I was driving south on South Tacoma Way and I saw brand new Mazda for an excellent price. I did two illegal U-turns and parked in front of Russ Dunmier’s showroom. The little black Mazda 323 coupe was sitting on the sidewalk. Peg and I had already purchased two new Mazdas. Although she called her little Mazda 808 wagon the Orc Mobile, it was a good size car for her and was very reliable and got great mileage. My Mazda pick-up . . . well . . . that’s a different story.
The 323 sale model was stripped down, with no radio or power steering, but when I took it for a spin, I liked the pick up speed and its easy handling. I bought it right then; saying no to every suggestion for add-ons. I had already seen my own add-on that was not offered. I drove to Racing Prep on Saint Helens to see my friend Tony Schmid. The car wasn’t Italian, but I knew Tony had something just for me. I knew Tony from Mann Jr. High and Clover Park High School. We met again a couple of years later at the University of Puget Sound. We were both art majors. Tony created the Doman wedding rings for me. He said later, if he had known they were wedding rings, he would have charged more than the $10 he originally asked for.
Tony loved foreign sports cars. His wife Debbie drove an Alpha Romeo. He had a few Jaguar clients so he made a great bargain purchase for several Jaguar sunroofs. They were the kind that popped open and then folded back like a convertible. Tony measured my roof and a couple days later I had the only Mazda in the world with a Jaguar convertible sunroof top. I called it my “Jagzda.”
The only problem I had with the car is that it was a tad light in the front end, so on the hills of downtown Tacoma I often spun my tires in the rain if I didn’t catch the lights just right going up the hills and had to sit and wait for the stop light to change.
One night we drove the Jagzda to Seattle for a stand up performance by Jay Leno at the Paramount. He went on for a couple of hours . . . we laughed . . . and laughed until the end of the performance and we stepped out at the side exit. It must have started snowing after we took our seats earlier. We had no clue that it was going to snow . . . and it SNOWED. We carefully walked up the stairs (each with a good two inches of snow on them). We didn’t have enough money for a Seattle hotel. If we could make it to West Seattle, our friend Al Burrage would put us up for the night, but if we could make it to West Seattle . . . then I could probably make it to Tacoma.
Once we hit the freeway I felt better about the drive, but I still kept a death grip on the steering wheel. Most people were smarter than I was and didn’t venture on to I-5. There were only a few cars on the road. We counted more cars in the ditches and exits than there were on the road. We saw two jack-knifed semis along the way. We kept a steady fifty miles an hour just to make sure no one caught up and passed us. I knew that would leave compacted snow like ice on the road. We made it to Nalley Valley when our Jagzda lost traction for a second or two . . . just to remind me of how lucky we were. Soon we were back home.
A few years later, I gave the car to our son, Del. Eventually, a huge 4X4 ran into it in an alley where it was parked about two blocks from our house. It probably had a hundred thousand miles to go . . .