I'm a car guy. More accurately I'm a car and motorcycle guy. Well, if we're going that far, I guess I'm a car, motorcycle, motor home, bus, boat, semi... anything with an engine guy.
Growing up a child of the 70's, in part, made me what I am. How could you not at least be a little bit motorhead growing up with the General Lee, the Bandit's black and gold Firebird, Magnum P.I.'s bright red Ferrari 308 GTB, the Kawasaki GPZ1000's on CHiPs, The cigarette boats on Miami Vice...and the list, at least for me, goes on and on.
My family and friends were the other the piece of the puzzle. My older brother was the one who gave me my first real exposure to "car culture." In 1980 he bought a nice unassuming little Ford Courier pick-up, brand new off the lot. It was all stock; stock black paint, stock tiny little four cylinder, stock 14 inch rims. But soon, that little unassuming mini truck got custom stripes, new shiny black rims and a new lowered stance. (First he lowered it 2 inches, and we thought that was a lot. But like all things custom, a little is never enough.)
Along with the truck came the culture and soon we were spending our nights with like-minded individuals, a pack of a dozen or more lowered mini trucks cruising the streets of Renton and Kirkland. By then I was hooked.
One day my brother got in an accident and the truck needed some minor front-end repair. If "your car is never done" is the first rule of owning a custom, the second is "any excuse to make it better.” What should have been a quick trip to the auto body shop for a new hood and fender turned into a year-long odyssey in my parent’s tiny one car garage.
The little four cylinder was swapped for a much more potent built up Mustang 302 V8, and the truck was stripped to bare metal. He shaved off the door handles, bed hooks, side marker lights and smoothed the tailgate. He left out the stripes and sprayed the whole thing with a glossy, beautiful black paint. We lived on a busy street and during the truck’s rebirth all kinds of people stopped by, some we knew and some we didn't. We made a lot of friends during that time, all because they were interested in what my brother was doing to the little black truck.
I spent many more years cruising in it, sometimes as the passenger and sometimes the driver. Having a full on custom, V8 powered vehicle at your disposal really spices up a kids teenage years and it gave me a real appreciation for the hard work and emotions that go into them. But as I’ll detail next time, this wasn’t the only auto (or sibling) who cemented my addiction.