Car Crush

Primarily about my obsession with the 1940 Dodge I believe my grandmother once owned.

Seeking Matilda.

Yesterday on my drive home from work, I glanced down a street near mine and saw the back end of an old car that looked like it could have been a 1940 Dodge pulling away. I used the gas station on the corner for a quick turnaround and shot down the street after the car.

Luckily, the car pulled into a driveway and the owner got out…I didn’t end up on a wild goose chase. I parked on the street, got out and approached him to ask about the car.

It was a 1941 Oldsmobile – not my dream car, but still lovely. The Olds has a longer front end and completely different grill than the Dodge, but a lot of the styling is similar. 

The owner was nice, not at all put out by my following him. He said, “I’ll talk to anyone about my cars.” It was nice to have a little adventure just a few streets over from home! This weekend I’ll go for a walk and see if I can get some photos. In the meantime, here’s a vintage ad for the 1941 Oldsmobile.

1941 Oldsmobile ad

1941 Oldsmobile ad


shopping moratorium

I am going to take a month-long break from buying clothes, shoes, and accessories. And make-up (unless I run out of something crucial like moisturizer and need to replace it). I’ve bought a decent number of new clothes lately, while getting rid of items that were worn out, ill-fitting, or just no longer suited me. But before I buy anything else, I want to get to know what’s in my closet. And hidden away in my warm-weather stash…I’m looking forward to pulling those clothes out of storage this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll put the money I would have spent on clothes/shoes/lipstick into savings toward the 1940 Dodge.

1940 Dodge

1940 Dodge

Shoes will last a few seasons – or years, if I’m lucky. That car…that’s a lifetime relationship. Sign me up.

Searching for the Dodge

In a few months, Tim and I head to Japan for a wonderful trip to visit my cousin. As soon as we get back, I start saving for the dream car in earnest. In a perfect world, I would find a 1940 Dodge that has already been rebuilt to be crazy fast, but still has the original look…not all chopped up. I realize this is highly unlikely.

A somewhat more likely scenario: I find a 1940 Dodge body in Florida, take it to my Uncle Ray in Daytona to work on, then fly down to drive it home. The beauty of my Uncle Ray: he makes things stupid fast. And it would give my car that additional family connection.

Or I just find a car somewhere in the Northeast that runs and realize that I may not get both looks and speed right away. They’re out there, in varying conditions and at wildly varying prices.

I recently discovered this website: which seems to aggregate cars for sale from around the country. Right now it lists a baby blue D-17 in South Dakota for $1500 (needs an engine, radiator, springs, and glass); a business coupe in Alabama for $18,900 (that’s been redone: power steering, power windows, and a 350 Chevy engine); a white 4-door in New Mexico for $7,500 (that runs). The ebay auction ended for a deep blue D-14 business coupe in White Plains, New York for $12,500. That looks like it’s in really good shape and it runs.

This gives me hope that when I’m ready, my car will be out there. We’ll find each other.


A great time at the car show

TPK Banner

That’s me posing. B did a great job on my banner!

We had a great time at the car show yesterday and I actually made a few sales. I consider it a successful first outing. Bernadette and I went early to set up, then Tim and Lucas met us an hour or so later. They all said my booth looked great, but also had suggestions for next time to make it even more eye-catching. I came away with some good ideas. I talked to a few of the other vendors–Tim bought some records from the guy next to us and my mom bought me a book and a purse. Chaos set up next to us with his ’58 Oldsmobile Ninety-eight and great artwork. Throughout the day he pointed out people wearing t-shirts he designed for various car shows, which was kind of fun.

Chaos's car

John Chaos set up next to us.

A little while after the judges awarded the trophies, they were looking for pin-ups to pose with the winning cars. Someone walked by my booth and said, “There’s one!” and asked me to pose with two other girls – I was flattered. So at some point, my picture will be on the 100 Percent Kulture website.

While I spent most of my time at my booth, I did wander around with my mom, aunt and uncle for a few minutes to look at some of the cars. Some of my favorites:

Canary yellow Dodge

This canary yellow Dodge.

I love this shade of blue.

This car was parked right in front of my table for a while until another space opened up.

Our friend Brian's Oldsmobile

Our friend Brian’s Oldsmobile.

Overall, I had a great time. I definitely look forward to doing more car shows in the future–especially once I find Matilda and have my own classic car.

hubcap photo

Tim takes a photo of our reflection in the hubcap of Chaos’ car.

