Monday, February 23, 2015

Things remembered...

I received my copy of "Road and Track" over the weekend.  The article comparing the new 2015 Chevyy SS and a classic BMW M5 immediately caught my eye.  Dad often said if he had a million bucks (non pun intended), he'd drive an M5.  A little background is in order here... one of dad's favorite cars was his 1983 BMW 320i, similar to the one below...

 Another favorite of Dad's was his 1996 Impala SS... when this car first appeared as a concept vehicle, one of the car magazines wrote a wonderful article that stated "Lord Vader, your car is ready."  Very appropriate, given the car was only available in black its first year of production and had a Vette motor and equally impressive handling upgrades.
So knowing my father had an affinity for Super Sport Chevys (he also owned a 1966 Chevelle SS with a 396 big block) and BMW's... I was immediately drawn to the comparison.  The article, like most in Road and Track, is very well written and conveys more than the numbers.  It succeeds in placing the reader in both cars as they drive down a foggy highway along the coast of California and with colorful descriptive language like "all that voodoo between its fenders..." it's a quick and enjoyable read.

Articles like this take me back to conversations with my father... about cars, motorcycles and other pleasures in life that enabled him to live a very interesting life.  I learned a lot from my father, but the life lesson I enjoyed the most and continue to enjoy, is to drive a car that makes me feel alive.  I will always own a car that I love to drive... life's too short not to.

SN2

28 comments:

  1. My last (extended) discussions with your Father about cars were on his Nov 3rd and 9th posts on the subj. Might want to go back and read those as they make interesting reading. Lots of others commenting also.. Dunno if you ever read, but way back in 2008-10 era we had a discussion about a car I owned that few know about. Ever hear of a MARCOS GT? When stationed in the UK I bought a '69 3-litre (Ford Cortina engine) 2994cc all fiberglass on tubular steel frame 2-seat GT. (the road-racing versions had had a wooden frame) Had electric overdrive w. toggle switch on shifter that could be used in both 3rd and fourth gear effectively giving 6 forward speeds. Could shift in and out downshifting in both gears as well at flick of a switch. The whole thing weighed only 1500lbs and had a 4" road clearance! Had a 50-50 weight distribution and would out-corner a Porsche! Equipped w. Avon radials. Had a sun roof and power windows as well....Cost around $3000 US back then, lol,,,.IMPRACTICAL as hell for US--had to order all parts from the UK. I had a factory manual, tho, Lucked out at first as when I got it in the country and took it down to Lafayette, La. for grad school I ran into an ex GI at Der Volks Haus who had worked on them in the UK, so for a few years at least I had a mechanic that knew what he was doing. Took it to New Orleans, then up to Louisville when I got married. Finally sold it to a guy from Atlanta..

    When I first bought it they were expanding into the US but in 1970 Congress passed all sorts of safety and smog emission requirements (bumper heights, no E-Type Jag-like glass covers on headlights, no knock-off rims, No-lead gas, etc. ) and it killed their expansion as they couldn't bar cost of retooling, so I was stuck. Only way I got it in US was on the exemption for firms that produced < than 500 cars/year for export. Pain in the arse to maintain, But it was a blast to drive!

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  2. PS: My first car in the UK was a 1954 XK-140 Jag "fixed-head Coupe." Had British Racing Green paint job and sea-foam light green leather seats. Great car also. Engine ran as smooth s a sewing machine..The Smiths electrical system was another matter. No one could convince us in those years that the British had yet mastered electricity, lol!

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    1. Virgil, you are fortunate to have owned and driven a Marcos GT... I feel sad for those in this world who will never experience the joy a car like that can bring.

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  3. Understand about the love of autos, I chatted a few times about some of the cars I owned (MGB, Mercedes) with Buck and he made some great points about his car loves, like the Miata he drove for years. I can pretty much have any car I want nowadays, and am happy to have an SL (For showing off), a crappy GMC (2008 with 29K miles) and a wonderful recent VW TDI Passat.

    Barco Sin Vela

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    1. BSV, I'Ve luster after a Mercedes or two... and owned 2 Silverado (Z71's of course), and absolutely love my 74 Ghia... which was a daily driver for nearly 8 years... but these days, in DC traffic, it's just not practical.

