We go to cruise nights at least a few times each summer. Cruise nights are held at a place where car guys and gals gather to share their cars with other car guys and gals. Many times there is no cruising or driving at a cruise night. Originally cruise nights were all about cruising but now they just park in a big parking lot. They should really call them Parking Nights.
There’s oldies music playing, they’re selling hot dogs and beer over there are rows and rows of these muscle car masterpieces flanked by their proud owners who would be more than happy to share their car stories with you. These cars were a big part of my life and as we walk through the rows, these cars bring back some fond and some not too fond memories, at least for me.
I had a 1969 Camaro a few years back and I would drive it to cruise nights all the time. It was an event every Saturday night in the summer. Many times I would go with my brother, who had 1967 Corvette and my son, who had an impressive Subaru WRX. About an hour before I would wipe the car down to remove the dust that fell onto the car in the garage. I’d clean the windows, the wheels and polish the tires so they were as black as can be. Wipe down the interior and check the gas and oil. The gas gage didn’t work so I kept track of the miles. The car had an 18 gallon gas tank and the car got about 10 miles per gallon. A full tank would get me 180 miles so I would fill up every 90 miles.
With all the cleaning and checking done, I start the car and it starts right up as usual and you feel the vibration of the car idling and the sound of the engine. You pull out of the driveway and as you drive down the street you hear the power of the engine and the whining of the transmission as you shift into 2nd gear. You notice how the colors of the surroundings are reflected off the sleek black hood of the car.
The drive to the cruise night parking lot was about 15 minutes from my house, just enough time to enjoy the ride and the entire experience with the sound of the engine and the unmistakable, intoxicating smell of a 40 year old car interior. If I happened to see a few people that stop and stare, it works. I must admit I loved when people admired my car. There was no radio in the car and even of there was, I’d never turn it on as the sound of the car was all the music I needed to hear. My car did not have power brakes, power steering and certainly did not have power windows. If you want to own a car like this, you need to work a little.
I would get to the entrance of Whiskey’s Café, a bar/restaurant with a fairly large parking lot where all the cars go. People would be lined up on lawn chairs checking out all the cars coming in. It was unbelievably fun. So you drive in, find a parking spot and back into the spot, no easy task without power steering.
We would walk around for about an hour, look at all the cars, reminisce, maybe grab a hot dog and a beer and leave. Every time we were leaving my brother would say, “Take the long way home.” It was all about enjoying the car.
It would be dark out when I drove home and I would always stop at a Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to have a coffee. More so I could park under these really bright illuminated signs so I could look at all the colors reflecting off my car.
They don’t make cars like this anymore. They may be environmentally toxic, gas guzzlers, but they’re muscle cars and it’s ok. They get a pass.