In the mid-’90s, I moved just outside of Seattle and bought a 1970 Ford F-100 Ranger XLT for $500 cash in hand. I loved that truck. The first night I had it, I drove up to a scenic spot in the Olympic Mountains and slept in the bed under the stars. The engine was in great shape, a 300 straight 6 with mostly original parts. She wasn’t a powerhouse, but she did fine as my daily driver and my bugout vehicle. The only problems were the body, and the mufflers. There was rust everywhere, and someone had replaced the mufflers with glasspacks years ago and the fiberglass was shot to hell, so it sounded like a herd of Hell’s Angels when the engine was running. I mean I would start her up and car alarms would go off on either side of me.

Being in my twenties at the time, cash was short and I had to decide which problem I wanted to solve first. I opted to fix the body to prevent further decay and figured I could live with the noise for a while. I got the bed sandblasted and rhino-lined, and did some bodywork and bondo myself, opting to leave the original sun-bleached avocado (“Explorer Green”) paint in place to figure out another day.

So there I am, driving around in a beat-up truck with a pristine bed liner and an exhaust system that sounds like a fleet of drag racers, with barely enough in my pocket for gas, beer, and groceries, and I start to date. I met a beautiful girl, athletic, smart, pretty. She was perfect, except for one thing. Every time I would swing by in that Ford, she would sit next to me on that luxurious bench seat with that baja-blanket upholstery cover hiding two decades of sins inflicted upon the vinyl underneath, I’d start up that straight six and she would wince and look at me out of the corners of her eyes as those blown glasspacks would proudly rumble their call out to the neighborhood around us.

She gave me an ultimatum one day, told me she wanted me to fix the exhaust and paint the truck or sell it and buy a new car instead. I told her to pack sand and she cleaned out her things from my apartment. I did end up selling the truck a few years later when I moved overseas, but to this day I think about that old Ranger every once in a while. I think about the smell of the cab, the knobs on the radio, the way the gauges looked on the dash, even the crazy green paint. But most of all I think about the sound of that straight six. And I barely remember the girl’s name.