Denver Bar Association
December 2002
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The Best Car I Ever Had

DBA Historian Dave Erickson reminisces about cars, girls, life.

It was the best car I ever had—a ’57 Triumph TR3 convertible, tan with burgundy leather seats, wire wheels and stick shift. I was in my second year of college and flush with funds. The summer before I worked as an orderly in the OR at Melrose Hospital, in charge of sterilizing surgical instruments, and then with fall, there were new jobs—running a drug store’s soda fountain and the part time sales of luggage in a department store.

The price of the car, $770, seemed high at the time, but it was worth every penny. I was young, tan, fit and blond; the girls shouted "Nice car!" and the sun always shone. We’d take wonderful trips to Cape Cod, with two in the front seats and two in the jump seat, and spend days lounging on the beach and giving the girls rides. Back at school, those of us with sports cars would park them in a line at the front of the parking lot nearest the entrance.

By the end of the year, though, my funds were depleted, and I reluctantly sold my precious car to Art LaBonte for $700 and purchased a blue, two-door, ’52 Plymouth for $50. She was a meager car and didn’t have enough power to make it into the regular lane of traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike. I’d therefore make 100-mile trips to the Boston suburbs, mostly in the emergency lane. We called her "Emergency," or "Emmy" for short, and painted her name on the left rear fender in case I was stopped. But she got old and died, and I finally left her on a lonely street corner under an Elm tree to be buried by a city crew.

For many years after, I thought that what I really wanted was a black Lotus, like James Bond’s, and my obvious longing was jokingly written about by my children in their school essays. I never did get the Lotus and now drive a dark blue Jeep. Like me, it’s old and reliable, with lots of miles and not real flashy. But she’s got four-wheel drive and enough cargo space to deliver the garbage cans to the drop off site on the county road. And the girls—they don’t shout any more.

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