mexico the Caribe. Americans and Canadians knew it as a member of genus Lepus. It was, in my mind, Volkswagon’s greatest contribution to motoring, more so than the Beetle or the various iterations of VW’s iconic bus.

It wasn’t necessarily pretty — especially in Panama Brown, the color in the photo, which I always compared to an orange that ended up in a baby’s diaper (and, of course, the color of mine). It had one design flaw: The aluminum fuel filter mounted above the engine would overheat and cause vapor lock if you drove too fast (of course, something I would NEVER do as a teen).

It, too, was stingy on gas, and its engine ran well under almost any condition (see above for the exception). I learned to drive a four-speed in that car, and most of the vehicles I drove before 2008 had manual transmissions. When it was still the family car, we drove it to California and back (without air conditioning, no less). There was plenty of leg room for the three adults that made the trip.

We went to concerts and sports events in that car. I was able to come home from the naval base in Norfolk regularly because I had that car. I fell in love with the ’78 Rabbit, and fell in love in it — I was driving it when I met the lass who became my first serious girlfriend. We went on many dates in it, and when I see one every so often — there are still a few on the road — I can’t help but feel a flutter in my heart (don’t tell my wife).

Almost all of us — and not just men — had a car like that. A lot of folks still have them.

And we want you to tell us about yours.

This year’s “I Remember When …” special edition is all about your favorite ride. We want your story, your pictures, your memories to share with our readers.

We need them by June 2.

Put in gear and email the information to Lifestyles Editor Jeff Fishbein at living@lewistownsentinel.com, place it in our virtual newsroom at www.lewistownsentinel.com, telephone us with the information at (717) 248-6741 or drop it off in person at our office, 352 6th St. in Pleasant Acres.

I’ll see you on the road.

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