- "300 easy clams from the sucker of the world."
- ―Myrt Lesh
Barney's First Car
April 1, 1963
Barney announces to Andy that he has withdrawn all the money from his savings account ($300) and intends to buy his own car. He sees an advertisement for a 1954 Ford that claims it's only been "driven to church on Sunday" and decides to call the seller and buy it.
The next day, Barney and Andy are sitting on Andy's front porch as Myrt "Hubcaps" Lesh drives up in the car. Unbeknownst to Barney, Mrs. Lesh is the ringleader of an automotive "chop shop" and the car, while looking spectacular on the surface, is a total lemon. Mrs. Lesh plays herself up as a sweet widow whose "dear husband Bernard" owned the car previously. She even goes so far as to encourage Barney to have the car checked out by a mechanic, but Barney is so taken by her and the prospect of owning the car that he hands over his $300 almost immediately. Afterwards, Mrs. Lesh is picked up by her son (or nephew) and the two drive away, gratuitously celebrating their dishonest sale.
Barney invites Thelma Lou, Andy, Aunt Bee, Opie, and Gomer out for a Sunday drive. As they are driving, strange noises begin sounding from the car. A part (maybe the muffler) drops from the car at one point. Finally, the steering column begins to protrude towards Barney as he grabs it. Barney stops the car with the engine overheating. After Andy gets water for the car, Barney, distraught by the fact he may have been had, lets Andy drive the car back before it makes even more noise and finally dies. Everyone takes turns pushing it back to town while Thelma Lou steers.
Back at the courthouse, Gomer arrives, having just checked out the car. Gomer reads off an exhaustive list of all the repairs the car needs along with an important discovery: sawdust in the transmission and differential, which makes worn gears run smoothly for a short time and is "the oldest car hustlers' trick in the book" according to Andy. This is all Andy needs to take the car back to Mrs. Lesh and blow their operation.
Andy and Barney attempt to drive the car back, but it goes dead again on the dirt road. Andy calls Gomer to come pick them up and he and Barney wait in the back seat and take a nap. A tow truck arrives and begins to tow the car, but it is from Lesh's shop. Andy and Barney awaken and notice the tow truck is not Gomer's, but decide to stay hidden to see if they are taken to the chop shop. Once they arrive, Barney loads his one bullet in his pistol and he and Andy place Myrt and her boys under arrest.
Barney, with his $300 refunded, attempts to buy another car. When the seller, another old spinster lady, arrives at the courthouse, Barney refuses to believe she is on the level. He even goes so far as to insultingly associate her with "Hubcaps" Lesh, but then her nephew, a minister, arrives asking if the sale has been made. Barney is obviously embarrassed.
Barney becomes "Mr. Independent Wheels" when he spends most of his savings on a used car -- only to find he's been taken by a bunco ring led by mastermind Myrt "Hubcaps" Lesh . Barney gets to almost enjoy a perfect drive with Andy, Thelma Lou, Aunt Bee, Opie and Gomer Pyle. Gomer, who gets carsickness, claimed to be sick as a dog, but having the time of his life. The gang began to sight see, enjoying Mr. Johnson's barn. Thelma Lou even mentions how she loves red barns. The car begins to make an odd noise, and too much grease in the steering column becomes obvious. Eventually everyone, minus an upset Barney, begins to push the car back. The next day, Gomer brings by the results of the car. He shows them where he found sawdust under the hood. Andy realizes then that Barney was in fact swindled. They began to drive the car back, only to have it break down again. Later, thinking Gomer had finally arrived to tow them, they look closer to realize it wasn't Gomer's truck. Slouching down, they sneak into the gang's main hangout. Barney quickly pulls out his gun and confronts the crooks with Andy.
- Andy Griffith selected this episode as his all-time favorite.
- This episode was voted one of the top 10 fan favorite episodes.
- In the sixth episode, Runaway Kid, Barney owns a car.
- At the end of the episode Myrt tries to talk Barney out of arresting her and says he can have a sweet 1958 car that's been up on blocks since 1959!
- Ellen Corby who plays Myrt went on to play the role of Grandma in The Waltons.
- Years later, Don Knotts would be reunited with Andy Griffith on Matlock, where Knotts played Matlock's annoying neighbor who was accused of killing the salesman's partner, who also sold him a lemon.
- Gomer mentions that he gets carsick, but in other episodes he is fine sitting in a car, like A Black Day for Mayberry.
- Barney tells Andy that he once bought his mom and dad a septic tank as an anniversary present. Gomer said he did the same in an episode of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. (series).
- Barney's lemon that he bought from Myrt is going to need plugs, points, bearings, valves, rings, starter switch, ignition wires, water pump, fuel pump, oil pump, clutch, clutch bearings, clutch plate, brake lining, brake shoes, brake drums, radiator hose, and a radiator hose cover. The car could use a good wash too. Also, sawdust was found in the differential and transmission.
- This episode is one of the few times a actual product is mentioned. Barney identifies it as a 1954 Ford. Hudson Terraplane is also mentioned when Barney is reading the classified ads. In the epilogue, Myrt is selling a 1959 Ford.
- The $300 Barney pays for the car would be equivalent to $2,300 in today's money.
- Andy mentions that it usually takes an hour to drive to Mount Pilot. This distance varies throughout the series.
Barney: “The last big buy I made was my mom's and dad's anniversary present.”
Andy: “What'd ya get 'em?”
Barney: “Septic tank.
Andy: “For their anniversary?”
Barney: “Yeah. Oh, they're really hard to buy for. Besides, it was something they could use. They were really thrilled. Two tons of concrete, all steel reinforced."
Andy: “You’re a fine son, Barn.”
Barney: “I try.”
Gomer: She's gonna need: Plugs, points, bearin's, valves, rings, starter switch, ignition wires, water pump, fuel pump, oil pump, clutch, clutch bearin's, clutch plate, brake linin', brake shoes, brake drums, radiator hose and radiator hose couplin'...And I'd give 'er a good wash, too.
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