What was the car that sparked your interest in our hobby?

Photography by J.A. Ackley

We all lead busy lives. Work. Family. Projects. We’re bound to forget something or someone along the way. I’m guilty of both. Consider this confession time–and it involves the vehicle that started my lifelong obsession with cars.

Sure, we all played with toy cars as kids. And we had our favorites, of course. But what was the car that you saw, in-person, that forever cemented your interest in this hobby?

Mine dates back to some of my earliest memories. In my grandmother’s garage sat this large, red car, with chrome bumpers and a black top. All I could see was its rear as the crowded garage prevented me from seeing any more of it. This just made the car even more mysterious and more intriguing.

Back then we didn’t have the internet, so instead us kids relied on our imagination–and mine went wild. Did it have circular headlights or square headlights? What was its engine like? Did it roar or purr?

I desperately wanted to know these answers.

Mom, can you take the car out?” I’d ask.

She would smile and answer, “No, not today.”

My mom bought the 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible new. She worked hard, saved up and bought it for $10,000. That may not seem like a lot today, but when adjusted for inflation, that’s more than $60K in today’s money, quite the feat for a twentysomething single lady during the time.

Then, my mom got married and I came along. The Caddy got parked and my mom went with a more economical car for a family of five, a 1984 Chevy Celebrity station wagon.

Meanwhile, the Caddy sat.

And sat.

And sat.

I asked for my mom to take it out.

And I asked.

And I asked.

After years of this, my mom finally agreed with me.

Wait, what?! Was I dreaming?

The moment it got pulled out of the garage was like a huge revelation. The car was even more spectacular than I had imagined.

As the flatbed tow truck took it to our mechanic, the handyman at my grandmother’s house questioned our decision.

Send it to a junkyard. It’s not worth it.”

Screw him.

With some minor work, the car ran again. The first ride in it put me in a state of awe that probably still exists to some extent today. Sure, it may not be a svelte sports car, but it turned my head and many others in my neighborhood, too.

The one time my mom picked me up from school in it, it drew some jealous ire from my schoolmates.

It’s a rental car,” they accused.

Screw them, too.

As I grew older, I moved away for college, and then for work. I would still come back regularly to visit my family and friends, and, of course, the Caddy. I took it out whenever I could. That included the hottest days in summer, when the black interior burned you, and the coldest days in winter, when I’d ride with the top down and icicles would form on my face (mild exaggeration).

A little more than 10 years ago, I moved even farther away from my parents, to the tune of 750-plus miles.

I visited less frequently.

My mom got older. I got older.

Meanwhile, the car sat.

And sat.

And sat.

I began to ask again, “Can we take it out?” However, this time that wasn’t directed at my mom.

It was at me.

My mom had a recent health scare. She’s okay now, but it made me think that maybe it’s time to get the Caddy going again. We’re not getting any younger.

So, I ask myself another question: What would three-year-old me say?

I know the answer.


My first car may be in the background, but there's no question which car first captured my attention.

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Comments
Noddaz
Noddaz PowerDork
7/31/23 9:20 a.m.

For me it started when I was about 8 years old.  For whatever reason my Dad took me to a custom car show and when we walked in the front door, this was there.

LOOK AT THAT!   IT'S A CAR SHAPED LIKE A HELMET AND IT HAS MACHINE GUNS!

There were a lot of other cars there, but the Red Baron is the only one I remember.

MauryH
MauryH New Reader
7/31/23 3:31 p.m.

While waking on a semi-resdential street about 1947 or '48 a '47 MG TC zipped past me an made a 90 degree corner at a good clip with a raspy exhaust and set the hook for me. Bought the original issue of Road & Track about the same time.  

sir_mike
sir_mike Reader
7/31/23 5:12 p.m.

Liked all cars in general and built models in the 60's but my downfall was seeing a new 1968 Ford Cortina GT on dealers lot.Bought her and still have her and a 1969 GT also....it's a sickness

BirkinGeorge
BirkinGeorge New Reader
7/31/23 8:40 p.m.

