Do you remember that scene in the 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger” when Oddjob ices that dude in the back seat of a Lincoln Continental and nonchalantly drives over to the wrecking yard? He parks and coolly walks away with the corpse still in the back of the car. The mechanical claw comes down, grabs the car and places it in the crushing machine. I watched, horrified, as this 5,000-pound car was reduced to a four-foot square cube. Then a huge magnet picks it up and loads it into the back of a powder blue Ford Falcon. Oddjob drives off like it is just another day at the office. Surely you remember that, right?
Well, what if you want that after you die? I mean to so thoroughly love a vehicle that you request to be placed inside said ride after you no longer occupy this earthly plane and arrange to have a loved one bring it to an auto crusher. A loved one, I presume, because who else would do that??
I briefly toyed with this idea and when I told my 98-year-old mom, the first words out of her mouth were: “Why would you do that? It’s a perfectly serviceable truck. Somebody would like to have it.” I snorted out loud at her pragmatic response. Rather than be put off by the macabre spectacle of my idea and have a rictus of horror spread across her face, she pondered why anyone would waste a perfectly good truck. She’s right of course. As a result, I’ve since changed my mind.
Okay. Let’s agree, none of us is getting out of this thing alive. No one cheats death.
But rather than focus on that at the moment, let’s deconstruct my love for this vehicle; the backstory as it were.
The truck in question is a 1982 Toyota SR5 Pickup, four-wheel drive, straight front axle, tan paint job with an off-white camper shell and chrome wheels. I am the second owner. It’s nothing fancy to look at, completely utilitarian.
There is a famous Top Gear video called ‘Killing a Toyota‘ which only underscores the relentless reliability of this vintage vehicle. They go and go and go… You can’t destroy them by any conventional methods. They may feel little pain if you neglect to keep the oil levels up, but they rarely die, and they have forgotten more about soul than most other vehicles will ever know.
I bought this truck in 2008 from the original owner, who just so happened to be the accountant for our small book publishing company. I approached her with the standard line: “If you ever decide to sell this thing…” Finally, one day, she and her husband said they would do just that. However, it came with a caveat. “We will sell Yota [her pet name for it] to you, but here’s the deal. No haggling. We’ll tell you the price and you either want it or you don’t.”
I was prepared for a ridiculously high price. So, when she said it would cost us $2,000, I nearly fell out of my chair. Where was my checkbook? I actually had the chutzpah to ask if our company could make four monthly payments of $500 and she agreed. I could have said the company wasn’t very flush or that money doesn’t grow on trees, but as our accountant…if ANYONE would know our financial fluidity, it would be her. Still, I think she approved of my frugal response. Even then, this was a more than reasonable price tag.
Once, a couple of years ago, a small gratitude attack washed over me while I sat at a red light. I muttered randomly, “Trukity, Trukity, Trukity.”
Then I thought, Hmm… When I get home, I’m going to check the DMV website and see if that vanity plate has been taken. If ‘Trukity’ was available…
Although this is a four-wheel drive vehicle, I have rarely taken it off-road, let alone rock crawling. I have needed the all-wheel function for snow, but in general, I want to keep this ride forever or as long as there is fossil fuel, whichever ends first.
Trukity has been to the mountains, car camping in grand style.
Trukity works hard in every configuration I could possibly throw at him, including tirelessly moving piles of firewood. A neatly stacked cord was a measure of wealth according to my dad.
Trukity is not the least bit intimidated by his garage mate, a born-into-royalty 2003 Jaguar XKR convertible.
As a working musician, I spent many weekends driving to various locations. Occasionally, the band members would eschew carpooling and we’d take our own rides to the venue. Here, Trukity took me to one very important gig.
I used to keep a sweet old wooden cabin cruiser in the California Delta. There’s a nice island marina (Vieira’s Resort) located on the Sacramento River, and of course my truck was the vehicle of choice to get me to and from my floating bar. Carrying supplies, tools, parts, and coolers, Trukity was no stranger to Hwy 160 in the Delta. I loved motoring through the riverside towns of Locke, Walnut Grove, Isleton, and Rio Vista.
My trusty companion [pre-vanity plates], Trukity, is parked at Coit Tower in San Francisco, having just completed a delivery of books to the tower’s vendor. Afterwards, I took my Border Collie, Scuppers, to the Marina Green to romp with other dogs and take deep lungfuls of salt air. We watched various boats ply the water in and out of the bay, beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
When Scuppers was 14 and had ridden down his last stretch of tarmac, eventually succumbing to the ravages of kidney failure, I drove him to our vet to put him down. I climbed into the back of Trukity with Scuppers and held him gently in my arms as the vet came out to the parking lot to give him the shot. I later buried him in the sheepskin cover of his dog bed, imbued with his familiar smell, and it brought me a modicum of relief. A tool to help me process my grief. Once again, my truck figured centrally in this chapter of my life.
I probably won’t be squished in the back of this ride by a car crusher, thanks to mom’s practical advice. The bequeathing of this ride to my daughter will be part of the closing out of my story but will open up a new one for this legendary vehicle.
Thanks for the memories, Trukity. Next to a dog, a man’s best friend.
© Adam Gottstein, 2021
Adam Gottstein is a native of San Francisco who relocated to the Sierra Foothills in the mid 90s. Traveling back and forth between the City and a village of 100 inhabitants, the Delta was always a midway attraction. He used to keep a boat on Vieira’s Resort Island north of Rio Vista. He might again someday. Now in his 60s, writing might occupy more of his time. Contact, criticism, praise or general confabulatory discourse can start here: firstname.lastname@example.org
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