By on January 21, 2020

No, we’re not talking about your divorce. Keep that baggage to yourself! Rather, we’re talking about the person in your life who kindled that spark — that interest, and yes, perhaps even that love of cars.

As the TTAC crew says goodbye to a very good guy who just happened to hold passionate opinions about the auto industry (and can’t be blamed for cursing several American vehicles of the 1980s and ’90s), let’s get personal.

First off, rest in peace, Mike.

In your author’s case, the person responsible for a lifelong interest in most things automotive isn’t surprising. My father, may he also rest in peace, loved cars. Never had much money to spend on them, but loved them just the same. When he wasn’t spouting the foulest language at his daily driver while the mercury threatened to break through the bottom of the thermometer, that is.

I still remember the moment our family made the switch to fuel injection. After a stroke back in the late ’90s, leaving him temporarily with the use of one arm and one leg, dad was out in the garage adjusting the carburetor setting on his ’79 Pontiac Sunbird to prepare for the coming season. It didn’t go well. Not long after that, never wanting to tinker under the hood of another car in the freezing cold ever again, he visited a government auction and returned home with a brace of identical Chevy Corsicas once owned by the Department of Defence. The switch was made.

From childhood onward, the coffee table in our house, without fail, contained a stack of Collectible Automobile magazines. I got him one on our last Christmas together. Way back when, I knew more about DeSoto than an 8-year-old should, and the early focus on classics eventually turned me into a lifelong land yacht fetishist. Love the boats. I’ll never forget the car show we went to where adolescent Steph was exposed to the new 1995 Buick Riviera. Truth be told, the topic of autonomous driving and discussion of things like LIDAR turns my brain to mush and spawns fantasies of returning to an earlier, less sterile time.

On our last visit together, dad told me about his most memorable road trip. I could only make out every third or fourth word, but the trip in question was through Montana, via Calgary. He spoke of the great, wide-open spaces that make one feel like the small human they are. One day I hope to make that same trip. I used to take epic road trips through vast, unknown wilderness, and I feel it’s something I need in my life again.

It’s true that the prevailing topic between me and me dad, throughout my adulthood, was cars. It was almost always the first thing to come up in conversation. From his hospital bed, he told me how GM’s four-cylinder Silverado was a dumb idea and not worth the trouble.

Without cars, it’s possible we wouldn’t have had such long and engaging conversations. It’s possible we wouldn’t have been as close.

Who do you credit for infecting you with the car bug?

[Images: Murilee Martin/TTAC, Steph Willems]

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51 Comments on “QOTD: Who’s to Blame?...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    For me I caught the bug from a couple uncles who had menacing muscle cars. I remember at a young age being afraid of their cars. Then, in my teenage years and beyond seeking that feeling of being *afraid* of a car again, leading to building deathtrap hotrods and driving them moronically.

    Both my grandfathers drove Cadillacs and Lincolns which were still very aspirational at the time. I loved going for rides in them even with nowhere to go.

  • avatar
    NoID

    My father, for sure. Back when our family had some money to throw around he was shopping for a hot rod, and took me along for a test drive in a C2 Corvette that he was considering. That is when I was first conscious of the bug bite, but my parents also tell a story of when my father owned a classic Chevy pickup truck that was on the loud side. When he would start it up my siblings, all older than I, would run for cover while I toddled toward the beast with open arms and a wide grin.

    I’m happy to say I believe this bug has been passed on to my children, by virtue of my job allowing me to bring home a multitude of interesting automobiles. I don’t think any of them will follow me into the industry, but they all want something cool to drive one day. That’s good enough for me.

