Who Got You Into Cars?

My dad, and his 1979 Fiat Spider, were the primary instigators of my fascination with cars. Who was yours?
Collins family archive

It’s origin-story hour, amigos. Adopting “cars as a hobby” can happen in all kinds of ways, but I bet a lot of us can trace our automotive interests to an individual who first shared the joy of driving with us. So who got you into cars?

I have a lot of casual gearheads in my family, more so now that I’m married. And growing up, my close friends and I certainly encouraged each others’ early automotive obsession. But if I had to point to one person as the primary instigator of my fascination with cars, I’d have to call out my dad.

When I was really small, he had a Pavlovian way of training me to look forward to his return from work. He’d often snag a Hot Wheels car on his way home, pocket it, and present it to me as he came through the door. To be honest, I don’t remember it vividly, but I trust my parents’ account, and have heaps of collected Hot Wheels to back up the story.

Later, my pops bought a 1979 Fiat Spider 2000, rough but running, which would become a huge character in my childhood. He still has it—it’s one of the most reliable cars our family’s had, shockingly. Getting picked up from school in that thing was always a source of elation, and we even took it to a few shows. That matching-shirts picture you just scrolled by was taken right before my first visit to the Larz Anderson museum, which still hosts its annual Italian Car Day.

Fast-forward to the present and cars are still a major bonding catalyst for my dad and I. He just turned 60, and we celebrated with some hot laps at Palmer Motorsports Park in Massachusetts. Here’s hoping we’re still driving together far into the future.