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Top Ten Ways To Lose Your Muscle Car
(according to a recent poll conducted by Sean Mattingly)

A lot of my high school friends had nice muscle cars. I'm talking about rip roaring machines! The kind of cars that made much noise and made the girls swoon. In high school, my first car represented the first time I had a taste of personal freedom. Freedom to go out on dates, to hang out with friends, to make a personal statement of style. Recently, I have been disappointed in my old pals. As adults, almost all of them have gotten rid of their once-proud muscle cars entirely. Why? Why? I did an informal poll to find out why...

1 reason 1 GOT MARRIED That's the number ONE way to assure your beloved car will end up listed in the For Sale section of the classifieds. Will the prospective wife love your car as much as she does you? Many of my friends have reported that their wives made their rip-snortin muscle cars ENEMY #1 after the vows were said.
2 reason 2 HAD KIDS The wedge between you and your awesome driving machine. There's nothing wrong with having kids, of course. But it almost guarantees you will be trading in that shiny pampered Poncho on a minivan.
3 reason 3 INSURANCE TOO COSTLY Insurance will always be too costly. I have a theory about insurance companies. They have a secret formula for setting rates. Figure out how much the traffic will bear. Then add 15 percent.
4 reason 4 RUST Usually unavoidable here in the midwest states I call the Rust Belt. They salt the roads during winter to melt snow. Salt + water + metal = rustout. It's kinda hard to sit in a car with no floorpans.
5 reason 5 BAD GAS MILEAGE In the 70's and 80's, many of my friends traded in their big powerful muscle cars due to the high price of gasoline. That's a shame, especially when you look at today's relatively low price of gas.
6 reason 6 COLLISION Mostly caused by driving while tipsy. There are way too many people who drive after drinking. I saw too many people in high school who would drink while driving. It's sad.
7 reason 7 STUPIDITY These are the people who say: "I'm so STUPID to have sold that car! What was I thinking? I WISH I still had that car!" (They then smack their own forehead as a form of self-punishment)
8 reason 8 LOST STORAGE We know what happens when Mom and Dad grow tired of seeing that engine-less GTO with no doghouse sitting in the driveway. It's outta here, man.
9 reason 9 FORGETFULNESS I forget how to put this engine/transmission/whatever back together. Instead of asking for help, I'll SELL it quick.
10 reason 10 LACK OF KNOWLEDGE Some people sold their muscle cars because they honestly did not know what a special car they owned. There was a guy who parted out a Royal Bobcat GTO, another who parted out a complete Yenko Camaro, and another guy who put felt flocking all over a Superbird before giving it away. They simply did not know what awesome valuable cars they had.
Got more reasons? Tell me about it here.

Here is some heart-wrenching feedback I got that falls under reason #1: "Gave my 1969 GTO rag to my x-wife in a divorce settlement only to watch her totally fry the engine from stupidity and lack of water. Then on top of that she traded it for a 1969 Super Sport only to watch her fry the engine from stupidity and lack of oil. Then saw her trade the Super Sport in for a Datsun B-210. How do you like this guys? A goat rag to a bitch with a B-210 peice of shit Datsun! Why divorce you ask?"

Todd (TJDLJD@aol.com) has the wife/car situation pretty well figured out. He writes: "#1 If you have or will have kids get something with a back seat. #2 Get something that isnt going to nickel and dime you to death. #3 Let the wife test drive a 4 banger then a V8 and let her decide which she would rather have on those late mornings going to work or to her aid in an emergency. #4 Tell her the autos were in your life before her so to accept you she MUST accept your cars too. (If she says no she will most likely try to control the whole marriage anyway) Just my thoughts, Todd"
Ron Sr (Pontiac389@aol.com) says: "I had a 65 gto during high school -1969- 73, long lost friends still ask about the 65- it was the sharpest car in school. I got married, sold the car to a supposed friend with instructions that if he decided to get rid of the 65 I got first shot. Interior and body was perfect. Car was triple black with vinyl top. To end my sad sad story he let the city tow it away and sell it at auction. I haven't seen or heard from him again. I am now working on a 65 tempest convertible. Thinking about making it a gto lookalike but keeping all old parts to return to stock if I later change my mind."

