troy j

First Ride in a Musclecar

My family has a long history (100 years this year) of family reunions in Cornish, Utah. I grew up on a farm, having much exposure to tractors and trucks and other machines I liked, but no fast cars. I think this experience must have just arrived at the right age to have stained me.

My cousin Richard and I spent much time together talking about who-knows-what, as the reunion could, at times, be boring for someone of about 11. As dusk fell, we heard a new sound approaching the park. It was downshifting, but didn't sound like a truck. What was it? Not sure, but it had a unique sound that chorded us alive. All we could see were headlights initially, as it pulled into the park. It entered extremely slow, with the headlights dimming, then brightening, with the slow lope of the engine. Why did it do that? I would have guessed something was wrong, but for it sounding so right. It crawled into the park at a slow idle, the dimming headlights and loping sounds mesmerizing.

It was a 70-1/2 Camaro SS/RS, or so I think today. It had the split grill. It was painted bright yellow, front end lowered, and back up to house some of the largest tires I think I had ever seen on a car. It was the coolest look. It had the coolest sound. It was a 4-speed. It had a 327.

Richard and I both were smitten. We watched, listened, and admired. We wanted a ride, but didn't dare ask. It was our older cousin Jon's. We asked my dad if he thought we could go for a ride, hoping he would ask for us, but no help. "You'll have to ask," was the reply.

We nerved up and asked. The response was, "let's wait awhile so we won't disturb everyone." We went giddy with what badness we might go do. What kind of disturbing? We barnacled next to him until the time came.

It was finally time. I sat in the front. I think the interior was black, but it was doo dark. All I remember is not being able to see over the dash. We exited the park. I don't remember much other than now what I know is a close ratio 4 speed, making the engine seem to always be alive and angry even without trying. The engine sounded tinny, yet refined and smooth.

We drove a few miles so we "could make some noise." The thought of making a bunch of noise was too much for me. The sounds, the feel - my goose bumps prickled, I squirmed and shook at the prospects. We turned around after a few miles.

I still don't understand this part. He put it in reverse, revved, and dropped the clutch. Backwards we went. I folded in half. He said that in his Vega (400 4-speed), tire smoke would fill the car. Not so with the Camaro. This was just his driver.

Here we go. Again it revved, the clutch dropped, now in 1st forward we went. The sweetest sounds as the 327 screamed without end. I waited for a shift - how high can it rev? The 4 barrel wide open shredding the cool air. Jon slammed 2nd and 3rd, then touched 4th before slowing down. It seemed so fast. The shifts so quick. The wailing awesome. The world revolved around me and that car. It filled every sense available to me. It was the coolest thing I had yet experienced.

When mind returned. We asked how fast we went. Nonchalantly, Jon said, "about 100." I had never been 100 before, never even close. 100 miles per hour! I went 100 mph! And that word "about" stuck with me - that 100 didn't even matter, as if normal. And I knew it wasn't difficult, since we just touched 4th with the 327 not even thinking to tire.

We slowly arrived back at the park, the lights again lopingly flooding the now sleeping tents and RV's. We couldn't sleep that night.

That experience made me a musclecar fan forever. I don't know if it trained my senses, such that nothing has replaced that experience, or simply truly nothing since has been as cool. But, there is nothing like the sights, sounds, and smells of a musclecar.

I have no pictures of Jon's Camaro to share. I can't take you for the same ride. I fell in deepest love with mopars later. If it can be a placebo, I can take you for a musclecar ride:

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