So I was already a car fanatic and then I met a friend of my parents who changed everything for me. He brought the cars from the brochures and magazines to reality. Don’t get me wrong, my Grandfather’s Rolls Royce and Jensen Interceptor were neat cars, but this was different and it would take me years to figure out why; I just knew this guy was on to something. I then stole him from my parents and made him my friend. He continues to be one of my best friends today and is a star in the car biz. Richard Griffith, Thank you! I think! Richard is a Hudson collector and BMW enthusiast and because of Richard I gained an appreciation of vintage cars and highly modified, tuned BMWs. Richard lived in Piedmont and had a beautiful home with a long driveway and a separate 3 car garage which for a car person was perfect. There I watched him tinker on Hudsons and drive them in the local 4th of July Parades, restore Studebakers, and detail his Alpina BMW 2002s, a BMW M1, a Jaguar E-Type, a Hardy & Beck 323i Coupe, and later a Euro BMW M6. Anytime my parents were visiting the Griffiths, I would go just for the chance to see the cars and maybe get a ride. Going over to Richard’s was always a mystery as you never knew what car adventure would be possible. One day his neighbor, who was under Richard’s car influence, took us for a ride through Piedmont in his new BMW 745i which was the original boxy 7 series with a hot turbocharged motor…I got out of that car with a smile that did not fade for hours. Then there was the M1 ride through Piedmont that broke the basic speed law at least three times. Or the ride in the Jaguar E-Type that left me wondering how the car could lean so much, yet not lose traction. To a young kid this was pretty exciting stuff.
As a dad today, I recently took my 14 year old to drive on private property. I pulled over without warning, asked her to get out. She looked at me as if she had done something wrong. I told her to get in the drivers seat and there it was again, a certain smile that only a car experience can bring. She did a great job tooling around in the Jeep. She even managed to cut a turn a little too sharp and get 2 wheels on a wall – not a big one, maybe just a 10″ ledge, but this garage queen of a 4×4 has never done anything fun like this before.
Many kids today don’t have the same interest and passion in cars that older generations did. Maybe it’s because we parents don’t make them walk enough. Or because many cars have lost their style or are too hard to work on or modify or too expensive. My daughter, however is hooked already and wants an Audi or a Porsche Boxster.
I started with a 1971 or 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger that had a V8. This was the car I hid around the corner as I had it pre-license. Not good to drive up to the house underage. Especially when the car is loud and your favorite thing to do is light up the neighborhood with a good burnout.
Richard, thank you for the car fever. It is a passion of mine, a career and source of great enjoyment.
To my daughter, who is 15 tomorrow, just wait until you get the fun and freedom a car will provide you. Oh yeah, Happy Birthday!