My Story, Part 3

From 1998 to the Present

drive1998 was an excellent year for me. I turned forty, a milestone for any car, let alone for such a one as myself, who could easily qualify for the endangered species list. Changing fashions, plus the desire of the racers in the car community for our wonderful engines have led to our virtual extinction. But, that is the normal way for most cars. Making it to twenty years old is something the great majority of automobiles never do. For me to not only make it, but to be having my horizons opened up so widely at the same time, is a marvel unto itself.

Just after I became road legal, with my new tax tag, inspection sticker and licence plate to prove it, I began to be driven out and about more and more often, for greater and longer distances. The museum is on a huge block, I cannot think of a better word for it, that is ten miles to drive around. Bordered by the railroad on one side and the airport on another, one has to go quite a distance just to be able to drive around it. This became my proving ground. Like a test driver, himself took me out, with great trepidation at first, around this block, to ascertain my handling characteristics. My steering was good, but my front end would need a lot of work. My brakes continued to cause some lurching problems, but they tried, by trial and error to coorect them. All things considered, himself decided my road manners were acceptable and as his confidence grew, the distances I found myself travelling grew, too.

Before not too very long, I found myself parked outside his apartment, a destination that had more resonance for him, of course, than it did for me. Then I started staying overnight, and then whole weekends. He was really enjoying being able to take me places, and I was pretty happy to be out and about again, too.

mmcsaHimself then decided to make another fateful move. He joined the local Mopar club, called Mopar Muscle Club of San Antonio or MMCSA. He had met some members at a swap meet in Fredericksburg the previous year and they seemed like a nice bunch. They have a regular meet in San Antonio on the first Friday of each month at a place called the Pig Stand, which just happens to be the worlds first drive in restaurant. The chain originated in Dallas, Texas, and there are still a few of them left. To start with, he scoped them out using his old, inconspicuous VW, named Spike, incidentally, to find out how welcoming they might be to big old Imperial like myself. Sure enough, the club membership consisted mainly of Chargers, Challengers, Roadrunners and GTX's, but they were open to all Mopars. As I happen to have a very groovy 392 Hemi, I was deemed to be quite muscular, certainly enough to take part in all their games.

The next month we drove down to the Pig Stand. The place was mobbed. Gleaming Fords and Chevies and Mopars. But, everything stopped when we got there. Even among car nuts, not to many even knew what I was, and those that did certainly had not seen an Imperial in a very, very long time. Like Moses parting the red sea, we cut through the crowd who all stood back to let us through. I was given a pride of place parking spot. Himself got out and reintroduced himself to the then club chairman, Wes Pieper. Quite a crowd gathered around me as himself opened the hood and my trunk. Animated gasps of surprise at my size and my engine ran through the assembled folks. God, it felt good. I was taken aback by all the attention, since I by no means looked my best. It was quite an entrance and introduction. I was back in business with a vengeance, now!

. . . more to follow

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•The Imperial: A Brief History•
•My story, Part 1. From my first to my current owner•
•My story, Part 2. From 1994 to 1998•
•My story, Part 3. From 1998 to the present•
•Cracked head woes in 2001•
•Photo album•
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