    Back to that test drive…to my initial dismay he chose a lavender 1964 Buick Skylark over the C2 ‘Vette, but that car had its own charm, and as a bonus didn’t require my father to invest in gold chains and V-neck T-shirts to keep up appearances.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    My dad, a natural teacher would get me under the hood of every car/boat/snowmobile we had and would just talk about everything he was doing and why, so as I grew-up I just seemed to have a natural understanding of mechanical issues, maintenance and different tools etc. My dad is 93 now and has trouble following conversations until the subject turns to cars then he’s clear as a bell and still on top of it. I still consult and seek his advice on my automotive issues. Love ya, dad :)

  • avatar
    Jon

    My uncle took my family on Imogene Pass in a Bronco II when i was 10. Ive been hooked on four-wheeling and vehicles (by proxy) since then.

  • avatar
    Boff

    There’s a picture of me at 13 months sitting in front of a Fisher-Price steering wheel-dash-gearshift toy…don’t know if that was the spark, or if the toy was bought for me because I was driving my dinner plate (a habit I kept up through kindergarten at least).

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I guess it would be my dad, but he wasn’t that much of a car guy, and didn’t work on them, except for maybe replacing a burned out bulb. I can first remember being interested in cars when I was about five, and first drawing cars in first grade.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Hmmm… Mine is a two part answer- my dad was an engineer and had a geek fascination with machines. We drove a string of 2-cycle 3-cylinder SAAB’s throughout the 1960’s and had at least two pairs of his ‘n hers matching cars. Dad loved ‘em.

    We lived in snow country and they were really one of the only FWD cars available. Dad NEVER slowed down for the snow. He sped up: on his studded snow tires he was the master of the icy road. He loved that the cars were “designed by aircraft engineers” (and in those days they were) so you had unibody construction and great aerodynamics … in 1960. They also had designed in crush structure and standard belts…they were engineered to be safe, he said. And then there was that engine! He thought it was a wonderful design, perfect in its minimalist simplicity: three cylinders because you don’t -really- need four. No valve train. He used to say “the red line is the destruction point of the materials”, which was a double-edged joke since the engines would seize up if the oil-mixture wasn’t perfect.

    Anyhow, he loved to talk with me about design and engineering and the things you could do if you weren’t limited by conventional wisdom. So looking at cars became a fascinating exercise in design choices and compromises. “Why did they choose to do -this-?”

    As for the joy of driving, well that started with a boyfriend of my sister’s. He would come by looking for her (in those pre-cell phone days, it was hit or miss on knowing where people were), and if she wasn’t home he would often take me for a drive in one of his rich dad’s cars. There was the 1964 Tempest convertible which was cool, but it was the Austin Healy 3000 that addicted me to sports cars and speed. I still remember being out on the interstate and the little shudder when he put it into overdrive and took us up to an (indicated, but hey!) 120 miles an hour with the top down. It was like a first hit of crack cocaine, and I wanted that rush again. I’ve never recovered.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My dad, no doubt.

    He did his own repairs, for us and many others. Then when I got my first car at 16, he helped me work on it, and the next few.

    Much of this was driven by need rather than want. Sadly, being more prosperous than I was, my kids never really caught the bug.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    I was born with it. My father, who could fix anything, hated working on cars and never took the time to show me how to do anything under the hood. When I was 17 my mother purchased a me set of fog lights as a Christmas present and, while I stood by like Ralphie in A Christmas Story trying to help, my dad bitched and screamed for every second of the hour or so he spent wiring them on the front of my Nova.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      “In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenity, that as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”

      My father never swore… ever… unless he hit his head on the underside of a hood or received a face full of rust dust or dirt while working under the suburban. I picked up that habit, until i discovered that sipping on scotch makes fixing the truck a lot more pleasant.

    • 0 avatar

      Mine too was innate. My mom tells the story of me at age two or three, wanting to go to McDs so we could sit by the window and I could watch the cars go by.

      Micro Machines were my favorite toys, followed by 1:18 scale models.

      And we all had a carpet with a city and roads on it, where we drove the MMs around.

      My Big Wheel was my car, then the Kitt Car, then a 10 speed.

      • 0 avatar
        Thomas Kreutzer

        As kids, we used to sit in parking lot while we waited for our parents in the store and playing “my car, your car.” Basically, as the various cars passed by on the streets – basically every other car was mine and the others yours.

