Pedal to the Metal OR A Letter to Lincoln
Sep 07 2017

Pedal to the Metal OR A Letter to Lincoln

By: Phil LaMancusa

Dear Mr. Lincoln, 

I realize that you have done some really noteworthy things, remarkable things, to say the least. However, those things notwithstanding, I’m writing you today to thank you specifically for another of your great accomplishments: giving us that powerful piece of iron—the Towncar. Somehow, I don’t feel that I’m alone in this thankfulness. Myself, my partner, my critters, and certainly my mechanics love your gift to mankind; also, for the thousands and thousands of satisfied customers who have been graced with this hunk of burning love over the decades, thank you.

We (our little family) share the health, welfare, and benefits of belonging to a 1994 Lincoln Towncar (Cartier model), and we all love it. No, we have not anthropomorphically given gender or name to our Lincoln, for us it’s just “the car,” “our car,” or “the ’94,” but one thing that we do do is worship and marvel at the odometer. You see, Mr. Lincoln, our car (the car) is about to turn 240,000 miles old. To put that into perspective, that means our Lincoln has been around the world 10 times—well, not literally around the world, but you get my drift. 

Here we come, 18 feet long and almost six feet wide, rollin’ down the street in a cloud of chiffon, off like a herd of turtles, on our merry way to take care of business or just goin’ to goof off—us and our critters, bumper stickers and all, going to the park, work, coffee, the bank, making groceries. Windows rolled up because they won’t roll down; FM radio playing the oldies (we also have a cassette player); trunk bigger than some apartments we’ve had, and an engine that just will not quit. We ride like a ship of state past the stares and the looks of wonder.

Most of these 23 years, the car has lived and been driven in New Orleans, and although our fine fine mechanical geniuses, brothers Will and Lenny, have been very very accessible to us, there has not been very much that goes wrong with the engine that would require anything close to a major repair. In fact, Will and Lenny, upon our annual pre-hurricane season check-up, will inform us that the car is in shape enough to take us wherever we would want to go. How about
another spin around the world?

Now, the rest of the car, as you can imagine, has gotten—let us say—mature. Just like Debbie and I—as we’ve matured—find that what was once vibrant and strong can, dare I suggest, get old. The car, should it have disposable funds, would be happy and magnanimous enough to spend whatever money it had at the auto doctor’s for upkeep, maintenance, minor repairs, and maybe some cosmetic surgery, just as we would go for a colonoscopy, Rilke, or tattoo removal. If we could afford the better things that should come with life, we would all (including the car) be “drinking pina coladas at Trader Vic’s and our hair would be perfect!”

 But we can’t, and so we make due. The little things that we humans have had to pass up on get passed up, and we find ourselves living with less than perfect bodies and functions. For us, it’s that sore back, eye glasses update, newer running shoes, professional manicures, and expensive—but not immediately necessary—dental procedures. We run until something tells us that we need to take care of a deficiency that threatens our health and well-being.

Same with the car. The paint job has faded; the push button controls no longer control; we need to fix that crack in the windshield soon, and the air conditioning and heater have been on the fritz for a while. So, how old is the car in human years? 

There’s a simple formula for calculating your car in human years, say the folks at Blue Donut. You take the mileage on the odometer and divide it by the year the car was manufactured. By human age, our car is over 120 years of age. That’s a 17-year-old dog or a 24-year-old cat; we’re talking old here—or actually ... OLD! 

The upholstery is in pretty good shape. There are some small tears in the overhead lining where we carried lumber, furniture, or whatever we could fit inside, which is generally pretty much anything (we did have to tie that big screen door onto the roof, no problem). And, because of the street conditions here, we’ve needed to replace our shock absorbers on a yearly basis. But other than that, the car is in great shape. Oh, there is that small dent on the rear panel where I backed into a hydrant and that crack in the headlight from that really tiny fender bender (don’t worry, they didn’t up my insurance). And did I mention that the safety buckle doesn’t want to stay buckled and that little brake light in the back window? How do I replace that?

So, now here’s the deal: you’ve got to come and take care of this car. After all, what with the age and miles traveled, I think that it would be more than appropriate if you were to come on down here and get our ’94 a complete overhaul so that we can make more trips around the world. How about it? It would be great PR for you. We could take a victory lap around the country, and I can just see us now, on the TV, heading towards Beverly (Hills that is), by way of Washington D.C., New York City, up through Chicago, and down old Route 66—eating fried chicken and drinking RC Cola (biscuits and gravy for breakfast, of course). Us and the ’94; what could be more American than that? Thanks in advance. 

 

Sincerely,

Phil LaMancusa

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