I became car aware in the late 60’s and early 70’s when attending George J. Penney high School, which was located in the working class town of East Hartford. We never really had what you would call a good car (one that was almost new) because we were a rather large clan, with 5 siblings. I was the oldest, with 3 other brothers and one sister, who was the youngest. So, instead of a wood paneled wagon as the family hauler, we had a succession of questionable cars, from a 1958 Chevy Brookwood Wagon (283, Powerglide, 2 Tone Green), a 1964 Corvair Greenbriar Van (4 speed stick, 3 seats, 2 Tone Green), to a 1973 Chevy Suburban (350, Auto, School Bus Yellow). They were augmented with second cars used by my Mom, including a 1961 Corvair Monza, and a 1966 Rambler American. So, what the hell does this have anything to do with My Eleanor? You see, for my first car, I wanted something completely different than what the parents had, which was all crap in my opinion.
I saw the love of my car life during the Autumn of 1973, when a school buddy of mine showed up in the Parking Lot with what I still consider one of the most drop dead, gorgeous vehicles ever to see production, the 1970 Mustang Hardtop. This car was something special as it was equipped with a 302 and a T-Shift Cruise-o-Matic, but it really wasn’t a Muscle Car. On the outside it was painted in a shade of arrest-me Red with a Raven Black Vinyl Roof. There was a factory hood scoop installed, though I didn’t think it was factory at that time. But it was the interior that blew me away with black and white “Houndstooth” fabric on the seats, and a Wood Grained Dash with a big ole clock in front of the passenger. And one more discovery for someone who was never exposed to this option before, Air Conditioning.
I was enamored, in lust, and filled with envy at the sight of this Coupe, and I wanted one badly. This was the car I would compare any other vehicle I owned and eventually I bought my own (Fox Bodied) Mustang many years later. Unfortunately, it was like meeting the Prom Queen at your reunion a decade later, only to discover that she lives in a trailer park with two kids, and looking quite different. That car could never live up to the expectations of the first time I saw my friends 1970 Red Hardtop, and I probably should never have expected it to. After the experience with my Mustang the dream of owning a 70 version quickly faded, and I have moved on.
High School is a very distant memory now, but I remember the times in which my friends and I gathered in the parking lot of Augie & Rays with our cars all gleaming, and that Red Mustang glowed just a bit brighter under the fluorescent lights than any of the others. Yes, even brighter than my 1966 Corvair Monza Convertible.