Jack (jack245@webtv.net) says the #11th way to lose your muscle car is to buy a house. Weekends are spent mowing, painting, etc. Hmm. Jack could be right. How many of us couldn't wait to buy a new house with a large lawn, then later regretted having to stay home and MOW the blasted yard every weekend? There would be no time to work on the car. The only thing that ever gets fixed in the garage is the John Deere!

Don Montgomery (donrm@sr.hp.com) says: "The Year was 1986... I just *had* to have that new computer! The wife says "Sell your car, and you'll have enough money." So - I sold the car for $4000 and spent every penny on the new computer - a workstation quality 286 with 43MB hard drive! Man, I was in business!!! So - I saw the "workstation" in a computer surplus house the other day for $75....and my car? Worth at least $10,000 in today's market. - Sob -"

Someone in the Hansen Family (hansenfam@iowaone.net) says: "Once upon a time my old man had a '66 goat with a 389 6-pack (tri-power) and 4-speed, was a super car, raced it a lot. He says the fastest car in town, but anyway he took it down to the local strip and the stud on the center air cleaner somehow vibrated loose and ate up his brand new engine (imagine what that does to a piston). He got so pissed he got one of the old pistons, slapped it in and took it to the used car dealer and traded it on a '76 vette."

Allen Kleinhenz (kleinhen@swbell.net) called the junkyard to come and get his 1964 GTO convertible after his new neighbors complained about it sitting outdoors. He says: "In 1976 I used to buy my gasoline from an Amoco station about a block from my home. There was a 1964 GTO convertible at the station for weeks and when paying for gas one weekend I asked if the GTO was for sale. The kid said that the car's owner had brought it in for a tune up and they could not get the car to start after they did the work. I said I still was interested and a week later I paid $75.00 to the owner and had the station tow the car to my home. That weekend I started my testing to find that the Amoco mechanic had removed the distributor and put it back in 180 degrees out. I fixed this and drove the car back to station and asked them not to work on my cars in the future. I owned the car for about a little over a year and bought a new house about a mile or two away. My new neighbors and wife wanted all of my cars in the garage and I was reluctant to sell the 69 Chevelle SS or 66 Chevelle SS or my wife's fairly new Monte Carlo so I called a wrecking yard and asked if they could pick up this GTO. When he came I asked if I could put (my) spare parts into the trunk and he told me I could load as much as the car would hold, so I put the top down and filled it with spare parts from various cars. Yes I still kick myself for letting this car go for no other reason than lack of storage space."

In May of 2000, (SHAGAUR69@aol.com) wrote with his own Top Ten List. He says this:
I was reading the ten ways to lose a car, and after losing about seventy or so cars, ( a lot of them GTO's ) I figured out how to keep one.
WHEN SELLING A GTO , JUST SAY NO!!!!
1st: Buy a GTO from the original owner's son, ( see #1 and # 7 on your list ).
2nd: When getting married and future wifie says sell, say NO! It would make a great classic to drive away from the wedding in.
3rd: When buying a house and fixing it up and wifie says sell to buy her custom new window blinds say heck NO, and skip on buying lunch for a month.
4th: When you get that surprise that a little bundle of joy is on the way, and wifie says sell for a baby's room, calmly & nicely say...NO !... and let her know you'll sell it for the child's college tuition. ( you now have 17 years to make a new excuse on how not to sell.....one word for kid.......J O B ).
5th: From this point on, whenever wifie says sell.... do what my dad always did, say; WHAT? I can't hear you, though in case she should make her self heard, say; NO.
6th: If your car gets rusty .... FIX IT.
7th: Lack of Knowledge ...... FIX IT.
8th: If you have kids ........ well you can't fix them, but you can buy them Hot Wheels. Make them love and appreciate cars, and let them drive their mother nuts.
9th: Don't be stupid and trash your car........change the oil, give it a tune up, and try not to wrap it around a light pole.
10th: If you can't follow the above.....you give into wifie.....you've blown the motor, wreck the car, or its in a thousand pieces in your garage......sell it or give it to someone that will love your car ( not the 16 year old down the block whose dad is gonna fix it up like the one he used to have ). Remember....... you can always watch it drive by.
Just remeber TWO little letters can save your car.............NO.

