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WOLF: Since when did cars from the ’80s become ‘classics’?

COLUMN: T-tops off, mullet flowing in the wind
(Facebook file photo)

I’ve always been a car guy.

As a tyke, I spent many a highway ride (surely to the delight of everyone else in the station wagon) shouting out the names of every make and model of vehicle coming the other way.

Many a glorious weekend was spent at Western Speedway in Victoria, the intoxicating smells and throaty rumble of the engines still sparking vivid memories to this day.

One of my absolute favourite parts of this job was being able to drive in the annual media crash-to-pass race at the old Cassidy Speedway (bring that back anytime, by the way).

It may have been fun for the others, but I was as serious as The Fonz taking down Count Malachi.

My dad, who could build anything from a bird house to a mansion and fix anything from a lawn mower to an airplane, had me spend many hours holding a light as he fixed our various family cruisers.

The desire to actually work on the cars completely missed me, although I was into my 30s before I stopped changing my own oil, opting for the convenience and cleanliness of having someone else do it.

I still feel sheepish about this, as I can still hear Dad chuckling at the neighbour across the street who admitted to paying another person to change his oil.

The grease may have missed me but the love for cars never waned.

I’ve owned more than 50 vehicles, though most of those were in my twenties, before the responsibilities of parenthood and mortgages limited my unbridled wheeling and dealing. (The joy of spending $200 on an old beater, washing it and selling it for $1,200 two days later remains tough to beat).

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Through everything, my absolute favourite rides were ‘classic’ cars.

Since I was a little sprite, that has always meant North American muscle cars from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

My first sporting hero was Rick O’Dell, the finest driver at Western Speedway in his heyday. His baby blue 1963 Plymouth was the finest car I’d ever seen, maybe to this day.

I also remember Rick Cudby’s nifty Chev as one of the best-looking cars back in the day.

Recently, I was reading an article on ‘classic cars’ and they were (gasp!) talking about vehicles from the late 1980s.

You know you’re officially old when the cars you once drove are considered classics. Does that make me a classic, too?

My math calculations indicate that cars from the late 1990s are now eligible for collector plates in B.C.

That’s actually too frightening for me to think about, so I’ll pretend I never thought about it.

Old age aside, however, I have decided to embrace my 1980s classic status.

I used to want a vintage Corvette to squeeze into and cruise up and down the Island in my old age.

Now, I want an electric blue Camaro Iroc Z (anywhere from 1985-89). At this point, cheaper – and I may still be able to get in and out of one.

One of my all-time favourite personal wagons was my midnight blue Camaro of that vintage, complete with the T-tops and yes, a car phone.

Whether I was roofs off, letting my sweet mullet blow in the breeze, drumming on the steering wheel along with Bon Jovi, or windows up, roofs on and cruising along at 15 miles per hour bumping NWA, stereo rattling everything within a 50-foot radius, surely what was the epitome of everlasting cool.

The search is now on for that perfect classic ride.

What’s your idea of a ‘classic’ car? Do you have a particular era that stands out for you? Have you been able to purchase your dream classic ride? Have a fun tale of the car that you wish you never gave up?

Let me know via the email listed below. Always happy to hear a good car story.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf welcomes your questions, comments or story ideas. He can be reached at 250-905-0029 or via email at

The author and Rick O’Dell’s famous baby blue Plymouth back in the day at Western Speedway. (Wolf family photo)

Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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