I was recently looking through some vintage car photos on PowerGlide Magazine’s Facebook page and it had me thinking of the cars I remember growing up with. My Mum and Dad had five of us so they had to approach car buying from a utilitarian point of view. They hauled us all over New England and Canada in large Oldsmobiles and Ford Country Sedan wagons.
Later, after my two older brothers left the nest, Dad bought a ’64 Ford Falcon Futura with a 260 V8 option and a 4 on the floor. My mother wasn’t very impressed with that purchase but she figured that Dad had been good and he deserved something a little on the sporting side of driving. My dad loved that car and it was known around town as the little Falcon that could put a smile on your face.
My mum just didn’t care for the car due to the shifting issue so Dad traded it in on a ’67 Galaxie 500 4DR Hardtop w/390 4bbl that he had special ordered. He had a couple more Galaxies after that and eventually moved into vans and mini-vans. I took my drivers test in that ’67 Galaxie so it had a little more meaning in my life and I put quite a few miles on it. It was a great car and it survived two teenage drivers with few problems.
Several parents of my school chums had a few very cool cars as well. Kendall’s dad had a nice ’62 Galaxie 500XL Sunliner Convertible and Kendall and I would sit in the back seat getting wind-blown on our many trips to their camp on Cross Lake. One unforgettable day, Kendall got the bright idea of emptying the rest of his chocolate milkshake out the passenger side of the car while traveling at 60 mph with the top down. We learned a couple of important physics lessons in a short period of time and his dad taught us some new words as well. That was real excitement for a couple of ten-year olds.
Kendall’s dad also bought the first Saab I ever laid eyes on, a ’65 Model 96. It was a funky little car but was a perfect match for those severe northern Maine winters. It would bust drifts with ease, especially with a good set of snow tires mounted on the front. It certainly was an oddity in my little home town full of big American cars. The era of small import cars had gained a foothold and they would never turn back. Two of my brothers are currently driving Saabs and they have been good cars to have in the stable. Unfortunately, Saab struggled and went bankrupt a little over a year ago. The new owners say they will have models for sale in 2014 and will continue to use the Saab name.
My friend Martha’s mom always drove a hot-rod Buick Wildcat and drove it fast. I was always more than willing to sit in the back seat of that thing while her mom stuffed her foot in the carb.. Those Wildcats had an amazingly nice interior and anything with chrome trimmed bucket seats and console shifter were a real plus in a young lad’s eyes.
My first car was a ’65 Dodge Dart GT w/225 slant six and console auto. It was a good starter car but was well-worn when I got it so I was constantly working on it. It was a good experience as it was the beginning of my acquired talents as a first class shade tree mechanic. Like most beginners, I screwed up more stuff than I fixed but eventually I turned the corner and was able to fix most anything with an acceptable amount of success. I have to chuckle as I remember how incredibly simple those cars were compared to the vehicles that occupy my garage today.
There were many more cars surrounding my early youth, too many to list here. Growing up in an era of such rich automotive design leaves me with the most fondest of memories. I’m very thankful to the hobbyists and restorers who take the time and energy to keep these memories alive and on the road. There is nothing like walking down a line of cars at a local Ride and Show and seeing a car that I was able to experience earlier in life, it makes the skin tingle a little and puts a huge smile on my face.
Will the next generations have such fond memories of their experiences in Celicas, Accords and Eclipses? Will someone write about about the fun times of hanging out with a friend whose dad just happened to have a Pontiac G8 or current generation Boss 302? I have a feeling they will and maybe I’ll be around long enough to read it.