The Mystery of the Labor Day Weekend Car Find

My son and I made a discovery this weekend: a rusted-out shell of a car that crashed in 1957 and may or may not have a skeleton inside.

Or we found a car that a bank robber stole then abandoned in the woods after a high-speed police chase.

Or a busy road once ran near the spot where the forgotten car sits and, years ago, it careened around a corner too fast, flipped onto its top and has lied, undisturbed, until we stumbled across it on Saturday.

There were a hundred different scenarios created by the mind of my 10-year-old on how the old car ended up in the woods, on its roof and seemingly forgotten. There were no engine pieces, no tires or wheels, no headlight assemblies, just the crushed and rusted shell of what I could only guess might have once been a 1950s Chevrolet. My son convinced himself it was a 1960s Cadillac Eldorado. After closely inspecting the car for a good 15 minutes, he excitedly proclaimed that he had found the reason for the crash.

“Dad! I found it! The steering linkage detached from the axle! He couldn’t steer and crashed!”

While it’s doubtful the car suffered some long-forgotten tragedy and certainly has been “discovered” by middle-school-aged boys countless times over the years, that old car sparked a new passion in my son’s already car-obsessed mind.

He wants to tow that shell of a car home, put it in the shop and restore it.

It’s taken most of the weekend, but I think I’ve finally convinced him the car in the forest has passed the point of being restorable. However, now he’s thinking he can scour the Internet and find a cheap, broken car and help me restore it to its former glory.

And maybe he has something there. Maybe a project car inspired by our Labor Day Weekend 2012 find will provide a bonding experience as he enters his teen years. Maybe working to restore his eventual first car will give him a source of pride and an alternative to other distractions and temptations that are sure to arrive as he changes from an innocent 10-year-old to a potentially rebellious 16-year-old.

Maybe that car in the woods will turn out to be the find that inspires a life-long bond between father and son. Maybe it’ll lead to a restoration project, or maybe we’ll just keep trekking out to that car and talking about all the possible ways it got there.

One thing for sure, it’s not the first time, and won’t be the last, that we’ve bonded over a car.

Do you have some fun childhood car memories?


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  1. My grandpa was a farmer from Kentucky who had brough his family north for a job during WWII (he was too old to fight). He got a job as a janitor at Pontiac Motors and continued to run a small farm. He lived simply but did indulge in a shiney new Pontiac every five years or so. I remember his 1956 Starchief because he took me over to another farmer’s place where he bought a piglet, which he put in a sack on the floor in the back. I couldn’t resist the urge to poke the bag, which set off the piglet, which resulted in my putting myself on the package shelf in the back window. (city kid vs. piglet, piglet wins every time)
    Little did I understand what that little building was behind his house. Mom called it the smokehouse, I thought that’s where grandpa went to smoke. That Thanksgiving I learned we were eating little piglet’s ham, which started my evolution towards the dark side. All revolving around a really nice 2-tone green Starchief.

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