I put up this Q of the day from time to time and it usually generates hilarious answers. It's also the government's end of Cash for Clunkers. I don't know what any dealer would have done if I drove my worst ride up to the showroom. I don't think a Pinto is even worth scrap metal.

Q of the day -- what beater wheels have you owned/driven?

My all-time beater was our 1973 Ford Pinto wagon.

Quality Is Job One.

This is what people think of when you mention the Ford Pinto -- the 1971 model hatchback that blew up if it was hit in a rear end collision. It made Time Mag's 50 worst cars of all time. And:

Mother Jones magazine obtained the cost-benefit analysis that it said Ford had used to compare the cost of an $11 ($56 today, allowing for inflation) repair against the monetary value of a human life, in what became known as the Ford Pinto memo.

Fortunately the station wagon with the fake wood paneling didn't have that particular flaw, but it had plenty of non-fatal ones worth reminiscing about. It shook uncontrollably when you "floored it" up to 55 mph. Bucket vinyl seats that scorched your *ss and thighs in the summer. No A/C. Not that the engine could have handled A/C; it probably would have required you to put your feet down like Fred Flintstone and pedi-power it up a hill.

This car was such a beater that one day (we were living in Brooklyn at the time - late 70s), I came out to go to the store, got in the car and turned the key...nothing. I tried again...nothing. I got out of the car and popped the hood. Someone had stolen the battery. Not the car, the battery.

I didn't abandon Ford, though. My next vehicle was a 1988 Tracer. I had that four-door hatch for 13 years without any troubles whatsoever. By the time I was ready to retire it, it was only worth about $500, was starting to rust, but was always reliable. Its only flaw was that of most small cars of the day -- turning on the A/C and accelerating up a hill was impossible.

My next car was a 2002 Ford Focus wagon (left) that survived a tree falling on it and a teenager ramming into the back of it. Sadly, it was never the same after the repairs (which included an entire exhaust system replacement, and went to an early grave.

I'm now in a 2007 Subaru Outback wagon (that's only a shade darker than that Focus by chance. It's a much nicer ride if you have chronic pain (jesus will I end up in one of those grandma/grandpa land yachts one day? I wouldn't know how to park a behemoth like that).