Monday, April 25, 2011

Car #1: Chevy El Camino.

Driving into Bend the other day I caught a glimpse of a car going in the other direction that looked exactly like my very first car. A maroon 1973 Chevy El Camino 350SS with racing stripes. Boy, that brought back some memories.

I've had a lot of cars during my life; Chevy El Camino, Mazda RX7, Honda Prelude, Porsche Carrera, Mitsubishi Montero (go figure), Lexus SC400, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Audi A4, Audi All Road, Toyota Prius and Toyota Highlander but some of them meant more than others and that El Camino was certainly one of them.

Cars were a big thing where I grew up and no one waited a minute longer than they had to to get their driver's license. That El Camino meant freedom and girls and a whole new world of trouble. You have to remember that this was 1973... before kids gave drinking and driving a bad name. In 1973 in small town Connecticut, driving totally shit-faced was looked on as a rite of passage. By everyone; parents, police and priests included. One of the great features of the El Camino not mentioned in the brochure was that it was really easy to get a keg in the back and just drive around all night looking for parties. My friends would sit in back with the keg and hand plastic cups of beer forward to me in the cab until we found a party that looked interesting. Than we would throw open the doors, crank up a little Emerson Lake and Palmer 'Brain Salad Surgery' on the 8-track and start to party. When that got old we'd move on.

Another great feature not mentioned in any of the El Camino literature was that on the rare occasion you actually got a girl to agree to have sex with you there was plenty of room in the back assuming, of course, it was summer when she agreed to have sex. So you didn't have all those shift knobs and mirrors and steering wheels to get in the way and fuck things up for you. You could do that on you own.

It wasn't all fun and games though. The El Camino also had many practical advantages. Like freshman year when I drove it back from Colorado for the holidays. At the time, Coors was still a small cult brand not available in the east and everyone wanted to try this magical beer. By packing lightly, I was able to load 23 cases in the back to bring home and share with friends and family for the holidays. Today Coors has the Silver Bullet. Back then I was the Maroon Bullet.

I loved that car and I will always treasure the memories it provided. I'm just glad I survived long enough to get my next car, a Mazda RX7 which really did almost kill me. But that's another post.