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Aubrey Hammack

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The Rag Top Syndrome
By Aubrey Hammack   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Posted: Monday, October 13, 2003

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Article deals with a convertible

It first happened to me in the 70-s. In 1974, upon graduating from college, I went to work for the Mental Health Program in Macon, Georgia. During that time, a co-worker, his convertible, and I served a couple of counties in what was then known as Satellite Clinics.

Quite vididly, as I think back, I remember those hot sumer days and the Volkswagon convertible, which was an off-yellow or creme color. On those Thursdays with the heat soaring down, we would make our visits to the counties with the top down.

That left an impression on me that obviously became one of my golden memories. I don't know how to explain the exhilaration that I felt with my hair blowing wildly all over my head, squinting my eyes because the pressure from the wind on my face allowed it. Although I am not a motorcycle enthusiast, the feeling one gets riding a motorcycle must be similiar. I've heard folks say that you are so much more aware of the elements, when riding in this fashion. That, along with being able to see thngs that you would not ordinarily notice, makes this an exciting way to travel.

The fragrances that are in the air can be more easily sensed, although some of those I could do without.One feels much freer with a topless car. Also, the temperature on a typical Georgia summer day would have to be 10 degrees or more cooler in a convertible with the top down. I think that this type of car creates a certain amount of attention. If you were to ask 10 people if they notice convertibles, they would all probably say yes.

The first time I saw it was in the mid 80s. Glancing through the paper, the add caught my eye. It was a 1971 Karman Volkswagen convertible. After placing several calls, I finally was able to get in contact with the owners. It was a blue superbeetle with a white top. I immediately wanted it. After finding that the motor had recently been rebuilt, I took the plunge.After making the purchase, I became aware that there were several minor problems that I wanted to correct. Of course, one has to have a new set of tires for safety. Second on the list was replacing a ragged radio. My boss, Vincent Nellans had a radio from a Volkswagen van and we agreed on the huge sum of $7.00.

The last two items purchased were a rim for a headlight and a hub for the left front wheel, which the speedometer cable fits through. These two items plus a door handle cost the huge sum of $3.00.These items were purchased in Twiggs County on a Saturday morning. With the temperature hovering at the 100 degree mark, I was given 3 screw drivers as the junkyard owner instructed me to feel free to explore his car graveyard.

 This cemetery must have included 10 to 15 acres of dead cars. After spending at least two hours searching this place, I was extremely tired but happy. As this searching was going on, I wondered who the masters of these once beautiful machines were and if they had mistreated these cars. Were they just cruel owners that had contributed to the deaths of these vechicles? One can have a lot of thoughts when a car cemetary is explored. Why go to all this trouble and not got the a parts place and purchase the parts that your are looking for?

Well, a lot of money can be saved and I'm always for that. But much more important than that is a sense of adventure. What is more fun than searching through a junkyard on a lazy Saturday morning when you have nothing else better to do?However; keep in mind that this mission was not just for any car but for a car that I had wanted for probably 15 years. Sure, my wife called this my new play toy. Of course, the new RX 7 was the car I really wanted but, heck this was not a bad deal no matter how you look at it. And, besides, the old car I'm sure would say thanks if it could talk because it's life has been extended instead of ended.

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