Why my dream car is named Matilda

I’m excited about the car show at Ralph’s for two reasons:

  1. I get to sell compacts at a booth for the first time
  2. I get to start making car connections so when I’m ready to buy Matilda, Tim and I will have an easier time finding her, sourcing parts, etc.

Some of you are  probably wondering why I keep calling this 1940 Dodge that I don’t even own yet Matilda. I name inanimate objects that I spend a lot of time with. I always have. Call me crazy. Beyond that, I like the names I bestow to have some sort of deeper meaning. So here’s Matilda’s story:

Matilda Dodge with her children in the early 1920s.

My dad went to college at Oakland University in Michigan. The school was founded by Matilda Dodge Wilson–widow of John Francis Dodge. One of the Dodge brothers who started the car company. THAT Dodge. Matilda was his secretary. They married in 1907 and had three children before John died of the flu in 1920.  Matilda inherited his share of the company and became one of the wealthiest women in the United States. Five years later, she married lumber baron Alfred Wilson. Matilda did a great deal of charity work, supporting the Salvation Army and numerous arts organizations. She was politically active, serving as Leiutenant Governor of Michigan in 1940 and sitting on the state’s Board of Agriculture. All this earned my admiration.

But what really captivated me were my father’s stories about Mrs. Wilson.

My dad had just started at Oakland when she died and he recalls that the upperclassmen were grief-stricken. The students genuinely liked her. While the university was in its infancy and the dorms were still under construction, Mrs. Wilson let female students live in a wing of the Meadow Brook Hall mansion. She also hosted the students for a party every year on her birthday. The male senior with the highest GPA got to be her escort for the event and she provided him with ballroom dancing lessons so they could dance to–what else? Waltzing Matilda. According to my dad, this was a big deal–students competed for the honor.

Matilda wasn’t just a hard worker who was generous with her time and money. She was fun. That sold me. My 1940 Dodge has been christened. I may not have met my Matilda yet, but I’ll know her when I find her. She’ll be every bit as captivating as her namesake.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

I’m almost ready for my first ever live event, a car show at Ralph’s Diner in Worcester on Sunday. I’ve priced everything, figured out how to display all my compacts and sundries, and procured a cash box and cool swipe thing for my phone so I can take credit cards. The banner that Brazen Bernadette designed for me arrived and looks awesome. I have selected an outfit.

Tim has confirmed that our friend John Chaos of Eldorado Rampage notoriety will be there with his ’58 Oldsmobile 98. We have several other firends who may show up, with or without hot rods. Ralph’s usually has awesome bands in the parking lot during this thing, so I’m looking forward to hearing some good music. I’m also excited about seeing all the amazing cars and starting to talk to people about finding my ’40 Dodge, even though I won’t have the money for her for a while. Building connections now can’t hurt.

On Saturday, Bernadette and I will do a sweep of local shops to see if there’s anything I MUST HAVE for the show, pilfer display ideas, and generally have mischief together.

My banner, merchandise and cash box are all ready to go.

Bernadette is concerned that I don’t have enough stuff to sell. I have no such fear. (I know the photo above is going to alarm her  even more because you can’t see the tote underneath the books or the second one above the cash box, both of which are PACKED). Now all that’s left to do is iron my tablecloth, find a suitable backdrop for the easy-up, and print two small signs. I’m ready.

1940 Dodge Kingsway ad

Budgeting, AKA I really DO want to own that car.

Last week, my husband and I went to the accountant to file our taxes. When I changed jobs last year, I also changed my witholding so we’d have more money up front. Tax time opened the door for a conversation about how we WANT to spend our money and various long-term goals. Our house was built in 1944. Things break. Sometimes big things. We need to be ready.

Retro Reporter’s budgeting blog post offered some helpful tips, and Tim and I had a really fruitful discussion on where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there.

This also got me thinking about the Dodge. Tim and I have always operated on a mine, yours, and ours model with money. We have a joint account for household expenses, then each of us keeps a percentage of our paycheck to spend as we please.  

A 1940 Dodge would please me beyond belief. For a while, I’ve been thinking about the timeline. How soon can I reasonably expect to make this happen? Now that I have a budget and a plan, I know I can save up a decent amount of money within five years–sooner if I save more aggressively or get raises along the way.

Yes, five years seems like a long time. Then I remind myself without a plan and some discipline, that five years could easily be never. For me, it’s worth the wait.

1940 Dodge Kingsway ad

A 1940 Dodge. Going from "someday" to "within five years" feels good.