Your influential vehicle, what started it all?

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Dec 5, 2003
New England, USA
We have a thread on Dad's cool cars. What car(s), truck, m/c from your youth kicked off your gearhead hobby? Triumph GT6+ My Dad had various Mustangs w/ performance packages from 1965 through 82 except for a Buick (went BMW after that). But, despite those awesome Fords and that GS, for me it was a Mimosa Yellow GT6 that my Uncle got after he returned from Vietnam. I remember, through a 9 year old's eyes, how the front end flipped up like a real racecar, the cool wood dash, and how I thought the tight cockpit with all the little gauges was like the little plane I had ridden in. I also remember going for a ride in a bad rainstorm and how there was standing water in my footwell (back when you just dropped kids in the front seat....or let them slide around the back of the Vista cruiser...). Soft sport for Brit cars ever since...
My brother's '69 Camaro RS with 327 and retractable headlight covers. Non power steering, heavy clutch feel and long throw clunky gear shift were like agricultural machinery-but I didn't know that at the time and could have cared less. I was 15 and if I washed and waxed it he would let me cruise with him and teach me to 'drive stick' on a stretch of country road. Cool car. Cool bro.
I had an 83 cutlass which I blew up the 305 and bought a 350 with a 4 bolt main and Holley dp carb. My friend and I put the motor in. That car would shred the tire on my limited slip rear,so in went a posi unit. It was an insane car for a 17 year old kid. Started my live for chevy's until I drove a mustang. The rest is history
A 1970 Olds Delta 88 Custom. First car I bought when I got back from the Army. Been in love with big four door cars ever since.
An 86 Dodge Omni GLH, when it was totaled during an accident where I was rearended (hit by a fullsize Ford Bronco) It was running 13.20s at 105.XX MPH. Pretty quick for 1995. I miss that car.
Growing up, I longed for the day that I would be 16 and I would have a big V8 powered car and a Kawasaki Z1. When I was 15, my best friend got a 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura Turbo. It was boxy and had a lot of trunk hanging over the rear wheels. White with red "strobe" stripes running to the back. The negative of the Starsky and Hutch Torino. When one looked under hood, there was this tiny 4 cylinder. Seemed like it was 2 feet from the radiator. The aluminum topped aircleaner assembly hid the turbocharger. Except for a hint of the extra crossover exhaust pipe, it didn't look any different than a Pinto engine. So, we are idiot high school kids and doing what idiot high school kids did in the early '80s. Cruising around looking for something to do when we ran across another kid from our school. 1966 Mustang 289 2bbl coupe. We went to a deserted stretch of road by the wildlife park and did a little speed comparison. The Mustang holed us.....badly but then the little green light that said "TURBO" lit up on the left side of the dash and the Fairmont reeled him back in and passed him. We could never reel back in the Cross-fire Hazard 305 Camaro, but from a rolling start the Fairmont would win. But the best part was seeing the look on the other guy's face when you open the hood. They are expecting a 302 or 351 and it's a tiny 4 cylinder. Doesn't mean as much now as it did very nearly 30 years ago. But it did influence me.
A 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I still recall the G78X14 tires, and the 9/16' bolts that held the starter motor on. I loved that car. I once squeezed 32 miles per gallon out of it in Death Valley, but usually it would get 20 m.p.g. on the highway. The front fenders rusted out due to the road salt they used back in the day in California at high altitudes. We took it on ski trips a few times and the salt ate it alive. I sold it to Bennet's Used Cars in Anaheim. Some kid bought it, restored the car and replaced the fenders. A year later he rolled it at high speed on Anaheim Blvd. R.I.P. Cutlass.
I didnt have any of them, but my interest was sparked by a few mid-1990s cars, specifically the Dodge Ram CTD, Dodge Stealth RT-10, and Ford Mustang. I used to collect car brochures dreaming of car arrangements that Id buy.
Stepping Stone: 1974 Monte Carlo-bought new. I added: 3.42 gears, Edelbrock Performer Intake, recalibrated(by me)Q-Jet carb, Crane Hi-Torque Cam, Blackjack headers, CBQ Turbo Mufflers, Recurved distributor, Mallory Unilite/MSD-5A ignition, B&M Transpak Shift kit, Monroe Gas Magnum shocks, 15X7 Cragar SS wheels, Michelin X tires. At full throttle the sled would chirp the tires on the 1-2 and 2-3 upshifts. I bought it because I wanted a BMW Bavaria but A. I Couldn't Afford the Bimmer. B. My Dad was helping me buy it and he wanted something domestic. So, I bought the car that Road & Track said would hold its own against the BMW(on a wide enough road). The Real Thing: 1973 Bavaria bought used in 1983. A running restoration, I swapped it for a 1987 535is and never looked back. (Well, I did buy the Mazdaspeed, but that was an aberration in more ways than one...)
My '72 Buick LeSabre 4dr w/ 350 4bbl that I bought in High School. It wasn't my first car, but was the first one I really wanted. To me, it was everything a good car should be: fast, comfortable, handled well, and distinctive.
Cars haven't influenced me much - they became my job. The motorcycle that inspired me was the BSA B31 - I bought a 1951 model in 1970 as a 16 year old. The B31 and B33 were the cast iron 350 and 500 parents of the all alloy racing B32 and B34 Goldstar. I couldn't afford a Goldstar....but I could pretend with my old B31. Goldstar cams,high comp pistons,big carbs,various exhausts - I experimented and played around with these things for 10 years...I learned so much,and accumulated a mountain of spare parts,several bikes in fact. I've had a lot of bikes since,but the B31 was what started it, and was the bike that taught me so much.
The cars that inspired me were (in very rough order) General Lee (off the television) Buick 215 turbo (Grandad's old Pop Sci collection) Dodge Coronet Hemi (with drum brakes - Tom McAhill test drive) Mr Lombardi's Pink Torana GTR (that one inspired me to own at least 7 Toranas, and culminated in my E30.) Chrysler Charger E49 Hemi Weber 6 pack Renault 10 Gordini Brock WB Statesman Magnum. Detomaso Longchamp Spider Giocattalo Most recently, Lotus 7 with Hiabusa drivetrain.
The '68 Valiant that was my first car. It was dad's "other car". Shortly after I started driving it started eating rocker arms. Pushrod poked holes in them. We eventually replaced them all after it ate the second one. This was also the car I learned to change oil on. Well after I announced I wanted to put a 4bbl carb on the old 318 he saw where this was going and sold the car... quickly. It was replaced by a rather docile '73 Datsun 1200. I absolutely hated that car!!
Bought an old, worn out 1958 Cadillac Coupe de Ville in 1976 for $285. It started a long relationship with old Caddys. By the early 1980s, I was in the vintage Cadillac parts business. Had many Caddys through the years, currently have a '79 Coupe de Ville that I bought from Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. a few years ago w/2800 miles(straight purchase from B-J, not auction).
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