I’ve always thought Shelter Island should host an Island Car contest every two years.
An Island Car is legal to drive, but just barely. An Island Car is an old, beat-up car that can’t do over 40, which is perfect because that’s the speed limit here. It usually has one or both headlights out, which is fine because there’s nowhere to go after dark.
The door locks don’t have to work, ’cuz you’d have to pay somebody to steal it. It’s likely to have damage from a run-in with a deer, and it smells of fish. If Kelly Blue Book had a listing for Island Cars, it would look like this: 1992 Corolla in good condition $2000, fair condition $1500, poor condition, $1000, Island condition $85.
A few years back I saw a perfect example of an Island Car. I won’t mention the couple’s names, but I know many folks remember this car. The top hinge in the driver’s side door had broken, so there was a web of different color bungee cords holding the door on. The cords all went into the window and hooked somewhere inside, so the window was always open. On the passenger’s side, the mirror was attached with duct tape and bungee cords and the wife would hold on to the mirror as they drove.
I don’t know if they listed the color of the car as rust or blue, since there were equal amounts of both colors on the car. There were beach towels on the seats, as with many cars on Shelter Island. And there was the mandatory lineup of beach shells on the dashboard.
When I was a teen, there was an Island Car that I loved, because the mom let her kids paint over the rust with house paint. The girls made a line of pink shells all the way around the car. If you remember that car, then you were there in the ’70s.
It’s usually women who drive Island Cars, and it’s men who drive IOTs—Island Only Trucks.
“Oh Jerry, man, this truck is perfect. All the rust against the green paint makes the truck look camouflaged.”
“I bolted on the winch and ball hitch so we could tow a boat.”
“What do you got on the inside of the tailgate?”
“That’s my flip-out barbecue grill. I got grill forks in the tool box, and three bottles of Kiss Your Ass Goodbye hot sauce. We can kill and grill deer three feet from the deerblind.”
“Two ice chests?”
“Yup. One for beer, one for venison or fish.”
“You got a bed for your dog, a phone pad and sleeping bag for you—damn, Jerry this truck is tricked out.”
“Look inside. I got a thousand-dollar stereo system and portable flatscreen.”
“You’re killing me. Got any games?”
“Just an Xbox One with two controllers and the latest Call of Duty game.”
“Wow. Beer, barbecue, Call of Duty, wife can’t reach you—this IOT is a man-cave on wheels. How did you get Cindy to agree to all this?”
“Easy. I fixed her Island Car into a beach-mobile. Car seats in the back. Separate DVD player for each kid. Converted the glove compartment box into a nail salon with a dryer attached to the air conditioner. Bolted a fold-out tackle box on the console for treats and make up. Put a booster antennae for her phone. Installed a lift-out dryer rack in the trunk for wet towels and bathing suits. And I put a ‘Best Mom Ever’ bumper sticker on the back.”