It’s no secret that I am obsessed with motor vehicles. During the 32 years in which I have been driving, I’ve owned 36 cars, trucks, minivans, and sport utility vehicles, plus a motorcycle, a motorhome, and a small motorboat. This list doesn’t even include the vehicles I bought and sold while I briefly had a dealer license. In all, I’ve purchased over 50 automobiles, amounting to an average of slightly more than one vehicle for every year that I’ve been alive. Yes, I realize I have a problem. Not enough garage space. It’s not my fault. I blame the women in my life. My Grandma Jean, a.k.a. Grandma Sweetie Pie, bought a new car every other year throughout her life and only reluctantly gave up her driver’s license when she turned 90. Every curb in downtown La Plata, Missouri has had a flake or two of red paint left on it by one of Mrs. Naughton’s cars. My mother Donna worked at car dealerships during most of my formative years. She started out in finance, moved into sales, and eventually became the general manager of a Chevrolet Dealership. To this day, every time I detect a whiff of “new car smell”, I fondly think of my mom. Of course, the woman most to blame for my car collecting compulsion is my wife, Bethany the Enabler. Normally the Voice of Reason in our family, for some reason, the Enabler is utterly powerless in her efforts to constrain my car buying habits. Somehow the answer to her standard question, “Do we really NEED another vehicle?” is always yes. I can always justify the purchase of another automobile. We NEED a diesel-powered, three-quarter-ton, four-wheel-drive, crew cab truck to pull our camper. We NEED a fuel-efficient commuter car for work or school (one for Bethany, one for me, and one for our son Alex.) We NEED a hot rod to enjoy as a family at car shows and parades. And since our daughter Tiana just turned 16 on Monday, (Happy birthday, baby girl!), we NEED a reliable car for her to drive as well. The plan is for Tiana to start driving my Volkswagen Beetle, which means I will NEED to buy something else for myself. Our big diesel truck is too big to be practical for daily driving, and my 1971 Chevy C10 pickup is just an old beater with a heater, not a comfortable cruiser. Therefore, I really have no choice but to start looking for something to get me from point A to point B. I’m thinking a Mustang or a Camaro would do the trick. Nothing says “practical commuter vehicle” quite like a pony car. I’ve owned some fun cars over the years, including a couple of ’57 Chevy Bel Airs and a pair of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors that got up and down Highway 63 quite well, thank you very much. But I’ve never owned a pony car. While a two-seater like a Corvette would be a lot of fun, it wouldn’t be helpful for hauling groceries or kids. A pony car, like a Ford Mustang or a Chevy Camaro, would offer seating for four, cargo space in the trunk, and the joy of driving a bona fide sportscar. To have lived 48 years and NOT owned a pony car or any sort of sportscar is, to me, inexcusable. My mother would agree. She owned a two-seat, 1976 Datsun 280Z when my brother Blake and I were kids. On one occasion I saw, from the passenger seat, the Z’s speedometer twist past 110 miles per hour on Interstate 172 in Illinois. (Blake saw nothing but clouds in the sky from his vantage point in the car’s rear package tray where he lay curled up in the fetal position, frozen in terror.) I recently found a beautiful 1969 Mustang convertible for sale that I’m really interested in. Shiny red paint, white top, white interior, 210 horsepower V-8, 3-speed manual transmission. Unfortunately, with the county-wide and state-wide coronavirus stay-at-home orders in place, it will be a while before I can see the car in person. The seller and I both agreed that it’s better to be safe than sorry, so I will just have to wait. As Tom Petty famously sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Depending on how long the wait will be, I may be able to afford a bright red, 420 horsepower, 2010 Camaro SS that I saw advertised the other day. An informal poll among my friends on Facebook leaned toward a preference for the Mustang. While a classic convertible would be hard to beat, a modern and reliable Camaro with twice as many horses would be a solid choice, too. At this point, I really don’t care which car I end up with. I can’t go wrong either way. And honestly, this ridiculous quest of mine gives me something to help take my mind off the serious situation we’re all currently facing. I think it will help my mental health to know there’s something fun waiting for me at the end of this interminably long period of isolation. I want a pony car. I NEED a pony car. When this pandemic is over, I will have a pony car.
By: Travis Naughton