My husband and I went to Dearborn Heights, Mich. over the weekend to look at a 1965 Corvair Monza for sale. At least I think that's what it was.
When it comes to classic cars, I'm a Mustang gal. Even then, I don't know much about them other than how beautiful they look. I know even less about Corvairs, save for the legendary Nader denouncement. My husband, on the other hand, has done the whole Corvair Convention circuit with his parts-dealing father, and they know this car bumper to bumper.
When my mate approached me about spending a few house mortgage payments on what essentially will become a semi-permanent space hog in our garage, I went along with it 1) to see him happy, and 2) to TOTALLY leverage a tight-lipped, closed-mouth response from him the next time I splurge on something.
Yet the best part came in meeting the family who was selling the car. Ray Nikolai had been a retired GM employee who bought this light blue Corvair to tickle himself pink. He had put in a fiberglass floor and had plans to repaint it, among other tinkering projects that come with classic car restoration. That dream, and all others, came to an abrupt end when Ray died unexpectedly a few months ago.
Ray's large, close-knit family decided to sell the car, even though it would mean losing a piece of their father and grandfather. With five rescue dogs and several other family members young and old to look after, it had to go.
Even through this heartache, this family welcomed two random Ohioans into their lives. We weren't just restricted to the driveway where the car transaction would take place. We were invited into their home and to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, where they are members. We were invited to stay in touch and send them pictures of the car's transformation.
I think we're going to have to name the car Ramona, in honor of Ray and his loving, welcoming family.
I'm sure they will forgive me the other names I'm probably going to end up calling this car when I can't reach the freezer or park the lawn mower.