I became a car nut at age 11. It was at that age that I traded dinosaurs for Dinos, GI Joe for Jags and got my first subscription to Road & Track, which I have received continuously ever since. Back then, other than sitting in my brother’s 1971 Audi 100ls coupe, marveling at the sisal mats and wondering what it took to drive stick (a question that would be answered two years later at age 13) I didn’t get much in the way of immediate automotive exposure. But in my pubescent mind there were certain shapes that resonated, cars that got my heart a beating under the stitched feet of my Hang Ten tees. One of those was the Fiat X1/9.
Looking at that lime green beauty in the lead photo you can see why. Mid engine, exotic, angular and stunningly beautiful, it was everything that the mundane Buicks, Caddys and Benz’s of my suburban neighborhood weren’t. One day, a friend of my brother’s came over in her X1/9 to take me for a ride. To my 12 year old understanding, it could have been the freaking space shuttle as I had never to that day ridden in a targa-topped car. The seat was only inches from the asphalt and the earthy growl of the engine filtering through an Ana exhaust filled the cabin. It was years later that I would discover that the 1.6 litre four in the Fiat only put out about 60 hp, but at the time it felt like I was rolling in a Ferrari.
In addition to the Fiat, I was pined over the Ford Capri,and the Opels Manta and 1900. These were cars within the strata of what I thought, someday, I could afford. Cars like actual Ferraris, Porsches BMWs and various V8-powered muscle cars seemed as unobtainable as the planet Pluto.
Despite my predilections, my first car was actually a Chevy Corvair. That car, and the very kind gentleman that helped me get it on the road, taught me how to work on cars, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for my first love, the Italian that thrilled me with her dulcet note, and captured my heart with her unique beauty.
So that’s my story, but what about you – what were you secretly desiring while cruising around on your Shwinn? What car’s wheel did you imagine gripping while holding its handlebars, and feeling the wind on your face and the speed course through your soul? What car did you hope would wait for you to catch up, so it and you could realize a marriage that only an inexperienced driver could envision?
What car did you want, before you could drive?