QOTD: How Did Your Youth Experiences Influence Your Life in Relation To Cars?

In reading all the posts and comments on CC over the years it’s interesting to note how different many of us are in our opinions, experiences and preferences, yet we share the bond of having a common interest in old iron. Undoubtedly our views on vehicles are heavily influenced by our experiences in youth, just like many other aspects of our lives. I think back to my youth and I know that I was heavily influenced by the experiences I had in relation to cars.  My love of old American iron originated from my dad.  I can remember being a young boy sitting on my dad’s lap and looking at car books and magazines with him well before I knew how to read.  Looking back, there were several significant experiences that shaped my views.

My family’s first car after coming to Canada, a 1960 Dodge Dart Pioneer that my grandfather help my Dad buy.

My dad immigrated to Canada as a young child and my grandparents started this new life with not much more than the clothes on their backs. Despite this, my grandparents quickly established themselves and my dad grew up seeing how hard you had to work for nice things.  My dad put himself through university, got a good career and started his own family but he never forgot his humble beginnings.  As a result, Dad always took lots of pride in the vehicles he owned; as he would often say that cars were the second biggest life expenditures. He’d regularly wash, wax and keep the interiors immaculate despite having four busy children.  He also generally kept his vehicles for long periods of time, which is probably why two of the cars I grew up with are still around today.

Dad and I worked on cars when I was young, but not Jags!

While not the most mechanical inclined individual, Dad did what he could at home to keep the cars in tip top shape. I learned to do grease, oil, and filter jobs, change wheels, and other basic tune-up work on all the family cars.  I have no doubt that this was a major influence on me.  It sparked my interest in mechanical automotive work, which I have taken well beyond the basics he taught me.  Now that I have my own family, like my dad, I too take great pride at keeping my vehicles in tip-top shape despite my busy children.

Most of our family cars were pretty plain and none had A/C, including our ’76 Malibu (this is not our car pictured, but it was just as plain)

When it came to buying cars, Dad never bought more car than we needed, and we generally had pretty plain family cars. I remember him telling me as I lamented for a fancier family car, that our cars may not be the fanciest, but we own it, not the bank.  The majority of my family drove the traditional “lower priced” brands of cars.  Even when we did own a medium priced car, such as our old ’72 Skylark, it was a super plain Jane model with crank windows, no A/C or any other real luxury features. As a result today my preferences for vintage cars are mostly in the lower priced brands.  While I can appreciate the medium and high priced cars, I generally don’t have the same connection or interest.  Give me a plain ol’ Chevy or Ford any day.

Dad drove more aggressively in his Torino, but maybe not as much as in this movie chase (bonus points for naming the movie)

I have long had a strong interest in performance oriented vehicles. Looking back, there were two vehicles that sparked this interest. The first was my Dad’s ’72 Gran Torino Sport.  While it wasn’t a serious performance car, the sporty styling, bright red paint, and magnum 500 wheels sure looked like it was going 100 mph standing still.  Compared to most of the malaise era cars we owned, it sure was powerful and exciting.  My dad, who was generally a pretty conservative driver, seemed to transform when behind the wheel of that Torino.  He drive more aggressively, and liked to impress us kids when he kicked it down a gear  to push us back in the seats and blow past slower traffic.  It sure was a lot more fun than Mom’s wagon.

My cousin’s Mustang was identical to this one.  It was an awesome performance car for the time.

The other car was also a red Ford. In 1989 my cousin, who had been driving little Honda Civics, finally saved up enough to buy his first brand new performance car.  I remember him special ordering his 1990 Mustang GT 5-speed with all the performance goodies. I was so excited to see it when it was delivered.  My cousin is a very good driver and spent years successfully competing in amateur racing.  We sure had a lot of fun driving around in that car; he really knew how to push it to the limit!   I even helped him with a few modifications on that Mustang, which really sparked my interest in performance modifications.

So now that you know some of the influences in my youth, tell me about yours. Maybe like me you were influenced by your parents’ habits? Or perhaps you went in the opposite direction. Or maybe you there was a car in your neighbourhood that you fell in love with? Maybe your youth created a bias?   What experiences of your youth shaped your world of cars?