QotW: What works from your childhood fueled your love for cars?

Last week I visited the home of some distant in-laws who were meeting my 4-year-old for the first time. They’re grandparents already and asked my kid if he’d like to play with some toys that once belonged to their now-adult son. To my surprise, they went into the garage and pulled out a giant box of first-generation Transformers complete with original instruction manuals and weapons still attached to the plastic sprues.

My son was stoked, but I think I was more excited. I had maybe a dozen Transformers as a kid but this collection was expansive, with nearly an entire archive of full-size Autobots, Decepticon jets, several combiners, and a couple of the transforming cities. I’d always loved cars, and cars that turned into robots were ultra cool to me. Memories of the watching the cartoons on UHF and poring over the catalogs came flooding back. This, along with MASK, Turbo Teen, Knight Rider, and Dukes of Hazzard, it was a great time to be a petrolhead kid.

What works from your childhood fueled your love for cars?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your most terrifying car story?

We got chills from reading some of your tales of terror, but before we get to those let’s have a chuckle at a few of the hilarious ones. For example, all of us who grew up reading 1980s Car & Driver probably shared JJ‘s misplaced worship of the C4 Corvette ZR-1. There’s the dread of having to drive a terrible (presumably) rental car, like Alan‘s week with a 2012 Impala. Or the entirety of British car ownership, which formed Jim Klein‘s fear of a Jaguar check engine light. For Taylor C., it was the bullet sweating while a cop follows you home to talk to your parents rather than just issuing the ticket.

The truly frightening incidents came from near and actual accidents, such as speedie‘s encounter with Big Altima Energy, Lakdasa‘s hillside Corolla drive with bald tires and a faulty master cylinder, Chet Manley‘s discovery of brake fade in a Celica Supra top speed run, and Negishi no Keibajo‘s bone-chilling view of of a texting driver in the rear view mirror while stopped.

The winning comment this week comes from Leslie, who not only managed to escape injury from the dawn of the shoulder belt era, but managed to keep a souvenir from that harrowing flip:

In 1973 I was driving my 1971 Toyota Corona MK II back from a mall in San Antonio when I swerved to miss a cat in the road. I didn’t realize it at the time but there was a drainage ditch on the side of the road with a large tree stump in it. My car wound up on its side after hitting the tree stump. Luckily I had my seat belt on and was OK except for a scratch on my hand from broken glass. I had to make a Steve McQueen style exit out the car by going out the side window. When I was at the mall I had purchased a couple of LP records and some of the blood from the scratch got on the cover of one of the albums. The album was Moon Germs by Joe Farrell. I still have that album and the dried blood is still on it.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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12 Responses to QotW: What works from your childhood fueled your love for cars?

  1. Streetspirit says:

    as someone right between Millenial and gen Z there was little in terms of young pertolhead entertainment but shows like ‘Totally Spies’ and ‘inspector gadget’ as well as what little anime made it to our screens had lots of cool rad-era inspired cars.

    My greatest kid-petrolhead television memory(specific, i know) was seeing my first zokusha in an episode of shin chan.
    How shin chan was ever seen as a kids show is beyond me but in one episode he did his tricycle up in bosozoku style and started roasting two bad guys in what i assume was a tricked out soarer or as shin chan called it ‘a pink weeniemobile’.

  2. Fred Langille says:

    It was when I was about in sixth grade, I think … at Christmas … when I received two presents that seemed to have fueled a love for all things automotive. The first was a stocking stuffer called The Crashmobile. You wound it up, let it go and when it hit something, it flew apart. It wasn’t in a box or wrapped in plastic. Just gift wrapped. My parents wanted to see my reaction when it crashed and flew apart! Don’t know where it is now … it was pretty neat. The other toy was a Design A Car set, the previous year I had gotten the Design A Plane set and, while I liked it, had asked about one for cars. Soooo … that’s where THAT toy came in from! No, I never did try to combine the two … it was complicated but, its where my love cars began.

  3. Nigel says:

    Hot wheels, AFX (slot cars) and Battle of the Planets…Speed Racer was also new to me.

  4. Hot wheels were my favorite toy going back as far as I can remember. I was also obsessed with Herbie movies, the Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, anything that featured cars. Then when I was maybe 5 years old, I saw Cannonball Run for the first time and that set my car guy status in stone.

  5. Sammy B says:

    I was born in the early 80s, which was a pretty solid time for car-related media. Speed Racer was a bit too early, but HEAVY syndication of Knight Rider, A-Team, and Dukes of Hazzard. I’d always make a point to at least watch the opening credits of Magnum PI too!
    Smokey & the Bandit and the Blues Brothers were seemingly always on TBS (when I was a little older) and I must have watched our VHS of Back to the Future about a billion times. Our public library had Bullitt on VHS and after my dad introduced that and The French Connection to me when I was about 10, I probably rode my bike to check out Bullitt every other week in the summer.

    (I’m keeping this to TV & movies since video games like Test Drive 2 played a big role too!)

  6. Ian G. says:

    I am dating myself but my childhood was all about Transformers, Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard, MASK… but the biggest car influence and what made me into a car guy were the Cannonball Run movies especially 1&2, From the intro with Daisy Duke and Farrah Fawcett out maneuvering police in the intro to Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr in a red Ferrari 308 to Jackie Chan and Jaws in their underwater Subaru and Mitsubishi Conquest. Good times. I was all about it. I still have those movies on DVD now.

  7. Alan says:

    My 9-year-old son is getting heavy into judo, and so we recently watched the (original, of course) Karate Kid. I probably watched it 100+ times on VHS as a kid, but had not seen it in 30 years or more. It holds up—a true American classic.

    Anyway, it sparked some vivid, half-forgotten memories, and brought with them a rush of childlike wonder—pure magic, even without the added experience of witnessing the complete enthrallment of my oldest boy. Re-watching Miyagi-San train bonsai and seeing his beautiful home and garden reminded me that he this movie was the pivotal contributing factor to my lifelong fascination with Japanese culture… and then I saw his car collection. Those Detroit beauties only served to further embed that film in my young heart.

    Today, I imagine Miyagi driving around in his old Chevy pickup, wise and license-less, with a Mooneyes license plate frame like the ones on all my Japanese-engineered kyusha.

  8. Lakdasa says:

    Kinight Rider mostly closely followed by HighwayMan, Airwolf, Viper. Those TV shows got me interested in cars, it was always about who knew about what those days and I used to collect all newspaper articles on the new models and kept a keen eye on the industry and always wanted to get into the industry which was fulfilled one year into my professional career, although at a different department.

  9. Arman says:

    What a fantastic trip down memory lane! Those first-generation Transformers and classic car-themed shows like Knight Rider and Dukes of Hazzard had a huge impact on so many of us. It’s wonderful how our childhood experiences can shape our lifelong love for cars.

  10. N97LT says:

    Ben, I guess I’m too old. I know all the rest, but MASK and Turbo Teen are a mystery to me.

  11. akbarfit says:

    Gran Turismo series would be the best of all. You can drive, you can race. Later on you can tune and mods your car.

    It is a true car heaven for enthusiast. Until now it still the best in-game physics for car/racing simulator. Even Nissan develop R35 GT-R interface with Kazunori Yamauchi, the mindmaster of Gran Turismo series. It is one of sci-fi or digital works that came to life.


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