Living in Paradise

Hot Cars and Old Men

Hot Cars and Old Men

A widowed friend of mine in his early 80s bought a custom sports car a couple of years ago. It was a beaut; the car of his dreams. Several days ago, I learned he had sold it.

“What happened?” I said as I approached him at a holiday party the other night. “You sold your car, and I didn’t get to ride in it.”

I own a 2008 BMW hardtop convertible, named Honey, with less than 50,000 miles on her. I wouldn’t part with her for anything. So, I was shocked that this amazing vehicle that he had lusted over for so many years was now history.

He eyed me suspiciously. “Do you have on your reporter hat?” He knows me well.

“No,” I kind of lied. “Just curious.” And I was, even as I was contemplating blogging about hot cars and old people. His mumbled answer was lost in the din of conversation, but I think he said something about getting another car. Nothing so sleek.

My mind went to a mahjongg game a couple of weeks earlier during which one of the women I was playing with announced that her husband — in his early 70s — had finally gotten rid of his beloved sportscar. After Hurricane Ian did a number on their home, he traded it in for an SUV.

“He loves it!” she exclaimed. “He can get in and out of it easily, and it has so much room to transport stuff. I never thought I’d see the day.”

It was beginning to feel like now that these men could finally afford the car of their dreams, they were realizing that it wasn’t as much fun as they thought it would be. I guess that’s how it is with sports cars — and sometimes life.

Decades ago, my ex-husband was a sportscar afficionado. I was right there with him. He told me one spring day after work that he had driven past a Nissan dealership and seen a beautiful sports car with a T-top. When his eyes focused on the sleek, shiny black object that looked like a bullet with four tires, he broke into a sweat.

“Why don’t you buy it,” I urged and was thrilled when he did, stick shift and all.

A few days after his purchase, I was driving it downtown with the T-top off when I passed a group of workmen. They yelled and whistled. As cute as I was back then (just kidding), it was definitely the car that had caught their attention. Not me.

Fast forward to winter and the difficulty of driving a sports car in the snow and ice. When the first flakes fell, the bloom was off that fancy car. An SUV soon took its place.  And that’s what happens when practicality trumps romance.

Every year, a group of men from our church go to a “hot car show” on some island in northern Florida. The event that acts like a siren song to these men in their 70s and 80s also coincides with the church’s annual Strawberry Festival, which raises money for local charities. I used to think that the men were escaping to their island to get away from all that festival work. But I have come to understand that I am wrong.

This fabulous weekend car event represents a return to youth and virality … when hopping in and out of a sports car was as easy as springing out of a chair … when you could tool around town with the top down and get big smiles from the young ladies you passed … when life seemed carefree and there were so many years ahead.

I’m there with them in spirit. In fact, I think I’ll go down to the garage, pull out Honey, put the top down and take her for a spin.