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The Lost Cutlass

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K&R

The Lost Cutlass: My First Car 

        It was 2009 and I was 15 going on 16 and searching for my first vehicle. My parents said I could pick any vehicle as long as it wasn’t too old. One day while riding through town I spotted a car that just struck a chord with me. It was Aqua Blue, two door and had mini quad headlights. I knew nothing about vehicles so I tried to find out what that car was. It was a 1993 Cutlass Supreme. I knew then, that’s the car I want. 

        I searched Craigslist for months and never found one that was in good shape. I began to lose hope at finding one and settled for a Grand Prix. We arrived at the second hand dealer to inspect the Grand Prix and the salesman says “Sorry folks, it sold this morning.” We drove all the way to the city for nothing. On our way home, I searched Craigslist again and came across a 1991 red two door Cutlass Supreme. We were not very far from it since we were in the city so we crossed the Mighty Mississippi and headed into Illinois. It belonged to a old woman who recently passed, 95k miles on the clock. We looked it over and It was in decent shape for being 18 years old. I wasn’t thrilled about it. It didn’t have the quad head lights, wasn’t the blue I liked and it had this digital cluster that was not my taste. I was tired looking at cars and bought it on the spot. Let me sum up the next few years, I FELL IN LOVE WITH THAT CAR!! Cutlass Charlie, I named it. 

         I graduated high school still driving Charlie and she was starting to show her age and the repairs kept getting costly. My parents offered to buy me another vehicle as a graduation gift. I gladly except the offer. I ask to keep Charlie as a project car, not wanting to give her up. My dad says “No, it’s got to go.” I sadly put a For Sale sign in the window of my car.

       A man stopped by my house and said he was looking for a car for his son,who is turning 16. He looked Charlie over and wanted to buy it. With a heavy heart I take one more drive around town and remove my license plate. Before I let the car go I take the owners manual and all the papers as a keepsake. Vowing I will find the car again...someday

      A few years later, I was heading to a construction site to help my dad with a job. Off to the right of the road I see sitting in tall grass Charlie with a for sale sign in the window. My heart started pounding but I was a broke college kid and couldn’t afford to buy it back. The next day I drove by to see the car and It’s gone.

        One day, a few month later,  I was driving through town and pass by our local funeral home and in the parking lot was Charlie. I’m wondering who the new owner is. The next week, it’s sitting in the same spot at the funeral home. A few more weeks later I see it again at the funeral home. I’m starting to feel bad for the owner. Every one they know is dying! One day I was sitting at a stop light and coming down the road is Charlie. Finally, I’ll get to see the owner I thought. The car drove by and to my shock it’s a local Catholic priest, Father Ted. No wonder it was at the funeral home all the time. 

     I got a full time job and a little bit of extra money just burning a hole in my pocket. I miss Charlie so much I began my search for another one. If I can’t have my original car I want one exactly like it but I ended up falling in love with a 90 CS Convertible, Rocket I named it.  In October ‘17 I bring home the convertible and begin working on it. I returned home from the auto parts store when my mom asks me if I had heard the news. 

“What news?” I said

“Father Ted passed away”, showing me the headline on Facebook. 

I hated to hear that. He was a family friend and well respected member of the community but in the back of my mind I thought where is the car? 

         In January of ‘18 , I was asked to come work for our local Assessors office doing some real estate work. I eventually get moved to personal property doing data entry for vehicle tax values. One morning my co worker was showing me how to add and take off vehicles in the computer and the functions of the Missouri DMV website. The Mo DMV website has every vehicle registered In the state of Missouri listed by VIN. Out of curiosity I looked into older tax records just to see if the VIN for my car would still be on file. After a few minutes of searching I finally found the VIN. I immediately ran it through the MO data base hoping it was still registered to somebody. Watching the screen load felt like forever. It was still registered to Father Ted but next to his name was a Transfer on Death, a woman named Bea.

        As the months went on I searched the county trying to find Bea. I wanted to know what had become of my CS after all these years. Everyone I asked knew her but they didn’t know where she lived or knew how to contact her.

