Hot Wheels and me ( Most Wanted: Part 4)

To look at me, you would never assume that I have a thing for cars, but I do. It’s strange, this fascination of mine, but it goes back a very long way–back to the early 1970s and a highly unlikely Christmas present under the tree.

As a child, I was what you would call today a “girly girl”. My mother would dress me in finery – matching coats and hats, satin-sheened dresses and gloves, black patten-leather shoes and spic and span Buster Browns. Despite once being caught next to a trash can in the act of creating a home-cooked meal with a piece of stale bread in one hand and a near-empty bottle of Heinz ketchup in the other, I was to all intents and purposes, the model little girl and rarely did I get all grimy in the sporting arena. Being petite, I was uncoordinated and gangly and had no aptitude for athletics of any kind, save folk dancing.

I have always had a good memory for numbers and things. I still know my old student number from university by heart, I remember my best friend from grade school’s phone number, and I can tell you all the best picture Oscar-winning movies from 1960 to the present day. I can recognize just about every breed of dog, and I can point out different cars on the road.

Why would a “girly girl” care about cars?

Thank Santa Claus and Red Line “Hot Wheels” and the miles of orange track with its loop-the-loops all lain out in the front hallway of the bungalow on Pyramid Crescent. My sister, Nancy and I would spend hours running our Camaros, Firebirds, Corvettes and even a Ferrari down those plastic tracks. We’d watch, mesmerized as they flew down the raceway and wound round the bends. Our cat, Fourchu was fascinated as the tiny cars ripped along and often created a major roadblock in the path of oncoming vehicles.

Although I know my dad owned a 1958 Mercury Monarch, the first real car I remember was my parents’ aquamarine Ford Galaxie 500. It was all square edges, bench seats and a huge trunk we often used to carry my toboggan in winter. We made trips to Nova Scotia in that car and I recall sleeping on the long back-seat with my pillow under my head, my orange and white teddy-bear tucked under my arm. We had that car right through my childhood until 1975 when my dad came home one day with a brand new Midnight Blue Chevrolet Impala. That was a car! It was monstrous, really and could fit our family plus the family next door if we all scootched a bit.

I learned to drive in that behemoth. It took me until I was 21 because my dad insisted on teaching me and our lessons were fraught with frustration on the part of my father at my not following his instructions, and fright on my part as I dreaded going on the highway.

One grey day, we were out for a lesson when my dad insisted that I head to the on-ramp for the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). I balked. Like a mule, I blatantly refused to do it. We were on the service road that flanked the highway and my dad told me to stop the car. He made a fatal error when he got out on his side to come round and chastise me on my own. I saw my chance and I took it. I tore off in the car and left him standing at the roadside where it had now started to rain. I drove to our church. (I’d heard it was a good place of refuge). The priest eventually convinced me to go home where I ran in and promptly locked myself in the bathroom. An enraged father on the other side of the door didn’t convince me to come out for quite some time, but when at last I did, he had calmed down considerably.

The sheer bulk of the Impala was amazing. One night in 1986, while driving home from a club with my friend Marianne, we were stopped at an intersection on a back road. Suddenly, we heard a bit of a bang. I said, “Did you hear that?” Marianne replied, “I think it was behind us.” We turned around to find that a Chevette had actually ploughed into the back of the Impala. When we got out to inspect the damage, there was none–to us, but the Chevette was a mess.

I’ve driven other vehicles. In 1979, I was at a party with a new family just moved in to the neighbourhood from Argentina. Their daughter was my friend and she had two gorgeous brothers with whom I got on well. One of them let me take a spin in his deep purple Mustang. That was wild! Then I ran up on somebody’s boulevard and almost took out a hedge.

I drove a boxy, pedestrian Reliant, K-Car home from another party in Etobicoke under the watchful eye of my boyfriend. The car belonged to his mother, who was none-the-wiser. It took me back to the “Galaxie” days.

On another occasion, in 1989 (with yet another boyfriend) I drove a Subaru station-wagon back from Toronto because said boyfriend and his buddy were too drunk – they spent the drive home on the highway, chucking cassette tapes out the back window! Our relationship didn’t last much longer after that.

I didn’t get my “own” car until just a few years ago. Technically, it belonged to both my husband and me, but I did the majority of the driving and he took the bus to work, so I considered it mine. It was a black, Toyota Echo Hatchback. I loved that car! It had no power steering, but was automatic. It took might and brute force to make turns, but I loved the feel of the wheel and the sense of being part of the car. The only problem with it was the climate controls. More than once, I ended up at the side of a snowy-road with a windshield fogged on both sides.

My girlfriend Lynn once purchased an ancient Italian Fiat. It was a sexy car, if ever there was one. We drove north to cottage-country one summer weekend, with the top down and the wind blowing our hair into mats. Driving a car like that is a real guy-magnet. It’s the equivalent of a man walking a cute dog that’s irresistible to young women.

Rudy, (one of my last boyfriends before I met my husband), drove a white low-slung Mazda with bucket seats. He was Italian and rather an aesthete (he always had fresh flowers in his apartment and a colour co-ordinated closet). He also wore leather driving-gloves, fancying himself Mario Andretti or something. My mother got a great kick out of those gloves. It was a great little car though.