        It was the ’70s so you either got something awesome or something totally crappy.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Primary influence was my late dad. He helped me work on lawn mowers when I was 12, outboard motors at 14, and cars at 16.

    Secondary was uncle Bob. He ran a repair garage and owned a Jag XK140 and a Lotus 7.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    That would be my older brother who remained single until 30 years of age back in the 50’s/ 60’s, he always had cool looking cars, a 56 Ford, 59 Ford convertible, 63 Ford XL convertible, 64 T-Bird ( he let me take it to my prom) to name a few, I looked up to him as our father died when I was 4 yrs old, he also instilled my work ethics by letting me see that hard work pays off in order to buy cars etc.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    Honestly, my own interest blossomed from nothing. Not a single person in my family knew anything about cars, other than how to complain about them. (Of course, I grew up in the 80s and my parents owned Fords, so ya know, plenty to complain about.)

    I distinctly remember as a kid seeing my aunt’s auto issue of Consumer Reports and thinking it was so cool you could see which cars had engine problems, squeaks and rattles, etc. My next subscription to Motor Trend sealed the deal. I was a numbers guy at a young age, and I pored over those stats like crazy. And I was never really drawn to the hot rods or the Italian supercars, outside of how futuristic they might look. I mostly liked to read about how comfy and reliable a family car could be. “Not everything runs like our Grenada?” Game-changing stuff for an 8 year old kid, who was often wedged between his large sisters on every car ride.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      Same. None of my family or friends growing up knew **** about cars. I can’t remember anyone influencing the love of cars in me but myself. It started when I was really young with an uncanny (to my mom) ability that I had to name the make and model of cars coming towards us at night by their headlights, a skill that later paid dividends when being able to identify Crown Vics both coming or going.

      My affinity for wrenching on cars was born out of necessity when I bought a ‘94 Wrangler in sad shape and had to fix it myself or go broke.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Oddly enough, not my dad. He had a new car every two or three years, nothing ever sporty. Just plain sedans, sometimes luxury, sometimes not.

    It was growing up in a boring suburb, and this was the era when 60s muscle cars were still cheap. Add in The Road Warrior movie that my older brother brought me to see when I was 11, add a few years into teenagehood and I became the owner of a beat up, clapped out 1968 Firebird since I thought it had similar lines to the famed Interceptor from the movie.

    With my part-time, barely above minimum wage job I could only just feed the Firebird with gas. But it was freedom!

    I’ve played with a few muscle/sports cars since, briefly taking time away from all that to be a dad. And I’ve learned how to wrench on cars too – thank goodness for the internet!

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    My grandpa. He’s a Mopar diehard — it rubbed off on me. Watched him restore a ’74 Dart 225 and was fascinated with his ’97 Ram 12-valve Cummins turbo diesel pickup as a kid. He’s 72 now and every time I see him, he’s invariably in his shop working on something or another. He’s almost finished with a rebuild of a 440 which is going in a ’70 Newport sent out for paint and a restored interior. He’s even a fan of the newer Mopars and is comfortable working on them short of things that absolutely have to be done at a dealer — my cousin was having some electrical issues with her 2011 Wrangler and my grandpa just dove in, traced the problem to a bad TIPM and fixed it with no sweat. That was three years ago, not a single sign of trouble ever since.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    My father is not a car guy, but he did buy me my first tools and work on (indoor) projects with me to get me comfortable with turning a wrench.

    I suppose my passion for cars developed naturally ever since I was very young. My parents have told me the story of how I could recognize the emblems/brands on cars well before I could read them, and how they would impress their friends with that trick.

    I do see a lot of the seeds of car and (especially) truck passion with my young sons and I hope they can get enjoyment out of that hobby as I have.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’ve shared this story before, but my love of all cars (and older BMW specifically) came from a man who was first our landlord and then became a cherished family friend.

