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B-B-B-Buffy and the Jets


Sports cars and supercars were a critical theme throughout my formative years. I mentioned in last week’s post that the Bugatti EB110 was the only poster in my room. That’s technically true, at least as far as the four walls were concerned. My mother worked as a freelance interior designer in the early ‘90s before going into real estate, and her unerring attention to detail meant that we were not allowed to have any posters on our walls that did not fit with the decorative theme of the room. Fortunately for me, Schumacher’s bright yellow monster was right at home in the jungled-themed furnishings that were my humble refuge.

Seriously, it was like sleeping in a Rainforest Café.

My sister and I learned to be very creative when it came to expressing ourselves. We got around the no-poster rule by lining the insides of our closet doors with pictures. Mom agreed that if she didn’t have to see it, she didn’t care about it. The only caveat – no pictures of “hot babes.” She even encouraged a little bit of rebellion and self-expression and she always respected our privacy.

Of course, my sister’s choices were almost exclusively horses and Tiger Beat covers. Mine were a collage of album art, science fiction movie posters, and those amazing Motor Trend magazine fact sheets from the 1990s about rare and exotic rides. The inside of my room was like walking into Jumanji. But when I opened my closet, it was a shrine to punk rock, hip-hop, heavy metal, and mean machines.

I decided to share this because it bespoke the irony of my childhood, and the paradox of relationships between parents and children. As a parent myself, I finally understand the need for restraint when sharing stories about youth gone wild, so it’s no surprise that it took me over 30 years to put together a clear mental picture of my mother as a teenager. As it turns out, all those rules and regulations were drafted from personal experience.

Mom was, in fact, one of the wild ones.

Despite her sometimes-draconian rules, she was actually the source of my love for cars, music, and culture. She spent her teens and early twenties chasing bad boys in rock bands, even dating a couple of famous musicians before deciding that she wanted to settle down and have a long-term relationship and family. I remember riding around in the back of her 1989 Plymouth Voyager with faux woodgrain side panels and being quizzed on minute trivia about nearly every rock band on the radio. She called it my “rock ‘n’ roll education,” and she applied that same attention to detail about album titles, track listings, band members, and histories that she would eventually use in her “big-girl job,” as she called it. As I got older, she encouraged this same level of fact-finding and research into books, films, history, and science, fostering the knowledge necessary for my careers in sale and customer service, automotive repair, and education.

1980's Plymouth Voyager

Several years ago, I was visiting my parents over the holidays and we were up late talking and laughing about old times while the television played quietly in the background. My mom was regaling us with stories of her glory days as a rebel daughter, when a show came on the TV about celebrities and their lavish expenditures. Elton John was the subject, inevitably leading to a heated barrage of questions the likes of which had not been heard in the decades since the days of riding around town in a blue minivan with peeling fake-wood paneling.

I returned every volley, adding extra facts and details for a little topspin whenever possible.

Finally, after enough grilling to burn out Rocket Man’s fuse twice over, she was satisfied with my knowledge and was prepared to relent. The program was coming to a close, and the final moments were dedicated to Sir Elton’s once-impressive garage.

The camera panned over an amazing collection of Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Aston Martins, and various other rare and exotic breeds. One car in particular caught Mom’s eye - the Jaguar XJ220. It was Whitley’s entry to the 200mph club of the early ‘90s, co-designed by racing legend Tom Walkinshaw. Only 275 were ever produced, and the retail model was scaled back from the V12 used at concept to a twin-turbo V6. However, this didn’t stop the Jag from achieving a 0-60mph of 3.8 seconds and an easy 200+mph top speed.

1993 Jaguar XJ220

I knew these fun facts because of the Motor Trend mini-posters on the insides of my closet door, and because years of motherly training had taught me to always pay attention to the details. Unfortunately, I never really appreciated just how much attention she had paid as well.

“Didn’t you have a picture of that Jaguar covering up a sexy picture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer inside your closet as a kid?”

I guess I learned from the best.

-Trey Fennell

Coco #02 Black & Natural // 1990 Jaguar XJ40

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