So Long Big Red

Well, I’m car shopping again.

Okay, it’s been 17 years since last having said that. But now, Linda and I have no choice.

You see, Big Red, our 2000 Lincoln town car which has served Linda and I so loyally for so long, has been brought to a humiliating end…by me.

First, a little background.

I’ve been a fan of Lincoln motor cars ever since seeing John F. Kennedy using one for his presidential limousine..taking delivery of this highly modified brand new Continental in 1961. It was simply the coolest car in the world and, like Kennedy himself, represented a drastic move away from stuffy old fuddy duddyness to represent  a new generation of Americans: stylish, classy and modern.big red kennedy limo

Then, of course, he was murdered in that same Lincoln in Dallas two years later.

My first Lincoln was very much in the style of the president’s. It was a used Yellow and White 1966 Continental with suicide doors. ( Rear doors hinged in the back and open forward.)

I think we dubbed it “Old Yeller” and drove it for a few years. Next came a 1984 Town Car..bought from Hertz Rental. We liked that one so much that when another came available cheap, I bought it…same year..same color. We named our identical Lincolns Abe and Mary Todd.  Probably stupid as I think of it now..but Linda and I had fun with such classy rides for driving to work.

When both finally gave out, I spotted and purchased a used two year old whiteTown Car at Frankman’s that became known as “White Lightning.” lincoln_bye She succumbed to rust and a faulty heater many years later after serving as back-up to Big Red a two year old Lincoln which I also bought from Frankman’s

We especially loved Red because he never showed his age. We took really good care of him..plus Ford Motor Company didn’t bother to significantly change the body style for at least 15 years.

Red’s ample trunk, roomy leather seats, soft comfortable ride and powerful engine made him the reliable chariot of choice for many, many road trips with our friends, Denny and Joanie Graves as well as several treks to Arizona, California  and Nebraska to spend time with our kids.texas trip packing big red s.f.

big red minnesotaOh, Red gave us a few moments of frustration. Overheating issues in South Carolina, a gear shift linkage problem in Texas and a sputtering engine in Arizona..but all were minor issues..easily and inexpensively repaired.big red texas overheat

Then last Fall, a major milestone recorded enroute to Brookings as Big Red’s odometer  rolled over to 200 thousand miles!  A moment worth pulling off to the side of the road to record.big red turns 200

Friends and family have often asked, “Why don’t you get a newer car?”  Our standard reply has always been we’re perfectly happy with the performance, amenities and look of Big Red and we haven’t made a car payment in years. No small deal when we’re a couple old coots on a fixed income.

But that all changed at the end of the year when I was dropping Granddaughter Ella off at her apartment during a snowstorm. I made the mistake of going down their steep narrow driveway and couldn’t get enough tire grip to drive up and out again. Before calling the tow truck, I thought I’d give it one last try in reverse gear.

Bad Idea.

Red slipped down into the basement entryway of the house next door and I was done for.big red hurt five

big red hurt fourbig red hurt threebig red hurt twoWe opted to drop full coverage on Big Red when he turned 15 so, while covered for damage done to the apartment house, the cost of fixing Red’s badly bruised backside is up to me and he’s at the age and mileage where anything past an oil change would be considered a total loss.

Amazingly, the smashed tail light some how still functions so I have turned to the Red Green manual of auto repair using lots of duct tape to hold what’s left of the red lens in place and am able to drive the old boy until we find a replacement.

But no vehicle can ever replace Big Red and I feel like a pet owner that’s been forced to take his sick old pal to the vet for the last time.

Perhaps I can donate him to the University of Nebraska football team for use as an example of toughness and reliability for the long hall.

After all, the school already has a most fitting slogan.big red nebraska (640x360)

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5 Comments

  1. Say it ain’t so, Doug! Red was a beauty–many times we stored your drum kit in that spacious trunk. Hope that you find a suitable replacement.

  2. “Red’s ample trunk”? In a 2002 movie clled “Analyze That” Robert DeNiro plays an ex-con mobster who takes a job as a used car salesman. Showing a Lincoln Town Car to a customer, he says “Look at the size of this trunk. You can put three bodies in there!”

  3. So sad Big Red is at an end, but what a great car he’s been. I think that trunk was near the size of my first college dorm room! I hope you have good luck finding your next ride. BTW, loved the names Abe and Mary Todd for your matching Lincolns. :)

  4. I loved Abe and Mary Todd too! You had Abe first, and I remember the story about how you took mom to see the “new”, matching car – and you were actually riding in it!

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