My interest in cars started at about 5 years of age. My first experience of "driving" was standing in the seat of a 1938 Plymouth 2dr sedan. This was our "field car", the one used to take lunch out to the men in the field. It had the shift lever that came out of the middle of the floor. I would beg and plead until my mother would let me steer the wheel. I couldn.t wait each day until it was dinner or lunchtime because I knew we would be driving out to a field somewhere and I could get some "wheel time".
At 12 I was determined to drive that 38 Plymouth. It took a few jerks and bumps but within a couple of days I could get the clutch out without killing the engine. In a couple of more days I could get into second gear without grinding the gears too badly. Conquering clutching and shifting now promoted me to truck driver during harvest. And, some of you may remember you had to learn to "double clutch" to go through all gears smoothly. However, I always had to sit just on the edge of the seat to get the pedal all the way to the floor, and I had to peer over the top of the steering wheel. You could get a harvest permit at age 13. This allowed you to drive on the road with a loaded grain truck. At the ripe old age of 14, I had my full state driver.s license. I was already imagining the kind of car I wanted for my first car. And, as life goes, my first car turned out to be a lot different than what I imagined.
It was a green and cream 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 door hard top with a Power Glide transmission. It was a great first car. For $150.00 it came with a new engine in it and never gave me a bit of trouble. The next car I owned was one of the greats. It was a 1959 solid black, 2 door hardtop Chevrolet Impala, with a 348 and 3 deuces and a Turbo-Glide tranny. Or, as they became known, a "terrible glide". The turbo glide didn.t stand up very well, and mine was no exception. It was replaced later with a Power-Glide. However, It was a great car and some of my fondest High School memories are of things that happened in or around that car.
The next car I owned was my first "new" car. It was a 1968 Plymouth Fury III 2door hard top and the only Mopar product I ever owned.
In 1951 my uncle who worked for GM in Flint, Michigan came to visit. He drove a new Buick "fast back". I still remember how soft the back seat seamed and how huge that car really was. I also noticed it sounded different from the cars on our farm. That was because of the straight eight power plant. I also remember him talking with my dad about the "Hydro" transmission which was a big deal at that time. Some other Uncles had a 57 Chrysler that rode like a cloud, no matter what the gravel roads were like. And I liked it when they would take off really fast and squeal the tires.
I remember in 1957 in the hometown oil station some guys peering over the fenders of a brand new red 1957 Chevrolet 4-door hardtop. They wondered what that "thing" on top of the engine was. I knew that it was a fuel-injected 57 and told them so. However, not many believed a 10 year old kid at the time. I knew then what a pretty car it was. It saddened me years later to see that unusual 4 door hard top heading down a field road with bales sticking out of the trunk. You can imagine the shape it was in by that time.
Our town cop drove a Hudson Hornet. The "cool" high school guys drove 49 or 50 Fords with a straight-galvanized pipe in place of a muffler. They liked their flat heads loud. A neighbor kid owned a coral and white 55 Ford Crown with a glass top. We had a preacher in town who bought and sold cars every six months it seemed. For a time he owned a red 63 1/2 Ford Galaxy 2 door hard top fast back that really stood out in the crowd. The grocery storeowner surprised everyone in town when he came home in 1963 with a Pontiac Bonneville two door hard top and the engine had factory 3 deuces. Technology advances? Well, that was part of the anticipation of the new models. You always waited for the New Year models to come out so you could see what new wonder Detroit had added to this or that model. Remember Mopars and Edsels with push button shifting? And GM with "wonder bar radios". ?
But as a car enthusiast, I suppose it all comes down to one thing. Just plain liking cars. As a little kid I liked being stuffed with a bunch of people and riding in my Uncle.s Model A Ford. I liked the way it sounded. Having once owned one, I always liked the way a flat head Ford V-8 sounds purring down the road. I guess I just always liked being around cars. I happen to own a 1965 Impala. I really enjoy driving it and I still get a kick out of standing just listening to it idle.....ready to let those horses run. I realize there are pure GM buffs, pure Ford buffs or this or that. But I think that as classic cars they all have their good points. I have a fascination for them all!
In conclusion, I think Dakota Cruisers deserves recognition as a great car club. Always something going on if you want to participate, and look at what Motor Magic has turned into. I got to see a lot of classics cruising this summer around Minot, and I look forward to next summer and seeing you driving your rod or classic. Ahhhhhh....wheel time!
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