Back in 1978, my friend Bobby Joe, who had saved all his money for all his life, for the event, purchased a brand new, white with blue trim, Z28. He was sixteen years old, and his parents did help him, muchly, but Bobby Joe worked hard and played even harder. Bobby Joe also played the trumpet better than anyone I have ever heard. But his first passion was the Z28.
Bobby then spent every possible dollar he had making this car a thing of greater power and even greater beauty. Most of the jargon I know about cars, I know was learned listening to that kid talk about that car, back in the late seventies.
One night, we hit a straight piece of backroads, the one going to Kolomoki Mounds, and we smoked a joint, okay, took a couple of hits off of a joint, at one hundred and thirty miles an hour. I wondered if a deer stepped in front of us, or a tire blew, or a seed exploded, if the last thing I would think was, “the car isn’t going to live through this, either” and I’m quite certain Bobby would have thought that too. But, luckily, I did not find out.
I would have never told Bobby Joe this, but I think at some level he knew; I never cared about cars. No one bit. Not even a little. To me, cars were transportation. You kept the car reasonably clean, kept a good sound system in it, and you maintained the thing per the owner’s manual. They are still just that.
In 2013, someone pulled out in front of me and ended the 2004 Toyota truck I had bought in 2006. I put some miles on that little red truck and had some great times in it. A week later I had a 2013 Toyota truck, and I still have it today. It’s a truck. It’s sturdy, hard to break, gets good gas mileage, and no one has wrecked it yet. It doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have conversations with me. It’s a truck. It has a job, and it does its job, and until it doesn’t, I’ll keep it.
A friend of mine had a Jeep named Grendel. That Jeep, Grendel, and I had a lot of adventures together, and we rode many a mile. Top down, doors off, passenger seatbelt unbuckled, and the rush of the road under us, in an open space. She lost that Jeep in a divorce, and the other woman traded it in after a couple of months. We talked about trying to find Grendel, and I have to admit, there was a moment of excitement, just thinking about doing that. But the beer wore off and we never spoke of it again.
The day I got my stuff out of the red truck, sitting there with its nose smashed in, the tag removed, the contents boxed up, I felt a slight twinge. The red truck had known some very good road trips with me. When Lucas was snakebit the red truck got me to the vet. I met a woman I thought I would marry while that truck was with me. Dogs and women, now they’re subjects that ought to be permanent, but neither is. We know that, don’t we? Bobby Joe, very suddenly, makes sense right now.
Who was your favorite ride?
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.