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    2. "...74 Ghia!"
      I had a 1971 Porsche 914 back in the last century, as a 27 year old living at the beach. Same drive train as the Karmann Ghia, same maintenance hassles. Thanks for replying and bringing more memories!
      Barco Sin Vela

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  4. Ah yes, Buck knew his motor vehicles, both the two and the four wheeled variety.

    It is important to have a car you love to drive.

    Good stuff Commander Sam!

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  5. Great post, and good conversation already. I was going to respond earlier, but I just lost several hours re-reading the 1230 emails I sent to Buck over 5 years or so - at least several of them about driving fast and other unsupportable stupidity. Since we were just the same age we had the perspective of multiple decades in different locales, and largely the same sense of humor.

    Damn I miss your old man.

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    1. Thanks Rob... I've Also spent a significant amount of time re-reading emails and his Blog... you are not alone in either department.

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    3. This was from December 9, reminiscing about my only 130-mile-an-hour car, and the air Buck and me both loved.....

      The only time I made any real money (by my standards) I was living in Sausalito in the latter '90s - and I lived like it was always gonna be there. The BMW I had was a '79 528i that my mechanic dropped a 3.5 in, jacked it up and put a stiffer suspension (Bilsteins, Kony short springs, and 20mm sway bars) under it, and a set of nice leather seats from a totaled 5 series. Bought the car for $4k and dropped another 4 or 5 into it - and then drove it like I stole it. Went through 3 sets of tires in as many years

      I useta make it back across the bridge from the city, hang up the uni (and I liked wearin suits and expensive shoes for once in my life) and jump into cargo shorts, boat shoes, a Hawaiian shirt and a coupla bowls, and take that blue Beamer up and over Mt. Tam with my foot in it. Windows down, sunroof open, heater on full. Damn, whatta rush.

      I only felt like a rich guy once, but I spent it good for a few years.

      Hang in there, old guy. We're gonna be 70 in a coupla months, and then the fun begins


      Rob

      Thanks, Sam, for keeping the conversation going for all of us. Buck was right about you guys.....

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  6. Thoughts of My Dad continually enter my head while I'm driving, so I understand. I pretty much learned 80% of what I needed to know about driving via watching him do so when I was younger.

    Thank you very much - both of you - for keeping the blog alive. Buck was a great guy and it's obvious the apples didn't fall too far from the tree.

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  7. Hi Sam & Buck...Diane Whinham here...not sure if you remember me (John's wife). I am of course still in shock about your Dad as I know you are as well. Our mutual friend, Ruthanne, called me with the news and I immediately started to cry. I am so deeply sorry for your loss....this is also a great loss to many of his friends around the world! He touched so many lives.
    Your Dad and I kept in touch via email and had some wonderful, personal and deep conversations about so many topics. A true gentleman in every meaning of the word. I deeply miss him and although we didn't talk often, I knew he was always there! This post brings back to mind his old TTRs..remember those? Your Dad was so gifted as a writer (I always told him he should write a book...), I could imagine being right there with him on his journeys, either behind him on a motorcycle or in the passenger seat of his car! I loved those reports and I know they were therapuetic for him at that time in his life. Each time I see something about the Red Wings, I think of your Dad and smile :)
    John and I have great memories of spending time with your Dad in Royal Oak/Ferndale and, in fact, would spend many New Years Eves together...we would always talk about our plans for the New Year and embrace the wonderful possibilities that lie ahead. When we moved to New York, it was awesome having him there and sharing that experience. He was always so excited when you both would come visit....(in fact, I recently converted some old videotapes on DVD and have some videos of the girls up at Lake Huron when Elizabeth was only 2...she is 21 now and I know the girls are both married...where did that time go??). He was so incredibly proud of his family and rightfully so!! An amazing man left an amazing legacy and he will never be forgotten. So sorry for the long post...I would have emailed you directly but do not have any contact information. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you. My Mom died 3 years ago and I still have that ache that I cannot pick up the phone and call her...time does heal but memories never fade. Take care and please keep us posted on your plans for your final travels with your Dad...perhaps we can experience an "intersection" along the route and pay our final respects. Sincerely, Diane

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    1. Diane,
      Thanks so much... I know my dad treasured his relationship with you and John, commenting on more than one occasion that he was truly blessed to have you and John as friends. Buck and I are still working through plans, just not as quickly as we would prefer. Our lives are pretty busy; I recently changed jobs and Buck's youngest daughter just got married. We will work through the details and let everyone know when and how we will hold the memorial service.
      Take wonderful care Diane.

