An Elegy for Six Missing CylindersS

If you're spotting Lamborghinis in Eastern Europe, watch out for chronic cylinder shortage.

In his last article published by The AtlanticHow to Get a Nuclear Bomb, which later became the first chapter of the book The Atomic BazaarWilliam Langewiesche recalls a conversation with an operator in Russia’s nuclear bureaucracy. Their discussion is about the ease with which nuclear weapons can be acquired by any state willing to build them:

“Once a country has made the decision to become a nuclear-weapons power, it will become one regardless of any guarantees. You needn’t be rich. You needn’t be technically developed. You can be Pakistan, Libya, North Korea, Iran. You can be …” He searched for a country even more absurd in his estimation. He said, “You can be Hungary.”

Stinging though it may be for my fellow Hungarians, the Russian’s quick analysis is certainly spot on. While starving North Korea has detonated a Hiroshima-size nuke this Monday, the last glory days of Hungarian military might were way back in the 15th century, when the Black Army of King Matthias Corvinus romped about Central Europe under one hell of a military flag, wreaking havoc every which way. It’s been all downhill from there.

An Elegy for Six Missing CylindersS

So it is certainly an occasion when a Lamborghini Countach is spotted on the streets of this sad, lonely outpost on the very edge of Western civilization. But then you have to remember that in outposts, appearances can deceive. Which entails that when you start counting a Countach’s cylinders, you come to a sudden halt after six:

An Elegy for Six Missing CylindersS

And realize that it’s probably not a Countach after all, but a Pontiac Fiero with a body kit.

The only solace for a rueful Hungarian nationalist would be the fact that we would have neither nukes nor the car that put America on wheels without Hungarians (1, 2, 3, 4).

An Elegy for Six Missing CylindersS

Photo Credit: Balazs Keki