What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?

 

Illustration for article titled Life in Cars: Part 1: Prologue
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Why do this?

I don’t really have time to write this story, and you likely don’t have time to read it. Kids, work, car time, and skimming sites like Jalopnik, Oppo, and BAT fill up my days. Additionally, don’t forget to: eat right, exercise, take out the trash, floss (at least, the week or two before the dentist appointment). But, somewhere in the background of chaotic life, there’s also this electric hum, an itch, a gnawing sense of need to express oneself, to create something. A legacy, a purpose.

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I’m kind of obsessed with the automobile since an early age. I don’t remotely work in an automotive related profession nor am I handy with tools or repair, but I’ve been known to spend vacation days or some holidays in a garage or on other car related pursuits.

Some talk about dream cars—-I literally dream about cars.

The favorite slumbered versions are where I have a “forgotten garage” or “storage unit” where I rediscover either some of my previously owned cars (in ready-to-go, cherry condition, of course), or ones I’ve always wanted to own, like a Gen2 MR2 turbo or Grand National ready to take out for a spirited run. Or maybe I’m driving by some random used car lot and see a hidden gem that I want to stop to test drive. The music gets turned up loud, the ride is fast, and I hate waking up. The only downside when I dream in cars is I can’t seem to keep from crashing them and the brakes never work worth a damn (Ever have that one?). (I also can’t be in an airplane in a dream that isn’t crashing, but that’s for a different psychoanalysis session).

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As an introvert, I don’t relish making small talk in crowded social situations. But, I’m happy to talk for hours on end on anything car related. And, if you don’t bring cars up, I might try to work the subject into conversation…

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I believe cars can be works of art, well maybe mostly mass produced art (like perhaps Camaros are the Thomas Kinkades of the auto world?) It is art that we slowly pulverize over the years with shopping carts, rocks, rust, bird crap, and bug guts. Sometimes, these pieces of art meet their demise from other rolling art: “You smashed your Ming Dynasty vase into my Picasso when you ran the stop sign!”

I started writing Life in Cars to:

a) Record my memories of a life around cars. The idea of writing this multi-part series came from a realization that some of my favorite or most memorable life moments have a thematic car element to them. Oral history fades. Time to get something down permanently.

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b) Try to make sense of this unescapable interest in cars. Is there some great wisdom and higher meaning to the fulfillment that comes in car life?

c) Maybe most of all, to chronicle the journey to find “the last fun car, The One.” I’m getting older now, and there comes this middle age realization there are some things I eventually might not even physically be able to do if I wanted. I look silly cruising on weekends with the radio cranked up (I do it anyway). In 20 years, I might be unable to drive a manual (it happens). It’s time to find that One. To find out: Is there truly one car that a person can bond strongly with at all levels? One car to engross in the hobby on the: mechanical side, artistic side, irresponsible acceleration side, canyon carving side, car show camaraderie, internet debates…?

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When I started typing this over a year ago, I didn’t know the answer to this question. In fact, I started fully intending to ask the readers to help me find the answer. At the time of starting writing, I made a list of all available known cars that might possibly make my list (old and newer). It was obvious to me early on that some of the cars would be hard to find, and even harder to test drive due to rarity or age. I dreamt of going onto enthusiast forums and asking if anyone would be willing to allow a short test drive in their car, just to get a feel. What makes a great car is so debatable because it’s a left brain and right brain involvement. It needs to appeal on so many levels. Visuals start it off, but seat time can seal it. With barely any time to meet all of life’s obligations and dreams, getting seat time was, and remains a huge challenge for many of us enthusiasts looking for the right car.

Then something happened to me during the past year. Can’t reveal till the end, but I was able to answer the question. As bold as it sounds, I believe I have answered the question of what is The One? That one car that answers the question posed above. I’m very excited to have found the answer, and I can’t wait to share it with you. My answer may not be universal, may be met with derision by some, but I believe there will be others that will look at it and say, “Hmm, I actually agree with that writer.”

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I’ll warn you now. These posts are long and I’m wordy. I hope it makes good quality bathroom reading for someone. I’m not always proud of the events that took place, but that’s my story. I’ve tried to be honest, even when it doesn’t always paint the author in a shining light.

There are also some rules and a cast of characters which I’ll update as I go along. The rules are:

Rules (to be updated in future posts):

Rule 1: these posts are long and wordy, but: It’s my life. You get what you pay for. Some people like to read on the toilet.

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Rule 2: I’ll be honest, even when the details make me look bad

Rule 3: Stephen Ambrose once remarked in the intro to one of his WW2 books that the truth in historical accounts by participants can be distorted by perspectives and memory. The same is true here. Maybe it wasn’t Stephen Ambrose that wrote that...I guess that just proves the point.

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Rule 4: The same car with two different engines...is not the same car.

Cast of Characters (to be updated in future posts):

gokstate: me

mrs. gokstate: her

Mr. Beans: our son

Pumpkin Pancakes: our daughter

F-Body: My Brother-in-law

 

Here we go…

(click here to go to part 2)

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