What’s It Like Having Car Clout?

The AHS parking lot is home to some distinctive whips during the school day.


Hana Holtz

The AHS parking lot houses many vehicles during the school day.

By Hana Holtz, Atlantic High School

As a teenager, having easy access to a vehicle is key. Whether it’s an impromptu trip to grab a snack before practice, a jam sesh with friends, or a late-night cruise, having the ability to drive is many teen’s first taste of freedom. Every student craves that precious moment when they turn 16 and can officially get behind the wheel of a car and drive wherever they want, whenever they want.

For many, just having the ability to drive is enough. For others, this requires the perfect vehicle to putt around in. A variety of students get hand-me-downs from older siblings, or perhaps distant family. On the other hand, some have saved every penny to buy their dream ride.

Regardless, recognizability comes with having a daily driver. Popping paint jobs, personalized license plates, and bold bumper stickers can be found on rare models cruising the streets of Atlantic. These are the cars that don’t require a double check before throwing up a hand to wave. This is car clout.

Nathanael Lensch

Senior Nathanael Lensch sits in his 1975 Chevy Nova in front of the high school

Passengers in senior Nathanael Lensch’s 1975 Chevy Nova are not allowed to eat, drink, or have any trash with them. “No trashing it, either,” Lensch said. The Nova is one of his four daily drivers.

Originally bought new in 1975, Lensch’s grandpa purchased the car.

“It’s his car not mine,” Lensch said. “Don’t put that though. It’s my car, not his.”

The muscle car is mainly stock according to Lensch, though it was restored in 2015.

Lensch knows people recognize him on the street when he’s in the Nova. However, he thinks the recognizability is limited to only people who know him, not strangers. He likes having a vehicle that sticks out. On the days he wants to stay under the radar, Lensch simply picks a different cruising vessel.

“I have other cars that blend right in. If I don’t want to be seen, I’ll take one of them,” Lensch said.

In order to make the Nova flashier, Lensch is considering getting a personalized license plate, as well as a window sticker. When he’s not driving the classic car, you can find him in either of his Grand Prixs, or his pickup truck.

Gracemarie McCrudy

Junior Gracemarie McCurdy stands next to her ride, Helga.

One place you won’t spot junior Gracemarie McCurdy’s 1993 Ford Mustang Convertible at is McDonald’s. Everytime she heads for the drive-thru or the walk-in restaurant, her car always seems to act up in rebuttal. Affectionately called “Helga,” McCurdy’s ride prefers Burger King for an after-school snack.

McCurdy bought her car from an older couple.

“They bought a new convertible because they needed room in their garage,” she said.

Though she loves Helga, McCurdy thinks she might have to get rid of her as she’s not a winter-friendly car.

In regards to recognizability, Helga is distinctive to “a few” people, according to McCrudy. At the same time, she doesn’t like having the spotlight on her when she drives.

“I’d rather just not have people know it’s me,” she said. “A car is just for practicality.”

While she wants to blend in, McCurdy admitted she would put some fun stickers on Helga if compelled.

“I’d put something for the U.S. Navy on there. Or Harry Potter,” she said. She also has a sea turtle sitting in the back seat, who goes by the name of Todd.

Anna Wieser

Junior Anna Wieser pops a squat on top of her Jeep, Richard.

Having an ordinary car is just not an option for junior Anna Wieser. She drives a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which she calls “Richard” on certain occasions. Wieser has done a variety of things to spice up Richard, including the clout-chasing statement that is her license plate. “AWEEZY” is inscribed on the front and back bumpers of the vehicle, for every passing driver to see.

Wieser received her car on her 16th birthday in April 2018 from her parents. “They just surprised me with it,” she said.

The only rule for passengers in Wieser’s car is “they can’t hate on the music I choose.”

The deciding factor in purchasing the vanity plate was recognizability. “I wanted to be recognized. I wanted my jeep to be like, mine,” Wieser said. The mission for an auto influence was a success according to Wieser. Other high school students know its her tearing up the roads. “They wave at me,” she said.

Besides the license plate, Wieser has proudly added in air fresheners, and wants to purchase some stickers from her upcoming trips to Florida and Costa Rica. Wieser said, “I like people knowing it’s me so then when we pass each other I can aggressively wave or honk.”

Nate McLean

Junior Nate McLean poses beside his swag wagon.

Though he’s driven the car for almost a year now, junior Nate McLean’s whip is still called “Josh’s Car” by many high school students. McLean’s older brother–Josh–drove the car during his time at AHS. Before that, the vehicle belonged to McLean’s dad. “He got a new one, and then it was Josh’s, and then he left,” McLean explained.

The vehicle in question is a Ford Taurus station wagon. “I think it was made in 1875,” McLean joked. “Probably 1999. Or 2001.”

In regards to its uniqueness and recognizability, McLean wishes people didn’t know it was him cruising around town. In fact, he didn’t even realize the car was distinctive to students at AHS. “I didn’t think people knew it was me, but then someone mentioned it being iconic so I guess,” he said.

In order to stay incognito, McLean has no stickers or magnets on his swag wagon. He pays for his own gas and is supposed to pay for his own insurance, but hasn’t yet. “I don’t know if it’s still insured,” McLean said.

This story was originally published on AHSneedle on October 7, 2019.