20 January 2017

Three reasons you’re hooked on cars, not counting cooking

Typically, the answer was simple: Dad. But whether it was a bootlegging grandpa or convertible-driving grandma, our families had a tremendous influence on why we’re car folks. Toys, specifically those that cost 97 cents, also played an important role. And like me, some of you just can’t explain it – cars are an inborn passion.

Earlier this week, we asked our Facebook community “How did you get hooked on cars?” and more than a third of your answers mentioned fathers. Of course, responses varied, and we’ll get into those, but it seems almost unanimous that the hobby grabbed us by the time we were teens.

Reggie Horning, who happens to be a Hagerty Licensed Sales Agent, replied, “My Dad worked for Pontiac Motor Division... Of course all my other male role models were into cars as well, so it was pretty hard to not be into cars, especially growing up outside of Flint (Mich.).”

As Horning points out, it wasn’t only fathers who shared their interests: For Tony Piscitelli, it was his granddad – the moonshiner mentioned above. “He used to modify the cars used in bootleg runs during Prohibition. But he never drove the cars because it was illegal ;).”  Sure, Tony, sure.

Sometimes dad and grandpa’s combined influence led us here. Todd Kraemer, also a Hagerty employee (Hagerty Media Art Director), chimed in “Dad was an AMC mechanic and dealer-sponsored drag racer... Grandpa worked at the GM Tech Center... Another family member was a GM test engineer out at Milford (Corvette) [Proving Grounds]. Once I saw a Corvette, I was hooked forever!”

It sounds like cars, along with being the Kraemer family business, are in his lineage. Which is exactly the reason that Terence Bower cited, “Serviced them, restored them, built them and raced them. It’s in the blood.” Accordingly, Joseph Linsalata simply replied “Genetics!”

Steve Pietrangelo also had a family connection: “My grandmother. She loved cars–especially convertibles. She would drive me around in her ’64 Chevy Corvair convertible and always brought [me] a new Matchbox car when visiting.”

Indeed, car toys were probably the second most common theme. And illustrating the point clearly, David Dziurzynski posted an image, of a boy reaching for a Hot Wheels rack, captioned “A man’s most expensive hobby starts with 97 cents.” Pedal cars were also mentioned a couple of times.

Summarizing all the themes, Dave Joseph replied, “My Dad, Matchbox, Hot Wheels, AMT, Ertl, Monogram, Aurora... in the late ‘60s my friend and I, riding our bikes to the local Dodge/Plymouth dealer in Allentown, Penn., to see the new muscle cars... good times!” Yeah, neighborhood sights and activities played a role too. But maybe Joseph did forget one reason for being a car guy – necessity: “My cooking is crap, LOL” Tony Wellard admitted.

