By Ashley LeCompte
Photos by Jenn Quinn Creative
The sound of gravel crunching under tires. Air rushing through an open window.
A set of car keys pressed into your palm.
Is there anything that can compare to the feeling of hitting the open road for the first time?
We know where we were by the songs playing on the radio when we had our first kiss, or the movie star gracing a silver screen when we bought our first R-rated ticket. And sometimes, by extension, we know who we were by those moments. The same can be said about the time we first sat behind the wheel, hit the ignition and found our first taste of true freedom. I was seventeen. It was spring and I was nearing high school graduation. I bought myself a greasy cheeseburger.
Being in control of a car, perhaps even one as unassuming as an off white Buick Regal, marks one of the most defining coming of age moments we can experience. Maybe it wasn’t a Ford Mustang or a Pontiac Firebird. Maybe the dashboard needed a firm slap before the radio filtered out music instead of grainy static. Or, if you’re like me, your seats were peppered with a few cigarette burns and innocuous stains. But it was yours.
It was your time.
You put miles on those tires, spending summer nights getting rowdy in a corn field before sneaking home at midnight, or tracing the asphalt veins of a busy city lined with street lamps. You found yourself as you tasted the time of your life between teenage years and burgeoning adulthood while navigating the miles between two yellow lines on the pavement.
Now you stand at another cusp, ready to surge ahead once again as the road stretches forward, ready to greet you. A new journey for the next phase. This time, though, you’ll have a passenger for the miles ahead.
There may be few things as synonymous with the idea of marriage as the notion that at its core, it is a journey. An adventure waiting to take place. A destiny perhaps ultimately unknown, yet we sense the dreams the miles ahead promise. us The question becomes how we get there. And how we mark the start of it.
Back in a time when cars were practically considered art, the idea of the quintessential American man meant a knight in shining armor. The provider, the protector. The perfect car is his faithful steed, waiting to be unleashed. A car was a symbol of stability and status, yet freedom and grit. The bloom of the promise of the American Dream and all it could be.
Whether it was a rebellious leather jacket wearing James Dean spinning gravel, a dapper James Bond leaning against an Aston martin, or Humphrey Bogart behind the wheel with a luminous Audrey Hepburn singing “La Vie En Rose” from the passenger seat, the idea of a man and his car became something almost inseparable from one another.
For the rugged male made of brawn. The dapper gentleman. The everyman, full of grit. There was, and still thankfully is, a car for everyone.
And it is with these classic cars that many couples choose as a means to mark the start of their journey. With rice falling from the hands of loved ones, tin cans tied to the bumper, or a bride in the backseat peeking from behind a veil, the timeless art form of the classic automobile lends itself beautifully to a day marked full of beginnings.