Dad’s bad luck with cars

Maybe it was dad’s European roots, but he was not obsessed with cars like most red-blooded American men are. I barely remember the lime-green LTD that my parents had when I was a baby and toddler. It was the typical late 1970’s gas-guzzling boat. Eventually it broke down and when I was about five or six we went car shopping.

I don’t remember much about the process. What I do know is that we ended up with a new car, albeit the cheapest car on the lot: a white Chevrolet Nova with burgundy-colored vinyl interior. It was a lemon from the beginning. I don’t know if my dad even made it home before the car broke down. When he returned the car to the dealer, the mechanics told him the flywheel had been put in backwards, a very unusual occurrence, according to the technicians. Looking online now, there seems to be much debate as to whether that is even possible. At any rate, after the delay, we were finally tooling around town in our symbol of mediocrity. It didn’t have air conditioning or power controls for the windows and doors. I remember at one point, the passenger side door just wouldn’t open anymore from the inside, so my dad always looked like the perfect gentleman, as he had to open the door for us.

Chevy Nova. Photo: CharJens/Flickr

As I was doing a bit of research for this post, I discovered that our family joke about our dumpy car was not based on fact. I had grown up hearing that the Nova cars didn’t sell well in Spanish-speaking countries because “Nova” in Spanish means “no go.” This site provides a detailed debunking of this urban legend.

Buick Skylark. Photo: McLellan's Automotive History

Well, the Nova proved to be a fairly dependable piece of junk, surviving until I was almost a teenager. My dad made sure to squeeze every last bit of life out of it before it went to the junkyard. He surprised us by getting another car, this time a used one, without letting us see it beforehand. We quickly found out why. He ended up getting a white Buick Skylark with burgundy interior, which looked like a clone of our Nova! I don’t think my mom ever let my dad live that one down.

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