11 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Tim Blackburn Springfield, OH January 25, 2017 at 16:15
    For the most part, it was my paternal grandparents. My grandpa got to drive an SS100 in England during WW2 and was hooked. Over time he and my grandma had 2 XK120s, a 150, an MGTD (grandma raced it in hillclimbs, I have the super 8 to prove it!), an E-type, a Karmann Ghia , and a couple GTIs (Rabbit and Golf) to name a few. They would drive in rallies, travel frequently to Sebring, and attend local races. I remember both of them telling the story of driving one of the 120s up Pike's Peak in the '50s.......he claimed he HAD to use the handbrake to make all those sharp turns! She was skeptical.
  • 2
    Mark St Amour Fall River, MA January 25, 2017 at 17:24
    I was married as a teenager and it was my Father in Law who introduced me to the sanctuary of The Garage. He was a frugal man who drove an old '63 Le Sabre. He had the smallest tool box of anyone I knew, but could fix more things than all of them. He singlehandedly got me working on cars, plumbing, carpentry, electricity, and everything else. I've long had an affinity for 60's era cars. I ended up with a '57 Chevy. I'm not a builder, but wrenching and maintaining it gives me much satisfaction.
  • 3
    KDavin Pacific Northwest January 26, 2017 at 16:10
    I can sing the chorus to Dave Joseph's input. Grand Dad, Matchbox, Revell, Aurora, Atlas, AMT,Monogram and the neighbor's dad that worked at the carburetor plant in Rochester, NY.(you may of heard of these 'mixers'). Plus when my addiction was ramping up, you could buy Barrett-Jackson Z28's for $4500! Those were the good old days!
  • 4
    Bill Orr Dearborn January 26, 2017 at 19:18
    I remember going to Metke Ford in Bellevue, WA with my parents to shop for a Mustang for my mother in what was probably mid-1968. The dealership had a road version of the GT40, along with what was probably more than a dozen Shelby Mustangs. My mother liked the looks of the GT40 (which was I'm sure beyond her price range), but nothing could convince her to get one of the cars "with those horrible snakes all over it". She ended up with a Gulfstream Aqua Mustang coupe.
  • 5
    Rob Ken-Ten line January 26, 2017 at 09:30
    Agreed. There's a pic of me at age 3 closely watching the wheels roll on a Hot Wheels '57 Chevy. Dad was a shade-tree mechanic with a little helper. Neighbor had two '57 Chevys - convertible and hardtop under his carport. Dad's co-worker drove a blown '68 Firebird to our house a few times... I could go on and on. By age 16 in '86 I was bolting on a set of cyclone wheels to my own '57 Chevy Pickup. And so it began...
  • 6
    Jim Wagner Wisconsin January 26, 2017 at 09:48
    In what I believe was 1967, Ford sent a GT40 on tour to small town dealerships. It was on an open trailer and towed by a station wagon. It was accompanied by a new GT500 Mustang. I was 12 and living in a town of 2500 people. My buddy and I rode our bikes down town to see these strange cars. They unloaded the GT40 in the street and just let it sit there. Nobody knew what it was! I clearly remember sitting in it. Right hand drive with the shifter on the right. It might have been a street version as I think it had wire wheels. Unforgettable. Does anyone else remember this? Am I a car guy? I now have my own restoration shop!
  • 7
    JOHN CAMPSALL ontario January 26, 2017 at 11:08
  • 8
    Gary Illinois January 26, 2017 at 12:04
    Being a teenager in the mid 60's in rural Illinois were you had to learn how to keep your car running. It was the next door neighbor boys that helped my older brother and I learn about cars and hot rodding them. The older brother had a 1968 Jag XKE coup and the younger brother drove a 1965 Corvette 327/365 (which he bought in 66 and still has) and the two would race each other out in front of the house.The Vette would allways win.It was the younger brother that got a 327/365 motor for me to rebuild when I was 15. I later put that in a 1965 Chevelle that I bought the next year when I turned 16 in 1970. From their the itch only got better from building a runtuff car to race at US 30 and Oswego to taking a 67 Camaro RS/SS and 67 Chevelle SS and making hobby stock cars. Then to finally settling down to buy a 70 Nova in 74,a71 Monte Carlo SS in 77 ,and a 69 Corvette in 83.I still enjoy working on then and keep them on the road cruising.
  • 9
    Dan Parnas Danville, CA January 27, 2017 at 17:07
    In that case, I may have doomed my daughter. That picture from Disneyworld, wow. When my daughter was 2 1/2, we took a trip there and it was very hot out as we stood in a long line for that ride. When we got to the front, my daughter learned she was too small to sit in the drivers seat and threw a tantrum beyond belief. We got in the car and I literally had to hold onto her to keep her from jumping out, while also trying to steer the car at the same time. That was 17 years ago and I'm still traumatized so I can only imagine how she feels. Meanwhile, I'm a complete car nut and always have been. Probably was my dad. He owned a variety of cars over the years, but my favorite was his white MGB GT with wire wheels and a sliding cloth sunroof. I absolutely couldn't get enough of that car and have been a European sports car fan ever since. I still own my first car, a 1971 Fiat 124 Spider that I bought back in 1984.
  • 10
    Dawn J Ward FL February 13, 2017 at 17:21
    My dad bought me the hot wheels and my grandfather gave me a new Matchbox car every week. Dad drove a Porsche and let me drive on occasions. One Christmas I begged for a Surrey and got it . What fun we had drawing the road on blacktop with chalk. I married a mechanic and worked in the shop with him when it was unthinkable for women to do so. I drive a 56 Ford Fairlane now. I can't imagine a life without cars.
  • 11
    ChrisJ Raleigh NC March 8, 2017 at 14:18
    Man! So many influences. My father getting me a Matchbox or Hot Wheels every now and then. My uncle's Dodge Challenger in the '70s. The '68 GTO I used to ride to school in. My father and me working on his old '57 Plymouth (I would sit on the fender with him while he wrenched on it.) Hooray for good old American Iron!

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