Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet "Orange Bird" At 341,000 Miles

In this picture he looks pretty beat up, well worn, and a bit rusty, BUT he was still running and taking me back and forth to Loveland every day to work.  This was almost the end of my relationship with a 1979 Toyota Corolla Deluxe.  But not quite, as he went another 20,000 miles before we parted ways.  John took this picture on January 4, 1995 when I got home from work.  We had heard that Toyota was interested in stories and pictures of very satisfed Toyota owners and their cars.  We entered the contest but we weren't winners.  I guess 341,000 miles is not that impressive to Toyota. 

To me, "Orange Bird" was a faithful member of my family.  Through some tough times and lots of good times, he came through and was dependable to a fault.  It may not be mentally healthy to promote inanimate objects to human status, but "Orange Bird" was an exception to that rule.  He was the best accidental buy I EVER made.  It was only because my 1972 Fiat X-19 was such a lemon that I accidentally met "Orange Bird".  In 1978 I had bought the Fiat on a whim, and like so many other whims, it was not a wise choice, so it went back to Douglas Toyota on 120th Avenue in Northglenn for repair.  I was loaned a 1979 red Toyota Corolla while the Fiat was being fixed and fell in love with it.  After some car dealing I ended up buying "Orange Bird".  I didn't think about buying cars again for another 20 years.

I remember reading a funny story by Erma Bombeck, and she said NEVER name your car!  If you do you can barely make yourself sell it or trade it off.  It is almost like selling one of your kids or other family member.  But, just as she had done, I always named my cars, so I was setting myself up for heart ache when they finally died on me.  But in the meantime they were part of the family. That is if they were good little cars.  Some were real brats, and they had names as well, but not so endearing as "Orange Bird".

Tom, who worked with me in the Lab at Hewlett Packard, once said that was the ugliest car he had EVER seen.  I just laughed and said, "When your pick up has 300,000 miles on it, then I may  agree."  Once Tom asked me if "Orange Bird" was a girl or a boy.  There was never any doubt he was a boy and Tom was surprised that it was a male.  I wonder why he was surprised?  Well, we won't get into female chauvinism right now.

In those many many miles "Orange Bird" never burned one bit of oil,  always started, always got me where I was going.  He had a few tempermental traits, like not liking wet cold weather and maybe sputtering a bit, but once I got to know about it I knew what to do to fix it.  Did he last 360,000 miles without any repairs?  Of course not, but they were usually just things that wear out over time.  The engine sounded just as good at the end as it did when I bought it.  The biggest problem was that the body gave out before the engine did.   Not unlike us human models, right?

Yes, "Orange Bird" will always be spoken of with fondness by me and my family.  He was a good reliable friend until the end.  He has probably been smashed flat and recycled into some bright and shiny new car, but who ever has that little piece of him is lucky.  That car had a heart -- I can guarantee it.   Patj

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