Ah, summer! And Danville, California’s Hot Summer Nights Hot Rod & Classic Car Show. Row after row of the cars we all necked in the back seat of back in the Fifties or wished we could ride in but were too dorky to snag the cool guys who drove them.
I’ve been a car buff since I got my very first car at age 16, a Morris Minor that seemed more like a blue-gray pre-pubescent VW Bug. Of course, I didn’t even drive stick shift on that 16th birthday day and poor “Mergy”–named after my dread of merging into freeway traffic–suffered the arrows and slings of grinding gears for several weeks. But once mastered, Mergy became THE mode of transportation for me and my three best high school friends. It took us to evenings at Oscar’s, the local drive-in restaurant, where root beers and french fries sat on metal trays attached to the window. In my college years, it made the trip up and down the coast of CA to college at Stanford and then UC Berkeley (yes, I went one year each to both of these rivals, causing each to lose Big Game when I attended!).
Upon graduation from college (by then it was San Diego State, and, yes, much to my mother’s chagrin another school was interposed in between), I somehow talked said mother into car number two, a stunning 1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL. This photo was taken in 1965 just before I drove back to graduate school at the University of Illinois via Route 66. And the thrill of driving the last leg from Salinas, Kansas, without reverse, 1st, or 2nd, and no starting motor. Found a motel on a hill and popped the clutch in 3rd that last morning of the journey.
Alas, the Mercedes succumbed to the evils of Midwestern winters (sold it for $3000 to my father’s milkman–now worth $95,000!) but it was replaced by a 1966 green Mustang, another classic I wish I still had. Check out this ad from the era.
My era of cool cars disappeared as I entered into marital bliss and was talked into a 1968 Plymouth Fury III in a sickening pea green combo. But it did have a hot motor to help us escape from the Hawk (the wind blowing off Lake Michigan in the winter).
So back to the car show which I attended with my best friend. The owner of a too-cool Thunderbird took pity on us poor old ladies without a ride of their own and took these great photos. So here we are–Thelma and Louise. I actually was hankering after a Jaguar Mark II (of Inspector Morse fame) and my friend got hung up on hood ornaments!
Maybe next year I’ll have my own entry for the show.