FIRST CAR – SUMMER OF ’79
by Allen Curtis
Bryan Adams once sang a popular hit about The Summer of 69. It was fun, catchy and upbeat – something you would call ‘feel good music’. In the summer of ’79, my mood was enhanced with something that provided me the ‘Best Days of My Life’ – MY FIRST CAR!
After expending an incessant amount of playful hours with toy Hot Wheel cars as a little boy, time had finally stood still for the arrival of the real thing. This new flame of desire was well dressed with a succulent hue of cerulean metal, chrome Cragar wheels (supporting mammoth Mickey Thompson tires) and a Hurst 4-speed manual transmission. The badge of honor on this perfect-purring ‘Need for Speed’ read: ‘Camaro‘.
Hot wheeled cars are akin to hot looking girls – something that should be secretly admired, well taken care of and rode hard and wet with the combustive thrill of exhaustive sweat.
First-car-love has an uncanny way of providing hours of enjoyment for a man of all ages – from a young senior in high school, to a reminiscent lap down memory lane while he is in the mid-stretch of his fifth decade.
In the retro-chic of my day, there was always something titillating about the aromatic smell of new car leather permeating from my bucket seats combined with the Jontue-perfumed woman riding shotgun next to me. Both BEAUTY (Sweet Sixteen) and BEAST (Camaro) provided me hours of thrills and chills in a fashion similar to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, though mine was named after Woodrow Wilson.
My checkered flag moment came in August of 1979. One day, I took my KC & the Sunshine Band, long-haired persona out to the mailbox.
To my dismay, I received a proof of excitement statement from the Oregon DMV stating that my 10 tickets for speeding that summer had grounded me to the pit stop of home for three months.
I still had fun that summer, and I know what I did. I saw Freddy Mercury and Queen sing – “We Are The Champions”, AC/DC bellow – “Highway To Hell” and Aerosmith jam with Steven Tyler theatrics to, “Train Kept a ‘Rollin”. My travels may have stopped for a few months with no car, but I still found a way to keep moving and enjoy some – ‘Let There Be Rock’ moments in my life.
My youth was just as fast as it was furious, and it was always full speed ahead in a forward direction. If I could tap the brakes and do it all over again, I would hit that cassette player rewind button one more time, reach down in my pocket and pull out a single Franklin D. Roosevelt dime for the… ‘one that got away’. I would find that hot redhead with haunting blue eyes and a cute dimple, give her that dime and say – “Wait 5 years and call me … Catch Me If You Can”.