In July, 2001 I received this letter written by a wife who encouraged her husband to KEEP their GTO.
Our 69 GTO sent in by Nancy (icehouse@nni.com) :
"I have been with my husband for 22 years. His 69 Goat was his first car. From the time I started dating him there was always someone, somewhere trying to get him to get rid of his car for many of the reasons stated on your list. In 1980 we decided to totally restore it. We stripped it down to a shell, sandblasted the frame, etc, then repainted everything but the actual body. Went to every junk yard and car show we could find to replace parts beyond repair. We pulled the motor and rebuilt it. I remember spending many nights out in the garage cleaning, sanding, honing and just plain wrenching. Even after our daughter was born. I used to have a playpen out in the garage just for such occasions. $5,500.00 later (all work done by us) it was almost done. All but the body was complete. It looked and sounded great, all but the paint job. There was so much opposition about this car. I fought so hard to keep people from badgering him to get rid of it. In 1988 I was hit head on while driving to a job interview in our Blazer. I survived the crash but it put me out of work for a year. Our income suffered and again everyone screamed, "Sell the Damn Car". I refused. As it took every penny to get back on our feet the car took second place and just sat there. And if that wasnít bad enough, then my husband got Cancer! The thought of selling the car crossed my mind more as finances got worse and worse, but still I refused. Too much work and sweat and I knew how much he loved that car. He went through many operations but finally he was on the road to recovery. In 1996 we were notified that our house was next to a toxic waste dump. We had to move. It was easier to find a place that would take pets then to park the car. We moved from place to place for several years always taking the car with us but never being able to park it anywhere but in a field or behind an apartment. Once someone broke into it and destroyed a brand new console to steal the shifter in it. We finally chained the hood shut to prevent the theft of valuable motor parts. By now the car was suffering again. The elements, environment and critters practically destroyed it. Two years ago we finally got back on our feet and went out on a house hunt. A garage WAS MANDATORY in my book. I passed up many beautiful and affordable houses for lack of a garage. Then it happened. We found it. A cape cod that needed some work but WITH a great 2 bay heated, air-conditioned w/bathroom garage. We jumped on it and got it. FINALLY the car had a home. The car looked very sad and my husband had lost all hope that it would ever start again, but nonetheless it was now safe and protected. It took two years to sort and rearrange our lives. My husband used to go out to the garage and just stare at it. I kept trying to get him to work on it but he kept saying we donít have the money and besides, it sat too long, its probably shot. This summer our best man in our wedding (after getting married, selling HIS beautiful Z28 and regretting it, then getting divorced) came over to see how his best friend was doing (after recently moving back into the area). He thought we had sold the car years ago. The inspiration he created in my husband to try to start it was overwhelming. They inflated the tires, put in a new battery, spark plugs and wires, poured some gas in the carb. and after two hours they turned the key. A few coughs, chugs and pops to my husbandsí amazement it started. We are now in the process of getting her back on the road again. My husband has been so happy. I am so glad I never let anyone talk us into selling this car. I feel that by keeping that car helped to keep that spark alive in him all during his cancer and thank God for best friends. So.. to all those wives and girlfriends out there. Protect what you know will keep your husband happy. It could save his life someday!"
 

In July, 2001 a guy with the email address of NOmepsguy@aol.com said this:
"Sean, After reading the top 10 list I think this could be # 11 for a lot of us. The story starts out sad but has ended happy.
I bought a dark maroon 68 Tempest Convertible (was originally Yellow/Black top and interior) in 1982. I was newly married and my wife actually allowed me to buy it to replace a 69 Firebird Convertible I had to part with. (That's another sad story). I drove the Tempest for 3 years until I decided to enlist in the Air Force. We had recently bought a new 84 Cavalier and we had to decide which car to make the move to Texas with. At the time the exhaust was in need of replacement and I was a little strapped for cash. The bottom line was, I made the mistake of selling it to make the move easier. I advertised it in the Cedar Falls Iowa classified's for $1000, and ended up selling it to a local kid for $800. I thought he would take good care of it. Over the years I have had fond memories of my wanna-be GTO, and after visiting your site last month I decided it was finally time to replace it. I checked the classifieds again, got lucky and found a 69 LeMans Convertible that had been garaged for the last 32 years. All I know is that as I cruise down the road, getting appreciative looks everywhere I go, There must be a Musclecar God that has forgiven me for that mistake I made 16 years ago."
 

