In 1981, after my parents passed through a seemingly endless string of dying cars, my Mother decreed that they would never own a used car again. Off they went to the local Auto Mall to negotiate for their very first brand new car. After a lot of searching, haggling, and striking options from the sticker, they came home with a 1981 Plymouth Reliant sedan. Needless to say…I hated it. Previously Dad had brought home some beautiful full sized sedans like a 1977 Mercury Marquis Brougham, a 1978 Ford Torino and many others. Unfortunately most of them died in some manner or other that wasn’t worth fixing and they had to be passed on. That didn’t matter much to me. All I knew was that they now had a really crappy looking car with no options, not even FM radio or automatic transmission! As a youngster I failed to realize that the car was extremely inexpensive and cost effective and that was the justification for buying such a tiny little vehicle.
Fast forward a few years to 1989-1990 and I was in the market for a car. My failed experimentation with my 1976 Chevelle Malibu was behind me and I was prepared to finally purchase a vehicle that I could actually drive. After foolishly putting aside my Father’s recommendations to buy the sweet 1971 Mercury Cyclone that had been used by two little old ladies as a grocery getter…once a week, I opted for something in a cheaper price range. Dad was able to locate a Garnet Red Pearl 1984 Plymouth Reliant station wagon (non-woodgrain model) for me. I liked it because it was affordable and it was in good shape. I thought it was the nicest wagon on the road and I just loved looking at it. The irony of this was completely lost on me at the time.
At long last I had a car of my own, and a little slice of personal freedom. I didn’t have to borrow my Father’s 1977 F100 if I wanted to go somewhere. After I ran it into a pole during a blizzard he was none too interested in loaning it to me again anyway. While the car was ideal for getting me to and from work, it was the weekends where I really got the thrill of driving. I would take 100km drives to Toronto every weekend, just because I could. Suddenly driving a friend up north to drop him off at the Canadian Forces Base in Borden was an option, and cramming the car full of passengers to go to the movies or a football game was a no-brainer (HEY! I went to a football game once!)
After about a year and a half, my mechanic reported that my beloved K-Car was dying. She had no compression in one cylinder and only half in a second. That little 2.2L 4 cylinder had breathed it’s last and I had to trade it in and move on.
There really isn’t anything like the feeling you get from your first car. Of course I wasn’t aware of that at the time and I failed to take any photographs of the very car that started my love affair with station wagons.
It seems that I’m not the only one who failed to document his K-Car. After an exhaustive search of the ‘Net I’ve been unable to find any pictures of a 1984 Reliant Wagon in the same Garnet Red Pearl colour as mine was. I guess it’ll just have to live on in my head.
I did find a PDF document of the original sales brochure.