Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Yeah
2008-06-24 07:15
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

I like driving enough.  I got my permit at sixteen like everyone else in the suburbs.  But I've never owned a car, never cared to, and have never had anything but a passing interest in them.  I live in a city where you don't need a car--though that never stopped my old man, one of the true Manhattan crackpots who prefer having a car (he knew the alternate side of the street laws better than he knew the Passover Haggadah).  As a kid, I loved saying the word "Volvo," and could recognize the boxy cars easily.  Everyone loved a VW bug.  But my favorite American car was a Cadillac.  And only becacuse I liked the how the tail lights looked.  

I have a general memory of being a kid leaving my grandparents apartment at night.  As we waited for my father to pull the car around, we waited under the canopy of 15 West 81st street, across the street from the Hayden Planetarium and the Museum of Natural History, I looked at the bright red and yellow lights moving up and down the street.  I was usually half-asleep.  I remember being captivated by tail lights on the Caddy's.  They weren't the usual, blocky lights, they were sleek slits of lights, standing erect. 

My other favorite car was the plump, old Citroen's, which I saw often during visits to my mother's family in Belgium.  They really did it for me.

Any of you guys care about cars? 

If so, which ones float yer boat?

2008-06-24 07:32:28
1.   Sushirabbit
Oh, yeah. I'm a fairly regular reader, but don't often post. Car guy. I've never owned an Alfa Romeo, but they are my favorites. I have a SAAB 9000 which was actually built on shared chassis between Alfa/SAAB/Vauxhall.

I also have a Neon ACR which is basically a track car. Although on nice summer days like to day, I drive it to work.

2008-06-24 07:36:58
2.   Ken Arneson
Nope, I have no emotional connection to cars, or any vehicle, really. It's a tool to me, nothing more; I get no more excited about cars than I do about, say, forks.

I will admit to having positive emotions about train stations and airports, though. Don't know what that says about my personaltiy.

2008-06-24 07:41:07
3.   Alex Belth
Funny that you should mention the Alfa. My friend Pat Jordan used to own an Alfa and he wrote a wonderful essay for GQ back in the 80s about just how tempramental those cars are. Says Alfa owners are really like an exclusive club. You've got to love your Alpha, cause it's so high-maintenance. But when they are running properly, they are supposed to be amazing cars.

My brother is really into cars, at least he used to be. He owned 3 before he ever got his lisence. My mother's father was a mechanic. He co-operated a Renault dealership in the Belgian Congo for years and continued to work for Renault when he returned.

He taught me how to drive in a Citroen De Chaco in the cornfields and bummy, stone roads in the country side of Belgium when I was a teenager.

2008-06-24 07:54:45
4.   Raf
I have an 85 VW Scirocco. The previous owner threw all kinds of $$ at the suspension, which means it handles very well. I took it on Tail of the Dragon a couple of months ago, and it was a blast.

As a kid, I wanted a 69 Charger. Repeated viewings of Dukes of Hazzard will do that to ya :)

As an adult, I've developed an appreciation for small, light, tossable cars; Sciroccos, Miatas, GTI's, MR2's, etc, etc, etc.

I also enjoy a good swap; AWD Turbo Proteges, 5.0 Volvos, 305 S10/S15's, Turbo Fiestas/Festivas and the like.

B-body Impalas (the RWD ones of the late 90's) were bad-ass. Sinister; black car, tinted windows, grey interior.

My father had an 89 SHO, which I loved to drive (and so did he)

If I had my druthers, I'd get a 1970 Trans Am. I love the way those cars look. I also have a soft spot for fox-bodied mustangs, particularly the 86-92 models.

Once they come down in price (prob 20 years from now), I would love to get my hands on an E46 M3. They scream to be driven and driven hard.

2008-06-24 07:56:20
5.   Alex Belth
Raf, you are the balls. My Ma used to have Scirocco back in the 80s. We loved that little car. Sweetness.
2008-06-24 08:00:15
6.   vockins
I have decided that I hate cars. I figured this out in the last year. They are the worst. I'm never going to spend more than $1000 on a car for the rest of my days.

The exception being a Vitamin C orange 1970 Dodge Super Bee with a 440 six pack and a pistol grip shift.

