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The ‘57 Chevy: A teenager bonds with his dad

Photo of Payton Johnson
Basim Blunt

When a father and son share a hobby, they can form a very special bond in life. We'll hear a story about a teenager who's discovered a pastime to share with his dad.

My story is about my passion and my love for cars. Growing up, cars were a really big part of me. My name is Payton Johnson. I'm 18 and I live with my mom, Michelle, and my dad, Steve. I go to the School of Innovation in Springfield, Ohio. Springfield is kind of that place that's full of very artistic people. My brother's Jaden birthday is five days after Christmas. It's like my parents got a late Christmas gift. Growing-up, me and my brother were really into comic books when we were little kids.

We loved everything from Batman, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and even Superman. We grew up in a really small house. It was a two sided house. There was one day I was with my mom. I heard this noise coming from outside my house and I remember the sound so well. I walked out front to see what this loud sound was, and there was my dad's brand new 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Geez, I knew it was something special. My dad bought the car in Dayton, Ohio. It was a dark forest green, and the interior looked like a fighter jet. And the way the front end looked, it looked like it almost had this menacing, like, angry look.

He got the eclipse because he was in an accident and the Nissan got total. I mean, sure had its issues. It was used. But I look past all of it. I saw it for what it really was and what it could have been. And I remember the way the car felt. Me and my dad were just driving down the street when he was banging through the gears, just flying. It was almost like time slowed down. It was the start of my journey.

Dad/Steve: Mike, check. One, two. I'm Steve Johnson. I'm Payton's dad.

Payton: So my question for you, for everyone else that probably wants to know, how did you end up with the eclipse? And like, why did you like the eclipse?

Dad/Steve: Some negotiation had to take place. Fortunately, my dad was good at negotiating because I wouldn't happen to on my head, but it's probably my third favorite car. First one being '63 Impala, the second one being a '57 Chevy.

Payton: So you said your second favorite car was a '57 Chevy? Good choice. I'm kind of a '55 kind of guy myself. But no. Hey, '37 is good car too.

Dad/Steve: So I fell in love with the eclipse. Seeing one at a car show, the big rear end on a little car. It really, really looked good and appealed to me. The hatchback, the body lines, the back end of it, kind of up in the air a little bit and the front end of it down, sitting toward the ground, just having that slant on that car with that car's shape and body lines. I fell in love with it.

Payton: I also am a huge Eclipse fan. I've told the story about how you were kind of the reason I got into cars.

Dad/Steve: The work that goes into these. Any style of car, whether it's a restoration, a drift car, a lowrider, a hotrod or lowrod, all of 'em take a lot of work to put in, a lot of money, a lot of time. Blood, sweat, tears.

Payton: As far as actually working on cars, my experience is pretty small. But I still know a lot of help. My dad work on family cars. We just recently did a thermostat on my mom's car, and then we did a fuel filter on my dad's jeep. I always used my passion for cars as a coping mechanism. If I was ever stressed or upset or sad, I would always start a car conversation with my dad. I think it's a great bonding experience for him to kind of understand more of the kind of person that I am and for me to understand him. I just feel like that this has helped me learn more about my family and just more about myself and the kind of things that I'm into. I hope this inspires you to find your passion, and if you're into cars, don't get a speeding ticket. They're not fun.

Payton Johnson is a student at Springfield School of Innovation. Special thanks to Steve Johnson, Winkie Mitchell and Beth Dixon at Wellspringfield.org who just found out Payton will start college this fall at Wright State University. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.