A few weeks ago, Junior bought his first car.
Well, technically he borrowed the money from his parents to buy his first car, but he is slowly and surely paying it off.
He is good about stuff like that.
For a first car, it is nice. It's a 1998 Cavalier Z22 with barely 105,000 kilometres on it. It is a shiny red, five speed that we acquired at a good price.
My first car was a red 1972 Toyota Corrolla. It had a four speed hooked up to a 1,200 CC engine and was, without argument, the slowest car in my entire high school.
I am pretty sure the school’s lawnmower could go faster, but it was a car and it was all mine. Looking back, it was the perfect car for someone with my enthusiasm for driving: it was slow, it got great gas mileage, and it was slow.
I drove it for three whole days before getting into an accident. It was a minor fender-bender when I clipped the back bumper of a rather large truck, ripping the front right fender from where it was supposed to be.
I sheepishly drove the car home and showed my dad who was less than impressed with the customization I had done.
Eventually I found a replacement fender, painted it a similar colour and the only way you could tell it was in an accident was by looking at it.
It was still pretty obvious the car had been crunched, but considering what was in store for the little car that could, an odd-looking fender was the least of it.
Numerous speeding tickets (I guess it wasn’t slow enough) and at least one accident later – I rear-ended a car that stopped on the bridge and sliding into the ditch in the snow does not count as accidents – it was time to get rid of the beater-mobile. I had put on more than 48,000 kilometres in less than 18 months and the car was a little rough around the edges, and in the middle, and the front, and back and...
I sold the Crash-olla and purchased a very beat up 1969 Nova. It was rusted, blew more smoke than a Woodstock reunion and was in need of some serious repairs. I loved it.
The next couple of years would see me scouring every auto wrecker in the city, looking for one part after another.
One particular wrecker had a great selection of old Chevys and quickly became my favourite stop. It got to the point where the guys behind the counter would look up, see it was me and simply point to the back, allowing me free access to roam and find what I needed.
While Junior's car is much cooler than my little Crash-olla, and in way better shape that my Nova, we still made a trip to the wreckers the other day because he wanted to replace the shifter knob.
It was almost magical to be heading to the wrecker with my son to retrieve a part needed for his automobile.
Being a small item, the man behind the counter said, “The Chevys are on the far fence, help yourself.”
Awesome, now I could traipse through a car graveyard with my son on a quest to find a needed part.
As we searched, we talked about this car and that car before finding the part we needed.
The shifter knob was not a perfect match, but we drilled it out a little bit so it would fit.
Once it was attached, we spent the next hour going over all the modifications he wanted to make from a thumping stereo (just like dad's) to fancy rims (just like dad's) to a bevy of motor modifications.
“All it takes is time and money, son. You'll get there eventually.”
It took me almost three years to transform my rusted-out Nova into a beautiful three-tone blue cruising machine with a rebuilt motor, chrome rims and a stereo loud enough to be heard in space. Finances dictated the engine remain stock, but at least it was a good looking car.
I sold my beloved Nova 20 years ago to pay for bills life had thrown at my wife and I. I miss that car to this day.
But now, I get to go through the car-customizing process again with my son.
How cool is that.