    It was 1975, and my father was sent to Korea from Germany. We were required to move off-post and wound up renting a small third-floor apartment in the village of Knielingen, just outside of Karlsruhe. I was all of five years old. The family that owned the house also resided in the house on the first and second floor. They took us in and treated me as if I were one of their own. We lived there for nearly a year, and it was magical. Herr Kuhn had a white, four-door BMW 2000 and he would take me for rides occasionally. I’m sure my love of the car was directly related to my deep fondness of the man. When we moved back to the US, I was crushed.

    After a short stay in Tobyhanna, PA, we returned to Germany. We often made the short drive from Mannheim to Karlsruhe, and Herr Kuhn always showed such joy at our arrival! When my own son was older, on one of our visits much, much later (after I grew older and had my own family, we would often go back for holidays to visit my mother) Herr Kuhn took us both for a ride in his used, four-door 3-Series to the BMW Motorcycle and Car Club he belonged to. He gifted my son with several shirts and a medallion from the club that we still have. He always had a base trim, four-door (and manual transmission!) BMW, usually a 3-Series, but had the occasional 5-er, as well.
    While assigned to Saudi Arabia a few years ago, I received word that Herr Kuhn had passed. He is one of the few non-blood family members that I openly wept at hearing the news of his death. While today’s BMWs leave me somewhat cold, the love of automobiles in general still lives inside of me, as does the love I had for that man.

  • avatar
    volvo

    My interest came from the Joneses. You know the family found on most streets just down the block.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Video games. I was playing racing games since I was little, on our 486, then on SNES, then on a more powerful PC and so on.

    In my inner circle no one really likes cars. They’re seen as an expense that should be minimized as much as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Same here.

      Gran Turismo was a major influence. I always played racing games and enjoyed them, but with GT “The Real Driving Simulator” the game featured cars I recognized on the street and actually owned. Previous to GT almost all racing games featured either super/exotic cars, race cars or just fantasy vehicles. However in GT you started with $3K and list of used cars. So just like in real life I got a Civic hatchback and started playing. As you won races you could upgrade the car with real parts, there was none of “push this button for turbo boost” type nonsense.

      Due to how the game played driving skill was more important then fancy parts. For example in one race event you had to drive a bone stock car with zero mods. In order to qualify for events you had to earn a license by passing a timed test, once again in a completely stock vehicle. With no way to “level up” or cheat with a better car you had to learn the subtle ways to shave time on the course. Things like braking zones, apexes, shift points, weight transfer, etc became the keys to success.

      I became obsessed with the game and was a moderator on the largest GT fan forum on the net for several years. So it comes as no shock that today I participate in HPDE in a C7 ‘Vette.

      My dad watched NASCAR and owned a ’65 Mustang but our shared interest was fishing as we never wrenched together. As I grew up we owned nothing but boring family cars (Dodge van, Ford station wagon, etc).

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Trying to “100%” Gran Turismo with those acceleration and braking tests was t.o.r.t.u.r.e. They were hyper-specific and it was quite hard to hit some of those markers.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I blame Andy Granatelli. Absolutely famous in his day for proving cars could do the “impossible.”

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    My Dad is not a huge car guy, although I came home from the hospital in a cool 2 door, dark green, stick shift Volvo, but the day I was born he went to the hospital gift shop and bought me a cool dragster model, in a display case not meant to play with kind of thing. So blame him I suppose for not just the car bug but also the model car bug, I have several large display cabinets full of them, all scales. Yes that first model car is proudly among them.
    Then there was my maternal Grandpa, who I credit with my OCD for clean, shiny vehicles. “A clean car drives better” he always said, and I have memories of being a little kid “helping” him remove the fender skirts of any of a number of Olds Ninety Eight Regency Broughams so the wire wheels and whitewalls could be uniformly cleaned to perfection. I don’t think any of his cars even made it to 20k miles before being traded for a new one, though, so of course they always looked nice :)
    To this day, even if I have a vehicle with over 200k miles on it, it looks pretty much like new.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Miata: I think the sickness was instilled earlier than I had posted as my folks brought me home in a six year old bullet nose 50 Studebaker Starlight coupe.

