Aug 17, 2006

Men, cars and convertibles

Donald Pittenger remembers fondly his obsession for sports cars.

My father had some species of Jaguar when I was a baby, it still had running boards and its main feature--aside from the burled wood and running boards--was its constant breaking down. Oh, and apparently I puked in it most every time I went along for the ride. A vintage Jaguar owned by a graduate student holding down two jobs in NYC not being very practical, the Jag was ditched not too long after.

But my father's obsession with cars lived on, which is kinda strange since he had no real mechanical ability. He had an early Datsun RX-something and later a Fiat 214 Spyder like the one pictured in Donald's post. I used to love it when he drove me to school in either car with the top down. Since then, I've always wanted to have a two-seater convertible, but somehow have never gotten around to it. Such cars bring to mind pictures of Grace Kelly driving with Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, not to mention Bertie Wooster's two-seater and James Bond's Aston Martin.

After my father dumped the convertibles, he moved on to a GTO, kind of like this one. The family still talks about the types who descended upon our stuffy suburban neighborhood to check out the car when my father put it up for sale a year or so later. Dad went on to buy the first Mazda with a rotary engine. In fact, he bought two: One for him and one for my mother. He was convinced they were the coming thing in automotive design. The problem was finding mechanics who could fix them. But they lasted a few years. After the last one was sold my father's fascination with cars seemed to wane.

My son has loved cars forever. It seems like from the time he could talk, he could identify a car's make and model from one passing glance in his car seat. I mostly consider cars a necessary form of transportation. I love having a car, but I'm not too terribly hung up on the looks or the status of certain brands of cars, which is good considering my budget.

But I still have visions of myself wearing a scarf and tooling along the highway with the top down.

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