I’m a big fan of the show, “Top Gear” on BBC. I can look at those cars for ages and dream about what it would be like to drive a vintage Jaguar like Inspector Morse or even a Peugeot like Columbo. Truth is though, if I won a packet of dough, I’d be at the nearest “Porsche” dealership to pick out my “911 Carrera” as fast as my Versa would take me.

I have some consolation, however; my husband just purchased a silver “Mini Cooper”(from Mr. Goldie in London, Ontario) with black racing stripes and chrome-appointed interior. I’d be content with that–if I could ever get him out of the driver’s seat!

To think it’s all down to “Hot Wheels”


Kathleen Mortensen©2009

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15 thoughts on “Hot Wheels and me ( Most Wanted: Part 4)

  1. My goodness, you've certainly hard a lot more colorful car history than I've had…bravo! I've driven a small succession of non-descript vehicles over the years, but a few years ago I got a can't-pass-it-up opportunity to get a '65 pony in that Poppy Red color (bright orange), so that was my one real car treat.


  2. Great post.My brother and I also ran our hot wheels into the ground. My parents had an aquamarine Plymouth and later Chevy camaro. My own first car was a very used horrible Chevy Vega, “the worst Detroit car ever.”It lasted 2 months. I then had a lame Volvo, Plymouth mini-van (kids ) a great Saab turbo, nice Acura legend (now owned by my daughter) and currently a reliable, if prosaic, Ford Taurus. My son wants a Reventon, so I'd better get back to work.


  3. a mini cooper!! Wow, my husband would love that.I forget you have this blog. I need to add it to my list so I'll remember.Fun reading about your love of cars and hot wheels.


  4. @Deb – there are other anecdotes in my car history. I'll have to do a part 2.@poemhome – glad you enjoyed this. My best friend Debbie had a Chevy Vega. She absolutely never made it to a class in university on time, because the car was so unreliable.Acuras are nice cars, your daughter's fortunate. The Taurus is prosaic, as you say – but the Versa is a bit of a dullard on wheels, in my opinion. Off to Google the Reventon.@Sandy – Yes! My favourite feature is the heated seats. My butt settles in nicely for long drives – only trouble is, when you get out of the car, you're twice as chilled. Don't forget to link to me here.Kat


  5. @Buttercream – Ooh! What kind of cars do you sell? Tell you a secret: I don't drive on the highway – just city streets and country roads!@WOR – You have to get her some Hot Wheels then – I'm sure your good man will approve. Send him over when he has a chance.Kat


  6. I haven't actually heard of most of these cars! You've got me thinking about a subject I don't normally consider! Hmmmm – if I had no limitations on what I could drive, I'd go for one of those old fashioned things like on Jeeves and Wooster, or a Batmobile!


  7. Oooh we discovered in this household that dried lasagne make great Hot Wheels tracks. I love them. So fun to collect. My daughter has names for each one. She plays total girlie relationship games with them and some are married. I know because I have to do the getting married car voices.


  8. @Blicky Kitty – Ah! Now I know what to do with all the old bits lying around in boxes in my cupboard. I'll just tape them together. Maybe if I spray-paint them orange, I can photograph them and sell them on E-bay!Kat


  9. I loved the bright orange hot wheels track! I never experienced one until I had a little brother. He was eight years my junior. He had those orange tracks and loop de loops all over the house. What fun! My mom had a Ford Galaxy. I think it was a '59. The thing sounded like a jet coming in for a landing. I recently found a picture of it. We had it until at least 1972! My first car was a 1973 Ford LTD. It was a boat very similar to the Impala. I knocked all sorts of things around with it. I did have a great am/fm radio and air conditioning! I now drive a Honda Odyssey(kids). We have been doing Hondas since 1986 and they never die. BTW I added your link to negativespace!


  10. I grew up loving cars and trucks – and did not play with dolls; rather preferred miniatures of horses and dogs (who of course rode in the cars and trucks I collected). I loved reading the taillights of cars on the road whenever we drove anywhere as a family and of course I knew the Fords from the Plymouths from the Oldsmobiles from the Dodges. Especially the Dodges since my Dad worked for a local Dodge dealership and so we had the joy of getting a new car to drive every year – what a treat!Cars still get me excited. Almost as excited (but not quite) as squirrels.


  11. This post cracked me up Kat. I especially loved the part where your father was teaching you how to drive. I don't know how I missed this blog of yours before. I love stories of our past. I also saw on your profile page where you like Supertramp. I love them! Or did in the day. Makes me want to google them and see if there is any new info on them.


  12. Okay… So here I am waiting for the wife to get out of the shower, (we are going to a wedding in about a 1/2 an hour), and I find myself on Blogger. LOL!This was a GREAT blog and you brought back some memories of some of the cars of my past.I just might do something similar over on mine, (giving you FULL credit, of course).As for the Hot Wheels, both my girls have played with them, I have an old box with most of my old ones in it! I'm just glad they are still being played with!As for the orange race tracks, I loved to make loop-de-loops to challenge my cars with. However, my Grandmother, (on my moms side) had another use for them…Lets just say, you never wanted to be “bad” or “caught doing something” you weren't supposed to be doing when staying at her house.In the days of being able to spank your child, (or someone elses child for that matter), The orange race tracks were no kids friend! LMAO!Later Tater.


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