Carlton Gross (ctgross@webtv.net) tells us how he lost his first GTO:
"While waiting for orders to cross the big pond to lovely Southeast Asia, I was told by my Lieutenant that I had a month to kill in sunny San Diego and I should make the best of it. Short story - having been married a mere few months I called my bride in Arkansas and told her to sell the goat (my only asset), a '66 4 speed tri-power and fly to California. Moral of the short story? How much is a few more nights of loving bliss worth? In this case, it was $600! We got emergency orders and shipped out nine days later! Here it is, 32 years later. Yes, I still have that lovely bride, and with your assistance bought another '66 Goat September 8, 2001. I am really happy, lucky in many ways, and don't regret any of the above very true short story."

Here's how Lane Browne lost his GTO...   (ADDED 9/05)

Hi Sean,
     I have a 14 year old son and I've been wondering what to get him as a first car. That caused me to reminisce about the first car my dad bought me. I started looking on the internet for it and found your terrific web-site.
     I was 16 years old in 1966. Our family lived in Evanston, Illinois. My dad managed a furniture store in Chicago's, Rogers Park district. There was a Pontiac dealer on Clark Street, near the store. Dad made a deal with the Pontiac manager that benefited them both. The car dealer got a living room full of furniture, at "cost". The "Greatest Father on Earth" got a brand new, 1966 GTO for $2800.00. The sticker price was $3600.00. Premium gas, for its glorious, chrome rocker-covered, blue-painted, 389 cubic-inch engine, was about .28 cents a gallon. The quad-carb resting under a big chrome air-cleaner used lots of it. Eight cylinders converted that petrol into a pleasant rumble until the accelerator was slammed to the floor. Then the secondaries would open up... I'm not sure what was louder, the tortured rubber on the pavement or the low frequency/high amplitude, dual exhaust note. The car had a Hurst 4-speed that was very smooth through the gates. It had a tall chrome shifter with a large black knob on the top. The clutch must have been made by a "Bear Trap" company.
The color was "Martinique Bronze" with a black vinyl top and black interior. It had "Rally Wheels" and thin stripe, Firestone white walls. Radio but No air-conditioning.
I was obsessive compulsive regarding maintenance and cleaning. If I gave people rides in the car they had to take their shoes off before they got in. I worked as a part time furniture mover for my dad so I was able to rent a garage to keep it out of the weather. When I had free time I would work for hours detailing the car.
     I have many anecdotes about that golden "Goat" but what I wanted to write to you about is; another way to lose a GTO.
     Lots of people would question the wisdom of buying a car like that for a 16 year old kid. As it turns out their concerns might be valid.
I was very responsible, worked hard, didn't drink or smoke (Still don't). I maintained that vehicle better than anyone I've ever seen in the last forty years. But...
It was a beautiful summer afternoon, the GTO was about a year old. I was cruising an Evanston boulevard that was devoid of traffic... except for a white, 66' Mustang, fastback. I don't remember the engine size but I found out later that it had three deuces. He sidled up along side the GTO while I sat at a red light. I looked over at the driver, who was apparently a few years older. Without words, the scowl on his face said to my immature,16 year old brain,
"My "Pony" is gonna dust your "Goat"!
When the light turned green, Ridge Avenue looked, smelled and sounded like U.S. 30 Dragstrip on a Sunday. We went off together and it felt like I put daylight between the front tires and the street. (Probably not but it felt that way)
By God's grace we didn't kill ourselves or any pedestrians. But, while we were nose to nose, going scary fast, we both heard a siren and saw a red light flashing in our rear view mirrors. We had passed a plain clothes detective, parked on a corner, as he took his lunch break. He was not amused by teen-age morons and their dueling muscle cars. Nor was Dad, nor the expensive attorney, nor the judge. The judge gave me two choices: Sell the car or spend some time in juvenile detention. I missed the car but I would have missed my freedom even more. It wouldn't have looked good on a resume either.

Anyway, here is another way to lose a GTO: Court Judgement!

Hope you enjoyed this true story, Lane Browne   browne@uschristian.net

PS I have a recurring dream once every few years. I open an old garage door, find a car covered with a dusty tarp.
Lifting the tarp reveals that 1966 Pontiac GTO in perfect condition.
 
 
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