John K 1973 Ford Gran Torino Sport 2dr SportsRoof

The First Car I Drove...

Ok..so it's 1982 and I am 11 going on 12...I am part of a youth group at my church and the new advisor rolls up in the most amazing car I ever saw, besides my fathers 1971 Vista Cruiser of course even though it was gone by then...His name is Pete and the car is a 1973 Ford Gran Torino Sport...and its my favorite color...YELLOW!...So a few months go by and after much pestering Pete finally agrees to let me drive the car around the church parking lot...and naturally tells me not to tell anybody..ESPECIALLY my dad...So I agree and take the car around the parking lot...I could not see out of the awesome rear sport window that Pete always referred to as "fastback" but I did just fine and man was I excited...That was the first time I ever drove! I told him he had to sell the car to me and he agreed when I get my license he would sell it to me...Now a little back story on the car...Pete was shopping for a Gran Torino Sport having seen the center fold of the Gran Torino brochure at the dealer and knew exactly what he wanted...The centerfold showed a beautiful woman sitting in a yellow 1973 Gran Torino Sport with brown laser stripe and both the car and gal looked great together. He goes to the local Ford dealer, DiBlasi Ford in Queens New York, and tells the salesman, "I want that car", pointing at the brochure photo...and follows that up with..."and I want it with a big block"...(WAY TO GO PETE!!!!) Well the salesman tell him he could sell him the big block but he wont be able to pass any gas station if he sells him the big block and instead tells him he does have one on the lot in yelllow with the laser stripe but its not a big block..Its a 400...So even though he is disappointed, Pete takes a walk and agrees to take a look...He was sold as soon as he saw it...The Torino (as he always called it) was Petes daily driver which along with some other interesting cars like Pintos (a lot of pintos), Pacers (yes Pacers..plural), an Olds Firenza (early 80's but very cool with a V8 and factory fender flares), an Olds Starfire (also early 80's but also very cool), a 71 Charger (incredible car with its 440 Magnum and slapstick shifter), a 67 Impala and I am sure I am leaving some out but I think you get the point. Be it strange, fast or just cool; Pete drove them all and enjoyed them all and enjoyed talking about them all and about what made them cool to him, which in turn made them cool to me...Soooooooo...back to the Torino...The next 24 years consisted of me breaking Petes balls to sell me the car...so much so that even people at church knew the story of me and that car and my never ending desire to buy that car...I finally ended up buying a 2006 Dodge Charger R/T Daytona Edition in you guessed it, Top Banana Yellow...Pete loved it and I even let him take it for a ride with his daughter Anna up front and me in the back watching his face light up as he stabbed the thin pedal on the right...He says he wants one...and then maybe he will finally sell the Torino that at this point had been sitting in his garage with a sporadic maybe twice year drive for two oil changes and an inspection since the late 80's...So what does he do...he runs out and gets himself a Daytona in Top Banana Yellow...Im thinking GREAT! This means he will finally sell me the Torino...But Pete had a different idea...Now you have to know the guy to appreciate this...Words cannot describe the kind hearted, and gentle soul that this man is. And at the same time a had a boyish almost mischievous attitude when it came to cars...SO while I thought he would be selling me the Torino since he bought himself the Daytona; Pete switches gears and tell me he is keeping the Torino and giving his daughter the Daytona....WHAT!? I thought for sure he was selling the car but he had a different plan...He gets me all riled up thinking he will sell me the Torino only to tell me he was keeping it and giving his daughter the Daytona....All the while he was making a ANOTHER deal; knowing he was going to by himself something else and sell me the Torino after all but he wasnt going to tell me; he was just going to show up in HIS new ride and let me figure it out...Some time goes by and i am quite disappointed....Pete had been trying to get in touch with me but our schedules just werent meshing and I could tell he is sounding anxious about hanging out which from him was somewhat out of character with is easy going attitude....When finally one day I hear AND FEEL this indescribable rumbling. I look out my livingroom window and see a little bit of yellow since someone pulled in pretty deep in the drive, but its not the medium bright yellow of the Torino and not top banana yellow of the Daytona, its something else...I walk outside and I see a 2007 Dodge Charger Super Bee and there is Pete and his daughter Anna both grinning ear to ear....and then I also grinned...The car was sick and he was so excited and as we talked about the "Bee" as he called it, it occurred to me that Pete has a one car garage and one car driveway...maybe two cars on the driveway if you squeezed them... This could only mean ONE thing...Pete is selling the Torino to me...So I naturally inquire and he says 'well thats the other surprise'...'I wanted to show you this but I also want to talk about selling you the Torino'...NOW WHO DO YOU THINK WAS GRINNING THE MOST?!?! ME thats who! We settle on a price and one day he pulls into my driveway with the Torino...HOLY $#!T, I GOT THE TORINO!!!!! I get to work on the project I dreamed of since I was 11/12....And as I wipe many tears away...here is where the story takes a turn...Pete was diagnosed with cancer in the midst of my "freshening up" of the Torino...He got to see the car completed with only minor changes from the stock lay out he bought it in and approved and he was SO excited with how it turned out which made me so proud. The car retains 95% of its original paint, has upgraded ignition with the Pertronix ignition module, dual exhaust, Grant wooden steering wheel and Torque Thrusters...That was it...The car is mostly stock and looks AWESOME...And most important Pete was very happy with how it turned out and happy in his beloved Bee...

We lost Pete physically but he is still here in many ways and in many memories so I tend to speak of him in present tense. It breaks my heart to drive the car since the plan was (as I explained to him long ago) that we would cruise together to shows and tell people how I broke his balls for 25 years to sell the car and go get hamburgers and milkshakes at the All American Burger in Massapequa, NY. I like to think that every time someone says how great the car looks and how they dont see them often if at all; that he is smiling and that he is there with me in spirit as I thank them while choking back the tears...

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