The Keys to Success

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but sometimes there are little features on old cars that are remarkably useful.  Things like floor-mounted dimmer switches, wing windows, and kick panel vents are interesting because they are obsolete features that were once considered modern conveniences.  For example, I always thought it was kind of neat that the Tempest’s doors automatically unlock if you shut them with the lock engaged; sure it’s more work to lock the door with the key from the outside, but at least this prevents you from locking the keys in the car, right?  An old-car-owning coworker and I were talking about this a while back when he mentioned that if you kept the button on the door handle depressed while shutting the door, it would stay locked.  I should have known right then that I would manage to misuse this information.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I’ve regularly started shutting the door in this fashion – apparently putting the key in every time was getting more tedious than I had realized.  Left to my own devices, it was only a matter of time before I screwed up and left the keys in the car.  Sure enough, I came home from work one day, locked the car, and couldn’t find the keys a few hours later when I needed to run some errands.  After checking all of my pockets three times, it dawned on me where they must be – dangling from the dashboard, right where I’d left them.  I couldn’t even lie and say that they must have fallen out of my pocket when I got out of the car.

Cursing myself, I grabbed a wire coat hanger and got to work.  It’s at this point that I should probably mention that I only have one set of keys (the 1967 originals) to the Tempest.  I’d never gotten copies made because the doors have this handy unlocking feature – why would I need a spare set?  Anyway, hanger now bent into a long hook, I gingerly inserted it between the weatherstripping where the door glass meets the quarter window.  After a few minutes of fishing and a couple adjustments to the hanger, I managed to hook it around the lock knob and pull it up.  I would not make a successful car thief.

Thoroughly red-faced, I added an extra stop to my errand-running – the hardware store, to have a duplicate set of keys made.  If my past is any guide, I’ll need them eventually.

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2 responses to “The Keys to Success

  • Genevieve

    Nice! I think I’ve come up with every possible way to lock myself out of my car and house/apartment. My favorite was when I locked myself out while running a video up to the Blockbuster drop box. My car, still running, blocked the drop box while I waited for AAA to come unlock it. High humiliation factor.

    Also, my dad’s corvette has some of those kinds of features…the “brights” are a pedal on the floor and the windshield wipers emerge from their hiding place beneath a panel when you turn them on. It’s frustrating when they don’t work right (driving to school with no wipers on a rainy day) but a cool novelty when they do.

    • themagicboltbox

      Those hidden wiper doors are pretty nifty, but like most hidden or flip-up headlights, a pain when they decide not to work. Car makers went through a phase in the late 60’s and early 70’s where they thought it would be cool to hide everything – the bumper behind a piece of rubber, headlights behind the grille, wipers under the cowl. Then after a few years, when none of the vacuum doors worked and the rubber noses were cracked and fading, the fad wore off.

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