The Fast and the Spurious

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
the fast and the spurious
The sound jolted me from my reverie at a stoplight in a small town just east of San Antonio. It sounded like a weed whacker farting. I heard it again. I looked to my left. In the lane next to my Z/28 sat a two-door Hyundai Accent with Beavis at the wheel and Butthead riding shotgun. It had the obligatory coffee can-sized muffler hanging below the rear valence. Bolted to the deck lid: an erector set-type spoiler that looked like it weighed more than the rest of the car. Beavis (or maybe it was Butthead) had plastered the fenders and doors with decals of kanji characters and there was a bright red VTEC sticker splayed across the top of the windshield. It looked as though they had just seen “The Fast and the Furious” and they were out to cop some street creds in their killer kimchee burner.

Beavis revved the engine a third time and they both looked at me in slack-jawed expectation. I raised one eyebrow, Spock-like, then rolled my eyes, shook my head slightly and went back to watching the red light. Undaunted, Beavis blipped the throttle yet again. This time the car lunged forward slightly. Obviously he was spoiling for a fight. After all, what did he have to fear from the middle-aged guy in the rear wheel drive midlife crisis car with an automatic transmission who was listening to the same music his grandparents liked? What was that group? Something called The Beach Boys? What could a fogey like that possibly know about cool street machines? I decided to teach him that he should be careful what he wished for.

The light turned green. Beavis must have had the engine fully tached up because he actually managed to chirp the Hyundai’s front tires when he took off. He was winding the engine for all it was worth, blaaat-blaaaaat-ing through the gears. I sat there and watched the show as they headed toward the next stoplight about a mile up the road, at full throttle.

After waiting a three-count I took off. No drama, no smoke, no squealing tires. Just the transfer of copious amounts of all-American torque to the tarmac, accompanied by the mellifluous soundtrack of the LS1’s 310 horses. It’s the sweetest music this side of heaven, but a sound that’s totally foreign to a generation raised on four-cylinder front-drive econoboxes and SUV poseurmobiles. It’s a sound I don’t think B & B ever heard before, and probably one they didn’t soon forget.

As I closed in on them I could tell they were beginning to panic. I could see them both lurching back and forth in their seats as though they hoped their bodily inertia would improve their forward momentum. The frantic exhaust note told me the Accent was giving its all to the cause, but to no avail. B & B were about to experience first hand what happens when youthful ignorance and arrogance run head first into the cruel, unyielding roadblock of reality.

The end was mercifully quick. Before I got halfway to redline in second gear, I passed them and gave them a slight wave. (Yes, I used my entire hand.) Their expressions were priceless, like they’d just learned the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy all at once, in a single blinding flash. I actually felt sorry for them– for a moment.

Then my pity gave way to laughter as I considered the utter ridiculousness of the situation. I felt a little like Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) in the parking lot scene from “Fried Green Tomatoes” – minus the willful destruction of personal property, of course – scoring a small victory for old farts everywhere. As you get older, such victories are fewer and further between. You take ‘em when and where you can get ‘em, and you revel in ‘em as long as you can.

I drove that same route every day for about a year. I never saw Beavis, Butthead or that Hyundai again. I’d like to think they pushed it off in the nearest arroyo and invested their money in a real car and some driving lessons. And hopefully by now they’ve learned kanji isn’t Korean and that VTEC has no relevance to a Hyundai. Probably not, though. They probably just added more decals, ground effects and badges to that poor Hyundai and kept on getting humiliated. Either that or they’ve moved on the latest fad and donked their whip with 26-inch spinners, candy paint and Lambo doors.

And me? I still enjoy the Beach Boys. I now drive a six-speed Corvette instead of the Z/28. I still enjoy an occasional stoplight challenge, too. Anyone with a Sonata want to run for pinks?

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  • Mervich Mervich on Aug 06, 2006

    ktm, In the mid-60's in my hometown, most of the guys with the Detroit muscle cars intentionally kept them very factory stock in appearance. Oh, there were cosmetic changes available...from fender skirts, glass-pack mufflers, mag wheels or baby moon hub caps to painted flames appearing from the fender wells...and there was add-on chrome a-plenty to be had...but these type modifications were considered to be "red neck". We let the subtleties speak...the small GTO emblem and Ford's V topped with a 427. The real muscle cars, the GTO's, 442's, Dodge Hemi's (with the "push-button" automatic), etc., were all mostly factory stock in appearance. Locally, the most legendary of them all had to have been one of the very first "Q" cars...a 1965 Ford Galaxie 2 door, base model, no chrome to speak of (looked more like a company issue or grandmother's car), with a 427 sporting dual Holley 4 barrel carbs and 4-speed manual tranny. The rest of the pack, including the Dodge Hemi's, were little-league compared to the Galaxie in the quarter mile. My hometown is not in California or in some overly affluent area, but in Greenville, Mississippi. That being said, I believe it would be downright amusing to pair any one of the aforementioned, mid-60's Detroit muscle cars with any one of the current crop of rice-burners complete with ground effects, decals, "fart can" and an over-confident, idiot, shit-head driver. (...did I say that out loud?)

  • Outlander Outlander on Sep 05, 2006

    I can't believe you actually raced a couple of kids in an Accent, and worse yet had the balls to brag about it. Bet it was a real tough run against The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a rippling 92 horsepower. Do you race Geo Metros, too? But the kids deserved it for trying to dress up their econobox, right? How much faster did those "Rally Stripes" make the Camaro go? A real man would have let the kids have their fun and looked for some real competition. Where it belongs - on a drag strip, where you're not going to kill some todddler on his trike while you're showing off. But you're all "Whoa! look at me! I smoked a couple of guys and all I had was three times the displacement! Ain't I impressive? I proved you can beat out a 92 horsepower car with only 310! What next, beat up a few first-graders? Intimidate a senior citizen? Pull the wings off a fly? Next time lets make the race fair - you like a 3:1 ratio - three times 310 is 930HP, a Ferrari FXX is just a little under that. Lets put your Z/28 up against THAT and see how you do. Oh, and don't forget your pink slip!

  • 28-Cars-Later I'm actually surprised at this and not sure what to make of it. In recent memory Senator Biden has completely ignored an ecological disaster in Ohio, and then ignored a tragic fire in Hawaii until his handlers were goaded in sending him and his visit turned into it's own disaster, but we skipped nap time for this sh!t show? Seriously? We really are through the looking glass now, "votes" no longer matter (Hillary almost won being the worst presidential candidate since 1984 before he claimed the crown) and outside of Corvette nostalgia Joe doesn't care let alone know what day it happens to be. Could they really be afraid of Trump, who AFAIK has planned no appearance or run his mouth on this issue? Just doesn't make sense, granted this is Clown World so maybe its my fault for trying to find sense in a senseless act.
  • Tassos If you only changed your series to the CORRECT "Possibly Collectible, NOT Daily Driver, NOT Used car of the day", it would sound much more accurate AND TRUTHFUL.Now who would collect THIS heap of trash for whatever misguided reason, nostalgia for a much worse automotive era or whatever, is another question.
  • ToolGuy Price dropped $500 overnight. (Wait 10 more days and you might get it for free?)
  • Slavuta Must be all planned. Increase price of cars, urbanize, 15 minutes cities. Be poor, eat bugs
  • Sid SB Not seen a Core without the performance pack yet. Prefer the more understated look of the Core vs the Circuit, but both are great fun to drive.