Friday, February 27, 2009

160 MPH

One beautiful summer morning a little over forty years ago, I was driving out of Boston on Route 2 to work at my very first job after art school. I was poking along in the slow lane in a decrepit old Volvo 445 Duette.

Suddenly, a sleek white Jaguar 3.8 Mark II sedan with a bright red accent stripe under the windows sped by in the fast lane. As it passed, I was treated to that lovely deep vibrato exhaust note distinctive to six-cylinder Jaguars.

When I arrived at work, the Jag was sitting in the parking lot, and a tall, lanky young man was walking away from it toward the building.

I don’t remember which one of us first struck up a conversation, but Malcolm Lee and I became friends. It was the beginning of a long series of automotive adventures and a friendship that lasts to this day.

Soon after we met, Malcolm replaced the Jaguar sedan with a gorgeous XKE coupe. It was the early model with the 3.8-liter engine, real knock-off wire wheels and covered headlamps, a car that I still believe is one of the most beautiful automobiles of all time.

Malcolm was as anxious to show off his new car as I was to see it; so he came by my house to take me for a ride. We took the back way up to Nashua, New Hampshire, reveling in the way the car handled the winding roads. We stopped for a cup of coffee and then headed home, taking the highway this time.

As we drove down Route 3, I looked over at the big round speedometer. The numbers went up to 160 miles per hour.

“Will it go that fast?”

Malcom looked at me and grinned. “There’s only one way to find out.”

The final section of the highway connecting Nashua and Chelmsford had just been completed. When we reached the smooth new pavement, Malcolm pressed the gas pedal to the floor. The sleek coupe effortlessly accelerated.

I watched the speedometer needle climb to 80, 100, 130 and then 150, my adrenaline level climbing with it.

The road was coming at us faster than I could ever have imagined, but the car tracked straight and steady.

I glanced over at the speedometer again. The needle pointed to just under 160 miles per hour.

We passed a couple of cars that were probably going sixty, but they were barely moving. They were traveling a hundred miles per hour slower than we were.

When we reached the end of the new road, Malcolm slowed down to a crawl. I checked the speedometer. We were still going eighty-five.

We both burst out laughing. It was the first of many such laughs.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story. The Jag XKE is certainly one of the most beautiful cars of all time. Just met Malcolm after he sold me a set of AMG Aeros, what a great guy. This certainly sheds a bit of light on the type of auto enthusiast he is. Also, I really like your writing. Fee free to check out my blog