My first car was a yellow 1974 Ford Pinto.
I was stationed at Ft. Meade Maryland as a Military Policeman and needed to have a car. One of the guys in the platoon headed off to Korea so I bought the Pinto from his wife. I think it was for $600.00.
It’s tough not having transportation to get around on post. Most of the time I can hitch a ride or catch a post bus but it’s still not easy.
Since I was paying installments to the guy’s wife, I didn’t get the title or anything. Being a fresh young kid, I didn’t know any better. I rode around on the original Georgia plates which had expired. I took a few trips out to my girlfriend’s house to hang out, go to the movies, etc. We both had attended Linganore High School, me for my last year of High School before joining The Army. Once when taking her home coming out of Baltimore on 70, we got pulled over by the state police. We’d been “making out” while I was driving so I suspect it was for distracted driving. I was advised to pay more attention to the road and sent on my way 🙂 Her brother had kept the registration for some reason, I don’t recall why.
About 6 months after getting the car, I’d just paid it off and had the title. I was heading off to the DMV to get my plates etc. I’d left Ft. Meade and Odenton and was heading north when I realized I didn’t have the title with me. I stopped to make a left turn intending to pull into the parking lot and turning around. While stopped, I was watching the mirrors in addition to watching for an opening. While waiting, I looked in the mirror and saw a blue car with two broad white stripes coming up behind me. As I saw the rear of the car come up, I pushed harder on the brake and clutch and covered my head with my arms. She hit the left rear of the car and careened across traffic running into the street sign before coming to a stop.
When I looked up and looked around, I noticed the car had died and the spare tire, which was in the rear (it’s a hatch back) had broken the rear seat popping through and pushed the passenger seat up to the dash. The seat back was pushed forward and the tire was sitting on the seat.
I tried to start the car, I don’t know why. It didn’t start so I climbed out and saw that the gas tank cap was off and gas was running down the side of the car. The impact had popped the cap off and spurted some of the gas out of the car and on to the road.
In the aftermath, the car was towed and I was in the back of the police car explaining about the accident. I did get a couple of tickets; no registration (remember, girlfriend’s brother had the registration), out of date plate (which I was on my way to take care of), and no insurance (I didn’t think I could get it since the car wasn’t in my name).
I didn’t tell anyone in the platoon about the accident, figuring I’d just take care of the tickets and such myself. Again, not knowing any better.
My Platoon Sargent found out about it; I suspect now from the police blotter and confronted me about it. He was understanding and very helpful. He went with me to court, of which I was pretty scared. The accident was discussed and at the end, the judge asked me if I’d paid for the accident. I said, “I wasn’t at fault.” They were a little taken aback, I guess they though I was the cause of the accident. I had to pay the no registration ticket but the other two were dropped.
I did go to where they towed the car and picked up my tapes but left the car as it was totaled.
I didn’t get another car for another 18 months.