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Squalling tires and yelling ‘Woooo!’ helps blood flow, eases back pain

Rusty Rumbler.jpg

Dad’s old truck is a roaring, rusty rumbler since the tailpipes fell off.

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By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Roaring through the neighborhood in my Chevy pickup is lately making me feel like a teenager again. I mostly resist the urge to squall the tires.

My father didn’t have a lot of money, but he managed to keep wheels under his children once we reached legal driving age. With his eldest son, the challenge was particularly steep.

After I had totaled several vehicles, Dad put me in a rusted and worn 1964 International Scout. It was heavy and had a rotten transmission, which meant it was slow and less likely to become permanently disabled in the event of a collision.

With such a dismal driving record, I was fortunate that Dad gave me anything at all to drive. I never complained about the Scout. Months later, he rewarded my grateful attitude with a 1972 short-bed Chevy pickup with four-wheel drive.

It was the last and most stylish year of the Chevy C/K truck series, with a powerful small-block, V-8 engine, custom wheels and a manual transmission. I'm not sure what Dad was thinking. But I did love that truck.

I loved it so much that I managed to drive it for two years without destroying it. I hit mailboxes, grazed guardrails and brushed trees, but it remained operational.

The worst abuse came from popping the clutch to burn the tires. Those big mudders sounded off like a semi coming down a mountain with two trailer wheels locked.

Dad thought the big tires made it hard on clutches. In truth, the clutch killer was me. I managed to melt two of them by burning rubber from a dead stop, and then punctuating that display with a short, clutch-dumping roaster at second gear. We called it “barkin’ ’em in second.”

When the mufflers went bad, I replaced them with Cherry Bombs, a brand of glasspack muffler designed to enhance performance and produce a throaty rumble. I ramped it up to a roar by leaving off the tailpipes.

Now it’s 40 years later, and I’m roaring again through life in a no-tailpipes Chevy truck that my father bought — a 1996 Chevy S10 with nearly 250,000 miles. The V-6, Vortec engine always sounded deep and slightly dangerous. Dad kept chrome covers on the dual exhaust pipes.

During the last year, the chrome and the pipes slowly disintegrated, making the truck louder and louder as the rotting progressed.

It’s now feeling and sounding a lot like my old ’72 with the Cherry Bombs. As a bonus, the vibration is good therapy for my back pain.

The engine is peppy and will even squall the tires if I punch the accelerator during a turn on warm pavement. When one of my teenage daughters is with me, she instinctively yells “Woooo!” out the window.

If that doesn’t make you feel younger, you’re already dead.

Dad’s been gone exactly 10 years this month. It feels good turning a steering wheel worn smooth by his hands.

Sometimes I think I should either fix the exhaust system or get rid of the S10. Or I could order a set of Cherry Bombs and drive that old truck just as far as it will go.

Why not?

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.

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