Living in My Past
A NEW TAKE ON MY OLD CAR
IT SEEMS LIKE the title of your generation is important to marketing studies. Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial. I guess those terms make it easier to identify the years we spent in high school so they can send us the target-correct spam.
You don’t have to look at my driver’s license to see I’m a Baby Boomer. Instead, just look at what I’m driving. It’s a 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS, just like my high school car. Well, not really just like it, but it does look the part.
The first time I saw the Chevelle, it was sitting in the grass by a big, old white country house at the end of a long dirt drive. It had the look, the stance and it was black. It had wide back tires, and I had to have it; this car was calling my name.
I spoke to the owner, gave him a $50 deposit and went off to find the rest of the staggering $900 price tag. It took about a month to get the money, but the seller was patient and I finally got my dream car. I had my freedom, my identity. I had a fast car; I had the cool factor. The best memories of my senior year at New Jersey’s Raritan High involve that car.
I sold the Chevelle to start racing and have always regretted it. So last year I decided to build one exactly like it. Well, not exactly. This one has better brakes, power steering, racing suspension, air conditioning and an all-aluminum 427 with a five-speed. As much as I loved my high school car, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy today with a car that drove like it was 50 years old.
If you’re in a similar situation, don’t worry about having to make everything exactly as it was. You can still drive it for the experience and the memories. Be that high school kid with the innocence of imagination and big dreams.
I drive my Chevelle to work, I take my wife and my children out in it and I listen to the same music I listened to in high school. It’s not on an 8-track tape anymore, but I still play it loud. The car drives better, it’s safer and more reliable, and I’m not ashamed to turn the air on.
Most importantly, when I look through the windshield, it’s the same view I had in 1975, and I see the world just the same as that 17-year-old kid did.
I love the way that car makes me feel, and that means I enjoy my classic more than ever.