My Car Quest

April 20, 2024

The Obsession – Some Of My Influences

by Mike –

If you are reading this chances are you are a lover of classic cars, sports cars, hot rods, custom cars, race cars or maybe all of the above.

I suspect that we all know people who look at cars as merely a means of transportation and have no interest in cars beyond that. How did they get that way? This thought process is so foreign to me.

Shelby Cobra Factory Post Card

Shelby Cobra Factory Post Card – A Gift From My Father in 1965

To me many cars are art that can be fun to drive too. But the art goes deeper that just the looks. I consider the technology of the car to be an art form as well. The combination of a beautiful car with superior technology is a great accomplishment by a team of very talented people.

A Few of My Infulences

My dad took me to dirt track races in the Los Angeles area when I was around ten years old. I do not remember where this track was located but I remember there was a driver called the Candy Stick Kid, his car was painted like a peppermint candy stick, or a barber pole. There were other drivers with catchy names but the Candy Stick Kid is the only one that I remember.

We had a blast watching the race cars drive around the oval dirt track and you bet there were several crashes. I wanted to be one of those drivers. My dad was an American car guy. He did not have much exposure to non-American cars.

My first experience with European sports cars was when I had a ride in an Austin Healey owned by the big brother of my friend. I was twelve years old and I was hooked.

My first boss after college owned a silver Porsche 914 and he drove me to the Porsche dealer in downtown Dayton, Ohio once where I saw a Porsche 911 for the first time. I was smitten and in 1996 I bought a new Porsche 911, a Type 993, one of the last of the air cooled engines. I still own and drive this terrific Porsche, below.

Porsche 911

1996 Porsche 911

My wife saw a yellow Iso Grifo about fifteen years ago at Concorso Italiano in Monterey, when it was still at The Quail Lodge.

Iso Grifo 7 Liter

A Yellow Iso Grifo 7 Liter

She wanted one but I was skeptical because I knew nothing about these cars. I began to educate myself on the Iso Grifo and several years later this planted seed led to the purchase of our Bizzarrini GT 5300 and then an Iso Grifo was added later.

We also owned an Iso Rivolta GT for a couple of years but it has since been sold to another obsessed Iso lover.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Iso Grifo

1968 Iso Grifo

I have been influenced by several people in my life.

What stories do you have?

What triggered your love of classic cars?

Share a story in the comments, or send me an email at

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Shelby Factory Cobra Poster 1965

A Shelby Factory Poster, A Gift From My Father in 1965


  1. My introduction to interesting cars was when a friend in high school bought an MG TD, Then, in auto shop, someone I knew put a Corvette engine where the backseat used to be in a Renault Dauphine, if you can imagine. Road & Track cinched the deal with a photo of a dark red ATS at the Targa Florio and I was completely hooked from then on.

  2. Interesting Stephen – you did not mention Ferrari once!

    The ATS is inspiring so that is understandable and it certainly has Ferrari DNA.

  3. My friend Ed Niles, who I met in the Ferrari Owners Club of Los Angeles back when, had two of them and it was a car that has always tempted me.

  4. Look at the photos at the link below that I took of this beautiful ATS at the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance in 2009. Maybe one of Ed Niles’ former cars?

    It was in the Iso & Bizzarrini class and won! Even though it does not have bumpers. My Bizzarrini GT 5300, with bumpers and everything else, took second place. I think the ATS should not have been in this class but I did not get a vote.

    This ATS was from Costa Rica and on its way to auction in London. Ignoring the missing bumpers it was in perfect condition.

  5. A pretty car but what was it doing in the I&B class, I wonder? Ed told me that one of the ATS had a very dodgy shift linkage and he never knew on an accelerating upshift if he was going to lunch the engine by going into a lower gear!

  6. ~ i must give this some thought, i don’t recollect ever NOT being thoroughly fascinated with all forms of transport. nearly all of my closest relationships involve one vehicle or another, from parents and siblings to spouses to business associates.

    • Scot – didn’t someone influence your interest?

      • ~
        . yes, but the names have been changed to protect the (not-so) innocent. i grew up with 4 brothers therefore conversations and opinions ran the gamut. Bud Crayne ? began drawing cars on my school work very early on. first Iso Rivolta i saw was owned by an upperclassman at my high school. it was replaced by the first ’64 Pontiac GTO in town. Bernie’s dad loved cars as much as any one.
        . our dad was a fan of unloved orphan cars and seemed to always know someone able to keep them alive. mother fancied Ramblers, to our constant humiliation. George Romney was no David Brown.
        . my first 2 cars (owned simultaneously, forgotten which was 1st) were a ’59 Singer Gazelle DHC (near twin of this; & ’48 Ford coupe w/ ’53 Mercury flathead, quad head lamps & roll-n-tuck naugahyde.
        . did you read Henry Gregor Felsen (Granddaddy of Street Rodding, as a youth? he taught English at Drake and shopped at the clothing store where i worked. wonderful gent. his morality tales of kids and cars were required reading for prospective new drivers at our house.

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