To set the story in context, Bouf Bouffard had always wanted his Z real bad. Since I met him, Day One of sophomore year, his Z was going to be his baby. So, came Winter 1975. That week, Brian had just lost his final appeal for a CDB he received for refusing to dive in scuba class the morning before he was to fly. He thought he was safe, following the Regs. But he was written up and our AOC threw him to the wolves. Come Friday, Brian’s last weekend before restrictions & cons – my stereo needed to be fixed in Denver, so Brian and I decided to take Gayl and his girlfriend out to dinner at the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant (by Stapleton) in Denver since I was up there. Since the stereo shop closed early, I borrowed Bouf’s Z to take my stereo up to Denver, and Brian would use my Mustang to bring Gayl and his girl to Denver. We would meet up at the Holiday Inn by Stapleton airport and leave from there for the 94th, since I could not be relied upon to find the 94th on my own – and its hard to miss the Holiday Inn by the old Stapleton airport.
Plan in place, I set off for Denver and dropped off the stereo just fine. Running early, I took my time getting to the Holiday Inn. At the time, the exit from I-70 to the road that passed in front of the Holiday Inn came down north of I-70 on the far side of a blind curve at a stoplight-controlled intersection. I missed the green light, so I sat out the light, first in line. The light changed, I waited and started forward. A little way through the first lane, I saw a red pickup truck with a huge forward bumper coming straight at me from the left (driver’s side). I hit the gas, which probably saved my life (along with the seat belt) since the truck hit just behind the driver’s seat right above the wheel. The poor Z went 150 feet sideways and did a complete 180. I gradually got my senses back – first thing I remember is the pickup driver coming up to see if I was OK, and then realizing that my left shoulder hurt really bad. The cops showed up, took our conflicting stories, could not find a witness, and helped the paramedics to help me get out of the car via the passenger’s side of the car.
I went to Denver General, got X-rayed, some sort of pain shot, and a harness for my broken collarbone. I remember telling the hospital to call the Holiday Inn and let Brian and Gayl know I was OK (at the Inn, they were wondering where I was since I was late, even for me.) Finally, Gayl asks if there are any notes for her, and the desk clerk tells her I am at Denver General. They start out for the Hospital not knowing how I am, fearing the worst for me and Bouf’s car. I remember them showing up – I am in no pain, yet. Poor Brian, I told him about the car, and he has never, ever, once said anything about it. What a guy! The car was, basically, destroyed. But his insurance insisted upon rebuilding it, windows blown out, rear drive train knocked off, wheels blown off, whole rear-end crumpled. I am sure it just broke his heart. I still feel bad about it.
Sometime during the winter our senior year, I borrowed Dean Cox’s Firebird because mine was at the dealership downtown getting some work done. I asked one of the doolies in our squadron to accompany me on the way out, and to drive my car back to the Academy while I drove Dean’s back. Being a southern California boy, I had never driven in the snow and ice before, so I was unprepared when turning onto Academy Drive, I hit a patch of black ice. We spun 180 degrees and were stopped by a guardrail which left a huge dent in the rear fender. After the fear and panic settled, the doolie in the passenger’s side turned to me and said, “You’ve never driven where it snowed before have you?” I just shook my head, got out to inspect the damage, got back in, and drove the rest of the way into town without saying another word. When I got back and had to tell Dean, it was the first time as a Firstie that I felt like a doolie again reporting to my element leader in Service Alpha, under arms. What a sorry excuse of a squadron-mate was I.
Carlson wasn’t the only one to have wrecked my car. The reason I asked him to agree to get me a new car when he asked to borrow It, in the event he wrecked it, was because I had earlier lent it to Ric Lewallen, who managed to drive it into a tree . . . I had also lent it to a 2-degree, who also managed to wreck it. I finally totaled that car by driving it over a cliff in northern British Columbia on a PCS from MacDill to Elmendorf.
Mike Roznovsky and I were driving back to the zoo in Roz’s Lotus. Taking a back road to the gate, I asked Roz to “Show me what this baby can do." So he hit the gas and we went screaming down that road. When we got to a curve, known by the locals as a place where cadets crashed on a regular basis, we hit a patch of gravel and spun out, going through a ditch and hitting a fence at somebody’s house. Almost all of the damage was on my side. But to this day, Roz still says I made him wreck his car by goading him into showing me what it could do.
