I spied a mule!

Spied! 1992 Ford Crown VictoriaSo far my Double Take posts have included photos from recent encounters with noteworthy vehicles; “recent” being the operative word here. The photo you see to the right was taken by me almost a quarter of a century ago.

The interesting part, that isn’t evident in the shot, is that the car would not be introduced for over a year from the date I captured it on film.

[To skip straight to my 1992 Ford Crown Victoria ‘spy’ pics, click here.]

Two whammies before the jackpot
I can’t remember the exact date I took the subject pictures (I apparently had the camera’s date imprint feature switched off) but it was between the end of 1989 and beginning of 1990.

Growing up, my family would occasionally travel to Bullhead City, Arizona to vacation with relatives. Good times. The trip was a few hundred miles, about five hours long, but from early on I loved the desert trek. It wouldn’t take long before I yearned to be able to drive my own car to what seemed the outskirts of the earth.

About a decade later I drove the route in my own car with a friend. Then, senior year, I jumped at the opportunity to do it again. Come the big day, me and a buddy packed up my Trans Am, a 1985 and probably my most beloved former car, and headed out.

An hour or so into it, things were surreal. Civilization was shrinking behind me and the setting-sun was to my back. It couldn’t get better, music was playing, the temperature was perfect for windows down highway cruising and the car was eagerly climbing a long and steep grade. Then calamity ensued.

In a nutshell, without notice my trusty steed lost power and after working my way across two lanes of heavily-throttled-traffic in a rapidly-slowing hulk I pulled onto the dirt shoulder and popped the hood. Next were the flames.

Despite my panicked efforts to stop someone–anyone–to help, no one did. Without an extinguisher, my friend and I could only watch as the flames grew larger in the engine bay. Miraculously, about a minute into the blaze, a radiator hose was melted in a one-in-a-million spot, releasing pressurized water at the heart of the hearth. The fire was out but we were stranded… mind you this was pre cell phone era.

After hitching a ride with a merciful trucker to the summit, we arranged for a tow and walked back down. Thankfully the tow truck that showed was a flatbed. I say that for two reasons.

Besides being generally easier on the vehicle being towed, we got rear-ended on the drive back; my car was spared.

The guy that hit us was being pursued when he slammed into the back of the truck. The impact was hard enough to thrust us into our seats. I never found out his speed when he hit but between the weight of the truck, plus my car, and already traveling at 55 mph, his passenger car still knocked us forward.

We stopped and saw that his car was totaled, but he was fleeing into the desert on foot. He may have fought the law but the law won; they caught him. The truck’s tubular-frame bumper was bent up but it was safely drivable and we managed to make it home event-free, from there.

I was determined to make the trip though, so my parents let me drive my dads Nissan (pronounced Nisin) pickup. That almost turned disastrous when the oil cap was forgotten on the air filter cover after topping the fluids off. I remember my buddy being responsible. His version has me as the culprit.

After a hundred or so miles of baffling smoke signals coming through the shifter-boot during gear changes, followed by another hundred or so miles of white-knuckled, feathered-throttling fearing an engine seizure (after we’d discovered the source), I’d have to say the rest of the trip went like clockwork.

That means we can finally get to that trip’s “jackpot,” the Crown Victoria.

But first, in case you’re wondering, the fire in the Trans Am was found to be caused by fluids spilled in the engine bay–by a service department that prepped the car for the trip. Repairs were made and I was able to keep the car. And, despite a very messy engine bay, the Nisin was fine.

Now, on to the Vic.

Continue to page 2, below.

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