History, story of our beloved family cars

Warning: This is going to be one of those columns. You know the ones with absolutely no worthwhile purpose.

It will not inform or educate, will not touch on the wealth of history — other than our family — found in every corner of our beautiful island; won’t profile a fascinating Kauaian, successful business or worthy community event.

There have been, and will be, other columns of mine that have done all of that. No, this one is written purely to entertain and hopefully will.

It began as a status on Facebook about the second car my husband Wayne and I ever owned: a 1953 Borgward Isabella. It was funky looking and fun, an embarrassment to teens in our extended family who were always so mortified when they had to ride in it they would duck down and hide so friends couldn’t see them in the car.

Sometimes it was amusing. Sometimes it wasn’t.

Their problem was eventually resolved a while after we bought it when its reverse stopped working and fixing it would have cost more than the $200 we paid for it. So we reluctantly said goodbye to our funky little car as our teenagers clapped and cheered.

Writing about that made me start thinking about other cars we have had during the years we have been married. There were more than I realized and they came in an assortment of colors. Many of them have funny stories, far too many for the space I have here, so I will just share a few.

I said in my status that Wayne’s first car was a 1955 Chevy, but I was wrong. Before we got married he had a green 1957 Chevy with turquoise and white tuck ‘n roll interior. Then he bought the 1955, (the Bondo was free) and put the 1957 engine and the pretty tuck ‘n roll seats into it.

I thought the 1957 was prettier but then I am a green person. I’m sure there was a reason he replaced it with the 1955.

Being a green person worked against me at least twice when it came to painting our cars. The first time Wayne allowed me to chose the color for his beloved 1955 Chevy, I chose a bluish green, which looked lovely in the paint swatch but not so lovely on the car. In fact, it looked horrible.

Wayne didn’t say a word; just shook his head, but still let me choose the color for the next car we painted, a 1960 Impala.

This time even I admit I went overboard. I chose a lime green for this big car. When I saw it after it was done, all I could say was, “uh oh” and wait for the repercussions.

It didn’t take long. Wayne said he would never let me choose a paint color again. And he hasn’t, but all I could think was ”he should have known.” I had painted our living room avocado green in the period when gold, turquoise and avocado were the popular coordinated color set of the day.

We gave the Impala to a brother and the cars rolled in and out of our garage after that: pickup trucks, sedans, station wagons, 4wd vehicles, blue ones, brown ones, black and yellow ones, a light blue Cobra, bright orange Mustang, Datsuns, Dodges, Chevys and Fords. We had them all.

Wayne did have his own paint story fiasco but I am forbidden from writing anything that will embarrass him, so you will never hear this, not from me anyway.

One of our favorite family stories is about the Toyota pickup truck our family had gotten from a friend. I will never forget that day right after Hurricane Iwa. Wayne was fishing and his parents had gone somewhere. My boys were helping their uncle clean up debris from hurricane damage to their home. When they were done, they came over to use the Toyota to haul rubbish to the dump. It wouldn’t start, so they told one of the younger sons and got ready to push the car to kick start it. I was in the house and all I remember was hearing the truck escalate and going faster and was about to go outside and holler at them when there was a loud boom.

He had driven the car backwards, between the concrete porch and sidewalk, right into gramma and gramps house next door.

A water pipe had broken and water was spraying everywhere. The house had moved a couple of inches. I can still see all of us sitting on their porch in horror, waiting for Wayne and his parents to come home.

Mom and dad were fine about it. Wayne wasn’t. Typical of him, though, he didn’t say a word and that said more than anything he could have said.

But the next day he and the boys fixed what was broken and peace reigned again.

The unnamed son had to endure being called Mario Andretti for a long, long time. Now we can laugh about it. It wasn’t in the slightest bit funny back then.

That is our car saga for this week. Today we have a comfortable white Ford Explorer that we have had for several years. It does what it needs to do and takes us where we need to go and is supremely comfortable (well, other than the air conditioning Wayne keeps on all the time.)


Rita De Silva is the former editor of The Garden Island and a Kapaa resident.


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