Both of my parents were born in 1949, and both of their families lived and grew up in the heyday of American automotive renaissance. My father’s side of the family was in California when low-rider customization was invented, but he was always a “more power” kinda’ guy. Dad built his own hotrods, given his time and financial resources. He would always talk about his 500 horsepower 1969 Plymouth GTX, and he put headers and/or sidepipes on everything he could. My mother’s side of the family built and raced cars in the burgeoning “stock car” scene in Illinois, as well as drag racers and motorcycles. She never outwardly displayed her own desire for performance. She’d take the back seat when it came to what our family could afford, drive the dog, and let Dad get his jollies behind the wheel of whatever machine made him happy.
On Friday nights in elementary school, it was a difficult decision to make… do we stay home and watch “The Dukes of Hazzard”, or head out to the local dirt track to watch Mike Hammerle (apparently still racing) in his yellow AMC Gremlin try to beat that memory-failing-therefore-unnamed bastard in the brown Ford who would pad his starting position by light-footing the time trial? Shit, we bought Hammerle Racing t-shirts, went down to the pits… it was a great night when Mike won.
After Dad died, however, Mom began to blossom. When the decision came to drop one of the cars, I thought she’d keep the mid-level, late-90s Grand Am. “Are you crazy?”, she asked me during one conversation, “I’m keeping the Batmobile!” That’s what we called my Dad’s black/purple pearl Trans Am. I never got to drive it. After that, she got the Ram Air Grand Am GT1. And, she now works on her own motorcycle at home.
Both branches of my converging family tree were “car people”, and both of my primary childhood influences (Mom and Dad) turned out to be automotively performance oriented. Although my brother drives a Ford (Mustang GT), and although I drive a “luxury” *snort* “performance” (eh) import… I think our respective decisions have ground in our genetic, mystical, gutteral proclivity toward that increasingly pricey and elusive desire for… the holy grail of… PERFORMANCE.
After I’ve run my course in the computer industry, after I reach either the financial means, or requisite age, to retire, I want to build cars: “Sleepers”. Those are the cars that you see on the road… and think they’re simply off the assembly line with no modification; they’re “stock” as far as you know. Then you kind of notice the driver looking with disdain at your xenon-light-sporting, bodykit-laden, custom-paint-job piece of shit with a soupcan muffler.
Then, they’re gone. And you’re choking on tire smoke as they chirp fat contact patches, gears one through three. In about 30 years… keep an eye out for a late-80s black Monte Carlo that looks like it just came out of the showroom.