      February 12, 2019: The mail had arrived at the office and it was all personal property tax forms. I began sifting through the large tote and select few at a time to start working. I grab the next form to input into the computer and it is Beas form WITH HER ADDRESS! I finally knew where to find her. I immediately  typed it into google maps and she lived only 5 miles out side of town. After work I jumped In my car and set out for her house. After taking a winding road out of town I turned on a old forgotten gravel road that was lined with rusty barbed wire and overgrown weeds. I headed down the road and out from behind a tree as I rounded a corner appeared my CS; sitting alone under a pine tree covered in Sap and mold with flat tires, peeling clear coat, foged  headlights and no license plate. I stopped the car and stared in awe. I finally found it! The memories started to flood and seeing the damage that time had done made me angry and sad. Then the question arose, was it for sale? I wasn’t a broke college kid anymore. 

     The next morning at work I wrote a letter to Bea asking the question if she would want to sell it. The worst she could say is no. Two days went by and my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number. I picked up the phone

“Hello”

“Hello, this is Bea, I got your letter and I have a few questions before we go any further” 

I could tell her guard was up and she was suspicious. I explained to her who I was and we made some family connections and small talk. After a few minutes on the phone she became more comfortable with me and freed up. 

“I’m sorry to badger you” she said “I’ve been In law enforcement for 30 years and now a days you can’t be too careful with people” 

“I understand, do you know anything about the car and it’s condition?” I asked

She let out a big sign and said “Well...not really, Father Ted and I were friends for 20 years. I found the car on the side of the road. He was looking for a car to just drive around town. I’ve never driven it. He started to get sick and he didn’t want to fool with the car anymore so he was going to take it to a junk yard. I convinced him to not do that. I thought it was a cute and neat looking car and I didn’t want to see it scrapped. I just got it because I was the Transfer on Death. I have no plans for it. I just didn’t want to see a perfectly good car get scrapped. If you want to buy it I’ll sell it to you but I would like a fair price. 

“I understand, that’s ok with me!” I said.

We chatted some more and she said “I will get in touch with you later, my brother passed away. I just wanted to call and touch base since I got your letter. Give me a couple weeks  to get some family things worked out and I’ll call you again.”I gave her my condolences and said to take all the time she needed. I wasn’t in a hurry. I hung up the phone smiling, knowing my foot was in the door. 

       Summer was in full swing and I had not heard from Bea. I wanted to call her but with a death in the family you never know how a person is doing and I didn’t want to badger her. I got the courage to call her again but there was no answer. The next day also no answer. I was getting concerned. Finally one day at work I get a phone call. 

“Hello, this is Bea. I’m so sorry I missed your call. My sister passed away a few weeks ago and I’ve been busy with my family” I held the phone speechless. I felt terrible calling her. 

“I’m so sorry” I said “I didn’t mean to bother you. I just wanted to let you know that I was still interested in the car since we haven’t talked in a while.”

“Oh yes, I remembered.” She said” I’ve just had a lot going on. I know you want your car back and as far as I’m concerned it’s yours and I’ll sell it to you. Just give a couple weeks. I have the title and have to have it corrected to my name first” 

“That’s fine” I said “I feel terrible for calling you now, I had no idea. I’m so sorry” 

“ thank you” she said in a trembling voice. “I feel bad for you though too. I know you want this car and I’ve had all this stuff happen to me and I know you’re eager.” I told her it’s just car and I’m in no hurry to get it. When ever it’s a good time just call. 

     As the air began to cool and the leaves change I began to grow more anxious. I had found the car 7 months ago and still had not seen the car up close,only from a distance.

Bea and I exchanged phone calls from time to time just to touch base and talk. She said she was searching for the title but couldn’t remember where she put it. 

      I wasn’t worried about the car. It was behind a locked gate on her private property. One afternoon I was out and about and decided to drive by the car just to gawk. I headed down the road and I began to panic upon seeing the car. There was a dent in the door and the driver window was shattered! I screamed inside! How long had it been busted out! It wasn’t the last time I saw it! Who did this? Some of the interior pieces are hard to find and where I live there isn’t a W body in the junk yard for miles! I got home and immediately call Bea. 

She answered.

“Hi Bea, I went and looked at the car today and I noticed the window was busted out.”

She said “You know I thought I noticed Somethin was different the other day.”

“With the window broke, if possible, I would like to get it out of there as soon as I can or at least put something over the window.” I consernly explained. 

