A Little Context From A Forgotten Photograph

Thomas Kreutzer
by Thomas Kreutzer
a little context from a forgotten photograph

We have all been there, posing proudly with our car alongside some curvy country road on a sunny afternoon. It doesn’t matter if the car is new or old, is just going through the break-in procedure or is on its last legs, what matters is the moment. A photo like this is a powerful talisman against old age, wherever we go and whatever happens to us, we have simply to gaze upon it and we are transported back to that special time in our lives when the road was clear and the only thing we needed to be serious about was having a little fun.

The above photo was posted on Reddit by user “Slow_Dive” who found it left in a car at a pick-n-pull lot in Gillman, a suburb of Adelaide, Australia. It turns out that he wasn’t actually looking for Subaru parts, but when he saw the old “Vortex” as they are known down under, he just had to take a closer look. On the steering wheel of the car he found a photo of who can only be assumed to be the car’s previous owner with the vehicle in a better days and with the discovery came an unexpected flood of emotion. “Seeing it just sitting out in the rain, rusting away, being picked apart slowly made me just a little bit sad.” He wrote, “It made me think about where my old cars are and where all of our current cars will be, some day.”

Its easy to walk through a wrecking yard and remain emotionally detached while look at the various cars. We seldom think about the lives that these vehicles touched, that they were all once desired bits of cutting edge technology and design that carried their owners through the highs and lows of their lives. Without their stories, they are just hulks waiting their turn for a date with the crusher. Thanks to this photo, however, this car has the context that all those other cars lack. It is easy to see that this bit of late 1980’s Japanese design had someone who cared about it, someone who cherished it and someone who enjoyed it until every last bit of fun was squeezed out of it. In time things changed, they always do, but while they lasted those days were glorious.

We’ve all been there, going through a box of old photos or leafing through a musty old album when we come across a photo of our younger selves beside some curvy piece steel that meant the whole world to us. How would we feel if for some reason that photo was lost? Take a good look at the photo and see if you know the person pictured. It would be nice to think that, with the power of the internet, we could solve the mystery of who this young man is. For now, there is still the chance for him to reclaim it.

For better or worse, the man who found the photo did not keep it. Although he used the serial number to research the car’s registration history, he was unable to come up with a name. Unable to connect the photo to an actual person, he opted to leave it where he thought it belonged, right there on the wheel of the old Subaru. If it can’t be returned that seems an appropriate place. Perhaps it will still be there when the car meets its ultimate fate, a final reminder of better days now past.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking. According to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Jul 03, 2013

    The picture with the sky through the windshield makes me think of R.E.M.'s "Nightswimming".

  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Jul 03, 2013

    A friend of mine got in a wreck with his W-body Buick. I take a trip to the local junkyard and what do I find? A dead ringer for my friend's Buick, with wreck damage. Not sure if it was his, W-body Regals aren't uncommon, but it sure looked like it.

  • Azfelix From certain angles the bonnet appears oversized with respect to the rest of the car - like a skinny teenager wearing a bulky sweater nicked from her older sister's wardrobe.
  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.
  • RHD "In all situations, the grip of the tires (225/40R18 front, 225/35R18 rear) brings with it road noise."Are the rear tires actually smaller than the fronts??!! Adding just a bit of sidewall would take care of the bumps and rough ride. I'm not a fan of BMWs, personally, but this is a very enjoyable car. There are times when driving a convertible is pure bliss, and with a bit of power it's fun as well. (And certainly a better drive than a gussied-up, overpriced German taxicab!)