Nicky Carr’s Car

Shutterstock By Guilhem Gaubert

It was sleek. It looked like a spaceship.  The tawny Riverside Gold exterior sparkled in the bright June sun of a hot Baltimore Saturday morning in 1969. The car hit all the senses at once.  The L-71 427 engine growled like an irritated lion as my father’s friend, Nicky Carr, carefully parallel parked it in front of our row house.

Puzzled as to what it was, seven-year-old Ron asked what kind of car it was.

“It’s my new ‘Vette, a Stingray.”

“That’s not a Sting Ray.”

Even at seven, I knew what a Sting Ray looked like, and this was not it.  Nicky said we would go for a ride after he was done measuring for our new boiler.  I met him at the gate to let him in and sure enough, the sun glinted off the “Stingray” logo on the front fender.

Nicky was a plumber and car guy.  He and his brother Gene had known my father since they were kids.  He came by that day to quote the new heating system and talk cars with my father.    All afternoon, I peppered the poor guy about the car and his business.  How much was the car? How do you get customers?  How much do you charge? Can’t you charge more?

The conclusion was obvious…  if I wanted a car like that, I needed a business or a really good job.

After a few hours of measuring, chit-chat, and another Orioles win, it was finally time to take that ride.  The 1969 Corvette was not quite refined nor was it a race car.  It rode pretty rough compared to our Impala but it had T-tops which were pretty nice on a hot day.  Every time Nicky shifted, the rear end twitched.  It felt faster than it was on its bias-ply tires that just couldn’t get all that Chevrolet power to the ground.  He must have liked me because he let me shift the transmission from the passenger seat.  I had to find a way to get one of these.

Nicky visited often, usually in his work truck.  He said it was “good advertising” for the truck to sit out on the street.  There wasn’t a rowhouse on the block that didn’t need some sort of work in our neighborhood.  He even encouraged me to have a “business” at that age.  For a guy that didn’t have kids, he was awfully patient with me.  I didn’t know he was teaching me about making a living at the time.  I thought we were just talking about cars and making money.  There were many others that influenced my tastes in cars over the years.  You could say Nicky is the one who really got me hooked on Cars & Convos.

So, there you have it.  This is just one of the stories about how I came to have this insatiable curiosity about cars and businesses.

Oh, it took a while, but I did get my first Stingray in 1980.

Ron Krauch

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