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Lightning McQueen and the Dream for an IROC-Z T-TOP


My 3-year-old son is a diehard fan of Lightning McQueen from the Disney Pixar film Cars. I probably didn't even need to tell you that. After all, asking if a 3-year-old – or pretty much any kid in general, if we're being perfectly honest – likes Cars is akin to asking if a bear poops in the woods or if a cat has climbing gear. These movies were tailor-made to hook kids and sell toys. The vibrant colors, upbeat renditions of rock 'n' roll classics, and anthropomorphic automobiles are the ultimate bait, ensuring that any time we pass a red sports car or hear “Life is a Highway,” my son will erupt into gleeful shouts of, “Lightning McQueen, daddy! Lightning McQueen!”

Despite the obvious snark, I don't hate the Cars movies. The first film was interesting and told a simple morality tale about pride and selfishness. I wasn't particularly fond of the second outing, but the latest release, Cars 3, is actually the best film of the series. With the series having aged 11 years, all of the initial gripes (Where are all of the people? Who built the cars and the buildings?) have fallen to the wayside.In this installment, Lightning finds himself outmatched by modern technology and makes it his mission to remain competitive and stay relevant. McQueen and company deliver a truly timely tale about aging gracefully and not letting the world pass us by.

Lighting reminded me of my hunt for an 'aging gracefully' Camaro. Specifically a T-top IROC-Z 350cid that needs some love. When I was a kid in the '80s, that was the coolest sports car anyone could have possibly owned. It was the dream. All of the old guys had their Corvettes which, of course, I also love. But the young dudes with the pretty girls, blasting hard rock out of the open T-top of an '87 IROC – that was something for eight-year-old me to aspire to.

In high school, my buddy Josh had that exact '87 IROC – paint code 8774, Bright Red – and it caught the attention of everyone from the tuner kids to the Euro snobs. It was like the best rock 'n' roll – loud, fast, and heavy (his parents refused to let him gut it for safety reasons).We tore up and down the North Carolina highways in that beast, and even though she wasn't always the fastest in the age of nitrous oxide, she got us there in style.

Lightning McQueen gets my son going in the same way that those rumbling IROCs in the '80s got me going. A guy in my neighborhood recently brought home a Bright Red 2017 Camaro ZL1, with the 650hp Corvette V8, and I know it probably gets his kids going. If I ever find my IROC, I'll have to get him to go driving with me and see who turns more heads. I'm sure that all of the bells and whistles of his modern supercar-killer will set hearts aflutter, but Lightning McQueen managed to find his place in the world, so maybe there is still some love out there for my 30-year-old dream car.

-Trey Fennell

Coco #51 Black & Red

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