My downstairs neighbors in Cleveland Heights suspected I was crazy. When they looked out their window to see me hopping around in the snow and undressing, that confirmed it.
In the early ’80s, I was the plowed owner of a 1972 Ford Torino. Yes, plowed. It was one of the cars I owned in a period of my life when I was drunk or stoned much of the time.
It might have been the Torino that drove me to drinking. It broke down frequently and making repairs inevitably proved disastrous. That fateful day in Cleveland Heights was no exception.
Generally, changing a thermostat is a simple operation. Not with the Torino. It probably didn’t help that I was under the influence at the time.
I unbolted the thermostat housing without letting the pressure off at the radiator cap. In those days, I wore cotton long johns. (I wouldn’t discover the wonders of wool until the ’90s.) Hot coolant spewed out like Old Faithful, dowsing my torso.
Panicked at the prospect of the hot green coolant wicking down to my genitalia, I stripped off my clothes on the spot … only to look up and see my neighbors at their window, staring in disbelief.
It gets better.
After going upstairs to change my clothes, I went back to work. I pulled the thermostat housing, removed the old thermostat and carefully applied the gasket cement and gasket. I replaced the lost coolant and got behind the wheel to start the Torino so I could check for leaks.
As I put the key in the ignition, I looked on the seat to my right. There was the new thermostat — still in the package.
This post is part of the Autobiography – My Life in Vehicles series.