On my way to the Art Center I pass this business on 9th Street in Little Rock– the coke sign caught my eye. The building looks like it had a previous life as a mini-mart. When I stopped to take a picture, I realized that there was more there–the door was open and appeared to be in business as Bob and Orin’s Carburetor Rebuilders. Now think a minute–very few cars use carburetors any more–they have fuel injectors instead of spark plugs and some other part does the job of the carburetor. How could a business survive rebuilding carburetors? Were there two ghost signs here, the coke sign and the sign hanging on the pole outside the business? The answer: neither the business sign nor the Coke sign is ghostly. Bob and Orin’s has been in business for over 50 years and have a Facebook page. There are enough cars that need carburetor repairs in Little Rock to keep them in business.
That got me thinking about my first car, a banana yellow 1969 Chevy Nova, with a V8 engine. That car is considered a muscle car today, so if I still owned it, Bob and Orin would be able to service it. It was the first of a parade of used cars I owned, I was thrilled to have it, since I had been surviving by catching rides with friends or hitching rides to work. Today I would never recommend that a 20 something woman hitchhike to work, but in the early 1970’s it seemed ok. Chicago winters were cold, and when the Nova didn’t start I opened the hood, took off the carburetor cover and sprayed some sort of starter stuff into the open carburetor and cranked the engine until it started. This usually worked like charm, and I was off to work. I was warned using this spray wasn’t such a good idea, but it worked for me. I was happy that I didn’t have to call someone to come and start my car.
Several years later, I bought an used Volvo, which had fuel injectors. The winter of 1979 had one of the biggest snowstorms Chicago ever had(a story for another time), followed by extreme cold, and starting that Volvo was a game of chance. If I gave it too much gas, it would flood, and when that happened, the car wouldn’t start, even after waiting a while. I couldn’t use my old remedy, since the car didn’t have an carburetor. It had to be towed and have the fuel injector wires replaced. This got to be expensive, so I just left the car on the street and walked to Sheridan Road and took the El to work. That old Nova was looking pretty good to me on those cold snowy mornings. The Volvo didn’t last too long, I sold it since I was getting married and we didn’t need two cars.