The tiny car Harold Schwartzappel pulled up in on 190th Street to rescue me from a deluge may have been a Fiat, or a Renault, or possibly a Peugeot, whichever company made a cheaper model circa 1964. My father referred to Schwartzappel’s car as a shitbox, and compared to the well-appointed cars my father always drove, it did seem like a tin can as I got in and slammed the flimsy door.
The engine of the shitbox had been rebuilt by Harold, if I recall correctly. My father knew almost nothing about car engines, though he’d worked in his uncle’s garage for years. The first car my father had was a big, bulbous orange and white Pontiac my parents called the Loxbox. I recall sitting in the back seat of the Loxbox as a young kid. The seat was upholstered in soft leather. I don’t think the Shitbox was upholstered at all.
My father was happy to drive around in the American Dream, while Harold, a confident tinkerer who spoke several languages and played many musical instruments, made do with his Shitbox.