When I was in high school in the early 90’s I was the default “car guy” in my group of peers. This is probably attributed to the fact that: 1) I loved cars and talked about them all of the time, and 2) I actually had a car. Most of my friends either used a second car that their family owned, or had no car at all. Luckily for me, before we got my Chevelle restored I had a 4-door ’76 Nova to drive that was a hand-me-down from my older sister (and yes, being the softy that I am I still have that car as well).
My buddy John Osako was my perpetual co-pilot in high school and college. John did not have his own car, but it didn’t really bug him that much. We were in most of the same activities in school, worked at the same place out of school, and were pretty much inseparable. In some ways we were kind of married, and as such we were always, repeat always, in the car together. We may also be the first people to be kicked out of a Washing High School doubles-tennis match for wearing hiking boots. Athletics was not our strong point, but if you joined the tennis team you were allowed to skip gym class and take Physics Class instead. Nerdy, indeed.
Like all hopped up (or patched together) cars, my Nova, and later my Chevelle, had their quirks and having a pilot/co-pilot relationship made rolling down the road in them a lot more fun. The Nova had an old tape deck radio that I had bought off of another buddy. It was out of an ’84 Honda Accord. Only John could get the tape deck on that thing to work, as when anyone else tried to use it (including me) it would launch the tape back out like a steam catapult on an aircraft carrier. John generally made a mix tape for each day’s “lunch run” when we’d stuff 10 people in the car and head to Subway for our 25 minute lunch break. I’ve memorized more gangster rap and techno music as a result of that than I’d like to admit. John’s music tastes are pretty eclectic.
When my dad and I got the Chevelle on the road in 1993 I moved over to that car, and thus so did John. It was there that his co-pilot skills truly shined. The Chevelle took (and still takes) a co-pilot to get the best benefits when driving fast, on a road trip, or just turning corners as you have to remember to lean into the turn or you’ll slide off of the vinyl seat. Whenever John was in the car I immediately turned into driver only mode, concentrating on speed only and what the car was doing. John did all of the navigating, ran the radio (and later the high tech CD player), kept the sunflower seeds flowing, and also made sure that our 44-ounce Super Guz’s didn’t spill. We were a modern day Bo and Luke, minus the CB radio and bow and arrows. He was also a master a lighting a smoke with a match at 90 MPH with the windows down (a filthy habit we both dropped quickly to have any chance with getting girls to kiss us).
Today John and I don’t cruise together all that much, unfortunately. We live 100 miles apart, we’re both married, both have kids, both have busy lives, etc. We’re pretty much night and day when it comes to topics of faith or politics, but there is still no doubt in my mind who I’d want by my side when taking the Chevelle on a 140 MPH run in the Silver State Classic. We’d win it, easy. I’m sure of it. Some day we’ll also be the first rally team that beats a Subaru with a ’64 Chevelle, but that’s a topic for another day.
I’m curious to know how many of you out there are pilot/co-pilots? Maybe we’re the only ones. Who knows.