2008-06-24 08:06:48
7.   RIYank
Jeez, is this Bronx Banter or Dodger Thoughts???

I don't hate cars, but I only have one because I have to. It's a Corolla. Before this I had a Colt, and before that a '79 Civic. I always want to have something that (a) rarely breaks, (b) is cheap to fix when it does break, (c) I won't worry about scratching, denting, etc., (d) gets very good highway mileage. People who love cars think I have no soul.

2008-06-24 08:09:51
8.   Bluebleeder87
The little time I spent in high school (I left to Mex. To work & supervise my dads crop fields) I had this infatuation (sp) with the Chevy Corveir for some reason, I still think there nice cars.
2008-06-24 08:14:44
9.   Alex Belth
If I ever had to have a real beater, I'd take an El Camino...
2008-06-24 08:20:29
10.   Sushirabbit
RAF, when I was teenager we used to run all-around the dragon. You'd like my Neon. The motorbikes think they should always pass cars and don't like it when you tailgate them. Renault was and still is a great car company, Alex. Cool to hear about your maternal grandfather.
2008-06-24 08:24:11
11.   pistolpete
My dad had a purple AMC Gremlin. I thought it was the coolest car ever, and mostly because the front passenger seat folded all the way forward and I could lie on it from the back & drive around with him.

Safe, huh?

Hey, what did I know, I was 7. ;-)

2008-06-24 08:28:12
12.   e double trouble

but if I had to choose then it'd be a 1965 red Mustang convertible, what else?

2008-06-24 08:30:13
13.   Bagel Boy
My long lost love - 87 Nissan 300ZX Turbo. I sold it when I moved to the city.
2008-06-24 08:30:21
14.   Jon Weisman
4 - I drove the same Scirocco from 1985 to 2002 - 175,000 miles - and only got rid of it because I went bigger once my first child was born. That car is now fighting Lou Gehrig's disease (via donation).

In high school, I usually drove our family's 76 Plymouth van, which got 8 miles to the gallon.

Since 2002, it's been a Saab 9-5. That's it!

2008-06-24 08:33:27
15.   Raf
5 I love that little car. It's a blast to drive. Will be even more fun if I ever get around to doing the ABA swap I want to do (money's tight right now)

7 What year is that Corolla? If you have a "punto ocho" (e70, 1979-83), or an AE86 (mad tyte doriftooo, y0!!1!1!; 83-87), I'd have to dispute the "no soul" claim.

9 I'll take an 1970 El Camino SS. With a 454. Get 8 gallons to the mile :)

2008-06-24 08:36:13
16.   chris in illinois
Frequent reader, infrequent poster.

Where I live, not having a car is not an option. Years ago I really, really liked the early Honda Preludes, but I never had one. My automotive options are limited these days by my height (6'8") and my four kids.

My dirty secret? I almost love my Chevy Suburban---now I know I'm not supposed to these days, but it's a small living room on wheels and it has a sound system that's better than anything I've ever had in a house. Luckily with the four kids, I can justify having one---there are few vehicles that can fit four car seats.

My favorite car I've owned was my 2005 Dodge Magnum RT that I had to give up once the twins were born.

Stupid fast.

2008-06-24 08:38:57
17.   Chyll Will
I grew up in places where you needed a car to get around, or you learned to like hiking (which I do and then some), but I love driving. Part of that being that I'm a GM baby; my Mom worked for the Tarrytown plant for 35 years until it closed, and my Grandmom's house, where we lived for several years, was halfway up the street that was directly across from the plant. Watching the cars roll off the assembly line into the parking lot at nighttime was absolutely beautiful, and taking the tour through the plant was a child's dream. I loved it there so much, I would walk into the plant to the security desk, just so I could "pick her up from work." Years later, one of the security officers told my Mom to say hi to me, remembering all those instances...

Cars offer me an escape from my current environs. I live in the Bronx, and a lot of the times it's very confining. I know that where Alex lives is an oasis in an otherwise depressingly crowded and urban landscape, so I drive (now that I have a car again) to the countryside and destinations of my youth. Car rides were family bonding time, and we went to lots of places. I drive a lot as a PA, and I consider myself a budding explorer, so I drive to places I've never been to and absorb the beauty and intrigue of the landscape.

