I CAN’T DRIVE THIRTY-FIVE
I Should Have Lost My License in My ’73 Gran Torino Sport
My 1973 Gran Torino Sport had the 163 horsepower 351 cubic inch Cleveland engine. Basically it was the same car as Clint Eastwood had in Gran Torino, except that his was a ’72. Mine was gold, with a stripe, and was quick enough to push you into your seat from any gear.
However, on a hot summer day in 1973, I was driving behind a very slow driver on a narrow back road. My car had everything a car like that should have. Four-speed, dual exhaust, a Holley carburetor I had added. It lacked air conditioning, though, and I was miserable.
The speed limit was forty-five. The guy in front of me kept it at thirty-five. Sure, the road was narrow and full of curves, but come on! It didn’t help that I was twenty-five years old, an age not known for great patience, especially when tooling a car like mine. The car itself seemed to be aggravated by the thwarting of its inborn capabilties.
Every time the road was straight with lines to allow passing, he’d drift left, not letting me pass. I was swearing and pounding my fists on the wheel, shouting “Asswipe!” and far worse repeatedly.
We eventually came around a corner and I saw a downward hill with a long stretch of dotted lines. I dropped a gear and floored it. My tires chirped, and I zipped around him before he could drift. I left him in my bountiful exhaust fumes.
And there, at the bottom of the hill, was a radar cop.
Crap. He waved me over. I got out of my car as the jerk drove by us, waving cheerily. The cop looked at me. “I clocked you at eighty.”
Oh, boy. That’s a pulled license, I knew. I sighed.
I apologized and started to tell the cop the whole frustrating story. He interrupted me.
“Hey, whaddya got in this baby? I heard the tire chirp when you pulled out!”
What? A gearhead cop? I quickly answered him.
“Three-fifty-one Cleveland with a Holley retrofit.”
“Whoah! Can I see it?”