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 Post subject: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 2:13 pm 
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At my advanced age (three more months 'til I turn 75), it's no time to expand one's horizons... A year or so ago, I made the cut. I have four interests. I realized I've had the same four for several decades. My library of books serves as validation for this tightening up of topics I care about. Here they are in alphabetical order:
• Apparel
• Architecture
• Athletics
• Automobiles

So this is a foray (get it?) into automobiles. Somewhere in the vast inter webs, I've written a bit about cars I've loved, convertibles with bench (rather than bucket) seats, sports cars, the cause of the difference in sound between V8 and V12 engines, why no cars even come close to the beauty and sexiness of Italian cars, and other car-guy stuff like that.

This little article is about none of that. It is about wretched excess in a) automobiles, b) teenage judgment, and c) a Dad who had a weakness for the latest, the greatest, and the flashiest.

In other words, it's a tale about a 1958 Cadillac convertible in Fire Engine Red, brought home one day, by my Dad. Here it is:

Image

This post all comes down to an outrageous car and one young man who had to learn good taste through bad judgement. Parenthetically, this wasn't the only time I had to learn this lesson. I'm slow.

My Dad was a car guy. Two of my three Sons are car guys. I had the bug and it began to be serious, but I got some kind of inoculation, that forever limited (but didn't eliminate) my tendency to vibrate when in the presence of a cool car – (Please supply your own definition of cool here – no definitions of vibrators, please).

I waited an appropriate period of time (in my mind) before I asked my Dad if I could drive the new Caddy over to my GF's house. How long did I wait? Two days. That's an eternity in teen time! He said, that'd be OK. So, off I went!

I lived in a semi-Nouveau Riche area of town. My GF lived in the MUCH MORE REFINED Old Money section of town. I was a Junior in HS and, having skipped a grade somewhere along the line, was about a year younger than my then GF, and was just a couple of months into having my Driver's License, while having just a couple of months left in my Junior year.

I parked the Fire Engine Red Caddy – of exorbitant length with flamboyant tail fins – in the modest driveway of the perfectly tended, perfectly gardened. gracious home in which my GF lived. It took up the WHOLE "FREAKIN" DRIVEWAY! I rang the doorbell, asked her Dad if I might take her for a short ride. and while he said not a word, I watched his eyes grow huge! Finally – Gentleman that he was – he said, "Let me ask her, Bill." At the time, she was smitten with me, so I was not surprised when she came out and hopped in the passenger side of the Caddy. Driving her around the wooded neighborhood was... well, it was an exciting harbinger of the life I thought we would spend together.

Here she is in her Senior Year in High School:

Image

National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar, the absolute definition of demure and graceful, with a degree of modesty unsurpassed throughout my life's experience. The rest of this story will never be told (it is too humiliating and embarrassing to me). All I'll will say is "I consider myself lucky to have found a match to the first GF in the beauty, grace, kindness, and utterly feminine ways of the Classic Beauty." How important was "utterly feminine?" If a girl wasn't in the top one percent of femininity, I had a zero percent interest in her. Full stop.

© 2016 William Welty

_________________
"... fashion wears out more apparel than the man."
Shakespeare


Last edited by Billax on Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:14 am, edited 10 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:50 pm 
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So the first girlfriend didn't work out. That's okay, you ended up faring much better with the Classic Beauty!

But whatever happened to the car?


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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:48 pm 
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gamma68 wrote:
But whatever happened to the car?
Ah! As was normal in the household in which I grew up, the latest and greatest was never the latest and greatest for long. The Caddy was traded in, less than a year later, for a "new, old stock" 1957 Jaguar XJ 140M roadster. As a Brass plaque, glued to the front of the glove box of this exotic spelled out, "An exact duplicate of this Jaguar reached a top speed of 141.387 MPH at the Bonneville Salt Flats on ..." some date I don't remember. I do remember the 141.387 though! Here's a pic, not of my Dad's car, but of some XK 140M*:

Image

Oh, and as part of that swap, a 1953 Chevy Bel Air convertible was tossed in. This became my first car:
Image

When I married the Classic Beauty, I had a bit of money from good Summer jobs, and I bought our own first car. It was a convertible, of course, a 1963 Chevy Corvair Monza, a car despised by Ralph Nader in his fraudulent book on the topic, "Unsafe at any Speed." Somewhere, I have a pic of me in front of the Corvair convertible, headed off to a job interview with IBM. I got the job offer, but didn't take the job. Ah! Here it is:

Image

The end of my infatuation with cars came with a 1972 Maserati Ghibli, arguably the most beautiful car ever created.

