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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.

License Suspended.

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”.

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