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Congratulations to Jane Clyburn of Lugoff, South Carolina, who won the “Cars from a Marriage” iPod nano contest by giving us the best story about love and cars. She requested a purple nano and that’s what she’s getting. Thanks to all 34 people who entered the contest and helped make my fan page a fun destination the past six weeks. Here’s Jane’s story:

When I started dating my “ex- husband” he didn’t even have a license (he was a year younger than me) Once he got his license, we dated in a 59 wing tailed Chevy. Well, that car did not like me. No, I’m not kidding. I remember two particular times… the first, we had gone to the drive in. We got there early so we turned off the car waiting on the ticket office to open. When it did and we went to go in, the car would not start. He tried a number of times before he looked at me and asked me to get out of the car. It immediately started and I got back in. The second time was at the dump (lovely place to be stalled) After a number of tries, he, once again, looked at me, I got out, and the dang car started immediately. I can’t remember how we discovered this to start with, but it obviously got used to me. The day we got married, we used it as our “get away car”. It started immediately. AND it was in this car that I got my diamond.

Thanks to our judge Katie Kerwin, who became an accidental auto journalist in 1992. While minding her own (financial reporting) business in southern California, Business Week magazine decided she’d make a dandy Detroit bureau chief—because she grew up in the Motor City. Despite her upbringing, Katie did not have gasoline flowing in her veins and could not rebuild the transmission on a 1963 Chevy.

But during a dozen years as Detroit bureau chief, she learned a lot about the design, engineering and marketing of cars, although she still prefers to pay someone else to change her oil. These she edits a web-based industry publication, AutoBeat Daily, and drives a 2009 Ford Escape hybrid.

Katie was kind enough to give a shout out to some of the entries that didn’t quite rise to Clyburn’s level.

Runners-up:

K.B.K. My husband had a ’93 Mercedes 500SL convertible/hardtop that was his baby. We bought it used from my old boss, and got a great deal on it. We needed another car, because we gave our son my husband’s previous car when he graduated from college. I’m not a convertible, 2 seater kind of girl, but I always thought that if he had to choose between me and the car, the car would win. It’s the only car he ever made room in our garage for. Long story short, our kids were getting older, and we had 2 grandchildren. It wasn’t a grandchild car. He knew I wanted a 4 door sedan, but I didn’t push it, since that car was the love of his life. He pulled in to the driveway 7/2/07 with a Mercedes sedan. He had traded in his car to get me one I could drive my grandsons around in safely. Now that we’ve retired to North Myrtle Beach from Maryland, and away from the kids – I have to say I miss that car. I’ll never tell him that though. It was true love for him to do that for me.

L.H.Z. When my husband and I got married, I had a 1979 Trans Am, which he adored (he swears not as much as he adored me, but I’m suspicious). Life happened, babies, a house etc., and we had to sell it. He stood in the driveway as the new owner pulled away, it was awful. Fast forward 15 yrs, his brother called me, had found an exact copy of that car, I buy it to surprise him. The car needed a little work, he is lovingly restoring her, engine done, interior done, now “his baby” just needs her exterior painted. We spend weekends looking for parts, driving to some freaky places, car people can be very strange indeed. But we’re having the time of our lives. Oh and, completely embarrassed ourselves by getting caught by the police parking in this car. “Yes Officer, I’m fine”. egad. It has to be the car, right?

Honorable mention:

J.S. I vividly remember my first date with my first husband. I was finishing my first year of law school, and he was finishing his third year. He came to pick me up in a celery colored Chevette. Having grown up in New York, and having never learned how to drive, I was very impressed with this adorable vehicle. Plus, it was a stick-shift – which I also found very impressive. As our relationship progressed, and as we both eventually got jobs in the corporate world, he grew less and less fond of the car, and longed for something more prestigious, like a SAAB convertible or a Range Rover. I, on the other hand, thought the Chevette was magical. If we ever got a new car, my hope was to purchase a Dodge Colt. In hindsight, this was probably one of the earliest indications of our incompatibility!