Image

I have been a great fan of the automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the designer of this Maserati, and many other, beautiful automobiles. This car had a claimed top speed of 172 MPH. I got it up to a speedometer reading of 165MPH – on a remote Highway of Southern Wisconsin – at which point the front end started to lift, leaving the steering wheel inoperable. You can look directly below the grille to see why it started to go airborne! I decided to, never again, test the top speed claims of auto manufacturers!

Fade out/fade in: I became an old Geezer, and I am OK with being an Old Geezer. However, it does mean that I now own a "sensible car" (I purchased a new 2008 Hyundai Genesis) – and that car now has 35,000 miles on it. For those of you who prefer not to divide, that's 4,375 miles per year. I laugh at how immobile I have become.

© 2016 William Welty
________________________________________________________
* None of these pictures are pictures of the actual cars my Dad owned. They are, however, images of the correct year and model of the automobiles. All these cars made an impact on who I became. In particular, the Brass plaque on the XK 140M is indelibly locked in my brain.

_________________
"... fashion wears out more apparel than the man."
Shakespeare


Last edited by Billax on Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:21 am, edited 9 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:30 am 
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Wonderful, Billax!


I too had a very beautiful thing designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.

A black 1984 Nikon F3.

8)


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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:39 am 
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Thank you for sharing this with us, Billax!


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 Post subject: The Young Car Guys
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:50 pm 
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My Dad was a Car guy. I'm a Car guy. My brother's a Car guy. There aren't many Car guys left in America these days, but two of my three Sons are Car guys and the youngest, who now owns and drives the 1994 BMW 320i convertible I bought new, is rapidly becoming a Car guy!

I should point out that – by my definition – to be a car guy, you must have – at some time – owned and driven a convertible. Full Stop. No rag top in your driving history equals "not a car guy!" That's necessary, but it's insufficient. To meet the full definition of a "Car guy," as a kid you had to "know stuff" about cars! Stuff like the 0 - 60 mph time, or the responsiveness of the steering wheel, measured in "turns lock to lock," or top speed, or G force on the skid pad... you know, the obscure stuff which would allow you to defend your choice of "Best American Car."

In my Northwestern Chicago neighborhood*, all the young guys could recognize every American car (year and model) and could defend their choice of "best car" with stats that would blow your mind! Every guy had his favorite Car, but none of us liked the Plymouth because of its goofy hood ornament,

Image

... and the fact that everybody had a Maiden Aunt who owned a Plymouth 4 door Sedan. Still, if you didn't know your car stats, you quickly learned to shut up and go study your stats. After rigorous study, you could then show off your new stat knowledge at the pickup baseball games that took place in the residential streets around 6084 Naples Avenue – my boyhood home!. When a car went by – and interrupted the Ball game – the guys would ask "Trivial Pursuit" auto questions about that car that would blow your mind with their complexity and obscurity.

I was middlin' to pretty good at Automobile Trivial Pursuit and got some chops for that, but Richie Cervanka's Dad worked for the auto supplier who designed and sold the exterior rear view mirrors to Buick in 1952! Richie REALLY had braggin' rights! Still, Richie was limited in his Baseball prowess in the way that all "good field, no hit" guys are.

Interestingly, on the day when the postman delivered the new issue of Motor Trend (every family on the pickup baseball team subscribed), attendance at Baseball practice dropped to near zero! All my teammates were doin' what I was doin', studying every statistic of that month's reviewed cars. Did we have to change our favorite car because a new contender had better stats? Could the new Hudson Hornet upset the apple cart for all us car guys? Ya just hadta be on top of your stats! As all 70+ year old car guys know, the 1951-52 Hudson Hornets were totally dominant on the stock car circuit, and their 0-60 time was a HOT, HOT 12.1 seconds!

The Morrissey boys, the Scoby boys, Richie Cervanka, Kenny Markowski, Norby Dickman, the Welty boys... formed the heart of our pickup Baseball team and every one of them was a car guy. This was in the very early 1950s when cars were much lusted after by 9-12 year old boys!


_________________________________________________________________________
* I lived in NorthWest Chicago from age Three to age twelve. All denizens of Northwest Chicago, were then, are now, and forever will be – Cubs fans! Bob Rush was our favorite Pitcher and Hank Sauer was our favorite hitter. Go Cubbies!

And... Thank you, Lord, for letting the Cubs win the 2016 World Series, for the first time in 108 years!

