The day started just like most, my daughter complaining about her brother in the back seat, window rolled down, trying to spit without smearing the window behind him (didn’t work so well yesterday). “Why do boys spit so much?” she asked her all knowledgeable Dad. “Just because I said” Good answer I thought.
After we dropped her off (much to her relief), my son climbing in the shotgun position next to me as usual, and our conversation turned to cars. (Again). “Dad” he starts,” I think I am going to settle for a Ferarri instead of a Lamborghini or Bugatti”. This is a big decision for him. All he has talked about for the last year has been supercars, and how he is going to get one when he gets his license. I, of course, go along with it knowing he will figure it out when he gets older (I hope). He looks at them online, knows where all the dealerships are, and his idea of a perfect vacation is flying to LA and going to the supercar dealership there. That would make him happy (until the next thing).
The joke between us is that I have threatened to give him my old Honda Pilot when the time comes for him to drive. He thinks I was joking but with a hint of it in his head that I would actually do it. When I sold it, I think it was a big relief for him. He was into Range Rovers at the time, and I told him that I would buy Range Rover decals and paste on the Pilot, and none of his friends would know the difference. He saw right through that one.
He is experimenting turning the wheel as I drive on the way to his school. He says it’s practice for when I have a heart attack, and he has to take over to avoid a crash. He says the only thing I have to do is step on the brake, which he will yell for me to do when I have it. He also says he will drive me to the nursing home when I am eighty. Good kid for sure. But I will have to get used to riding in his Ferarri, and he says he is going to go pretty fast. Then I drop him off at school. (much to my relief).
That gets me to thinking about my first car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS. I got it the same day I turned 16, the same day I passed my driver’s license test, the same day as my first ever date with a girl. That was a big day. My parents had bought it for my Mom the previous year with the intention of giving it to me. (Hey, they were only in their 40’s). I loved that car, although it had the smaller engine of the models. Which was probably a good thing. My first week I had the car, I rear-ended a teacher at my school when he stopped in the middle of the street to pick up a hitchhiker, and I was fiddling with the radio. We were going pretty slow, didn’t cause much damage, but it taught me never to look away from the road, and my parents weren’t mad at all.
The car had a quirk of going into full acceleration if I made a left turn too fast. The gas pedal would go all the way to the floor, even in town. Many mechanics looked at the car, said it was in my head, so I just got used to driving it that way. About a year later, I hung around with some gearheads whose Dad owned a service station, and we figured it out. It had a broken motor mount, and the engine would tip over when making a left, pulling the cable to the gas pedal. We also figured out how it broke. Because the car was too underpowered for me, in order to squeal the tires I had to power brake it (holding the brake and gas down at the same time to rev up the engine). Kids.
The memories of my first car are endless, from my first girlfriend (wish it had a bench seat in front), to friends going to games, beating the loop (in town), going to the A & W to eat, playing music as loud as I could, all the windows down, hair blowing in the wind, and just being free like only a car can give you. A nice car at that age gives you status, and I think maybe I went up the scale from being a farm kid to having a very cool car. I was pretty much ignored by girls up until then. That soon changed, but that’s another story. Can you remember your first car and the memories you made? I bet you can.
My first girlfriend named my car, which I can’t remember. I think it’s a little late to give her a call and ask her what it was.
My daughter,14, has no interest in cars and driving. I will want her to get something safe (and slow). But no matter what I have to do, I am going to make sure my son gets a very cool car as his first car (no, not a supercar). A car defines you in a way, I should know, working in the car business for 28 years, we could accurately guess the personality of the owner by the car they drive. (And sell them accordingly). I don’t want him to be labeled as a nerd (sorry Prius owners), or poor, or mean, or dumb, or stuck up. I want him to feel good about what he drives, just like I did.
Whatever happened to the Camaro? Well, cars in those days don’t last as long as today, and we ended up selling it for $800. I moved on to a convertible. I sure wish I still had it today. One thing I know for sure. It would be worth a whole lot more than a Jim Beam bottle collection……