I can’t drive 55

Dad always had a fascination for fast cars and convertibles. We enjoyed many great cars as we grew up, but my favorite didn’t show up until the mid ’80s. In his early 70s at the time, Dad picked up a beautiful Triumph TR-7 – you remember, the wedge-shaped car. His was a convertible, of course. I saw it after he had finished the restoration – new roof, new carpet, new seats and the engine rebuilt. It was a beauty and it could fly!

One Saturday morning he arrived at my house unannounced to show it off. It was a gorgeous spring day and he was ready to rumble. The top was down and Dad was wearing his tweed driving cap.

We drove out the old river road, which had served as a drag strip in both his youth and mine. After we got out into the fields, he floored it so I could see what it could do. It was most impressive. He then let me have a turn at the wheel and I got to enjoy testing it’s limits.

As we neared the city limits, Dad directed me to head to the mall. Once there, he headed straight to the music store. Hmmm. A young clerk asked if Dad needed any assistance. He replied that he was looking for a song that had something to do with driving 55. Of course, what he wanted was George Thorogood’sSammy Hagar’s I Can’t Drive 55 and, of course they had it at the store.

There was only one problem. The TR-7 only had an 8-track player [remember them?] and the store only had cassettes. They did have an adapter thingy that you put your cassette into then plugged it into the 8-track player. About $50 later we walked out of the store with everything necessary to play this one song. Let me repeat – play this ONE song.

Getting from the mall back to Dad’s house required driving through downtown St. Augustine. Imagine narrow streets, gridlock traffic and an old man in a hot convertible with George ThorogoodSammy blaring. I’m sure we were a very entertaining sight, but Dad was having a ball.

Every time I hear that song I think of him and his TR-7.

Mi triumph Tr7 1969
I don’t have a photo of Dad’s TR-7 so I went to Flickr to find a similar one. This is the same year, but his was white and had the luggage rack on the trunk.

2 comments for “I can’t drive 55

  1. March 24, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I love this story! My dad is also a car man and I spent many an hour in the garage with him working on cars. Thank you for sharing.

  2. March 24, 2011 at 7:51 am

    What a fun memory! I’m sure the sight of him driving through town generated a bunch of smiles.

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