“I know, I know” she said. “I know you want the car and I’m just too sick right now to meet with you. I’m trying my best and I know you’re worried but ,if you want,the gate is unlocked. I don’t mind if you go and look at it and put something over the window.” 

The window had been broken I’m guessing for close to a month. I was nervous. It had been hot and rainy the whole time. I just new the interior would have some damage. 

After work one evening, with her blessing, I grabbed my tool box and the battery out of the convertible and headed to check it out. As I headed down the long barbed wire lined gravel road the butterflies in my stomach began to fly and hundreds of memories began slowing resurfacing. I parked next to the gate, got out of the car, and unwound the rusty chain. Bea told me she didn’t live in the house the car sits at. I walked into the yard surrounded by vehicles just sitting in the tall grass with flat tires and expired plates. There were Jeeps, Tauruses, Sables and utility vans scattered about but sitting in the corner of the fence, parked next to a 88 Blazer, under a pine tree, rested my car, Cutlass Charlie I named it. suddenly every detail of my teen years became clear and car seemed to speak to me in a sickly tired voice, “Hello friend.”

A lump began to gather in my throat seeing the damage that time had done. The car had a zombie like appearance with the fogged headlights, peeling clear coat and caked on dirt. I sat down my things and opened the door. Spider webs woven like streamers began to tear away while the rest of the shattered glass fell to the ground revealing a dusty, dirty, cat hair filled cabin. Besides the dash being slightly curled from the summer sun, the interior was intact down to the cassette player with the keys in the ignition. 

I reached down to open the hood and and it unlatched with a load squeaky moan. I lifted the hood to a oily and dirty 3.1. Once again to my surprise everything was intact. I put the convertible battery in to see what worked and what didn’t. I turned the key and the UB3 dash lit up immediately showing 122k miles. The passenger power window rolled down flawlessly with out any tired noise and the glass was churning in the driver door. The power locks snapped up and down and the blower motor churned out a musty smell form the vent system. I flicked on the lights and the head and tail lights shined through the dirt. Charlie was alive but barely. I popped the trunk to reveal a swamp. Pine needles had clogged the channels and water filled the trunk. I left that day knowing It was a race against time to get the car. I taped a bag over the window and left. 

       It was a week before Thanksgiving and Bea called to talk. She was very ill and in and out of the hospital. 

“Well, have you thought of a price?” She said. 

“I have, I’ll offer you $400. It very rough” I said. 

“Oh my gosh” she gasp. “That’s what I was thinking,$400” 

      So we agreed, $400. Winter was approaching and I told her we should just wait till spring. I didn’t have an indoor place to work on the car and I kept driving by periodically to check on it

      Over the next few months I combed local junk yards searching for parts but they were few and far between. I did manage to find the window. More waiting then, the day came; 

      August 29, 2020: It was hot, cloudy and humid. I finally got to meet Bea and take Charlie home. We did our paper work and I grabbed a small bowl to scoop out the water in the trunk. The water was brown and muddy but submerged were the original jack and tools, starting to rust. The tow truck arrived and he began hooking the car up. With a moan, the car slowly came out from the grave onto the roll back. 

“You know, I’m a MOPAR guy but, I always did think these cars were neat when they first came out” said the tow truck driver. 

“This was my first car.” I said.

“No shit, that’s awesome you found it. And it was still local too!” 

     We loaded the car and headed home. As I drove away, Charlie behind me, I saw Bea standing on her porch watching the car leave just as I had done eight years prior. Only, she was saying good bye to a piece of her friend, Father Ted; not just a car. 

     At home we unloaded the car and the rain began to fall. I taped more bags over the window to keep the water out.

     Seeing the car in the driveway was a time warp. All the memories came flooding back again. I felt as if I should say “welcome home, it’s ok now” It had finally hit me. I set out to find Charlie five years ago and here she was. Let me sum up, I FELL IN LOVE WITH THAT CAR...again. 

       

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Cutlass350


Wow, what a great story!! :)
Congratulations on finding Cutlass Charlie again, Cool!

The story isn't short, but I highly suggest that everyone read the whole thing.
Imho, the details are what make the story unique, interesting, and personal - verses, "I looked for my old car, I found it".

