DETROIT - The North American International Auto Show has arrived. That is why this is the perfect time to talk cars.
I am not a traditional car guy. That is to say, I do not know anything about how to build or repair an automobile.
However, I greatly admire those who can. I would not know an intake manifold if I saw one. Come to think of it, do cars still have those? If they do, I am just glad mine works.
My point is that you do not have to know how to build cars in order to love them. For me reflecting on the cars in your life opens up a scrapbook of memories.
Chrysler New Yorker Station Wagon
This is the first car that I remember. It was back in the day when eating in one’s car was not way of life, but a brand new adventure. Our family made occasional trips to a St. Louis drive up restaurant called Parkmoor where a carhop brought a tray of burgers and fries to hang on the driver’s window. My brother and I had assigned spots in what we called the wayback, that fold up seat in the well of the cargo area where you faced backwards. Now, that was cool.
Longtime car people in Detroit will remember the Dodge Car Clearance Carnival of the mid-1970s. ‘Buy a car. Get a check!’ My dad was the national pitchman for that campaign. My Dodge Charger was silver with a maroon interior. That is the first car that I called my own, although my parents paid for it. I hope I said thanks. Man, I loved that car.
I remember purchasing my first K-car the year my wife and I got a dog. We also happened to buy our first house, which was not much bigger than the dog or the car. It was your basic little sedan, but I remember a little boy who lived next door and thought the K-car was the coolest thing car on earth. He asked almost every day if he could sit in it.
Because the K-car could not fit two car seats, we put a lot of miles on that minivan. It was more than a few road trips with two little girls strapped into that second row bench.
Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang
I might not be the first guy who vainly reached for lost youth when turning 50. The Camaro was white, the Mustang gun-metal gray. I had each of them for a short time, but came to accept the need for hauling the occasional bag of peat moss and water softener salt. The muscle cars gave way to an SUV.
Our cars, in many ways, tell the stories of our lives. What is your story?