© 2016 William Welty

_________________
"... fashion wears out more apparel than the man."
Shakespeare


Last edited by Billax on Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:44 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Young Car Guys
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:33 pm 
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Billax wrote:
...by my definition – to be a car guy, you must have – at some time – owned and driven a convertible. Full Stop. No rag top in your driving history equals "not a car guy!" That's necessary, but it's insufficient. To meet the full definition of a "Car guy," as a kid you had to "know stuff" about cars! Stuff like the 0 - 60 mph time, or the responsiveness of the steering...
Does a Yamaha FZR750 count? :mrgreen: It's missing two wheels, but it didn't have a top, and I know all about its 0-130 mph time and responsiveness. (Is there a statute of limitations on admitting something like that? Because I'm not admitting anything.)


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 Post subject: Re: The Young Car Guys
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:18 am 
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Does a Yamaha FZR750 count? :mrgreen: It's missing two wheels, but it didn't have a top, and I know all about its 0-130 mph time and responsiveness. (Is there a statute of limitations on admitting something like that? Because I'm not admitting anything.)
Ensiferous. You are definitely a car guy! If I had an extra Ferrari California 250 SWB GT laying around, I'd shoot it off to you. Shipping and Insurance charges would be collect!

So, do you have anyone to talk to about those stats? I find car guys are a dying breed.

Bill

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"... fashion wears out more apparel than the man."
Shakespeare


Last edited by Billax on Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:49 pm 
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What's your take on automatic vs. stick shift, Bill?

I'm probably not a car guy, but I'm going to be moving down to Miami this summer to take a faculty position in a business school down there. I'm pretty sure my next car (an upgrade from my current '96 Accord with 200k++ miles) will be an automatic Mazda MX-5.

My assumption is that the "car guys" will hate the fact that it'll be an automatic and everyone else will make fun of the fact that it's a Miata. But I don't care--I just want a convertible!


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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:28 pm 
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nerdyk wrote:
What's your take on automatic vs. stick shift, Bill?

I'm probably not a car guy, but I'm going to be moving down to Miami this summer to take a faculty position in a business school down there. I'm pretty sure my next car (an upgrade from my current '96 Accord with 200k++ miles) will be an automatic Mazda MX-5.

My assumption is that the "car guys" will hate the fact that it'll be an automatic and everyone else will make fun of the fact that it's a Miata. But I don't care--I just want a convertible!
Ah, nk.
You'd be a lucky guy to have any MX-5. My middle Son, a smidge ahead of you on the Academic ladder, has an MX-5, with automatic. I razz him about automatic every so often, until he counters with the final riposte: "Uh, tell me, Pops, what kinda convertible are YOU drivin' these days?" Net, ANY convertible is a treasure. My wish for every young man is that he have the pleasure of driving one – wind in his hair – with his beloved in the passenger seat.

Image

Those memories come flooding back to me and I wouldn't trade 'em for ANYTHING.

Go for it!

Bill

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"... fashion wears out more apparel than the man."
Shakespeare


Last edited by Billax on Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:14 pm 
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I'm glad I have an enabler on the board!

If all goes well, I'll be driving a convertible toward the end of 2017.


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 Post subject: Re: The Young Car Guys
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:50 pm 
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Billax wrote:
Ensiferous. You are definitely a car guy! If I had an extra Ferrari California 250 SWB GT laying around, I'd shoot it off to you. Shipping and Insurance charges would be collect!
Thanks Bill! I could swing the shipping, but the property tax on a Ferrari would be a killer here. :mrgreen:

Billax wrote:
So, do you have anyone to talk to about those stats? I find car guys are a dying breed.
I agree; all but one of my friends who I turned wrenches with years ago have moved away.


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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:04 pm 
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My Dad had a 1980 VW Rabbit convertible (later called "cabriolet") when I was in college. Manual transmission, of course. I loved driving that thing. Even in the middle of winter, I'd put the top down and crank up the heater.

The car was eventually passed on to my brother, who drove it until it fell apart.

This isn't his car, but that's what it looked like.
Image

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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:13 pm 
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I can't call them "convertibles" in the sports car sense, but I did have a few Jeep CJ's that went topless much of the time. And I had a simply fantastic Toyota FJ40 that was always topless. That 4x4 was a better chick magnet than even the motorcycles were.

Somewhere I have a picture of one or both Mustangs I had, should probably scan them...


Driving my friend's 1985 911 Carrera Targa in Guard's Red. Extreme fun to take off the Targa top, so I know of the convertible car joy that you speak of, Bill.

And you don't run the manual transmission of that car, it runs you. The 3.2 provides rocket-like propulsion, firmly planting your ass in the seat like few cars can do.




Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The days in which I had access to wretched excess
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:39 pm 
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This vehicle vid requires suspension of disbelief:

http://www.chonday.com/Videos/trailerghu4

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"... fashion wears out more apparel than the man."
Shakespeare


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