Quickly, as I'm being rushed out the door, my favorite cars in no order:

67 Mustang
60's Camaro
60-70's Caprice and Impala
60-early 70's Chevy pick-up
early 80's Mustang

practically any muscle car from the 60's and 70's gets me, actually, but I don't have time to go down the list as I want, so c'ya! >;)

2008-06-24 08:45:55
18.   Alex Belth
Dag, my folks had one of those Mustangs from the late 60s when I was a kid. Not sure what year it was. But it was old school baby blue and a convertable to boot. Got stolen, straight up, in front of our apartment building on 103rd and West End avenue. Before we were born, my old man tooled around in an old Bentley. Ha!
2008-06-24 08:47:12
19.   Raf
16 I agree on the height problem; I'm 6'3 and I have a difficult time folding myself into some of these vehicles. Even getting in & out of the Scirocco's a bit of a challenge sometimes.

The day's coming where I'm going to need something more practical, something with 4 doors; between family, friends, and their brood, I need something with space, and something that isn't as raw as the Scirocco. Ford CVPI's (ex-police cars) have caught my attention; dirt cheap and reliable. If I could find a decent Caprice 9C1 (Chevy's police package), I'd take that too. BMW 7 series (e38; 94-01), are relatively cheap, considering what they used to go for. Since they're luxury cars, they're reliable as well. Also am keeping an eye out for turbo Volvo wagons. Cheap and fast; can't go wrong with that :)

2008-06-24 08:53:31
20.   Ace Rothstein
1992 Jaguar XJS V12 - sleek old rich guy luxury - great lines and posture.

Early 90's crown vic - garnet red, ridin low, tinted windows.

If I every make my fortune - prol put myself in an BMW M3 or M5 - all black - tints, what darth vader would drive if he had a car.

2008-06-24 09:13:19
21.   e double trouble
20. You see -- no one mentions Yoda having a car. CARS SUCK!!


2008-06-24 09:17:25
22.   chris in illinois
21 muppets drive??

No one mentions that he lived in a hollowed out tree like a cookie-makin' elf either...what's the point?

2008-06-24 10:33:12
23.   Ace Rothstein
i think its obvious that Yoda would drive a mini cooper. Or if one considers his advanced age -- a golf cart in Boca or a big body buick.
2008-06-24 10:35:48
24.   joe in boston
Great topic - but I'm late to the party. This needs to be a "dead of winter" topic !

Big car guy here - not a fix it guy though.

First car: 1974 Opel Manta.

Current cars: 2007 Honda Accord and 2003 Honda Crv (the "appliances") but I just bought an old (1988) BMW 3 series convert.

Love the old Bimmers. Have owned 3 of them. Too expen$ive on a teachers' salary though ...

2008-06-24 10:41:19
25.   bobtaco
Word Alex, I always loved the DS or the 2CVs.

If you could convert one into running on AC, I would totally buy one, instead I have put it my down payment and am on the waiting list to get one of these:

2008-06-24 10:54:52
26.   JasonO
1963 Corvette Stingray: (split rear window coupe, please)

This car makes me bite my fist like Michael McKeon in Laverne and Shirley.

2008-06-24 11:23:13
27.   3rd gen yankee fan
I had my first ride in a Ferrari over the weekend.

The F355 Berlinetta.

Guys, it is like great sex on wheels. It'll leave you breathless. I never knew a machine could move like that.

2008-06-24 11:35:51
28.   Knuckles
I am much less of a car guy than I was growing up. Now I generally think they're pains in the ass, and I drive as seldom as possible. That said, there are a small handful of cars that I would love to own as a toy one day.

70's BMW 2002
60's Toyota Landcruiser
60's VW Bus
70's VW Type 3 Wagon

2008-06-24 11:36:26
29.   unmoderated
my "first" car was a 1966 dodge dart. i was 8 years old at the time, it was a bit of a junker that my dad had taken off the road. we said i could have it, and it made a fine clubhouse in the back yard. i had plans of taking to college on my first big road trip. i don't remember whatever happened to that thing, i assume it got junked.

my first real car was a 1984 pontiac 6000, a real hoopty. next was a slick 1980 volvo 240, a rusted out 1986 accord, and then (with my college graduation money) a 1992 Audi 100 S.