      If any car could twist reality for a child, it was that car.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    My dad infected me with that passion – he has a brand new 1968 Torino GT fastback that would cause the ground to shake as he pulled in at night after a day at work. “Daddy’s home,” would come out of my mouth at the hint of the rumble. All of his friends had Chargers and Firebirds and every two door car that I could spot at around age 3 was called a “Mustang” until I knew better.

    Sadly Dad had to sell his beloved Torino and we were saddled with pickups and station wagons for as long as I can remember.

    And I do drive a manual transmission car. I hope I’m never consigned to having to own a slushbox car (though a Lincoln Town Car I had owned years ago was a damned nice slushbox).

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      “…every two door car that I could spot at around age 3 was called a “Mustang” until I knew better.”

      Reminds me of just last week, I was driving someplace as it was getting dark with 2 out of 3 of my kids in the car, when my son asked if I saw that sweet black Miata at the car lot we just passed. No, I said, and was surprised I missed it since I am something of a Miata nut, owning several of them but never had a black one. My kids know the Miatas are their other siblings LOL. Anyway later that night I passed by the same way going the other direction and I had to text the boy……….that’s a Z4, son :)

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Two men, my father and auto shop teacher Mr.Collins. Dad is 80 showing wear and slowly fading until we talk about cars. Same stories I’ve heard for 30 years, yet still listen because recalling repairs momentary clears his mind. While many stories told, common thread was the men my father worked with to build or repair his vehicles. “See Bob over at X shop to get a linkage for the overdrive, tell him I sent you or he won’t talk to you.”. Vast knowledge stored via years of work and metal stored on shelves. Dad past the torch or was it a test, when he asked me to replace rear drums and brake pads on his International step van? We had to fix because we couldn’t afford anything new.

    Forward to Mr. Colins watching me struggle mating a transmission to engine for a Buick station wagon. Told mr to take a break handing me .35 cents to get a Pepsi. 10 minutes later rolled under one push it was in. Teachable moments I used years later leading Marines repairing Hornets.

    Today I can trace my time in the arena to those men and forever grateful they took the time to teach.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Dad is 80 showing wear and slowly fading until we talk about cars. Same stories I’ve heard for 30 years, yet still listen because recalling repairs momentary clears his mind.”

      This is exactly how my dad is, he can tell you where every nut and bolt was on his 1936 Ford, but has trouble telling you what day it is :(

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My father and grandfather imbued with me a love of automobiles. Coming from a working class family where a new car was financially out of reach or just not a good value I sat on the fender as they did a valve job on a 58 Plymouth Belvedere. Clean the oil bath air cleaner on a 54 Chevrolet BelAire and change the points and plugs on a Slant 6 Dodge. As a teen I rebuilt the 302-V8 in my 70 Mustang coupe.
    Nowadays it’s the far less frequent normal maintenance on my 2018 Challenger GT.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Honestly not quite sure where I got it. My dad likes cars in a vague way, but really isn’t a car guy, and none of the other adults in my life really were either. I read all the magazines as a kid but I had the bug before that and I don’t know why.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Dear Ol’ Dad tried to do most preventive maintenance himself but as cars got more complicated and his free time got shorter it dwindled down to replacing burnt out bulbs and putting new batteries in. The exception was his 1967 Mustang convertible inherited from his Father-in-law after the gentleman’s early death in 1978.

    Dad has had a subscription to Hot Rod Magazine since he was 15 years old (1969) and of course having those lying around the house helped support my burgeoning automotive enthusiasm. This also gave me an early obsession with the past and seeking books on automotive history from anywhere I could get them.

    Because of my fascination with cars I got roped into things like helping Dad when he was trying to diagnose issues with the Mustang like having me crank the key while he fiddled with ignition components. The rest is history.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I suppose my dad – I am told that the first day I managed to escape from my crib and toddle outside was the day my parents brought home the ’59 Oldsmobile Super 88 (’59 Daytona winning car). He wasn’t really a car guy per se, but he bought somewhat interesting cars. After the bronze ’59 Olds, all of his future cars were, yes, Silver Coupes. It’s hard to see, but that’s his blue jean clad leg next to the Riviera’s parking light in my avatar.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    It probably started with Dad, but it blossomed with my older brothers. Dad built race engines for himself and other people in our basement. Most of my earliest memories of him include dirt under his fingernails. His true love was trucks though, and that did not really get passed on to me unscathed.

