Friday, December 27, 2013

The Blonde in the Convertible

I have always remembered that classic scene from "American Graffiti" where Suzanne Somers got her big break as the mystery blonde in the white convertible....

Suzanne Somers...."American Graffiti"

So while living in L.A. back in 2000 when it was time to get a new car I decided on a convertible, a Chrysler Sebring JXI. The reason I am writing about it now is up until earlier this year I was STILL driving that car!

It was paid for in cash so I decided to keep it for as long as possible.  I did not grow up with the kind of money where people just bought cars outright. "Paid for" meant no payments for as long as the car lasted. I did keep the car for as long as possible, for 13 years! It was garaged every day (you have to with a ragtop), and very well preserved because of it. As the years went on I would drive by other cars my model and year and every year they looked a little older, but not my Sebring!

Not long after driving my new baby off the lot all of those years ago I registered it with various casting companies because they sometimes like to book actors with certain cars. Convertibles are especially popular. I also registered it with Showmobiles Inc., Hollywood Picture Cars and Picture Vehicles who provide vehicles for film and TV.

"Three Days In Vegas"....Tropicana Hotel, 2012
Fortunately for me it turns out "a blonde in a convertible" is a fairly regular request for TV and film. Shortly after my purchase my car and I made our first appearance in a TV series called "Once and Again", parked outside a diner in a scene. I got paid, my Sebring got paid, everyone was happy!  Then a few years later I had a lead role in an episode of "Final Justice". The jeep that was supposed to be used in the scene on the day of shooting stalled on the way there and with no time to replace it, my car had it's first leading role, with even got some good close-ups.

After that me and my Sebring appeared in several TV shows and films together. I never kept track of my car's credits so I don't remember them all, but some of them were "Ocean's Eleven", "Rush Hour II", "Looney Tunes:Back in Action", "Paradise", and a Russian film, "Three Days in Vegas", (which was its last appearance).

"Paradise"... on the set downtown Las Vegas 2012
In recent years as the repairs became more frequent my husband kept reminding me that I could get a new car, I didn't have to keep repairing this one. I held my ground. Truth is I had become a little attached to my Sebring. It drove me to Vegas the first time I moved here from L.A., It was stored for 3 years when I lived in NYC, and was like an old friend waiting for me when I moved back west....looking just as new as the day I'd bought it. My car and I had history.

I had planned to keep the convertible and turn it into a classic, storing it after getting my new car, as I expected the time would soon come. One day not long ago, the Sebring blew a gasket, erupting into what looked like bright orange lava spewing from under the hood and forming a 30 foot trail in the driveway.

At that time I decided to let it go. I'm not really much of a tomboy and replacing the engine was not up my alley. So, rather than going that route I sold it to a thrilled mechanic who planned to give the engine an overhaul and sell it to someone else. I have to admit I actually cried a little that day. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. A friend , however, who at least lives on in cinema history.

After a respectable "grieving period" the Sebring was replaced with a new set of wheels. Now I really am the blonde in the white convertible...and so a new chapter begins...

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