The stories will be organized by owner/driver for the sake of consistency.
The engine was so worn, the compression was barely enough to keep it running. The high school auto shop teacher was "amazed it ran". When we disassembled the engine, we found that the cylinders were so badly worn, you could slap the pistons around. Although we never tried it, it was probably possible to slip dollar bills between the pistons and the cylinder walls.
The air conditoner was powerful enough to cool a small house. It worked so well that it used to actually freeze water vapor into ice and clog itself up. The 12-cylinder compressor was built by Frigidaire, and it was the size of many small Honda 4 cylinder engines.
The paint job was originally gold. The previous owner spray painted the car with carmine red Krylon. Amazingly enough, it really looked like it was always that color.
I was pulled over for the first time in this car. The officer said he thought I was from Mosquito Control with the amount of smoke the car was blowing out the back.
On one winter evening we scared the living piss out of some local kids who were throwing snowballs at oncoming traffic. I had borrowed my grandfather's red police auxilary light and put it on the roof. When the snowballs came, the light went on and the car went into a parking gear induced slide. We then "patrolled" a bit. Later reports of events that evening placed several youngsters running for their lives up the street shortly after that particular event.
Now, onto the tales and death stories.
The car always ran poorly. It would stall regularly. In fact, it would stall so often that I became a master of a "flip to neutral-restart car-flip to drive" one handed motion. The massive weight of the car made it a fun weapon. I found that it could turn plastic shopping carts into little bits without any trouble. It also was capable of sending neighborhood garbage cans mid-way up people's front lawns. There were also those garbarge cans than unfortunately made their way into the middle of the road and were rendered flat. I ended up disassembling and cleaning the carburetor several times in an effort to make the car run better, which unfortunately only succeded in making it burn more gas. The engine was in such desperate condition that it would run indefinately when you switched it off. Usually flooring the car would flood the engine with enough gas to stop the run-on. Sometimes, though, it would actually accelerate with a noise I can only describe as satanic. On one occasion I was pushing the car out of the garage with one of the mile long doors open. Somehow the door edge caught the wall and tore a four foot long hole. Damage to the door: nil. The final straw that broke the Oldsmobile's back came during an attempt to diagnose the poor running problems. Rob was inside the car, flooring it. I was under the hood looking at the carb. John was at the rear, watching the billowing clouds of blue and black smoke. Rob floored the car for a bit, and then shut it off; then he decided to turn the ignition back on. By this time the engine was spinning down and had pumped the exhaust full of unburned gas fumes. The spark from the ignition set off the fuel, and I saw a huge orange explosion under the hood that had not the hood been there would have been two to three feet long. This was of course accompanied by a thundering explosion. I began to laugh uncontrollably, and John was reeling in pain from the noise. When Rob exited the car, the ground was full of rust chunks that had been shaken loose by the explosion. A quick inspection revealed that we had blown up the exhaust of the car, and turned the normally oval muffler round. The muffler was blown apart like a soda can that had been shaken too much. It was about that time we decided the car wasn't worth keeping.
My second car was a baby blue 1980 VW Rabbit. The car was (illegally) converted from a diesel engine to a gas one. My neighbor and I painted the car black, and it looked pretty good for an old car. It passed inspection several times because the stupid DMV people saw the Diesel name plate on the back and assumed it was a diesel. DUH. The car had a puny 1.5 liter engine teamed with a crappy Weber Redline carburetor (FOR OFFROAD USE ONLY-NOT LEGAL FOR STREET USE) yeah, my ass... anyway it ran pretty well. The lack of power was compensated for by the fact that it retained its low-rev diesel transmission. This meant that while it probably wouldn't have gone any faster than 80 MPH, it had a quick 0-60 time. I could toast any Hyundai or Honda Civic from Old Bridge to Howell and then some. Unfortunately the transmission leaked like crazy and had this nasty habit of soaking clutch discs to the point of disuse. The car also had a habit of wrecking its ignition points in a thousand miles or less. Quite annoying, but to this day I can set the dwell perfectly on a VW Rabbit by mere sight. This car also was the first bass mobile. In a fit of boredom, I managed to build a speaker box for a pair of Radio Shack fifteen inch woofers for the trunk. I had to break the seat to make it fit, but it was worth it. Combined with the incredible power of a Sherwood "180 Watt" amplifier and a Clarion tape deck/receiver, the Rabbit was the black vehicle of much bass. Due to the freakish nature of the engine conversion of this car, it was later called Frankenstein. While I can't recall any major disasters in this car, there were a few minor annoyances. The electrical system of the car was a horrible mess due to the wonderful German engineering of THE BOX. THE BOX was the electrical system wiring component where each wiring harness in the car plugged into. In theory it would have been a good idea, but unfortunately oxidation would set in and the pins would burn up. This forced some drastic measures, like shorting out fuse blocks with screws or cutting wires and splicing them later. When something didn't work, usually a good swift "kick to the box" would get whatever it was to work again. On one occasion I slammed the back of the car into a curb and bent the living shit out of the rear axle. Fortunately, armed with tools, new brake hoses, and a days worth of junkyard labor, we were able to replace it for less than $100. Oh, yes, and if you made a right turn too hard, the carburetor would empty out and it would stall. I sold the car to Rob when he needed cheap transportation after I got my third car...
The third car was a white 1979 VW Rabbit that belonged to Cliff. The car was in immaculate condition and ran like a champ. Were it not for the attack of the rust demons, I'd probably still have the thing. Not much really happened with that car, except for the usual BOX problems, and one day when the fuel pump died. I had to get rid of the car when one day on a trip to school the clutch pedal fell through the floor. The firewall had rusted to the point where it could no longer hold the clutch pedal up, and I had to drive home with no clutch. I sold it to a local guy who somehow fixed it and at last report the thing was still tooling around.
My current vehicle is a 1987 Mazda B2000 pickup. All things considered, it's been virtually problem free. At the time of writing it has 185,000 miles on it, and although it's slower than a rock, loud as hell, and just downright uncomfortable, the damn thing will not die. The rear wheel drive and lack of weight on the rear wheels means this thing is just a blast and a half to drive on ice and snow.