Posting on Jalopnik pretty much means it is a given that I'm a gearhead of some degree. It is in the blood, even though my wife thought she could "cure me" or I'd "grow out of it." Not gonna happen.
This picture helps to explain it just a bit:
That's me in my Dad's Plymouth Satellite at around 18 months. Growing up, I remember seeing this picture off and on. Over the last 15 years or so, it dropped off the radar. Over that time, I moved out after graduating high school, my parents divorced (my dad was heartbroken) shortly before I myself got married, my wife and I welcomed a daughter into our family (more on her later), and my Dad got remarried.
He had asked me on occasion if I had seen it while visiting my Mom. "No" was my usual reply. Then I found it but didn't have the means of making or getting a copy. I managed to get the chance nailed down and got a copy made in preparations for this Christmas.
My Dad and I around January/February 1984:
A little back story, my Dad has had many fast and unique cars over the course of me growing up. Longer than I can remember, he worked at and owned restomod shops of varying forms over the years. He helped bring some very quick cars to the streets and tracks here in the Texas Panhandle. I grew up in these shops. Watching Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock on the shop couch next to a variety of cars like a slingshot dragster, a supercharged big block 57 Bel Air, a well modified (for 1992) Grand National owned by a family friend and my dad's prized Plymouth Roadrunner with slicks and wheelie bars in Lime Green Metallic.
Growing up, we never really did get to bond a whole lot because of how much he had to work to keep us clothed, healthy and food on the table. But I did get to bond with him easiest when cars were the subject matter. It's still the same way nowadays. It's like my Dad and I speak a totally different language and the rest of the family makes due with their own conversations.
When Christmas rolled around, I used to get toys from parts stores. A lot of Car Craft Tonka toys, or toys packaged in car parts boxes. I decided to return the favor.
I took a box I had from Summit and took a few items that he would appreciate or add to his car collection.
I had an old Hot Wheels corvette of this exact style but well worn from years of playing. A few years ago I had fashioned up a way to hang it from the tree as a Christmas ornament.
I had also found a collection of my new-in-box hotwheels and had an extra Plymouth Roadrunner 440-6pack
I realized it was very similar to this one that was in his shop last year. Now well in excess of what either one of us could afford.
At the bottom, I put that picture of me in his old Plymouth Satellite. I layered the box with paper and stuff so he would slowly progress through the box before hitting bottom at the picture in the frame.
I hand him the box, taped up and still covered in UPS delivery stickers and Summit logos.
"Here you go Dad, it's not a whole lot, but I hope you like it."
"That's fine, you're going through school and all. I know what it's like."
*Pops the tape on the box and opens the lid and the Corvette ornament comes up and out first as I attached it to the lid*
"Was it supposed to be like that with the hook?"
"Yeah, I took one of my cars and made it into a tree ornament. I figured you'd like to have it as a tree ornament."
"This is one of your old ones when you were a kid?" I nod my head and I can see he's a little emotional but holds it back.
"There's a little more in there. I decided bags and paper was good enough. I didn't want to curse you with packing peanuts."
He pulls out the Roadrunner in the hotwheels box, we talk about that car and also his old one.
"One more gift, down at the bottom. You gotta check the box entirely before throwing it out right Dad?"
My first job was at his shop, cleaning up the office and shop bays. Taking out the oil, sweeping up all the quick-dry, putting the tools back and cleaning the toilets. First day on the job, he told me to take the boxes out of the office that were against the wall and throw them away. An hour or so later, he asks me if I've seen a box with a truck mirror in it. Ooops. That was a $300 mirror for a brand new Silverado that killed an Elk. I had to dumpster dive for that thing, luckily it was a Saturday and our town is small so it was mostly the stuff I'd thrown away. Found it still in the bubble wrap, undamaged. Always checked those boxes thoroughly from then on out.
So my dad pulls the last little bit of paper out that I had wrapped around the frame. He looks up at me a little perplexed, opens the paper and spies the picture I had found. Shock and then a whirlwind of emotion is made evident as he starts to cry. We both thought that picture was long lost. It was something that had been troubling him as he didn't have much of me as a memento of me growing up.
With tears in my eyes, "Merry Christmas Dad."
I don't think the gearhead stuff is ending with me. My daughter is displaying some similarities to me at that age. I won't force it upon her, and will encourage her in anything positive. My Dad and I could say she's off to a darned good start.
In my Firebird that she now calls "Vroom." She does not like to be pulled from this car at all.
At my Dad's shop in a convincing Eleanor clone:
I've already started progress on turbocharging this car of mine. Just a V6 Firebird with a little 67 mm turbo to motivate it. Should be done shortly after I finish school with my degree in Mechanical Engineering. I hope it will help make good memories for my daughter and future family the same way my own Dad's cars has done for me.