Jimmy Stephans Stories - Photographer Tales

Death of the Blue Bomber

Posted: 2019-05-24

Note - The following post was originally published in TrueTeenBabes in June of 2006. I have many of these old stories and thought it would be fun to repost a few for fans that missed the original. In some ways this is a followed up to the repost of The Original TrueTeenBabe.

Sitting in a dusty parking lot somewhere in pictureville right now is a 1984 Toyota Corolla. It's a faded blue color with a bit of rust here and there. It has 4 doors and a 5-speed transmission, but the clutch is starting to slip a little now and then. It has an AM / FM stereo with a cassette player that still works.

As of today it has traveled 224,591 miles and still gets about 34 miles per gallon on the highway. In 22 years it has been repaired just once, November 2005 when the muffler pipe rusted through and started dragging on the ground. Siedah drove it mufflerless to the local junkyard, got a used muffler and pipe and installed it herself in the parking lot. Cool chick!

Last week in Florida I drove it to Quaker Steak and Lube in Clearwater and parked it right next to a completely restored 67 Mustang like it was a twin. The week before a guy backed into it at the local Outback Steakhouse and I got out of the car yelling like he had just backed into my Ferrari.

On hot days it tends to die while idling at a stoplight. It's really neat when it does it at a busy drive-up window. It's best when it pops and belches on restart - which always happens instantly. On cold days it tends to fog up the windows because the heater doesn't work too good these days. At exactly 63 MPH the wheel shakes violently and all passengers, those brave young souls, start to tighten seat belts.

The Blue Bomber

This car has been from Laguna Beach, California to Clearwater Beach, Florida. For years it had a home in the bright sunshine of the Las Vegas, Nevada desert. I remember using it as a test prop, placing it in where the show car would be later that day, for a car magazine shoot in front of the Las Vegas Athletic Club and having people look at it really strange, and then at me even stranger That was 1990 and the car was in great shape then. I laugh when I think of what they would say now, 16 years and a bunch of paint fade later.

I drove it from Denver to the Indy 500 once and thought I was Mario Andretti the entire way. Its been to about 10 Jimmy Buffett concerts. I once drove it there wearing red and white striped boxers with a big plastic ass hanging out the back. Alia was in the passenger seat, holding her hands in front of her face so friends wouldn't see her.

I once left it at a remote airport parking lot with the key stuck in the trunk for 10 days and nobody took it. This car has hauled hundreds of pounds of photography gear across the country, even as recently as February 2006 from Florida to Colorado and back. Frequent oil changes, premium gas, fully inflated tires and that baby hauls along at whatever the speed limit is just fine and gets twice the gas mileage of the minivan doing it.

Multiple TTB models have driven this car. Alia, Jennifer, Jessica and Dustie to name a few. The way the driver's seat sort of sinks down could be from my fat ass, certainly not from any of their little butts.

Riders at one time or another include Chelsea, Anna Marie, Amber, Ashley Rose, Kara, Pam, Jess, Danielle, Becky, Ashlie, Yasmine, Staci, Kaylynne, Ashley Nicole, Ashleigh Marie, Lauri, Siedah, Julia and Heather.

The car has been loaned to dozens of friends over the years. Some for weeks or months at a time. I even had to repo it once when the guy using it was tossed in jail and his buddy wouldn't bring it back. My nephew claims one of his kids was conceived in the backseat.

One rainy day about a year ago Mona was acting a tad depressed as we drove into a big parking lot. A few seconds with the foot on the gas, and one quick jerk on the emergency brake spun the car around and her bad mood flew right out the window. Blue Bomber to the rescue. Instant mood change. Instant punch to Jimmy's shoulder too.

Last fall, on the day of Kaylynne's big dance I lied to her and told her that we would be using the Blue Bomber as her ride that evening, not the big Lincoln. The look on her face was priceless and you could see in her eyes the horror of arriving at the dance with the car snapping and popping and belching. Some girls think the old Blue Bomber is cute and fun, others seem to think it has seen its better days. When it sits outside the Florida studio I often get asked if it was leftover by the previous tenant, or if they notice the Colorado license plates, they ask something like "Did you drive that here?" with a look on their face like it couldn't be true.

Kaylynne's step-dad judged me by this car and told her more than once that I must not be successful. Of course, he didn't know anything about all the other cars I've had in the 21 years this car has been around, or have now. You name it and I've likely had it. Ford truck, Nissan truck, Chevy truck, Chevy Blazer, two mini-vans, Pontiac Sunbird, a leased Delorean, a $500 junker step-van (the Famous BabeMobile) and maybe a dozen more here and there, now and then.

I have 3 now, but the Blue Bomber is my personal favorite. That of course brings forth the question, "why?"

History, tradition and maybe even a bit of just plain old weirdness.

Way back in 1985 I had a cutie girlfriend named Tracy Jo. You can read the entire emotional story in my column from 2004 (here). This car was purchased from a local dealer in Englewood, Colorado. It was a dealer demo car, meaning it had been through a couple of thousand miles of test-drives before I got it. The purchase was made for Tracy Jo to have a runaround car. I got a real good deal on it because I knew the guys at the dealership for years and years.

Shortly after we got it we also got a horse or two or three and she wanted a small truck to drag around saddles and hay. We quickly got a mini-truck and the little blue Toyota became a sort of back-up car. It was always round and ready to take anybody anywhere. While it was in my name, it was always considered Tracy Jo's car. She drove it to school and any other time she wanted to carry friends along.

When you go back and read the Tracy Jo story (here) you see that she left the next year. Months later she came back for a few days before leaving again. That was June 1986.

As she left that June we discussed the car. I encouraged her to take it. She simply said "Keep it, you know I'll be back some day", or something very close to that.

I've kept this car twenty years because of that statement. After a few months I knew she wasn't coming back, but I never had a reason to get rid of the car and it was sort of fun to keep it around and know in the back of my mind why it was here.

Many strange stories follow that car and the people that have ridden in it. In some ways you could call it a "historic car", but not for what it is - a simple 1984 Toyota Corolla 4-door - but rather for all it has done, where it has been and what it has seen and heard.

Very few people knew the story of the car. Recently Ashley Nicole was riding in it and just asked why I still had it. I told her the story, which she seemed to enjoy, but in the end she also told me it was time the car was put to rest.

It wasn't clear if she was trying to tell me it was time to stop keeping Tracy Jo's car for the emotional reasons, or if she was just saying the damn thing is worn out and needs to be sent to the great junk yard in the sky.

As we talked further I came to realize that later this month, June 25th 2006, would be 20 years from when Tracy Jo said she'd be back for the car.

Now don't think for a minute I really felt she was coming back for all those 20 years. The ended after a couple of months, which you'll learn about reading the 2004 story from the archive. But it is weird that right as Ashley Nicole is talking to me about it the anniversary is that close and it's a nice round anniversary - exactly 20 years.

I guess the time may be right to let the "Blue Bomber" pass on to another life. I told Ashley Nicole last month that I'd get rid of the car on the 25th of this month. It's going to be hard to do, and sorta funny at the same time, but it may have a good ending after all.

You never know - maybe it will be melted down for scrape metal and come back into my life as a beer can!

Jimmy Stephans
Littleton, CO. USA
June 6, 2006