Marcophiles: Islanders reminisce about their first cars

CHRIS CURLE
by Chris Curle 
 Joe and Rita Jurgielewicz love this car, a 1931 Ford Phaeton. It’s not their first car, but one of their favorites. Joe’s first was a 1977 GMC pickup truck. Rita’s was a Silver Olds Cutlass Ciera. Chris Curle/Eagle Correspondent

by Chris Curle Joe and Rita Jurgielewicz love this car, a 1931 Ford Phaeton. It’s not their first car, but one of their favorites. Joe’s first was a 1977 GMC pickup truck. Rita’s was a Silver Olds Cutlass Ciera. Chris Curle/Eagle Correspondent

This 1931 Ford Roadster came in black. Only in black. Dave Rice bought it, or what was left of it, his first, in 1954, for $25. Dave Rice/Submitted

This 1931 Ford Roadster came in black. Only in black. Dave Rice bought it, or what was left of it, his first, in 1954, for $25. Dave Rice/Submitted

Dave Rice: He says most of the many cars he owned were “weekend cars,” because, “They spent all week being repaired to run on the weekends.” It’s all about priorities for Dave and his life-long affection for cars continues unabated.

Dave got that first car, the ’31 Ford Roadster, with the hope of making it into a hot rod.

“I had several friends help me push it to my house, including a former Marco city councilman, the late Mike Minozzi.” Dave kept that car until, “My income as a caddy ran out.”

Dave has had many “favorites” over the years, but he says Jaguar XKEs “have always been number one.”

Among his favorites — a 1962 white Bentley, “a head turner,” he says, recalling that he drove it in Marco’s Christmas Island Style parade some years back. And Dave’s current favorite is a 1979 black Rolls Royce, “in pristine condition with only thirty-eight thousand miles on it.”

Tony Costantino:“My first car was a blue, 1970 Plymouth Road Runner. I worked for two summers and took a loan from my father to get my dream hot rod for $2600, a lot of money in 1970.

“People can see it every Friday night at the meetings of the Marco Island Corvettes and Muscle Car Club. That’s in Town Center in front of Susie’s Diner.”

Guy Verde: “A 1970 Ford Galaxy 500, metallic green with a black landau roof.

I was eighteen and had just met Lisa, so we had wheels for dating. But the car I really wanted then, I couldn’t afford. It was an Alfa Romeo.”

Tony Panaro: “My first car was a 1957 Olds convertible, white interior. I had factory air, power windows, power seats, a big steering wheel, big trunk, no seat belts.

“I was a car guy since the age of five, because my dad ran a five-story parking garage in New York City. I probably had seventy cars at least, over time. As a collector, my favorite was a 1970 American Motors model. They were high performance cars and they only made four thousand of them.

“My first speeding ticket was driving my friend’s ’55 Olds. I got pulled over while taking my friend to get his driver’s license. And it was in his car.”

Norman Gerard (From England): My first car was a brand new, 1953 Hillman Minx. Years later I went to Germany and bought a Ford Mustang in Frankfort. There was a big US Air Force base and Ford was selling them to the troops. It was superb, left-hand drive of course.

“My favorite was an early 2000s Bentley Continental convertible.”

Keith Dameron: “A 1968 Chevy Bel Air, a white ‘sedan coupe’, as they called it.”

Keith has a lot more to say about his favorite, a 1988 Pontiac Fiero: “That model was perfect, huge V6 engine in an eighteen hundred pound car, which meant zero to 100 in no time. Mine was a show car, meaning it had almost zero miles on it when I bought it. Special factory Ferrari red paint with tan leather seats and Ferrari-style wheels. No badging, so hardly anyone knew what it was.”

His unique vehicle? A special-built dune buggy called a “composite, built from the ground up, with wide lettered tires on chrome wheels, fiberglass top, heavy vinyl leather-like, a VW engine/frame but Mustang seats.

“We saw two accidents when other drivers were staring at our car and then ran into the cars in front of them. Hey, not my fault!”

Maybe Keith should have named that dune-buggy/VW/Mustang machine, “Back to the Future.” How about a “First Cars” evening of “In The Round” somewhere down the road?

Now in print: “Deadly News”

We’re pleased to report that print editions of our new novel, “Deadly News,” are released officially Friday, Aug. 23. Check it out at Sunshine Booksellers.

Chris Curle and Don Farmer have been writing for the Marco Eagle and other area newspapers for more than 30 years. They have a combined total of 99 years experience in major news media in the U.S. and abroad, including ABC News, NBC News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers and magazines. Their novel, “Deadly News,” is set partly in Marco Island.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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