Rocket Girl - By Miranda Kurpe

Rocket Girl - By Miranda Kurpe

My names Miranda, and Oldsmobile's are in my blood, its undeniable. Even from the beginning I wasn’t like the other girls. I was jeans and a car t-shirt instead of dresses, I was rough and tumble with a pony tail instead of a delicate flower. It wasn’t easy being different, but don’t get me wrong… I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I've always thought of what kind of mom I wanted to be, you always see the stereotypical “put together moms” “working moms” and “hot mess moms.” But for me.. I prefer “rusty muscle car mom.”

My car is “Dixie D” a 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S. She has a Rocket 350 and a TH-350 Transmission. I bought her in May of 2013, was freshly married, and a friend was spending the night at our place. He, my husband, and I were up late looking at the buy and sell ads. My husband cracks a smile, hands me his phone and says, “check this out.” My heart skipped a beat. It was a blue-on-blue 1968 Cutlass, the same colour as my father's 1968 Cutlass convertible, except this one was a hard top and had loads of patina.

My husband thought she looked rough, but she was a running and driving 68 Cutlass for under 5k and was exactly what I wanted. I was so excited that I shot the seller a message late that night and to my astonishment they responded right away. They sent me their address and we agreed on a time to view the car the next evening. I wanted my friend's opinion before he left town, so we did a drive by earlier the following day. We parked in the ally, and I walked up to the car, she was even more beautiful in person. My excitement turned into legitimate intoxication, which is the only way to explain what I did next. I did a slow walk around, taking it all in then I slowly ran my hand along the curve of the front fender, till my hand was at the driver's door handle, I tried the door, and it was unlocked. I opened the door, sat in the driver's seat, and put my hand on the wheel. Looking back, I honestly can’t believe I did that because it was not my car, and I shouldn’t have been sitting in someone else’s property. But what I can tell you is the minute I put my hands on the wheel I knew she was going to be mine. It was like she chose me, and in that moment it just kept repeating over and over in my heard that this car was going to change my life. Yes, she was rusty, and she needed work, but I didn’t care. To me she was, and still is, perfect. 

My husband and I met the couple to “officially” look at the car that evening and I told them that I had been there earlier and sat in the car. They were not surprised “We knew you would” the lady said “We could tell how excited you were so we left it open for you.” 

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, even my own stupidity. You already know how this ends. What you don’t know is that I've never cried to get what I want before. When my husband looked at that car all he saw was the dollar signs to fix it, and rightfully so. He is good with numbers, and I probably overpaid, but value is subjective. I wasn’t just buying 4 wheels and some rusty body panels. I was buying a missing puzzle piece to my heart. You can’t put a price on that, and I still wouldn’t sell her for a million dollars because to me, she’s worth way more. He tried to talk me out of it, and I did cry, but eventually I was able to convince my husband that the rusty car wasn’t a waste of my money and I was free to make a deal. I even got them to come down in price! Jokes on them because I would have paid full price, but I imagine they knew that. It turns out seeing something go to a good home can be more important than money.

She has left me stranded a few times and, it took quite a few years until I got the money and my friends to teach me how work on her. I am super thankful that my husband was patient with me, even when he got frustrated with it. He knew how important the car was to me and how happy it made me to drive her.

A huge thank you to Keanan Shaw of Keanan’s Customs for helping me and teaching me how to work on my car. Even with a newborn baby he was patient with me and helped me fulfil my dream of being able to daily drive my car. We installed an aluminum intake and a 4-barrel quick fuel carburetor. My husband also helped us install headers and a dual exhaust set up with Glass packs. He is currently talking me through how to build my Rocket 455 from the bare block up. We’re hoping to drop that in later this year. For our 8-year anniversary my husband had a posi and 308 gears installed as a surprise. It was ironic because at the time I was 30 and it was our 8th anniversary, 30-8! In the future I will be getting a new frame and fixing the rear quarters.

Since we did the engine upgrades, I daily drive my car in the summer and occasionally in the winter along with our other classic vehicles. My favorite place to take my car is the Tuesday and Saturday cruise nights and going to Area 53 Dragstrip in Forestburg. 

Along with the Cutlass we have a 1976 Ford F250 Camper Special Explorer Edition with a 460, and a 1983 Pontiac Acadian with a 305 out of an 1981 Malibu which has been in my family for just over 15 years. We also have a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe, specifically for those 12 hour drives back to BC to visit family or if I really need be to work on time and can’t risk a break down in one of the classics.

My love of classic vehicles came from my dad, check out “Golden Rocket” on Page 15 for more on him and his Corvair. For as long as I can remember he would let me tag along to cruise nights, It was our father daughter time. I asked him once when he started bringing me along. He said “Honey, when you were first born, I asked your mom if I could go to a car show and she said “fine, only if you take the baby” So I did. There’s never been a time when you didn’t come with me.” I couldn’t remember a time without car shows because there wasn’t one. Life was crazy, cruising became our escape from a hectic home life. That’s why it's so important to me now and why I make sure to bring my girls to every cruise night I can. It’s funny how things come full circle, I remember driving with my dad and asking why we weren’t going faster or why we couldn’t race everybody or do burnouts. Now my kids ask me the same. “go faster mom, why are we stopping?” I’d just say “Cuz it’s a red-light honey, Cuz there’s traffic, Cuz we don’t need to race everybody!” I also gained a lot of knowledge about offfoad and bad weather driving from my dad, I remember once he took me to a snowy parking lot and I just practiced e-brake turns for an hour. I am so thankful for the knowledge he passed on and the work ethic he instilled in me. To get up each day with purpose and work hard for my goals.

I’m an automotive photographer by trade, ironically the perfect mix of my family heritage. I’m a 3rd generation photographer. My grandmother took photos of animals and nature, my mother took photos of people and I take photos of vehicles, only difference is I'm the first one to make it a career.

One day, I would love to own an early 80’s manual Chevette or Tercel, a 69 Chevy C10 and a 69-72 Nova SS.

I’m going to continue to build my dream. She will always be exactly what I want and there’s no denying that I will always be, A Rocket Girl.

Article and Photography: Miranda Kurpe (MNK Photography)

Check out this article and more in Issue #3 of Cruise Culture Magazine from December 2022. You can read it for free at https://www.magcloud.com/webviewer/2359694?__r=4399219&s=w or order your print copy now at https://cruisecultureapparel.com/products/cruise-culture-magazine-1st-issue-pre-order

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