My First Car – 1969 Camaro

by Jim Riga

My favorite was my second-hand 1969 Camaro.

It was a 2-door coupe,

gold with black racing stripes.

No car before that one, or since, ever handled the way that li’l gem did. In a way, after all these years, I wish I had kept it, because they’re worth a small fortune today.

Talk about “feeling the open road”, that car did it in spades, and made me feel freer than any bird! I souped it up because I was bitten by sports cars & racers from my early youth.

When I drove it, with the windows open, I could almost touch the road outside ….. that’s how low to the road it drove. I equipped it with extra-wide Good-Year tires (with white lettering), custom Kragar mag wheels, which cost a small fortune, even in those days, and I put it an ultra-small solid walnut steering wheel. You couldn’t do that today because of the central air bag system. In fact, the steering wheel was so small, and with no power steering, my mother, who borrowed it on one or two occasions, could not park the darn thing because you needed “muscle power” to just turn the wheel!

It also had a Lear Jet 8-track tape player, which someone eventually stole by smashing a window. And I remember that when the police took the report, one of the officers happened to be a friend, a musician whom I had played with in a band from my younger days. I eventually joined another band later, when I was teaching, and that same police officer was the guitarist for that group …… yea, it’s a really small world!

The car was also side-swiped one winter, when a snow plow smashed the door in near the sidewalk.

But that beauty never let me down.

And I especially enjoyed driving it to my country chalet in the Laurentians because of all the curvy & winding roads.

Yep, those were the days of “Route 66”, the days of freedom on the open roads, and I often reminisce of those days of my youth. Today, the ol’ geezer in me drives a more practical and ordinary SUV …… amazing how immaturity forces us to make foolish choices, AND as we mature, we tend to hopefully make wiser choices in our brief lifetimes!

That car was eventually sold to my brothers, who had it repainted, and it served them faithfully for a few years afterward.

The li’l sportster may be gone, but it’s not forgotten!

-Jim Riga

Jim Riga is a retired teacher from St. Pius X in Montreal. His passion has always been sports cars, but his “dream” came true when he bought this second-hand beauty. Today, that passion has been replaced by fishing & recreational trap & skeet shooting. But the “fire for the road” still burns strong.

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