I don’t remember the first time I took a photograph of an automobile. I doubt that I ever pointed my Kodak Brownie Starflash at a car. I was taking pictures of people and places, not of the vehicles that carried those people to and from those places.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love those vehicles, and oh how I wanted to drive them. Some people consider their 21st birthday to be important. Not me. The important birthday was my 16th, because — at long last — I could get my driver’s license and drive legally, and on pavement.
Growing up in the country, I started driving when I was 14, though only on graveled rural roads. But with that little wallet-sized certificate from the state, I was free to drive anywhere, well, anywhere my parents would allow me to take the family car, a pale yellow, nine-passenger, 1960 Chevrolet station wagon.
Fortunately, my mobility soon was enhanced when my grandmother bought a new car and we got her ’57 Ford sedan. Now we had two cars and three drivers.
I loved that ’57 Ford. Sure, it was just a matronly, two-tone, four-door sedan with B pillars, but it had three on the tree and a V8 under the hood. Fortunately, mine was a “go Granny, go Granny, go, Granny go” type of grandmother.
My parents kept that Ford for only a year or so. Alas, first loves are so hard to lose, though my pain was eased quite a bit when my parents traded the old Ford for a brand new one. O.K., so it only was a Falcon — the Mustang had yet to gallop into production — but it was a Falcon that wore bright red paint and had a white canvas convertible top that I recall keeping up overhead only when it was raining or snowing.
Back then, those cars were merely family vehicles, even if a couple of them turned out to be a teenager’s dream machines. But today, each of them would be considered a classic in its own right.
Funny, I don’t have pictures of any of them. All I wanted to do back then was to drive them, to drive anything. Now, I’d love to touch and to be touched by them again. I can’t, of course. Most likely they rusted away many years ago.
But I can still see them in my mind’s eye, and now, with the launch of the ClassicCars.com and Hemmings.com photo galleries, we all can see cars like them, and cars much older and cars even a few decades newer than them, cars that we not only can see but cars that can touch us, that can transport us as we let them and our imaginations take us for a ride.