1966 Bonneville convertible "Coon Rod"

file photo

Yeah, this is a Catalina, not a Bonneville.. but it's close! The Coon Rod, as my friend Mike Greenawalt affectionately named it, was my very first car. It was not in great shape, I think I got something like 6 months of service out of it. But on a 16-year old dishwasher's salary, the $300 I paid for the car qualifies it as a "real" car!
It had a 389 cu. in. 4-barrel motor, auto, full power, and air conditioning, surely the most sybaritic option one can order on a convertible! Perhaps it's most important feature for a 16-year-old, however, was a huge back seat. :-) Heck, even the front had plenty of room; there was really no need to hop in back for anything short of a home run.
The many years of fetching tools and watching over my father's shoulder (he was a professional mechanic) really paid off on this one, for I had to replace that #$&%ed nylon timing gear within weeks of buying the car. OTOH, it ran a lot better than it ever had, afterwards.
Favorite Coon Rod story; one night after wrestling practice I was elected to give several friends a ride home. Pulling out of the parking lot, I nonchalantly put the top down. Now, understand that this was a January evening with temps below zero, and we were all fresh out of the showers! When my mates begged me to put the top up, I explained that, as wrestlers, we were tough, and they should stop sniveling. I did crank the heater.. <grin> The way the back-seaters' hair blew back and froze into impromptu flat-tops was priceless! ];-)

In the end, it was my taking the "Rod" part of the car's nickname seriously that did it in. Burning oil, with practically no compression left, it was driven to the auto-wrecking yard. As I recall, I recouped $75 of my investment.

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