QOTD: Falling Victim to Obsession?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd falling victim to obsession

You are an obsession

I cannot sleep

I am your possession

Unopened at your feet

There’s no balance

No equality

Be still; I will not accept defeat

The lyrics to that old ’80s song, which arguably marks the pinnacle of that decade’s cheesy musical excess, applies here to some degree — albeit without the remarkably dark and disturbing subtext.

We’re not talking abduction, forcible confinement, and a heinous act that’s best left unstated here. No siree. We’re talking an obsession of the automotive variety. The pursuit of a certain type of perfection that often leads to misery and tears.

Certain imperfections can worm their way into a driver’s brain. A blemish, a rattle, a squeak, an electrical gremlin, a ghost deep in the machine — anything that turns a masterpiece, or even just something good, into a source of irritation can weigh on the mind.

Like the museum curator who spots a flicked booger on a Van Gogh, the urge to remove the blemish can be strong. Perhaps stronger than the person in pursuit.

It’s not a complex example (and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before), but a friend once spent weeks and hundreds of dollars attempting to recreate showroom-quality bumpers on a 15-year-old car that was anything but a cream puff. Every day and night he’d be out there, sanding, sanding some more, filling, sanding yet again, priming, painting until the moon came up, only to find a new imperfection the next day. Incomplete coverage. A dimple in the paint. Some bottom-of-the-can splatter.

Ultimately, and despite my attempts at intervention (“My God, man — these bumpers are your white whale! Desist from this madness!”), a neighbor suggested the application of a caustic material to remove all paint, thus freeing up a blank canvas. It was blank alright. That acid was not meant for plastic body panels.

They say perfection is the enemy of good. Well, my friend’s pursuit of perfection eventually made “good” an impossibility. Those bumpers looked like hot garbage till the day he sent the thing to the wreckers.

Has obsession ever consumed you, dear reader? If so, describe the automotive malady that set it off. Did you come out on top?

[Image: © 2018 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

Join the conversation
3 of 42 comments
  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on May 07, 2019

    Being limited in budget matters forces one to curb their obsessions pretty quickly. That said, when I was able to start working again, I started fixing up the car. The cracked and busted bumpers? Replaced. The zip tied headlight panel and faded headlights? Replaced. The cracked dash? Recovered. The saggy suspension? Rebuilt. It's still a work in progress, but more than one person has remarked at my obsession with fixing up my car. It isnt just this car, though. I'm constantly improving whatever I drive, even if I'm the only one who notices. I keep it clean, I maintain it mechanically. I am also am pretty obsessed about what parts I use, and I keep up with what's due when.

  • ArialATOMV8 ArialATOMV8 on May 10, 2019

    To be honest, I'm that way with my 2004 Toyota Highlander Limited. Even though its a old car, I park it far away from everyone else wherever I go. Ever since I got this car as a gift, one of my headlights is completely fogged up. I've tried multiple cleaning solutions but to no avail, it still looks horrible and it bothers my OCD since there is one perfectly clean headlight right next to one that is all fogged up. I keep wanting to spend the money on a new one when we don't know how long this car will last. Last year my father backed up into a rock in our driveway with my car at night. His mistake scraped the the plastic mudguard. I asked him if he would pay to fix it and of course that request did not go over well. Yeah its sad but hopefully I'm not this way when I get that land cruiser that I'm saving for (school first, LC later)

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on May 11, 2019

      Arial, Get yourself a 'TYC' replacement headlamp from rockauto dot com (around 50 bucks) and obsess no more. If you are talking about an unpainted plastic mudguard, try a sharp razor blade and a heat gun to clean up the scratch.

  • RICK Once had 78 TOWN COUPE and wish I had never let it go! Ultimate OTT excessive luxury! Have since had RWD FLEETWOODS, RWD Fifth Avenues ,as well as 89 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series and current 2007 TOWN CAR Signature Limited! All great cars, but 77 through 79 was KING 🤴 of the road! So sad to see what is now considered a luxury vehicle 😢. Who wants to drive a glorified truck 🚚?
  • Kwik_Shift There are better cars to drop $80G on.
  • 28-Cars-Later Opulence!
  • Kwik_Shift If there is no 2WD Access Cab with 6 speed manual, then I'm not interested.
  • RedDevil Radio Garden is my go to for long trips.Thousands of radio stations all over the worldfor free as long as you have internet. Sure beats hunting for the one or two decent stations in most areas.