the cars that made me a man
© Sat Purusha (cropped)

The Cars That Made Me a Man

From mountainside picnics to curbside views of conflict to getting to know the girl of his dreams—cars have always shaped my memories.

This faded photograph is from 1958 and is of a memorable family holiday in France. Taking pride of place is my father’s favorite car, the Ford Zephyr Mark II. This was a UK produced car of distinction, it was in production from 1956 to 1962. My mum and dad are in the picture wearing sporty hats with me, in the middle, and one of my brothers

My father’s Symbol

The car was a symbol for my father of having ‘made good’. The car was large and ‘pointy’ and looked so much like an American car, a real status symbol in those days. I was one of three boys and all of us could fit in the back without fighting—too much! When I was young we seemed to spend every Sunday in the car.

In my memory my dad’s favorite hobby was driving for pleasure, and in those days, before crowded roads and highways, that was possible. This holiday was a ‘touring’ holiday where we spent several weeks driving around the north and west of France having picnics, like the one in the picture, and enjoying the scenery. My dad loved driving down remote roads ‘to see where they go’—frequently nowhere.

One of my powerful memories from this trip was sitting in a pavement cafe in Paris, drinking Orangina, and watching police cars rushing around with flashing lights and the police chasing people with machine guns. We hadn’t realized that this was a period of turmoil in France caused by reaction to the Algerian war. This was only 13 years after the end of the Second World War, so there was still some chaos in Europe.

I Love Driving

I love driving, still, today. I remember in the early 1990’s hiring a large sedan in New York and spending four weeks driving my family, of wife and two boys, all over the north and east of the US. We drove up to Niagara and across through Pennsylvania to Chicago and Wisconsin. For me it was heaven. I set the cruise control on and glided down the freeways, soaking up America.

My love of cars has been focused around sports cars even tough I have never owned one. The MG MGB GT (1965-1980) was just the peak of sports car looks. It introduced the ‘hatchback’ look designed by the legendary Italian Pininfarina. The most famous designs had chrome bumper bars, the later models with black plastic bumpers, styled to suit the American market, lost any sense of sophistication. This was always a popular sports car in the US, it was small and fast with a classy design cachet.

I will always remember driving the Ford Mustang. I first rode in a Mustang that my brother, who lived in Newhaven, CT, owned. The speed was breathtaking. Eventually he sold it because he just thought he was too dangerous in it, something I absolutely agreed with. I hired one, a few years ago, to drive from San Diego to San Francisco for 10 days. I invited this wonderful lady to come with me and super-impressed her with the car. She loved cars, and still remembers with pleasure the 10 days we drove through the Badlands with the top down and the radio on. She is now my wife, so I clearly got something right.

Have you ever longed to drive a Mustang, like me? Well now you can. the Enterprise Exotics Collection includes a Ford Mustang GT Convertible that is begging you to jump in, turn on the radio and drive. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of driving coast to coast—remember ‘Two Lane Blacktop’ that fabulous 1971 movie where James Taylor and Warren Oates burned the rubber across America in a ’55 Chevy? This is the car for that.

If you prefer a more European look I would jump in the BMW Z4 Convertible, such a solid German car but with the curves you, literally, want to feel before you slide in and luxuriate in the leather seats.

The Dream

I can still dream though, and so can you. Where would you go in the car you crave for? Who would you go driving with? Would it be like me for long family vacations out in the wild west or would you go for the ‘Two Lane Blacktop’ coast to coast?

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