It's easy to remember what started my infatuation with cars. Like many 'baby boomers' my Brother and I would sit peering over the back of the front seat on my Father's Oldsmobile trying to out-guess each other on what brand the oncoming car was, even down to spinning around to the back window and further speculating the model & year. That graduated into turning my Schwinn Black Phantom bicycle into a 'rod' with chrome side pipes, blue flames/ scallops and pinstripes (there went the now collectible Schwinn tank w/ button horn and teardrop headlight along w/ the chrome fenders!).
Eventually, at 11, I acquired Rheumatic Fever in the cold Cleveland winters and was ordered to bed for over 2 years while the doctors tried to figure a cure for a 24 hr. high temperatures, swollen joints, and finally a damaged heart valve. That illness led me further into 'car addiction' by introducing me to building & collecting model cars, memorizing the "facts" on the boxes, while confined to bed. Back then, you chose between 1/25 scale AMT, Revell and Ideal. I would build them with airplane glue (which, with continued use, could give you a whopping headache), while my Brother was kind enough to individually paint them using Testor's model enamel. At the end of two years, I had collected 54 model cars of every type and description, including the only ones left, seen here, not crushed by the Moving & Storage Co. in the move from OH. to FL. They were an Electric Studebaker that has now warped in the Summer FL. heat, 40 Ford Tudor and a 51 Ford Customized Victoria Coupe, with which I won 2nd Place, at a Model Show in a downtown Hobby Shop 1959-60 in West Palm Beach, FL.
My parents weren't wealthy so, despite the fact I worked my way through school, selling clothing for 5 years at local Dept. Stores, I didn't even get my first car until after I graduated high school. It was a $600 '56 Ford Fairlane Coupe that had more ripples of body filler on the side than a South Florida ocean wave. I remember my Dad eventually sold it, in the pouring rain, a couple of years later, while I was out of town at a Key Club / Kiwanis Club Convention in Jacksonville. Sadly, the buyer called back a few days later, when the weather cleared, and backed out of the sale.
Like most of us my Father insisted I pay cash, so I graduated (up?) slowly to a '59 Hillman Minx Convertible, '62 Falcon, '60 Pontiac 389 Catalina Coupe, then, finally a 1958 Chevrolet Impala w/ 348 V8 and 3-2's. Buying a 4-speed gearbox from the junkyard for $200, and installing it yourself, was easy in those days but, the gas & tire bill was killing me ...driving all the way daily to college classes. So, I swapped a kid for a 1965 Volvo PV544 and cash for my beloved '58 Impala. I really enjoyed the gas mileage, performance from the Volvo's dual carb's and 4-speed until I was 'creamed' at a stop sign. My laminated wood 'surf' bumper, surfboard racks & longboard did not fare well either. Turns out, I had the bad luck of being 't-boned' by the Riviera Beach High School 'class beauty', when she ran a stop sign on 34th street...my car was never the same again.
I won't bore you with all the cars I've owned but, my Brother and I used to buy 'repo's from 1st Marine Bank, fix them up and sell them for a profit- for several years- until , sometime later, I finally worked my way up into a used '65 280SL 4-speed Mercedes-Benz. By the time I finished my stint in college and got married at 23, I left for my honeymoon to Jamaica, with tin cans pounding the pavement, behind a new 1968 Dodge 440 R/T in Red/Black. By 1969, 'car fever' had struck again and I got rid of the 'rattlebox' Dodge to get a beautiful, used 1967 Corvette 327/350 4-speed w/ factory Air Conditioning ...and in the South Florida heat 'AIR' was mandatory.
My 23 year career in Radio Broadcasting was kind and allowed me to have numerous cars. By the early 80's I had 160 really nice cars, usually 2-3 at a time. The way I'm able to recall that number now is..... my youngest daughter told me 'OJ' Simpson (sports star) came to speak at her school and bragged on his success & how many cars he had owned in his lifetime- that, being 38. My daughter piped up and said, "really... my Dad has had over 160". Luckily, he didn't carry a knife at that time.
I'm sure your reader's share with me the great memories of owning these great classic cars; the Drive-In Restaurants, sneaking in the Drive-In Movies, 'parking' at the Beach, watching the 'submarine races', going on dates to the Music Clubs and drag racing on deserted roads, like SR 703 on Singer Island in FL. It's all part of what really makes America Great and builds the memories we will have forever.