Driving a stick took a bit of getting used to, especially since I usually wore heels, but when I drove my Datsun, I drove the vehicle. Driving up the mountain from Ramona to Julian in Southern California was pure joy.
Initially my little trip was great to go to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. My previous car, a Galaxy 500, was like a boat to drive and maneuver. One day, I crashed into three cars that were trying to park. My journalism professor, Johnny Heard, let me call my dad from his office. He stifled a coughing laugh when I said, “Dad, I hit a couple of cars.”
A really weird thing happened around 2009. I was coming out of Raven Orchard in Julian and my horn started honking non-stop. I was already close to Lake Cuyamaca, so I went into the restaurant.
People ran out and the cook asked what was the problem. “I can’t get him to stop honking,” I yelled over the unpleasant noise. In the 30+ years I’ve owned the car, the horn has never worked. It had an air horn behind the passenger seat that I had as a backrest.
Returning to the orchard with the horn still at full volume, I had to go through the town. I waved like I was in a parade and held up Billy the Boxer’s paw. Finally, my Irish friend Patrick Brady cut the cable and silenced the beeping.
This is where it got really weird. When I came out of the mountain for the second time, I took the scenic route, when the amazing scenery came into view, the car horn began to sound again! I stopped and got out to look at my car at full volume.
Going back to the orchard, my friend googled that there was a backup horn that would activate if the main horn failed. It’s amazing that they both went crazy on the same day. I’ve always wondered if the person in Japan who made my car died that day. The second horn was the car greeting its creator.
One of the best memories I shared with my dad was when he left the Marriott in Mission Valley. He was stunned when he saw the beautifully restored version of that precious two-seater. He laughed and said that he needed it now.
Bright rusty paint to match the original, a new engine and all the bells and whistles – awesome stereo, new seats, carpet, upgraded interior and dash. A Bose stereo was installed and placed in the rear of the coupe instead of behind the seats. The car could and often did fill up with music now.
At 17, when I was driving this car, my long Texas blonde hair turned heads. At 47, people just wanted to take a closer look at my journey. It really was lovingly restored and well worth the 10k spent.
And then I got in trouble with the IRS. My Z was seized and sold at auction. I read that the starting offer would be $4500. The car was 35 years old at the time and we were the original owners. I felt like a part of my family was gone when I lost this heirloom.