I fell in love with cars when my father took me to the 1963 running of Le Mans while he was stationed in Europe. That’s when the predecessor to the Ford GT ran, the Lola GT, that's the one that got me started. I’ve owned a number of Fords & foreign cars in my life; starting with the Fords, in order of ownership: ‘60 Falcon 6 cyl, ‘63 Falcon Sprint V8. ‘66 Mustang V8 fastback & presently the ‘66 GT-350H. The foreign cars in order; ‘63 Sunbeam Alpine, ‘66 Sunbeam Tiger, ‘61 356 Porsche, a number of Morris Minors (Traveller being my favorite), Birkin (Lotus 7), ‘60 Triumph, and presently another Birkin. Because I believe they’re no fun in the garage all these cars were or are drivers. If it’s not raining the Shelby or Birkin are on the

peterpan3201
peterpan3201
7/31/23 10:14 p.m.

I bought an Austin Healey when I was 16 and only had a drivers permit. Two friends that were licensed drivers drove me out to look at the car. I paid $500 bucks cash. I had saved the money working all summer it was now early September 1973 .It was a black sprite with wire wheels, I was in love with the idea of motorsports ,sports cars the idea of being a race car driver, the romance the history of European cars. I drove it home with one of the friends in the passenger seat to be legal. My parents never owned a car so I really wanted one. Once I owned It I was required to "take your mother to the grocery store" On a regular basis. A small price to pay for my freedom. I was hooked.  In college a 1963 Volvo 122s wagon, after college I drove it to Colorado  for a job, it barely made the trip. Then a 122s two door I bought in Glenwood Springs. I have owned 4 sprites and 1 MG midget, one was a bug-eye that I Vintage raced, bought a BMW 1600 to race. ( that never happened,race it I mean ) Owned multiple 2002 BMWs a 320is with a stroker motor ,then e12 528, e34 525i touring,e39 525i sport wagon, 1956 Porsche 356 Sun roof coupe, 65 356sc outlaw and another Volvo 122s with a built motor. Some people would call it a sickness, once you dip your toe in the motor pool you can never get the oil off of you. The world has changed so much, I am a man torn between my love of fun sports cars and the ever present social responsibility of climate change. I consider my self fortunate to have enjoyed a lot of 4cylinder fun cars to drive, no super cars, no 1000 hp race cars or even 300 hp cars . Buy the way, that's alot of SU carbs !! I trust that I lost some of you readers by now, if not I will leave you with this. It's more fun to drive a slow car fast then a fast car slow. 

 

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
8/1/23 9:02 a.m.

I love these stories! Keep them coming.

If you have photos, please feel free to add them, too!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/1/23 12:18 p.m.

I came home from the hospital in a ’67 GTO: four-speed box, Posi rear, dog dish hubcaps. 

It’s been downhill from there. 

MGWrench
MGWrench New Reader
8/1/23 3:45 p.m.

When I was 10 years old, I was rode my bike down to the gas station to get gas for my lawn mower and go-kart and saw a brand new 1965 MGB-GT, BRG with a Biscuit interior and chrome wire wheels.  I was smitten and it has never changed.  I now own a 1972 MGB-GT, 1969 MGC-GT and 1974 MGB-GT V8 and I still think they are the best looking sports cars next to an XKE.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
8/2/23 7:56 a.m.

1975 firebird formula 400.  GM Code 29 paint with a white interior and a 4-speed.  I eventually purchased it from the LEO that owned it.  Loved that car.  I hope to get another someday.  Mine went 250K miles.  I took it across the country 3-4 times and to Florida at least 6 times.  It was a great road trip car.  

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
8/3/23 12:36 p.m.
dean1484 said:

1975 firebird formula 400.  GM Code 29 paint with a white interior and a 4-speed.  I eventually purchased it from the LEO that owned it.  Loved that car.  I hope to get another someday.  Mine went 250K miles.  I took it across the country 3-4 times and to Florida at least 6 times.  It was a great road trip car.  

Nice. I frequently have dreams of a driving flat-black late second-gen Firebird/Camaro (it changes) around. Is that weird? Maybe I should follow my dreams :-D

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