Coming Of Age


As we entered High School many things changed for us.  We had many new friends and formed many new relationships.  Many of these were with the girls and our new found love CARS.  We couldn't wait until we could drive and be free from school buses or our parents.  If you were lucky enough to have an older brother or sister then you might be able to get a ride with them or their friends known as upperclassman. This didn't happen for most of us until we were Sophomores, as you needed to be 15 1/2 before you could get your drivers permit.  Even with your drivers permit you had limitations on what you could do. I along with a few friends were fortunate enough to have a motorcycle that we rode on the farmlands to get to school.

If I recall correctly you needed to have "Drivers Training" before you could get your permit. This was a tough class to get as so many of us wanted to take the class at the same time.  Do you remember the Driver Training Simulator" which we trained in.  It was a mobile home type of classroom where we would watch a movie which was shot by someone driving down the street.  There was a middle aisle in the classroom with a slot for each student on each side. It consisted of a steering wheel, clutch, shifter, brake and a gas pedal. The guys would always steer towards the pedestrians and power shift the shifter.  It was a lot of fun but many times we got busted for having too much fun.

I had Carl Thompson our P.E teacher as my instructor. It was back around late 1966 when the DMV made it mandatory which required us to take Driver's Training in order to get our license. There was always 3 students assigned to the car along with your instructor. In my car with was me, Frank Staben and Ronnie Wade, both upperclassman...I am sure you girls remember the The car was your normal sedan with the exception of having a steering wheel, brake & gas pedal on the passenger side of the car where we would drive. The instructor would have control of the car in case you messed up and this was quite often.  I will have to say those instructors had nerves of steel. When you completed your Driver's Training course you got a card certifying that you passed the class.

Now it was time to get your parents permission to get your Driver's License.  This meant now you would need car insurance and a car if you were lucky enough or you would have to drive your parents car. Once you got their blessing then you needed to make an appointment with the DMV. When your appointment was set you had to have one of your parents drive you to the DMV.  Your nerves were on edge as you would have to drive with a complete stranger who usually wasn't the most outgoing person. 

I need to share my personal experience with the DMV in Oxnard on Saviers Road.  It was the big day and yes I was nervous.  The DMV guy gets into the car with me and has me exit the back of the DMV.  I drove into the neighborhood and he had me parallel park and I passed the first test.  Then he has me do a three point turn and once again I passed.  Now I am feeling pretty confident that I have the hard stuff out of the way.  He then tells me to head back towards Saviers Road where he wants me to take a left hand turn.  I pull up to Saviers Road, stopped and looked both ways, the coast is clear and I make my turn perfectly.  He then asks me what I just did wrong.  I told him that I had no idea and he proceeded to tell me that I stopped fine but then drove through the "red" was an automatic failure.  He was nice about it and let me finish my test.  I believe that I had to wait two more weeks before I could take my test again and yes I finally passed.

Getting your Driver's License meant FREEDOM! You were no longer had to rely on Mom & Dad taking you places or bumming rides with your friends or riding the bus.  When you got your Driver's License your parents didn't see you for days on end. You drove your car just to drive with no special places in mind. Gas was around 25 cents a gallon, and if you had a high performance engine in your car then you bought the Chevron "White Pump" Custom Supreme gas for 32 cents. We could go on a real first date with your girlfriend. It was exciting being able to take your girlfriend to the Drive-In for the fist time.  Many of us would cruise A Street in Oxnard where kids lined the streets checking out the cars and the opposite sex.  Some of us would leave A Street and go eat at Mel's Diner at 5 Points in Oxnard.  Many of us like myself would go out to Laguna Road, Las Posas Road or Edison to race other cars in the quarter mile.


OK, so we all passed the written test YEARS ago so how would you do today?

Here is what so many of us "guys" wanted and dreamed for but few of us got these type of cars until later in life.  They were the muscle cars of the 60's which went fast and looked better with your girlfriend next to you.

 69 Z28 Camaro
69 Shelby GT 500

What else went with the car was some great music especially the songs about HOT CARS.  This really got your blood pumping if you were a guy. I remember we started out with 4 track tape players and progressing to the 8 track players. We also listened to KACY 1520 our local radio station. We could hardly wait till graduation so we could hang our graduation cap tassels from our mirrors as now we were really COOL!



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Though the notion of a muscle car as an American two-door with a big engine sold at an affordable price for street and drag racing is generally held, there is much blurring around its edges.

According to a contemporary issue of Road Test magazine (June 1967), a "muscle car" is "Exactly what the name implies. It is a product of the American car industry adhering to the hot rodder's philosophy of taking a small car and putting a BIG engine in it [...] The Muscle Car is Charles Atlas  kicking sand in the face of the 98 hp (73 kW) weakling." Author of the book Muscle Cars the quote is drawn from, Peter Henshaw, furthers that the muscle car was designed for straight-line speed, and did not have the "sophisticated chassis", "engineering integrity" or "lithe appearance" of European high-performance cars.

Opinions vary as to whether high-performance full-sized, compacts and pony cars qualify as muscle cars.

The following is a list of muscle cars and their manufacturers (along with the pony car of the same company).


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We all drove lots of cars and styles during the 60's. Some of you might recall several of us had fast cars that we drove to High School.  Mine was one of them but never looked that good as it was primer gray, but it was fast.  There were many nights when I would go racing 1/4 mile drags on the back roads of Ventura County. After many close calls with illegal drag racing I made a decision to race full time on the drag strips.  I started by taking my car down to the frame and building it up.  Off came the body and all the sheet metal, engine, rear end and interior.  This project took me about a year and a half but the results were great.  I got a few sponsors to help with the cost.  I built the engine, rear end and transmission along with the interior. I had the car painted, pinstriped and lettered by a professional painter. I raced the car at Ventura County Raceway, Orange County Raceway, Santa Maria Raceway, Freemont Raceway and my favorite and fastest drag strip in the nation was Lion's. The car ran well as it posted 10.80 seconds at 128mph for a small block Chevy with 6:14 gears going through the lights at 8,500 rpm. I ran 4 lbs of air in the M&H wrinkle wall tires and the car carried the wheels through first gear.I raced through the 70's and then sold my car. 


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