car of the day: el camino
by Michele Christopher

Today's car is the much maligned, often mocked El Camino.

Turtle's story first:

Why were these cars made? They were like for someone who kinda wanted a truck and kinda wanted a lowrider? It doesn't matter. They sold. When i was a kid the only thing I remember about that car was rolling around in it with my very old uncle showing me a glass he got from "Burger King" with the Tasmanian Devil on it saying "Now. Now I am cool". Me being 12 looking at him saying "Dude, no. No you are not"


Thats the car. A 78 El Camino. A car that said "Hey, even thou I'm old I'm still cool. Really. And no matter what you say I'm still get more broads than you . Cause hey, I got an El Camino." It's a mixure of sadness and pain to see a loved one with his head so far in the clouds you could think he saw jesus. But you shake your head and push the soundtrack for "Grease" into the 8-track and watch him groove. I swear. Everytime I hear "She's the one that I Love" another piece of my heart is taken. ooh ohh ohh

Later in life the El Co became a car that we needed. One guy drove to shows. He had the car. We all pilled in the back. A shitty old one. One that made you think this was gonna be your last day alive, but you don't have a driver's license, so what the fuck? The exaust was broke so we all got a free buzz driving around. But he was the only one driving so you kinda have to take it and pray that if you die tonight, at least, if there is a god, at least you will be drunk. If I was gonna go down it had better be on the way home from the Cro-Mags show rather then on the way there.

Hey, I liked the band, ok?

It was like a free high. Kinda like huffing but without all the messy paint on your lips. Don't get me wrong. It was a cool car. But my brain cells paid a price for rolling around in the back of that thing.

Cro Mags - We Gotta Know
Franki Valli - Grease is the Word

And mine:

Come on, man. Really. What was the purpose of this car? Of all the guys I know who had one - and that was at least seven that I can think of - none of them had any use for something that was half car, half truck. One guy thought it was a party on wheels and he would throw a case of beer and a boombox in the back and everyone would pile into the back while he drove around Long Island. But where was the fun in that for him? Sure, everyone looked for Vinny on a Friday night, but he became kind of like the kid that everyone hates but hangs out with anyhow because his parents just put a pool in the backyard. So everyone was like, fuck him and let's use him and let him drive us around. Hey, hell. He had fun. A sad kind of fun but fun none the less. Me, I never went on the Vinny excursions. Even in my wild, daredevil youth, I never thought that riding around drunk in the open cab of an El Camino was a good idea and I was proven right on more than one occasion when one of my drunken friends fell out of the car.


Then there was Dino. Yea, my neighborhood was filled with Italian Stallions. The guy with the macho stance, the Italian horn on a gold chain around his neck, the slicked back hair and monosyllabic vocabulary. And the 78 El Camino. We - being the stoners that we were - didn’t care much for Dino and his wifebeaters and disco music, but he was dating one of the girls we hung out with, so we tolerated him. Sort of. It was more like we sat around watching him and Gloria swap spit and grope each other’s asses through Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, but we spent a lot of that time plotting how to kill him. Or at least destroy his El Camino. If one tear dropped out of his eyes watching that car burn, victory would have been ours.

We ruled against the Molotov cocktail thing, as that whole didn’t work out too well with Mr. Brady’s Chevy. Learn through experience, as they say. So we decided on death by liverwurst. Yes, liverwurst. This kid Bobby had heard that if you stuck something up the tailpipe of a car, it would make the car blow up when the driver tried to start it. Specifically, he heard it with a potato, but we did not have a potato handy. However, we were parked in the lot of my uncle’s deli and it would take only one second of smooth talking to my cousin to get a whole liverwurst out of the store.

So Bobby shoved the liverwurst in the El Camino’s tailpipe while Dino and Gloria were dry humping in the front seat to the beat of some Bee Gees song. When he had squished it in there good, he tapped on Dino’s fogged up window and told him we were moving the party to the park. This was gonna work, dammit. This would be the end of the El Camino and ultimately the end of the Bee Gees.

We waited. What we expected to happen was that the car would kind of backfire and smoke would come out of the tailpipe and maybe...oh, who the fuck knows? We just thought it would fuck up the car good and we’d have a good laugh at Dino’s expense and maybe he would stop coming around. We were young, stupid and stoned. And, apparently, naive. Don’t believe everything you hear, kids. Especially when it comes to blowing things up.

Dino started the El Camino and it kind of sputtered and died. We heard him curse and he turned the key again. Sputter and die. More cursing. Another try. This time he gunned the engine hard. The liverwurst came flying out of the tailpipe, a deadly trajectory of lunch meat headed straight for us. Someone yelled “Hit the floor!” and we all ducked down, trying to dodge the flying liverwurst.

It landed in a messy clump about five feet in front of us. We were rolling around the parking lot hysterical laughing at the absurdity of it all when Dino got out of his car to examine what the fuck just happened. He looked at us, at the liverwurst and back at his car.

He came at us, fists clenched, teeth bared, not at all put off my our laughter. “You fucking fucked with my fucking Camino? I’ll fuck you all up. You fuckers.” My. Such a vulgarian. In truth it really didn't surprise me that every other word out of his mouth was fuck. I mean he was driving a fucking El Camino, for fuck’s sake.

Except he didn’t fuck us up. He went back to his Camino and Gloria, got the car going and squealed out of the parking lot with some Bee Gees song blasting out the window.

Bee Gees? Jesus, dude. If you’re going to drive a cock car, at least get the music right. Maybe if he had Road to Ruin blowing out the windows instead of Night Fever, he wouldn’t have seemed so absurd.

Ramones - Mama's Boy
Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive

On a side note, here is some info on blowing up a car by sticking shit in the tailpipe.

For previous cars, please see the sidebar.

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