It was an unassuming vehicle, that Corvair I inherited from Grandpa Jim. Black with chrome bumpers, semi-mag wheels. A classic.
It made a perfect time machine.
I know what you’re thinking, you need something showy, like that DeLorean made famous in Robert Zemickis’s movie “Back to the Future.” But no. Let me explain.
My friend Jerome had just graduated with his advance degree in quantum physics. He said he needed a good project for his job interviews, something about impressing Elon Musk and SpaceX. Where did I figure into this? After all, I barely passed high school algebra. I had just gotten my auto mechanics tech degree at South Seattle College.
But I did have the Corvair. I think that’s what Jerome had his eye on all along.
I admit it doesn’t look like much. When we got it out of Grandpa Jim’s garage, though, it was in pretty good shape. A little dusty, maybe, but the interior was still intact – no rips or tears in the upholstery – and with a little tinkering on my part, the engine started right up. I got an “A” from my instructor in tune-ups, after all.
Jerome showed up with his mechanism, that wasn’t much to look at, all circuits and wires, not even any blinking lights. But it fit pretty neatly under the chassis and with a few adjustments by Jerome after it was in place, he said it was time to give it a try.
I did ask him how it worked, but I might as well have been in a foreign country, since I did not understand what he said. This was in the Outlander Bar in Fremont over a few IPA beers. Finally, Jerome said, “Well, the idea is that all the atoms in the universe, at least in this solar system, have been here since the beginning. We’re just re-organizing them into the way they used to be some time ago.”
Huh. Well, it was a good enough explanation for me. Anyway, this was 2015, and it was time someone invented a decent time machine.
So there we were, sitting in the Corvair in the parking lot at Golden Gardens park, looking out at Elliott Bay. Jerome said we would aim for the early 1960s, fifty-some years ago, before I was even born. We would use the car as an anchor in time. “After all,” he said, “The atoms in this car are fixed, not like us …” – whatever that meant.
The growl from the engine made it all seem real. We waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.
For a moment I saw something. I swear I did. Outside the car, things got kind of swirly for a few seconds, colors changing around us.
But then it cleared up, and Jerome said, “Well, that was interesting,” and I knew “interesting” meant more research, and we drove over to the Fremont Canal where he got out and went to meet his academic adviser and fill him in. He unhooked his little gizmo and took it with him.
I went back to the parking lot by the beach and sat in Grandpa Jim’s Corvair. The sun was just about to set and it was a gorgeous day.
Then the Beach Boys’ latest song, “Surfer Girl” came on the radio. Number five on the Bilboard Charts, the DJ said.
About this post: haven’t you always wanted to time travel in a black Corvair?