    However, it wasn’t really a person at all. Nope, it was a genre and a time of music. My real love in cars was a seed planted when I was just a kid thanks to Rock & Roll. Late 70’s and early 80’s cruising music. The Cars, Van Halen, April Wine, Loverboy, BTO, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, 38 Special, Aerosmith and so on. It was the soundtrack of the never-ending nights out cruising around. The cars and the music of the era are inseparable in my memory. My older brothers were buying early 70’s muscle cars not because they were collectible, but because back then they were just fast and generally not too expensive used cars. Everyone from that generation went out cruising, and occasionally, drag racing on the streets. There was my brother’s ’70 Dodge Demon 340 Six-Pack with the pistol grip 4-speed. His buddy had a 1969 GTO Judge that he crashed and totaled while running from the cops after being seen drag racing (and beating) a 350 Camaro. His other buddy had a ’70 Nova, later on a ’79 Z-28, then a ’69 Chevelle SS 396 (he still owns the Chevelle, and daily drives a C6 Z06 Corvette). Yet another had a Dart 340 set up pro-street style with a 727 Torqueflite and Dana locker rear end. There was one guy who lived nearby that had TWO 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbirds: one yellow 440 car, and one orange 426 Hemi car. He was willing to let the 440 car go, but it needed a lot of work and the $10K he was asking was way too much in 1981. Missed opportunities, hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Then, my friends and I did the same thing when we got to high school and started driving. Lots of interesting cars, too many to mention. The music was still Rock, only now we had more choices than ever, in both music and cars. I brought FWD Turbo cars, and BMWs into the family & friends mix. All of us are still alive and all of us still drive fun cars and enthusiastically talk car stuff for hours when we get together. Thank you, 80’s AOR radio!

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    Growing up in Norfolk with just me and my mother and public transportation, I didn’t ride in cars every day. My mother started dating Joe in I guess 1970. I was 5 going on 6 and Joe was larger than life. Joe was a Navy fella and he had a Norton motorcycle that was often in a state of disassembly, and a yellow Opel Manta with black stripes. All at a time when I only had access to matchbox cars. When the Norton was running he would sit me in front of him on the tank while in an empty parking lot and let me “steer”. Yeah his hands were on the handlebars too, but i’m sure I never noticed. But that yellow Opel Manta. Wow I loved that car. I have a 1/18 scale diecast of a Manta at my work desk because of it.
    I don’t know if it was just that he was the father figure I needed at the time or what, but his love of cars transferred to me. Well as relationships sometimes go, Joe was getting out of the Navy and wanted us to move to Huntsville with him and my mother being a single mother with her whole support system close by, was too afraid. And so he left our lives. I still think of Joe often whenever I look at that diecast Manta. I hope he settled down and raised a family because he’d be a great father.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I blame my father, although there can be an assist from his brother who had a car collection including a couple Corvettes and an early Oldsmobile.

    My dad used to be a mechanic, hated Ford, and worked on his own cars. I would stick around and help, hoping to get a wrench he needed or something.

    I was shifting gears in his car (while he drove) when I was 14.

    I blame Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and the like as well. But I’ll always be more a Lanes museum kinda guy instead of something more mainstream.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    My Old Man loved cars but never, ever did any work on them. He said that “if everybody was a do it yourselfer, than half the country would be out of work”.

    Part of his idea of ‘making it’ was having one new 2 door PLC Lincoln/Cadillac in the driveway and another new 4-door Town Car/Fleetwood sitting at his office, just in case. And changing each of them every year.

