The weather in the Windy City was unseasonably warm during the second week of last November when I had rediscovered these photos I had taken several years prior. Temperatures had reached around 70°F (21° C) for three consecutive days in the middle of November 2015…in Chicago. I might have confused it with spring if it wasn’t for the end of Daylight Savings Time, and the lack of natural light in the evening messing with my head. There were also all those dried leaves crunching underfoot.
It was also very sunny, midday. On really nice days, it is sometimes hard for me not to gaze out the windows of the manager’s office directly behind my cubicle on the 47th floor of our downtown skyscraper. Back when I was in school, I was pretty straight-laced. I skipped exactly one class, one time, when I was a senior…in college. Never mind that I was only a solid “B” student. My point is that I was far too afraid of punishment to rebel “properly”.
That last statement is the key to understanding the powerful draw the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” had and continues to have on me. I had spotted the subject car in late spring while it was sitting in line and waiting to be valet parked in front of Macy’s on State (formerly the flagship store of the famous Marshall Field’s department store). It immediately made me think of doing all kinds of bad things.
Before anyone points out the obvious fact that the car in the aforementioned movie was not a Shelby Cobra but a (replica of a) 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (that just rolls off the tongue), I want to illustrate that there were parallels between this particular scenario and that movie’s plot. It was during the week, the weather was sunny and nice, and what looked to be a fast car was staring me in the face. There were two major complications, though: this car did not belong to a parent of a friend, and I am a law-abiding citizen. None of this meant I couldn’t, or didn’t, fantasize.
This car was too beat-up to be the real thing, and I am sure (and surely hope) some CC readers will be able to easily identify and list the various tells that peg this one as a fake. As pointed out to me by an acquaintance, the side pipes are cut, the wheels are off, and the roll bar hoop is missing. Some replicas are better than others, but to my eyes, this is still a very credible, cool-looking example. I actually like the fact that it looked a little busted, like it had actually been driven and enjoyed by someone.
I’d like to think that maybe its owner was playing hooky, or at least had peaced-out of the office early on account of the nice weather. Why else would this thing be here on a weekday around Five O’Clock PM? Sure, these cars are fast, but Loop traffic near State Street can be glacially slow, especially around evening rush hour. Driving a fast car in downtown Chicago around this time of day would seem to be an exercise in containing one’s utter and sheer frustration.
Some of these Cobra replicas are also crazy-expensive. I wonder what kind of job or position its owner held to be able to afford such a fun toy. Maybe I shouldn’t have skipped that one hour of Clinical Psychology back in undergrad to go to the beach, after all. My life could be so different today. I guess the world will never know.
Who am I kidding? School was never really my thing, and my decent but lackluster grades reflected that. I am thankful for my job which, to be honest and in some ways, probably ended up being my best-case employment scenario. Still, the thought did cross my mind: How much fun would it be to hop into this car and tear (okay – responsibly tear) up Lake Shore Drive with two of my specific friends (who actually resemble Sloane and Ferris!) and make a day of it?
I still daydream…pretty much all the time. One could say Walter Mitty is one of my “heroes” – though to be clear, I have put forth considerable effort to actually realize some of my dreams. Nothing’s wrong with a little, harmless fantasy from time to time, as long as it doesn’t keep one from getting one’s “life” done. Maybe its time to dust off the old slot car set…you know, just for fun. Oh, yeahhhh.
The subject car was as photographed by the author in Chicago’s Loop on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. The scene from “Slot Car Sunday” was photographed on February 22, 2015.