The Story Behind Lifemobile
Several years ago, I bought a Chevy Corvair on Ebay, a ’65 Corsa convertible. Black with a white top. I think I liked looking at it as much as I liked driving it. Not that it was perfectly restored or in cherry condition – far from it. But it was such a gorgeously styled car; to me, at least. And I had grown up with Corvairs. My father had owned two of them.
As both my children will attest, I often do silly things. And when I brought the Corvair home – a thousand mile drive without incident from Kansas City – my son wanted nothing to do with it. “It’s just an old car, Dad,” he repeated over and over. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome, or what some call “high-functioning autism.” He can be pretty rigid at times, and when he makes his mind up about something, that’s it.
Not this time, however. I told him about Ralph Nader's famous book, Unsafe at Any Speed, and the harm it did to the Corvair’s reputation and sales. Then I told him what most people don’t know; that many years after the book was published, the U.S. government found the Corvair was as safe or safer than comparable cars of its time.
“So Corvairs weren’t really unsafe,” he said. “They got stereotyped because they were different. Like me.” A chill went up my spine that he saw himself in — and felt such a kinship with — this car. Suddenly, he became fascinated by all things Corvair and only wanted to ride in our Corvair. To my astonishment, he even volunteered to help me work on it. We’ve spent a lot of very high quality time together on our Corvair. It turned out that buying it wasn’t so silly after all. It was wonderful.
That's how I came to write Lifemobile, a story about a special boy and a special car that changes the boy’s world forever.
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