My Dad’s Car
In 1986 during our senior year of high school in Burlington Vermont, my friend Eric and I started a hardcore band — actually more of a punk comedy circus — called That’s Stupid. Burlington had a thriving music scene with a strong and virulent strain of punk rock. We wanted in and the strong DIY ethos of that era of music made it easy. But even we knew that we were so bad that we could not be taken seriously. We
decided we would entertain and make people laugh rather than actually focus on the “music.”
One of our inside jokes was that we changed the name of the group every time we played a show, joking that if people didn’t know it was us they would come back and see us again. People always knew it was us…
One of the band’s many names was My Dad’s Car or MDC — a shameless attempt to confuse our potential audience with the then well-known hardcore band Millions of Dead Cops. Other than a re-lyriced song called My Dad’s Car and a fairly infamous gig with our other guitarist’s 9 year old brother on drums, that iteration of That’s Stupid never was particularly notable to me until this weekend.
This weekend Eric and I decided we would finally turn our attention to our dads’ cars. Notably both of our fathers each had purchased Fiat spiders that they had ceased to use more than a few years ago, both of our fathers had passed away in the last few years, and both fiats were stored currently not running in the Burlington area.
We started with my dad’s car. My father had lovingly purchased the 1608cc 124 Spider in Italy in 1971, but sadly, parked it in our garage in Vermont in 1996, never to be started since.
I decided several months ago that it was time to reclaim the car. Driving up from the Philadelphia area early Saturday morning, I had a lot of big questions about the challenges that the weekend would bring. Could we even get to the car surrounded by years of items in my parents garage? Had the interior or the engine become a haven for rodents rendering it a disaster? Had the floor or body been plagued with the notorious rust that affects this particular vehicle? If we could manage to get to the car, could we jack it up or would we go through the rusty bottom? Once we got the wheels off, would the brakes be frozen, making it impossible to push the vehicle out of the garage so that it could be towed to a mechanic for the engine to be inspected?
I am very happy to report that through what can only be described as divine intervention – thanks Pop – none of these problems materialized. The pictures above chronicle a remarkably successful day:
We discovered that the car had weathered the years remarkably well both inside and out. The largest challenge was that the almost new-when-stored tires had flattened and cracked to the point of being unusable. With some effort we were able to jack up the car, remove the wheels, and to our joy learn that the brakes were not frozen! We took the wheels and four new 165R13 tires that were virtually impossible to find (thanks www.universaltire.com!) to Tire Warehouse where they promptly and effectively (and inexpensively) mounted and balanced the new tires.
We then re-installed the functioning wheels, and with a rush of excitement, rolled the beautiful vehicle out into the sunshine for its first breath of fresh air in 18 years. A quick bath and the car was almost as good as it was when my father had last driven it into the garage.
During our celebratory beer afterward, Eric noted that we could not possibly have understood the future significance of our band’s fleeting name 28 years ago. We laughed and toasted My Dad’s Car.
Our dad’s car.