Are you tired of cleaning spiders out of your gas gauge? Have you driven for miles wondering what that funny smell was, only to discover your seat was on fire? Did your tender first kiss leave your date needing medical attention? If you can answer "yes" to all three questions, you're probably the author of this book. "Flaming Floorboards" is a true account of these and many similar adventures which befell the author, a man who ambled through life adopting stray cars the way other people adopt stray cats. He came ...
Are you tired of cleaning spiders out of your gas gauge? Have you driven for miles wondering what that funny smell was, only to discover your seat was on fire? Did your tender first kiss leave your date needing medical attention? If you can answer "yes" to all three questions, you're probably the author of this book. "Flaming Floorboards" is a true account of these and many similar adventures which befell the author, a man who ambled through life adopting stray cars the way other people adopt stray cats. He came of automotive age during the 1960's, the golden age of muscle cars. Surrounded by Camaros, Mustangs, Super Birds, and their ilk, his dream car was a Stanley Steamer. (Looking back, the author admits it may not have been a coincidence that he didn't get many dates.) He never did get a Stanley, but over the years he drove thousands of miles in cars such as a Model A Ford, a Jaguar E-Type, a pair of mid-60’s Chevy Impalas, a handful of MG's, and other memorable automobiles. These were not shiny classics when he drove them. They were rusted hulks that he rescued from the salvage yard. In his struggles to keep these rolling wrecks on the road he encountered people like Fr. Dupree, a reporter/pool shark turned Episcopal priest; Luis Riccotto, the proprietor of Riccotto and Sons Imported motors; and Otis Swineheart, a man of few words and fewer teeth. "Flaming Floorboards" is a warm and funny story about an extraordinary cast of cars and characters.
Want more details? The author grew up in a small, Amish town in northern Indiana. During his quest to find a Stanley Steamer he stumbled across the remains of a 1928 Mode A Ford four door sedan. He immediately fell in love with this rusted relic and, with a lot of help from his dad, began using it as his daily driver. Although neither the car nor the straw boater he wore while driving it turned out to be quite the "chick magnet" he had hoped for (even the counterculture love generation of the 1960's expected SOME degree of conformity)his car helped him survive a gauntlet of coming-of-age rituals including a first kiss and the senior prom.
After high school, the author drove his Model A to Purdue University where he studied mechanical engineering. He also met a group of seniors who rounded out his classroom education by teaching him to smoke, swear, and drink beer. One of them also infected him with the British Sports Car virus, and he soon added a 1957 MGA roadster to his automotive collection. The car was not exactly in running condition when he bought it (what do you expect for $50?) which soon led to an association with Riccotto & Son's Imported Motors. This eventually led to a temporary job as a mechanic and experience working on everything from rusted-out Fiats (did Fiat ever make anything that wasn't rusted out?) to a V-12 Ferrari.
His stint as a mechanic ended when the Air Force called him to active duty. He spent over 20 years in the Air Force, at locations ranging from Alabama to Egypt, and from Guam to Alaska. (Somewhere north of Fairbanks he learned what the "Cold War" REALLY meant.) Along the way he picked up several more MG's, a Jaguar E-Type, a handful of Fords and Chevies, a wife, and three kids.
"Flaming Floorboards" follows a rough chronology of the author's life, but it is not really an autobiography. His personal history is simply a thread that ties together anecdotes, observations, and opinions about the cars he encountered along the way. It is also a delightful tale of coming of age in the Boomer generation as told by someone who followed a path less traveled. Well, judging by the trail of hubcaps and oil stains, perhaps the trail was frequently traveled, but it was seldom written about. Flaming Floorboards is a rare literary peek into a world where fingernails are packed with grease, breakdowns are accepted with stoic resolve (OK, stoicism with much profanity), and a car that starts every day is considered boring.
Perhaps the most astounding thing about this book is that it is all true. When asked about this the author replied "Hey! If I was going to make up a story, I'd make up something that wasn't quite so embarrassing."
Steve Tom grew up in northern Indiana as a full-fledged member of the boomer generation. He studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University, graduating in 1973. He entered the U.S. Air Force and spent 21 years in the Civil Engineering career field. He retired from the Air Force and now works for a company that makes automation systems for "smart buildings."
Writing has always been a hobby for Steve, and he has published dry technical articles in engineering journals such as The ASHRAE Journal and Heating, Piping, and Air Conditioning magazine. Of more interest to general readers, he has published articles, humor, and short stories in publications such as British Motoring, Stymie, The Steam Car, and A Wee Nip. Many of his stories are available at www.random-writings.com. This is his first non-technical book. He is a registered Professional Engineer and has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. He lives with his wife and three children near Atlanta GA, where he drives old cars, annoys his family by playing ancient records on wind-up phonographs, and flails at golf balls with hickory-shafted clubs.