This week's community question is one inspired by the driving season finally opening and looking forward to possibly returning to some of our favorite roads, garages, and scenic rest stops. Even if you've only had your vintage ride for a week, you probably already have a favorite memory with it and we want to hear them.
For me it was five years ago when I bought a 1965 Corvair Corsa sight unseen on the internet and flew from Michigan to Texas to drive it home. I ended up making a pit stop in my parents driveway in Kansas to re-hang the exhaust after it broke. Rolling around on the driveway with dad was a real flashback and a memory I will have forever, even if we are bound to do it again soon.
After a few false starts with vintage-as-first-cars (51 chev, 51 F1 that were basket cases), getting my 69 GMC on the road. It was a 30+ year old truck at the time so rare to see in normal use in my rust belt area. My dad and uncle were heavily involved. This was the end of high school and we painted it bright orange (didn't like the brush-painted brown it came with) and ended up getting a job as a pizza delivery guy.
That pizza company was a big chain known for being all orange. Customers thought I did it on purpose --a standard steering pickup isn't the ideal pizza delivery vehicle. Didn't get a picture of myself in full-uniform with the hang-in-window sign on the truck --totally should have.
That truck disintegrated, but I have the salvageable bits (not many) and it will live again. It will also be orange.
I had two Sunbeam Tigers, 1965 I paid 900.00 Bucks for back in 1969 and another 1966 I paid 1400.00 for back in 1971. the 65 was wrecked but repairable but I was young and dumb and need a car, so I traded it for a Pinto. Dumb I know now. Second one was sold when I got married. another dumb idea, selling the car, not the marriage. They were both showroom mint at the time, guess what they are worth now?
My 280Z "Black Pearl" that I owned for 39 years was a constant pleasure to drive once I got done making it as good as it could be. It showed very well, but driving it was the larger joy. Once at Portland International Raceway, on a parade lap with the local Datun club, I dropped back down the main straight and took Turn 1 somewhat faster than the organizers might have approved. I can still viscerally recall the way the suspension settled down, the bite of the tires as it went past the apex, and the sound as it accelerated back on to the course. A friend in the stands took a photo just as my wife and I entered the turn.
In 1978 I owned a 1971 MGB. I was taking my 5 year old son to kindergarten when the car just quit at a light on the 4-lane bypass. I knew I had to push the car out of rush-hour traffic. Giving my 5 yo directions, he stood on the seat and steered the car into a right hand turn out of traffic. Immediately to our right was a shopping center with a steep downgrade into the empty parking lot. With me yelling directions, he jumped into the seat to hit the brake and glided expertly into a parking spot. Needless to say, I was one proud father!
I now have my second and last "classic" car -- the same 1966 Corvair Corsa convertible I bought in January 1968 in Fargo, ND the night before I went to Viet Nam the second time. Longish story, but the short version is that I stumbled across it in 2013 on line, bought it back in 2014 believing it was in reasonable shape, and it wasn't. After a 7+ year restoration right down to bare metal on a rotisserie for two years, I got it back last September. Driving it was another visceral experience -- as though I was 24 years old again. I have no photos of it on the road, and it's been raining a lot so I can't take any. But it's a beauty, drives wonderfully and is now Precisely as I remember it. Every time I take it out even for a short drive, it's still the newest and best moment replayed over and over again. Looking forward to drier, warmer weather when I can put the top down and just take a Sunday drive to nowhere once again.
I wish I had a pic. For 2 years in college, I had a '57 Chevy wagon bought for $275 in 1965. Many fond memories of piling 8 or 9 people into wagon and heading to the river beach, to D.C. and other fun places. We used to run "time trials" out on Waddels Run Road in Wheeling, WV. A great 6 cylinder stick shift ride painted with multiple coats of Sahara Mist gold lacquer.
Back in the late 1970's I needed to install a new clutch in my relatively new to me 1969 SAAB 96V4. My friend Bill had offered to let me do the job in his wood stove heated barn/garage so in the very early morning I headed over to his place ... about 6 miles of very nice back roads.
It had snowed about 6 inches of light powdery snow the night before but it was warm enough that I could drive with the window open. The road I was on was not plowed and I was the first car down the road. There was zero wind and the snow hushed most sounds as the sure footed and cozy little SAAB 96 & I made our way down the road at about 30 MPH. The feeling washed over me like a warm wave ... THIS, yes THIS ... is what the little SAAB was made for! I can close my eyes and go back to that moment any time I sit in my SAAB 96.
One of my best car memories occurred just this past year when I took a Megatrip in my 1965 Lotus Elan as a 77 year old driver.
Starting from my home in Colorado Springs, Colorado I touched eight points on the map on this trip including the four furthest points in the contiguous USA which are reachable by public road:
I spent 36 days on the road, with 33 actual driving days from April 11 through May 20, 2021. The distance travelled was over 11,544 miles, avoiding Interstates as much as possible, averaging 350 miles per day. I crossed both geographic centers in traversing the country…a real “Cross Country Drive.”
