Gunners Garage

Driving Desire

Over the weekend I read where Corky Coker and his classic-car tire company down in Chattanooga are going to sponsor a couple of new awards for people who actually drive their collector cars. Now, I don’t think editors should be eligible for awards, but I sure don’t need any award to drive my old cars — just salt-free roads.

My cars come out in April and have been seen on Wisconsin highways as late as mid-December. It all depends when the first snow comes and when the roads first get salted. After 29 years in these environs, I’ve learned how salt can devastate Detroit iron in no time flat

Driving older cars (on salt-free roads) has thrilled me since I first got my driver’s license in 1965. I had a ‘55 Chevy then (should have kept it) and that model was always one that appealed to enthusiasts, even before it became a ”collector car.” Hot rodders were the main fans back then, so I always got looks and attention from them when I drove it.

That made me laugh. In the ‘70s I drove $400 cars when new ones cost $3,000. In the ‘90s, I drove $1,500 cars when new ones cost $15,000. And today I drive $4,000-$8,000 cars when new ones cost $40,000-$80,000. None of my cars are real “show cars,” but they are good “10-footers.” With a little maintenance work, they are nearly as reliable as new cars — and they always get more looks than a brand new car, unless it’s something special like a Solstice or Cobra. Think of all the money I’m saving with my old cars.

Corky will be glad to hear that, in the spring, summer and fall, I drive the old cars every day. In fact, if I don’t drive them — like now in December — I start getting withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, the first day of winter hasn’t even arrived yet. Now there’s a depressing thought. Only a weekly dose of Old Cars Weekly newspaper is going to get me through the next three months.

John Gunnell

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