How my Car Choose my Wife


Alan Haskvitz

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It’s not unusual for a car to be considered almost a family member. They are given their own names, have unique personalities, and sometimes people spend more time and money on them then their own families. But how many people let their car help select their future spouse?

It happened 35-years-ago. I was just out of college and working as a junior executive for a large financial corporation. It was very stuffy and conservative and so I asked my parents if I could have their Ford LTD until I got my six-month evaluation and a permanent position. The Ford did the trick. No one suspected my hidden agenda.

When my boss called me in to tell me my apprenticeship had been successful I thanked him, walked out the door, threw my tie in the backseat of the Ford, and drove down to the Los Angeles Airport, home of Shelby Motors. There, clustered in the showroom and the garages behind it were Cobras, Cobra Coupes, and Shelby Mustangs. I was a pushover for the salesman. One hot ride in the cool morning mist and I was sold. Realizing my fantasy only took my signature was a wonder to me. The Ford LTD, noble vehicle that it was, gladly sacrificed its residual value for the down payment. I owed $5200, a small price to fulfill a dream. But the best was yet to come. I had a used 1965 289 Cobra in my apartment parking lot

The Cobra was British racing Green with red–yes red-leather seats. It had a Racer Brown cam that made the engine shake the ground. There was nothing better than getting out of work and seeing it sitting there ready to play. Of course, I pampered it and the Cobra soon repaid me by changing my life.

Driving it daily in the bumper-to-bumper traffic or the rain was a chore, as the car had a heavy clutch and wide tries that refused to grip in even the lightest dampness. The top was a joke made with iron rods and a thin piece of canvas. There were no roll-up windows, only plastic inserts for side curtains, and they leaked badly. The side exhaust was so loud I could not hear the radio. The foot wells got so scorching my sneakers melted to the firewall. The car ran so hot that I had to remove the grill and add a scoop for cooling. The Cobra’s Koni suspension was so firm that the car would not sway and I simply skidded it around corners. The aluminum body was so thin people had to be warned not to lean on it because they could dent it with their weight. The wire-wheels would get out of round almost weekly trying to hold the 300 horsepower in check. The glove compartment opened whenever it felt the need. The heater was excellent in summer and nowhere in winter. The cowl shook so much I couldn’t use the rear view mirror. In other words, it was perfect.

What I didn’t realize is that my reputation changed the day I drove it to work. My image as the golden boy of the company ended as the Cobra’s exhaust noise bounced off the underground parking lot’s walls. I owned a sports car. And, worse it was an American sports car. I didn’t have the good sense to buy a Mercedes SL, MG, or Porsche, which at least would have shown some class. No, wonder the Cobra forever lumped me with the Vette crowd–only the Corvettes had air conditioning, windows and power steering. The Cobra was literally driving me out of a job.

On the good side of Cobra ownership was the fact that this car helped me meet girls. It even helped me judge them. If a young lady was more interested in the car –that was a no-no. The car’s rough ride enabled me to judge their ability to endure the pain of childbirth, or worse, my jokes. The Cobra even enabled me to see how generous they were as the Cobra required frequent trips to the gas station where I would see if they were willing to help with expenses. (Actually, I am still waiting)

In the end, the Cobra even helped me find the perfect wife. A hot number from New Jersey moved into my apartment complex. Blonde, blue-eyed, working, and with absolutely no interest in me at all, I knew she was worthy of the Cobra test. I asked her out. She was new to California so I didn’t have any competition. Perfect.

I knocked on her door and she looked right through me. This was going to be tougher than I expected. She agreed to the date because she was looking forward to a good meal. I walked her to the Cobra and waited for her reaction. There was none. I started to perspire. Didn’t they have Cobras in New Jersey?

Now, there are no exterior door handles on a Cobra so I had two choices. I could tell her to climb over the door, which was always interesting to watch, or reach in and open the door from the inside. Her stance indicated that the latter action was required. One turn of the key and the 289 engine barked to life. The side pipes startled her. She wasn’t so confident now. The Cobra was playing its part. She held her short skirt tightly as we drove off. Apparently, she had sat in sports cars before. Damn. I drove to the local drive-in and watched the masses part as the Cobra waddled into the prime parking sport. The carhop brought us the burgers with the usual complaint-there’s no place to put the tray. I made the usual joke, “just hold it for us.” My date looked out into space. Perhaps a hamburger at a drive-in wasn’t her idea of a good meal. Go figure. Maybe I should let the Cobra do the talking. When we left I let the Cobra idle a little so that my date could hear the power and I waited for her reaction. Nothing.

I decided to test her ability to handle life’s fast pace. I took her for a hot ride. Suddenly a stalled truck appeared before us and I was trapped in traffic. This was no way to treat a lady. I saw an opening in the next lane and the zero to 60 in five seconds Cobra leaped ahead. Oops. There was a car stuck in the new lane. I hit the four-wheel disc brakes hard. The Cobra did its stuff. I missed the stalled car by inches. I was embarrassed. Why had the Cobra done this to me? I looked over at my date. She wasn’t there. I looked again. Yes, she was. She had just slid down the footwell tunnel. There was no seat belt on the passenger side and the red leather seat did little to hold her.

All I could see was the top of her head. She crawled up and repositioned herself in the seat. I waited for the verbal attack. She never said a word. No complaining about the idiot driver. Not a word about the brutal ride. She was perfect. We’re still married. The Cobra had done its job and helped me select the perfect wife.

The Cobra taught me everything that it could before I let it go. It taught me not to prejudge people by what they look like or drive as others had done to me. It taught me to appreciate evenhandedness when racing and in life. It taught me the joy of driving and the wonders of the open road. Finally, its sale gave me the funds to travel the world and awake my senses to a planet full of wonder and discovery. And, it helped me find my wife, and a joy she is every (week) day.