The Odditty of Ottis

After Ottis, all others pale. An American Ford; non-descript, basic transportation… that is until you got to know Ottis.

“Fair Lane” was the residence and estate Henry Ford had built for himself in Dearborn Township. Named after an area in County Cork, Ireland, the birthplace of Mr. Ford’s foster grandfather, Fair Lane was a masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ottis was a Ford Fair Lane. Introduced in 1962 as the first “mid-sized” car, the Fairlane was the bigger-than-a-Falcon, smaller-than-a-Galaxie alternative.


This is a 1962 Ford Fairlane - not Ottis. Ottis was green.

I was introduced to Ottis in this manner. Bro Tom got his drivers license exactly 40 years ago in 1968. I think he borrowed Dad’s cars for a year or so, but he eventually got his own. Previously loved by long-time friends of the parents, his first car began life as a 1962 Ford Fairlane.  The four-door white over medium-green sedan was powered (a loosely applied term) by a 170 cubic inch, straight 6 cylinder engine with a two-speed Fordomatic transmission. Tom had a vision that the car needed an identity (he was right) and figured he’d paint “Ottis” in Old English white lettering (over the rust) on both rear fenders. Ottis. Continue reading

A Lesson I was Never Taught

A midnight-blue, 1965 two-door hardtop Chevy Impala with 42,000 actual miles on the odometer would tip the value scale today at several thousand dollars. But in 1973, the price tag was $450.00. This, the second automobile I ever owned was certainly a keeper. But no one told me that. Even if they had, I probably wouldn’t have listened. I was only seventeen!

This Chevy is still one of my favorite automotive memories. My first car, a 1962 rusted Ford Fairlane four-door sedan named “Ottis,” was a $50.00 hand me down from my older brother. Ottis was a sad story which I’m sure I’ll write about someday. So the Chevy was a MAJOR upgrade. I bought it from Mr. Budde, the neighbor across the street, with cash I saved from my paper routes. It seemed like a lot of money then…

It was stock. 283 cu. in. (220 hp) with an automatic transmission. Very little rust, no rattles, no dents, near perfection. I’m sure I have forgotten the little finish flaws. Now that I think about it, I remember spending New Years’ Eve 1973 painting the car with a friend in a borrowed paint bay of a local body shop. It was a midnight re-application of the original color, midnight-blue, a color eerily similar to my 1974 Firebird, my 1987 Grand Marquis, and my 2002 Camaro Z28.

1965impala0011Thinking further… the original wheels must not have been perfection to my taste either. I changed out the plain stock steel wheels & full wheel covers for the magnesium “bullet” style wheels pictured. I’m not quite remembering where I got those beauties, but they are undoubtedly the all-time number one WellsWooster favorite wheels over the last 35 years. Continue reading

May 30 – Seal Cove and Knox Road

Seal Cove Auto MuseumAnother place I never, ever saw in my many visits to MDI is the Seal Cove Auto Museum. Roger called ahead since the official opening date for the season was still several days hence. He was assured there would be staff present Friday, so with he and Lisa, I went to the Seal Cove Auto Museum. So our goal today (Friday) was to see one of the best rare car collections on the east coast. This also would likely be the last chance to see the majority of the complete collection since the benefactor passed away last year. Much of the remainder of the collection is to be auctioned off later this year to fund a smaller, but permanent core collection for the future. We were told that a “handful” of vehicles, described as the “cream” of the collection was already gone.

Afterward, we stopped at Knox Road Grill and Atlantic Brewing for Dougy’s Bar-B-Q lunch and to pick up a case of Real Ale to bring back to Michigan.

Roger and Lisa returned to the South Ridge Trail to take more photographs of the wild orchids.

Dinner at Poorboy’s tonight. New menu items this year!


May 25 – Hemmings Motor News Filling Station

Needing a fill-up and nearing our stop for the evening, Sunday, May 25th.

We entered Bennington on vapors. It had been a gorgeous afternoon driving route 7 through the hills from New York. The Sunoco station materialized on the left just in time.

Full service? The only option. Rolling in over the rubber cord generated the distinctive and almost extinct “da-ding, da-ding” alerting the crisply uniformed attendants of a newly arrived customer. “Fill it up with premium, please” I said. The reply was, “Our premium is 91 octane. You want that or 93?” I said, “93.” The college kid replied, “Good thing I asked.” (Pay no attention to the prices on the sign in the photo. It took $60.00 for my fill-up).

While my windshield was being cleaned for me with a squeegee, I overheard the two attendants discussing how one of their landlords was complaining about last month’s electric bill. It was agreed by both young men that $130 dollars was high. The apparent reason was he had just gotten a new, very big TV and it was apparently on all the time.

That tank of petrol lasted all the way from Bennington to Bar Harbor – the entire next day. That “93” must be good gas.