Car guys of a certain age remember their pre-adolescent era before they discovered their older brother’s ‘Playboy’ stash between his mattress and box spring.
It may have been the “Swinging 60s” for some, but a 10-year-old kid had to find a different kind of excitement.
Most of the fun for junior car guys was found in the pages of ‘Mechanix Illustrated’ and ‘Popular Science’ magazines.
Sure ‘Mechanix Illustrated’ had MIMI the pinup girl every month, but we were still a few hormone-free years away from succumbing to her charms.
Our puberty-free zone meant that the car magazines provided a singular source of excitement. They held the preview editions of the new car models from Detroit.
The early portion of the year provided camouflaged new car models that made a few test runs in the public eye.
It was like an automotive burlesque show where the flow of an exposed car skin was interrupted with crazy non-linear zebra paint schemes and hidden parts.
The Full Monty of an unclad new car model was months away as Motor City amped up the excitement of the new line-up months with these teases long before they hit the showrooms.
Sometimes the crystal ball would look a couple of years ahead with sneak preview concept drawings of future models. These futuristic models pointed to an even brighter future where flagship models made sweeping changes in style direction.
Roof lines changed, headlights changed from horizontal to vertical to hidden and back to horizontal. The cosmetic surgery was drastic from year to year and the excitement was boundless for an entire generation that was still too young for free love, but at the start line for car love.
This was the age of muscle, style and speed and it left a lasting impression on junior car guys. Most of our fathers drove tame small block versions, but car magazines told us that big blocks were tearing up the pavement on street and track.
Maybe we weren’t quite certain of Raquel Welch’s exact measurements at that point in our young lives, but we sure knew the 0-60 times of the monster editions of Detroit’s finest. The late, great Tom McCahill drove these street warriors like he stole ’em and then he gave us a full report on the fun.
The actual arrival of the new car models in the local dealerships was a monumental event for car kids. Word of mouth about the new car arrivals meant that an army of kids would hit the local dealerships and finally see the cars-fresh off the rail lines or haulers.
They still had the dust of a long maiden journey from the factories, but their newness blew us away in a fashion that no one dimensional photo could do justice. They were simply beautiful and we wanted them more than anything in the world.
The logistics of a tenure as an actual car owner were inconsequential in those moments of kid fantasy where anything was possible. All we had to do was pick our fantasy car combination and live the dream for a few minutes on the back lot of a 60s dealership.
Those experiences of youth were not lost on car guys of a certain age. We still love those cars that occupied a big place in our hearts when we were kids and dreamed big car dreams. Some lucky car guys have even gotten to experience actual ownership of these love objects from all those years ago.
Maybe it was kismet for the fortunate few to make their childhood dreams actually come true.
Check out our giant collection of cars and stories from the past https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/
DENNIS:”Yup, I’m one of those ‘kids’. The bulk of today’s cars have the styling (and the performance of) a potato”.