I was just 7 years old and cars where just a game my dad and I played when we were traveling. He would point to the car and it was my challenge to name the make and model of the car-and if I wanted bonus points I could throw in the year. I never really thought of the idea that I was "in training", but I think maybe my dad kind of knew that there was a good chance that I could be infected with the "Car Gene".
My dad was in the car business as a salesperson and worked in a little town in Pa. The ever so typical single stop light, single church and 3 bars kind of town. There weren't many old custom cars around those days in the little town. Most cars were consumed by the salt on the roads in the winters and didn't last very long. I would enjoy getting to go into dad's work and checking out all of the "New Cars" as they came out. The new features and special editions and cool styles were all having an effect on me that I wouldn't see for many years in the future.
I remember one summer day that my dad brought home a 'New Car" the dealership had just gotten in. This car was different than many of the others that were nice and had many great qualities -but were lacking something. This car was lacking nothing, in fact it made my heart beat faster just standing next to it. It had swooping lines and a special features I had never seen on a car before. Lots of cars had hood scoops and spoilers, and dual exhaust...but this one was different. The throaty sound of the exhaust made you feel like there were mad dogs under the hood wanting out-like they were being held at the end of their leash and ready to run at full speed as soon as the restraints were released.
I remember my dad saying to me" we just got this one in -ya wanna go for a ride with me and check it out?" seriously, did he just ask me that? "of course dad lets go" was my immediate response. I buckled myself in to the sport bucket seat and felt the rumble in my butt when he fired off the mad dogs. We made our way to one of the roads that always had seemed to go straight to nowhere and I always wondered to my self-what good is this road? So dad stops and puts it into first -revs the engine and 'BAM" There are the dogs-pushing me into the seat-tires screaming for help from the relentless power being run through them. I sneak a glance into the rear view mirror and all I see is smoke. I look towards the instruments and I see the tach moving faster than I had ever seen before-the speedo in a mad rush to the top of it's range....and at that moment-the very spot in time I was bitten by the "Car Bug" and it was never to release me, even to this day 43 years later.
When we got home and dad dropped me off there was a warm rush from the front of the car and there was popping and other noises from the "test drive" we had just gone on. The last vision from that monumental drive was the last glance at the front of the car and that screaming bird, blue stripe, hood scoop, front spoiler all that were trying to warn me from the start that this was not like the others and there was no "be prepared" in the boy scouts with a merit badge to cover this...The Trans Am 455 Super Duty in that glossy white was indeed a life changer and the beginning of a life long obsession...