Cool Cars From My Formative Years
Being a lifelong Michigander (person from Michigan) my love affair will all things powered by an internal combustion engine started early inlife for me. My dad worked in Chrysler’s central engineering department and was involved with the factory drag race teams supported by Chrysler during the win on Sunday sell on Monday ‘60’s. As a kid I was weaned playing around some of the fastest and now rare Super Stock drag racers of the day. I only wish I knew it at the time as I sat in driver seat wearing the helmet pretending I was driving while some of the brightest “car guys” of the day were wrenching on the fuel injected Hemi engine known today as the “elephant motor.”
While my roots were with Mopar, I did grow up in an inter-manufacturer neighborhood during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. As a pre-teen my best friend’s parents worked at Ford later, several of my high school buddies were solid GM guys, one of my friends dad was the business manager at a large Pontiac dealership. Another guy’s dad was in charge of fuel injection development for Bendix Corporation. At that time Cadillac was heavily invested in fuel injection development so every day we rode to high school in a new Cadillac Deville, Eldorado, or Seville that he took out of the developmental fleet. A several times he picked me up in a Cosworth Vega, the only cool Vega Chevrolet ever made. I played hockey with the guy whose dad worked for GM Purchasing, he always seemed to have new Monte Carlo’s, Grand Prix’s with some Bonneville’s and Caprice’s mixed in. Just like my day’s playing in super stock Mopars I was doing everyday stuff in some very cool cars, then disaster struck.
In the mid to late 70’s just as it was finally our turn to drive, the oil embargo happened and cool cars suddenly became dinosaurs. For all of our patience waiting and waiting for our driver license we were rewarded with the worst cars ever to be sold in the US. We had Granada’s, Volare’s, and Malabu’s as the new cars to aspire to; even today it makes me cringe. But there was some good that came from all of this.
The American manufactures were building very poor cars so as young men we started looking at and learning to appreciate the cars from Japan and Germany. At this time these were still pretty rare commodities in the Midwest but we began to realize that cool cars could come in many shapes, sizes and nationalities. We had come to the realization that a two seat Datsun 280 Z was a much cooler car than a two seat Ford Capri. A boxy BMW handled better and was straight up faster than a boxy Ford Thunderbird. As much as I disliked them then and still dislike those cars today, the American cars of the 80’s did open our eyes and help us appreciate all “special cars,” (see our ongoing definition of “Cool Cars”).
Today well into my middle age but still a kid at heart cars, boats and just about anything with a motor are still in my blood. Like the old saying goes, the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. That said, while the price of my motorized toys is significantly more than the plastic ones Santa brought me, the toys Santa brought usually ended up in the garbage while the expensive ones usually make me several dollars after I’m through playing with them. To me this is the beauty of the car hobby, you can buy a toy car, enjoy it and it you’ve done any research at all on the front end usually sell it for more than you have invested.
A bigger factor for me to be in the car hobby is the people I have met and the friendships I have forged along the way. Barry McGuire often talks about this on his TV show, Car Crazy. Show up at any car cruise with just about any type of cool car and no matter how shy you may or may not be you’ve got an opening to start a conversation. Just as every car has a story, every car person has car stories, usually many of them, most of them funny. Here we’ll share some humorous stories, we’ll look at some new cars, we’ll look at some old cars and most importantly they’ll all be special cars. Please share your car stories, pictures and thoughts; we’re looking forward to hearing from you and hearing all about your cool car.