based on early '60's Mopar Logo

The Road to Lasting Love

He found me in a weather-beaten hovel. This monstrosity they called a barn was my home for the past 15 years and, unfortunately, I was the home for a clan of mice.

I was embarrassed to be seen in this condition. David walked slowly around me, paying close attention to my slightest details. I could tell right away he was pleased with me, even though I was sinfully filthy, and I had a few dings and certainly was not as shiny as I used to be. My maroon leather interior had become hard and cracked. Rust, this cancerous-like mass, had started to take over my left rear panel.

David had a pleasant smile. He was smoking a Swisher Sweet Cigar. Oh, how I love the aroma of a fine cigar. His skin was tanned a golden brown. His hands were strong and calloused. David wore a white T-shirt, which said, "My Final Answer is Mopar." He had a tremendous amount of knowledge about Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth vehicles, which makes up the Mopar brotherhood, and was able to speak intelligently about me. I knew I would be safe with him.

He felt for my latch and popped my hood, examining me from the inside out: every wire, hose, piston and sparkplug. He smiled with pleasure after he finished probing my engine compartment. I must admit I looked a bit rough on the outside, but under my hood I was a well-built piece of machinery. I knew the deal was cinched when he turned me on. It's like I could read his mind-a perfect match! What marvelous plans he had for the two of us.

Yes! It was official. I felt like the luckiest 1965 Dodge Coronet 500 in the state. The barn doors swung open and the sunlight exposed my every flaw. But amazingly enough it only seemed to thrill David even more. Oh, to be accepted for who and what I am.

It felt good to actually roll my Goodyears down the pavement and feel warmth in my engine and bubbling in my radiator. I wished this drive would last forever, but I was eager to see my new home. After all, anything was better than the Mice Motel.

The touch of his hand was tender on my blinker as he steered me into a paved driveway. I was home. Yes, a home with a garage all my own. It was beautiful; I would never forget this day. We sat in the driveway and David revved me up-once, twice, and a third and final time. Then, out of the corner of my headlight, I saw her as she came out the front door. It never occurred to me that he had a wife. How was I to know revving was the way he called her? I was alarmed only for a moment or two, until I looked at how David was swooning all over me.

We spent our first night getting to know one another. David washed me and polished my chrome. He showered me with attention and the days sped by. After a few weeks of bliss, we drove away. Suddenly I sensed he was going to leave me and I panicked, but when we arrived at our destination, I discovered he had my best interests in mind. Winter had started to set in, the days were shorter and the nights were cold and damp. My winter retreat was a spacious, well-heated shop with a state-of-the-art paint booth, halogen lights, a kerosene heater and a lift. He even had my favorite '60s station playing on the shop radio.

The entire winter and spring were ours to spend together. We were inseparable. David would rush home from work, drop his lunch pail, grab a quick bite of supper and head for the shop. Leaving little or no time for her. He stripped my interior removing all traces and memory of the Mice Motel. With a toothbrush, Q-Tips, diapers and Son of a Gun in hand he cleaned every crevice. Beautiful new red carpet now lined my floor.

In preparation for my exterior makeover, he purchased 36-320 grit sandpaper for my much-needed bodywork. The next two months he spent with me repairing and sanding my body. He literally sanded his fingerprints off and his hands started to bleed. What dedication. My showroom color was called Sugar and Spice and Everything White; the once shiny white had faded into a dull ivory. David chose Inferno Red Pearl Clear Coat Metallic for my new paint. He thought it better suited my 500+ horsepower, built 440, 727 torque flight automatic motor. He airbrushed each layer of paint one by one. It was like he could have painted me blindfolded. After sufficient time for my paint to breathe, he carefully wet-sanded me with 2000 grit sand paper. The UPS driver became a familiar face, delivering various parts I had been missing for a long time.

Even though no one could see beneath me, he cleaned and prepped my underside and sprayed black undercoating. His buddies thought his attention to detail had started to become obsessive-as a joke they awarded him a trophy: "King of Undercoating." But this was no laughing matter to David; he was honored.

Spring had arrived-I could hear the sparrows as they built their nests in the rafters above. It was time to leave the shop and return home. I overheard David telling his friend Tom, that he was going to take me to a Show-n-Shine. A real date. I couldn't wait to show my stuff and reveal David's hard work. We pulled into our driveway; he revved me up-once, twice-oh no, I knew what this meant. She couldn't possibly be coming with us. It was practically a perfect day until she opened my passenger door.

"Isn't she beautiful?" David said.

Yes, she replied "it doesn't look like an old mail carrier car anymore and I love this shade of red."

That's what bothers me about her, the total lack of interest. I'm not just "red," I'm "Inferno Red Pearl Clear Coat Metallic." Off we all went to the Show-n-Shine. I wondered why she had to come and be the third wheel. But enough about her.

At the show, I faced stiff competition. Looking around, my self-esteem became shaky and I began to doubt we would even place. I was parked next to a 1969 Hemi Roadrunner painted F-8 Green. But my Inferno Red Pearl Clear Coat Metallic paint was vibrant in the sun. Before I knew it, spectators were all over me; then I noticed the attention was starting to bother the Hemi-with-an-attitude. I turned one headlight toward him and said, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."

Finally it was the moment David and I had been waiting for. Award time. Spectators and participants gathered around in anticipation. But too soon, every class had been called. I felt like I had let him down. The final trophy to be presented was "Best of Show."

The announcer said, "Best of Show goes to a 1965 Dodge Coronet 500." Hey, that was me-we won! "Owners David and Paula Lee of Washougal," the announcer said. Then it hit me ... what? I couldn't believe what I heard. He gave her credit for me. She had nothing to do with me. It was all about us-him and me.

We went home after the show and settled into our life together. I didn't let her bother me too much. It was the start of the car show season and every weekend there was another event to attend, with or without her. My relationship with David grew stronger with each show and my days of uncertainty were over. She'll always take a backseat to me.

By Paula, about her husband's 1965 Dodge Coronet 500

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