Black Vinyl Seats in Summer

This morning at the breakfast table, as I bemoaned the sweltering heat and lack of air conditioning, as well as the fact that my thighs were nearly fused to the faux leather covering on my kitchen chair, I was suddenly transported back to my childhood.

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, we had this beater of a 1978 Toyota Corolla. That car, with its pumpkin orange paint job, was seriously hideous; I knew it even at that tender young age. Punky, as we affectionately named the family vehicle, looked like this:

Toyota Corolla [Do your best to imagine this car painted jack-o'-lantern orange. I know it's a stretch.]

While my parents didn't have a lot of money at that point in their lives (hence Punky), they did afford us the luxury of a family membership to the local swim club to while away the hot and humid Philadelphia summers. Many carefree memories of splashing and playing at the pool still replay in my mind, but there is one dark passenger that I just can't shake: the dreaded black vinyl interior.

After an entire afternoon of baking in the scorching sun at the swim club parking lot, Punky's jet black interior would heat up to a temperature not far from that generated by nuclear fission. My mom always instructed my little sister and I to lay our pool towels across the backseat to avoid getting burned, but I swear that the dampness in the towel vaporized immediately upon contact, merely resulting in a pair of steamed thighs instead of dry-heat roasted ones. Even after the seats had cooled to an acceptable temperature, I'd still have my legs glued to the vinyl as beads of sweat rolled down the backs of my knees. And don't get me started on the branding irons otherwise known as seat belt buckles.

My dad eventually sold the car – with 135,000 miles on it – to one of the secretaries at the college he taught at. Punky went on to provide several more years of first-degree-burn-inducing yet faithful service.

Do you have any memories of your family car growing up?

Image credit: Toyota Reference

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