Curbside Classic Outtakes: There's No Place Like Home Edition

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer

Why do I love old cars? And Eugene? There’s nothing better to answer that question than a week spent away from them both of them. Visiting parents and family in Towson, MD, I didn’t see a single worthy Curbside Classic, except the tail ends of a couple of interesting cars safely tucked into the colonial-style brick garages that perfectly match the house, or the one next door, or every house in the neighborhood, since they’re all essentially alike sitting shoulder-to shoulder in a green sea of identically planted and perfectly groomed lawns, with all the dogwoods in bloom, and the predictable silver or beige Camry in the driveway. The typical Eugene streetscape above is truly a sight for my sore eyes (can you identify the vehicle in the driveway?). Without judging, to each their own. And I’ve found mine.

Thanks to an endless round of visiting, perusing old family pictures, hikes, a brief overnight to NYC, and finally a dead hard drive in the lap-top, the immersion was complete, as was the cutting of the TTAC umbilical cord. Just as well, as it will quite likely be the last time we all gather with my parents under their roof. It was a time to rediscover one’s roots, with stories going back numerous generations.

There was the one about my great grand uncle Fritz, who hid a saw in his coat when he had to serve detention at school, and cut off all the legs of the classroom benches and tables. Or the obvious disappointment my grandfather felt about my father being a skinny little nerd instead of a swashbuckling über-male like himself, with big scars on his face from the fencing duels he reveled in. Most families have their dysfunctionalities, and without dwelling on ours here, it’s probably pretty obvious to me that my intense passion with cars from my first days was a way to form alternative bonds. Or am I over analyzing?

We can’t choose our family, but we can choose where we live, and our friends and cars we surround ourselves with. I need to live in a place where old cars are abundant, and not hidden away from sight. Because they are my friends too; just as they were when I was a toddler on the streets of Innsbruck. I miss them sorely when I’m away from them, and can’t imagine living in a place devoid of their presence. Maybe it’s social dysfunctionality, or maybe not, because where there are old cars on the street, there are usually interesting folks nearby too, not hidden out of sight.

A week separated from Curbside Classics and TTAC has both renewed family bonds as well as my passion for my work here. I’ve never been happier in my life, as Stephanie will attest. To be able to share my finds and old friends with you, my TTAC friends, as well as to write and talk about the current happenings in the car world is incredibly fulfilling, and a dream come true. I’m brimming with ideas for articles; the challenges is to find the time for them all. And thanks to Bertel Schmitt for helping to pick up the slack in my (and Edward’s) absence. Aren’t there any old The East Glows sitting on the curbs in Beijing, Bertel?

Enough emoting. I’ve got a full week’s worth of Curbside Classics and other articles to get started on. And as long as I find old cars of interest and random scenes like this man painting a van with a brush, with his bicycle laying at his side, I will be inspired and motivated (don’t ask why). I know Eugene isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m more than ok with that ( I wouldn’t want it to get crowded here). But I’m hoping that the glaring absence of any Towson Edition Curbside Classics makes Eugene a bit more palatable for those of you.

Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

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  • Olddavid Olddavid on Apr 12, 2010

    Is it a Borgwarg (Borgward?) -amino? It has the shape of one of those old German bizarro cars (DKW or 3wheeled BMW,anyone?), but I cannot remember if the coupes had a fender that long. When I was a lad, our trips to relatives in Canada allowed me to see many unusual cars that weren't common here- even before DOT or NHTSA. Hell, they sold Lada's new until about 1988- there was a dealership on Edmonton Trail in Calgary that I passed every day on my commute. When I was up at Christmas, I actually saw an operational Renault Dauphine driving in near zero (Fahrenheit) weather.

  • Daanii2 Daanii2 on Apr 12, 2010

    We just drove through Eugene twice on our way to and from Canada on our vacation. Having read so many TTAC columns about the place, when coming back I had to get off the freeway to see Eugene/Springfield in real life. It was just a quick glimpse. But it is an interesting place. Now I'll enjoy future columns even more.

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