In the pages to come, you’ll soon read all about the killer classic car collection at the National Parts Depot warehouse over in the industrial park west of I-75, the perfect article for our annual Men’s Issue. I mean, what guy doesn’t feel some bit of lust over a vintage ’68 Mustang Fastback?
So what is it about guys and their cars?
I’m probably not the guy to ask about that, though, because I think my DNA has a V8 chromosome. My dad and his dad were both car guys through and through. When my dad was really not much older than my daughter is today, he was already beginning to race cars—both legally and not so legally. Ultimately, his love for the fast lane put him behind the wheel of a late-‘30s Ford coupe, modified for the track.
Whenever I see pictures of my dad from that period—and he had several hanging on his office walls for years—he looks like he’s in heaven. My favorite shows him with his hair lightly tousled, clothes stained with grease, a mischievous grin on his face. I loved hearing his stories about burning rubber as they sped to the checkered flag. He and a friend actually pulled the engine out of another car—and replaced it after the race—so he could have a ride to high school on Monday. It was like Happy Days—one of my favorite TV shows at the time—had come to life and my father was The Fonz.
Of course, my dad had to get out from behind the wheel as life took over. Soon, he had a new wife, young kids, and a turn-of-the-century home that needed his attention more. But you could tell that cars never left his blood.
It wasn’t long before he’d decided to restore the whole line of 1940 Fords, his favorite model year, one at a time. We’d go to all the big car shows up and down the East Coast in search of his next project. To my brothers and me, this was nirvana—rows upon rows of gleaming, pristine automobiles from a simpler time. Fenders arched into the aisles, chrome trim blinded, and hoods yawned to reveal massive engines with more wires and hoses and fans than we knew what to do with.
I’m proud to say that my dad accomplished his goal. In pretty even intervals, neglected Fords would enter our garage—all 1940 models—and leave like they left the Detroit assembly line decades earlier. It was like a living version of the catalog from that year: the coupe, the truck, the panel van, and, best of all, the station wagon, with its wood-lined sides begging for a Beach Boys tune to blare out of the vintage Philco.
Yes, those were special times.
I hate to say that I didn’t inherit my dad’s mechanical skill. The closest I ever get is checking the antifreeze and oil levels under the hood from time to time. And I never did follow his lead on the racetrack, although we did do a story once on go-kart racing. I lost—to a girl.
But I definitely love classic cars. I try to get to the annual Mustang Roundup at Silver Springs; I’ll still occasionally buy a copy of Hemmings Motor News; and I’m sure I’ll get that ’68 Mustang Fastback I’ve always wanted. In the meantime, I’ve got a ’95 GT, the last year of the 5.0. I still have the picture from the day I was handed the keys. I’m standing in front, my hair slightly tousled, a mischievous grin on my face.
All my best,
The Ocala Style Top 10 with Dean Blinkhorn, the first Friday of each month at 8am on BIG 92.9 with Bill Barr.
Upcoming shows: June 4 and July 2.