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The Classics Perspective - Cars Make Us Do Stupid Things

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by Brian Medford  More from Author

A car guy's confession to not so temporary insanity.

(The Classics Perspective is a column exclusive to AutoTrader Classics and written by our own Online Editor Brian Medford. We hope you enjoy it.)

Cars make us do stupid things.

I am not talking about doing stupid things IN a car, I am talking about doing stupid things FOR cars. Maybe stupid is too harsh of a word but trying to explain one's action to a non-car person usually garners the use of "stupid" at some point.

My brother inherited my father's '69 Oldsmobile Cutlass S. It was not really a muscle car until my brother took his wrenches to it. Off came the stock exhaust and on went a pair of Cherry bombs (mounted backwards of course). My brother bent up the exhaust and welded it himself. He was quite the welder back then. The stereo was updated and fresh chrome wheels finished the deal. The car was AWESOME to my teen eyes. I had a Camaro of my own but my brother's car just seemed so much faster (it was) and cooler (it was).

Enter the stupid part. Until this very moment my brother never knew that I used to steal his car. My brother is an avid outdoorsman and a '69 Cutlass isn't exactly a 4x4. My brother would leave his car at my parents' house over the weekend and take the keys with him. Now the few times I had permission to drive his car I noticed that the ignition key was very worn. So worn in fact that if you jiggled the lock cylinder *just* right it would turn over. I got pretty good at this trick.

That Cutlass may have only had a fairly stock 350 but it would move fairly well. I would pick up a few friends and then head out to the local cruise spots. The barely muffled exhaust at wide-open-throttle tickled the hairs on the back of my neck. It was amazing how quick that car was with three friends along for the ride. I soundly condemn street racing now but back then I was a bulletproof teenager with no fear. Thanks to the rather powerful stereo my brother had installed we took turns damaging our ears with either rock music or thundering exhaust. Back and forth we would go on the main drag only stopping for a cheeseburger or gas.

Why did I risk a sound beating by my older brother and possible damage to his beloved car? That was it, the sound of those dual exhaust pipes echoing off the Georgia night sky was an addiction I had to feed. I would have my fun and fill the gas tank back up to whatever amount had been in it before my illicit actions, plus a little more for wear and tear. I guess my guilty mind felt I should at least do that.

The Cutlass got wrecked and rebuilt a few times then eventually sold. Since then I have had a few cars that rival the sounds the Cutlass made. My most recent acquisition is a '61 Olds F-85 with straight pipes. Sure it is only 215 cubic inches but it is the angriest little V8 I've ever heard. Completely ridiculous in small size and power output the little V8 brings a smile to my face each time I crank it. It is a plain jane 4-door but that sounds keeps the F-85 in my stable.

I know I am not alone. My friend's father once drove a Ford F-100 across three states in the winter with no windshield and barely working lights. The truck was priced right and he wanted it. This is the same man who has been known to sell the car he is currently driving on the spot. He may need a ride back home but he keeps a rotating collection of cars that he enjoys. His apparent automotive A.D.D. allows him to own most of the cars I have only dreamt about. Doesn't sound stupid to me at all. And then there is my Mustang crazy friend who named his son Gregory Taylor so that his initials would be G.T. and named his daughter Brittany after the Ford paint color. I always wondered if his wife caught on.

To my brother Brandon I'm sorry, I hope you still invite me over for Christmas. Maybe I'll even let you take one of my cars out for a spin. I owe you that much.

So what have you done? Leave a comment and tell us what crazy things you have done for your love of cars.

(Image credit to The Old Car Manual Project, a great site for historical brochures and manuals for a vast number of classics.)

(Brian is avid automotive enthusiast who grew up in his father's shop and has had grease under his fingernails from an early age. He has been involved in the classic automotive industry for well over a decade. He has owned several classic cars and is currently focused on the Oldsmobile brand.)

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