Matchbox, Hot Wheels and My First Love

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When I was a kid one of my favorite things to play with was my Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. I was fascinated with them and I imagine it is a reflection of my lifelong love of cars. I still have everyone of them. The orange track we raced them on was forever being set up and reconfigured. Pushing them down the straightaway, letting them go into the banked turn.

Then there were the slot cars, oh those were a whole other level of excitement. I think I almost lost my mind when we went to my cousins in the Bronx and they had slot cars set up on a piece of plywood in the basement on a table top with a Lionel train set integrated into the slot cars… it was kid brain overload for me.  It was also model car heaven there, remember those old model cars you could put together with glue? Paint and add decals, they were another notch up for me moving up in scale and size. My other cousin had a GTO. It was always in the garage in Virginia when we went to visit. I can still remember the smell of the chrome and steel, gas and oil in that garage.

My first and everlasting love though was my father’s 64 1/2 Black Mustang, 3 Speed, leather seats. The first pony car took the world by storm at the ’64 World’s Fair and we had one! Nothing else to say.

My next door neighbor had an older brother he had a ’69 Porsche 911. I had never seen anything like it. When he would start it up I remember thinking what is that ? It sounded so different no rumble no growl. It moved with an ease unlike other cars.

We also went through a series of Volkswagen Bugs and one Squareback. The engine is where? What? One time we took one, my parents and the five of us kids, down to North Carolina. I rode in the back in a laundry basket in the little caboose area behind the back seat. Can you imagine? And I lived!

Buicks! Big fan of the Buick . Over the years we had lots of them but my favorite was the green Station Wagon with the rear facing seat !  Hated the ad campaign a couple of years back.. “This isn’t your father’s Buick.” Yeah no kidding. No distinction. No Lines. So few cars that have individuality today, they all look the same.

When my brother turned 18 he was looking to get a car. He found his dream car, a red ‘ 55 Chevy Belair. I thought it was the coolest thing in the whole world and my brother was the coolest brother in the world. Sadly the engine block was possibly cracked and my father negated the purchase. It has remained my brother’s Unicorn. He got a “72 Chevelle instead. If I remember it had a thrush muffler on it. Very cool but it never made it to its potential. He replaced it with a ’69 Convertible Volkswagen Karman Ghia. He and I did a lot of work on that car. A few times in High School he let me take it to school.

When I was 16 my father let me go with him to pick out his new car. Still not sure if he really let me pick it or if he just guided me to it. But that ’79 Pontiac Grand Prix, two tone black and silver, I always felt was my first car. It became mine after my father died. I put 179,000mile on it before I finally had to let it go.

In college I might have dated a few girls because they had nice cars that I could drive. I did have a girlfriend who had a nice Firebird. That relationship lasted longer because of the girl not the car. It didn’t hurt that her father had a beautiful yellow ’56 Corvette, chrome and steel. He kept it in the garage. It smelled like Virginia.

Just out of college my friends brother was driving by me in his 911. He gave me a ride. He knew how to drive. I was hooked, thus far it remains my Unicorn.

When I had  enough money my first new car off the dealership floor probably should have been a Mustang. Somehow I drove off with a Red Turbo Ford Probe. It was a rocket ship. I sold it to buy my first place.  I replaced it with a big old Cadillac  that I got from my friend after his Grandfather died. That car was like driving a cloud.

I have owned a variety of vehicles over the years. I finally got my Mustang when Ford came out with the retro design. It was a Vista Blue ’07 my Blue Colt. A beauty! I wrote Aberdeen driving in that car on the Garden State Parkway. Sadly one night the end came in what I viewed as a fender bender . The insurance company deemed it a total loss. Currently our driveway is filled up with a Chevy, Chrysler, Dodge and Cadillac.

It should come as no surprise that cars are often mentioned or are characters in my songs.

What is your favorite car? What is your car story?

Let me know!

One Comment

  • Lori Guarnera says:

    My car story is not very exciting. I went on a cruise with a couple of girlfriends in the early ’80’s. One of the stops was Puerto Rico and I saw this red sports car that Subaru made. I told myself that the next car I bought (at that time I had a Buick Skylark – my first car -what a switch) was going to be that car. I did and I loved taking out the roof and driving around(two panels, one over the drivers seat and one over the passenger seat- a bit of work but I thought I was hot crappy :-). The only problem is if you live in a small town, EVERYBODY knows where you are and what your doing. I don’t care, if they’re talking about me they’re leaving someone else along.

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