The orange hands on the 40 year old dash clock read 7:40. I’m driving home on a summery Saturday night in northwest, Ohio. It’s about 75 degrees and I’ve got the windows down for some natural a/c. I’m listening to the harmonious rumble of the car’s Dynomax’s and the sound of thunder in the distance. Reminds me of a song by Bob Segar…
My buddy and I had been wrenching all afternoon in his garage dropping a set of Hooker’s under the hood of his Mustang. He saved a long time for those tubes, but they dang sure hollered good the first time we lit ‘em up. The added bonus was seeing his mangey old dog startled awake from his nap about 10 feet in back of the car. What a hoot! He jumped up and his legs skedaddled like Scooby Doo’s running his hind end across the front yard. His nap, and a broken 3/8” socket, followed immediately by my busted knuckle, were the only casualties to an otherwide perfect install.
I am on a four lane boulevard coming up on a traffic light. No cars ahead – open road for the next mile to my neighborhood. The streetlights are beginning to flicker on, as are the yellow lanterns of the night’s first fireflies in nearby yards. I hear people beyond a set of shrubs off to my right, talking and laughing, mixed with Detroit Rock City on my stereo. I smell a barbeque grill. Burgers? No, something better. New York strips, maybe. I stop at the light, and sit appreciating the sound of my engine and the resonance of Gene’s bass. The motor’s cam has just enough lopey idle to provide some nice rocking of its own.
I’m sitting there watching the path of a firefly, guessing where he will light up next, when, right across my view, a young dude in a silver car pulls up along side me. One of those rice burners. One with the massive add-on spoiler (drag creating btw) and silver bullet muffler (torque reducing btw). Suburu? Hyundai? I don’t know, but I guess these days a young man’s gotta buy what a fast food job can provide. I was that way once. I see him look at my ride, sneer a little, then look at me. Not even bothering to turn down his music, he points at the road ahead, challenging me to a run. All the while he is reving his little 2 litre that sounds like a broken weedeater. I swear there must be a sign on my car that says “Pull Alongside. Rev Engine. Race Me!”
He probably doesn’t know what the 440 billboard decal means that covers half of each side of the car. That’s 440 cubic inches of vintage Hamtramck, Michigan iron. Almost 4 times the cubes of his motor. My ” target=”_blank”>’71 Cuda is pretty much old school under the hood, except for the MSD and a couple other aluminum parts. After a quick 360 for local Five-O, I look back at him with no expression, and nod yes. Uh-huh, uh-huh… what I’m saying is it’s time to shut you up and shut you down! Once again, I will make the men that worked the 3rd shift “back in ’71 putting this Fish together very proud.
We are both looking at the Christmas tree up above. I am firmly grasping the Gunslinger pistol grip, and my foot is poised over the accelerator like a Saturn V launch button. All systems go, both machine and man. At the first tinge of green, I drop the hammer…
- The Colonel