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One evening in June 1977, my next door neighbor Conrad introduced me to a friend of his who worked for Bally Shoes. He asked me if I was interested in coming with him on Friday to work at the Manhattan warehouse to help take inventory. He told me that if the manager liked me, he would offer me a job for the summer.

I got the job and got paid twice as much as I expected. It was perfect because I was determined to start my final year in high school by owning my own car.

I knew I wanted a Mopar. I found a 1966 Dodge Coronet 440 with a 318 cubic inch V8, bucket seats and a console. It was faded red with a red interior and had a valve valve in the engine. The guy was asking $ 300 but would take $ 250.

I wanted this car, but my dad suggested that I keep looking because he felt I could find something better. I checked the paper every night and finally found a 1967 Dodge Coronet 500 with shiny red paint, black interior and vinyl top, air conditioning and bucket seats. Instead of a console, there was a friend seat. It also had a quiet engine; the guy wanted $ 200.

I decided I couldn’t live without the console, so I told my dad I was going to get the Coronet ’66. The point was, I needed to borrow a few dollars from my parents, so the decision was made that the Coronet ’67 would be funded, but the Dodge ’66 not. I was not very happy, but when my father explained his reasoning, he was right.

The compromise for the console was to get a car that didn’t need engine work and a repaint, plus it had air conditioning. It was also $ 50 less, which was a hefty sum in 1977 for a teenager, so we went to get the car.

Ten years earlier, Mr. Okulewicz had purchased the new Coronet from Memoly Motors. We arrived to see the car sitting in its yard with no plates and all the neatly typed DMV documents.

We drove the old Dodge home and I had my first of several Mopars. I spent the summer working on the car doing brakes and front jobs and installed a new set of Goodyear Power Cushion tires. I tuned it to run like new.

I also detailed the car and really made it shine. I had paid off the money I borrowed at the end of the summer and ended up driving until my first day of senior year in my really cool Dodge.

After I finished my job at Bally Shoes, I found a job as a storekeeper at Schonfeld Decorators. It was half the money, but it would keep me on the road. I spent the day after Thanksgiving using the boss’s 1976 Dodge Coronet Crestwood station wagon to move items between stores in Staten Island and Brooklyn. There was a lot of stuff and I must have made about four trips.

I thought about what would happen if I destroyed the bosses car. Luckily everything went well, but I ended up in the back and pushed into the car in front of me on my way home from work. My brilliant Dodge has been totaled.

I drove her with the trunk closed until I made arrangements with the insurance company. I had almost $ 600 in the car and walked out with $ 234. I sold the car as is for $ 100.

My mom said more V8 cars! So I replaced this Dodge with a 1968 Pontiac Tempest. It was a boneless car with an OHC6 engine. It had an automatic transmission and a limited slip rear. I paid it $ 200 and it worked great. I didn’t do much about it, and after I graduated from high school my parents gave me my mother’s 1971 Pontiac Le Mans, so I sold the Tempest.

Since then, I have mainly owned Chrysler and General Motors cars and a few Fords. Back then, all you needed was $ 200 to get a really nice car. Oh, how times have changed.

– Michael Gorgia, Staten Island NY

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