When not to turn right at a red signal

My father in-law had ideas. He thought that it would be a good idea to bring our car with us to Denmark from the United States. Famous Last Words.

We had a plan while still living in the States, or my wife did anyway. She wanted to see more of the country before we moved to Denmark. Back in those days, there wasn’t Internet!!!!!! ….!!!……..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Amazing,  huh? Back at that time we used the American Postal Service to write letters and get promotional material from interesting places. I used to look for advertisements in magazines like Sunset.

“Visit Virginia”, “Walk through Elvis’s House, Graceland in Tennessee.” “Visit World of Coca Cola in Atlanta”. – So we did.

We drove my Mom’s Dodge Dart Sport from the West Coast to the East Coast in a period of 6 weeks. We were: in National Parks, then we broke down in Kansas and we even visited the Corporate Headquarters of John Deere (yawn…) in Illinois. I stood on top of the Saint Louis Arch, saw cigarettes being made in Virginia, and ended up in the Nation’s Capitol, Washington DC to visit the White House.

The car was to travel by ship from Baltimore to Europe. We delivered it at the docks, but found out that the spare parts weren’t allowed in the car during its journey. We thus packed our suitcases with brake pads and front end parts. A lot of the “souvenirs” we had accumulated along the trip, were shipped off to my family – as early Christmas presents. We delivered our Rent-a-car in Baltimore and hopped on a jet to Iceland, then to Copenhagen, then to Aalborg in Denmark.

The car arrived some weeks later. It was stored in a barn belonging to my brother in-law, and promptly began to rust…Back in Nevada where it lived before, it didn’t rust, being in the High Desert, but in Denmark, cool, wet Denmark, it began to rust.

We decided to show it off by taking it for a drive in a nearby town. It was windy, but we didn’t notice anything in Mom’s car. It was roomy with automatic gears – rather rare in Denmark at that time. I stopped at a red light in the middle of town. I looked to the left, I looked to the right, then I turned to the right! “What in the world are you doing?”, asked my wife. “What do you mean?” I asked.  “You are allowed to do that in California”, I said “That might be, but it’s not allowed in Denmark!”she replied.

Driving the car brought back memories of the United States. It all seemed so far away now. I had been in dreary Denmark, without a car or, a language to support me. I could only imagine what was to come in the future.

My father in-law thought an American Car would be worth some money. They were not that common, and if it were a certain age, it would be considered a “Veteran” car. We tried to interest people in the car, no luck. It seems, the more interesting cars would’ve been Ford Mustang, Cadillac convertible or Corvette. Mom never owned that type of car. Mom owned a Mom car. My father in-law lent us the money for shipping the car. – And the car rusted –

We tried,but failed to sell the car. We looked into registering the car, equipping it with license plates. Then we learned what my father in-law didn’t know: Foreign cars imported into Denmark were subject to a tax of 150%  of the value of the car. The value was determined by the Danish State. In the US the car probably was worth $500 dollars, but the Danish State estimated its value to be $8000 dollars. The total price of registration would have been 53000 Danish Kroner. Having just moved to Denmark, and not having a job as yet, determined its fate. We didn’t have that kind of money. – And the car rusted –

My mother’s car had traveled far. Over 8 time zones from where it had been sold the first time. It managed to live out its final days, still in my ownership, in a dark garage in the Northern part of the Jutland Peninsula, Denmark. We were finally able to sell it for a fraction of the cost of shipping it, which meant that my father in-law never got his money back.

It was the fine print in the law which became the downfall of my  mom’s Dodge Dart Sport, and its future in Denmark. I sold it to a local auto mechanic, and watched it be driven away. Our time together was done with, but it still had the chance, to live on, in another existence.

Oh, by the way. The parts we bought in Baltimore, and transported in our suitcases, went with the car.

After all, what was I going to use them for?

Dodge Dart Sport


3 thoughts on “When not to turn right at a red signal

  1. Awww, I still think about that car sometimes. What an interesting time of it that car has had 🙂


  2. Once, shortly after we had moved to Seattle, while stopped at a solid-green left-turn light, Will made a U-turn to reach a freeway onramp behind him. His brother, a Washington native, was in the front seat and he screamed like the world was ending. In CA it is legal to make a U-turn on a green light. In WA it isn’t. U-turns are legal when posted only. It’s a mad mad mad mad world.


  3. Yes, imagine how much the Internet would’ve helped. You could have researched ON LINE the rules and regulations you would encounter in Denmark. Sad story.


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