I don’t remember wrecking a classmate’s car. However, my favorite car accident story involved two from CS-25, ‘73. Dave Stonehouse picked up his brand new ‘vette at the end of second degree finals. His roommate, Mike Griffith, had a final that afternoon so Stoney took Griff to get his Porsche 914. They were getting off I-25 at Bijou (an incline) with Griff in front. It turns out that Griff had never driven a clutch before and rolled his 914 backwards into Stoney’s ‘vette before either one was 24 hours old.
John Fritz and I flew to Idaho together to pick up our cars (260Zs). On the way back to the Academy John picked up 2 attractive female hitchhikers. I, naturally, offered to help out but they would not split up. So, he took both of them. :-(
Following at a pretty good rate of speed in the left lane, I noticed a bearded male hitchhiker on the right side of the highway. Ratherthan talk to myself the rest of the way (little did I know) I pulled over and picked him up. Having traveled a good 100 yards past him, by the time I stopped, he ran up, a bit out of breath, and got in the car. I asked him where he was headed to which he did not respond. It did not take long to note he was deaf and dumb (a first for me), he smelled bad (it wasn't just from the run to the car but more like a month or two without a bath). That was bad enough. But, it got worse. In the corner of my eye, I noticed he was catching things, critters, between his thumb and forefinger in his beard and, fortunately I guess for me, throwing them out the window... hopefully, mortally wounded.
As he pointed out on the map I gave him, I gathered he was ‘heading my way' 300-400 miles or so. I was contemplating ditching him at the next exit, but it started to rain. I didn't have the heart to abandon him until it stopped. As I love to talk and knew I had the upper hand in the conversation department, other than the pointing to the map to determine his travel destination and waving both hello and good bye, that was all I remember about our conversation. (August 2008)
Saw a 260Z on the road in Florida a few days ago. It had an “Antique Car” license plate on it.
The group buy of 260Zs was made in Boise, where most of us arrived on Saturday 25 May 1974 (I recall one classmate saying he spent the night in a sleeping bag on the lawn of the state capitol building, adjacent to the dealership, and was awakened when the sprinkler system came on). The dealer and a nearby gas station opened on Sunday to process the 60+ cars. Paperwork done and we were on the road. I was in a two-ship when we stopped for gas at a rural station in Idaho where these photos were taken. They show a total of ten new Zs. I think the attendants and other customers were somewhat bewildered by all the shiny new cars. Apparently everyone ran low on gas at about the same time. (January 2014)
Us and our firstie cars are getting to be antiques…aging gracefully!
Does this make the 240Z, which is the vehicle our classmates would have owned, a Super Classic?
I know of at least one classmate who purchased what I thought was a brand spanking new 240Z in June 1974. But my memory is hazy. Maybe it was a close-out as the new 260Z was on the lot, just introduced. I purchased a new 1974 Pontiac Firebird with a 350 HP V8 and a speedometer that went to 160 MPH. But we never got it above 130 MPH on the flats of I-10 west of Houston for the speed tests. And I would have owned a Triumph Spitfire, as many of us Best Alivers would have, if British Leyland hadn't gone on strike.
We could wear name tags with the same thing on it!
I believe that the "White Stallion" at the end of that row of "Z Cars" was my Datsun 260Z - the 260Z was produced only one year (in 1974), and was basically the same car as the 240Z except with a bit larger bumpers and with a larger engine (which could really be felt "if" one happened to disconnect it's emissions tubing.) I sold my 260Z before I left Kenya in 1981, and I am fairly certain that she is still being raced in the East Africa Safari Rally (as of this past Oct 2013 race). Of course, there she is called a "Datsun 260-ZED." PS: I retire in two-weeks after 42+ years of Federal Service - I sure wish that I had my old White Stallion to drive. Cheers.
Hey, Bill! [Lyerly] Great to hear from you. I bought a used '72 240Z in January 1975 since I was having some legal "issues" that precluded my getting a car earlier. It was a great little car. "Dodie" – named after a girl I had a crush on back then. I bought a 260Z in 1978 and replaced it with a 280Z in 1980. That car lasted me 25 years!
Odd how timelines may diverge but still run parallel. I bought a new 280ZX in 1980, still my favorite.