He was a Child of the Depression(tm), Korean war vet and he drove a Maxima from about 1998-2008. He bought it new and it died because shit happens when you’re 79 years old. Translation: He backed out at the wrong time, he was ok, the car wasn’t.

He had a couple interesting cars through the years. The one I remember is a 4th gen Celica, burgundy on burgundy with the 5speed. Sometime before that was a Mercury Capri (the European one), but that was before my time. He made good enough money presumably, working in assorted federal agencies doing nuclear medicine research and environmental consulting. Probably could’ve bought nicer cars, but he liked his Maxima and his Celica before that. Similar to some, he didn’t do anything beyond keeping them running.

Point is, he wasn’t a jalop. You don’t get many jalop points for driving something slightly more interesting than a Camry. He liked his cars, they were more than appliances to him, but not much more. His passion was WW2 and pre-war planes. He had tons of books (some of which were passed down to me) on the war and particularly the planes of it and all the minutiae. His favorite was the Northrop Gamma. Family trips were up to the Wright AFB or to Oshkosh Air Show. He took me and my dad to the then brand new National Air and Space museum even knowing his body really wasn’t up to the task. Cars and auto racing were interests of his, but wouldn’t have made his top 3 of interests or hobbies.

Even if my grandfather held on to that Celica, Bob standing in a parking lot next to his automatic red Corvette convertible was more jalop. Bob is willing to polish that Garage Queen and stand next to it for 8 hours while regaling every passer-by about which dealership he bought those extra floor mats from.

“Ya see that? Those are from Smithy Chevrolet in Daytona Beach! Isn’t that something? This shirt? Tommy Bahama’s! Great stuff!”

A passion for cars, even if...erm... misguided, is the prerequisite. That’s not to say it’s your only passion, or even the top one. Maybe, passion is too strong, just an active interest is enough for me. Passively holding onto a car for a few decades isn’t. Come on, at least swap the damn arm rest.