Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cars I Drove In My Youth

People say they want to know more about me, about where I came from, about what I did. Today's blog is about the cars I started out driving.

Blame it on the Numb3rs episode I watched last night. But here they are.

My first car, when I was 17, paid for it myself although my dad told me what to buy, was a 1967 Chevrolet Impala. Mine was brown. These things were land yachts. I mean, HUGE. But I put an 8-track in and I was in heaven. The 8-track cost me $26 back then and I thought that was outrageous.

But the Impala had a rebuilt engine that didn't stay that way. Six months later, I had no car. So I got another, a 1969 Chrysler Fury that my dad also recommended to me. It was a box but it had a 383 engine that would tear up the highways where I grew up.

Still, I hated it. I got rid of it as soon as I could.

My brother Johnny covered the interior with shag carpet, hung fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror, and jacked up the shackles in the back so much that it rode as hard as a log wagon and actually rolled off the road with him. Back in the 1970s, those upgrade packages could turn any vehicle into a showcar. Especially when you threw in speakers that could have doubled as wardrobe armoires!

My next car was pretty cool. It was a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Mine was green over green. I really liked that car. It drove well. Plenty of speed. And handled like a dream. I kept it for a couple years. It was the first car I ever had to make payments on.

I was working at Solo Cup Factory in Ada then. I was making $90 a week. My payments were $56.16 a month, so it averaged out to $14.04 a week (which was 1/6th of my check!). I owed a 3-year note to the bank, but I paid it off early. I hated having payments. I still do. All our cars now are paid for. I'd rather save up and buy something completely than owe for it.

I mounted a CB radio in it and evaded Smokey all the time. I didn't roll the double-nickle on the highways, dude!

But Smokey and the Bandit with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field came out in 1977. I wanted to be Burt, and I wanted Sally. Man, she was hawt!

I couldn't afford the black and gold Pontiac Trans Am that was featured in the movie (sticker price $8250 new, with the gold honeycomb wheels). So I bought a one-year old 1976 Pontiac Formula.

The Formula had the 400 engine and a four-speed Hurst shift that was AMAZING. I learned how to power slide, run through gears like a madman, and feather a clutch like nobody's business. If I could have back any car I've owned, it would be this one.

I did eventually get a Trans Am. A chocolate one that I drove for about four years. It was an automatic. I had the big bird on front, but I missed the four-speed. However, at the time I was living in Oklahoma City and shifting all the time would wear you out.

Jim Rockford drove a gold one in The Rockford Files. Mine was silver with the distinctive Formula markings you see on this one.

To tie everything together, Sally Field and James Garner starred in a great romance movie called Murphy's Romance. According to Sally, the onscreen kiss she shared with Garner was the best kiss she ever received in a movie.

My kids act like I've always been Dad. They don't think of me as driving a fast car, or doing stuff that I shouldn't have been doing. Which is why I cringe when their uncles start telling stories. Especially about me and motorcycles.

I can still scare them to death with my driving when I get in a hurry. They think I don't know what I'm doing, but I learned to drive with rear-wheel traction and in back roads where you could do all kinds of things you can't do here in the city. I love driving and I love going fast. I just don't do that with kids in the car. Most of the time.

Hope you enjoyed the tour down memory lane! Now I want another muscle car!


Katie said...

You have had some great cars! I love a good muscle car and there is just something about what are now classics that seem so much better than the brand new whatever. I like the ricers though too. Makes me miss my fast little car...

Ron Simpson said...

I saw the title and the lead pic and fell over laughing. It almost looked like you were saying you took her for a ride.....trying to keep it clean....I would not have blamed you.