The car as matchmaker:

C.B. We met on a group camping trip, when Greg got a crush on one of my friends. A week later at a potluck dinner, where he hoped to see her, we talked about an unusual “rocket car” for sale on Craigslist. A 1967 Oldsmobile 98 sedan was extremely modified by an artist to look like a rocket ship, complete with a propane-fueled flamethrower. Greg had mechanical skills; I had garage space in the suburbs. The next day I met the seller and called Greg to come light-up the rocket. We were sold with the sound of the rocket roar! The next weekend we showed the car at the 2008 Seattle Art Car Blowout. We fell in love over the summer of greasy repairs, car shows, parades and explaining to kids that “yes, it really does fly!” Our wedding is in June, the weekend after the 2010 Seattle Art Car Blowout.

The car as metaphor for a (bad) marriage:

K.L.M. The used, blue Toyota Celica my first husband drove lived out the drama of our relationship. Kenny bought the car while we were dating, I was still in high school and he was in the Air Force. At first the Celica was our love nest on clear nights parked by alfalfa fields, then it was our transport to mosh pits. The relationship faltered from the start, but we held fast to one another-To this day I don’t know why. The Toyota Celica fell apart, bit by bit, like our relationship, and suffered smashed bumpers, front end crashes, inept car repairs resulting in sliced tires and parts put in upside down. I tried to break up with him twenty times…he begged me to stay. Kenny was as loyal to the car as he was to claiming me as his child bride. On our move to our first home as a married couple, the transmission died at 1 am on a highway in the middle of no where-the spark was gone, there was no juice left. The marriage lasted a couple more hectic years but the journeys we took in the dinged up, two-door car insulated us from the adult world we had to face once we parted ways. If he were to pull up in front of my house in his Toyota Celica would I go for drive? Sure, now that we’re older and wiser, we’d have a lot to laugh about.

Car love, dad category:

J.A.S. “Tall and tanned and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking, and when she passes, each man she passes goes ahhhhh….” The year was 1964, I was seven years old and sat in the front seat of my father’s Studebaker 4 Door Sedan. The seductive lilting sound of Astrid Gilberto’s voice seemed to float out of the radio on the enormous … dashboard. It was the first time I had ever heard Bossa Nova, but its cool and exotic rhythms had planted a seed in my consciousness that would transform much of my life.

It could have been the closeness I felt with my father on those short excursions to the hardware store or the S & H Green Stamps Redemption Center or the Dairy Queen or the miniature golf course on the weekends. But it doesn’t really matter, to this day I still find some comfort whenever I hear “The Girl From Ipanema.” It reminds me of the times when everything was alright in the world as I sat next to my father in his Studebaker 4 Door Sedan.

Best Tweet-length story:

L.L. It was 1987 and we were on our way to David’s cousin’s wedding in Baltimore. I was driving David’s little red Toyota Tercel and we had a blowout on the highway. I was able to get us off the road, without getting us killed and we both changed the tire. When we got back on the road, David proposed to me.

Best free verse (OK, the only free verse):

A.B. AZURE AQUA CLUNKER

… A few years later, I learned to drive in that azure aqua clunker.

That ’64 Chevelle wagon was a Rolls Royce to me.

I didn’t mind the pigeon dust everywhere,

or errant wood chip shavings showing up here and there.

I had wheels at my disposal.

I was a king in the azure aqua clunker.

I sat in the front seat and kissed

the pretty blond haired freshman

at the Belleville-Lyndhurst football game.

Her kisses tasted of bubblegum.

She broke my heart a week or so later,

when she gave me the kiss-off.

On Christmas Eve I told my folks

I had someplace to go, so,

I drove that old clunker all the way north

to the New York State Thruway,

I had the windows open,

the breeze brushed

her sweet taste from my head.

Then I turned that wagon around

and came home

and parked her in our yard.

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