 

4 hours ago, K&R said:

The Lost Cutlass: My First Car 

        It was 2009 and I was 15 going on 16 and searching for my first vehicle. My parents said I could pick any vehicle as long as it wasn’t too old.

 

So, you pick an Olds. :D
Then, your parents kick you out of the house.
You turn to a life of crime and grift ....
Olds story, heard it a million times.
😉



Of course, there's the perfect song... 

Peaches & Herb - Reunited

 

 

Congrats again on being reunited with your first car!  

 

 

 

 

Edited by Cutlass350

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jiggity76

What a touching story!  You painted a very vivid picture of how important this car is.  I believe buying a car is a very emotional thing and owning and taking care of them as well.  So happy you found her again and that you put the work into tracking her down and keeping tabs on her.  It paid off and now restoring your first car can begin!  Very few people can say that!  Congrats Kody and look forward to seeing her get better and better!

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Human

Wow, great story! Seeing the photos brought back some memories. I had an almost identical red '91 CS back in the late '90s, except mine had the luggage rack on the trunk. The 'flash dash' was easily my favorite feature. I hope you can get her put to rights before she deteriorates any further. You should take Bea for a ride in it when you do.

I've never recovered a car I previously owned but I did have one follow me to another town after I sold it. A couple of years after I graduated from college, I bought a 1986 Olds Calais Supreme and left my 1977 Buick Skylark (Nova clone) with my dad to sell for me. I was living in a town about three hours away at the time and about a year and a half later, I started seeing this car on the road that looked a whole lot like my old Skylark. One day, I saw it parked on the street and was able to take a closer look at it. Sure enough, it was my old car. I never did see the new owner to talk with them. Probably just as well.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum was the '94 Olds LSS I had after the '91 CS. I sold it to my best friend, whose idea of maintaining a car was to wash and wax it about once a year, whether it needed it or not and I don't think he even knew how to open the hood nor what to do under there if he did. But whenever something went wrong with it mechanically, he would call me up and complain about it as though I'd sold him a lemon. I got to watch that car deteriorate for about six years before he finally donated it to charity.

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pontiac6ksteawd

Great story, and I could almost picture the events as they happened..

 

Mods.. I dont know if you can edit the OP post, but with the DARK Theme, you cant even see the writing.

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K&R
3 hours ago, Human said:

Wow, great story! Seeing the photos brought back some memories. I had an almost identical red '91 CS back in the late '90s, except mine had the luggage rack on the trunk. The 'flash dash' was easily my favorite feature. I hope you can get her put to rights before she deteriorates any further. You should take Bea for a ride in it when you do.

I've never recovered a car I previously owned but I did have one follow me to another town after I sold it. A couple of years after I graduated from college, I bought a 1986 Olds Calais Supreme and left my 1977 Buick Skylark (Nova clone) with my dad to sell for me. I was living in a town about three hours away at the time and about a year and a half later, I started seeing this car on the road that looked a whole lot like my old Skylark. One day, I saw it parked on the street and was able to take a closer look at it. Sure enough, it was my old car. I never did see the new owner to talk with them. Probably just as well.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum was the '94 Olds LSS I had after the '91 CS. I sold it to my best friend, whose idea of maintaining a car was to wash and wax it about once a year, whether it needed it or not and I don't think he even knew how to open the hood nor what to do under there if he did. But whenever something went wrong with it mechanically, he would call me up and complain about it as though I'd sold him a lemon. I got to watch that car deteriorate for about six years before he finally donated it to charity.

I told Bea I would take her for a ride in it when it was road worthy again. Like I said, she never drove it. It only has 121K miles. It makes me mad to see it neglected like this. When I sold it it was running, driving, clean and the paint was still good! Now look! I am excited to fix it up though. I learned a lot about these cars by working on my '90 convertible and making friends on the forum. Jiggity76 had been a huge help, I cant thank him enough!  

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jiggity76
45 minutes ago, K&R said:

I told Bea I would take her for a ride in it when it was road worthy again. Like I said, she never drove it. It only has 121K miles. It makes me mad to see it neglected like this. When I sold it it was running, driving, clean and the paint was still good! Now look! I am excited to fix it up though. I learned a lot about these cars by working on my '90 convertible and making friends on the forum. Jiggity76 had been a huge help, I cant thank him enough!  

Anytime my friend!  She will be a beauty again no doubt.

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