A Bushel of Lemons


Our family’s history of owning wacky cars goes back to the early days of our marriage. My husband and I learned early what it was to live on a shoestring. That, of course, carried over to owning unique modes of transportation.


One of our first lemons was an Oldsmobile Toronado, nickednamed “The Tornado” by the guy who sold it to us. Did I mention it was cheap?


The Toronado worked fine except for one thing. The horn stuck when the steering wheel turned a certain way. We learned to live with it until I drove it to the newspaper office to get a picture for an ad. When the photographer arrived with his camera, the horn stuck. Our children sank down in their seats humiliated, as the air filled with enough noise to turn heads. It probably didn’t help that their mother was bent over, laughing hysterically.


Then, there was the Chevette which my husband bought for just $50 because he felt sorry for the guy selling it. The Chevette’s paint job was unique: hot pink base, covered with a sparse coat of dark blue. We wondered how many 79-cent cans of spray paint the former owner had used.


Fortunately, we lived on a steep hillside while we owned the Chevette. That little rust bucket provided hours of entertainment for our young teens as they hopped in and let it coast down the hill. Its rusted floorboards proved a blessing, since the children had to drag their feet Fred Flintstone style to get it to stop.


Finally, we sold the little lemon to an optimistic teen for just $50. It wasn’t easy waiting until he left, to jump in the air and do arm pumps.


Through the years we managed to own two Oldsmobile Cieras. Both shared the same quirk. We all knew if we were cruising along and the radio gave out, someone was supposed to give the dash a hard whack.


One day while passing a man driving an identical car, we looked over and noticed he was banging on his dash too. We knew he wasn’t a candidate for anger management classes.


Time fails to tell of the minivan which fell apart at odd times.


The sliding door fell off in our teenage daughter’s hands. After that, our large family had to enter and exit using the driver’s door. The handle on the front passenger door had been torn off by a very strong mountain man and replaced with a piece of wire and electrical tape.


Our teenage son carried on the fine family tradition by owning an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that had been destined for the junkyard.


Our girls named it The Blue Bomb for obvious reasons. It smoked. (Better it, than our son, we reasoned.)


This little treasure had another problem that we were never able to fix. The horn stuck when the wheel turned a certain way. But to a sixteen-year-old boy eager for independence, it was worth the occasional embarrassment.


One day while our teens were waiting at a traffic light in town, a pedestrian started to cross the street in front of them. Our daughter remarked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the horn would go off about now?” You guessed it—the horn chose that moment to emit a steady beeeeepppp that wouldn’t quit. The last they saw of the startled pedestrian, she was sprinting down the street like the winner of the Boston Marathon.


Whenever I see a fine, new car traveling smoothly down the highway, I feel a bit sorry for the owners. As someone who has experienced a large share of lemons, I think it’s a pity those folks are missing so many adventures. I pity rich people; I really do.


Your turn. Ever own any lemons? Tell us about them in the comment boxes below.