    Perhaps it was from an uncle who was a dentist? He always had one large fully equipped American vehicle and one British ‘roadster’ that he would often rally. My favourites being a red Impala SS convertible, and a Jaguar Mark 2.

    Of course growing up in Scarboro in the 1960’s/70’s was possibly even a greater influence. Just like in American Graffiti if we weren’t going steady with some girl, then we were driving around. In high school we regularly took weekend long trips around the province.

    And the obligatory job in a full service gas station, that provided mechanical repairs. Was lucky enough that the family who owned ours were legendary in racing circles, one being a member of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I grew up in Singapore so I had a different view of cars than your average American boy. Mazda 323s, Toyota Cresidas, fin-tailed Mercedes, double decker buses etc etc. What a blast. So when I came back to the States as teenager I got to learn an entire new population of cars and that was really the catalyst for my interest. Volvos, Chevys, BMWs etc etc.

    It wasn’t really a person, but more of a new palette…..

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Liking to sniff burnt gasoline fumes eventually lead me to the rest of the car.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m loving all the great stories .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    raph

    That one is easy and I’ve probably recounted it before but it was the old man. He could spin a good tale and for me it was none better than the time talked about his 1970 T5 Mach 1 and the run against some small BMW on the Autobahn.

    Yeah he embellished a lot but they were great stories none the less and that inspired my love of automobiles and fast cars in general.

    My next favorite story and one where it would imitate itself years later was the time he loaned my grandfather his Motion Vega – long story short my Granddad returned the car at the end of the day and told my dad never again with the admonishment he should sell that thing as quickly as possible.

    Fast forward to 2009 and a few months after I had purchased my 09 GT500. I was cleaning my folk’s own 07 Mustang GT up and still had to wax the car when my dad needed to borrow the Shelby to run up to the store. About an hour later and the old man shows up, hands me the keys and said never again! Although he didn’t tell me I should get rid of the car as soon as I can.

    Turns out when he was making a right onto the highway he hit the gas in similar fashion to the slush box GT they owned expected similar results as he pulled out only to try and do his damnedest to imitate a Mustang YouTube vid leaving a C&C. Luckily no damage to the car or my old man but that was enough modern muscle for him!

    Still though all those great stories and great cars, it sparked a life long love affair especially with Mustang.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    My Grandmother. Let me start and warm up her 60 Ambassador station wagon for her. Explained to me how AMC was formed.

    That was much later, as a 10 year old.

    Earlier on when I learned she had traded in her 50 Pontiac I pitched a fit. At four years old.

    Until I saw the rear facing seat of that Ambassador wagon.

    She threw gasoline on an already sparking interest in cars that has never gone away. Granny also left rubber in the driveway backing out and that AMC 327 [275 hp] 4 bbl V8 would pull your head into the back seat when she’d floor the mother.

    Desert Rose and a burgundy top. The car, not the Granny.

    Even the most ordinary trip in a car is still a treat, all these years later.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My interest in cars came from my middle brother’s hobby of buying AMT 3 in 1 car kits painting and assembling them. I caught the bug and started to buy and make my own. I entered 2 of my cars in a model contest at one of the local Ford dealerships and won 2 place for a 36 Rumble seat Ford painted in metallic green with pink fenders and running boards and 3rd place for a 50 Ford customized convertible painted in silver (yes I actually got a gold metal trophy for both with a polished wood base). I didn’t buy my first car until I graduated from college but in high school and early college I took care of my dad’s Roman Red 62 Chevy II 4 door with an I-6–oil changes, quarterly wax jobs, and other required maintenance in exchange for free use of the car. My father kept cars and everything else forever and was very frugal. I patched up and painted the headline which was rotting and glued on the headliner cut out Happy Faces from material left from an outfit my mother made for my little sister and put sheet metal in the driver’s side floor board which had a hole big enough to put your foot into. The Chevy II looked like new and you could see yourself in the red paint which was original but kept meticulously by me. Loved that Chevy II even though some guys made fun of it because it wasn’t a muscle car. Had a lot of compliments from others especially gals.

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