Wednesday, September 18, 2013

For Sale ~ Written by Michael Smith

Written by Michael Smith

I have decided to sell my three 60’s cars. They are expensive, and they always need something. It really is not a practical hobby.  I’m going to sell all three of them. I’m over it. They are just old cars, and I could put the money in the 401k. I don’t know why I got them in the first place. I guess they reminded me of something, not sure what.

I remember when I was 16 years old in 1968, and my first car was a 1963 Buick Wildcat 2-door hardtop with bucket seats and a 401 cubic inch engine.  It was big, fast, and had lots of chrome.  To me, it was the most beautiful material item in the world.  Saturday mornings were devoted to washing, vacuuming and shining this nineteen foot cruiser.  The old style lacquer paint made the light blue color look as deep as the sky.

Many of my adolescent dreams were tied up with that car.  It was galloping freedom; it was dating the prettiest girls.  It was a sign of future success and opulence.  Cruising through drive-ins, the Buick was noticeable but classy.  I thought it looked good parked with the front wheels turned slightly to the left as if crouching, ready to spring.

On the less glamorous side, this beautiful Buick also got my buddies and me to school and to work.  (Yeah, I had to have a job to have the car.  Duh?)  But even in class I dreamed about my car parked across the street ready to roar away as soon as the last bell rang. 

Some of this early love for cars came from my older brother who had already moved out of the house and lived in Florida.  When he was in high school, he had a 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe two-door sedan with a stovebolt six and a three-speed.  (And I have never forgotten how to manually shift as learned in that Chevy.)  Yes, it had fender skirts, dice hanging in the mirror, and the exhaust was a little louder than stock.  Somehow he traded up to a two-tone green 1954 Bel Air convertible.  Again, I remember fender skirts and dice.  I thought it felt swell cruising with the top down, but my brother didn’t like the car because the top leaked and it was a six cylinder with Powerglide.

Just before making his big move to Florida, he traded for a two-tone blue 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air two-door sedan with a 283 Power Pack, power steering and power brakes.  He even let me drive it some in the neighborhood.  I still remember my first taste of the smooth V8 power and the easy two-finger steering.  The smoothness and the magnitude of the power just under the right foot was not only felt, it was also seen; it was visible in the flares of the sheet metal and the glimmering chrome. 
And then there was the red 1957 Ford Thunderbird owned by my older sister’s boyfriend.  I never talked him into letting me drive it (since I was only twelve). But I sure was enthralled by the exhaust note of that 312 Y-block V8 and bedazzled by the engine-turned dash trim.  It had a bench seat, so they would take me for short rides, but they seemed to be in a hurry to drop me off and go on by themselves.

My best friend at that time was almost a year older than I was.  When he turned sixteen, his mom said she would buy him any car he wanted up to a certain amount.  Wow, did we find the car!  He acquired a 1965 Pontiac GTO hardtop with three deuces and a four speed.  That is when I learned about the almost out-of-body experience of torque being delivered massively to wheels just behind your seat, that incredible sensation of power so great it outpaces the traction from the weight of the vehicle.  Did I mention the smell of burning rubber?  Anyway, that car had very little chrome and looked great because of its crisp, angular styling and those stacked headlights.  The grab bar on the passenger side of the dash was a nice touch, too.

After I got my Wildcat, my friend and I were a tag team, double dating, cruising the drive-ins, taking road trips to the beach.  Sometimes we tore up the back roads testing speedometers on the well-known straightaways. 

So maybe I won’t sell those old cars.  They are in the garage.  At least I can still touch them.  They do remind me of something or some people or some times.  When I have one out late at night with the top down, once in a while I’ll step on it just to hear the tires chirp.

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