Riding in the Passenger Seat

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My daughter uttered those seven words that strike fear into the depths of a father’s soul: “Dad! I want to drive the Porsche!”

Oh, boy. Here we go.

Of course, I had to expect it as I was the one who would drag her to Road America for vintage races and make her ride in the back of the Mercedes wagon for touring laps at the ripe old age of 10.

I’m the one, when asked what I want for Christmas or birthdays or Fathers Day, always gives the same answer: A new Porsche. It’s me who points out the coolest, hottest cars on the street as well as the goofy posers.

She learned to drive stick on the BMW and the clutch, now quite a bit looser thanks to her learning curve, was still operational after she graduated. So on a blustery morning, we were off to the May 2015 Coffee and Classics in the 912.

She wasn’t ready for the expressways yet so we stopped at the new retail center at the old naval air station (“I’m coming back here to shop!”), she got behind the wheel, and away we went.

“Hey! This is fun!”

Without incident, except for some reticence on her part (“Sweetie, you don’t have to shift at 2,000 rpms. You can go higher than that.”), we drove down Willow road and into downtown Winnetka. We found the gathering and were greeted by familiar faces and even a couple of members of the local paparazzi.

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We grabbed some coffee and an egg-something-or-other and walked around to look at all the cars, her viewpoint and mine much different.

Hers was a much more visceral reaction to the assortment of cars than mine. She was seeing many of these makes and models close up for the first time, and the idea of building a car from an airplane fuselage out of necessity because all the car factories had been destroyed during the war was truly foreign to her.

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Plenty of people watching, and one of her favorites was also one of the rarer entrants of the day: a black 959.

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Then finally, starting to shiver in the late morning chill, we said good bye to our hosts and drove off.

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But not before hitting the twisties on Sheridan Road. Feeling much more comfortable behind the wheel, she went way above 2000 rpms on Sheridan Road.

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She drove the whole way home – even on the expressways – and while she got used to the sounds and the idiosyncrasies of a 48-year old car (“You pull that lever down there back and that’s heat? That’s it?”), we began having one of those conversations that usually take place during a car ride. Where you can talk with an openness that doesn’t occur in other situations. Where talk of dreams and goals and ambitions flows easily.

I learned this when the girls were younger; we would go out for an ice cream cone and all of a sudden a 30-minute drive in the car would invite a more involved and comfortable conversation than an hour anywhere else.

Except now she was a grown woman, and the conversation and the dreams had grown with her, and I was the passenger and she was in charge. She was driving. And together we were enjoying and experiencing one of her old man’s passions together.

It just might rub off.

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2 Responses to “Riding in the Passenger Seat”

  1. Fuelfem Says:

    Awww, how sweet is that? Great coming of age story. Thanks for sharing it. Nice to see this posted around Father’s Day, too.

  2. fuelfed sister Says:

    What a wonderful experience for both father and daughter! Thanks for sharing it!

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