The White Elephant
Chuck Doswell (1972-75)
This vehicle, a 1967 Pontiac Tempest sedan with an overhead cam
straight 6-cylinder engine (with a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor!),
was my first after returning to graduate school in 1972. I bought it
from one of the fine Norman dealers ... I forget which one, sadly,
since I'd love to give credit where it is due. I had to buy it in a
hurry, because I was headed home to the Chicago area and I had no
wheels. It performed acceptably on a local test drive so I bought it.
A day or so thereafter, I headed up I-35 to Chicago ... once I got it
up to freeway speeds, it began to backfire! It backfired every time
the engine was put under a serious load (like going uphill). If
you've ever driven across southern Missouri on I-44, you know there
are some hills, called the Ozarks! When I got to Chicago (800 miles
of backfiring), I had the engine looked at, and was informed that it
needed a valve job ... costing far more than I had on hand. Hence, it
backfired the 800 miles back to Norman, too, and I began to use a
bicycle for much of my local transportation. This is the only vehicle
I ever owned that I gave a name to, and I believe the name fits the
car's character rather well.
Eventually, I saved enough to get the valve job done, and I began
to use the vehicle on chases.
Chuck and other OU chasers pose in front of the White Elephant in this nostalgic 1972 photo.
The "White Elephant" never was a very acceptable chase vehicle,
although it was roomy inside and had a spacious trunk ... it just had
too many annoying problems. For instance, on a trip to Colorado for a
conference, the U-joints began to go out, so I had to go home early.
I still had the car when I got married, and we eventually traded it
to my wife's grandfather (along with my wife's old car) in the spring
of 1975 for one relatively new Dodge sedan. He made money on the
deal ... he always made money on car deals! ... and I have no
idea what poor soul ended up with the White Elephant after that.