It's safe to assume that everybody reading this can trace their love of cars back to one moment, in one particular car, that really got the ball rolling towards what would become a life-long obsession (read: crippling addiction). For me, there are three cars I owe a great debt to for this. The three cars in question each solidified a certain aspect in my love for driving while not having any similarities between them.
1.) 1961 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible: The Late Night Cruise
The Caddy at its favorite park.
Ah yes, back to the beginning; and I mean the VERY beginning. Before I was born, my father pulled this car out of a barn in Texas and had it hauled back to Michigan. He restored the entire thing in our driveway, and kept everything stock except for the seat belts, which he added since this car was never offered with them, and a custom sound system he wired by hand. The final steps of the restoration were completed while I was around the ages of two and three, learning to form thoughts and speak (terrifying). In fact, my mother used to tell people that I thought daddy lived in the garage, since he was so dedicated to the project.
It's now been twenty years since he finished the restoration, and I have some excellent memories sitting in the back seat as all five of us (my self, mom, dad, and two younger brothers) hurled towards Dairy Queen, on a Summer night in the long chrome and blue, two door with the top down. The best memories, however, were made in the driver's seat. Since I have been able to get insurance for it (18 years old), I have driven it for many miles and enjoyed countless nights on Woodward Avenue cruising up and down the strip. In those nights, I discovered the wonder of a late night cruise. Whether I was by myself or had both the front and back row of seats loaded, while my and friends and I put the three ash trays to good use as we puffed on cigars, I experienced one of the purest sensations. Free from everything else in the world, I found myself smiling every second I was behind the wheel, and counting the days until the weekend where I would be behind it once more.
2.) 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX: The Culture.
The next stop on my automotive journey brings us to a staple from the Land of the Rising Sun. While the Cadillac was a huge automobile presence in my life when I was a kid and when I was in my late teens, I didn't really care about cars much in between those years. I was more concerned with video games, sports, and fitting in. That is, until I turned 16 and the realization that I would able to drive settled in. One of my best (only) friends had somehow convinced his parents to purchase a salvaged '08 WRX as his first car. I never thought much of it, as I really had no idea what it was until he invited me to join him on Woodward one Saturday night...
I remember the sound the car made as he heel-toed down the gears as it approached my driveway. The trademark "Subaru Rumble," the backfiring, the "WHOOOSH-ing"...I was hooked. I had never heard a car like that before, but I knew I needed one in my life after that point! We spent a good five or six hours flying up and down the avenue making all sorts of racket and having a blast. This car is responsible for my affinity for JDM and tuner car culture. I attended meets, followed countless social media accounts, and spent countless hours on Craigslist searching for an affordable, forced-induction car for myself (to no avail I might add). I simply wanted to have a respectable car to show up to meets with. This little Subie pulled me headfirst down the rabbit hole of cars, and I can't thank it enough for that.
A few years after graduating high-school, I was sadly informed that the WRX breathed its last breath as the engine [insert head-gasket joke] and electronics completely failed while cruising on a back road. Rest in peace.
3.) 2013 Roush Mustang (Stage 3): POWER!
Well, here we are; at the pinnacle of my automotive upbringing, and what a car to close the book with! If you didn't guess from the stolen Instagram shots, this car's home was also the garage of my only friend. However, this was his dad's car. This was the Holy Grail, and only on special occasions were we allowed to take it out for a spin. We had to prep like we were piloting a transcontinental flight: we would check the weather a week in advance, watch the radar religiously leading up to the weekend, and knew the smoothest roads that lead to Woodward. When given the approval, my friend would send the notification: "WE GOT THE ROUSH!" via text. I could barely keep from giggling like a school-girl as I shoveled food in mouth as fast as possible so I could hit the road.
Now I previously mentioned how I fell in love with the noises the WRX made, but those quickly took a back seat right after I sat in this thing. After Roush performs their magic on the donated Mustang, it leaves with a much louder exhaust note, but that was not good enough for my friend's dad. He did his research and had a custom exhaust put in just days after he received his gunmetal and red trimmed terror. This car was a middle finger to everyone around it. Whether it was idling or wide open throttle, you couldn't hear yourself think. It made everyone stop whatever they were doing and look.
While this was fun and put a cheeky smile on my immature face, it was only half of what made me fall in love with this car. The way it threw you into the back of your seat as it brutally devoured asphalt while the supercharger screamed was something that I had never experienced before. It made you feel invincible, as close to god-like one could get I would imagine. Knowing that much power was at your disposal, late-teenaged me couldn't get enough of it. Before this, I thought I would be satisfied with a decent, tilty-wheeled car to park at meets and post pictures of, but the Roush changed that after five minutes of being in it. I needed a car that had enough power to punch a smile onto my stupid face.
The Product: ....a mixed bag
When I started writing this, I was flying high in my 05 Mustang GT; exhaust and tires screaming, ripping from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, grinning from ear to ear. I had modded that thing as far as I could for my year-round daily driver. Then my love for the car started to fade. Now I don't mean to get all political, but I do blame the Mach-e for this (we'll need another article to dive into why). I wanted to disassociate myself with the Pony as fast as possible, but still wanted a car that ticked all of the boxes that the ones above did years ago. Long story short, I wanted to get in touch with my tuner/hot-hatch side (read: I want my car to go "WHOOSH!"). While Ford still left a bad taste in my mouth, I couldn't turn away from a little black '13 ST. The leather Recaro seats and sharp, angular interior instantly hooked me. The interior aesthetic also carried over to driving feel; the thing is snappy! After throwing on a turbo-back exhaust, BOV, and tune she makes all the right noises and is quick enough to slap a smile on my face. The picture of it above was taken right as the shelter in place order was given in Michigan and I found myself cruising down a deserted Woodward Avenue, windows down, thinking about what it would look like in the summer season. Stay healthy everyone., Hope to see you out there in a few months.
What cars paved the way to what you currently drive (or love about driving)?