That car was a real piece of work. It was fully loaded, heated seats, leather, sunroof, etc... but still had the 5-speed. That car got me back and forth from Oregon 6 times, plus a few other lengthy trips.

Had to sell it when I moved in the with the girls, to save money and what not. After we wrecked her white Volvo wagon, it was another Audi, then a Jetta, and finally to our current ride, an Audi Cabriolet. I have to admit, I never thought much of convertibles... of course, now that I have one, its totally different.

I've been driving that back and forth to Cooperstown, where I just started a new job, and...

holy crap, how the hell did this post get this long? i dont think i've ever posted this much on BB combined. sorry guys.

2008-06-24 12:23:55
30.   Shaun P
The first and only car I've ever owned is a 2003 Nissan Altima. I love it, and I love driving it, though I try not to drive a lot with gas prices these days.

As you can tell, I'm not much of a car guy . . . as a kid, I wanted a Lamborghini Countach. Imagine my disappointment when, in 2002, I found out they stopped making them in 1990. Whoops.

27 My boss drives a Ferrari (not sure which one; as I said, I'm not much of a car guy) and I've rode in it once. Definitely a thrill. Hugging the road has a whole new meaning for me; how that thing moved was unreal.

2008-06-24 12:25:14
31.   Raf
24 Love the old Bimmers. Have owned 3 of them. Too expen$ive on a teachers' salary though

Yes, this is true. The key is to do your own work.

29 The Pontiac 6000 was a hoopty when new :D. That Audi had to have been a nice ride. What kind of Jetta did you have? I had an A2 (1992). My former coworker had a GTI (also an A2) that he swapped a turboed VR6 into. Let me tell you that car was a SCREAMER.

2008-06-24 12:43:17
32.   Chyll Will
22 They sure do. Fozzie Bear had a '51 Studebaker that his hibernating uncle gave him in "The Muppet Movie..."

18 My father's '67 hardtop was California Blue (looked white to me), that was the one I started up and drove on the front lawn by myself in Croton when I was 4.

It came to a sad end, however, when our hippie neighbors' pet boa constrictor somehow got loose in the woods, and my father happened to see it crossing the road as he was coming to visit. No fan of snakes in general, he tried to run it over. Instead, he ran into a tree and the boa escaped. My father was one for making impulsive decisions at the time and had a decidedly short temper to boot, so I imagine he was not happy to say the least...

Most sadly, he took me by the place where he had the car junked in Peekskill; it was lying on top of a pile of other junked cars, waiting to be recycled. I'll never forget that; we all loved that car. My sister and I remember taking long rides throughout the Tri-State with him in that car. Another lasting memory about that car was when my father and I took a morning ride to Peekskill; on Main Street there used to be a Mickey D's that we always stopped at when in town, and we stopped in there to pick up breakfast, went out to the car and ate, listening to the radio. Two men, just chillin' on a Sunday morning in their '67 Mustang, California Blue hardtop. >;)

2008-06-24 13:06:20
33.   Chyll Will
26 My buddy from high school had one of those. He always drew pictures of it, hoping to get up enough money to buy what he needed to fix it up and drive it. I drove my first Corvette when I went to visit a friend in D.C., her uncle lent it to here and she sat in her friend's lap in the passenger's side while I drove around the Belt. Talk about smooth, I didn't realize I was going 85 until she asked me how I liked it, and when I saw that I punched it over 100. Small as can be, but schmooooove...

As for hoopties, my sister Terry once had a Buick Elektra 225, same year, make and model (and the same exact issues) as the one from Sir Mix-A-Lot's "My Hooptie" When I saw her swing into the driveway in that for the first time, I literally fell to the ground LMAO, then started reciting Sir Mix-A-Lot... Mom, on the other hand, was so mad about what was likely to spend significant time in front of the house that she yelled at her, setting off a screaming match that lasted at least an hour.

Hers was beige, with a mismatched white door on the passenger side. UN-believable, like she went and got the actual car from the video or something... >;)

2008-06-24 14:55:40
34.   joe in boston
28 Knuckles, good site for VW dreaming

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