My Century rolls to a stop at the end of the street, the automated pedestrian-interference radomes sweeping their slow arc beneath tinted glass. I step out of the car, and straighten my shirt collar and sleeves. It’s been a long trip, but I arrived in opulent comfort. Along the course of my voyage, kohai everywhere fell upon themselves to be noticed by me, but I paid them no heed. The Century wasn’t for the public to behold.
When I first came across this car, it wore obscure diplomatic flags, its torn and stained rear-seat lace curtains flapping in the breeze produced by the broken quarter panel glass. I prepared myself for the grim duty of sending it to the crusher, finding zero commonality with the harem of bagged-upon and rust-seized Toyotas I had already collected. But something inside the car told me to stay my hand. A flicker of hope rose inside my tight chest.
I quickly step to the door of an ordinary suburban house, perform my political rituals, myself being - it turns out - an extraordinary political animal. Emphasis on the animal. Cash is exchanged. Soft words are spoken, a conspiratorial whisper between allies. A simple, nondescript box is thrust into my arms and the door shuts abruptly. I pivot on my heel and return to the Century.
Over the years, I fixed this car up. I secured rare Japanese parts from the estate sales of dead diplomatic envoys, and once even negotiated with the Emperor’s personal motor pool in order to secure rare pieces of period trim. If they had car shows on this continent that would respect this fine piece of machinery, it would win Pebble.
The twin hood-mounted Hampton 12-71 blowers rattle a furious rage into their immaculately polished intake manifolds, using the once-delicate twelve-cylinder Toyota mill as a crude lever to enact torsional force on the subframe. I chuckle, and gently place the box upon the back seat.
Driving this far to pick up a replacement headlight for one of my many Subaru Justys isn’t cheap or easy, but at least it was comfortable.