Austin Healey 3000
I know this story of my first sale of a stereo product is taking a number of twists and turns and please forgive me, today’s will be even a bigger turn. Perhaps it will be the size of a U turn today. But in the end it all pans out and makes sense. I promise.
I had completed the construction of my own console stereo system, a tall, thin wooden box that stood about four feet high. The system consisted of a top-mounted turntable and below it a tubed all-in-one amplifier and below that, a sealed 8″ woofer with a small whizzer cone for a tweeter. I had managed to find some grille cloth to cover the woofer and painted the contraption nicely. It was a beauty and my best friend David was quite envious of my creation. I spent many an hour in my basement room playing records and the stereo (it was actually mono) sounded great.
This must have been a time of acquisition in my life because I had also just acquired the car of my dreams. I had long wanted to be cool and impress the ladies at my high school. As a 17 year old boy there wasn’t much that interested me more than that. I wasn’t a “jock” and had few interests other than my stereo system so the only means of attracting the opposite sex was through a car. And I had my eye on the coolest car ever.
Near the radio store where I bought the components to my stereo system was a used car lot. On this lot sat a red, 1959 convertible Austin Healey 3000. The car was in pretty bad shape. The top to the convertible was gone, the interior wasting away from constant exposure to sun and rain because of it. The doors to this car were frozen shut and required one to hop over them to gain access to the car. The car’s electrical system was only marginally operative, the brake, tail and headlights inoperative. But it ran. And driving that car on a test drive with the dealer convinced me I had to own it.
This particular British sports car has twin exhaust pipes that curved up behind the car and the sweetest sound ever came out of those pipes. As you accelerated through the gears, the sound of the engine through those exhaust pipes, right at the moment where you had to shift into the next gear, was music. Beautiful, throaty, precision tuned music like I had never heard before. Me, in a red convertible sports car would be the talk of the town. What young high school chick could resist?
I bought the car for $500 of borrowed money. It was one of the best moments of my 17 years. I now had my own stereo system, my own red and convertible sports car and I was unbeatable. As cool as they come. Life was good. That is until I started driving the car on a regular basis.
It seems the Anaheim police department took a dim view of cars without brake and tail lights. Go figure. I got pulled over within the first few days of driving and got my first ticket. The officer told me it was a “fix it” ticket which apparently meant all I had to do was fix the problem and they would call it good. That weekend my friend and I hopped under the car and hood to figure out how to restore operation to the brake and tail lights. Oops. Turned out that the previous owner was starting a restoration on the car and ripped the entire wiring harness out of it. Nothing remained. The lights had no wires going to them at all. The car wasn’t just broken, it was completely messed up and I had no clue how to fix it.
That wasn’t going to stop me. Screw it. I drove the car anyway. Turns out the same cop pulls me over again. Of course he remembers me and writes me another ticket, wagging his finger at me. I figured that these fix it tickets didn’t have any teeth behind them. To heck with this guy. Over the next two weeks, the same cop lay in wait for me near the school and every day he pulled me over and wrote me another ticket. I promptly tore up the ticket and ceremoniously threw the crumpled paper onto the passenger side floor where it eventually flew out through the car’s open roof.
In fact, I got 14 tickets for the same offense within a three week period. I threw them all away and simply chose a different route to school where the cop wasn’t laying in wait for me. I had beat the system! Several months went by without further incident. Then the boom lowered down.
Upon coming home on a Friday my mom told me there had been a police officer at the door with something called a warrant for my arrest. She had assured the officer I would show up in court that evening and handle whatever the problem was. My parents had no clue what I had done.
Tomorrow, the trial.