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Otis is dying.

Monday, 25 January, 2010

I, after a prolonged period, nicknamed my 1994 Ford Ranger XLT 2WD with off-road, Twin-I-beam™ suspension Otis. You see, I work overnights and tend to that schedule even when I am not working. It appears that I prefer a quieter and slightly more sinister world. I like to go out at 3:30 in the morning and get things done. That’s when I say to my longtime companion, “Let’s me and you go for a ride, Otis.”

I drove this truck off the lot of Bill Collins Ford [r.i.p. ] with not quite thirteen miles on it. All but a few hundred of the ensuing 165K miles are my responsibility. As is the clearcoat peeling off in sheets, and the brakes which have lasted 123K miles. I am a rather gentle driver, much to the frustration of my infrequent passengers.

This year my truck will require a major fuel-injection system servicing, brakes finally, a clutch job, tires … and none of that will address the corroding chassis, “paint” issues, and the infamous Ranger lean. That is, the truck, like all of its cousins, leans ever so slightly to the left. No one knows why. Perhaps because it was built by the UAW.

Please enjoy Jamie Miller’s Futureman, featuring the inimitable Bill Terry and his music with a special appearance by a less solitary version of your humble narrator. Oh, and the best footage in any media of the vehicle in question.

The bed cap is a full-custom job. It was far cheaper to drive out to the manufacturer and special order it, than to buy one in town. I also got the cap of my desiring which no dealer would carry or order. It’s color, well, was the color of the bottom part of the tape stripe. A massive 2.3l/140 cubic-inch plant driven through five forward gears. Zero-to-sixty time was about thirteen seconds when new. It’s somewhat less today. Driving the rural and suburban highways of Texas in an old 4-cylinder Ranger means knowing where your power band is.

I have a lot of time and emotion wrapped up in that machine. It is the machine I piloted to a new life. It is the machine I piloted while looking at home in the rear-view mirror for the last time. At one time or another all of the women I was foolish enough to love rode in that vehicle. One late night I was meandering on foot through Downtown Louisville, probably on a depression-inspired jaunt. As I walked past the Milner Hotel, I remember thinking that someday I will come back to Louisville and do so driving my own car. This is the car. Part of me always wanted to drive that very “Louisville-built, Ford tough” truck out of Texas for the last time. The same part is screaming that I may well be trapped when that is no longer a possibility.

My Ford Ranger has proved the most trouble-free vehicle I shall ever hope to own and operate. The first time my next conveyance so much as ticks in the parking lot, I will curse myself for not parting with the $7000, which I don’t have and am not likely to find, to fix Otis properly.

As I search for a replacement, prepare for many boring automotive-related posts.

Anybody know where I can find a mid-size or compact station wagon, Texas security system, a.k.a. manual transmission strongly preferred, for under $4200? No Koreans, European brands, or Chevrolets. Vol-Tech has a 745 that makes my heart pitter pat. Wait, no, nothing from Yurp.

Donations accepted.

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