Enough with the Koenigseggs. Yes, they're fantastic creations, all monster power and scarcely believable speed and Spaceboy Stan styling. But for most of us, life as a gearhead is about something else entirely. It's about what's real, what's good, what makes cars matter to us.
It's about Volvo bricks. Preferably wagons. Or whatever else is out there with your name on the title.
Yes, it may start in childhood with the hyperexotics — from 250GTOs to Miuras to Countaches to 959s to McLaren F1s to Veyrons, take your pick according to age — but being an enthusiast means much, much more than that. It's about caring enough about all of this, the prosaic and the unobtainable and the machine and the human, to work through this tangle we call reality to keep something that matters to us alive and close, even if that personal signifier has to get groceries once in a while. It's still important.
So in the midst of the lovefest that followed Jim Farley's words of significant appreciation, we had a few good rounds of why this all matters and what it means to us. And we defer to the tale of The new, not improved Bro-varian_Horseplay to let us know about the meaning underneath the words and photos that go here every day:
So, it's me, Bilbo Baggins and Sam, sittin' round the Shire talking about some ring. And Bilbo goes nuts right?!...
Wait, that's not the right story.
So me, 8 years old and hobbit sized myself am with my Dad somewhere, some mall. It's 1991. Of course I'm wearing loud, capri length pink and yellow neon shorts with a Spud McKinzey t-shirt. So at this mall we meander into a book store and I spy a book labeled Hot Cars and it had a red Diablo on the front. Well this is obviously a cool book already AND it's on clearance. So my Dad buys it for me because I can already spec out the top speed, engine size, weight and performance of said Diablo on the cover. Yep, I was that kid. I had Countach posters a plenty, accompanied by a Ferrari 308, 69 GTO, and a cut away of a C4 vette. The others were all Lambo dude. Anyway, I held on to that book like most kids a blanky. I took it to dinner with my folks that night. I read about the Porsche 959, Zender Fact4, Vector W-2, Aston Martin Vantage, Callaway Corvette, Jaguar XJ220 and the likes. I knew it was good, it started with Aston Martin. I wasn't aware of alphabetical importance at that time. I just knew there were letters and that they were arranged in a similar fashion.
My folks had many a great rides. My Dad always talked about the cars he missed. Always about his 72 El Camino. I loved my Dad, and I love El Caminos. In 91 my Dad had an Escort GT that I thought looked like a Mustang but better. Even though I hated it was FWD. Yeah, I knew what FWD was, weird right? I'd seen enough Road & Track articles to know. Anyway, my parents were the type that put me on the back of a motorcycle and ride around town, when I was a baby, just to put me to sleep. I remember before the Escort my dad had a Monte Carlo SS with T-Tops. My uncle was a car nut as well. I was just bred into it.
During the Gulf War I wondered how awesome it would be to drive those sweet ass HMMWV's everyone raved about. Hell even Arnold had a couple. I knew it had to be cool then. It was the only thing that reminded me of the Lamborghini LM002. I grew, over time, more interested in muscle cars since that's what my family was into. Yeah, we're of the Texas/Oklahoma breed.
FFW a little bit. My favorite racing was Trans Am, Pro-Stock and Formula 1. No, it wasn't Julia Roberts that introduced me to the Lotus Esprit either, that was way back in the Hot Cars book I've been telling you about. Anyway. So through high school I get more into trucks as it's what we have in OK. I needed to haul lawn equipment and they were cheap. My first vehicle was a Cheyenne C1500. Yeah, we power slid before it was trendy. My buddies got a 280ZX and a Honda Civic. It was the coolest times ever. Seriously. If I could go back to that dweeb status I would. It was easier then.
Got to college and started loosing interest but not too much. Just couldn't afford the habit. The custom truck scene was where I went. Which was cool. Some great people and great knowledge. I joined the Army after my freshman year. They offered me any job I wanted, cause my test scores were through the roof as they say. I took Transportation. Yep, there are two jobs at the bottom of the Army totem pole. Infantry and Transportation. I wasn't into weapons (yet) so I chose whatever had wheels that I could hoon the shit out of on taxpayer dollar. Hey, you asked. Oh and I loved every second. I just loved to drive anything. Our vehicles were primarily the 10 wheeled PLS truck by Oshkosh. Powered by a 500Hp Cat V8. I've mowed down plenty of trees with it. I was in the Guard and so I went back to school. Started making good grades and installed car audio professionally. Right before my deployment I was sitting on a shop with a 2003 Mustang Cobra and a 2004 Mustang Mach 1. I was hooked and the fangs of the Cobra had left their venom.
On to deployment. In Iraq and after a major IED incident I was at the AAFES picking out some reading material. I'd lost my way with my passion for cars. So I picked out Automobile's 100 Automotive designs issue. I was ignited. But what really got me was an article about Parnelli Jones and his 1970 School Bus Yellow Boss. I was in, 110%.
But I was married.
My car fund was enough for a daily driver. A 2003 Accord V6 that I could drive to and from school. My wife had already graduated now. Twice. And is a working nurse. I get a job with a major aeronautics company and start to remember an article I read in Men's Health in Iraq about being a man and driving a stick. So I did. I begged to sell my Accord and bought the first 4 door Civic Si I found. On the cheap! I then stumbled across Jalopnik by way of googling some car data. I absolutely loved the content, the old Jalopnik err 3 years ago old. The commenters were the best part. Knowledgeable, whitty, fun, but best of all, they too loved wagons and El Caminos. I think I'm tearing up. But I knew it was an internet oasis for the non car guys car guy. It's like where all the bad kids hang out because we don't like the sweater vests of convention. I'm proud to have found this site. And the people. Even though I may never get a star. I've talked to enough stars in the Army. I'm ok, really.
Carry on Jalops.
Photo Credit: Ben Der Gabelschwanz Teufel