Serious Accidents

They Make You Think

By John M. Larsen

My first car, a 1930 Ford Cabriolet Convertible, started life as a two-door sedan. I acquired it in 1951 because of a coal bill. At our house in Marsing, when we changed our heating system from a coal fireplace to an oil furnace, we had leftover coal.

Casey, one of my dad’s mechanics, took the coal but didn’t pay us because he was short of money. After his bill went unpaid for several months, I suggested to Dad that we accept Casey’s Ford Cabriolet to settle the bill of twenty dollars. Both men agreed and I had my first car.

The clutch was going out, which no doubt was why Casey had stopped driving the car, so we bought a cheap replacement. It was winter and the only brake that worked was on the right front, which made it fun to spin around a flat snowy surface such as a ball field.

For a heater, I put a little potbellied stove behind the front seat and ran the chimney through the canvas roof. Foolishly, I was entertaining friends with spins when the car spun into the road and was hit in the right rear corner by a Buick. That vehicle was unharmed but my car needed major repairs.

Dad and I were faced with deciding whether to fix it or junk it. Fix it won out. He found a 1929 Ford convertible body that we placed on the 1930 frame, only to discover that the hood, radiator, and cowling of the replacement body did not fit to the frame.

Our solution was to cut off the cabriolet body behind the doors and weld on the 1929 body, which had what was called a turtle-back door. To make the convertible top work, we cut down the doors and welded on the 1929 windshield header. Following detail work and a maroon paint job, I had a more-or-less new car.

However, this surgery left the door posts weakened, as they were not designed for a convertible. We couldn’t use the convertible’s door posts because they were made of wood. As a result, if you leaned on the doors, they would pop open. We didn’t get around to fixing this problem, contenting ourselves with the advice, “Don’t lean on the door.”

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John M. Larsen

About John M. Larsen

John M. Larsen came to Idaho in 1940, went to high school in Marsing, and graduated from the College of Idaho. His parents were co-founders the Owyhee County Historical Society and from 1998 to 2018, John was either the society’s president or a board member. He worked for the City of Marsing and later was a consultant for the city until 2018.

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