Friday, September 23, 2011

Pasture Cars

Everyone has their favorite pasture car and I am no exception. As far as I'm concerned, our first one was the best.

Standing before it, I was struck with awe and wonder.There in front of me, in all of its regal splendor was our newest acquisition, an Oldsmobile Delta 88. It featured a white top and in ancient times had been gold on the bottom and it was a thing of rare beauty. It possessed all of the newest high tech wizardry that 1970 had to offer. Speedometer. Gas gauge. Lights. It even had a clock. It had a 455 cubic inch V8. But its best feature by an overwhelming margin was that it ran.

It had come to our attention that an esteemed member of society, #4469127 at the nearest correctional facility, was in dire need of some goodies at the prison canteen and was finding funds to be scarce. His pride and joy was up for sale. Being taught from an early age to always help out others in need, my brother and I tapped into our savings account. For the grand sum of $50.00 we became the proud owners ............ well, the owners anyway of the aforementioned vehicle.

We had a master plan for this car. It required foresight, dedication and no small amount of effort and it was immediately put into action. Two holes were drilled in the hood and a set of bullhorns were bolted in place. In 10 minutes it was done and our vision was complete.

With all of the neighborhood kids in attendance at the dedication ceremony, a memorable speech was given and important words were said. If I remember correctly it was something along the lines of, I hope this piece of crap doesn't fall apart the first day. It was christened with a beer that was shattered on the front of the car and then it was pronounced pasture-worthy.

What exactly does one do with a pasture car, you may be wondering at this point? Why are you wondering this, what did you do with your very own pasture car? What? You say you did not have a pasture car? That is a tragedy because everyone should have one at some time in their existence. Well, to the uninformed, a good pasture car has many uses, limited only by your imagination and the amount of room that you have available. We had 24 acres to play with so we were able to use it almost to the fullest of its potential. Here are some of the uses we found for it:

The ideal pasture car will be an excellent brush clearer, able to mow down weeds and bust through brush with little effort. All it requires is a good head start and fearless driver. At first you may find it a bit disconcerting when some of the brush pokes through your window and tries to gouge your eyes out of their sockets as you are smashing through it. With a little practice it is easily ignored and you are able to enjoy the drive. Just remember to keep your foot down on the throttle until you emerge on the other side of the brush patch. Blackberry thickets are always memorable because as you go busting through you get the added excitement of fur and feathers flying as bunnies and birds scatter for safety in all directions.
If there has just been a tropical downpour or if you are lucky enough to have a pond or lake in your possession then you are way ahead of the game and among the luckiest owners of pasture cars. Locate one section of the pond where the water is shallow and you have room to maneuver and then you can practice your Smokey and the Bandit moves. Get going about 25 miles per hour and as soon as you hit the edge of the pond start cranking the steering wheel, turning out of the pond while at the same time nailing the throttle. If timed right and done correctly, the back end will come around and you will end up sliding sideways through the muck, producing wondrous expressions and bright smiles from all occupants. If you're doing some serious pond sliding and you forget to roll the window up first, a wall of tadpoles, mud, and scummy water will come flying in your face, and your bright smile and wondrous expression will instantly become somewhat diminished. If you have a momentary lapse of judgment and turn the steering wheel the wrong way, your pasture car will immediately become a boat. Pasture cars do not make good boats.

Learning proper driving skills and etiquette
The greatest virtue of a pasture car is that it gives you the ability to practice your driving moves in a controlled environment and without legal consequences. Cranking the steering wheel and nailing the throttle will produce perfectly circular doughnuts and vast clouds of dust. Repeated doughnuts in the same spot will produce consternation and shouting from your father, telling you to not tear up all the grass in the pasture because the cows need something to eat. Stupid cows. Going in reverse as fast as you dare and then slamming on the brakes while turning the steering wheel will produce a 180 and make Burt Reynolds proud. Your mom, perhaps not so much. Whilst you're doing doughnuts and one eighties, if someone in the back keeps poking you and insisting that it is their turn to drive, a quick trip into some low hanging branches will likely cause them to duck for cover and re-assess their request. Repeat as often as needed to keep you behind the steering wheel as long as you wish. This hands on driving experience is priceless and sure beats driver's ed.

