Motoring: My Worst Car - Don Novello's Pontiac Catalina

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The Independent Online
HEY, do you people in England know what a lemon is? I ain't talking about a sharp-tasting, bright-coloured little citrus fruit that you squeeze all over fish. Oh no, what I'm talking about is a product which fails to meet a customer's expectations, and I'm one very fussy customer.

So a bad car is a lemon and that's exactly what I had when I bought myself a Pontiac Catalina. It was a 1971 model which I picked up for a few hundred bucks from a guy on a street corner.

That was a bad move, obviously, but I just loved the way it looked. It was a huge convertible. It meant I could soak up the rays, take in the scenery and be the centre of attention.

That was great. What wasn't so great is that after I paid the guy and he left it outside my apartment, it never moved another inch under its own steam.

Man, I was as mad as hell about that. I tried everything to get it started. I fooled around under the hood, poking and pressing at the engine. There was no way that car would move. The big old V8 engine would rumble for a bit, but it just wouldn't fire properly.

The Pontiac failed as a car, so the only way I could move it was to push.

However, that big old Pontiac must have weighed a couple of tons and it wasn't easy. My neighbours didn't mind helping me out for a while, but after a while they got fed up pushing me up to the stores and back again. Then I had a great idea, why not create my own Carden? Did you get that? Car - den.

As it was a convertible, I filled it up with soil and put loads of plants in. I put pots on the dashboard, Tomato plants around the edge, watercress on the doors, corn towards the centre on the seats and smack bang in the middle a little Lemon tree. The great thing was I could just push it out of the shade and into the sun.

Don Novello, is a writer (bestselling `Lazlo Letters'), actor (`Godfather III') and comedian (`Saturday Night Live') and Grammy-nominated recording artist. His single `Everybody's Free to Wear Camouflage' is available on Recognition Records.