My dad’s favorite family excursion was to a car show or a swap meet in Carlyle, Pennsylvania, and I hated them. A car show? Really? Who wants to walk around for three hours looking at old cars? But it was a family outing so I didn’t have a choice. And there were funnel cakes and hot dogs.
Dad owned an auto parts store, and he’d worked on cars since before he learned how to drive, my uncles told me. As far back as I can remember there was always an extra car or two sitting on the side of the house waiting for repair. Not just hot rods; all kinds of American cars. He loved Chevys. I can remember when I figured out what “Found On Road Dead” meant.
Once, he converted an ’80s Monte Carlo for racing and took it to stock car races on weekends, but that was short lived. Mostly, he restored cars, sometimes with friends or relatives—like my uncle’s 1967 Stingray that took months. He truly loved the 1973 Blue Corvette with side pipes he restored for himself, though he took the pipes off after he burned his leg on one.
I came to like cars after I was allowed to drive his, and even more when I learned to drive stick.
But then my Toyota Corolla got stolen while I was in college, and my brother let me drive his 1972 purple Chevelle until I got a new car. All at once, people at stop lights started to look over and say “nice car!” That never happened with the Corolla. And the power . . . . In that car, driving was about way more than just getting there.
“You gotta have more Chevys in your line,” my dad says now. So I’m on the lookout for a 1971 Stingray in Los Angeles, with or without side pipes.