My 1st and 2nd favorite moments can only be told in private so you're getting a distant third: After spending a great day at a New England Summer National car show in my T-Bucket about an hour and a half away from home, the weather turned quite cold. The girl with me that day (coincidentally also key to favorite moment #1) agreed to let me put the hammer down to get home and warm as quickly as possible. Cruising right around 90 MPH in the left lane of the interstate I wasn't quite sure as we approached, but it looked like it might be...YES it was a state trooper parked just off the left lane shoulder! Figuring even trying to slow down in time would've been a useless gesture I didn't even lift. A roofless, windowless car with side pipes at speed is loud enough but during the few milliseconds my slash cut pipe reflected off that trooper's car the noise was startling even to me. If he was asleep he surely would've been awakened by that. If not, I must've had too much of a lead for him to run me down. Either way, I never saw him again and that's one of the moments that help me to accept paying the fines that I do incur.
Favorite memory? Whew, that's a tough one - have an almost endless list of memories in my (and others') classics. So, I'll pick the one that I seem to tell the most often (but whether it qualifies as the "favorite" is only possible because it is the most livid). I had a '55 Chevy Bel Air 2-door hardtop (one of several that I went through in the '60s and '70s). I was a gas station attendant at the time (spring of 1968), and sure wasn't bringing home much of a paycheck. So whenever I could scrape up $50 to do something to the car, it was mostly a part or enhancement added with a lot of my own labor. When I thought I had a job offer to go be a hod-carrier in Carson City, Nevada for the summer, I packed some clothes in the back seat and headed the Chevy southward. Long story made shorter, the job didn't pan out, but I was having so much fun that I stayed for a few months, even landing a job as a Lot-boy at a car dealership. But the outflow as way more than the income, and by the end of summer, I was sleeping in the back seat and buying more gas than I was food for myself. Desperate, I sold the Bel Air in Reno for $35.00 cash. It cost me $17.00 for a Greyhound Bus ticket home, and I bought a sandwich and soda in the terminal to keep me alive until the bus left. I arrived home almost penniless and without wheels. I often wonder if that '55 Chevy was fixed up and still lives on today, or if the guy sold it to the crusher for $50 and felt great about his profit! Ahhh - the good ol' days. What memories! 😋
Driving around the neighborhood in my 1939 Dodge truck with my best buddy on my lap. Home Depot, Ace hardware, NAPA, they all know us. The truck is mechanically very good but far from perfect cosmetically, loud rattling and creaky but a genuine hoot!!!
This may be a little odd, but it is a sound that occurs when I dry my car off with a chamois cloth. The cast metal induction grill insert on the hood produces a unique high pitched noise every time I wipe the chamois across it. First time I heard that sound was almost 40 years ago. We sold the car in 1992, but 23 years later, my loving wife found it and we bought it back on our 30TH wedding anniversary. Every time I wash and wipe down it since it came back, that sound takes me back to the first time I heard it, and also makes it feels like it was never gone.
Not odd at all to serious car lovers. It's those little things that often mean more than the big stories in keeping our hearts in tune with the joys of our hobby. It's a sweet story, and you have been blessed not only with that sound-evoked memory, but with a heckuva great wife too! 😍
Having grown up in a automotive life style I could never pin point one single thing as my favorite.
Do I pick my time on track at Mid Ohio, a local circle track in a stock car? Trading 100 mph laps with my wife at Indy in my car and parking in victory lane with the actual pace car with my car for a photo.
Or is it driving from San Diego to San Francisco in a 911 Carrera on the PCH?
Could it be where I pull the left front tire off the ground in my Chevy to discourage a would be racer from a street race.
Was it driving down the halls of a office building to display my car? Or driving in the retail store of Summit Racing to display it on their turn table.
Was it driving a Hot Rod cover car around Reno at Hot August Nights?
Maybe it was riding with my neighbor in his 59 FI Corvette, or hanging onto the roll cage of my other neighbors stock car taking laps at a local track.
or was it the adventure where we passed beverages between cars at speed or when we were towing a Road Runner and the tow truck ran out of gas. I then pushed the truck with the Road Runner to the gas station.
How about jumping a Sunbeam Alpine through an intersection. Or Doing Rockford Bootleg turns in a Firebird.
Sitting in the driver seat of Sonic 1 Spirit of America jet car as a kid. Climbing into John Greenwoods BFG Corvette L88 back when show cars were the real race car.
Crashing my first new car and still driving it home after hitting a van at 45 mph. Yet still showing the car today.
Riding in the back of my Aunts Olds wagon, my uncles Sport Roadster TBird. Or driving my Grand mother in my Fiero at 90 years old and trying to explain that it is not a Ferrari.
having a VW chassis as a go cart at 12 years old. Running a 8,000 mile Corvair on the streets of Akron with no windshield, head lamps or hood latch. The faster we went the more the bungee cord stretched and the hood obscured our vision. But it was a first drive after being parked for 25 years.
None of this is bragging it was just my life. There are more and just too many drives and memories to just pick one. Maybe some day I could write of my adventures as some have as a book, but that will need to wait as I have more adventures and memories to live yet.
Summer of 1980: 20 years old and street racing at night on West Dodge Road past the 76th and West Dodge Drive In. Paid $700 for a 69 Buick GS. 400 Ram AIr automatic on the column, bench seat with air conditioning. It's not what you drive; It's how you drive. I did not get beat very many times. Probably because I was young, dumb, and had no fear.