In our neck of the woods it usually snows two or three times each winter, sometimes not even enough to cancel school and go sledding. Sledding is a wonderful activity and should be enjoyed year round. All it requires is a sled, willing participants, and some sort of vehicle with enough horsepower to pull the sled through the grass. Your brother's dirtbike will not make a long lasting sled puller. The motor WILL burn up and the owner of the motorcycle will become slightly perturbed. A pasture car makes a wonderful sled puller. Our car had enough power to pull multiple sledders at one time. After a while, even sledding may become boring. To keep it interesting, accomplices can help out by making mud pies and flinging them in the direction of the happy sledders as they go zooming by. It has often been said that, when sledding through an area of active mud pie tossing, wearing goggles is a good idea and smiling is not advisable. This is good advice and will keep you a happy sledder for a longer period of time.

The luxury ride
Pasture cars will sometimes, often at high speed deliver a spine tingling and exhilarating ride. It is highly dependent on the suspension your car has and the type of terrain you are passing over. We were lucky. Since ours was a relatively luxurious model and possessed a mushy suspension and our pasture consisted mostly of bumpy terrain, we were good to go. Above 40 miles per hour or so, the suspension cannot keep up with all of the bumps and it gives the impression that you're floating along on air. Which basically, you are. This condition creates an interesting and amusing experience and naysayers might call it dangerous because if you should need to turn to avoid a cow or fence while you're floating along through the pasture, when you turn the steering wheel you will get no response for a few seconds. This could be exciting or alarming, depending on your viewpoint and disposition. Sometimes it is both. Attempting these speeds and maneuvers on uneven terrain requires nerves of steel and is best left to professionals and rednecks with a blood alcohol level above 0.18.

If you happen to have cows, horses, goats, or parakeets that need to be moved from one pasture to another, then a car is an excellent way to accomplish your task in style. Often they can be moved by merely following along behind them, herding them slowly just the way the cowboys did on horseback. Sometimes they need a nudge or a horn honk for motivation. If they require more motivation then a BB gun or some black cats or bottle rockets may deliver just the little extra push they need. I'm quite certain any cowboy of the old west would have traded in his horse for a pasture car in a New York minute.

Learning mechanical skills
At some point every pasture car will cease to move. It will either not run or it will not drive properly. This is an opportunity for a valuable learning experience. It will teach you skills that you will call upon throughout the remainder of your life. Start off with a small hammer, bang, check to see if the problem is resolved, bang again then check again. If the problem persists then move up to a bigger hammer. Same procedure. Bang. Check. Bang. Check. Perhaps you need to move up to a sledgehammer. Little by little, you will learn the appropriate tool for the job. If a sledgehammer does not solve the problem then obviously a new pasture car is required.

If you're getting bored with your pasture car or if you sense it's life is coming to an end then a tree is likely the solution to your problem. Side swiping trees is great sport but is best left to experienced drivers. A tree smacked into at low speed or even in reverse can be a source of great amusement for all aboard. Care must be taken however because at high speed the damage done to your car may be fatal. And you might be scratched also.

Our Delta 88 survived all of the above and met its demise later on in a demolition derby where it placed third and won fifty dollars. It was undrivable after that so we kept the motor and transmission and sent the hulk to the recycling yard and got $40.00 for it. Our pasture car produced an 80% profit for us and taught us valuable life lessons about business.

Pasture cars are not one size fits all. What works well for one person may very well not prove ideal for another. We have found through experience that the cars that provide us with the best service and the longevity we require are the late 60's through 1985 or so large models with V8s. With today's gas prices, a small economy model may serve you better. Don't like foreign cars? This is a good way to get rid of them, one at a time. The only requirement for a successful pasture car experience is a good imagination and a willing driver.

I'm sure that you all have fond memories of your very first pasture car and this story contains no new information. If you are so unfortunate as to not have these memories then you are undoubtedly wondering at this very moment, where may I get one of these wonder machines? What all does it entail? Will I need to be licensed and fingerprinted? Do I need a permit? Does the FBI know about this?

I would like to set your mind at ease.

A wrecker service will often have an auction and is a good place to get a wonderful pasture car. Your neighbor may have one sitting behind his house. The little old lady at church might have one that has been sitting in her barn for 19 years and will sell it cheaply. An incarcerated relative is always a good bet. They are all over the place, ready to be snapped up and enjoyed. All you do is pay your money and drive off, ready to experience joy and thrills and excitement.

What are you waiting for?

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