Twice this week I put my life in the hands of my fifteen year old son as he learned to drive a stick shift. He’s learning so he will be prepared when we turn over borrowship (NOT ownership) of his first vehicle, a Honda Accord that’s the same age as he is. We’ve already started the countdown, T-minus 73 days until he has that all-important piece of plastic that says he’s a legal driver.
Besides teaching my son (or just hanging on) I’ve been working on a car story. Naturally, all of this reminds me of my first car.
First let me give you a little backstory. My Dad was a mail carrier. There was a woman on his route who was blind and she owned two cars that had hardly been driven. One was an ugly bright blue Ford Maverick, and one was a red and white 1970 Cheville Malibu. Since she couldn’t drive the cars anymore she sold them to my Dad. He bought the Maverick first, so that car went to my older sister. Then he bought the Malibu. For some reason, that neither my sister or I can explain (at least not in civil terms) I got to drive the Malibu.
It was a nice car and it was in pretty good condition when I got it. Not so much (as my brothers like to point out) when I was finished with it. But it was still a very cool car.
I have some great memories of the Malibu. Like the time I tried to follow a guy who was driving a truck into the sand dunes and I buried it up to the axles (statue of limitations is over on that one, Mom). Or when the heater got stuck on high for an entire summer. Or when there was a short in the horn, so whenever you touched the brakes it would honk. My boyfriend got pulled over for honking at a cop when he had to stop at a stoplight.
My mom still has the Malibu. My brothers won’t let her sell it even though it doesn’t run anymore. Whenever I go home I have to take a moment to visit my old car and reminisce.
Clunker or souped-up hot rod, I think we all have fond memories of our first car.
My cousin, Jennifer Shaw Wolf is a mother of four, videographer, avid reader, and obsessed writer. Her book, Breaking Beautiful comes out in April, 2012.
“Some Dreams Do Come True” is painted on the back of Jim Martin’s beautiful 1941 Ford. I recently got the chance to talk to Jim after my Dad who is Jim’s neighbor in Yuba City, sent me some pictures of his car. Like a lot of us, Jim has always had a love for his first car, a 41 Ford, and when he got a little older and had the opportunity to buy another one, he did. Jim bought this car about 10 years ago. He said he not only bought it because it was a 41 but because of how nice it was. A father and son team in Yuba City had built it and had given it a nice custom paint job.
It has a strong Chevy 350 with an RV cam and a big carb. They added power brakes, power steering and a nice CD stereo system. The gray interior is super comfortable for the occasional runs Jim takes with the Central Valley Knights Car Club. He says it is a great driver and he needs to take it out more often.
Jim grew up in Santa Cruz in the 1950’s and loved fast cars. He fixed up his first 1941 Ford with a big flathead V-8 and 3 carburetors in his auto shop class at school. He belonged to the Santa Cruz Dragons an early car club in the area. He said they had cool jackets and club plaques. Next time I’m in Yuba City, I’ll get a picture of his plaque that he still has hanging on the wall in his garage. Jim and his buddies would often find a deserted road in the hills outside Santa Cruz and test out their cars by drag racing each other. He said it was a simpler time, no fights or drugs, just fun with fast cars. The other car club in town was the Santa Cruz Clockers, who were older and had more money and faster cars. They would all go to the Salinas Drag Strip and watch them race on a track instead of the street. Jim is a 1954 graduate of Santa Cruz High School and still goes back for the reunions, occasionally driving his car and participating in the Hot Rods at the Beach car show in Santa Cruz.
Our thanks to Jim Martin for allowing us to photograph his beautiful car and sharing his interesting story of growing up in Santa Cruz and his first 41 Ford.
My first car was a 1953 Chevrolet pickup, which I will write about soon. I have always loved these old trucks but mine never looked like this one. Back in 1975, I don’t think I could have even imagined doing all this to an old truck. I don’t know what is more difficult to imagine, the amount of work it required or the price it brought at the auction? Look at this video of a completely custom 1953 Chevrolet Truck that recently sold at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.
If you have never been to a Barrett-Jackson collector car auction or watched one on the Speed Channel, they are pretty amazing. There are almost always celebrities either buying or selling. The cars are gorgeous and the prices, even in this economy, are unbelievable.