Daisy, Daisy… gave me a ride or two

My affair with “Daisy,” a 1914 Model “T” Ford touring car, started 70 years ago. Every day, in passing, I would rest my eyes on this poor dejected “creature” as she stood staring out, from the protection of a laneway, at the world which had passed her by. Her radiator no longer had the soft gleam of polished brass. Her tires were soft on one side, which caused her to lean as if she was just too tired to care any more. Her side curtains hung motionless and her headlamps, resembling tired and uncaring eyes, were dull and showed no sign of life. The final blow must have come when her owner scribbled “$25” on her windshield!

Eventually, it dawned on me — I would save Daisy and, together, we would explore those far away places I had only dreamed about. It took only a half dozen turns on the hand-crank to bring Daisy back to life, and she trembled and shook violently as if to assure me she still had lots to offer. The $25 dollars quickly changed hands, and Daisy and I drove home to a disbelieving family (I soon learned that people dispose of a car generally because the cost of repairs might be better spent on a newer vehicle). Thus I became a Saturday afternoon mechanic.

Dung that first summer, Daisy was given new piston rings, a valve job and her bearings were adjusted. This gave me confidence, and I was soon driving further afield, certain that Daisy would bring me safely home again — which she always did. In winter, people would put their cars up on blocks — if you didn’t, you had to replace the radiator water with a blend of water and alcohol. If the engine overheated, the alcohol evaporated and the remaining water quickly froze and burst the radiator.

But our summers! These were dreamy days when my friends and I would take a picnic into the country. These were few cars around and we would `discover’ places to wile away the day by a stream — there were no KEEP OUT or NO TRESPASSING signs back then.

On some of the back roads in rural Ontario, road builders didn’t go in for road grading. An outcropping of rock was something you either drove around . . . or over.

In the latter case, just as you approached the crest of the knoll, the engine died from lack of fuel. The gas tank was located under the front seat, and in a steep climb the fuel couldn’t run up to the engine. The solution — back down the hill, turn around and then go backwards up the hill. This was a manageable exercise in daytime, but scary at night as you were plunged into darkness as soon as the engine stopped. Batteries were yet to happen.

I don’t recall the details, but eventually Daisy was traded in. The sentimental side of me would like to think she’s still out there — perhaps even in a museum somewhere.

But I’m happier not knowing.

1998 contest announced

There’s nothing like a deadline to get some attention. In the August edition of CARPNews, we announced the final call for our Auto-Biography contest. We’ve been amazed at the number of entries we’ve received since then — all wonderful stories about eccentric or beautiful vehicles and your memories surrounding them.

So we’ve relented and we’ll continue Auto-Biography throughout 1998. (Editor’s note: If you haven’t yet received acknowledgement of your entry, please be patient — it may mean your Auto-Biography has qualified for next year’s contest!) Our grand prize winner for 1997 will be announced in December’s issue, and will win a unique limited edition CARPNews pen plus a selection of books, CDs and cassettes.

So keep those entries coming in. Send your submission to: Auto-Biography, CARPNews, Suite 702, 27 Queen St. E., Toronto, Ontario. M5C 2M6 or e-mail [email protected].