Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ronnie & the Daytonas -- "G.T.O." (1964)

Little GTO, you're really lookin' fine
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin' up now
Listen to her whine
C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out -- GTO!
Ronny and the Daytonas were all about surfing, hot rods, and babes in bitchin' bikinis.

If you looked at the titles of the songs on their first album -- which included not only "G.T.O," but also "Hot Rod Baby," "The Little Sting Ray That Could," and  "Surfin' in the Summertime" -- you'd probably think you were looking at a Jan and Dean album or an early Beach Boys LP.

But Ronny and the Daytonas didn't hail from Southern California.  They were from . . . Nashville?  

John "Bucky" Wilkin wrote "G.T.O." in physics class when he was a senior at a Nashville high school.   As far as I can tell, he had never been to Santa Monica, or Pasadena, or Venice Beach, or Newport Beach, or Malibu, or any other place in Southern California.  But I guess he had listened to enough AM radio to figure out how to write SoCal-style surf music.

Give Wilkin credit for knowing a little more about cars than most pop songwriters.  The original Pontiac G.T.O. was introduced in 1964, and came equipped with a 389-cubic inch V8 engine.  Options included "Tri-Power" carburetion (three two-barrel carburetors, or "three deuces"), a four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter, and a tachometer.

1964 Pontiac G.T.O.
A lot of teenage boys lusted after the G.T.O., was the brainchild of Pontiac's chief engineer, John DeLorean.  The initials stood for "Gran Turismo Omologato," an Italian phrase that signified a car eligible to be raced in the Grand Tourer class, and were inspired by the famous Ferrari 250 G.T.O.  (One of the surviving Ferrari 250's recently sold for $35 million.)

I personally lusted after its GM cousin, the Oldsmobile 4-4-2, which was also introduced in 1964.  (The "4-4-2" indicated that the car came equipped with a four-barrel carburetor, a four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts.)

1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2
The 1970 Olds 4-4-2 was a beast.  It came equipped with an enormous 455-cubic inch V8 and a four-speed Hurst shifter.  My first car was a 1970 Olds Cutlass with a 350-cubic inch V8 -- it was far from being a 4-4-2, but it still had much more horsepower than any normal car really needed.  (Most current full-size sedans come equipped with at most a 200-cubic inch V6.  My Honda Accord has a four-cylinder engine that displaces only about 150 cubic inches.  It goes plenty fast.)

I sound like I actually know something about cars, don't I?  I've never even changed the oil on a car, although I have replaced a few air filters.  (Not that hard to do, unless you are one of my children, none of whom have any idea how to open the hood.)

I heard "G.T.O." on the satellite radio in my rental car on a recent family trip to Cape Cod.

Did I mention that my rental car only cost $9.75 a day?  Of course, that doesn't include the consolidated facility charge ("CFC") of $5.50 a day, an energy recovery fee ("ERF") of $0.45 a day, a frequent-flier miles tax of $1.50 a day, something called "APCONRGFEE" ($4.68 total), something called "RI RNTLSRG" (Rhode Island rental surcharge?), state tax, and so on.

$9.75 a day times 4 days = $83.34
My third (and final) bike ride of that all-too-brief vacation began at the Cape Cod National Seashore's Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham, Massachusetts.

I rode from there to the end of the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Wellfleet:

The twisty, roller-coaster-like trail is always a challenge, even for an experienced biker like me:

When I returned, I hopped on the short trail that goes from the visitor center to Coast Guard Beach.  

Henry David Thoreau walked most of the length Cape Cod -- he went there four different times -- and wrote a book about it.  

Thoreau said this about the outer beaches that now make up the national seashore:  "A man may stand there and put all America behind him."  If you look out over the Atlantic from Coast Guard Beach, all of America is behind you -- because you're facing east, and the rest of the country is to the west.  I think Thoreau was making another point when he said those words.

Coast Guard Beach doesn't attract as many surfers as the famous Southern California beaches, but it does have a few.

It also has rip currents.  

(Since I cut off some of the text on this sign, hers a summary of what it says: "If you get caught in a rip current, say your prayers and then KISS YOUR ASS GOOD-BYE!")

The pointy-headed bureaucrats at the National Seashore insist that bikers stay on the paved trails.  As you can see from the picture below, these namby-pamby naysayers have banned mountain bikes from any number of attractive off-road trails:

No bikes?  The hell you say!
We had a nice sunset that evening.  The boat you see in the following picture is a 58-footer named the "Lobster Roll," which offers dinner cruises every evening from Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis.  

That's it from Cape Cod until August, when 2 or 3 lines will be taking a long and very well-deserved vacation there.

Here's "G.T.O.":

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from Amazon:

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