Man And Car Of The People, By The People And For The People


You don’t see many congressmen driving
around Washington, D.C., in a 1966 slant-six
automatic Valiant. As a matter of fact right now
we can only think of one—Gary Ackerman (D.)
U.S. Representative for New York’s 5th District.
It’s his daily driver—no trailer for Gary. Back in
1977, Gary got a call from relatives in Florida.
His aunt had passed away and left this old car.
If he didn’t want it, they were going to scrap it.
Gary hopped on a plane and checked it out.
The Valiant’s clock showed under 22K. There
were some minor scratches, outside, but the
interior looked new. It was a real stripper—no
heater (not needed in Florida), no A/C and no
radio. Gary thought it was cool and drove the
car back to NY. But first he stopped at a local
gas station in his aunt’s neighborhood. Turns
out, it was the same station that his aunt had
the car regularly serviced. They said she had
changed the oil every month. The service guy
also told Gary to add lead substitute to the gas.
Heading north back to NY in a huge rain-

storm, one of the headlights blew. Pulling into a service station, Gary saw the service guy go through a couple of different parts books to find the replacement for the replacement bulb. These were the original headlights that had never before been turned on as his aunt never drove at night.
Gary says he gets lots of looks in comments in D.C. about the car. Young people ask what it is. He tells of one time he pulled up next to a special edition Rolls Royce at a light to get a good look. Gary rolled down his window. The Rolls driver rolled down his window, looked at Gary, pumped his fist up and down and exclaimed “Now, that’s a car!”
Gary’s take on the car? “In Washington, this car is not old. It has seniority!”

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