By Kathleen Swift • Photo by Artistic Expressions

“James comes by his love of cars naturally.”

That was how Brian Newton first described the bond he and son James share in their love of muscle cars.

“Before I was 16, I dreamed of cars, saved my money and read Hot Rod magazine. When Peggy and I got married, we always had a cool car in the garage. James was born into a love of cars.”

James said he still has the multitude of Hot Wheels cars he played with as a child. He would line the cars up in specific order to play with them. James and his dad would buy a new model car each week and spend Sunday afternoons assembling, painting and applying decals to them.

“Even when he was small, we’d put him in the ‘66 Corvette convertible with side pipes, and James would fall asleep,” said Brian. “Now, he’ll walk into the room and say, ‘Dad, the weather’s nice. Let’s take one of the cars out for a ride.’ His mind is oriented toward cars.”

James will be getting his driver’s license in May and is looking forward to getting to drive on his own.

“I have a 2011 Super Sport Camaro that I have learned to drive in. My parents bought it for me when I got my permit so that I would be used to driving it. It’s gray with red stripes and a black interior and has a pop-up digital dash and air bags. It’s a nice, safe car.”

Like most parents concerned with the safety of their teenaged drivers, Brian and Peggy plan to put a chip in the Camaro so they can see how fast James is driving.

Tinkering with vehicles and driving together is important for Brian and James.

“I love the bonding time with my dad,” said James. Brian is thankful for the father and son time, too.

“We’re working on a race motor for an ’85 short box Chevy drag truck now,” said Brian. “James and I can do some work on the cars, such as working on fuel lines, changing starters and adding chrome. We also have friends who help us with the engine work, and we are grateful for their help.”

Although Brian has always been a Chevy man, James fell for Mustangs early on.

“It broke my heart,” quipped Brian. “The Mustang was his first love, so we do have a Mustang in our stable of Chevy cars.”

“My 1967 Camaro and my 2011 Camaro are both faster than my 1997 Mustang,” said James. “But we love them all and put our hearts into working with them and driving them.”

Father and son enjoy getting their cars in top shape and entering local car shows, such as the Emancipation Day show held in Joplin each year. They also show their cars at the Third Thursday gatherings and Freddy’s Cruise Night in Joplin.

“James is the detailer for the cars before each show,” said Brian. “We don’t go to shows to win but to enjoy the camaraderie with each other and other car enthusiasts. James loves to walk around a show and visit with people about the cars. He can walk me to death at a car show.”

Whatever they are working on or driving, Brian and James share not only a love for cars, but moments together that will bond father and son over a lifetime.