Thursday, May 03, 2012

Introducing Myself and my First Car

      How does one begin one of these informal things? It's like a party where no one knows anyone but everyone knows why they're there. Well in this case we're here to talk about cars and the people, events and history that surrounds them. 
     Cars are and have always been more than conveyance for me. They represent an era, the mindset of the buying population and the manufacturer when it was built. For example, the 1968 Corvette was built with wild coke bottle styling, "Astro-Ventilation" and fire breathing big blocks that laughed at their refined European sportscar counterparts. It was a representation of when America had money, ambition and a fascination with the space program. And in the same way people are represented by their cars, in a broader sense so are the countries that manufacture them. 
 Suzy was quite the looker pre-rust

     I can think of few better ways to show you where I'm coming from than to show you where I started. I was your typical muscle car crazed high school student measuring the value of cars in horsepower and quarter mile times. Cars made after 1974 simply didn't register with me. And then I bought a little blue 1983 Datsun 280ZX.
     I didn't know what a Datsun was when I bought it. All I knew was that it had T-tops, velour seats and tires with writing on them. And that I wanted it. I named her Suzy. By all means, that 28 year old fuel injected soft sportscar should've been a maintenance nightmare. But day after day week after week that big L28 straight six started up and ran like it was 1983 all over again. 
Like your first girlfriend, these things just stay in your head forever

     But it didn't last forever. Suzy developed a slipping (auto) transmission and terminal rust in the rockers and base of the B pillar. Rust that my 17 year old self didn't know how to fix. I had to sell her. But before I did I learned a lot. I lost my 100 mph virginity in that car, I spun out on an off ramp, I wooed girls in it, joined the Z Car club and went on cruises and more than anything I discovered the feeling that old cars give you. It's this immersive experience that makes you feel special all the time. It elevates your awareness of the mechanical processes that are happening all around you all the time in a car. The buzz of a fuel pump, the way the tires sound at their limit of adhesion and the way your car smells under the hood. You feel so much more free than all the commuters in their Sentras and Civics. Vintage cars make you feel like you've beat the system, like your dancing among the monoliths and they are gloriously insensible. 
     After selling that care I vowed never to buy a car newer than me and I've kept that vow. Because even though my death trap beaters might not be reliable or economical they represent wanton desire to partake in something deeper, a more visceral driving experience. And as I'm sure Richard Hammond would say, "It's just better".

1 comment:

  1. “Suzy” definitely gave you a lot of memories. It is true that cars, especially classic cars, characterize a time in history and define the kind of life people had during that era. It represents a lot of things for a lot people. For some, it is a constant reminder of the good old days and the joys of their youth. But you can still see some of these classics on the street, which means that they never really go out of style.

    (Clint Moore)