JP created the topic: Knuckleheads Who Drove Chevrolets
Let’s go back a few years. Uh, that’s being too kind to me. Let’s go back to 1971. That was before you were born but we talked on phones like the kids of today; the difference is our phone was attached to the wall. We also drove cars; cars that went fast. And they were twice the size of those little rattle traps some of you may drive now. However, these stories are for the young and old alike. They are stories that confess the foibles of meatheads like me and my friends who loved cars, fast cars and even other cars that you could make believe was a fast car.
So, some of you can relate to the following testimonies of kids who demonstrated a love to drive cars…and very poor judgment in one case in doing so. The stories go like this. If your father was like mine, the first car he shopped for was built by Chevrolet. As kids we traveled in our ’55 Chevy, red and white station wagon.
It looked better in the driveway. The ride was a bit tough but you quickly got used to it.
One afternoon when I was 5 years old I buffed out some of the rust and look what we had in the driveway. That talent never went anywhere with me. I think it was probably something I dreamed up.
Then we upgraded to a 1963 Chevy wagon.
In 1968 we just kept movin on up:
From there we had to stay Chevrolet so we got station wagon that had “wings” near the taillights. This car was a white-knuckle ride. We, the youngest, sat in the suicide seat in the very back of the car that faced the cars driving behind us. A rear end collision was certain death as far as I was concerned (that’s why dad bought the car, we’re sure of it). It took awhile to get used to it. After a few upchucks you were good for long drives and vacation trips, NJ to Milwaukee, WI and August, ME.
Strangely, when we boys got our own cars dad gave up on the station wagons. He went to the Caprice. That’s right, that’s when power and ride suddenly was important to him. Huh!!
But, as a young kid I remember sitting in dad’s driver seat in the ’63 station wagon parked in the driveway fantasizing that I was actually driving my car which was a 1963 split window red Corvette. I was quite the power shifter. I smoked the tires and banged four gears to 120 mph with ease. All the girls just smiled at this nine year old and they waved to me as I drove by. (Nice dream!) That was me, big man on campus; uh huh.
Soon reality set in. By age 16 I was taking the 1966 Corvair out for midnight rides when dad and mom weren’t home or were in bed. The driving age then, 1970, was 17 but I had it down, so I thought, so I wasn’t going to let age stop me. My best buddy Frankie Nichay would come over and we’d sneak the keys out of the house. Besides that, we were responsible, good citizens just out for an evening ride.
My good friend Frankie and I drove the Corvair to local places at night, and then gassed it up at the end of the evening and then we quietly put the car back in its parking spot at the secluded parking spot on the side of our house.
Frankie, however, was not satisfied with just driving the Corvair. His dad had a huge Impala with lots of guts under the hood sitting in the driveway that was just calling Frankie’s name to show the world how to drive this machine. So, 15 year old Frankie would sneak the car out of their driveway late at night when his father was in bed. His joy rides were just that, such joy, such unspeakable joy until one night, early in the morning. There’s a feeling that you get. Something is telling you “Don’t do it.” Frankie said he heard this little voice before he stole dad’s car for what turned out to be the last time. He said he was never one to be deterred by those “little voices” in his coconut. Instead, it meant it was time for Frankie to push the envelope just one time too many.
As the story goes, at two in the morning, Friday night, Frankie was driving (against his intuition) westbound on State Highway Route 10. He’s doing 50 mph, radio on, smiling like he was in Disneyland for the first time. Suddenly, he realized he was driving away from his home rather than back to it. When he realized his mistake he decided it was time for a “Bat turn” (remember them in the show, Batman and Robin?) to correct his navigational error. He hit the brake hard, slid the car into the center isle’s u-turn slot and gunned the car in the correct direction toward home, now westbound, free as a bird. All is good. Frankie’s still smiling, actually, laughing because he was having so much fun in Dad’s power-filled Impala.
As Frank was driving along he sees two headlights in his rearview mirror. He thinks, “I’m gonna put some space between us,” so he punches the accelerator to get the car up to 70 mph in a few seconds. He looks in the rearview mirror again and the headlights are the same distance from his car. Now this annoys Frank. So, being the Rhodes Scholar he was never to become, Frank adds to the gas again to put more distance between him and his tailgater; bad idea Frankie.
After ten minutes of speeding Frankie drives up a long hill on the highway which leads to a traffic intersection. As he cleared the peak of the road Frankie suddenly sees five patrol cars with their cherries lit.
He stands on the brakes and he screeches to a stop. The cops are hidden behind their cars with shotguns aimed at him. The tailgater, officer approached the car screaming at Frankie telling him to show him his hands out the driver side window. The cop then pulls the door open, rips him out of the car and literally took him down to the ground like it was a rodeo trick. He wrestled with Frankie and turned him over, looked in his face, and starts cursing bloody murder, “It’s just a kid!!!” With that all the cops run to the car and stare at Frankie. They were all yelling at him, “We could have killed you, you idiot!! We thought you were a fugitive on the run!” Frankie, being the emotional type was now crying. His new found friends whisked him off to police headquarters where they summoned his father to come get him. Frankie said he preferred the cop beating more than what his dad had in mind.
Needless to say, the Impala performed well in this exercise but Frankie had to pay a legal price. He had to wait until he was 18 to get his driver’s license. Mr. Speed turned into the guy we often saw thumbing rides on the side of the road until he hit that magic age. Until then, he turned his need for speed to the pitcher’s mound in high school. His fast ball looked like a hellfire missile coming down on you. He only had one problem…control. Frankie launched pitches that had a vapor trail behind them. However, he only had a general idea of the path the ball would finally take. Despite this minor issue, he still has the high school’s record of pitching three no-hitters, the total number of one-hitters, two-hitters and shots to the opposition’s coconut. He never drove a car the same again. I guess the shotguns aimed at his head took that desire to drive fast out of his system. Besides, pitching very fast was much safer…for him.
Welcome to Ed’s Swap Meet. We write about cars. We write about people and their cars. And we write about cars, in general. We hope our articles entertain you and cause you to tell everyone the dumb things you survived as a classic car driver in your earlier years. We all have them so holding back is not an option. Simply create your account here and tell your foibles.
Some of my memories include friends who took the short cut home one night by driving home down the railroad tracks for one town to the next town (Yup, my moron friends did that.) They also drove down the side of a hill that was 89 degrees in pitch. The car didn’t flip. It must have been the beer that saved it. Or tell us about what happened when you slipped your car into neutral to coast downhill and accidently put the car into reverse. Was it like watching figure skating? My friend’s car did innumerable 360 degree pirouettes down the highway. (He had borrowed the car from his neighbor that day to drive to school. So, when he got home he bought the car right there on the spot from his neighbor. Mike said he loved the ride so much he had to have it…really because the transmission just about fell out of the car.) And which one of you drove your car down the center median of the highway with two wheels on the road and the two other wheels on the grass while doing 50 miles an hour?
So, have fun; visit more of this website. Find what you need, post what you need and be a part of this community of car loving aficionados (what does this word mean? I thought it would sound good right about here. You agree? Thanks.).
Yours truly, JP, Editor in Chief (that is a small tribe of native Americans who live in downtown Brooklyn. I’m their Chief. So, in case you’re wonder who the Editors were in American history, I’m one of them. We have an application in for a casino at Coney Island.)