For the past few days I have had the good fortune of driving a convertible 1956 Ford Thunderbird complete with whitewall tires, continental kit, rear wheel well skirts, over-sized steering wheel, and those iconic tail fins. If that weren’t enough to draw your attention…throw in the fact that it is the rare color of Sunset Coral Pink. Amazing…one of those insanely rare colors to come out of the 50’s on cars like the two-toned Fairlane, Galaxie, and Mercury. Having the entire T-Bird wrapped in the color…its a show-stopper to say the least. So much so that it has been almost dangerous to drive around Wichita thanks to all the gawkers. In the past few days I have…
- Had a car list completely into my lane while staring at me
- Had a truck almost rear-end the car in front watching me in the rear-view
- Had a truck jump the curb while staring so hard they forgot to turn
- Had a van stop mid intersection blocking traffic to stare
- Had a mom let go of her stroller which bonked into a wall (took picture)
- Had a car intentionally box me in to slow me down to get a better look
- Had a creepy car follow me for 10 minutes trying to find out where we lived
- Had a guy flip me off and yell at me for not taking him for a ride
Aside from these experiences I have had a car directly on my front or rear bumper swerving to take a picture everywhere I go. So…I have been the guy speeding past and switching lanes to get away and try and have some space. I know…boo hoo poor me, I have to drive an awesome antique car. Trust me, its fun getting waved to by everyone and talking to people wherever I park. That’s the fun stuff. However, having people almost run me off the road or smash into each other while gawking or taking a picture? Not cool. The jumping the curb one was my favorite because the guy was so full-on jaw-dropped as he turned left at the intersection of Douglas and Washington that when he jumped the curb I saw his jaw bob up and down. Full slack-jaw. Luckily no one was walking on the curb or they would have gotten a Dodge Ram surprise. The car behind him wasn’t a fan and gave him the horn and finger. That’s the other thing I’ve seen/heard alot the past few days. Horns and fingers by people getting cut off by the gawkers. I get honks and waves…the gawkers…not so much.
My boys are in love with it so I of course installed a car seat for slow cruising. Dodge (1) loves all the old fashioned knobs and buttons while Max (3) just thinks its cool that it has no roof and is pink. I like both. Max has begged me to go fast but I refuse to with as much insanity as I’ve experienced on the roads of Wichita the past week. So we just cruise the side streets together pointing out cool things to see and waving to all the joggers and bikers who are moving at a similar pace. Max is beside himself with sadness that the “Pink T-Bird” is getting shipped back home to New York and has announced that his favorite color is now pink…and gold…and also red…but mostly gold…and oh yeah, pink. Dodge just likes spending time with his Dada and I’ll take it any way I can get it. “T-Bird” is his newest word.
The best driving has been at night when the air is cool, the sun is down, and there are less cars on the road. Cruising. Driving just to drive. I’ll go under a street light and suddenly people see its Sunset Coral Pink and it gets their attention. I drop the accelerator and clear some space…reminding them that I’m not selling Mary Kay products and it is in fact a sports car. It takes me back to when my wife Kate and I were first dating and we’d cruise Route 9N along Lake George, NY and park somewhere to stare at the stars. It is impossible to drive this car without your right arm around the passenger seat side of the bench or your left resting on the door. Its a car made for snuggling and I am going to miss my sunset cruises with the boys…driving around College Hill Park, the Eastborough Duck Pond, and of course the Douglas drag. I’ve never heard Max talk so much and it has been awesome bonding time. Dodge is learning new words every day and he sits with me in the car and asks so many questions…its awesome. I can’t wait to take them for rides this summer when we’re back in New York, I also can’t wait to ride with Kate and no boys.
Like I said, boo hoo poor me. I’m jaded, I grew up around antique cars. They were always in the family or being worked on. One of the cars I learned to drive on was my grandfather’s 1949 Willy’s Army Jeep. I’ll never forget my dad drawing a chalk line on the pavement at the town beach parking lot and making me put the car in first and drive up the hill without rolling backwards over the line. Everyone should learn to drive stick. One time my wife and I drove to town in the convertible 1951 Willy’s Jeepster…3 on the column and fire engine red. Awesome car. We parked out front and went inside. When we came out a college kid was sitting inside goofing off while his buddies took pictures of him. When I confronted him he got pissed off that I was on his case about it. Apparently, he felt that since it was a convertible it was okay to get inside. It would only be breaking and entering if it had a roof. Seriously?
So, if you see a cool old car driving down the street give a honk and a wave (just a wave is fine) and move on. Don’t go smashing into things with your jaw on the floor and your eyes out the sockets. If you want a closer look keep in mind there may be small children inside and the driver may be trying to enjoy a little cruise so appreciate the car from a safe distance. If you have questions you want to ask the driver, wait til you are both stopped at an intersection instead of trying to flag us down while we are driving. Otherwise, buy a ticket to a car show and ask as many questions as you like there. Want a ride? No. Who says, “Sure! Jump on in stranger!” Want to take a picture with it? Okay, but please don’t lean on it, touch it, or get inside it. Last, please don’t follow us around creepily as we drive around with our children…we have phones and wrote down your license plate.
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