      Sincerely,
      Sam

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    2. Diane,
      Thank you so much... we definitely remember you and the kids. I really appreciate all the kind words; I'm sorry I didn't contact you directly when Dad passed away, dad didn't store very many numbers in his phone. Buck and I are still working through the details for a memorial service... we're both pretty busy (I recently changed jobs and Buck's youngest daughter got married weekend before last), but will have the memorial service in the next few months. My email is "sampenni@aol.com" if you'd like to get in touch with me so we can send you the details of the service. We'll post them here, on Dad's blog as well.
      Take wonderful care,
      Sam

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    3. Diane,
      Thanks so much for leaving a note... sorry for the delayed reply, life has been very busy. Dad often spoke about the friendship he shared with you and John, he was very lucky to have known you both and he knew it. We will provide details of Dad's memorial service on the blog when we finalize plans. You can contact me directly at sampenni@aol.com if you'd like me to send you the details directly.

      Sincerely,
      Sam (SN2)

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  8. Been thinking about Buck quite a bit lately. I'm starting the process to buy a new car and The Tart is what I have wanted since he first brought his home. Been wondering who is driving her now? She's out of my price range but a girl can dream. Loved Buck's posts about her...and totally agree that one MUST drive a car that gives joy. My dad was an enthusiast of the first order so I always had access growing up to some of the finest muscle cars ever produced (first car I ever drive was a 1967 Shelby GT500...sigh). And so as I begin the arduous process of a new car purchase, I will have my dad and Buck on my mind. Two amazing men who I'm sure have been talking cars together in heaven

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    1. Kris,
      Thanks for your kind words... I think of my Dad often, mostly when I'm driving. He loved his cars.
      I hope your car buying went well and you have a car that makes you feel alive and brings you joy.

      Take wonderful care,
      Sam (SN2)

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  9. I know how much Buck loved The Green Hornet, and that he hated to give her up. But, I'm really glad he had the comfort of The Tart the last couple of years. We reach an age when the job of getting in and out of a sports car is no longer worth the thrill of having a sport car. We sold my husband's 911 shortly before moving up north to Little Rock. Of course, now we have The German Lemon, a very needy semi-gently-used Cayenne. It's never easy dealing with cars!

    I really miss that your Dad won't be making a snarky comment on my post today -- he always did it with such style!

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    1. Moogie,
      Thanks... your blog was at the top of his daily reads.

      Take wonderful care,
      Sam (SN2)

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  10. I was with your dad in London and remember when he picked up his new BMW

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  11. I was with your dad in London when he got his new BMW...

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  12. Just stopped by to say hello Commander Sam and Major Buck.

    I just wanted to read and remember. Then it struck me, it's been three months. Three long months. I'll raise a glass in your Dad's honor tonight. I can't believe just how much I miss him. I expect to see his comments at my place, then realize that that ain't going to happen again in this life time.

    Cheers Lads and here's to your Dad, miss him we do.

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  13. Living in SOCAL, I bought a BMW 328i convertible. God I loved that car.

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  14. Sam and Family: I put the seal, sort of, on my blog today....Buck, Sarge Charlie, Jeff, Moochie, and a few dozen others and I all "met" through Blogging back in the early and Mid 2000s...and frankly, I finally got sick of seeing us old farts die off right in front of me....As a fellow Air Force guy, Buck and I agreed on many things and disagreed on a few {I still hate the Red Wings} :) But I'll be damn if I will watch another of my blogging buddies go to the great beyond before I do....turning 66 in March, I intend to live life one day at a time, and go out screaming "It's been One Hell of a Ride" Rest in Peace Brother Buck

    Pat Houseworth
    Celina, Ohio

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  15. I've been an occasional reader for a few years and just wanted to pass along heartfelt condolences to the Pennington family and all of Buck's friends. The world is a poorer place without him. I'm more envious than saddened because he lived several lifetimes in one. I know he's tearing around the Pearly Gates in something fast with an after race drink and cigar. RIP Mr. Pennington.

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  16. I had a 1963 Plymouth Sport Fury when I was 17. It had the 361 Wedge, a four barrel, Torque Flite and posi...........................It was painted that hideous Chrysler Beige that was so popular back then.
    It was a sleeper.................................
    SN2, I miss the conversations about high quality craft brews and really good cigars....................I am getting misty eyed as I type this...........I sure do miss your Dad.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask.