Friday, May 22, 2009

It was a 455 Rocket - Biggest Block Alive

My first car, that is. I got it for my high school graduation, when I was 17. A 1975 Hurst Olds, with a 455 engine, a dual-gate (his-n-hers) shifter, and t-tops.

My dad gave all of us kids cars when we graduated high school (and there were six of us!). They were not brand-new cars, but good used cars. My dad loved cars, loved to work on cars, and owned several pretty special ones over the years. I remember the Lincoln Continental he had with the clamshell doors (also known as suicide doors). We drove up to Misquamicut, Rhode Island one year on vacation so that he could have the wiring re-done. He also had a 1970 Olds 442, which I am sad to say I totalled. He had it rebuilt, and then my brother-in-law totalled it, and that was the end of that classic car. He had a old Cord at one point, but I don't remember that one.

I have to admit that when it came time for me to pick out a car for graduation, I knew very little about cars, even after all those years watching my dad work on his. My dad had set a budget of $2,500.00 (this was back in 1980, keep in mind), and he decided to help me out with car selection. Keep in mind that the man liked muscle cars. His first pick was a used Camaro, but I didn't like it. Then, my dad heard about a guy who had a Hurst Olds for sale. This guy was a regular patron of the bar my dad owned at the time. My dad took me to the bar one afternoon to have a look at the car, and the owner offered a test drive. I got behind the wheel, started out of the parking lot, lightly touched the gas, accidentally burned rubber, and fell in love. Looking back, I kind of have to question the wisdom of giving a car like that to a seventeen-year-old idiot, but ...... Thanks, Dad!

I learned a lot from that car. I learned about how cars can be guy-magnets, about how to beat the pants off the boys in street races (when you've got a 455 under the hood, it basically means just hitting the gas and keeping your foot down), about cars in general. I learned that when you've got a lot of power to control, you have to be careful. I loved that car. I drove that car until, if you lifted up the floor mats, you could see the open road beneath your feet. I drove it until it was only firing on 6 of 8 cylinders (and doing just fine). I drove it until you could put your fist through the rust spots in the side panels. I drove it until the engine finally started blowing great clouds of blue smoke, and then I sold it for 200 bucks. It broke my heart to sell that car.

All the cars I've had since have been "just cars". Nothing special about them. I miss that Olds.


Bridgett said...

My first car was a 1978 Chevy Impala with a 350; it didn't look fast, but it was. Very. I think my dad knew that I would race it, but we never talked about that. My mom (bless her) always thinks I have more sense than I do.

Anonymous said...

I had a big time crush on a guy who drove a classic Impala in high school :)

Lucky you for having such a memorable first car. My first car was the old family car. Then it was a Ford Escort. The only thing memorable about that was how much I hated it.

Bridgett said...

My huge high school crush was on a 1968 Buick Riviera...and the boy who drove it wasn't bad either.