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Posts By: Chuck Goolsbee
Having lead a life of high adventure in my youth, scaling pinnacles of rocks and ice, I never imagined that I’d meet my end, flat on my back crushed beneath a falling car. I was setting a new land-speed record for butt-shoulder-shuffling on my way out from under the creaking, swaying mass of 1999 Volkswagen New Beetle-shaped steel groaning menacingly above my body. Moments before the VW started moving it was resting firmly on my tried, and until-that-moment trusted ramps and jack-stands. But now I was going to die, life flashing before my eyes, staring swaying death in the face as my wife’s “cute bug” transformed into Damocles’ Sword, or Poe’s Pendulum, my garage floor playing the Pit. The tremor ceased as my head cleared the oil pan, and the Beetle slowed, then stopped making the horrific creaking noises as the jack-stands stopped wobbling. I cleared the bumper and leapt to my feet in a single motion, and relief swept over me like the expected post-quake tidal wave should. “Damn, I’m still alive!… in fact… I’m completely unharmed!” Running into the house I yelled at the family: ‘Did you guys feel that?!” … only to be met with a non-chalant: “feel what?”
In retrospect the tremor which scared me out from under the car was only a barely-rattle-the-china 3.2 on the Richter Scale, but it drove home an indelible lesson to this DIY mechanic living in a region where three tectonic plates meet: I NEED to get a lift!
Imagine it is thirty years in the future, 2039, and you are driving in a hard top convertible made in 2009. It has had three owners, and sports a healthy six-figures on the odometer. Would you expect it to leak, rattle, and/or squeak? Probably. Would you expect it to look dated and out of place [...]
I’m not a very good mechanic, but I enjoy working on my cars. Part of it is because I’m cheap and don’t like spending money on things I can do myself. Additionally, every time I have any interaction with any part of a car dealership I walk away feeling like a rape victim. Silkwood showers. Haunting regret. The works. Determined to rid myself of that feeling of being used, I made a commitment to gain mechanical skills and free myself from abuse.
In a recent news article, RF stated: “…here’s another story where the web pulls the rug from under auto industry types seeking to hide the truth. We’ve been saying it forever (in Internet terms): the collector car market has collapsed. Well, duh. But the mainstream media and specialist press has both been happy to perpetuate the myth perpetuated by the auction houses that their business has been defying gravity. See? Cars are selling for phenomenal prices! Meanwhile, Hagerty’s CARS THAT MATTER is telling readers to pay attention to the men behind the curtain.” In truth, the men behind the curtains are not the market. They are middlemen. They extract a percentage from every participant they can find to witness their activities; Buyer, Seller, hell, even the gawkers have to pay to watch the show. The auction houses are, in ecological terms, parasites on the very market they claim to serve. Like any parasite their success has a tendency to cause harm to their host. These guys are tarted up used cars salesmen. That, and the recent transformation of the car auction into a three ring circus, is what is killing the auction companies, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the collector cars being sold.
“I don’t think this is what Sir William had in mind.” The sleek and sensuous British Racing Green Jaguar XK 120 roared along the gravel road on the floor of a remote valley in the middle of Nevada. I doubt William Lyons could have imagined the scene fifty-some years before. The XK 120′s speedometer needle waggled vaguely, yet constantly between 60 and 90 MPH—indicating that we had reached ‘ludicrous speed” (given the conditions). A plume of dust streamed out behind the car, the parched solid matter equivalent-yet-antithesis of the liquid rooster-tail following a hydroplane. My co-driver laughed at either my comment or the sheer joy of the moment, it was impossible to tell.
Summer 2005. My plans for a Vintage Car Rally Vacation evaporate. Rebuilding a very poorly rebuilt engine vacuums funds allocated for the purpose out of my wallet. What started as an odd knock became a horror show. My fussy ex-pat Yorkshireman mechanic in Chilliwack, B.C. removed the head and found the forensic remains of a car-related massacre not seen since Pol Pot rode around in his ’73 Mercedes. Just when I had given up on my dreams of a vintage vacation, the phone rang with an offer to co-drive an event in what many have called the world’s first supercar: the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. I accepted the offer faster than Mr. Fangio could frustrate Mr. Ferrari.
The sun breaks through trees and plays off the long bonnet. As I loaf along the arrow-straight road, I absorb the soundtrack: the baritone exhaust note of the big-bore, long-stroke, inline-six. Ahead, I spot that sign that makes every true driver shut down the internal dialog in their brain and focus on the here and now: Winding Road. Amazing what a sign can do to lift one’s spirit. In a Jaguar E-Type, elevation quickly becomes ecstasy.