Car Guy Origins
My car fascination began in the spring of 1982 at the wide-eyed age of 12. It all started with a trip to the American institution of 7-Eleven.
I grew up in a house that sat one lot removed from a cul-de-sac (the turnaround). The turnaround was the neighborhood play area. My street had little traffic and all the homeowners around the turnaround were cool. The end of our street fed into the Morgans’ driveway. The Morgan’s were a nice enough older couple with a little, fussy dog, Cosmo. If Cosmo got loose he would chase cars or people. As well, the dog had an unhealthy obsession with chasing me on my bike. If not inside, Cosmo was on a 10-foot lead in their backyard connected to a laundry line.
It was not uncommon to take a break from turnaround stick ball, hockey or football and walk to 7-Eleven. The store was only a quarter mile away but the path there started behind the Morgans’ house. Once past Cosmo (a few treats thrown away from the path) it was down a wooded path to walk along a busier road. I was aloud to go as long as a group of us were going. Often, the high school kids were the chaperones for a 7-Eleven run.
The Red 944
On this particular spring day, we took a break from stick ball and went in search of soda. While milling around the 7-Eleven, I was thumbing through the magazines. Keep in mind, at this point in history certain types of naughty magazines were in the mix as well. The most recent issue of Car and Driver caught my eye with a red Porsche 944 on the cover. Up to this point in life, I had a mild interest in the Trans Am that would wonder down our road. The red, sleek exotic Porsche seemed to say please look at me.
I hurried home with a soda in one hand and the magazine in the other. That day I retired early and read the magazine cover to cover. The rest of that spring and summer I jumped at any chance to go to the 7-Eleven. A few issues later there was an article on the Porsche 911 turbo. While my fondness for the 944 never left, the 911 stole the show. Over the following years, I littered my walls with adds and pull out posters of Porsches. At the center was always the silver and black 911 turbo. It was a long time before I saw a 911 in the real world.
In hindsight, I should have subscribed to Car and Driver. Until girlfriends and alpine skiing entered my life, most of my lawn mowing and snow shoveling money went to Car and Driver.
Real World 911
Fast forward to late 1985 and I’m now a licensed driver. Once learning to drive, I covered most of my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. On a cold fall night I was driving home from a friends house in the Shadyside area of Pittsburgh. I stopped at one of the many traffic lights on Fifth Avenue. While stopped, across the street a single story building caught my eye. Behind the tall glass windows of the red brick building was a gleaming Ferrari. Even more, there appeared to be other cars as well.
I made a quick left, drove a few block in search of parking and ran back to the building. Besides the red Ferrari 308, and the white Lamborghini Countach there sat a black Porsche 911 Targa. I came to find out the place specialized in high-end auto repair and early version of today’s car spa. Over the next few years, anytime I was even close to Shadyside, I would find a way to steam the glass at the windows of this showroom.
A few years later I found myself in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Miami, Florida. As a car guy, there was no better place in the late 80s to see the finest cars. Spotting a 911 became common place let alone a variety of other super cars.
Car guys come in all shapes and sizes. There are those that can build cars from scratch and those that are drivers. Still yet, there are those that simply appreciate cars. To be sure, I love to drive a manual transmission car. Any manual will do. I know enough about car repair to be dangerous. If a nice car comes close, I more than likely will turn my head to watch it go by.
I’ve had the pleasure of driving some really nice cars but have not yet put one in my own garage. There are many things that get me out of bed every morning. The dream of having a 911 in my garage has lived since I was 12 years old thumbing through the magazines at 7-Eleven.