Legend holds that when we were just a single year-old, we painted a white, 6" high racing stripe along the length of the old man's copper 280Z. We don't know how we got the lid off the can of house paint either. Some of our fondest childhood memories involve bounding up and over Decker Canyon in that same Datsun, strapped into a child carrier in the front seat. And yes, facing forward. When we were around 6, the old man started to let us shift. He had us behind the wheel at 10, explaining, "I learned to drive when I was 12. Two more years practice would have helped." Even more fun: both of my folks worked at
Hotel California Camarillo State Mental Hospital and every once in a while when I was hanging out in my father's lab, a "resident" would escape and all the scientists would shed their lab coats Clark Kent-style and transform into rabid rally drivers scouring the hills around Malibu looking for the escaped loon. The old man excelled at tracking these crazy cats down. He'd usually find them...
... jogging naked up in the hills. Two or three times I got to ride shotgun and once —and I remember this clearly — I got to call in our position to the men in the white coats with the butterfly nets. But mostly what I remember is driving around and listening to Dad regale me with stories of my Grandfather's rides. Like when he on my Great Uncle, on a cigarette run from Montreal to New Hampshire, managed to pilot their 1953 Eldorado Convertible into a black cow at night. The cow was obliterated, the farmer was pissed and the great Cadillac was no more. Or how the 1954 Buick Roadmaster's Nailhead V8 was the envy of Cote Saint. Luc.
Perhaps even more influential on me were tales of the old man's hoonage in his blue, rear-engined, gray-market 1966 Renault 8 Gordini. Funny how I also own a similarly blue performance icon. My favorite one took place in St. Louis where somehow he figured out that two feet of standing water wouldn't be problem because the engine was behind him. Especially as long as he got the speed up to 50 mph. He forever claimed that he made it under the flooded overpass while a dozen other cars got stalled out. That one just warmed my heart. And led to me having subscriptions to Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track and Automobile. When I was 10. Jalopnik is a monument to its own love of cars and needs no explanation.But what about you? Why are you so obsessed with four wheels and an engine? And take your time answering, as you have all weekend.