This sounds like a super simple question, unless you are really into cars or what they do for you. When I started driving, even the learner’s permit here in Florida, I knew that a car would allow me to see my friends, get a job, go to the beach or a party, it meant freedom. Once I reached that golden age of 16, I went straight down to the Drivers’ License Office that morning. I believe I was there before the test officers opened the doors.
The car I had to take my test in was a mid-70’s Mercury Montego Wagon. I don’t recall the year, but it was green with that vinyl, wood siding. That pleather was great in the summer time heat, NOT! For some odd reason, doing a three-point turn during my driving test turned into a 12-point turn, thank goodness the test officer understood!
I remember my dad taking me out in his blue, 1971 VW Super Beetle. This is when I learned how to operated a manual transmission. Once I got the hang of it, I loved it. The stick shift allowed me to control the car that much more and it was so much more fun, almost a part of the car. I think they called that, a symbiotic relationship back in high school science. See I was paying attention, at least a little.
I thought of this as a funny story, now not then. I was coming home from a party when I was in high school. It was around 11:30 or so on a Friday or Saturday night. The streets and roads were empty and I had just stopped at a red light. I thought; “Let’s see what this car can do.” So, when the light turned green, I dropped the clutch and the tires chirped. I did the same during second gear and heard a chirp. Well suffice it to say, I was not the only person who heard the chirps (plural). One of our town’s finest heard it too. I didn’t see the lights until I was almost to my house. He asked what happened and like a good boy, said that my foot slipped. He said; “Twice?!” Hmm. I just hung my head and said sorry. He asked where I lived and I pointed at my house. I think the neighbors were all looking out their windows so see what was going on. He let me go since he figured I would be in trouble with my folks. I don’t recall if I ever told my folks or not, but since this is out, I am sure I will hear about it.
After a couple of years and being stationed in California with the Air Force, I finally bought my first vehicle. It was a 1958 Chevy Apache pick up truck. The steering rod was bent as if someone tried to tow it that way. My friends and I towed it, correctly, back to base and fixed the inconvenience. It was one of the first times my friends and I worked on a car or truck, which would make the memories that would last a lifetime.
It was during that time I realized how interconnected we were with our cars. We were a small group that had old muscle cars and really enjoyed the friendships made during that time. If we were not cruising around downtown, at a party or being goofy, we were at a friend’s garage working on someone’s car.
Over the years, most of us have had various cars that helped make memories that would last as long as we might be around. Cars have help create friendships and bonds that would be around for many, many years. What are some of your stories? Have you thought about sharing them here on CarStorian? I believe we all have stories of some kind that have been related to cars with family and friends. For some of us, they are like family; we take care of them, wash them, feed them, take them to the doctor (mechanic) when they are really sick, take pictures of them and of course go on road trips with them. Stories are a form of shared experiences that get passed down and around, hopefully with a fond memory attached.
So, to answer the question, “What does a Car mean to you?” Well, it meant and still means I have freedom; I can drive where I want. It is a form of therapy to just drive and think or clear your mind. Sometimes the car brings new friends, conversations or sharing of memories. Perhaps it is a way to learn responsibility like I mentioned above, perhaps for some it is a car payment or taking care of it if it’s gifted to you. There are a myriad reasons what a car may mean to you.
PS: The picture above is of my friends Jeff and Jim. We were in Jim’s garage in California working on my GTO. They still know more about cars than I do. Thanks gents!!
Darren D. Rayborn
1 (352) 346-4512