Today, driving home in my Aurora, I passed another Aurora and, behind it, an NB Miata. It may seem as though this was an innocuous turn of events, but it triggered a pain deep within my heart. For I knew, that as much as I love my Oldsmobile, and despite how few there are left, I will never get a wave from another driver.
For others, the Aurora is a cheap car they got on Craigslist for a grand. They have to top it off with coolant regularly, but they won’t even try something like K-Seal. No, for them, just top it off and wait until it doesn’t drive anymore. Even worse, I could have been driving my Miata. 45 in Michigan is top down weather, just bring a jacket. But my beloved and treacherous NA sits on jackstands in my garage, new engine in place, but waiting on parts.
However, this has introduced a great query for the ages to my mind. Which group of owners has the best camaraderie? The metric to be used is “waves”, that is, any type of hand gesture or other type of acknowledgement between drivers of similar vehicles, I.E the Official Jeep™ Trail Rated™ Wave™
I’ll start with the cars I’ve owned. Both NA Miatas have a pretty good hit rate. It’s hard to not be in good spirits while driving one, so it makes sense. You can also pop your headlights at other cars, which adds a nice little touch. However, there are people who won’t wave back to you, and they’re mostly old people driving NCs (Third generation). It’s not that they’re rude, or that they think they’re better than you. Most of them genuinely have no idea of the shared history of your vehicles. The NC Miata isn’t a bad car, but you get the feeling that plenty of people who drive them (elderly women named Janet or something) would have had a Sebring if the Chrysler dealer was closer than the Mazda one. I’m assuming they don’t have sex, and they drive automatics. It looks sporty, but not intimidating, with that big Mazda smile out front, but they won’t find inspiration in the sportiness. They’ll never test out whether you actually can drive fast enough to not get wet in the rain with the top down (you can, on the highway). The car works for them, but you get the sense that they aren’t aware of it’s true potential.
A Miata has a pretty good hit rate, but the Corvette probably has things sewn up. I had a C4 for awhile, which you may recognize as the least popular generation. It’s unfairly maligned, but nevertheless at the bottom of its depreciation curve. I knew this going in, and was prepared for the worst. I imagined pulling up to a 1970 Stingray, driven by an older man on a Sunday drive. I roll my window down, and he stares straight ahead. He knows I’m there, but some kid whose parents bought him a crappy old C4? Probably a liberal, too. The light turns, and he accelerates gently. As I pass, I can feel him staring down the long hood of his classic, looking down upon a car and a driver who besmirch the lineage of his prized possession.
But not once did that happen. I found out that, for the most part, Corvette owners are just friendly sentient dad-beards all wearing the same pair of jean shorts who really love the cars they drive. Engage one in conversation, and you’ll get a very nice discussion about your mutual love for America’s Sports Car. Not once did one rag on my lowly LT1 C4. Not once did they ever insinuate that I was given, or somehow didn’t deserve the car.
I recall meeting a man, clearly in the deepest throes of a midlife crisis at a Shell gas station on Woodward at 2 A.M once. No, I wasn’t soliciting, he drove a C6 up to the station as I was filling up. Rick Jeffery’s “I’m Old, You’re Young” blared from the open top, he downshifted each gear, even first, as he approached. He stepped from the sleek black car, wearing a getup he’d presumably stolen from his son. When he heaved himself out of the lowered car, one could notice the subtle way he stomach-sucked and chest puffed as soon as he was able. At two A.M, he had Ray Bans in his pocket. A massive, chrome “timepiece” as watches are called when you spend enough money on them, adorned his wrist. Gold chains were prominently presented by loose buttons at the top of the shirt. As it turned out, he had recently divorced, and apparently was filling that lost chunk of his life with horsepower and boost. And despite the getup, he did actually know his stuff. The 427 was now supercharged (Whipple, I believe), cammed, with head work and a full exhaust. It apparently was dynoed at 650, although I’m not certain if it was brake or wheel figures. But of course, it was only a matter of time before he began a very loud diatribe against marriage and relationships in general. It didn’t take him long to refer to his wife in a manner that was both very creative and equally unprintable, at which point I decided to leave. Still, aside from the last bit, a good chat was the last thing I expected from that guy.
Even the redneck rich, those who have managed to step up from the drudgery of last-chance F-bodies and Foxes with holes in the subframes. They drive late model C3s that somehow got into the hands of farmers and sat behind barns for 15 years before our buyer shows up. They end up getting it for a non-refundable deposit of half a pack of Special Blend Reds and the provision that they would be successful in evicting the established tenants, a family of raccoons, from the vehicle’s interior. This is why many cheap C3s have such bad interiors. If not a C3, then a 1984 Crossfire Injection C4. In all reality, the CFI isn’t hard to maintain if you just bother to learn how it works, but no one does. So they get a non-running CFI with a fuel issue (because of course it is), and just slap the biggest damn Holley they can afford on it, just straight pissing fuel into the intake manifold, and it smells like gas all the time. It’s okay for the guy driving though, he doesn’t notice the smell because he’s usually smoking. You’ll have a great conversation with either of these guys about how they don’t trust fuel injection even though their daily driver is a Monte Carlo “Intimidator” edition that always starts. And despite the fact that they’re the kind of guys who show up to the annual car meet at Uncle John’s Cider Mill wearing a shirt that prominently displays the word “FUCK” while walking past little children, they’re usually not completely awful people either, at least if you share an interest.
Overall, I’d say the Corvette has a hit rate of over 90% in waves, and a full 100% in terms of coincidental gas pump conversations. If there’s any group out there that can beat that, it would be the Wrangler guys. However, they’re brought down by the number of sorority girls who want to drive around pretending to be in a Ray Bans commercial, giving the edge to the Vette. Of course, there may be some others that I have overlooked, especially on higher price scale. Maybe Porsche?
So I leave it to you, which of your cars has had the best ownership groups? Which owners stand out the most? Can you put a group of owners in a box? Would they simply destroy that box? You tell me!